In the Presence of Presence: Satsang with Mooji

Do you know what it is to sit in the presence of unconditional love?

Last summer, I spent a weekend in satsang with a spiritual master. I don’t know what you might think of that phrase, dear reader. I don’t mean he’s a master of anyone but himself…a master of his own spirit. I don’t want to call him teacher because he really doesn’t have anything to teach, as he himself admits time and again. Teachers deal with knowledge, and I have no interest in acquiring more of that. Guru is often translated as “teacher”, so I prefer not to use that word either, although its true meaning, “disspeller of darkness” is certainly more to the point.

It has not escaped me how awkward I have felt telling people that I was going to sit with a “teacher”. I did this because they have some point of reference for teacher. If I said “spiritual master”, plenty of people would have looked at me funny, and too many people would think I had somehow given away my power to someone else, ready and willing to drink the cool-aid. In Customs at the UK airport, I had been honest about seeing a spiritual teacher. The response I received reminded me of when I was five years old and would speak of my imaginary friend. It felt just like that.

I arrived early on the first day of satsang. I was surprised to be one of only about 10 people already in line. My heart felt open, and I greeted everyone. Realizing I had time, I decided to get some breakfast. By the time I returned, the line had grown to about 25. As I waited in line, I looked around and felt so blessed. Here I was with open-hearted beings who understood. They’d experienced something too, and would not project their fears and judgments upon me…or if they did, they would not necessarily believe themselves. They wouldn’t look at me like I was crazy if I cried, nor assume I was suffering if I was. I felt safe, happy and grateful.

I was burning in the line. I knew exactly what I was going to say to Mooji given the chance. I was, in fact, determined to be the first person to speak to him:

“I was determined to speak with you, Mooji. I want to get as much as I can out of this opportunity. I came here to be seen by someone who could see me. I wanted to stand naked here and let everything show so that I knew from you, at least, I could not hide again. I don’t want to keep reinventing better versions of myself. I want to be done with myself. I want to burn, Mooji. I want there to only be ashes and not some damn phoenix that rises again. Help me burn, Mooji. I don’t trust my mind anymore. Help me relinquish this.”

Of course, none of that happened. And throughout the weekend, I’d have a pressing question or statement, raise my hand, not be called on, and so not even try the next time. Eventually, the questions and statements died away or morphed into something different, and I would again raise my hand. But I wasn’t one of the ones who ever got to speak.

Because I was early, I was in one of the first 6 rows very close to Mooji. I wanted this because, just as in the theatre, being this close allows you to be part of some special energy. Yes, it is everywhere, and yes, the entire audience can see the show, but only those up close can see the detailed expressions and sweat of the actors. It is easier to forget oneself and become part of the play. When Mooji entered the room, I spontaneously gasped. I couldn’t even see him over the heads of everyone in front of me, but I could feel him.

I loved hearing him speak. I loved the sensations that would flood me when his words felt as though they were meant only for me, answering some deep and unrecognized question within myself.

Waiting in line.

That afternoon, I lost my seat. Before lunch, they made an announcement to take all our belongings during lunch. Despite this announcement, many people left things on their seats thus saving their seats for the afternoon session. I was a little miffed at that and wished I too had ignored the rules! Fortunately, I was able to get a seat just behind the row I had been in because someone got up and left for some reason just before things got rolling again.

But my mood had changed. My mind became polluted. My attitude turned whiny. I kept thinking, “Why am I here?” I felt a little bored by the questions being asked…or sometimes jealous. I struggled to listen. Despite the effort, the truest words still landed softly and deeply.

I had to sneak out before everything finished because I had to meet my AirB&B host across town. I hated leaving and put it off to the last possible moment. I was a mess trying to find my bus…feeling rushed. As I left, the last thing I heard Mooji say was, “The whole world is late.” Somehow, I made it in time to my accommodation, and it was a sweet relief to have a base again after my first night in a hostel and having all my luggage with me all day.

That night, my muscles were a mess. I actually had charlie horses going off all over my body. It was somewhat disconcerting. I’d had plenty of water to drink. Something else was going on. My sleep was disturbed, too, but I somehow managed a little sleep.

