Mooji - Before I Am
Interview by Iain McNay
Iain: We do respond a lot on Conscious TV to emails we get in and letters from people saying we’d really like to see you interview so-and-so, and Mooji’s name has come up frequently over the last few months. So we finally tracked him down - he’s now back in England for a time - and we think we’re very lucky to have you here in the studio, Mooji.
Mooji: Oh, thank you.
Iain: So you have a book out, Before I Am, which has, I think, just been released. I haven’t actually met you before but I’ve had a little look at your book the last few evenings. And I’d like to start, if we can, just looking a little bit at your life and how you got to be where you are, I guess. So I know you originally came from Jamaica and then when you were fifteen you moved to England.
Iain: Sixteen, yes. So what was the reason you moved to England?
Mooji: Well, my mother had been living in England since I was a baby. I did not really know her. I had no memory or experience of her. She left when I was very young. I met her only when I was sixteen. She wanted me to join her in England.
Mooji: I joined her after my father died. She came back into the focus somehow and we began to write to each other and at some point she mentioned, “I would like you to come and live with me in England”. It was very exciting; [laughing] the idea of leaving Jamaica.
Iain: Because England’s such a different country, different culture, isn’t it?
Mooji: Yes, yes. Many people, particularly from Port Antonio, the place where I’m from in Jamaica, tend to come to England... I don’t know why. Most Jamaicans, at least in those days, tended more to travel to America, you know. But from Portland, they head for England. I think more Portlanders joined the British Army during the war years, so afterwards they wanted to come to the mother country. They imagined they would be greatly welcomed [laughing].
Iain: And you came from a big family?
Mooji: Big family, yes.
Iain: So when you got to England, what were your impressions to start with?
Mooji: Ooh. Well, the first time I came to England was actually the first time I flew on an airplane. I travelled with my mother. When we arrived, immigration stopped me from entering the country as I did not have an entry permit. We were very naive about these things. They took me to a detention centre, locked me in a cell overnight and, early next day, put me on a flight straight back to Jamaica.
Iain: They sent you back?
Mooji: Yes, yes [laughing].
Mooji: It’s been a good life experience for me. I have to say this because, ever since then, whenever and wherever I travel, I never assume I will be allowed in. There is a sort of humility in that, you know, and I am grateful for this. Sometimes I see people who are visitors to a new country, standing in the immigration queue tapping their feet impatiently, like they have the right to enter at will. I never assume I will get past immigration, even when entering Jamaica [laughing].
Iain: But you also learnt from the experience too.
Iain: It had a value.
Mooji: I think so.
Iain: And what kind of work did you do originally, when you got to England?
Mooji: I went almost immediately to school and then college. My life adjusted quite quickly to living in England, because my mother belongs to a church community who were very loving, very accommodating. Their welcome cushioned my landing quite a bit. A new arrival would quickly be surrounded by a lot of people who wanted to see and take care of them, so I felt really fortunate from that point onwards. I always made friends quickly, and so within a week or two there were already new pals, you know. It was very easy.
Iain: So you felt accepted somehow?
Mooji: Immediately. Not like the first time [laughing]. The second time - yes, yes. When I met the group from the church and the community, everything became easy.
Iain: And you felt at home in the church?
Mooji: Yes, yes. More because of the social atmosphere and genuine warmth of the members there. The people are very open, very friendly and very approachable.
Iain: But did you believe in God as such?
Mooji: I would say almost everyone growing up in Jamaica believes in God some place within themselves, you know. It is a very easy... a very easy way of being... Even this question, “Do you believe in God?”, would be almost unheard of in Jamaica. It’s almost an assumption that you do [laughing].
Iain: So it’s part of the ingrained culture that you believe in God, yes.
Mooji: I don’t feel that this is hammered into us; we just grew up with that. The first church we attended was just behind my house, so it felt it’s just a part of our backyard you know.
Iain: And then, I think I was reading in your biography, at thirty-two years old you had an encounter with a Christian mystic and something significant happened that changed the way you see things.
