Interview with Ona
SERVING THE UNITY
A good way to get to know someone is by letting your intuition keep track of your impressions after the first, short encounter between the two of you, allowing that very note to remain a lasting pledge of the encounter. A similar thing happened with Devi Mohan 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 just so happened 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, who are open-minded, accepting and joyful. It’s always easy and 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.
Devi Mohan’s life could easily serve as a plot for a movie. In her case, the curve of life really had its hands full: from the turbulent and warlike early 90s, through senior positions in major corporations, all the way to ashrams, yoga, spiritual diplomacy and awareness-raising. Devi, is there anything you would like to single out as the main lessons you learnt on this journey?
Thank you on that amazing question that already incorporates the essence of my answer: more than the experiences themselves, it is important to realize the deeper meaning of those experiences, as well as the perspective 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) something from a given experience, and that we can consciously apply this new enlightening knowledge in our daily life.
I had several key, at times very painful life experience, which made me grow 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 such 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 experience. 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 the energy of victimhood. We may not be able to change external circumstances, but we can change our attitude. I wondered what I could do in that situation. My intention was to finish school and to use higher education as the doorway into financial stability for myself and my family. This sincere and deep intention had such a strong energy that it attracted two scholarships into my life, for studies in Rome and the US. I applied for those scholarships in a regular way, just like other student – via Internet. Just before the end of my postgraduate studies in the US at the Kroc Institute for Peace Studies, within the famous University of Notre Dame, a huge change happened in my life. This was connected with an experience that I had a couple of years earlier, while studying in Rome, when I experienced conscious astral travel. 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. He was seated in the lotus position on a special chair in the middle of that vast desert. While looking at him all dazed, 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 which is about to burst. That amount of energy was too much for me. He smiled and said that I wasn’t ready yet. Even today, I remember with crystal clarity every second of that transcendent encounter in the desert. This was a brief intro into that moment of huge change, a turning point in my life that happened towards the end of my graduate studies. Preparing for an exam, I was walking past a shelf in a bookstore filled with books when I felt a clear vibration, a tickling sensation on my arm. I turned my palm towards that source of energy, bent down slightly, and reached for a book with orange cover located in the bottom row of that book shelf. Its title was “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahamsa Yogananda. Instinctively I just opened the book and at that moment felt an unexpected shiver down my spine – the book opened right on the page with the picture of a beautiful young yogi. I recognized him immediately. It was him! There he was in his lotus position, with that beautiful slim waist, shiny long hair and deep eyes in which, during our astral encounter, I even saw or experienced galaxies in ways unfathomable to logical mind. I was simply out of breath from the shock and excitement. Below that picture I saw the name “Mahavatar Babaji.” My heart was pounding and I was so eager to read that book. When the opportunity finally came, I absorbed every word. When I reached the section about Mahavatar Babaji, I was engulfed by the grace and tears poured down my face. I cannot describe how deep and intimate all of that 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” – the supreme swan, which is born in the air and masters the skill of flying before it touches the ground. The symbolism is multi-levelled and I would definitely recommend this book to all. It is truly alive, full of blessings and insights. Reading about Mahavatar Babaji, at one point my mind started harboring doubts – how is it possible that I was given to meet such an elevated being, a yogi of the highest order who attained immortality? What did I do to earn that blessing? I contemplated a lot and over those seven days a huge change happened in me. I lost interest in career and financial aspects of all job offers that were presenting themselves to me 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, Kriya that Babaji talks about, and to open myself to higher consciousness and realizations that we as human beings can attain the consciousness beyond logical reasoning and the prison of ego.
I did not know how, when and if at all I would have the opportunity to get the hold of such effective methodologies for elevation into higher awareness, but I believed that the path would present itself to me at the right time. I just knew I had to get to India somehow. The first job opportunity appeared in 2005, in Dubai, which was only 1.5 hours by plane from India. That is how my journey to spiritual diplomacy, yoga and experiential spirituality started, which eventually led me to Mohanji, the greatest blessing of my life.
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, i.e. 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 or sutras. They are so deep and layered, written from such a high level of consciousness that from each one of those aphorisms one could write a dissertation. But the point is not in the discussion and endless analysis, but in living those teachings. For me, yoga is truly simple. First of all, yoga teaches us to be natural. People who fail to live their truth, or are too preoccupied by what other people will think of them, cannot be natural. Those who live in the energy of violence, whether it is violence in thoughts, words or intentions, not to mention the actual 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 at one point 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 to witness our breath, conscious movement, decisiveness and will to find all the answers within ourselves. Starting from witnessing, directing attention within during Yoga asanas, directing the subtle lifeforce energy through the breathing techniques (pranayama), switching between challenging asanas and relaxation without following 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 woven into the ancient science called 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 that they cannot be verbalized or compared to anything. Mohanji usually says: “Let my presence speak 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 choice of love over our own greed and seeming limitations within our comfort zones, there is no real opening into higher consciousness.