The next morning, when I arrived for satang, the line was twice as long as the day before. While waiting in line, I began to journal some of my thoughts. Again, I was determined to speak to Mooji. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass again as I had yesterday. I wanted to get everything I could out of this experience. I had paid dearly and I felt like it was a matter of life or death. I wanted so desperately to say:

“I’m out of time! I came here as a matter of life and death and the weekend is half over. I feel two opposing forces in me. I feel I am in a vise. There is no room for truth in the ego and there is no room for ego in Truth. When all feels connected, supported, I forget everything else as having been my experience. When I fall from grace, it is as if grace never existed. The two worlds don’t seem to know each other. I came here to wake up, but I could just have easily gone to the beach or something. I could have given this body some pleasure and comfort, but instead, I came here. I’ve spent so much money to come here, but I feel disappointed. Why did I come here?

I don’t want to follow you, Mooji, like others here. I don’t want to need you forever. I want to accept the gift you are offering and go on with my life, whatever it looks like. I don’t want to need you. I want to walk alongside as an equal. If it is as easy as you say, then why are you the only one sitting up there? If it is truly as quick and easy as you say it can be, then why are so many of us choosing to remain in suffering and limitation? And if it takes a stroke of grace, then why the hell aren’t I at the beach enjoying myself instead of trying so damned hard?”

I was so desperate to speak with him that my mind convinced me that I could cut the line because somehow, my desire to be free was more important than a queue. It completely justified itself. It tempted me, “How much do you really want your freedom? If you are serious, then you need to show it!”

So when the queue started to move, I bee-lined for the door ignoring the 50 or so people ahead of me. I still can’t believe I did that! I wasn’t the only one who had tried this maneuver, though. In fact, it happened on day 1 as well, and I thought, “Those people have some nerve!” The venue was more on top of things on day 2 though and had made it impossible for us to push ahead, so I ended up roughly where I would have been anyway. My full lesson on this whole queue-cutting issue came later.

By the time we got inside, I was sitting once more in about the same spot as the day before, but I felt as though I had stolen it. I wanted the chance to speak and publicly declare my selfishness and arrogance and then offer my seat to another who felt the same burning I had felt, but who was not as fortunate to be so close. But I didn’t get the chance at redemption. I had to sit in my “stolen” seat and burn.

Me burning!

I had so many questions arise and fall that I felt as though I had lived a dozen different incarnations during the weekend. Something…or someone…would arise out of nothing, want to be seen and heard, but just as suddenly would cease to exist.

When we broke for lunch, after being reminded to take our things, I left a few things on my seat, unlike the day before, ignoring the announcement to “take everything with you”. Doing so allowed me the freedom to eat in peace without rushing back for a good seat. Actually, I wondered whether they would move everything this time, but with what played out in my head at lunchtime, it started not to matter to me if I had the same seat or not.

After lunch, I found I had again crashed. But this time, it presented as deep shame over what I’d done. I was seriously ashamed at myself for having cut in front of so many people as if I was the only one with a desire to be free, the only one who mattered. I was disgusted with my mind’s ability to rationalize the action to break the queue.

Sure enough, once they reopened the hall, I found they had moved the belongings of the people who had tried to save seats to a table in the back. Tricky devils. So I now found myself about 20 rows back. A giant wave of emotion overtook me as I waited for the satsang to begin, and I ran to the bathroom to stem the violent tears that came out of nowhere.

Once satsang started, something miraculous happened. Through Mooji’s pointing, I was able to let it all go…all my questions, all my stories, all my sins… My heart opened, and I was filled with the most magnificent gratitude I’d ever felt. All I wanted in that moment was to say “Thank you, Mooji! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

I never wanted the afternoon to end, but of course, it got late. Many people were leaving, probably to catch planes and such. I was grateful that on this night, I had no where to rush off to. I was determined to stay as long as possible and milk every drop from this final day. That’s when a gift came…

With only a few minutes left to Satsang, someone 2nd row center departed. Though it seemed foolish to move for only five or so minutes, I did. Wow! It was even more powerful. Now I understood why people fought for those seats.

Mooji greeted people afterward but I couldn’t get close enough to meet him myself. I could have hung around and perhaps done so after an hour, but I was tired. And I knew he wouldn’t hang around all night to see each and every person waiting. I found myself walking back to my bus stop. My mind was going back and forth…am I missing my chance to meet him? But I trusted where my body was carrying me and let it go. I was at peace with it. I had received so much already, and I knew this was a gift that would keep on giving.

