Amma’s Hug

Photograph © 2016 Peggy Kornegger
Photograph © 2016 Peggy Kornegger
For years I’ve wanted to see Amma, the “hugging saint,” considered to be an embodiment of the Divine Mother. Her appearances in the Boston area, however, have conflicted with Panache Desai’s summer programs at Omega Institute, so I’ve always chosen to go there instead. Ironically, it was Panache who recently provided me with the opportunity to see Amma in person. So often, life’s completely unanticipated events are filled with more magic than anything we could have planned. Therein lies a tale….

In early July, I flew to Washington DC for an Initiation weekend with Panache, which included a vibrational activation connecting participants to their essential divine self and life purpose. Those of us in attendance found ourselves immersed in profound divine connection and soul awareness, an experience that seems to expand exponentially at every one of his events. Within the larger group of 70, there were about 18 of us who have been taking part in an ongoing accelerated program (OAP) with him. On Saturday evening, after the Initiation finished for the day, Panache asked our OAP group if we would like to see Amma, whose weekend events were taking place not far from ours. And the adventure began.

Arriving in several cars, we gathered outside the main hall where the Atma Puja ceremony for world peace was soon to begin. Mind you, people arrive hours early for Amma’s events in order to get a seat and also to stand in line to receive a token that will allow them to stand in line again to receive a hug and blessing (darshan) from her. The hall was already filled to capacity, and we were redirected to the overflow hall, where the main-hall events could be seen on a large screen. We sat in one long row holding hands as the ceremony began. In both halls, hundreds of voices chanting in Sanskrit filled the air. I felt as if I were hearing all of India, all of humanity, calling for peace in those ancient sacred sounds that reverberated in my heart. Afterward, small cups of water blessed by Amma were passed out to everyone, and she herself spoke to the gathering, with a translator. More chanting, and then the ceremony ended, lasting about an hour and a half.

At this point we were going to leave. Panache, however, had something else in mind. He led us to the front entrance to the main hall, closest to the stage. We saw him consulting with several different Amma volunteers. Apparently, the protocol is that spiritual teachers who come to see other teachers are welcomed as honored guests, as are those with them. It seemed that we were going to be given tokens so that we could join the front of the line to receive darshan. We took off our shoes in preparation. Not so fast. One of the volunteers (who evidently did not know of this protocol) said that we were not allowed to be there and should leave. After much discussion, Panache told us that we were going to leave. Shoes back on, leaving. But wait. One of Amma’s assistants came up to Panache and told him not to leave, that everything could be arranged, that we just had to wait a half hour or so.

Over the next 2–3 hours of uncertain waiting, every time we decided to leave, this sweet assistant appeared and asked Panache to please stay, that all would be arranged. As a group, we surrendered the outcome again and again—yes, no, yes, no, yes…. Finally, five us were sent with tokens to join the line. Excitement! More than five would be too many, so the rest of us were just happy to hug the other five as they came back from being hugged by Amma. Okay, time to leave. Wait, no, the assistant appeared again: “Please stay, I think I can get more tokens for you.” We stayed. More time. Maybe we should leave. Then magically, the assistant brought back enough tokens for everyone who wanted to receive darshan. Not only that but they were “fast-track” tokens with tiny red circles on them.

I was among the last group of four to go. Within minutes, I went from no to yes to then following a volunteer around the back of the small stage where Amma sat, surrounded by helpers, and immediately up onto the stage to within a few yards of her. At this point, I entered a slightly dazed state, in which I stepped forward and did everything I was directed to do by the helpers: take off glasses, kneel, move forward inch by inch. Panache was ahead of me, so I was able to see him being hugged by Amma and the expression on his face afterward: sort of, well, dazed. Then I was immediately in front of Amma, and she drew me to her in a hug and said something that sounded like “my daughter, my daughter” in my ear. Her beautiful smiling gaze rested briefly on my face afterward, and light shone from her being. She radiated light, like the sun. I turned and slowly made my way back to the others on the opposite side of the hall, a rose petal gift in my hand.

The energy of the entire evening was so powerful that it raised us to a higher vibration—we could feel it. I can’t even say how much was Amma, how much Panache (who also embodies loving divine presence), how much the Atma Puja, and how much our group, which was so cohesive, so completely joined in oneness. The gestalt of it all taken together was mind-boggling. I learned something about destiny and synchronicity that night. We kept being shown over and over that we were meant to be there, having the experience that we were having. We surrendered, together, and were carried by that surrender. Right through the whole incredible weekend and back into our lives, changed.