Mooji: Yes. I refer to him as a mystic, but he doesn’t refer to himself as this, you know. He was a young man who, it seemed to me, just appeared out of nowhere. I was at that time preparing for an open art exhibition at a local gallery. After returning home one day, my friend greeted me, “Someone came by today wanting to know who made the stained glass in the front window. I told him about you and he asked if he could come and meet you. I think he said he also makes glass work”. So that was the way in which he was introduced to me.
As soon as we met, there was this relaxed feeling between us. He was very straightforward for, within minutes of meeting, he told me he was a Christian who worshipped with friends in his room in a nearby house. Strangely, this was not felt as any pressure from him. It just felt like that was important for him to tell me somehow. If you live in Brixton, you’re used to people knocking on your door, Jehovah’s witnesses, people like this, you know. But my meeting with him was very different from the usual flow of uninvited visitors; he felt like a friend.
I found that, in his presence, many questions began coming up in my mind; questions about the nature of life, the world and God. I can’t remember any specific ones right now, but what stands out is that he answered each question I presented with clarity, authority and love. I would look forward to his visits - which, by the way, were never arranged. Whenever I needed some advice, he would somehow show up, as if by chance. He always felt very near and accessible.
Early one Sunday evening, Michael and another friend dropped by and we, including my girlfriend, had a beautiful evening discussing spiritual matters. I felt very happy in this warm and elevated company. As the friends were about to leave, I asked, “Michael, when you... when you pray again, please pray for me”. I felt the words just flowing out of my mouth like I wasn’t really alone in saying them... something else was assisting. He answered, “Sure, why not now?” Such was his way. I said, “OK”, and stood up in anticipation. Many Jamaicans are accustomed to having others pray on their behalf. Michael placed his hands on my head and began his prayer. As it ended, I found myself asking, “Please help me, please guide me too” - something like this came out, and that was it. We hugged each other and he left. I felt very happy, very, very happy [laughing], but also suddenly tired. Shortly after this, I went to bed and fell into a deep dreamless sleep.
I often recall this moment because it was a real turning point for my life. From that moment a new chapter began unfolding.
Iain: So what changed in your life after that?
Mooji: I woke up next morning and it was like a dimmer switch of sensitivity was turned up to ‘high’ setting. I was lying in bed, quietly noticing the sunlight pouring through a split in the curtains. It was as if I was seeing the sun for the first time... My heart was full of joy. There was a sweetness about everything that morning.
Iain: So you were more aware of...?
Mooji: It felt like a tingly awareness was bubbling through my entire body and mind.
Iain: A tingly awareness...
Mooji: Yes, of just being, of... a deep sense of happiness, of lightness in my body, you know. I remember this distinctly, how the sunlight was slowly sliding across the room. I don’t know what in particular I was noticing; it was more a feeling of inner aliveness and joy, like I was simultaneously seeing outside and inside. I felt extremely happy. An urge arose to go walking, which is not something I’d been doing for a while. As I walked out into the street, everything opened up into a magnified state of joyfulness; it was very noticeable. I didn’t want this feeling, or this day, to end. I kept walking, feeling a little light-headed and full to the brim with joy. I spent the entire day alone.
That night, I resisted going to bed, for I was so happy. My body was full of energy. But eventually sleep came. Morning came, but the feeling inside was as bright as the day before. I felt as though I was the most fortunate person in the world but no one knew of it. Within a few days, a deep peace arose inside, and that has remained to this day.
My whole outlook was now undergoing radical change. The sense of ever-expanding presence inside me was the unbroken experience. I could see that most people were missing this conscious inner contact with the divine. Everyone I knew and saw suddenly looked distant, as though they were lost inside themselves. I was not really analysing life so much. It was all just being felt, an insight, at this stage; not thought.
Iain: Were you surprised that was happening, or did it just feel like a natural process to you?
