My name is Susanne Wecker. I met Amma in 1990, and since 1992 it has been my privilege to host Amma and her senior monastic disciples at my home in Munich when they come there for Amma’s annual tour. After reading a “review” of Gail Tredwell’s book, I wanted to share some of my experiences with Gail, Amma and Amma’s organisation.
“In the 23 years that I have known Amma, I have never seen or heard of Amma abusing Gail or anyone else. Nor did Gail ever speak to me about such abuse—despite the fact that we were quite close.”
In the 23 years that I have known Amma, I have never seen or heard of Amma abusing Gail or anyone else. Nor did Gail ever speak to me about such abuse—despite the fact that we were quite close. When Amma was touring in Europe, Gail would often confide in me many of her difficulties. When I first met her, she seemed to be full of devotion for Amma, but as time went on she seemed only able to criticize Amma. For example, it is Amma’s way to not always inform the swamis and her assistants about her plans—will she go back to the host’s house for the night or will she sleep in the hall itself? Of course, this can make planning stressful, but everyone accepts this as Amma’s way. We take it as an opportunity to learn flexibility, to become more efficient, and to test our ability to retain mental equanimity in stressful circumstances. But Gail never seemed able to see such things in this way. She always took Amma’s lack of disclosure and last-minute plan-changing as a personal slight.
Despite Gail’s willingness to vent her feelings about such things to me, she never once mentioned any of the accusations found 15 years later in her self-published memoir. Gail now writes that Amma beat her, but many of the devotees and ashram residents who were with Amma during Gail’s tenure at the ashram know that that just the opposite was true: It was Gail who had the temper [Mira, Swami Paramatmananda, Rukmini, Kristy, Anu] and who would regularly fly off the handle and attack those under her. The person who bore the brunt of Gail’s assaults was Amma’s attendant, Lakshmi, from Holland, who has been with Amma for 30 years now. But at times, Gail was even violent towards Amma.
“Due to either delusion or spite, [Gail] is now lashing out, trying to destroy people’s faith in one of the greatest spiritual masters to have ever walked the earth. It is a futile attempt—like darkness trying to destroy the sun.”
The truth regarding Gail’s departure from Amma’s ashram is now well-known. It was not because of abuse but because Gail wanted to fulfill personal desires that were incompatible with the monastic vows she had taken up. Today, Gail’s marriage and subsequent divorce since leaving Amma’s organization are a matter of legal record.
During the past 23 years, I have had the privilege to travel with Amma, live with Amma, and host Amma in my own home. I am close friends with many of Amma’s senior-most monastic disciples. Yet I have never seen, heard or experienced even a hint of the kinds of things Gail is writing about in her so-called memoir. On the other hand, I have only seen Amma’s love, humility, patience and compassion.
“To be in a position to regularly witness, firsthand, all that Amma and her ashram are doing for the world has been a profound and humbling experience.”
Since, Gail’s departure from Amma’s organization 15 years ago, Amma’s charitable network has grown in leaps and bounds. Seeing the simplicity and frugal way of Amma’s life—as well as the impressive way in which Amma’s ashram cares for the poor and needy—I have personally donated money to Amma’s humanitarian projects, both in Europe and abroad. In fact, since 2009, I have been living predominantly in Amma’s ashram in India, where I am directly involved in one of Amma’s programs to help empower local women. To be in a position to regularly witness, firsthand, all that Amma and her ashram are doing for the world has been a profound and humbling experience—something for which I am very grateful. I find the idea that Amma is giving donation money to her family absurd. I have never seen any evidence of such a thing. On the other hand, I have only seen the exponential manner in which Amma’s charitable mission has grown and continues to grow.
It is really sad. Gail could have been a role-model to those trying to follow the spiritual path. Instead, due to either delusion or spite, she is now lashing out, trying to destroy people’s faith in one of the greatest spiritual masters to have ever walked the earth. It is a futile attempt—like darkness trying to destroy the sun.