Steeped in gratitude
Manoj Lekhi explains to Rishi Rathod why he quit his multi-crore business to further the cause of Siddha Samadhi Yoga founded by his guru Rishi Prabhakar
When my editor asked me to interview Manoj Lekhi, an educationist, author, spiritual teacher and life-skill coach based in Mumbai, I was curious. She had attended his gratitude workshop and was all praises for his brilliant methods, deep insights and razor-sharp techniques that were helping people vault out of their painful life-situations.
She had seen major turnarounds happen in the lives of people before her eyes and was impressed by Manoj’s kindness, empathy as well as his deep understanding of the human condition.
I met Manoj Lekhi in Hotel Suba International, a suburban hotel in the crowded Andheri area of Mumbai, which is alive for most part of the day with the bustle of traffic, heat and dust from the hurried feet of office goers. Inside, Lekhi met me calm, composed and unmoved like a yogi, a centered being in a chaotic world. Dressed in a green kurta, white pajama and a laptop bag on his shoulder, he also wore a gentle smile as people touched his feet in reverence. His manner suggested that he was more of a friend than a guru. I walked up to him and we began talking.
Have you always been a spiritual person?
In my early years till about 10 years I was a very religious child who participated in artis, and poojas on a regular basis. After this phase I became rebellious and started doubting every ritual. There were loads of questions in my mind but no answers. During my college time I was into smoking, drinking and even doing drugs. After college I started my own business which flourished rapidly and so did my party life. Since money was not a problem, I partied and enjoyed every weekend. Yet since college times while doing all of this, there was an underlying voice that kept nudging me. While puffing smoke into my lungs, sipping alcohol or inhaling the powder, the voice kept telling me that there was something more to life than all this.
So, what changed for you? What was the turning point?
Once I happened to attend the SSY (Siddha Samadhi Yoga) programme. When I met my Guru, Rishi Prabhakarji, something connected me to him deeply. The more he talked about life and living, the more I fell in love with him. I knew I had found my heart, I knew this was my place, my home. By the end of the programme I was a different person.
I attended more programmes and learned simple yet powerful principles of living a happy and blissful life at the feet of my beloved Guru.
At 28 I made a sankalp (decision) that by 35 I will quit my business and focus on self-transformation, reading, meditation and seva. And the beautiful part is that I moved out at 32, three years earlier than I planned.
What prompted you to disengage from your business to serve SSY?
My company was generating crores in revenue and I was making lakhs every month. I was leading a really good life as far as money was concerned. But vairagya (disenchantment from the world) was knocking at the door. Somehow I was losing interest in going to office at 9 and coming back in the evening. I wanted to feel and discover more in life. I wanted to read books, meditate and discover more about myself. And then one day my Guru told me to take the plunge. I took my chance with complete faith in my Guru and since then there has been no looking back. I am still discovering and it has been a deeply satisfying journey so far.
Does SSY’s spiritual practices include the use of mantras?
We do not encourage any kind of chanting at SSY. We believe in the scientific approach. All our tools and practices are based on quantum mechanics that can be used in day-to-day practical living. So let’s say we tell you to practice “no complaint.” We take you through the process to show you what happens in your brain when you complain and how it poisons your system. Similarly, how things change in you when you stop complaining and how the results can astonish you when practice correctly. We help you see what happens in your body and mind when you practice “gratitude” and “taking responsibility.”
We are living in a very challenging time. Attention spans are dropping rapidly, instant gratification is the default normal, and people who pursue spiritual practices are questioned every day. How does one stay happy in such a situation?
To deal with this situation we at the SSY have created a programme called SSY Expression, where we have combination of five-six segments of one day programmes. Our methodology is simple. We don’t give talks but provide practical tools to deal with these current epidemics. We see that it’s not the issue of good or bad but of low and high vibration. The issue which our society is facing today is of people operating on low vibration. For this, the solution is clear. With our practical tools and techniques we make people shift to higher vibrations. We have created an app called Liya app (Life Yessence Academy) where you practice the suggested techniques for few minutes every day. You start seeing the results from the first month itself if you sincerely practice them. Gradually you start operating from high vibrations most of the times and all these issues disappear like they never existed. In some time you come to your normal state of being happy effortlessly.
