The interview with Mohanji in New York, on ITV in the programme “Wide Angle”, part 1
Ashok Vyas: Namaskaar, this is Ashok Vyas.
You are seeing this wonderful backdrop of the Himalayas behind me, which reminds us of the sages; the realized beings who help connect us with our own “selves” in a way that is really enriching. And when you actually happen to be in the physical proximity of such a realized being, two possible things may occur: one, their mere presence takes away all your questions and two, the presence blesses you with the ability to ask the right question (smile).
And in the presence of Mohanji, I pray for the latter. I welcome you, Mohanji.
Mohanji: Thank you.
AV: It is a great pleasure to be in the presence of one such as you, immersed in the clarity of life and who stimulates creativity among others – that is what I hear from his followers who consider him a siddha in human form. Mohanji, talking about asking the right question, there are many questions that the mind throws – and one question is: what leads one to fulfillment in life?
M: Well, let’s say you travel across the world, and ask the following question to any of the 7 billion people – “What are you trying for in this world?” Everybody will have the same response: “Happiness”. All are looking for happiness. And it’s not just human beings; every creature looks for happiness.
But we fall with sensory pleasures, imagining them to be the happiness we are after. Often when these momentary pleasures are over, the vacuum reappears. The mind wants more and more; this turns into a vicious cycle, creating more desires, prompting more efforts. Eventually you fall flat, not knowing what to do next. This is why you have so many calamities. A small example – we feel if we buy a bigger house, we will be happy. When the bigger house doesn’t give contentment, we go for a different car, a different place, more property etc. The pursuit continues and happiness still eludes us. We can never point to the exact time we ever experienced that happiness; perhaps it could have been within us.
When we completely exhaust all the external attractions, it dawns on us that nothing external can be the source of permanent and lasting happiness. We turn around to look inward. This introspection may reveal that we have retained some impression from almost every experience- collecting from education, parents, society etc. Continuing with that contemplation, we sense all that collected baggage does not really define us – the weight needs to be shed. When we become clear, things start falling off, thoughts like “This is not what I want” will appear. We can now go beyond, and the process of liberation can start. On the elementary level, everyone is looking for liberation, albeit unconsciously through trial and error. Hence there is the roller coaster of emotions.
AV: In the excitement of introducing Mohanji and thinking about this integrated vision of life, I forgot to share that he comes from the lineage or tradition of Gajananji Maharaj, Mahavatar Babaji, Narasimha Sarasvati, Bhagavan Dattatreya, Sai Baba, Swami Samarth and perhaps also Ramana Maharishi, who is perceived as having carved his own path.
So there appear to be two ways to get enlightenment: one under guidance from a living guru, and the other where the unfolding within is not linked to a living guru, as was the case with Ramana Maharishi. Would you like to share your thoughts on this?
M: When we talk about proceeding through the path of dualities through trial and error and questioning (what am I / who am I, where am I going), Ramana Maharishi represents that non-dual approach and so does Adi Shankara who is the Yugacharya of this Kaliyuga. There are also the traditions of Dattatreya and Kriya yoga which are prominent and very powerful in India, with the avadhootas/siddhas. The Nath tradition flows mixing them both – the initiator being Adinath or Lord Shiva, followed by Matsyendranath, Gorakshanath, and Sainath Maharaj among others. Babaji is also from the Nath tradition. But these masters are all part of the integral system – once a border is crossed, there are really no differentiations anymore. It is actually at the elementary or mind level that you perceive a difference between masters and traditions – the differences are just different representations through different masters.
The story does not end there. It continues to flow – like in the Nath tradition, there is no particular initiation. One becomes a Nath by just surrendering to the tradition, and guidance is then spontaneous – I was perhaps lucky or guided by grace when meditating in the Himalayas, in the Vashishta cave etc. Guidance was happening naturally – nobody told me to shift to my spine and explore. I moved to the spine and the communions and experiences started – the masters can appear from nowhere and take you further if you are prepared to be empty. I always say the right qualification every true seeker should have, is the ability to empty themselves – in a way you cease to exist in this completely emptiness – then the right thing flows into you. And what is the right thing? It is always related to your nature, your basic nature which you chose before you took this birth. That nature is integrally related to your progress. If you follow something that is not natural to you, you will drop it sometime. Better not to take that decision yourself. When you just empty and allow God to fill in, you will be in the right nature and on the right track.
