Paris! Just the name evokes impressions of sophistication, the Arts, vibrancy and glamour! Yet the people here are far from superficial. Their enthusiastic and heartfelt response to Amma and interest in meditation and service was truly moving. Even though we were not able to see any of the attractions of Paris, just being here gave a buzz and of course, we were here with the main attraction in Paris right now-Amma!
Looking up from our table the second night we saw a wall of cameras focused on a gregarious Frenchman. It was Claude Lelouch, one of the most celebrated film directors in the world and staunch devotee of Amma. He was quite at home, roaming around the venue followed by the press, before coming on stage with Amma for the evening program. Both he and Elsa Zylbersteinv, one of the stars of his about to be released feature film, Un plus Une (which features Amma) gave speeches. Both of them made the point in their talks that Amma has no judgments, loving and accepting all equally. This seemed to be a quality of Amma’s that made a huge impression on them. We see this reflected in the thousand names of the Goddess: Om nirbhedayai namah, Om bhedanashinyai namah. (She who is without differences/She who destroys differences.) Only if we feel different from others can we judge them. Her example helps us to transcend our own ego boundaries, judgments and likes and dislikes.
The programs were packed, darshans were long and time passed quickly. Before we knew it, we were already at our last day in Paris. After 13 hours of fast darshan and numerous ceremonies, Amma finally stood up to end Devi Bhava at 10am. It was the largest crowd ever at the end of a Devi Bhava and the hall was completely full. As Amma left the hall, she spotted a young boy and stopped to give him a hug and some attention. He had a bottle of bubbles and Amma took some time to blow bubbles with him. “It’s incredible, after everything she has done in the last 24 hours, she takes time to blow bubbles with a child”, said a local person next to me. “She’s so extraordinary. There is no one like her, never been anyone just like her.” Could one do anything but agree?
Extraordinary also were the sevites in Paris. They worked so hard, so long, often in inclement weather, and with great patience and joy. And as we climbed on the bus, they continued to work to clear the venue. An announcement was made at the end that volunteers were needed and anyone with a little time was invited to join the team and live out Amma’s teaching of selfless service. A crowd gathered in front of a man with microphone and he would announce what was needed and how many people were required to accomplish the task. “Two people to roll plastic”. Two hands went up. “Five people to clean tables”. Hands go up. “Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq. Merci!” Soon an amazing amount of work had been accomplished. It was a good example of how teamwork and good organization can accomplish goals quickly.
The buses rolled past the fertile fields and autumn foliage of France, and soon we crossed into Germany and followed winding roads up to Amma’s ashram, Hof Herrenberg. It was abuzz with activity late in the night as this was the first time Amma would have a program here, and also for the first time in her own place in Europe. However, most of us went to bed in various picturesque locations, as the next day would bring early morning set up, cooking and a long all day program. Of course, it’s Amma who does the most work, and in fact, one could say, all the work!
Europe Yatra 2013