Mooji: I didn’t feel surprised - I felt grateful and very happy, joyful. It felt completely right somehow, natural, you know. But I felt very, very fortunate [laughing]. It was like this: my heart was somehow full of the joy of spring.
Iain: So how different, in practical terms, from the Mooji we know?
Mooji: I don’t know. I was never much of a thinker. Something immense was happening... different from anything I had ever experienced - incomparable. It felt like something had moved in, a powerful presence, and the feeling arose quickly in me to call this God, you see.
Iain: It almost felt like an external presence had...?
Mooji: No, I didn’t feel it as external - it was very, very much sitting inside this frame [gesturing to self]. It didn’t feel like I was being invaded - it just felt like my being was being turned up full power on every level. I knew it was nothing to do with any effort or imagination on my part. I took it to be grace, good fortune. I felt very blessed, and then immediately began to relate to this presence as God, you know. This is how it felt for me.
Iain: Because you say... I think you say, in the chapter in your book that’s biographical, that people realised that something different had happened to you and they were quite surprised. Not surprised, but they saw that you were a different person in one way. It was obviously noticeable to people.
Mooji: Many people, students and strangers, were responding to the presence consciously or unconsciously. I could detect this intuitively, but others who were in regular contact with me, some family and friends, were showing signs of discomfort around me, for they couldn’t come to terms with what had happened. They often imagined or interpreted the worse; I could pick it up straightaway.
Iain: So they found it uncomfortable?
Mooji: Yes, some felt uncomfortable, but not everyone. The girlfriend who was with me from the very beginning was very supportive and very present; this is her nature. However, others initially tried to discourage me, place doubt inside my mind. But I was too far gone [laughing].
Iain: [laughing] People have suspicious minds, don’t they?
Mooji: Yes, you know, almost as though they felt threatened by it. I don’t know why because I was mostly very quiet... shy even. I wasn’t preaching at anyone. On the contrary, I very much wanted to be alone.
Iain: It says in your biography that some miracles started to occur around this time.
Mooji: Some things appeared out of the ordinary field of my experience. What was taking place was simply, unmistakably uncommon. The sheer awesomeness of it was felt unavoidably inside my being, and it was affecting some people and their movements around me. I realised that some people - I would rather call them beings - could notice and feel the presence of this power or the power of the presence... somehow. It clearly was having an effect on my surroundings. I don’t often talk about it, though many are interested to hear such reports, but what was clear is that none of it was my doing. I felt my mind and body was being spring–cleaned, and I was being made aware of how totally whatever happens here [gesturing to chest] affects what’s happening around me. That was clear, you know; unquestionable. That was clear for me.
Iain: Then you had this period - I think, six years - where you... Because before that you were a street painter, then you were making stained glass, then you removed yourself - is that correct?
Mooji: I was teaching.
Iain: You were teaching too?
Mooji: Yes, I was working as an art teacher in the local college. Yes. In spite of this tremendous change taking place internally, I continued teaching for a while, until it came to the point that I simply couldn’t go on. I quit the teaching job for real freedom. I was not a saver of money so, in a short time, I became penniless.
Iain: And I think you went and stayed with your sister...
Mooji: My sister, yes, yes.
Iain: ...and she looked after you for a time.
Mooji: My sister offered me a room in her flat.
Iain: And what happened to you during that time internally? Was there a process going on?
Mooji: Yes. I quickly realised I did not know ‘how’ to make decisions about anything to do with ‘holding life together’. I felt a natural urge to surrender myself to the will or whims of God. It was not such a challenge for me to take the attitude: “You know what is best, for it is you who has brought all of these things into my heart, so you better help me sort it out” [laughing]. It seemed to work somehow. I think God likes this kind of attitude.
Iain: Yes. So it was a classic case of surrender, just saying whatever happens is going to happen. Did you feel that took courage, or was it just obvious that was the...
Mooji: I thought, “I am being assisted anyway”. My feelings were changing to accommodate that kind of trust... it felt natural to trust. It was mostly easy for me, but not always.