That night, I had the most beautiful dream full of love.

At the airport on the way home, I had arrived to the gate and boarding had already started. I went right through and onto the airplane. I was shocked to find the airplane mostly empty. Only then did I realize that I had boarded “priority” for no reason at all. I wondered why all those people were looking at me funny, but it simply didn’t sink in. Now I understood my lesson.

The difference is that many of the people that cut the Mooji queue may have done so without realizing what they were doing. I on the other hand did it with complete self-serving intention. I may have convinced myself that it was my desperation and will to awaken, that I was fishing for grace to grant me some boon. At the airport, however, I got to board my plane early as a direct act of grace. It was an accidental action from which I benefited. Cutting the queue was a stinky, egoic act whereas I was carried by a river to board the plane early. It is this river that I want to trust with my life…that I wish I had trusted in satsang.

There was more space in my experience in the days following the weekend. I listened repeatedly to music and it  seeped deep into my cells. I found myself humming for days and days afterwards, the mantras like an alarm clock that chimed me into being. The words I still hear when I awaken are “Leave each day behind like flowing water. Free your sadness. Yesterday is gone. Its tale is told. Today new seeds are growing…”

Two days after the weekend, back at home, I had an ecstatic feeling sweep over me…something I’ve had before but not felt for a very, very long time. It’s sweetness and vibration was indescribable. I knew it would pass, so I gave into it and got as much as I could out of it while it stuck around. Despite the passing of such fleeting sensations, this journey marks a pivot point in my life, a deepening into spiritual maturity and a more peaceful daily life as well as a quickened path to acceptance of what is.

My two biggest lessons of the weekend: I am there before every thought, every sensation, every action and life is kinder and wiser than the mind imagines.

Thank you, Mooji Baba.

Final Day: From Ego to Divine Guidance in 36 Days

An ongoing personal exploration of Divine Guidance and distinguishing between the voice of fear and the voice of love reflecting on the article, How to Distinguish Between Divine Guidance and Fear/Ego/Imagination, on Sir Froggie’s PositiveNews Network .

Today’s pairing is:

Bottom line, Divine Guidance is LOVE.
Ego is FEAR, false evidence appearing real.

Eeee!!! I did it. Um…WE did it!!! 36 consecutive blogs on Divine Guidance.

Rather than comment on this last pairing directly, I think I’d like to spend some time reviewing what I’ve learned through this 36-day virtual adventure:

1. For me, Divine guidance speaks in a language beyond words. If I’m hearing a loving language, I am hearing the Voice of Love, which is still pretty much ego…just a kinder, gentler, somewhat “reformed” version of it.

2. Divine guidance guides me toward acceptance of what is without destroying the miracle of what can be.

3. Ego is relentless, cunning, deceptive, and had the desire to survive at any cost. In any moment, I can be 100% sure that I do not perceive my own best interests.

4. If I’m feeling bad or beginning to suffer over anything, it is a sure sign my ego has pulled the wool (or veil) over my eyes. I am focused on the wrong things.

5. The best way for me to discern Divine guidance from ego is to stop doing, stop thinking, and simply sit and observe myself and situation quietly.

6. It isn’t nearly as complicated or mysterious as I make it out. Divine guidance is simple and elegant. It does, however, require a great deal of both courage and trust to listen.

How do you distinguish between Divine guidance and ego?

Day 31: ça va?

An ongoing personal exploration of Divine Guidance and distinguishing between the voice of fear and the voice of love reflecting on the article, How to Distinguish Between Divine Guidance and Fear/Ego/Imagination, on Sir Froggie’s PositiveNews Network .

Today’s pairing is:

Divine Guidance comes to you when you’re open to receiving, when you’re peaceful and calm, or when you’ve asked for Heaven’s help.  Divine Guidance will reduce problems into doable solutions.  Divine Guidance often comes in with gratitude or a sense of reassurance.
Ego comes charging in when you’re confused or slightly fearful and snowballs the confusion and fear into something much bigger than it is.  It may also come in like a bull as soon as you’ve said, “I feel great!”  Or have stated some other truth in confidence so that it can challenge your confidence and make you feel small.

