Interview with Mohanji and Devi Mohan with Serbian magazine “Sensa”
A good way to get to know someone is letting your intuition keep track of your impressions after the first, short encounter between the two of you, and allowing that very note remain a lasting pledge of the encounter. A similar thing happened with Devi Mohan and the first time we met. We were supposed to meet, get to know each other well and have an extensive talk. She and I set aside time and space for that, but as it usually happens, we make plans, but we also leave room for surprises. It happened so that the long meeting was cut short; we were able to squeeze in several lives in that half an hour session. I guess that happens with people like Devi, open-minded, accepting and joyful. It’s always easy, always leaves a trace and room for something extra. That’s why I wanted you to meet Devi Mohan in this issue. This woman is bravely building a new world alongside her husband Mohanji, and this is an opportunity to take a sneak peek into that world together.
Q: Devi Mohan’s life could easily serve as a plot for a movie. In your case, the curve of life really had its hands full: from turbulent and warlike early 90s, through senior positions in major corporations, all the way to ashrams, yoga, spiritual diplomacy and awareness-raising. Is there anything you would like to single out as best lessons you learnt on this journey?
Thank you for that amazing question that already incorporates the core element of my answer: more than the experiences themselves, it is important to realize the deeper meaning of those experiences, as well as perspectives from which we observe the world around us. A lesson is a powerful word. It implies that we have learned (or had the opportunity to learn) from a given experience, and that we can consciously apply this new knowledge that has brightened us in our daily lives.
I had several key and extremely painful life experiences at a given moment, which made me grew into the realization of a higher meaning of my existence. I am deeply grateful for these lessons. I am currently writing an autobiography, in which all these experiences and insights will be laid out in detail. I would like to briefly refer to two experiences.
While living as a refugee in Serbia (I was 14 when we exiled from Western Slavonia in the 90s) I learned how important it was to accept a given situation, no matter how difficult it may be, and to maintain positivity, faith and focus on the present moment. Only then are we given an opportunity – here and now – to do our best, regardless of all uncertainties, insecurities, sense of injustice, the need to point finger at someone for all the troubles we are going through, etc. In this way, we tend to take responsibility for our lives and get out of a victim mentality on an energy level. We may not be able to change external circumstances, but we can change our attitude. I wondered what I could do in a given situation. My intention was to finish school and to open the door of financial stability for myself and my family through education. This sincere and deep intention had such a strong energy that it attracted to my life two scholarships for studies in Rome and the US, for which I applied in the regular way, just like other students – online. Just before the end of my postgraduate studies in the US at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, within prominent University of Notre Dame, I was struck by a dramatic change of substantial proportions. A few years earlier, while studying in Rome, I experienced conscious astral projection. My astral body found itself in a vast desert and there I had an encounter with a beautiful young yogi of glorious splendor and spiritual strength, who was sitting on a special chair in the lotus position in the middle of that vast desert. I experienced a huge expansion in love and consciousness, especially after he opened his eyes and looked at me deeply and lovingly. At one point, I felt like a balloon about to burst. That amount of energy was too much for me. He smiled and said I wasn’t ready yet. Even today, I remember crystal clear the every second of that transcendent encounter in the desert. And so I come to that moment near the end of my graduate studies when a major turning point in my life occurred. Preparing for an exam, I was walking past a shelf in a bookstore with lots of books when I felt a clear vibration on my arm that was just tickling me. I turned my palm against that source of energy that I could clearly feel, bent down slightly, and reached for a book titled Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahamsa Yogananda, which was sitting on the bottom row of that shelf. Instinctively, I opened the book and felt an unexpected shiver down my spine – the book opened right on the page where there was a picture of a beautiful young yogi when I immediately recognized him! It was him! He was sitting in lotus position, having a narrow waist, shiny long hair and deep eyes in which I even saw or experienced galaxies in an inexpressible way during my astral travel. I was simply out of breath from the shock and excitement. Below that picture was written Mahavatar Babaji. My heart was pounding and I was eager to read that book. I absorbed every word, and when I reached the section about Mahavatar Babaji, I was engulfed by grace and tears poured down my face. I cannot describe how deep and intimate it all was for me. In that wonderful energy, two white swans approached me at one point, and that is exactly when Yogananda was explaining the meaning of the word Paramahamsa – a supreme swan, which is born in the air and masters the skill of flying before it touches the ground. The symbolism is ambiguous and I would definitely recommend this book. The book is truly alive, full of blessings and insights. Reading about Mahavatar Babaji, my mind struggled with doubts – how is it possible that I was given to meet such an elevated being, a yogi of the highest rank who attained immortality? What did I do to earn it? I contemplated a lot and over that seven days a huge change happened in me that I lost interest in career and financial aspects of all business offers in the US. The only thing that mattered to me was to somehow get to India, to find someone who would teach me the ancient wisdom of yoga, meditation, hide and seek that Babaji talks about, and to open myself to higher consciousness and realizations that we as human beings can reach beyond logical reasoning and the prison of ego.