Iain: And then you were there six years or so, in what I would call this process of letting go?
Mooji: Well, I have only little fragments of memory about this period in regard to practical things. I cannot really remember who I was in that time. Recollecting events is not an attribute here. There was no real schedule in my life after I finished teaching, so I was completely open and flexible as to how a day might unfold, you see. There were no real desires pulling my attention here and there - just a strong inner sense to throw everything into this fire somehow. It felt very exciting, not scary at all. I felt this urge to cast everything in a fire that burns everything to dust. Then, one moment, the light inside shone brightly and I found a stirring conviction - I walked out of my life. You know, it wasn’t difficult. I just threw everything into this experience, this abyss, you see, and said, “Whatever”. That was it.
Iain: There’s a quote from you in the book about the time you were... you felt you “were seated in the lap of God”.
Mooji: Yes, yes.
Iain: That’s a wonderful way of describing it.
Mooji: In some ways the feeling is still there [laughing].
Iain: I’m sure it is.
Mooji: Yes, yes.
Iain: And then, just to follow the story chronologically, you then in 1993 travelled to India.
Mooji: Yes, I did.
Iain: And what was your motivation for going there?
Mooji: Well, what had happened is that... It was quite late in life, compared to many people, when I began reading books. I had only read two books.
Mooji: Yes [laughing]. One was The Pearl by John Steinbeck, because we had to perform it at school. The second was Eighty-eight Short Stories by Guy de Maupassant. I found this book on the table of the school library; I was fascinated by the strangeness of these stories. But apart from these, I was not drawn to reading. If you found me with a book, it would be one which had pictures in it. I like pictures, but I was not so accustomed to looking into words deeply. Sorry, where were we?
Iain: We’re talking about the reason you went to India.
Mooji: OK, and so there arose, in this new period in my life, a desire to learn more about these experiences, what they meant, what God wanted of me. There was an eagerness to move things on more rapidly. I was seeing Michael less and less. When I did, I would just empty out my questions in front of him and he would pacify my mind.
One day, I went into one Christian bookshop, and it turned out to be a very powerful experience for me. It was as though I entered this space where all the words from all the books were screaming out in a mad chaos. It was like the sound of cold water being poured into a pan of burning oil.
Iain: So all the words from the books were cascading on you somehow?
Mooji: It was just like this, it was like all these words were screaming inside my head. And I just came out very quickly. I did not go into another bookshop for several years. Shortly after this, a wave of young Muslims were appearing in our town and they were giving away lots of their literature outside the tube station and along the high street. I was on fire for spiritual knowledge, and they were keen to satisfy my urge. However, fears began coming up in my mind.
Iain: Fear came?
Mooji: Fear came up very strongly that because I was somehow drawn… because there was some curiosity, some urge to look at what they, the Muslims, were offering, I might be straying from the teachings of Christ, as though they were not enough. You get these kinds of feelings if you are brought up in any evangelical religion.
But the urge would not leave. I saw a book Christ in Islam... It felt less of a threat or betrayal for it mentioned Christ. I took the name of Christ, of God, and went for it [laughing]. As I read, all fears began disappearing. A small battle was won.
Shortly afterwards, while in the West End of London, I discovered a small bookshop called Watkins. I was a bit hesitant, initially, after the memory of the first experience, but I went into the shop and I went down to the Indian section. I picked up the smallest book I could find, a book on self-enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi. I saw the picture of the sage on the cover and I really liked him but, as soon as I began reading the words, I had to put it down. It felt so noisy to me, because it was like I had to use my mind in a way I was unaccustomed to. I thought someone had mistakenly placed the wrong text inside this beautiful cover. Energetically, the two didn’t seem to belong together.
Iain: [laughing] Yes.
Mooji: So it was not the time to meet Ramana Maharshi. Instead, I found a book about the life of another sage - Sri Ramakrishna - and it was an instant attraction. This became the first book I ever bought of my own volition, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.
