Interview with Ashok Vyas | Mohanji
Wide Angle with Ashok Vyas | Mohanji – Philanthropist & Humanitarian
Ashok: Namaskar, I am Ashok Vyas. In the frame, you see with me Mohanji. Mohan, of course, is one of the names of Lord Krishna. The gentleman sitting with me has also seen different colours in his life and has played different roles over a period of the last few decades.
Being in the corporate world for twenty-two years and then he went through an awakening of sorts due to something which made him go deep within, and the kind of clarity he came out with, he’s spreading across the globe – touched many countries and many states in India.
We’ll go towards the statistical part, but first, let me go to the soulful part and something which makes everyone feel at ease in his presence. I’ve also been fortunate to have interacted with him earlier, and learning that he is in New York was a source of additional joy. I’m extremely happy and delighted, and it’s a great pleasure to be sitting with Mohanji. Namaste!
Mohanji: Thank you so much for having me here.
Non-conformism and the power of conviction
Ashok: You’ve been referred to as non-conformist as well as spontaneous. I want to begin by understanding the word ‘non-conformist’. What’s it that you take out of it? Is being a rebel something other than being a non-conformist?
Mohanji: Being a rebel is about something which we are against. To be a rebel, you’ve got to be against something. Non-conformism is about not using the mind for something. When we conform to something, we are definitely using the mind. When the mind is not used, the result is spontaneity. So, when a person is spontaneous, he is a non-conformist.
Conformism is when we are asked to follow a structure made by minds. That’s not practical many times because we are original. This whole idea about being a non-conformist, in other words, is about being natural.
Some of the most non-conformist people in the world are small children – very spontaneous, very natural. They just live their life as they are. So, even as an adult, when you try to become something, you are not being natural. But when you are just flowing with life as you are, that’s natural.
Again, we’ve to live in society. We’ve set norms in society, and we have to follow all these things. There’s no problem with it, but at the same time, you can be original. We have the right to be original. So that’s non-conformism.
Ashok: We hear that we have a right to be original and spontaneous and not follow a predetermined structure of mind probably, and you see it being applied in his life. But it feels like there’s something missing. You feel like it’s not practical.
For example, whenever you’re planning to do or accomplish something, let’s take the example of the Festival of Consciousness which you had in Belgrade with music and art forms – a celebration of life. Even organizing a festival like that where you’re celebrating life, there’s a certain amount of planning that is required. So, if you are to be spontaneous, if you are natural, how would that come out in such a beautiful and organized fashion?
Mohanji: That’s the power of conviction. When you really, really know what you need, and when you are confident about that matter, then a kind of strength comes from within – zero doubt, full confidence, a full conviction that moves mountains. We all have that strength, but usually, the reason for failures is number one – lack of vision.
Even if you have a vision, if you don’t have the conviction of the vision, you cannot find success. Many people have a vision. They want to achieve something in life, but at the same time, they are not really confident whether this will be successful. Then the whole thing becomes weak. I never had that problem.
Whatever we see today in my life and in my world is the product of the last ten years. I look at it this way – I do have a vision, but I don’t have the vision written in stone. That means the nature of my vision, or the spine of my vision, is flexibility.
The skeleton, the structure of my vision, is flexibility. There’s a lot of flexibility, and at the same time, there’s a definite roadmap. I believe in it; it’s not belief, I am sure about it. Whatever we do, we do with conviction, and also that it’s 100% selfless. That gives strength.
Selflessness and purity of intention
Ashok: There’s a problem here. I think I was trying to figure out what’s the key to your power of conviction. This selflessness, I think, is difficult for many of us. We have a little bit of a selfish motive. If I want to achieve something for myself or my family, that also relates to a little bit of selfishness.
Some of our viewers who want to succeed may want to know about getting that key. Till the time we were talking about the power of conviction, I was thinking of asking you how one works on developing that if it’s not present.
I’ll not hide that I, too, am experiencing, or have experienced, some dreams, some visions, and then you find that you didn’t succeed in accomplishing them. What’s it that can help not just me but anybody listening to you to figure out that power of conviction? If I may add from your first book (which is The Power of Purity), are the power of purity and selflessness things that go hand in hand?
Mohanji: It’s related, but coming to selflessness, when we detached from the animal kingdom, as human beings, we had a completely definite, specific kingdom – the human kingdom. The detachment is from the selfishness part to the awareness part, but many of us are not living that life.
We’ve absorbed the selfishness part. “I need it all for myself; I need to keep it; I need to capture, conquer, succeed in certain ways materially”, etc. These are all illusions which we’ve maintained. Everything is available, and if we are very confident in what we do, all the things available have to happen to us. Everything will come.
