It was a warm May morning in the dry Portugal countryside. Over 900 beings were gathered in satsang hall as part of a silent retreat with Sri Mooji - a disciple of Papaji and a devotee of the advaita and non-dual teaching of Raman Maharshi. As it goes in satsang, Mooji scans the rows of beings seated before him, many with hands raised hoping to get that one chance to speak with him directly. The exchange between Mooji and the man on stage was coming to a close and as he began looking out to select the next being, I raised my hand. Mooji said: “You come”. At first uncertain he was speaking to me, he confirmed with a nod and I stood up to the mic.
Before continuing the story, I feel it prudent to share what led up to this auspicious encounter...
In January 2016, following a three week treatment program at a cancer clinic in Mexico, it was necessary to continue the protocols as part of a home program. This meant 4-7 hours each day in therapies that occupied my hands, restricting me from doing much more than listen. As I was searching youtube for audios that were interesting and spiritually nourishing, I remember a friend telling me of her teacher, Mooji. As luck would have it, there were hours of satsangs recorded and uploaded on youtube. Perfect! I was excited to hear what this man with the kind eyes had to share.
Day after day, Mooji’s delightful presence penetrated my world. His entertaining tales were like butterscotch topping on a big scoop of vanilla ice cream wisdom, which was pretty much the only sweet treat I was getting those days! He offered so many powerful messages of hope, of freedom, and of truth. The months following became more and more difficult. Part of the treatment regime had created the skin on the surface of my tumours to break down, creating two holes in my right breast, which at one point were so large that I could put the flat of my thumb on the inside. Needless to say, this physical situation resulted in incredible and unrelenting pain. The only thing that got me through those moments when I was sure that I couldn’t take one more second were the words quoted by Mooji: “you are not experiencing suffering, you are suffering your experiencing.” The pain was real - no question - but I knew that I didn’t have to suffer the pain. Not being a pharmaceutical pill-popper, it was going to be mind over matter. These words became my mantra that carried me through all those nights attempting to find some relief on tear-soaked pillows.
Although the removal of my breast in June of that year offered some temporary relief, just a month later my health took a turn for the worst. With a 6 cm tumour in my liver, it was evident that whatever lesson was to be learned with pain, was not over. I ended up on morphine and was pretty much bed-ridden for weeks. To my surprise, one day I received a message from a woman whom I had met in Pisac, Peru. She had been part of Mooji’s team and knew of my connection to him. Her offer to contact Mooji on my behalf was so sweet and generous, how could I refuse? Not too long after, a message arrived in my email inbox that was one of the most blessed gifts I could have ever been given. It was a recorded message from Mooji wishing me well on my healing journey. Wow!! I couldn’t believe it - Mooji’s voice…his words…his prayers just for me. My heart was exploding with gratitude.
What happened next was beyond anything I could have hoped for. Arrangements had been made to connect with Mooji via Skype. Despite being highly sedated on morphine making it difficult to put a clear sentence together, as I lay partially seated in my bed, there on the other side of my computer screen was the loving compassionate face of Mooji. We conversed a little but certainly sensing my difficulty, he graciously took over and walked me through his process of coming to a place of nothingness. I’d seen this happen so many times on youtube with others but this time it landed differently; like a lock in a key, it opened the door to a knowing somehow forgotten. Feeling tremendously blessed, it was then that I promised myself if ever I got well and could make the trip, I would go to Portugal to see Mooji in person and give him the biggest hug of gratitude for all I had received as a result of his tireless and selfless work.
Time passed and although initially it didn’t seem hopeful, gradually I got better. My strength returned, making it possible within a couple of months to be once again on my own without outside care. I got off the morphine and the tumour in my liver receded to 2.5 cm according to the most recent scan. Eventually, like pieces found at the end of building a puzzle, circumstances fell into place with ease and I found myself on a plane to Portugal hoping I would get that chance I had prayed for.
Getting back to the retreat…
Standing at the mic, the moment had arrived. Somewhat nervous but mostly excited, I began speaking to Mooji. Although it wasn’t my intention to get into a lot of story, in order to provide some context for him but also the rest of the sangha, I began with saying: “We met last summer when I was quite ill.” Before I continued much further, Mooji’s face took on what seemed to be an expression of disbelief as he said: “Is that…Bonnie?” Hearing that, it took everything to contain my joy, which in typical fashion was wanting to express as tears. But, feeling I needed to continue with my expression of gratitude, albeit voice cracking - I managed to hold them back and continue. Mostly what I wanted was to just run up on stage and give Mooji the BIGGEST hug. Fortunately, he had the same sense and said: “get up here”.
Just over a couple months later, with eyes closed I can still feel the embrace of the man who’s wisdom, compassion, strength and kindness has significantly inspired my own. What love I feel for this being - an illumination of spirit that flows between and among us all. The lyrics to a one of Mooji’s very own songs seems a ridiculously appropriate composite of this cosmic connection… “You are always in my heart, never shall we be apart…”
How much I appreciate everyone and everything that made it possible for this encounter to occur, especially for my own declaration to choose it…to choose life…and to trust in the Universe to provide. If ever there was a testament for the power of prayer and intention, this would be it!!