As I look at people now, I see reflections of that radiant light-filled energy in every single face. We are the radiance we have sought so long outside our selves. Increasingly, at this amazing time of huge shifts in human awareness, we are realizing that we too carry within us a light that shines from our souls and moves us to live openheartedly, with absolute love for all beings, everywhere. Like a saint, like a smiling hugging saint.


Morning Glory

Photograph © 2015 Peggy Kornegger
Photograph © 2015 Peggy Kornegger
“Everything is sacred.”—Panache Desai

The morning glories outside my door have been nearly tropical in their lush profusion this year. Huge heart-shaped leaves and purple flowers cover the porch ironwork in the rising sun. Each morning when I go outside, I feel a sense of awe at this breathtaking beauty coming from a few small seeds planted in the late spring. There are moments when gardeners feel like magicians, making bouquets of flowers appear out of thin air. Of course, the gardener is just the conduit, the helping hand that opens wide enough for living energy to flow through it. Mother Nature is the true magician, the source of glorious life here on Earth. As a gardener, I learn this on a daily basis—the absolutely unparalleled sacredness of everything around me. It is an awareness that keeps arising everywhere in my life, and in so many of our lives, these days. I consider it one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.

This past July I spent a week at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, taking part in a weeklong workshop/retreat with Panache Desai, whose programs and events I’ve been attending for several years.* This particular week seemed to be an expansion of all that I’ve experienced with him and with the other people who attend, many of whom are good friends now. As a group, we reached a deeper level of oneness and soul connection than ever before. The divine energy moving through all of us was so intense that it could not be contained within time or space. Seeing the sacred everywhere, in every moment, became a constant. Each person’s eyes shone with light and love. Conversations during and between sessions were deeply meaningful, rich with laughter, tears, and heart-full sharing. As I walked down the hill to the dining hall each day, I saw before me a dazzling world: The color spectrum itself seemed to widen to include new shades and hues. At the end of the week, I felt wide open; life flowed through me without impediments—soulfully, sacredly.

A few weeks later, my partner and I took the train to New York to see Fun Home, lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s tragicomic 2006 memoir turned into an extremely powerful and moving Broadway musical. In it, “Alison” looks back at her complicated relationship with her closeted gay father who committed suicide. Because it was theatre in the round, it was a fairly intimate setting (we were in the first row), and it almost seemed as if we were living the heart-wrenching events along with the characters. At the end, as everyone stood and cheered, and the actors took their bows, the raw emotion we were all feeling was reflected back and forth on the faces, and in the eyes, of actors and audience alike. I couldn’t stop crying, because of the story and because of the people around me, on and off stage. It was a moment of shared humanity and oneness that seemed truly sacred to me.

More and more, we are being moved to embrace all of life in moments like these. A friend or family member will unexpectedly speak their heart’s truth in a sudden rush of vulnerability and honesty. A complete stranger will share a smile or a gesture of generosity. The sun will rise, or set, in stunning pinks and golds. A cat or dog companion will gaze into our eyes with pure love. Someone dear to us may become ill or die. Life will touch us in a thousand different ways, both joyful and painful, during the course of any given day. And at last we are opening to receive the sweetness and power of those moments. We are becoming fully present for life as it moves through us, giving us the greatest show on Earth. Morning glory, evening gratitude. Everything sacred—everywhere, in every moment.

* I’ve written about my experiences with Panache in several other blog posts and in my book Lose Your Mind, Open Your Heart.

Two Teachers, One Spirit

Photograph © Mercedes Longfellow
Photograph © Mercedes Longfellow
Last October, I traveled west of Boston to participate in a traditional sacred fire ceremony with Maya elder Nana Mercedes Longfellow* and a group of 27 others, many of whom have been studying with Nana Mercedes for years. I first met her eleven years ago at Rowe Center in western Massachusetts, where she came to teach with another beloved elder, Gerardo Kanek Barrios (since deceased). A small group of us subsequently traveled to Guatemala with them for ceremonies at sacred Maya sites there. In the years since, various groups have periodically gathered together for fire ceremonies and teachings in both Guatemala and Massachusetts. The teachings, as well as the fire ceremony, are centered around one of the many Maya calendars, the Cholqij, which is a guide to help humans align with the universe’s cycles. Gratitude, humility, and respect for all life are important aspects of the teachings, each one a gateway to inner and outer harmony if practiced with intention and dedication.