For example, if you get a particular position in the company, all the perks will come without your asking. Similarly, we have that power in us which can create that effect in our life. But we don’t trust it. That’s why we have to hoard it. We are so insecure about ourselves that we don’t know whether we’ll have it tomorrow. We are trying to hold it, and then something else takes it away. Then we have depression; we have problems.
Freedom and selflessness are our very nature. That’s exactly the sign of a human being. Being a human being means being selfless, compassionate, kind, and non-violent. That’s the real sign of human beings, but we don’t express it because we have possessiveness, ownership, me and mine – that’s all connected to the instinctual part, which is connected to survival. We have sufficient to survive because we are such a grand creation where we have everything needed.
Now, as you said, the purity part – purity in thought, word, and action starts with the purity of intention. When my intention is pure with you, and I’ve no expectations, I’m very powerful. We can experience this power individually. When we expect so many things from people, we’ve compromised already. There’s a contamination associated. So, purity in thoughts, words, and actions has to begin with the purity of intention. Then whatever comes is pure, and that gives you tremendous strength and power.
I’m a walking example. I’ve never looked at anybody in terms of money, whether they’re rich or poor. The whole flow of life is taking things through – whatever is happening is spontaneous. Do I have an agenda? No agenda! As it grows or flows, it’s flowing. It’s not contradictory. You can afford to be selfless and powerful at the same time, and then you’ll get much more than what you actually imagine you can get.
Inner happiness is the real ecstasy
Ashok: So, that’s why you wrote a song, “Reimagine”. Let me segway here from the spiritual luminary Mohanji; let me go to his artistic side. You’ve written a couple of books, like The Power of Purity, which I mentioned and after that, there’s a book called “Mast – the Ecstatic”. I liked that title so much that I would request you to share what made you give that title and what you’ve conveyed in this book.
Mohanji: That’s the state of an avadhoota, an accomplished master – internally ecstatic, drunk with God, completely drunk with God. That’s the state of an avadhoota, a person with extreme bliss, and it’s not connected to anything outside. We only know our association with the outside and the pleasures connected to it. We only think along those lines.
Whenever we talk about pleasures, it has something to do with something outside. But here, you need nothing from the outside, yet you’re still happy and ecstatic. Not just happiness – ecstasy. So that’s the state of a “Mast“. Mast is an Urdu word meaning ecstatic, so there are people like that in that state.
In this particular book, we usually talk about ashrama or four stages – Brahmacharya – the time when you learn the skills; Grihastha – the time when you execute your skills for money, for family, and for making a living.
Then comes Vanaprastha, where you’re learning to detach – learning detachment from all that you earned. You know that you can’t take it any further; you had experiences from it, and now you’re ready to go further. In that stage, you are learning detachment. Then Sanyasa, where you are completely connected to consciousness and leaving into consciousness – that means liberation or Moksha.
How will a yogi live these four stages as a saint or an avadhoota, or a yogi? Because he has no intention of getting married and settling down in the usual family structure – the education, job, marriage, house, children, he’s not in that process at all. He (Vamadeva in Mast) was very clear that he wanted to learn from this particular master. He didn’t go to any other guru, and even though they said that he was a very tough master and it was very difficult to get into his good books, Vamadeva said, “No problem.”
With that level of clarity right from childhood, he joined the guru at the age of eight. Then he continued through life. At the same time, he didn’t avoid any of his responsibilities to the family, etc. Also, the social culture of the time was such that they respected a yogi in the house. Today, they (yogis) are considered escapists.
Here, actually, that’s not the truth. When a master of that class comes to the house, the house or the entire lineage gets fulfilled. Many generations before and many generations after become accomplished, or at least they are much more into the path of liberation. So, this is something which I wrote as an eye-opener of true spirituality where you need nothing from the world, and you’re giving everything to the world.
Mohanji’s “Shiva” experience
Ashok: Give everything to the world, and you need nothing from the world. So, if I had to look for the answer, where that everything comes from, probably part of it is shared by you in the book, “The Silence of Shiva”.
Mohanji: Yeah. That’s the second part of The Power of Purity.
Ashok: You also had the special experience of being in tune with Shiva. Would you mind recollecting that moment? Probably something happened which is beyond logical explanation.
Mohanji: Yes, that was in the late 2000s, 2006-7. That particular day, I remember, I wasn’t feeling well, or I thought I wasn’t feeling well. I was in the ashram of a swami, and there was some program going on. I had no interest in that program, but I sat with the swami, and we talked. Then, suddenly, I told him I needed to go because I was feeling like vomiting. I thought I wasn’t feeling well. So, the swami said, “Okay, let’s walk a little bit.” We both started walking, and then he showed me a house which they had made for guests.
I just remember entering the house. Suddenly I didn’t exist, which means I lost consciousness of the physical form. Then I don’t remember how much time I spent, but all that I heard was a shout from the swami, “Come, come with a camera. Shiva is here!” That’s what I remember first, but then it was very difficult for me to open the eyes.
