As one of the most celebrated spiritual teacher alive today, the great Advaita master Mooji has helped thousands of seekers progress on the path towards enlightenment. With his trademark warm-heartedness and intoxicating presence, he’s expounded a boundless amount of wisdom on the practice of self-inquiry and the ultimate truth of non-duality.
Spiritual Role: Advaita Zen Master
Areas of Focus: Self-Inquiry & Non-Duality
The Life of Mooji:
Incomparable to any of the world’s other great theologies, a mesmerizing spiritual mysticism permeates throughout the religion of Hinduism. In addition to being illuminated in ancient scriptures such as the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, this auspicious distinction can also be found in the life stories of iconic gurus and seers such as Swami Vivekananda, Paramahansa Yogananda, and Anandamayi Ma. While most of the faith’s immortalized figures, whose tales naturally give rise to a sense of divine wonderment, hail from India, it’s another individual, coming from lands far from the Subcontinent, who might have the most perplexing story of all.
It was on January 29th, 1954, when Euphemia Bartlett and Enos Moo-Young welcomed their son Anthony Moo-Young into the world, some 9,000 miles away from India in the Jamaican coastal city of Port Antonio, and it wouldn’t take long for his extraordinary story to begin unfolding. The first events which lead the young boy, who’s now simply known as Mooji, to where he is today, unfortunately, included a number of disheartening occurrences that took place during his childhood. Not only did his mother Euphemia move to England when he was just one year old, but he’d also unexpectedly lost his father, to a bout of pneumonia, when he was eight.
Even though his natural parents weren’t there to raise him during some of his most important developmental years, Tony was lucky to have an extended family that offered him unconditional love and support throughout his youth. So much so, in fact, that his relationship with his aunt Eunice, who took over his care-taking responsibilities when Euphemia left for England, most closely resembled one of a mother and child. Moreover, although he initially disliked the structured parenting approach of his Uncle George, who became a father figure after Enos passed away, he’d later come to appreciate his guidance and role awakening within him a deep love for biblical stories and the teachings of Jesus Christ.
From the time of his father’s death, until he was a teenager, Tony remained under the guidance of his aunt and uncle. Things, however, started to change in 1967, when he was 13 years old, as his Uncle George moved to America and he began corresponding with his birth mother the following year. From this communication, a shared yearning to be together was rekindled and Tony ultimately started a new chapter of his life in 1970 by moving to join his mom in the United Kingdom.
Throughout the first 15 years he spent in England, Tony adjusted to a new way of life while following a path conventional for someone his age. After graduating from secondary school, he earned an art degree from a local university and made some money at a number of dead-end jobs. Then, the socially enthusiastic youngster started working as a street artist in London, creating portraits of tourists outside the National Portrait Gallery and on the famous Shaftesbury Avenue at Piccadilly Circus. Although he greatly enjoyed this work, and the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, things for Tony were about to drastically change once again.
The year was 1985, and racially charged tension in England had reached dangerous levels when Tony’s eldest sister Cherry was accidentally shot by policed and paralyzed for life. Not long after the infamous incident, which grabbed nationwide headlines, riots sparked throughout Brixton and Tony was inescapably pushed into the role of a family spokesperson. Although the impact of the experience, and an increased public profile, effectively put an end to Tony’s career as a street artist, he soon found work designing stained glass windows at a church in the center of Brixton and it was around this time when his spiritual journey truly commenced.
To be more exact, it was in 1987 when Tony befriended a man he came to see as a Christian mystic named Michael, and the pair would begin spending much time together chatting about the teachings of Jesus Christ. Not long after they had met, one especially powerful conversation brought about overpowering feelings of bliss, and a crystal clear conviction that he was moving closer toward God, within Tony. Of the occurrence, he tells us:
After this, I felt I was moving in the footsteps of a higher power, guided by an unseen force. I was a changed man from there on. All that I had lived before, including who I considered myself to be, became insignificant overnight.”
