In this extraordinary interview with Mooji, we discuss harmony, truth, how to balance our spiritual being with our ego and much more.
Mooji is a disciple of the great Advaita master, Sri H.W.L. Poonja or Papaji, as he is affectionately known by devotees. Mooji choicelessly dedicates his life to the calling of the Heart. It is this which has given rise to Monte Sahaja, an ashram and retreat centre being built in the south of Portugal. As Mooji himself explains, “I was compelled to come here, led by an unseen presence, so that seekers may meet the real land-Lord inside their own Heart.”
Soul Love: If our soul wishes to be in a state of non-duality, why are we here? Why not stay in a state of oneness?
Mooji: We are in the state of oneness already, but in our dynamic expression as life and as individuality, the consciousness must grow through the experience of duality. It’s a funny thing because you could say: “I thought consciousness was perfect,” and it is, but when it manifests as duality, as relativity, and as life in the world, duality is unavoidably present and necessary because there cannot be any experience without duality.
Our true nature is a harmony. That harmony is always harmonious. Harmony can never be disharmony. The only way this harmony could have the experience of disharmony is by dreaming it or, if you prefer, imagining it. First the harmony dreams a kind of disharmony and then it moves through its dream world in search of harmony because there’s an impulse inside our existence that searches for what is natural and harmonious. This you may call the yoga of life.
Something inside this dream of disharmony feels separated and is therefore unhappy. For the majority of mankind the search for happiness takes the form of acquiring things: finding the right career, making a lot of money, having a stable and happy relationship, family, fame, power and so on. But eventually we will have to realize that no lasting satisfaction is derived from these things. Yet every part of this play is meaningful and contributes to the unfolding of the great play, because having eventually run out of moves, human beings are compelled to direct their attention inwards. Life may then present them with the question: Who am I really? What exists here as ‘I’ and what is its purpose?
Sometimes I call ‘Who am I?’ my piranha question—it consumes the questioner and everything he imagines to be true until nothing is left as permanent but pure awareness itself. Even the sense of the seeker, seeking for something, is itself perceived in this awareness, and that is an atomic discovery or recognition on the path to ultimate realization of the Self.
SL: You recently said: “If you are open to Truth then you expand into greater and greater seeing.” Can you explain what the truth is exactly, how we recognize it and how we can connect to it?
Mooji: First of all I want to dispel what I feel is a misconception: Truth is not knowledge, it’s not some sacred cluster of concepts or philosophy. It is not that when you find truth, then you know and possess truth. It’s not like that. We are truth. We are also the physical or dynamic manifestation of truth, but our body is more our transient aspect of it. We are the unchanging truth, the timeless harmony. We are in fact one with the totality of all there is. See it as the collective expression of life, of joy, of wisdom, of peace, of diversity, and the play of apparent opposites—all of this we can say we are as dynamic being. I don’t believe in teaching this, because it is not so easy to grasp. I prefer to guide one into the direct recognition of the Self within, to discover the fullness of emptiness, because that is not difficult, if there is openness. Often, through clear and simple guidance people do become empty, but it is not a dead space like the mind’s version of emptiness. This emptiness is an indefinable, indivisible wholeness. Its fragrance is sweet too, as it emits great joy, wisdom, peace, compassion and love. This is a striking discovery which you don’t get through mere verbal or intellectual teaching.
But in spite of that profound and direct experience of truth, it seems as though the mind just comes back in again with all those false ideas about one’s personal self and life, which triggers doubt in our real nature as effortless freedom, and so it appears that this understanding gets covered up. This is because we still retain a sense of personal identity that is the door through which these psychological energies will come back in again, and this can seem overwhelming for us. When the carnage of egoic thinking is felt, all the energy rush will go to the crime scene, so to speak, and you get the feeling that you lost the truth. If you believe this strongly, you are actually believing it into existence, and then you have to find counter beliefs to try and get yourself out of something, all of which is really illusory.
Much of our life is lived with these illusions, and if truth is really being discovered, then naturally it will expose illusions for what they really are, and they won’t be able to hold up in the light of truth. St Francis of Assisi once said, “What you are looking for is already where you are looking from.” That’s a very beautiful clue. Because of our conditioning and our trust in theoretical and objective knowledge, it can seem that truth can be discovered in a phenomenal way, but truth is the subject, not the object. It does take some form of grace to turn this understanding into direct experience, because we can get stuck in a very traditional, intellectual mode of perceiving. Truth cannot be discovered in the way we can discover anything else. Actually, we are already the truth we are hoping and searching to find, so there’s no need to look beyond your self.