What I personally experienced was a huge expansion where the body didn’t even matter – my physical form didn’t matter at all. I was expanded as brightness – a feeling of brightness. In comparison, because I was seeing many things inside me, which are like the sun or moon, I was much brighter than all these, and these were like small lamps inside. My size was huge, and I was completely in a state of bliss and disconnected from any small aspects of our existence, such as the body and expanded.
Then there was some ash coming from the head, etc. That was the second time, actually. Before that also, it had happened, but this expansion didn’t happen. There was a kind of dizziness and stuff. But this time, it was totally expanded. Then I remembered this call, and then people were flashing flashlights. I was feeling terrible, actually, and then slowly, slowly, I started coming into the body.
For some time, I couldn’t breathe. It was like I was breathless; the breath had stopped, or I felt so. It’s not easy to tell what I felt at that time. All I remember was that I was sitting on a chair. The swami was there; a lot of people were around me and photos, etc.
I just got up and walked away. I didn’t want to be with anybody. It took a few days for me to actually start feeling the body. Even when I touched the body, I wasn’t really feeling it. I knew I had a body, but I lost interest in the world outside for some time. Then again, it was back to business and back to my job, and the usual things started.
Ashok: At that time, I think you were working with the shipping industry and were based in Dubai. If I may, for the sake of those who feel the same sense of wonder, this sense of awe, I am trying to think if there’s any pattern which led to this state. From that point of view, was there something that you were observing prior to this moment?
Mohanji: Well, if I can say one thing, an intense craving for something which I didn’t know about. I had no clue what I was looking for. I can be very honest; I had no clue what I was looking for. But every day between three and eight am, I used to meditate. I used to be the country head of a company.
The job was high-density, high-velocity, and very busy, but at the same time, between three am and eight am, nobody would disturb me because that was my time, my personal time. I never sold that time. I was looking forward to that time every day. It was a really intense craving for something which I hadn’t really captured or signed up with.
Then it took about six or seven years for me to settle down in that space where the first feeling I got was there were noises in the outside world, but they were far away, as if I were inside a bubble. That was during the meditations.
The meditations were very simple. I used to connect to my spine, feel my erect spine, and watch the lamp across. There were no pictures – nothing. Any materials you keep around you always occupy your attention. Even if it’s a picture of a deity whom you love, or parents or children, anything – they occupy your attention.
You’ve got to be completely detached from any possibility of your mind getting stuck. It was just a lamp, just a flame, and every day if that flame moved, it didn’t matter. It was a closed house, a closed room – nothing moved and a still flame. My eyes were there, but my awareness was in my spine. This was my practice that went on and on.
Then various things happened during that time. I could feel expansion – sometimes, I didn’t know the size of my body, and when I tried to walk through a door, sometimes I hit the door or the wall because I couldn’t really know where my actual body was. Those states were there – many, many states happened. That’s all.
Like the question you asked: “What is Shiva for you?” I found that Shiva is stillness. It’s the yogi aspect of Shiva which we know, for which we have pictures etc. But more than all that, He represents the stillness where nothing moves; nothing flies there, absolutely still. That state you can never explain. You can never explain that because internally, you feel a lot of movement with various things happening, but you’re completely unaffected.
This continued even when I was driving the car or when I was sitting in the office. I used to be completely unaffected. Things were happening. I was doing a lot of work, but at the same time, I was very still. The stillness went on for a long time, and I decided that I would never be in public. My idea was that I would do my job; I would work. The salary was good, and everything was good. I would do my job, and after that, I would do my practices, or I would be in isolation.
My dream was to make a cave because all the caves known are occupied by people, and I wanted a cave which was completely isolated, and nobody came there. I thought that eventually, with some money, I’ll make a cave, and I’ll be meditating there for a long time.
Communions with masters
Then it so happened that I had communions with masters, and they said, “You’ve got to deliver. You’ve got to go out and talk.” It was completely unacceptable to me. When they said that you have to go out and speak, it was a complete violation. See, for example, it took a lot of time for me to find silence and stillness. Now I had to go back and talk, go back to the world of noises!
It was like suicide – that kind of a feeling, like death for me. But then it was explained to me, “You cannot use this earth only for your gratification. You’ve got to pay back in your way.” That’s the same system of Kumbha Mela, where Adi Shankara told all the masters to come down and spread what they have earned to the people. So, I had to come out. Then, my public life started.
Ashok: Now, another question I would request you to address for us is: You brought the reference of masters and communion with masters. Were you initiated into that? Or it just happened that maybe in your meditation, you got an indication of being in tune with the masters? When you say “masters”, how would you help us understand?
