Amma, the Indian spiritual leader who is best known for traveling around the world to simply hug people, was on a different kind of mission recently that involved a whole lot of love, but not so much cuddling. She was invited to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations’ (UNAOC) Regional Consultations for Asia-South Pacific, which was held in Shanghai, to speak at an event titled “Harmony Through Diversity and Dialogue" where she gave a talk about Coexistence and Engagement Between Cultures.
According to the translation of the speech on her organization's website, Amma’s main point was about accepting and respecting cultural differences as a way of creating peace and understanding across the globe. Though Amma, or Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, is a big proponent of the message of oneness, she also says that, culturally, we are not all the same, and that a lack of listening is what is creating unrest in the world. “We truly need to acknowledge the differences between race, religion, color and creed,” she said. “When we approach others with respect that is firmly established in a deep understanding and acceptance of all our differences, then we will be able to communicate at the level of the heart.”
More than 150 delegates from throughout Asia and the South Pacific representing governments, academia, corporations, NGOs and cultural organizations were in attendance. Though this was Amma’s first visit to China, she’s actually no stranger to political venues. She's presented talks before the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the UN in Geneva and the Parliament of World’s Religions.