For years, one of my least favorite questions to be asked was “How are you doing?” I knew if I answered that I was great, the ego would pounce in and tell me what a liar I was because I had this, this, and this reason not to be great. If I answered in the negative, I would feel trapped by what should be a passing state of being. “Yes, I’m miserable…and I’ll always be miserable.” I still don’t really like answering that question. But I have been practicing answering in the affirmative in an attempt to be more comfortable with it and ignore the voice that contradicts me.

Maybe it’s the question. I recently read, but can’t remember where, someone debating the value of this age old question. He didn’t like it either. He started to ask others, “How are you being?” He didn’t care what they were doing. He wanted to know their state of being. This makes so much more sense, but it doesn’t quite solve the problem.

The French ask, “ça va?” or “How is it going?” I like that even better. It isn’t personal. It’s about “things”. The answer is simply, “ça va!” It goes. Brilliant.

Day 28: Contraction

An ongoing personal exploration of Divine Guidance and distinguishing between the voice of fear and the voice of love reflecting on the article, How to Distinguish Between Divine Guidance and Fear/Ego/Imagination, on Sir Froggie’s PositiveNews Network .

Today’s pairing is:

Divine Guidance is soothing, expansive… in body, mind and energy.
Ego is fearful, constrictive… in body, mind and energy.

Do I wish I could be in that purely expansive state all the time? I’m not sure that’s really natural. Even the masters, though they may know they are That, must sometimes contract. It is the nature of the universe to open and close. Even flowers bloom and die. The difference of course, is that flowers don’t have egos…except in literature. (I’m reminded of the self-obsessed Rose from The Little Prince by St. Exupery.)

So, what I’m getting at is that contraction is a natural force and not always a sign that we’re in deluded thinking. Rather, it’s often the ego’s interpretation of these contractions that brings on the fear and further unnecessary constriction. I realize I’m coming at this pairing from a different angle and one likely unintended by the author, but it’s what comes up for me.

Day 22: Realign

An ongoing personal exploration of Divine Guidance and distinguishing between the voice of fear and the voice of love reflecting on the article, How to Distinguish Between Divine Guidance and Fear/Ego/Imagination, on Sir Froggie’s PositiveNews Network .

Today’s pairing is:

Divine Guidance brings you closer to truth, love, healing and your life purpose.  It lifts you up and gives you peace or enthusiasm about yourself and the truth, love, healing or life purpose you are working toward.
Ego tries to block you from your truth, love, healing and life purpose.  It may try to disguise these blocks as “necessary” or “logical” even though they appear out of the blue and have a fear based feeling to them.  Ego drains you, discredits you and makes you feel like “what’s the use?”  The closer you get to your goal, the more ego will object!

This is only one pairing, but several things seem to be mashed together. What stands out? For me, it’s the last line: the closer you get to your goal, the more ego will object. I’ve found that to be very true.

It’s quite ironic. My ego is often more invested in my failure than in my success. You think it would be the other way around. You think ego would want to puff itself all up with us getting what we wanted. Instead, it always keeps the goal out of reach. Is it because it fears the end of its usefulness should the goal be met? And why does it try to prevent change? Wouldn’t it feel more useful if it were having to help a person navigate novel experiences and challenges? Who needs a mind when one lives by rote? Yet, ego seems to prefer the familiar…or at least making things so complicated it gets to work overtime to never, ever reach a solution. It’s quite ridiculous and a sign of just how demented the ancient program is. This alone makes me want to cry out, “What’s the use?”

In fact, what’s the use of catering to the ego’s fearful, limiting perspectives? If the damn thing is going to block us from love, truth and purpose, why give it any airtime whatsoever? Why not devote every ounce of energy into freeing ourselves from its insidious tricks and plots? Since I started working with these ideas 22 days ago, egos ways are certainly becoming more and more obvious and transparent.

So I question every feeling of fear. I question everything that feels impossible. I question every voice that says, “never” or “can’t.” I question the completely rational. I realign with all that brings peace, enthusiasm, and excitement. I realign with my gifts and everything I love. I realign with joy. The closer I get to the goal, the more important it becomes to sing louder to drown out the useless noise!