AV: Empty yourself and allow God to fill in. Seemingly simple words, but maybe difficult to put into practice. People have cited different excuses- a hectic life, responsibilities, cutthroat competition in the corporate world, constant thoughts of outsmarting others. Mohanji, you have been part of the corporate world yourself, as General Manager of a shipping company based in Muscat. You have lived for many years in the Middle East away from India. Being in such an environment, how did you prioritize or focus on spiritual wealth?
M: Spirituality is inherent in everybody – what obscures it is the rush of the mind. The mind craves for many things – power, position, money etc. and desires keep coming. However, during the course of my work with multinational companies as General Manager or CEO for over 23 years, never ever have I let those roles collide with my spiritual path and progress. My feeling has always been that it is best to segregate those areas of life, that we don’t need to mix them. The nature of the mind is to always be occupied and distracted, so I always chose to shut off after some time. I have found that the best time to meditate is about 3 am until leaving for work. Calls are also infrequent during those early hours. If you try to meditate in the evenings, it may be not be as easy since you may still be tired from the wear and tear of the day, and perhaps it might be simpler to just take a bath and sleep.
AV: The book “The Power of Purity” by Mohanji is very powerful – to the extent that a reader from New Jersey found himself compelled to connect with Mohanji. He has been instrumental in bringing Mohanji to ITV.
Regarding meditation, some people claim that they meditate but you don’t see any fragrance of meditation in their personality. Others say they find it very difficult to meditate. Any tips?
M: Not everyone can meditate – it depends on the constitution. If a person is serving-oriented and karma yogi by nature, who likes to go out and help the poor and needy, he/she may find it difficult to sit and meditate. So meditation is not compulsory for everybody. If you are so inclined however, we offer two purpose-bound meditations available on www.mohanji.org; completely free to download and practice. One meditation is to cleanse yourself internally, and the other to ground yourself in your spine.
I always say: cultivate awareness of your thoughts, words, and actions on a perpetual level, such that there are no thoughts going on in the unconscious plane. Thoughts arise spontaneously- it is impossible to pre-plan them. But as a thought occurs, just be aware that it passed through your mind. Do not ever censor, criticize or judge – just watch, and be a witness. Likewise with every word, body movement or activity, your mind should be present. We meditate to bring the scattered mind into ourselves. But if your mind is already with you and it’s not scattered, there is no need to meditate.
Secondly, practise manana or contemplation on the following: “Who am I?” This question has been asked by many humans through time, “Am I this anger/ hatred/ anxiety/ fear/ insecurity/ love that I am expressing?” Continue this contemplation/ self-enquiry till you become clear about it. When you have segregated yourself from all your fears etc. ( that’s not me, that’s not me…) you arrive at that which is permanent (this could be me…) – that which remains unchanging through time – through the states of wakefulness, dreaming and deep sleep. We say then that manana has progressed naturally to dhyana or the permanent state. Once you are connected to that, meditation is spontaneous.
But meditation should not be escapism – spirituality should happen because you love it and are drawn to it, and not because you are trying to run away from something. There is a saying that you should go to the sea because you love the sea, not because you hate land, because some day you have to come back to land. Escapism and procrastination is temporary and reality always bites.
So I would say, when you want to meditate, meditate, and if you don’t want to then don’t. Don’t force it. Just be, just feel yourself, understand yourself, shake hands with yourself. You will evolve into meditation on a perpetual basis, on a spontaneous basis, into a state that stays with you.
You don’t need any guru to guide you into that. Who can be closer to you than yourself? Yourself, the soul, is your primary guru. If your soul takes you to another guru for guidance, that is ok. But if you have a mental image of a particular guru that you are seeking, it may not work. When someone says, for instance, that they want Shirdi Sai Baba to be their guru, I ask if they think they are eligible. A student in third grade may want a teacher of say, the tenth grade but neither is a fit for the other. So the information/ path/ guru that comes to us, is natural and suits us, meditation happening on that path will be spontaneous.