Also most people are in complaining zone. We help them come out of it and increase their range of happiness. Take for example material wealth. Whether it is gadgets, vehicles or houses, if you complain that a particular gadget is not right or a vehicle is not right or a certain house is not proper, you will limit yourself. You will feel constrained because you have not mastered the art of enjoying what is in front of you.
If you are able to be in tremendous gratitude for whatever you have, you increase your range of happiness. In other words, the more “Ok” you are with the way things are, the happier you will be.
What is the purpose of life?
There is no purpose to life. You are completely relaxed when life’s events don’t increase your blood pressure whether it is politics, spouse, parents or events in general. When you are unmoved by these then you can see the game of life and just to play the game of life, you choose the purpose.
I have gotten 400 people to commit to play this game. We are regularly in touch and have chosen the purpose that suits each one of us. We call this rising together in consciousness, where we learn, help, support each other and earn too.
For many people who want to follow the spiritual path its’ difficult to manage family, work and spiritual sadhana. How can one strike a balance?
My answer to this is gratitude. Start and end your day by practising gratitude. We have numerous examples and testimonies of people who have practised gratitude, and reaped its benefits. They are more relaxed, calm and composed while going about their daily work. Balance is the byproduct of living in gratitude. With this practice things have fallen in place for me too. I have loads of work to do, there is often a shortfall of money and I have to manage the Rishi Gurukulam Ashram Vidyalay as well, but while facing all this I flow with happiness. By being in gratitude we recognise the gifts life has given in small-small things which we usually take for granted, such as our body, our relationships, children, and things and people we are interdependent upon.
We make people see their behavioral patterns and their habit of complaining all the time. Complaints lead to more complaints. We can’t see the solutions because we are vibrating at low level. To tackle this we give people the tool of being in gratitude every day.
Is gratitude the only spiritual practice you make your students do?
No it is one of them. Through all our programmes we give participants the techniques to be free of complaints and be in surrender. These are important spiritual practices but the key to success is taking responsibility. When you begin the practice of being in gratitude and not complaining it takes time to see the results. You may falter a couple of times but when you take responsibility for yourself, then you keep at it even if you fail multiple times. We even provide you a guide to make your journey less cumbersome. In every situation and at all times you have to remember that you are responsible for your own happiness. You can take charge of your life, health, relationship and help others do the same.
The reverse is also true. You start teaching or doing seva and at some point in the journey you get it clearly. We are students of life. Guruji says, “Everyone can be a teacher.”
I noticed you instructing people on what to eat and how to eat. Is there anything specific you recommend?
Yeah! We recommend not eating non-vegetarian foods as they takes 72 hours to digest but it has nothing to do with religion. We tell our fellow students to plan their meals 50 per cent raw and 50 per cent cooked. Generally speaking our suggestion is that the lesser we eat the better we are.
What is your take on controlling vasanas/desires?
According to me we must master our senses but not control them. Controlling comes from will power which makes you vibrate on low level, whereas mastering the senses come from the higher chakras. It elevates you and makes you operate on a higher level. People confuse happiness with pleasure. Senses give you pleasure but are always dependent on others whereas happiness comes from within.
Despite the increase in worldly comforts, a large part of the population feels tense, and unhappy. Many look lonely. What is the solution for this?
From the beginning we are taught to earn our living through the rat race. We teach our young ones to grab bigger and bigger pies. The reality is when they get those comforts they realise something is amiss. True happiness comes from within and we have never taught them how to sit quietly with themself, how to introspect and dig deeper within yourself. Loneliness, emptiness and anxiety are the fruits of what we are feeding ourselves with. We are not against material comforts or wealth but practising detachment and gratitude can give people the fulfillment they are longing for.
You have been a successful entrepreneur and are now completely devoted to promoting your Guruji’s work. What is the difference between running a spiritual organisation and commercial organisation?
I was doing my business for myself which made me and my family wealthy but not necessarily happy. The spiritual path not only gives me immense satisfaction and happiness but also benefits my fellow human beings. I realise that it is a drop in the ocean but the welfare of fellow human beings is paramount and in the end that’s what matters.
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