Day 19: The Right Track

An ongoing personal exploration of Divine Guidance and distinguishing between the voice of fear and the voice of love reflecting on the article, How to Distinguish Between Divine Guidance and Fear/Ego/Imagination, on Sir Froggie’s PositiveNews Network .

Today’s pairing is:

Divine Guidance is always respectful, even when dealing with a truthful situation
that may need your attention to change.
Ego is disrespectful…to yourself, others and even to God but tries to convince you otherwise.

I guess that voice that says, “Stop it, you idiot! What the f*&$ are you doing?” isn’t Divine guidance, then? Joking aside, and as I’ve said before, I don’t think Divine guidance speaks to us in words, though it can certainly influence them. I think Divine guidance is more apt to use the emotional body to get its message across though. It can show us how we have misaligned and stepped out of integrity by bringing into our awareness those subtle or even not so subtle turns in the gut. We know we are misinterpreting reality somehow…not facing up to something…because we just don’t feel at peace…we know we’re not on the right track.

Everything that ego stirs up…confusion, frustration, attachment…these uncomfortable things become the sign posts that we’ve been on the wrong track. It’s a built-in mechanism within the illusion to let us know when we are identifying too strongly with illusion: suffering. There is no accusation. There is no judgment. There is just an increased feeling of separation. If we can just train ourselves to see it, trust it, and instantly realign, we’re back on track. Easier said than done, perhaps. But like anything, it just takes practice.

Once we wake up to the message, then we can ask for more information. Maybe this is the trickier bit. The mind will want to interpret the message and bend it to its preconceptions and habits. It will want to blame someone that we haven’t yet been able to change what needs changing. It will play its usual role. Maybe the best approach, at this point, is a prayer:

I know something must change, but I don’t know what or how. Please guide me to take the next step.

Day 10: Coming to Terms

An ongoing personal exploration of Divine Guidance and distinguishing between the voice of fear and the voice of love reflecting on the article, How to Distinguish Between Divine Guidance and Fear/Ego/Imagination, on Sir Froggie’s PositiveNews Network .

Today’s pairing is:

Divine Guidance works within the realm of what you know you can do.
Ego throws the seemingly impossible at you and sets conditions you know you cannot meet.

10 days ago, I was so sure this was a good idea. It may still be, but honestly, I just feel more confused than ever. And I wonder if the premise of my explorations is at fault. Perhaps I failed to define the terms from the very beginning…but then, the whole point of doing this was to come to a better understanding of the terms!

I feel the need to reiterate my earlier declarations that I’m not into ego-bashing. We absolutely need ego to not only survive, but thrive in this three dimensional reality. What this daily meditation has clarified for me then is that there are two sides to the ego…the harsh, judgmental, sabotaging side and the loving, hopeful, encouraging side which I’ve called the voice of fear and the voice of love.

Divine guidance then, is something beyond these voices. And herein lies my quandary; I don’t think the author of the pairings I’ve been using had drawn this same distinction.

But maybe it doesn’t ultimately matter. It’s all making me think and question what I think I know or knew.

For example, until recently, I’ve been a very strong proponent for the “we create our reality” movement. But lately, I am more of the “we create the perception of our reality” persuasion…which I know will drive many people I know absolutely crazy. Which makes me think, maybe we’re all here for different lessons. Maybe some of us need to learn about directing everything and manifesting the ideal life and some of us are here to let go, let go, let go. Maybe we go back and forth.

Day 7: Divine Guidance

An ongoing personal exploration of Divine Guidance and distinguishing between the voice of fear and the voice of love reflecting on the article, How to Distinguish Between Divine Guidance and Fear/Ego/Imagination, on Sir Froggie’s PositiveNews Network .

Today’s pairing is:

Divine Guidance will help you improve areas which will bring you peace and take you closer to your purpose by giving you doable step by step instructions, one piece at a time. Ego causes discord and wreaks havoc on your thoughts and emotions.  Instead of helping you take proactive steps, it paralyzes you in fear with an all or nothing approach.  Instead of baby steps, Ego says you have to jump off the cliff to make it happen.

Now that I’ve come to the conclusion that Divine Guidance doesn’t rely on language to communicate with me, I want to tweak today’s pairing to read that it will “…take you closer to your purpose by revealing one doable step at a time toward the goal.” Divine Guidance isn’t going to hand me an outline to execute. It isn’t going to expect anything from me, either.

