By Rohini Singh
Jamaica-born Anthony Paul Moo-Young, otherwise known as Mooji, is one of Advaita’s most recent masters. Rohini Singh recounts her unforgettable firsthand experience of Mooji’s unique satsang held earlier this year in Rishikesh
I first met Mooji on the net. A casual remark by a friend, stayed in my memory. “Heard of a guy called Mooji? Listen to him sometime.” is all he said by way of an introduction. The remark struck a cord. I Googled him and began to listen regularly to his talks. Even via digital media, there was magnetism about him. And as potent as the content — direct, earthy, profound — was the lovingness. It is what drew me and kept me going back for more. A year back, I included in my ‘wish list’ a desire to meet him. Lo and behold, much to my delight earlier this year, he offered free satsangs at Rishikesh for a month. I went. Twice.
Listening with the heart
Held at Swatantranand Ashram, the first thing that struck me was the atmosphere as I entered. Silent volunteers (about 160 travelled with him),without exchanging a word, held up placards directing you where to remove shoes, switch off mobiles, and maintain silence. The hall fills up and once Mooji enters, there is no need for placards anymore. In all the sessions I attended, one of the most amazing features was the pindrop silence of close to a 1000 people, who throughout his two-and- a-half hour talk, sat immersed in a deep silence, many with their eyes closed, drinking in not just words but his Presence. And that, of course, is what a true seeker goes for. To listen with the heart, as Mooji continually exhorts you to do. To drop from the constant chatter of the mind into the space of Amness, Presence, Beingness, which is the effortless gift of sitting in satsang with a true Master. The poster stuck on the gate of the ashram as well as at various venues in Rishikesh, invites all to “Step into the fire of satsang. It will not burn who you are. It will only burn what you are not.” This is the essence of Mooji’s pointing. I use the word deliberately. He likes to differentiate the two. Teaching is conceptual. What he prefers is to help you experience for yourself who you truly are. Based on the Advaita philosophy of non duality, he continually brings you to the point of seeing that you are not the body, nor the mind, nor thoughts, emotions or the circumstances of your life. With amazing patience, and seemingly unlimited compassion, he challenges every questioner to recognise that what he reiterates is so obvious. The unchanging Self. The space in which it all happens. That which is truly you. Everyone, and each one who stands up at the mike, seems to have the same question, which relates to how they can better manage their life, emotions, relationships, and fears. To each one, he points to that which is unchanging, and needs no fixing, no healing, no managing. To each one he offers the opportunity to see it right then, in that moment. This, he explains, is the difference between his ‘teaching’ and others. There are no long-term prescribed practices, nothing in fact needed to see that you are in actuality the space in which it all happens. It is something you cannot lose. Whatever is perceived – thoughts, feelings, the drama and buzz of life – that comes and goes, cannot be you, can it?
Of questions and answers
Mooji’s satsangs are always held, as you see them on YouTube, in a question and answer format. He prefers to call people up with their doubts and questions and respond to them. It is amazing to see troubled questioners ease up as he challenges their premises with compassion, humour, a laser-sharp directness and a sincerity that I have never yet witnessed. Each person gets the same special treatment. No one is let off the hook until they have progressed from their stuckness to a place of greater spaciousness. And as he answers one, everyone in the audience feels their own questions and doubts dissolving. Mooji is an orator and storyteller par excellence. He jokes, mimics, acts, narrates, relates his own experiences along the spiritual path as he gently but surely pulls you closer to ‘marinating in your own Being.’
No ‘tools’ or techniques are needed. However the only ‘tool’ that can help you recognise this space is self-enquiry (as taught by Ramana Maharishi).
Rohini with Mooji: Consciouness meeting consciouness
Self-enquiry is a laser-sharp process. Here is how it goes. Every time you are upset, troubled, in short, suffering, ask ‘Who is suffering?’ Do not be satisfied with a mental answer. The mind will rush in to answer. Persist. Drop into the space of Being and let the answer be revealed to you. It will lead you to understanding the Truth. The Truth is that the I, the Ego, is an illusion.