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 seems to be a platform on which you practice all the teachings that 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 made an honest wish, from the bottom of my heart, to do hands on charity work with utmost dedication. I didn’t want to do that as a part of some big organization 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 it may be, can mean a world to someone. I believe that it was the intensity and purity of my wish to serve and to discover the higher levels of love in myself that made me worthy of having Mohanji appear in my life. It was magical, as if part of some movie. Incredible synchronicities, inner confirmations, insights. However, besides those amazing experiences, great tests were happening as well. 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 transition to the higher level of consciousness is accompanied by certain tests, so that we get to revisit the curriculum once again on our own. The great master Sai Baba once said “No graduation without examination.”
Dharma is the essential part of our fulfillment. What would you say is your dharma?
During the near-death experience in 1999, in the crucial moment before dissolving in the living light of divine love, I was revealed to me that my time had not yet come, that I hadn’t completed my mission, which is “to serve the unity.” Since then, I’ve been actively working on developing a deeper understanding of what exactly that unity means in terms of practical life. That higher purpose of mine, the holy assignment or dharma is to touch the hearts of people through the golden thread that unites all religions, spiritual paths and teachings. That is what I’m striving towards during the speeches I hold as the Global Ambassador of Mohanji Foundation, during the Yoga lessons, processes and meditations at Mohanji’s programmes, Mai-Tri and MTM sessions, etc. In each one of those roles I give my maximum and invest all of me. That’s what is most important for me – to simply live my truth, to be natural and to give my maximum. That is all. In summary, I believe that when we walk the path of practical spirituality with utmost sincerity, the path that is based on purity, love, faith and liberation from all the attachments that draw us towards lower frequencies, then the opportunities for serving the unity and living one’s own dharma, appear in various situations.
All I know is that, if anyone can see my highest potential and what else is needed for me to overcome in order to realize that potential, that is Mohanji. In the first place, he inspires me through his own example, through his support, and sometimes criticism, which is always effective. All of us easily and mostly unconsciously fall back into our usual patterns, which then means living the karma, not dharma. This is exactly the priceless value of the presence of a living spiritual teacher (Guru), about which Yogananda talks in his autobiography. I witness that truth myself, because the traps of ego (especially spiritual ego) are countless and they sneak up to us in most unexpected ways.
Why do you think it’s important that Mohanji’s messages touch as many hearts as possible?
The spiritual path to which Mohanji and I belong is like a flowing river. It naturally attracts those souls who are ready to recognize it at the given moment. We do not deal with numbers, neither on the programs and meditations, nor in general. I have never seen Mohanji disappointed because the number of people who attended a program was less than expected. He has no expectations and that is what he teaches us as well. Only when we become aware of that, do we see how much our mind loves nurturing expectations, disappointments, gossip and blaming of others for those disappointments, etc. Whoever was supposed to come, they came. That’s how it’s been since the beginning. This is the path of pathlessness, without big rules and routines, uniforms or titles. This is the path of fire which burns all our limiting beliefs, fears, ego trips, etc. so it’s not very comfortable and it’s not meant for everyone.
But it’s wonderful witnessing what one becomes after he/she starts walking this path. I have personally seen many transformations in people and new ways in which Mohanji (who for me isn’t just my husband or a person, but pure consciousness) brings people into situations through which they overcome their own barriers and start functioning in a completely new energy and potential. Through volunteering, Mohanji platform provides everyone with the possibility to approach that fire which transforms them and raises them to the higher frequency on which all that is unnecessary falls off. That is why we often say: “It’s not about what someone gained during these programs, but about what they lost”, i.e. what they got liberated from, because this is the path of spiritual liberation.
You once said there is nothing competitive in Yoga, that there shouldn’t be any comparisons, because everyone is unique and has their own limitations and abilities. Is this maybe an excellent way for observing any relationship in our life?
Yes, of course. We are all unique and there is no one who can experience Yoga (as an experience, or a state of unity, and at the same time a practice or a path towards achieving that unity) in the completely same way. It is pointless comparing ourselves with others. That program of competition, which has been instilled in us through the education system, has to be overcome on the spiritual path. Only then a person becomes authentic, fearless and complete. Mohanji says that we must first become a complete unit of consciousness in order to dissolve in the universal consciousness. As long as we are fragmented, full of fears, limitations, prejudice, etc. we need to continue working on ourselves. But when everything falls into place, all the work stops and the complete surrender begins. That’s when a man becomes a pure instrument of the higher consciousness and works ever more, because then the eternal energy carries us like a wave, bringing fulfillment which continues even when the soul sheds the physical frame. That is the Love that gives us eternity. As a soul, I have tasted all that, I carry that memory deep within, and now I’m having a recap of that. Now I’m living those teachings as best as I can, with the faith that the great Babaji will give me another chance at some point, and that I will then be ready to surrender to the moment fully as the balloon of my ego dissolves once and for all…
To all the readers of Sensa magazine, thank you for your attention. I wish you deep fulfillment in your life and on your chosen spiritual path.