Ego, on the other hand, can take the information from my guidance and then run with it. It might decide to be helpful and create something totally practical and achievable, bringing to mind past accomplishments that can bolster my thoughts about it all…or it may play its tricks, making me feel like it all has to be done at once, the surest road to chaos and failure. And for good measure, it can remind me that I’m not good enough, but that if I don’t get it done NOW, everything will be ruined. So get to it!

So, Ego may assume the voice of love or the voice of fear. This is the premise I’m now working from, rather than thinking these two things come from two different sources. They are both language driven…they just tell two different stories. Divine guidance, on the other hand, transcends all that. That’s my take.

Day 6: Divine Guidance vs. The Voice of Love?

An ongoing personal exploration of Divine Guidance and distinguishing between the voice of fear and the voice of love reflecting on the article, How to Distinguish Between Divine Guidance and Fear/Ego/Imagination, on Sir Froggie’s PositiveNews Network .

Today’s pairing is:

Divine Guidance gives you positive feedback, yet lovingly helps you in specific areas if needed.
Ego lashes out criticism (and can do so either in-your-face or so subtle it’s hard to recognize, you just know you feel like you’ve been deflated).  Ego also makes generic and pointless criticisms you can do nothing about.

My husband is an amazing landscape artist. He’s encouraging me to paint, something I’ve always wanted to do. My ego is all over the process. It compares my work to the work of others. It judges the flaws and miscalculations. It tells me not only that I am not good enough now but that I never will be. The judge can be incredibly subtle, though. It can say, “That’s pretty good…for a beginner,” and while it pats with one hand, the way it says “beginner” is a dig. Yeah, yeah. Thank you very much. Move along. When it comes to creativity, I learned to ignore the judge long ago.

I also hear another voice. It compares my initial work to my advancing work and gives me a sense of accomplishment. It looks at the “mistakes” I’ve made and takes in the information for next time. It finds what it likes in what I’ve done and makes me feel good about the risks I’ve taken or the discovery I’ve made. It propels me forward. Now that’s the voice of love! But it is still a voice, if you know what I mean. I don’t think this is Divine guidance.

Because they share a common language, the ego can easily masquerade as the voice of love, not to say that the voice of love isn’t authentic. Maybe there is an assumption at the root of my confusion over what is and isn’t Divine guidance. If ego relies on us to consult the voices in our heads for Divine guidance in order for it to pretend to be our guidance, then maybe the key is finding a language that only Divine guidance speaks.

Divine guidance is what gives me the inspiration to paint in the first place. Divine guidance is what takes my hand and eyes, the paints and brushes, and creates something unique and colorful and surprising. Divine guidance is simple and transcends language. Knowing this, how can I confuse it ever again?

Day 5: The Voice of Love in a World of Fear

An ongoing personal exploration of Divine Guidance and distinguishing between the voice of fear and the voice of love reflecting on the article, How to Distinguish Between Divine Guidance and Fear/Ego/Imagination, on Sir Froggie’s PositiveNews Network .

Today’s pairing is:

Divine Guidance helps you work with your strengths and apply them in meaningful ways.
Ego plays upon your weaknesses & darkest fears, discounts your strengths & accomplishments.

Ego can be an incredibly devious and efficient force. When it plays upon my weaknesses and darkest fears, it often has no need to discount my strengths and accomplishments because I can’t even see or relate to them anymore. It is a master of killing two birds with one stone. It goes even further, though. Ego hides the strengths that are inherent in my weaknesses. Nothing is all good or all bad. Yet, the ego would argue otherwise. I’ll give you an example:

I will now confess to being something of a drama queen. As my mentor puts it, “I’ve never known you not to be floating on a raft downstream while you flail and scream.” Ha! With this stinging and accurate commentary, I began to realize that I indeed learned and integrated a “sky is falling” approach to much of life. Hey, I inherited it.

The thing is, I can’t stand this aspect of myself. She’s draining. She’s ineffectual. She’s embarrassing! But that kind of judgmental black and white thinking totally discounts that this same archetype has an amazing ability to rally the troops, to focus, to defend herself. My inner drama queen, tempered by patience, can be put to good use. Oh my GAWD!!!!!!  ; )