What is the space of Being? The True Self. This is not an experience, not something which changes hence you can never lose it. It is not a space you need to ‘reach’. It is a space of natural effortlessness. Ease. That you can simply drop into.
This is what often happens in satsang. And what Mooji suggests you do whenever you get the chance. As you begin to do this, more spaciousness comes into your life. You are able to watch the ‘buzz’ of life from a distance, without associating. “A current of joy runs through you at all times’ as you are able to watch and enjoy the manifestation of consciousness in its varied forms.
We have forgotten this because consciousness has mistakenly identified with the body- mind and now imagines itself to be only that. The journey of self-realisation helps us merge back with Source and realise who we in reality are. That’s awakening!
Born Anthony Paul Moo-Young, in Jamaica, he moved to London when he was 15, and worked as a street artist, stained glass painter and later a teacher, till he was 33, at which point a significant mystical experience changed the course of his life. Shortly after, he stopped teaching, left his home and began a life of quiet simplicity and surrender to the will of God as it manifested spontaneously within him. Mooji refers to this period of his life as his ‘wilderness years’ and speaks touchingly of a deep feeling of being ‘seated on the lap of God.’
Spiritual journey begins
The next landmark in his spiritual journey took place in 1993 when he came to India ostensibly to visit Dakshineshwar, where Sri Ramakrishna, whose teachings had had a profound impact on Tony Moo, had lived and taught. As things unfolded, he never reached there, landing instead at the feet of Harilal Poonjaji, affectionately called Papaji by his disciples. Poonjaji was a follower of Ramana Maharishi, and serendipity brought Moo to meet his Master ‘through whose Grace his mind was pushed back into the emptiness of Source.’
Since 1999 Tony Moo, now called Mooji by his followers, has been sharing satsang with people from all over the world. Who is eligible? Seekers interested in the direct experience of the truth. Direct experience is underlined. What is needed from them? A yes. A readiness. An open heart.
Experience of a lifetime
Meeting Mooji is a direct experience of coming face to face with an embodiment of love, flow and joyousness. It is an impersonal love, that which is each one’s essence and it has the power to make each one feel special. It is an experience of spontaneity and freshness. It is looking into the eyes of consciousness that helps the ‘looker’ recognise his/her own truth. ‘Consciousness meeting consciousness’ as Mooji often refers to it. The day I reached Rishikesh, I wandered into the ashram where Mooji was staying. There was no satsang in progress. It was quiet and still. I sat down on the steps. I had nowhere else to go. Suddenly I looked up and there stood Mooji. With no care for decorum or waiting to ask permission, I spontaneously got up and ran to him. He embraced me. Tears flowed. He held me and allowed me to cry. Amidst tears, I managed to say that I had prayed to meet him. He pressed a marigold flower into my hand. On the day that I left, I expressed my gratitude in a letter to him. I described what this first meeting had meant to me. “It was a run towards freedom,” I wrote, “and I realised that it needs no permission. It is always waiting there with open arms to embrace you and allow you to merge with it. It is consciousness waiting to realise itself.”
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Some quotable quotes from the master
‘If there is a healing to be made, the healing would be to wake up. This is the greatest healing.’
‘Let the universe care for you; it is the best mother.’
‘Stop and sink into this timeless moment!’
‘Consciousness is the greatest movie-maker in the whole world.’
‘I don’t live my day, therefore my day is beautiful. I don’t even have responsibility to live. I don’t even have a life. I AM life.’
‘Don’t wait for ego to melt. Just be aware of your true Self. Otherwise you put a condition on that which is beyond conditioning.’
‘When mind-storm strikes – cut or unplug. Avoid engaging in any story or analysis.’
‘Your mind is telling all these things, but why’s your ear so open for what the mind has to say?’