One month in Rishikesh and I feel like a new being. Renewed.
Have you ever had that feeling like you are drawn to something and you don’t really know why? But you follow the call anyway and it somehow feels right. And then events unfold and you are like, “Of course, it makes so much sense now, I just had to be here.”
Such was this journey to Rishikesh for me.
For many, many moons now Rishikesh has been calling. The mountains and great river were drawing me. I didn’t know why.
Then a month before coming to India, when we still weren’t sure exactly where we would go, a yoga teacher in a gorgeous little studio in Israel told me that Mooji would be at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh.
It turned out that he was not only at the Yoga Festival but also holding satsang (spiritual discourse or sacred gathering) for 5 days a week, for 5 weeks. Stars align.
So we came to India, my love and I. We landed in Delhi, our busy heads and were met with a busy city. We booked our exit ASAP.
Already, on the train to the north, we started to remember why we love India so much.
We were greeted with water, chai and snacks. We started to share food with our neighbor. We fell into conversation about yoga philosophy. Breakfast arrived, a vegetarian patty with five peas and two french fries. Demanding of mindfulness for eating. Savour those two fries!
From the moment we arrived in Rishikesh we felt like we were in the right place at the right time.
As we wandered on the natural rock and sandy bank of the river Ganga, a very young boy offered us a dish of flowers to make an offering to the river goddess. A sweet blessing for our arrival, we took two. As we said our own prayers and intentions, this tiny boy sat behind us on a rock, chanting mantras in his sweet voice.
Jai Ganga Ma!
Hail Mother Ganga!
We have arrived.
Initially we thought that we had come to India to work. We imagined setting up “home” in the mountains and establishing a nice work-life balance. Delving into the offerings of yoga, singing circles, meditation, nature spots, dancing, and the unknown delights. We set about acquiring all of the possible internet connections in the hope that we would find decent connectivity and stay for a few months.
But no. Fairly quickly we realize that this wouldn’t be the case.
We had best relax about work for now and let go of expectations of high productivity.
We acquired a couple of illnesses which took us a step further in releasing expectations of productive output.
Rest. Let go.
And then Mooji Satsangs started.
The real unwinding began.
We quickly realised that the real reason we are here is to reset our heart-mind balance. We are still in the early stages of our first venture into business. Our heads are full. We are learning a lot. We are full of limitless ideas. We are full of uncertainty and fear. We are running out of money. We have a love-hate relationship with marketing. We have insecurity and doubt. It feels like a rollercoaster of exhilaration and suspense followed by downers and terror. Rather dizzying. The heartspace is having a hard time getting the spotlight for any prolonged period.
That wise part of our Selves, which knows what we don’t know that we know, guided us to this time and this place. A time for remembering, resetting and renewing. Remembering why we are here. Resetting the heart-mind balance. Renewing our vows to our calling in life. We are here to Love and Awaken.
And so day after day we woke as the sun was peeling back the shadow of the mountains.
We sat for a coffee and then walked for an hour along the edge of the Ganges and over the footbridge to the ashram where Mooji was sitting.
We passed the street sweepers, the merchants preparing their shopfronts, the beggars waking up, the cows, monkeys, dogs and horses, the people taking early morning bath in the cold river.
The crowd to see Mooji was big. This year 2000 people attended over the 5 weeks. So we arrived a little early and enjoyed a chai as we stood in the line which wound for hundreds of meters down the suburban lane.
We were ushered into the ashram and greeted by Sangha members dressed in white, holding silence and gesturing Namaste. We arrived to the great hall and awaited Mooji’s presence, listening to devotional songs or live music.
Mooji came to take his seat on the stage, greeting the audience with smiles, loving gazes and gentle touch as he came in. If you are not familiar with Mooji, he is big and soft like a bear with glistening eyes like a doe. Of Jamaican descent, he has long dreadlocks and a charming accent. He recounts a story of one man who said, “I heard your name and thought you must be a Japanese DJ, then I saw the poster and thought, oh, no, you must be more roots/reggae.” He makes us laugh often with little anecdotes like this.
Satsang began with Mooji speaking for a short while, reminding us that his main purpose here is to point us towards the great search…
“While your body is still warm, seek that which is Imperishable.”
We were reminded to leave behind our personal stories, which can be enchanting but are at the end of the day common, complex and a tease for the monkey mind.
He called us to come with our ‘burning questions’.
As Mooji put it, there are ‘personal questions’, those type which the mind loves – Should I leave my relationship? Should I do different work? How do I avoid depression?, etc.
There are ‘knowledge questions’ – What is the nature of desire? What is ego? What stage am I at?
And then there are ‘freedom questions’ – questions which burn with the desire for liberation, for freedom from suffering.
When you have had enough of the endless cycles of the body and the mind experience, when the cycle of suffering has become unbearable, you eventually come to this point of burning. You start to question, to seek, to demand answers, of life or god or whatever you believe in or can call on.
Mooji said, “Bring those questions to me”.
And it was amazing. We attended for three weeks, every day unless we had a fever. And we went through the typical pattern of experience which Mooji described…
Everything came up…reluctance, resistance, cynicism, boredom, doubt, disbelief, restlessness, spontaneous crying and confusion. We had moments of “getting it”, followed all too quickly by forgetting.
Yet we kept on rising in the morning, walking for miles, and sitting in satsang.
And everyday, the people who came to ask their questions, whether freedom or knowledge or personal questions, they all reflected some level of our own experience. And the answers offered by Mooji resonated deeply.
As the weeks went by the energy stabilized.
The confusion cleared (along with the illnesses).
Effortlessness and ease came.
Day after day my gratitude grew,
continues to grow.
Now, as I reflect on it, I see that I arrived to India with a busy, full and stressed mind. With a restless body. Always the next thing to do, to think about, to plan. Always something to worry about.
This so often happens.
As much as we experience times of deep peace, clarity and detachment, we can get lazy and forget to monitor the mind. We forget just how easily thought patterns can creep in.
And the mind just loves a good thought.
It can get carried away in the story, the emotion, the apparent importance of it all.
And before long we again have a mind full of story and attachment.
We again have a strong identity and sense of self.
Some mental rigidity sets in.
Then again comes the call from the deep. The restlessness. The inner knowing. There is more to life.
These surface things are not so important. You must go after that calling.
And as such we find ourselves here at the metaphorical feet of Mooji.
The pointer. The reminder. The undoer. The head chopper.
He says “Make the move from person to presence.”
We come, we sit, we surrender, we recommit to awakening.
And the move happens.
In the end it all makes perfect sense. The lack of wifi, the sickness, the walks, the resistance, the suffering, the remembering. The whole journey.
And so we give thanks and praise.
We would love to share with you some of the words of Mooji that we kept hearing over and over, which helped us to remember and come back home to the here and now, the presence.
(Quotes as heard and recorded by me).
“Blessed is the one whose life is the evidence of truth.”
“When the head prostrates to the heart, things will become beautiful again.”
“Time consumes everything.
The only thing that time cannot consume is its very source of pure awareness.
We must find this.”
“Ramana Maharshi says, ‘The I extinguishes the I and remains the I’.”
“Don’t be afraid, consciousness has prepared
the ground of your being for higher things.”
“Now is our time. We are at the peak of the human wave. Many have gone before us.
They have gathered in ways like we do here. Near rivers, under trees, in caves, in valleys and mountain tops. Gathering to see knowledge. Seeking the imperishable.”
“Everything comes and goes…who are you in all of this?”
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