I did not know how and when I would have the opportunity to reach effective methodologies to get elevated to higher awareness, but I believed that the path would unravel itself. I just knew I had to get to India somehow. The first job opportunity appeared in 2005, in Dubai, which was only an hour and a half away by plane from India. That is how my journey to spiritual diplomacy, yoga and experiential spirituality started, which eventually led me to Mohanji, as the greatest blessing in my life.
Q: As you said in an interview, yoga has opened many doors to you and helped you in the transformation that you are probably still undergoing. What are the most valuable truths that yoga has allowed you to realize?
The most valuable and deepest truths are usually quite simple. I noticed that true yogis, that is the people who have mastered the mind, are usually simple and concise. Thus, the famed Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are comprised of a series of aphorisms. They are so deep and layered, written with such a high level of consciousness that each of those aphorisms could be developed into dissertation. But the point is not in the discussion and endless analysis, but in living those teachings. For me, yoga is completely simple. First of all, yoga teaches us to be natural. People who fail to live their truth or are burdened with what other people will think of then cannot be natural. Those who live in the energy of violence, whether it is violence in thoughts, words or intentions, not to mention deeds, cannot be natural, because unconditional love is our true nature. Pure love excludes any form of violence, malice, revenge, jealousy, etc.
In the Himalayan School of Traditional Yoga, which has somehow naturally evolved within Mohanji’s spiritual platform, we talk exactly about naturalness, simplicity, return to nature and return to oneself. This is crucial nowadays. Yoga has taught me that in order to work on ourselves we need nothing more than witnessing our own breath, conscious movement and decisiveness and will to find all the answers within ourselves. Starting from witnessing, directing attention towards inside during Yoga asanas, directing the subtle life energy through the breathing techniques, switching between challenging asanas and relaxation without following of any pattern the mind would expect, opening our heart to gratitude, accepting ourselves and our body as it is, surrendering, etc – these are the boons skillfully intertwined in the ancient practice we call Yoga.
Unity of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness is just a concept of the mind until one actually goes through deep inner experiences of endless silence and expansion in love and consciousness, experiences so vast they cannot be turned into words nor compared to anything. Mohanji usually says: “Let my presence say more than words.” That is it. The one who is dissolved in that consciousness and no longer functions from the level of ego, radiates that very unity about which the ancient science of Yoga speaks. In the presence of such a person, love awakens in the hearts of the people, many synchronicities that mean a world to a person at that given moment happen, enormous grace descends upon us and a huge transformation takes place, especially when a man consciously chooses to be of service to others, to serve selflessly and express love. Without that conscious choosing of love over our own greed and seeming limitations within our comfort zones, there is no real opening to the higher consciousness.
Q: According to your words, the encounter with Mohanji was really crucial for both of you. But far more important is the fact that your partnership and your mission to serve others seem to be a platform on which you practice all the teachings you promote together – silence, detachment, fulfillment of the life purpose. How do we actually reach this type of spiritual partnership and are there certain challenges?
Mohanji came into my life after I had honestly, from the bottom of my heart made a wish to do charity with full dedication. I didn’t want to do that as a part of some big organisation where everything would be only on paper and would boil down to donating money. I wanted to donate my time, my talents, to meet the people who needed help face to face and to recognize a tiny bit of myself in their eyes…. During the exile as a refugee I experienced not only hunger and humiliation, but also the realisation how a kind word, attention, advice or help, no matter how small, can mean a world in such crucial moments. I believe that it’s exactly because of that honest wish to help others and to discover the higher levels of love in myself, that I somehow deserved Mohanji to appear in my life. It was magical, as in a movie. Incredible synchronicities, inner confirmations, insights. However, besides those amazing experiences, great tests were happening. This is where we go back to the subject of the life lessons from the beginning of the interview. I realized that it was very important that the transfer to the higher level of consciousness is accompanied by certain tests, so we can revise the curriculum once again on our own. The great master Sai Baba once said “No graduation without examination”.
Q: Dharma is the essential part of our fulfillment. What would you say is your dharma?