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“Our net worth is what we give the world, not what we take from it”

He calls himself an everyday man. Little wonder then, that different people connect to Mohanji, a globally respected spiritual leader and philanthropist, in different ways. While some feel he is a mystic whose presence turns you inwards, others feel completely at ease around him.

“True mastery is the mastery of one’s own mind,” says Mohanji, who maintains that one can continue to evolve spiritually while simultaneously living and experiencing everyday life. His teachings resonate with simplicity and practicality. At the core is liberation from all bindings, concepts and habits. He emphasises purity, faith, unconditional love and selfless service towards fellow beings across species.

Born on 23 February 1965 in Palakkad, Kerala, Mohanji worked in senior management positions in the Middle East till personal upheavals brought him in touch with his spiritual self. Today, Mohanji travels extensively around the world, conducting satsangs, life-transforming retreats and pilgrimage trips to spiritual places such as Mount Kailash, Kumbh Mela, Machu Picchu and the Bosnian pyramids. In an email interview to Srirekha Pillai, Mohanji addresses the ills plaguing society today, the power of acceptance and why we take to spirituality in our silver years.


Can you elaborate upon your tryst with spirituality?

It was indeed a quest for truth. We are so immersed in relative truth that we fail to understand what exactly is the truth. In order to achieve that, we have to step out of ourselves—as in our addictive personalities—and look from the outside into the world around us as well as into oneself.

I was working in the shipping and logistics business since 1989 and living in the Middle East. The quest for truth constantly brought me to the Himalayas from the year 2000, when I lost my precious four year-old daughter Ammu in a road accident. The quest became a necessity ever since. The mystery of the Himalayas and the urge to penetrate beyond the obvious brought me to Vasishta cave. I have not been associated with any Guru or known lineage. I was just another seeker wandering aimlessly seeking something that cannot be understood or defined. I started connecting to my spine while sitting quietly (I avoid the word meditation) in Vasishta cave in the early 2000s. This helped change the perspective with which I was seeing the world.

Slowly, dimensions started to shift. I started spending more time with myself (again, I am avoiding the word meditation, because it is a state where the mind is still). I was working as the country head of a company in Oman in 2001. One of my bedrooms became a ‘cave’ and I started spending time with myself in silence daily from 3 am till 8 am, when I would leave for work. This became the most meaningful time of the day. Deep silence started settling in. Still the urge for the Himalayas continued. Years passed; silence deepened; dependency reduced. I was holding senior professional positions; I kept my spiritual practices sacred and a secret. Slowly, people started recognising my calmness amid the storms of life. People started coming to me seeking advice. I started telling them what I knew from the point of a still mind, without any bias. Thus, I became known as Mohanji.

What is the role of a modern-day spiritual ‘Guru’?

Life itself is the greatest lesson, a lesson to be experienced individually and conveyed to society. Life itself is the true Guru. Nobody or nothing can educate us in the most practical way than life. The word Guru for me represents one who is connected to the supreme consciousness, by dismantling one’s mind. Those who operate from their usual mind are acharya/practitioners, just like our professors, proficient in some subject. Gurus may not be too articulate and even presentable as per social norms. But they represent our destination: the supreme consciousness. They stand as a clear mirror for us to see and figure out where we stand in the path of liberation where the journey is from layers of binding to complete liberation. Gurus are road signs. True Gurus need nothing from the world. They live as signs of liberation. Liberation is a state when your dependency is minimal. Liberation at death is when there is no karmic pressure to experience another incarnation.

What ails the world today?

Ignorance, greed and insensitivity are the cancers plaguing the world today. Awareness is the solution, starting with our own perishability and death, to the awareness that nobody can own anything on earth. We are here on a tourist permit. All we can take from here are some memories. Live and let live in harmony and peace. It’s also important to be aware that all species, human and non-human, have the same right to live on earth. Violence towards beings of any species is a sign of degeneracy and intolerance.

Present-day political and social discourse is defined by anger, hatred and negativity. How do we deal with it?