Mohanji: First of all, it’s spontaneous. The communion is simply connected to the frequency we’ve arrived at. Imagine that we’ve arrived at a particular frequency. The masters will speak to you only at that frequency. We may not even understand which frequency we’ve arrived at because we can’t. There’s no measure to it; we can’t measure it.
We always feel, “I’m not up there as yet”, but what you’re connected to is a sign of where you’ve reached. It’s like a milestone. Say we reach this (milestone), ”Oh, now I’m so close to New York”, so that we understand, but we can never know that we are close to New York without this.
My first communion was a complete surprise. This was the time when I was practising very seriously, but I never used to tell people what I used to practice. I used to go to the Himalayas often, but whenever I got back to the Middle East, I used to practice. One day I got an email.
Those days it was the time of Yahoo before Google Gmail started. I got an email saying that one elevated astral master wants to speak to you. I ignored it completely because people contact you saying that you’ve won a lottery – those kinds of things. Never trust such emails which you are not sure of. I deleted it.
Again, the following week I got the message saying that this master wants to speak to you; be serious. I replied, “How much money (they wanted)?” because everything is about money. The reply came, “We are not asking for money. There’s a master who wants to speak to you. There’s something to tell you.” So, I thought, “Okay, what’s the loss? I’m sitting in Dubai, and this is from America”. I said, “It’s okay.”
Then I called up on a Sunday, and the first question (it sounded like an old woman, 80+) was, “Do you have sufficient credit in your phone?” I said, “Yes (I was a general manager of a company), I can pay later. I can speak”. She said, “It may take some time”, and I said, “No problem.”
Then she started speaking to me in her voice, and slowly her voice changed to that of a very deep male voice. This wasn’t possible!! It wasn’t somebody else talking. She was talking, and while she was talking, it changed. I was really surprised. This person told me everything about my life, even that which my closest friends didn’t know; it was that detailed. That was to prove that they knew what they were talking about.
Then I asked one question, ”Why did my daughter die?” He said, “You have a bigger role to play in the world. You’ll be very successful in business; you’ll have sufficient money. This is all fine, but you have a larger role to perform in the world.
If you had just gone along your current path, you wouldn’t reach there. You wouldn’t do it because there would be no need to do it. This hard slap on the face tilted you to a different dimension where you have no choice. That’s why.”
Then I asked a few questions, and then finally, it was almost an hour. Then he asked, “Is there something you want from me?” I said,” I would like to continue to communicate with masters of your realm. I don’t know which realm it is, but your realm”. He said he would arrange that, and after that, all these communions started.
First of all, we don’t know which masters they are. The only thing is that whenever we have such communions, all we have to see is whether that information is valid at this time. Can I use it or not use it? If you can use it, use it. They refuse to say who they are because that’s not important.
Ashok: Sorry to interrupt here, but the further communication with masters – was it also on the phone, or was it just consciousness?
Mohanji: It was only one time that this phone call happened because I was probably too sceptical at that time. So, this had to happen. One other incident I can tell you is when I was working as the general manager of a company, and I used to have blank states – states where I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know my name. I didn’t know my signature.
Those phases used to last a while, and it was very frustrating for me because I had cheques to sign. I had things to do, but I couldn’t really correlate myself. There was disorientation. At that time, I decided one day that I couldn’t work anymore, and I was typing my resignation on the computer.
This was before WhatsApp, before Facebook. There was this chat that used to be called MSN chat. This MSN chat opened up and my yoga teacher of six years earlier came online. He said, “Mohan, are you there?” I said, “Yes. How are you doing? It’s been so many years”. The yoga teacher said, “I want to tell you something. This blank state will end this month”.
How did he know? He had no clue; we had not even been in touch for the last six years. I actually saved that communication. He said that his guru, who was not in the body, came and told him to tell me that this blank state would end this month. So, I asked him who his guru was. He said his guru left his body a long time ago. He studied under gurus in the Himalayas. This was exactly like he said it happened.
What I understood simply is that when a piece of information has to come to you, it’ll come. All you need is that frequency connection and openness. Most of the time, we don’t get the information because we are looking for somebody else to say it, or that it should come from this mouth, or that it should come from another source.
That never works. In the true path of spirituality, all you have to see is whether that information suits you. It doesn’t matter where it comes from. That’s why Dattatreya had 24 gurus. Each of Dattatreya’s gurus was valid. Nature was his guru.
We’ve to be completely open and completely receptive, and what comes to you is transformative. My whole life was like that. Various teachers have come – Shirdi Sai Baba came into my life, and that was a big turning point. Likewise, Babaji had two communions with me, which was a big turning point. So, all of them put together moulded me. If Mohanji: is sitting here today, it’s because of all these people.
Ashok: So, once again, I thank him for being so generous in sharing such innermost experiences in such a friendly way with an openness which is, I would say, the hallmark of Mohanji.
Transcribed by Padmini Rai Kumar
Proofread by Geeta Iyer