For my 45th birthday, I gifted myself a pilgrimage to Andalusia Portugal, known as “the place where nothing happens,” for a silent retreat with a spiritual teacher whose teachings have been close to my heart. Known affectionately as Mooji Baba, he points to what he calls the true Self or pure Awareness in which we all unknowingly reside. This in contrast to the personal ego that most of us identify with and experience our lives through. Eight years ago I stumbled upon him on YouTube while researching another dear spiritual leader, Ramana Maharshi. From the first time I heard Mooji, I was captivated by his mixture of direct, no-nonsense teaching and surprising humor. Laughter and Truth have always been my saving graces.
At the start of the retreat, Mooji led us through a meditation asking us to leave behind everything that we think we are--our stories, our thoughts, our roles, our doubts, our judgments, our attachments, our aversions, our opinions--and to sit with what remained, Presence--the only thing impossible to leave behind. That Presence, he said, is You. Presence is Eternal. It is Divine. It is Love. And that, is You. The personality that you filter and create your life experience through is not only narrow, but is unreal. It is only real because you believe it and hold on to it.
From the first pointing, I was stunned by the radical truth of what Mooji was saying. Everything inside me acknowledged its truth, but I felt a paralysis inside. The implications of this truth shook my universe to its core. How could this be true? For the next few days, I held steadfast to Mooji’s words. I went for long walks and asked, is this true? Is it true that I am Eternal? Is it true that there’s nothing to fear? Is it true that we are One? Is it true that all is Love? Is it true that Joy is everpresent? Is it true all those things the Holy Books speak of, the drunken mystics and their flights of poetry and dance, the eternal wisdom of the sages? Is it true true? And as my heart melted over the course of the days, all around me answered yes.
One warm afternoon, filled with profound peace and stillness, I looked into the vast blue sky. I watched the shape shifting clouds above me and and followed the occasional crane caressing the sky with its open wingspan like an inviting embrace. All around me, everything was alive. The leaves in the trees rustled yes and the birds called out yes and the wind whispered yes and the sun radiated yes and the silence said, Yes Yes Yes.
That night, walking down the dirt path back to my cabin, I stood mesmerized by the eternity of stars in the night sky. After staring for awhile into the endless darkness, I closed my eyes. Inside myself I also found an endless darkness of eternity. And suddenly, the truth flashed through me. The only thing interrupting eternity out there, and eternity in here is me. And with that my insistent questioning stopped and I heard my own heart say Yes. And everything fell quiet.
Love, Truth, and Laughter,