Ignorance is the root cause of it all. The way to deal with it is to not subscribe to it. Remaining neutral and investing our precious time in things positive are very important. Leading a life based on compassion and kindness is a clear sign of higher evolution irrespective of whether a person is ‘religious’ or not. Ignoring things negative and gross, and training others to be positive, kind and useful are the ways we can raise the awareness of the world. Every being loves to be loved. Nurturing love around us is the right way. The best tutorship is to lead by example.

What is the antidote to fanaticism and hatred?

Awareness is the antidote to hatred. The awareness that we are here on tourist visas and have no rights on earth, let alone over earth, is important. Nothing belongs to us. All we can carry from here are memories of our experiences and also perhaps desire for more experiences.

What is the key to happiness?

Happiness is experienced when the mind is still. The mind can be still only when thoughts dissolve. Thoughts create ripples in the mind. Happiness is our basic nature. Thoughts rule during the waking state, while memories rule in the dream state. Consciousness rules during the deep sleep state. Happiness remains same during all states. We may not experience happiness always during the waking state because we connect it to the presence and absence of something or somebody. Lack of such dependencies ensures perpetual happiness.

How would you define success?

Success is a state of total acceptance. When we accept ourselves as we are and not as we seem to be, we have become successful. Success or failure as society sees it has nothing to do with real success. A successful person is one who has lesser dependencies.

How do we create positivity around us?

Positivity is the nature of our heart. Positivity can be created through thoughts, words and actions. Being positive in thoughts, expressions and actions, irrespective of what society thinks, is the true sign of a strong personality. It is all about frequencies. If you choose not to buy hatred, jealousy, anger and such emotions from the supermarket called society, and instead consistently express good and positive things, you will be adding value to this world. Our net worth is what we give the world, not what we take from it. Constantly asking ourselves, ‘What else can we do for the earth?’ and acting on it within our capacity means walking the path of glory.

What is the ultimate goal of life?

There is just one goal, which is liberation. It means less dependency while living and less desires while leaving.

Can we shape our destiny?

Destiny is the contract of this life from our first heartbeat till the last. It can only be enjoyed better by being aware of each moment, accepting happiness and sorrows alike, by not resisting anything, by accepting oneself and others, by choosing love and peace against all possible options of other emotions. Being aware at all points of time is the best gift one can give to one’s destiny.

Is there life after death?

Yes, there is. No thought, word and action are ever wasted. Everything demands fulfilment and fulfilment hinges on karma. When fulfilment is denied or postponed, it demands more time and space. We call it incarnation. Unfulfilled desires created us. Desires maintain us through time and space and through multiple bodies.

Do you believe in the essential unity of all religions and human experiences?

Religions are road maps designed by masters who have touched and experienced the absolute truth. Religion is good only as a road map. We should not confuse spirituality with religion. Spirituality is always individualistic and non-transferable like words or teachings. Spirituality is being aware of our spirit, which keeps alive our physical (body), emotional (mind), and intellectual (intellect) selves, besides the personality (ego). The moment our spirit leaves, we call it a dead body. When man understands his spiritual nature, he will see his own reflection in all, irrespective of their frequency and deed, and will embrace life as a gift. Such a person will never practise violence. Such people will see themselves in everyone, and love themselves existing in various bodies!

How does one elevate oneself spiritually?

It’s important to spend time with oneself. Take out the mind; spread it in the sky. Look at all emotions, memories, feelings, and all other things existing in the mind and outside. Do not get involved. Watch, witness, and let go. At this point, one part of your mind is watching another. Finally, when all thoughts dissolve, even the mind will dissolve. Spending time with oneself and doing nothing will be a challenge. But it is worth it. Look back and examine how many hours have you spent with yourself in the past 50 years.

What is the role of spirituality in wellness and self-healing?

The spirit is the most neutral part of our system. Just like petrol in a car, the spirit or soul is not interested or interfering in our journey called life. When we start experiencing our soul more and more and start to express its character of non-intrusive freedom, state of liberation and no binding, we will start releasing all the emotional blockages from our system. Healing is spontaneous. Mind holds diseases; soul liberates them.