AV: Mohanji’s way of expression and his choice of words ring true to us with the assurance that they come from a personal experience of realization, that he is not making up anything. This freshness brings delight – like the flow of the Ganga. Mohanji, your story is so interesting and dramatic – someone from Muscat going to Himalayas, sitting by himself in a cave! Did you ever feel unsure of yourself in such an unusual path?
M: When I first went to the Himalayas in 2000, I met a mother there, a Mataji who adopted me as her spiritual son. Her ashram is by the Ganga in Tapovan.
She asked me to consider her place as my parental home, to just come stay there with no need to inform her prior. At the time I was working in Dubai and I stayed there for a few days. Many people from abroad come to her to learn yoga and the Bhagavad Gita. But she never taught me anything. When I asked why she was not teaching me anything, she replied she was my mother and not my guru. So naturally I asked her where I would find my guru and she replied that I would be taught by the divine. That didn’t make any sense to me at the time – since operating from the conscious mind, you know, we look for tangible physical results.
Then I happened to reach the Vashishta cave. So many great sages have meditated there – from Sage Vasishta of Lord Rama’s time, to the last great master Purushottamananda Maharaj (who was a contemporary of Swami Sivananda of Divine Life Society and Tapovan Maharaj). I think he left his body in 1950. I thought it a big honor just to be present there, considering myself a relatively ignorant person. That cave gave me a lot. Though I had no one to guide me or anyone to talk to, I sat and meditated there many times. I had the good fortune of being able to go there often since my job as country head of a company involved a lot of traveling to the Far East and Europe. Whenever I flew over India, I would take off a week or so, arrive at Delhi and then go off to the Himalayas.
It seemed like nature was facilitating these trips to the Himalayas for me, happening at least a couple times a year. And every visit was elevating. During that period, I was not displaying my spiritual side to the world. I would be at my job during work hours but unavailable at other times. Career-wise, I was contented and unambitious, being already at CEO level. It was my good fortune to be able to attain those positions at a relatively young age. Though there was no discontentment, I was still looking for spiritual explorations to attain a level of conclusion. I needed to reach a particular experiential level of understanding. I was not satisfied with mere theory – any number of books can be read and understood on a theoretical level, but if knowledge doesn’t translate into personal experience, I consider it useless. So I started experimenting with many different techniques (laughs) – sitting and meditating in the Ganga between two rocks in chest-high water in the freezing cold – many other bizarre things too. But all were part of the self-exploration process and I have no regrets – all experiences were helpful.
Eventually, I got to the stage where I felt there was nothing left to do but just be. I realised beingness is all; everything is happening. Then various experiences began – one was an expansion where I could see everything within me and that was the big shift in my consciousness. Certain unexpected communions also came to me, that I had never asked for.
All this led to two conclusions about the spiritual journey: first, when the disciple is eligible, the guru will appear. And second, it is impossible to gauge or estimate the eligibility or level of evolution, it is really beyond our comprehension. Therefore it is best to simply forget about it and focus efforts on just trying. And never to look for comparisons during this process. People explore on their own track. Never underestimate others either – people may look like nothing but in reality be very powerful. I have met such sages there, who have no need of anything from you yet will deliver something very precious and disappear. Those incidents I have described in some of my blogs: one of them is titled The Power of Losing.
And when will people stop looking at auras, chakras and kundalini and catch God? (laughter)
We need to stop beating around the bush. So I ask all the people who have come here today – are you after sensations or are you after God? If you are merely after sensations, it is easy. Even if you just do hyperventilation pranayama, your level of awareness can shift at least temporarily, but you will come back again, then seek another sensation. This is what mostly happens on the spiritual path today. We do not think to go beyond these sensations and aim for the highest. I always tell people to attain the highest in this life. Forget about another life – reach the tallest possible peak in this life. It is important.
Transcribed by Geeta Iyer
Proof-read by Aviral Srivastava