In the years that followed the auspicious discussion, Tony became increasingly uninterested in materialistic pursuits and singularly focused on his spiritual growth. It was at this point in his life, with hopes of finding a teacher who could help him transcend even further on the path, when he walked into the famed Watkins Bookshop, which specializes in spiritual literature, and gravitated towards a book titled Who Am I?, The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Although he wasn’t able to fully grasp the complex self-inquiry instructions offered within its pages, he decided to pick up another book on the same shelf, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, and he quickly became engrossed by what he read. Reflecting on the experience, he said:
I was so moved by the few words I read in this book that I was unable to put it down. Ramakrishna’s words were speaking directly into my heart confirming much of what I had an intuitive sense but was not clear enough to articulate.”
Upon finding the guidance of Ramakrishna, Tony became increasingly interested in Hinduism and he’d soon have the fortuitous spiritual opportunity to take in India’s intoxicating devotional ambiance firsthand. Without maintaining a full-time professional career, a choice that was driven by his thirst for truth, the enthusiastic seeker undertook a project painting a mural for his sister and was gifted with a nice sum of cash for his efforts. With this unexpected money, he then made the decision to travel to the Subcontinent with the sole intention of visiting Ramakrishna’s home and Calcutta’s Dakineshwar Kali temple.
Tony first traveled to India in 1993, when he was 39 years old, and his visit to the sacred holy lands came with a number of auspicious occurrences. For example, after meeting with three devotees of Sri Harilal Poonja, another Advaita master who’s better known as Papaji, in Rishikesh, he awoke one morning with a strong desire to visit the great sage and spontaneously bought a train ticket to visit him in Lucknow that very moment. Amazingly enough, the now historic first meeting between Tony and his soon-to-be guru was captured on video:
In the months that followed, Tony continued to study under Papaji while finding some time to visit a number of India’s holiest pilgrimage sites. Unfortunately, his enchanting trip was cut short by the devastating news that his eldest son had died of viral pneumonia back home. Upon returning to England, Tony faced the unimaginable reality of burying his own child.
Over the next three years, Tony settled back into the western lifestyle, with Papaji’s presence fully in his heart, and it was during this time period when individuals first became drawn to him while he sold incense on the streets. Then, in 1997, the emerging spiritual teacher visited his guru for what would be the last time, as it was only one month after returning home that he received word of his mentor’s passing. When asked years later about how Papaji’s death affected him, he so wisely proclaimed:
The Master does not die. It is the mister, the person, that dies. The Master, that timeless and unborn principle within, alone exists and is the Real.”
In the two years following Papaji’s death, Tony’s work selling incense gradually morphed into a small street-side chai tea shop and the number of seekers who gravitated to him continued to multiply. Although he preferred to remain in silence at this point in his life, his followers’ questions, and his own prayers to God, eventually drew out the charismatic guru who’s beloved around the world today. It was from holding regular spiritual meetups, in his apartment, with his most determined devotees that both the name Mooji and his now iconic Satsang gatherings came into existence.
Since formally becoming a guru in 1999, the legend of Mooji has continued to expand and his following has grown to include tens of thousands from all parts of the world. Today, he lives and teaches at his Monte Sahaja home and ashram located in southern Portugal. Each year, he travels to India to offer Satsang for two weeks in Rishikesh, one of India’s most sacred spiritual cities, and he regularly holds events in the United Kingdom.
Because his guidance is not easily accessible to all of his followers, Mooji’s organization offers them the ability to live stream Satsang, participate in retreats, and explore a vast collection of spiritual videos at Mooji.org. Additionally, Mooji has written 8 books, including Before I Am, White Fire: Spiritual Insights and Teachings of Advaita Zen Master Mooji, and Vaster Than Sky, Greater Than Space: What You Are Before You Became, over the past decade.