Can spirituality and materialism coexist?

All materials, all beings, all relationships, wealth, health and all aspects of our existence are coexisting with this incarnation. Nothing is separate from the other, even though externally it seems so. These divisions are only in our mind. When dependency is reduced, we walk through everything effortlessly, let alone coexist. Nothing is right or wrong in karma. Karma is the product of unfulfilled desires. The natural desire of karma is fulfilment. I personally feel that acts of violence in thoughts, words and actions are to be avoided always. Apart from that, I see nothing right or wrong in life. We should live and let live peacefully.

Is humanity getting undermined owing to superficial divisiveness and differences such as ethnicity, religion, gender, language, etc?

Divisions based on these are signs of greed. Divisions only benefit the manipulators. Our nature is unity. Religions are road maps set by wise masters for achieving freedom from materials and ultimately liberation from birth and death itself. When religions are used for popularity, politics and gains, people will die. A man in deep sleep is totally unaware of who he is or where he is. Only when he wakes up does he wear his personality. Religion is part of that personality. Personality is not us, but projected out of us. When we believe that we are the personality, we die for maintaining it. This is the irony. This is ignorance. Compassion is the visible core of a truly religious person. Those who shout, scream and kill are ignorant people used by someone for some purpose. Only their garb is religious.

Why do you think many turn to spirituality in the silver years?

This is probably because that is the only time they turn back and ask, ‘Hey, who was running my show?’ Few settle down to the right understanding. Spirituality is a state that walks with us from birth till death. Being aware of our soul is inevitable sooner or later. Better late than never.

What is the mantra for successful ageing?

Ageing is a process and part of the karmic contract. What we experience at different times of life is defined well. Time, space and event are predetermined. Our awareness and acceptance of the current time and state are the best way to evolve with age. Acceptance is the mantra. Accept everything that life has offered without discriminating. Delete memories of bad and good alike and stay with the present life totally. Life will be meaningful each moment.

For long, the world has looked to India for spiritual guidance. What is it about our civilisation that makes us spiritually rich?

We have a spiritual ancestry that is deep and pregnant. The West has identified this wealth that India always had. However, we have not, yet. The external sign of spiritual health is a still mind free from desires and full of compassion, tolerance and acceptance of oneself and others. Until this is expressed consistently, we are not representing our rich heritage and culture. Man is spiritual by birth and cannot be bound by religions or rituals. We are born free and will die free.

Is spirituality evolving into an industry now?

Spirituality will always remain an individual path for a true seeker. They will reach a true teacher and find themselves. The masses may not understand and continue to follow the ritualistic path where they may believe and practise activities. Demand causes supply. We cannot call anything good or bad. Everything is situational and relative. Everything has relevance.

Can science and spirituality converge?

Science is our understanding of an already existing mechanism. Spirituality is our true nature. Hence, it is totally scientific. Science has its own capacity, boundaries and dimensions because the human mind has boundaries. Spirituality has no boundaries; the more we evolve, the more there is, until we totally dissolve.

You say, “Awareness is liberation.” Can you elaborate?

Remembering who we are and being conscious about it leads to liberation. We are here to experience the flavours of life. We carry only memories of experiences. We cannot take anything else from here including our body. Being always aware in our waking state leads to liberation. Being aware of our expressions and actions, choice of words, tone and energy will help us stay aware, eventually leading to detachment and liberation.

What is your prescription for the ills plaguing the world?

Compassion. Value the goodness quotient in all; ignore the negative. Today, the world is focusing only on the negative, which in turn is creating more fears than love. A world living in fear and insecurity will breed wars. Compassion and love should be expressed and experienced. The collective consciousness should be rooted in goodness. Acknowledging and honouring goodness will change the way the world works. Exploitation in the name of religion should stop.

Are you hopeful about the future of mankind?

I am optimistic. People are evolving. I believe coming generations will see more light than darkness. People will choose light more and more. Love will prevail!

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Photo courtesy: Mohanji
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
August 2017