Last fall’s gathering was one of the most powerful we’ve had. The level of heart opening was extraordinary, both at the fire ceremony itself and in gratitude exercises we did in pairs later. As everyone shared their experiences, we were all brought to tears again and again by the sheer power of the gratitude in our hearts and the love we felt for one another. Nana Mercedes reminded us that we were experiencing deep divine connection when our hearts opened in that way. These were intensely moving “sacred moments,” as one person called them. It was as if we could all clearly see ourselves evolving, both in those moments and over time. The Maya teachings have that kind of profound emotional and spiritual impact. And, for me, the experience was also very connected to the work I am concurrently doing with Panache Desai.**

Photograph © 2014 Peggy Kornegger
Photograph © 2014 Peggy Kornegger

I have been attending Panache’s programs and events, online and in person, for five years. I first met him at Kripalu Center, in Lenox, Massachusetts, and he has been my primary teacher ever since. More than a teacher, he is a vibrational catalyst: the unconditional love and divine presence that comes through him shifts people into a higher vibration, and they are more aligned with their inner spirit. He has had a tremendous impact on my life, vibrationally, spiritually, and in every other way. Raised in London in an Indian family with strong spiritual traditions, he insists that we are all our own gurus, perfect just as we are in our humanity and divinity. I particularly appreciate his irreverent sense of humor and contemporary paradigm-busting worldview. Some people have asked me if I feel any conflict between his teachings and those of Nana Mercedes, who presents and practices the Maya traditions exactly as they have been passed down for thousands of years. My answer is always no. Though very different from one another, both in tradition and in personality, I find their hearts to be the same—full of love, inclusiveness, and generosity of spirit. To me, their teachings complement and enhance each other.

Nana Mercedes and Panache each embody a beautiful divine connection that shines through their eyes. They both teach that we too are divinely connected and are here on Earth to evolve—through love. Panache speaks of oneness, divine love, gratitude, and making life a “living meditation.” Nana Mercedes speaks of service to life, love of Mother Earth, making gratitude a prayer, and living in the “One Heart.” Vibrationally, they are essentially speaking the same language. As Panache has said, “If God is infinite, then nobody’s wrong.” I find each of them to be inspiring, compassionate, and extremely kind. My greatest transformative shifts in awareness have occurred since knowing Panache and Nana Mercedes, and I feel very grateful to be walking this Earth path with them. I love them both.

*I have written about my experiences with Nana Mercedes and the Maya elders in my blog and in my book Living with Spirit.
**I have written about Panache in blog articles and in my book Lose Your Mind, Open Your Heart.

New Book Now Available!

My new book Lose Your Mind, Open Your Heart–Limitless Love on an Evolving Planet is now available for ordering at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!


Photograph © 2013 Peggy Kornegger
Photograph © 2013 Peggy Kornegger
“This is not a journey of understanding; it’s a journey of trust. It’s a journey of surrendering every aspect of you over to the light.”—Panache Desai

My life is so different than it was two years ago, even two months ago. Perhaps not noticeable to others, but distinctly noticeable to me. The intensive spiritual journey that I have been on for almost twenty years (my entire lifetime really) has become more and more expansive, to the point that boundaries often completely vanish from my perception. Limitations, too, are fading to invisibility, and mental preconceptions are rapidly dissolving. This is at least partially due to facing a lifetime fear of infinity that I had always run from (see previous blog post “Free Fall to Infinity”).

What has occurred is an opening around something that had always seemed rock-solid and impenetrable. Thin beams of light began to filter through what had been a frightening gray mass of emotional density locked into my consciousness since I was five years old. I thought I had been accurately perceiving a basic terrifying aspect of life and death: endless eternity. I came to realize that it was my mind, not my soul, that feared infinity. Beneath the mind’s fright, at my core resided profound peace. Experiencing my soul’s infinite peaceful nature, the light-filled universe within, shifted everything for me (with a little help from my friends, Panache Desai and William Blake).

Now, when I look up and sense the infinite cosmos that both the sky and I are part of, I am filled with amazement instead of fear. The very quality of the light has become infinite to me, a translucent golden that is beyond the color spectrum as we now perceive it. To quote William Blake, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear…as it is, infinite.” The doors of my perception have opened, and I have experienced the power and beauty of something greater than my own three-dimensional mind. Sounds like a 1960s acid trip, but I assure you it is not.

I believe what is happening is I am opening to the light within me and within all of us, the radiant light that is the living vibrating essence of the cosmos. One by one, and thousands by thousands, worldwide, we are opening to this light now. It is the light of awareness, it is the light of love, it is the light of infinity. Gradually, we are becoming less attached to this physical reality that we were always told was fixed and immutable. We are beginning to see the deeper truths of what many Native Americans referred to as “the Great Mystery.” We cannot understand the secrets of the universe with our minds; we can only feel their sacredness and infinite miraculous nature in our hearts. We can be in continuous awe before the wonders of the world, including our own ephemeral presence on Earth and our eternal presence within the light.

“I am divinity defined
I am the God on the inside
I am a star, a piece of it all
I am light”—India.Arie