Mooji: And this became my second Bible, in a way. I was reading this... I was eating it actually, I didn’t want it to finish, it was so full of everything I needed. The words of Ramakrishna were satisfying something deep inside, confirming that I was indeed on the right path. I was not alone.
Years later, In 1993, I travelled to India with the sole intention to sit in Sri Ramakrishna’s room, perhaps on his very bed, as he - through his inspiring teachings and touching stories in this wonderful book - was the pull that drew me to this mysterious country.
Iain: And you met some disciples out there who were followers of Papaji and you ended up going to visit Papaji?
Mooji: As fate would have it, I ended up not going to Calcutta at all, where Ramakrishna lived and taught, but instead to meet Papaji who, until then, I knew nothing about. I knew nothing about sages, saints, gurus and the rest, but somehow I felt very blessed to have been brought to him. I felt like I was brought to him by the wishes or decree of the cosmos.
Iain: And he said something to you, didn’t he, that gave you a bit of a jolt?
Mooji: A big jolt [laughing].
Iain: What did he say to you?
Mooji: I had sat in satsang for some months, listening and benefiting from everybody’s questions, and then it came a moment when I felt I wanted to put myself in front of him. So I spent a whole evening trying to construct a letter of introduction to him. I stated, as best as I could, an account of what had happened to me thus far. The moment came... He pulled out my letter and began reading. After a few words, he called me to come up in front of him. There was some shivering.
Iain: So when you say shivering, you were uncertain...
Mooji: The shivering started while I waited to see if he would pick up my letter.
Iain: So you were a little nervous?
Mooji: Very nervous. And then he called me. From the moment I stood up, something began falling away. I felt seized by fate, drawn towards the butcher’s bloc; a path I had watched others take before they entered themselves again. My knees began turning to water but, somehow, I made it across the sea of seekers to sit at his feet.
Sometimes Papaji can just destroy your ego with a few playful remarks... a joke, or a simple turning away of his head. In my case it began with him poking fun at my name. It was a girl-name, Tony. The proper boy’s name is Toni. Amidst the roar of laughter, I tried to correct him, but I was missing the point. He continued reading, stopping here and there to make a comment. I began to feel a lot of resistance coming up inside. I tried to appear calm on the surface. Now anger and judgment joined in. There was a shock inside, a surprise that such resistance could be happening, such doubts, resentments, all coming in together to climax into a continuous ringing in my ears. Now I watched his lips moving but could hear no sound. My mind had now shut off, leaving only this boiling resentment towards Papaji. It was saying, “You are not my master. What gives you the right to talk to me like this? I would only accept such words from Ramana himself”. [laughter]
However, something did filter through... Somewhere inside my being I heard him say, “If you wish to discover the truth fully, you must vanish, you must disappear altogether”. That did something inside; it shuffled me up completely. I felt very angry and disrespected. All of this stuff erupted inside. It was hell.
Iain: So you felt he hadn’t seen you as such?
Mooji: No, it wasn’t this. I guess I had imagined he would put a plaster on my hand and rub my cheeks but, instead, he pushed a sword deep into my solar plexus. I was in complete shock and disarray.
Mooji: [laughing] I was exploding! I tried to look really calm outwardly, as I didn’t want to lose face, but I was a complete wreck inside. I felt full of noise. After satsang was over I just wanted to go home, pack my bags and get as far away from Papaji as I could. I felt in my heart it was time to leave this place. This was my cue to leave Lucknow and move on. And so I went home and furiously started packing my belongings.
It was an extremely hot day - or maybe it only felt like this to me - so I went out for some fresh air, walking some two hundred metres or so to the nearby shops. I sat there under a tree, cooling off. I still felt shuffled up inside somehow. The rage seemed to lessen a little, and I started off home to finish packing. I had walked perhaps twenty metres or so when suddenly... this huge cloud of anger and frustration, shame and confusion, vanished. For some time, how long I couldn’t say, I could not find myself. There was simply no reference or memory of ever being a ‘me’. I could see the body but I knew it wasn’t ‘me’. There was just space.