3 of Mooji’s Most Important Teachings:
As one of the greatest living Advaita Vedanta masters, Mooji has uniquely tailored the wisdom of past sages such as Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi, and Papaji in a way that’s relevant and relatable in today’s world. With his intoxicating presence and extraordinary ability to explain perplexing spiritual truth with profound simplicity, it’s easy to see why so many spiritual seekers gravitate to him. While his insightful teachings certainly aren’t limited to the true self, the transcendental power of self-inquiry, and the ultimate truth of non-duality alone, these are unquestionably some of his most treasured:
Distinguishing Your Person From Your True Self:
All of Mooji’s teachings are based upon a foundational belief that tells us the individuals we believe ourselves to be aren’t who we really are. This is to say that although we identify ourselves as being our psychological minds and psychical bodies, the truth is that these impermanent and dependent-arising qualities actually arise out of the source of consciousness that is our fundamental nature. To make the distinction between our person and true self, Mooji encourages us to look deeper that the mind’s surface level:
Your mind and your thoughts, you can perceive them. You are there before them. They come and go. You cannot be that, because if you were the things that come and go when they go you will also be gone. You are here to watch them go, so you cannot be that. What is it that remains to watch everything come and go, but itself neither comes nor goes? Recognize and acknowledge that power in you, that place in you.”
It’s because all suffering results from falsely identifying with the ego persona that Mooji goes to such great lengths to illuminate who we truly are. Yet still, accomplishing this most important spiritual task is no easy feat because conditioning, mental deception, and fear keep us locked into believing we are the false persona. To move beyond this most limiting association, and genuinely recognize ourselves as pure consciousness, Mooji tells us we must look within. In the Satsang video below, the great spiritual teacher further explains how we can distinguish between what’s real and fake:
The Transcendental Power of Self-Inquiry:
To help us fully recognize our true nature, and attain the blissful freedom that comes with it, Mooji and other Advaita masters point us toward the practice of self-inquiry which was developed by the immortalized Hindu sage Ramana Maharshi. Proponents of the technique are adamant in their assertion that by continuously pondering who we really are and consciously observing the transient qualities of body and mind, we can attain self-realization and enlightenment. Mooji tells us of the transcendental power of the practice:
Truth is here so let us take a look at what conceals it. This is the power of self-inquiry. What was hidden is quickly exposed. What is genuine is revealed. It is so immediate in its impact that all this is unreal is brought up to the surface quickly: we see what we are attached to, whether or not there is resistance to change, and we uncover the hideouts and cul-de-sacs of false identity.”
By consistently observing our minds and analyzing what makes us who we are, with the help of inquiry questions such as ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Can the perceiver be perceived?’, it’s said that we’ll arrive at the place of ‘Isness’ where all life emanates from. And still, because this indescribable discovery takes on no shape, name, or form, it’s imperative to find out for ourselves without blindly accepting what others proclaim as truth. In the Satsang video below, Mooji offers some indispensable guidance related to the journey of self-realization:
The Ultimate Truth of Non-Duality:
In addition to illuminating one’s true self as pure consciousness, the practice of self-inquiry simultaneously shatters the illusionary walls of separation and reveals the interconnected nature shared by all. This is to say that although it’s easy to call attention to the vast array of diversity and differences amongst people, places, and objects, there really is only one primordial source expressing itself in an endless variety of colors, shapes, dimensions, and forms. Of the ultimate truth of non-duality, Mooji explains:
Non-duality really means that all that we can perceive—this world and universe, these myriad forms and beings, this whole field of the way we think, feel, and see the world around us, the sense of the universe—everything is one unity. All of it springs from one single source. It is the source itself that expresses diversity. In other words, what we regard as diversity or duality is in essence one unity portraying itself as diversity.”
While it isn’t easy to conceptualize the idea of non-duality, as the mind can’t grasp its abstract nature, Mooji and other Advaita masters make clear that there is only One Self. Additionally, although the mind fears the Infinite because it identifies with a personal self that dissolves upon this realization, it is here alone where true freedom and bliss reside. In the following Satsang video, Mooji illuminates how all expressions orientate from the one single source of limitless consciousness:
Inspirational Mooji Quotes:
To change the world is not your mission. To change yourself is not your duty. To awaken to your true nature is your opportunity.”
There is a presence, a silence, a stillness which is here by itself. There is no doer of it, no creator of this stillness. It is simply here in you, with you. It is the fragrance of your own self. There is nothing to do about this, it is naturally present. This fragrance of peace, this spaciousness, it is the fragrance of your own being.”
In the spiritual journey, you cannot be a wine taster, you have to become a drunk.”