As you begin to discover your inherent harmony and your completeness, the old misconceptions come to the surface of the mind and disappear like bubbles do when they reach the surface of the ocean. Like this, you begin to realize that you have always been the unchanging Self, and that the belief in ‘becoming’ the truth was never true.
“The truth is simple, but the seeker of truth is often complex”.
SL: As we are growing spiritually, we can often feel resistance from the ego. How can we balance our spiritual being with our mind/ego and attain total freedom and be ourselves?
Mooji: I don’t feel that there is any reason why we should compromise on any situation which then makes it okay for us to retain the sense of ego. I don’t feel that there is any value or any virtue in being an ego. This might seem a very bold thing to say, but from the outset it is very important to state that we are not the ego. I know entirely that what we are is beyond this kind of psychological construct which makes us believe that we are our conditioning and that we are merely our bodies. I would call the ego a very limiting self-portrait, which is always changing, and even the greatest portrait of you is not the real ‘you’.
Our body is completely innocent and necessary in order for experiencing to take place. I am therefore not dismissing the body, but to only identify with the body and conditioning would be limiting. The body is not sentient. It doesn’t know you, it doesn’t know who it belongs to, it is simply a biological mechanism that the consciousness functions through. This body and the consciousness together are one total functioning. But the consciousness itself is not merely a body, consciousness is what we are. The whole premise of spirituality or spiritual seeking is to discover our true nature beyond the conditioned identity and its projections.
I don’t feel that we need to put too much focus on finding a balance, but more on discovering what is true. Nobody can balance anything—balance is already there, inherent in our fundamental being. In the discovery of truth, it seems like balance comes alive through our consciousness and we realize that things are already in harmony by themselves. There’s nobody who can sustain that harmony, and even if there could be one who could do it, it would be a full-time occupation, leaving no time for joy’s natural expression or anything else. The ego always feels a bit out of balance and alignment, or separated from something that it intuitively knows as a centeredness or a completeness. There is a harmony present, but it can’t fully grasp what that harmony is.
It can seem as though the egoic standpoint is our factual being but it is only some kind of self-portrait. An idea we have of who we are is not the actuality of what we are and what is.
Real spiritual discovery is to discern and come to a living recognition that we are not merely our egoic conditioning. In fact if we were the conditioning, we would not be able to observe conditioning. As you follow along this line of inquiry and introspection, you will begin to develop a very natural recognition, which is not an objective recognition, and you will realize that you are beyond all appearances.
The truth is simple, but the seeker of truth is often complex. Therefore the seeker often expects that true recognition should be something enormous, something ungraspable and supernatural, but these are mere ideas which, ironically, arise from the source and simplicity that truth is. This subtle understanding is often overlooked.
SL: Is suffering needed for spiritual growth?
Mooji: Yes. If it was down to each of us to choose and design our lives as we think is best for ourselves, we would almost always avoid discomfort or anything that really challenges our perspective and conditioning. We would fill up our life with chocolate-flavored experiences. Often through very intense, unpleasant, or challenging experiences we grow much more quickly and more deeply. I therefore feel it is good that life is not really in our hands, so to speak, and that we don’t know what is coming beforehand.
Very often, when we go through some difficulty, we can more easily empathize with other beings. When things come very easy we have no real appreciation for difficulties and the richness they often bring to life. Appreciation is a huge part of developing wisdom, insight, and a broadness of compassionate expression. So there are different paradigms and outlooks about this. Whatever your situation, wherever you find yourself, right there is a door to your inmost being.
What will make the truth so accessible in one person and not in another? Now, one could say it depends on how strongly your identity is based on your conditioning, your belief that you are this body and so on. If the belief ‘I am the body’ is strong, then it will be very difficult to find spiritual talk appealing because your language would be based more upon material nature, and upon flesh and blood reality.
For somebody else whose mind is accustomed to spiritual introspection, and not merely someone who is intellectually educated, it is very easy and natural to be in tune and in real time, so to speak, with the universal rhythm and current. They grasp the essential things quite spontaneously.
These differing perspectives shape the quality, depth, impact and ‘feel’ of experience. One could be perceiving one’s world as a very claustrophobic phenomenon while another perceives the same manifestation with great space, wonder and joy. Yet, to another, life is perceived with great detachment and dispassion, as though it were a fleeting and insignificant play. The impact or effect of differing perspectives, levels of maturity and identities varies considerably from one person to another, naturally.
Mooji, thank you so much for this inspiring interview. You can continue to read the interview with Mooji in Part 2 here.
For more information, please visit Mooji’s website: mooji.org
INTERVIEW BY: DIRK TERPSTRA – SOUL LOVE FOUNDER