Iain: You could not find yourself?
Mooji: My body was there but that was not what I was looking for. I could not find a reference onto which I could hang something about who I am. I was nameless and formless. There was just an infinite expanse.
Before meeting Papaji, my life was full of bliss, space and beautiful insight; it’s there now also. That was my continuous experience. Occasionally, I would experience a falling through into emptiness but, in that moment in India Nagar, I did not exist. Nothing existed. A panic arose but quickly blew away, leaving this unending expanse.
And then a great love of Papaji arose in that space. In an instant I realised that, until then, I had not opened my heart to fully love him. Everything vanished. I began running towards his house like a child eager to be with its parents. There was a feeling that my feet were not touching the ground [laughing].
Iain: [laughing] And what did you say when you saw him in the house?
Mooji: I didn’t get in. When I arrived, people were waiting to go into his house and I don’t remember what else happened. I went home knowing I was not going to leave. I could not leave. I stayed on in Lucknow to sit at his feet. I was in love with him, in love with being. There was nowhere else. I don’t know how to describe these things.
Iain: And then what finally did take you away from India… because you had the tragedy with your son, he died...
Mooji: Yes, yes. With Papaji’s blessings, I left Lucknow, a few days before my fortieth birthday, and travelled to Ramana Ashram in the south of the country. I spent a few months there. I returned in March to Lucknow to be with Papaji once again but, within a week of being there, I got news that my eldest son had suddenly passed away. I returned to London immediately.
Iain: How was that when you heard that news?
Mooji: [sighing] There was a sort of reflex action. In a flash it was like I was skinless, but just for a short while and that also went. It’s like a reaction from the past, or something happened and then somehow it was all OK again, all returning to space. I found that whatever was necessary moved in action and took care of what needed to be done. I felt a very strong assistance in everything that unfolded since then. I returned to London and buried my son and reassured my other two children that this was only his body, not his being. It was like this. There was not a sense of regret at what had happened. My mind and heart was rooted in awareness. My head remained at Papaji’s feet.
Iain: No, I understand what you are saying.
Mooji: I know some people may be shocked by what I am going to say but it is the truth. I never held the feeling that my son died too young or too early. Such sentiments were far from my mind and it remains like this to this day. Destiny, I felt, is the god of human life.
Iain: And then you were in England?
Mooji: I stayed in England, yes.
Iain: And what happened next?
Mooji: Well, somehow the sense of any kind of control or motivation arising from any projection or intention had weakened, so much that my mind remained in a state of effortless being. My attitude was that whatever happens, happens. I found myself selling incense in the local marketplace. I did this for some time. It felt good. Then in 1997, someone invited me to return to India and offered to pay my fare. I had little money at that time, so I went there and enjoyed the chance to be with Papaji once again. I spent several months at his feet before returning to London. A month after returning, I received news Papaji had left the body. Again, that event had the same effect as my son’s passing. Papaji has not gone anywhere but was still inside me.
Iain: And so you started to teach or give talks? How did your new work evolve?
Mooji: There was no such intention to begin with. I continued working on the street selling incense in the market in Electric Avenue, Brixton. I used to move about freely, carrying my bag of incense and my bell, calling out, “Incense, incense”. I felt very happy and free. Later, when the police kept moving us - street traders - I found a space in front of a shop where I could sell my wares safe from the arms of the law.
I used to write sayings from around the world, whatever touched my heart, including some of my own thoughts, and cut them into little strips. I would then roll them around the wooden end of empty incense sticks and slide them into drinking straws which I took from McDonalds (I shouldn’t be saying this [laughing]!). I would cut the straws into small pieces, just long enough to hold the sayings in place. Many people liked to ask for a ‘thought for the day’. They became very popular and also helped me sell incense. Some people began coming to me for advice as a result of reading these messages.
Iain: Thought for the day?
Mooji: Yes. I had a bag full of these... thousands I’d make. Whenever someone would ask for incense, I would ask, “Would you like a thought for the day?” And they would put their hand inside the bag and take a saying.
Iain: Oh right.
Mooji: And it just took off; people loved it, you see. Wherever I went, I carried my bag of thoughts. Some conversations would arise and lead into a deeper exploration of truth, and so I discovered satsang was happening. It all started like this... very soft.
Iain: And I think, just what I picked up from your book, you encourage something called ‘self-enquiry’ now - is that correct?
Iain: So what is self-enquiry?
Mooji: It is the simplest way. Self-enquiry is like looking into a mirror to see what you have been overlooking. The simplicity of pure being somehow gets eclipsed by our fascination with our conditioning, thoughts, imagination and projections - which amounts to what I call distraction. Self-inquiry exposes what is not true, the personal identity, and in dispelling what is not true, what is unquestionably true - the Self - is revealed in that instant.
Iain: Yes, yes.
Mooji: And it’s funny because, as you know, it all started off, as I explained earlier, with the book of Ramana Maharshi’s on self-enquiry and how repulsed I was by this initial contact. How strange that now some inscrutable force has so firmly placed this understanding inside my heart! I call it grace. Some people are not used to this type of language but, for me, I have to say that it was revealed inside this heart through grace - this power to reveal truth through enquiry or self-investigation. For one such as I, coming as I do from such an intellectually naive background, I testify to the power of grace... what else? And so it has become one of the ways I interact with those who seek truth.
But there are other paths to the same truth... The path of devotion and surrender is suitable to others whose temperament does not lean toward enquiry. My being includes all ways, for they all empty themselves in the one nameless ocean. Self-enquiry is suited to those whose temperament leans towards the intellect, or philosophy.
Iain: Stronger in the mind?
Mooji: Yes, yes.
Iain: Because it seems to me… I guess we would say you found your freedom. I’m not trying to categorise, but we could say your freedom did not come through any deliberate process: something just happened when you were talking with... I forget the guy’s name...
Iain: Yes, that’s right, Michael - when you were talking with Michael. And it happened in a fairly simple way. But from what you’ve suggested to me, you have a relatively simple mind, not a complex mind. And, of course, so many of us in the west have complicated minds… And you feel this process of self-enquiry can help people to find their freedom?
Mooji: It clearly has and continues to do this, because I had no intention to interact with people through this process of self-enquiry. By myself, I would not have felt any authority or courage as, naturally, I don’t feel such confidence with expressing ideas. If someone were to suggest that in a few short years I would develop such a way of communication, it would have seemed completely ridiculous to me. I felt that self-enquiry was the path to truth for those people who struggled with trust, surrender or devotion. The enquiry became a way - their way - into the same truth. It is the same recognition as those who realise truth through devotion.
One thing I remember... a prayer, held deep inside my heart; and that is, if I am going to be free from the hypnosis of my own conditioning, I don’t want freedom just for me. A door had to be open for as many to pass through as were ready to enter truth. I feel self-enquiry arose here to fulfil this wish.
Iain: You know, something that’s always in the back of my mind is that, because there’s such interconnectedness between all of us, can one person, I wonder, be completely free, when the rest of us are not free, as we’re all essentially one... one cosmos in a way? And I wonder, do you sometimes feel in yourself this... I don’t mean to say people are holding you back, I don’t mean it that way, but do you sometimes feel there’s more of a way to go somehow, which can only happen when we all are open to this process?
Mooji: I don’t know if it’s down to us to be open: something must be already moving there. I don’t feel that there’s really an ‘us’ in the way that we imagine to initiate and move towards truth in all its fullness. I feel it’s like the whole of consciousness is moving...
Mooji: ...so it takes out this feeling of blame, that people are responsible for what you’re drawn to, what you’re attracted to, or what you’re repulsed by; so there’s something a bit easy about it. And also because I know deep within my own being that we are this already, you see.
Iain: No, I’ve heard this so many times. I understand what you’re saying, yes.
Mooji: So that I’m happy to remind those who I meet that it’s not that we need to be clever, special or creative to qualify for this understanding in the heart - we are this already; but the recognition must take place. There needs to be that openness, of course. It’s not enough to just say this only with words. There has to be a complete recognition, the recognition of seeing what is not true, what is not you, and to be willing to turn away from this, to discard the unreal... This is up to us, for we are not inert - we are consciousness itself. This recognition can happen in an instant, or it can be a slow-cooking kind of awakening. Each unfolding is a unique birth. It is not that the self undergoes a change, for it is unchanging - but a block, a veil of ignorance is removed, which amounts to the peeling away of a cataract of illusory identity, and truth is revealed.
Iain: Yes, I think you’re probably right. It’s a slow-cook, as you put it, for some people and for other people it can happen quite quickly.
Mooji: Even if it happens quickly, there’s a slow-cook aspect of it that continues afterwards until the mind fully stabilises inside the heart, its source.
Iain: Like an integration?
Mooji: ...it seems paradoxical that a maturing continues to happen, but against the background of unchanging awareness at the same time.
Iain: And was that… I know you don’t remember the details, but was that what was happening for you, those six years when you were living with your sister - you felt that there was the slow-cooking going on in the background?
Mooji: Yes, maybe a slow burning away of the noise of identity. Anyone in the midst of this renewal recognises that something is dissolving by itself and there’s an eagerness to be out of the way, mentally or personally. No force is required where trust and faith is concerned. It is just like falling in love: no one has to remind or encourage you to remember your beloved.
Iain: It’s grace again, isn’t it?
Mooji: I’m comfortable with the word grace. There is the urge to come to completeness. Sometimes people say, “Yes, but how can I be sure?” This is such nonsense. When you’re in love you don’t say, “How can I be sure if this is the right person?” No, you don’t do this; you pour yourself out for love’s sake, you go for it. So perhaps we are too accustomed to respecting our thinking. Maybe it’s not even this - maybe it’s just not your moment to awaken to the truth of who or what you are; it is still time to sleep. I don’t see anything wrong with this. I don’t feel I’m here to persuade or to convince anybody, and I am not trying. All that happens is that someone comes in front and we see what happens.
Iain: And you enjoy that... you enjoy that process?
Mooji: Well, one cannot help but be in joy at the sight of someone coming home by awakening to the truth of Self. It is a joy to see imagined obstacles evaporate in that clear seeing. Yes. There is a joy in that [smiling].
Iain: Yes. I can sense that in you, yes.
Mooji: To feel that lightness returning; the falling away of ignorance in the light of truth.
Iain: How do you feel with the way humanity is going at the moment, all these dramas that are happening with the banks and the ecology and things? Is that...?
Mooji: To be honest, I don’t even notice it.
Iain: You don’t notice it, yes.
Mooji: It’s not that I bury my head in the sand. All these things have to happen. Perhaps in the bigger picture it will force or challenge human beings to contemplate other approaches to existence, make an opening. I’m not waiting for anything to come out of it, in fact. Things like this happen thousands of times in the universe.
Iain: I think you’re right there [laughing].
Mooji: [laughing] I don’t want to make a big deal, you know, like “2012 is going to bring a huge shift in the consciousness of the world”. We have been doing this for as far as even I can remember. I think it is another way of avoiding the ever-present opportunity to awaken, to recognise the timeless and imperishable awareness we are in every moment.
Iain: Well, it gives us a focus for something to think about along the external, to try and fix and get right...
Mooji: Yes, just a habit, a fantasy.
Iain: ...and that can always be a distraction from the internal.
Mooji: Yes. But if that happens, it is also the play of consciousness. What to do about it, who can argue…? I’m not apart from consciousness to do anything about this. It is all my play [laughing].
Iain: So you have your book, Before I am. How does it feel to have a book out now?
Mooji: It is fine if it helps to bring a recognition of truth through the pointing of these words... that’s all.
Iain: Thank you, Mooji, for coming along and talking to us.
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