The Awakening Times (TAT): Christopher Greenwood, executive assistant to philanthropist and humanitarian Mohanji, has just published a book called “The Ultimate gamble”, chronicling the experiences and insights he’s had while travelling and working in close proximity to Mohanji, and that’s what we are here to talk about.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Chris; your background, the work you do with Mohanji, and the genesis of the book.
Christopher Greenwood (CG): I have the pleasure, honour and privilege of being an executive assistant to Mohanji. In that capacity, I run his office, which is responsible for his travel, his presentation to the world and, and helping with projects on the many Mohanji global platforms. Alongside that, I have other roles as well: leading a training organization based on Mohanji’s teachings. The other is the World Consciousness Alliance, which is for artists, entertainers; through their craft, they can influence people and uplift humanity through kindness and compassion.
How it came to be in front of you today, is the culmination of searching and seeking for quite a long time. I had a traditional British upbringing, from fairly large family. Although I had no real interest in spirituality, myself, and no one in the family was outwardly spiritual, I had this yearning for something more; always questioning, there must be a bit more to life, the deeper questions. At that time, my view of life was all what I think most people follow; earning money, having a good job, having money to spend on travel, spend on items, not that I was crazy, buying lots of different things, but travel was my thing. I was experiencing the world and going to various places, while at the same time, practicing yoga and understanding a little bit more about these philosophies that are deeper; connected to a sense of self.
There came a point when I was really deeply questioning what is all this about, the more I got, the more unhappy I was; the more successful I was in the traditional sense of career and money, going places, etc., the more unhappy I was, and I was confused by this. That was the spark of a deeper quest, which took me through various paths, various twists and turns to ultimately arrive at Mohanji. I went to see him, he was in a satsaṅg, giving a talk, and I had question which he answered with extreme clarity. I knew that this was someone who, even if he didn’t have all of the answers, would at least take me another step further on my search. Soon after that I just got pulled into everything. I just loved the talk. I loved the philosophy, I loved the understanding, the clarity that I was getting, many positive things happened and my life was becoming more stable, lots of the difficulties that I was facing started to just fade away. A path was emerging, not through any sort of specific instruction, just naturally, in life. It felt like a lot of clearing was happening. Then I just pursued that, doing everything I could. So that’s a little bit about how I came to meet Mohanji, which I also share in the book. I was attending retreats, programs, and what he was saying was so practical and simple that I was bringing that into my day to day life. People were noticing a change: “Okay, how can you be so calm in these situations?” I was sharing with people as well, but this was so more than a teaching, it was a practical way of living, that was emerging, which felt more natural.
Fast forward a little bit, I think Mohanji saw that I was searching for something when I quit work. I was taking some time out to find, I won’t say a purpose, but something more meaningful. I thought that if I was going to use my time here, use my skills, I want it to be something that is a contribution to the world, rather than just lining my pockets and more than that, lining the pockets of somebody else, because I was working for companies and when I worked, they got more money. I wasn’t happy. So,Mohanji said,”How about you come into some work together? How about you come and work with me?” That was the start.
TAT: You were fairly successful at your work; it’s not like you got disillusioned with it because you didn’t succeed. You had complete success and that was still not satisfying you?
CG: I would say that, but it wasn’t an escape, it was a conscious shift, to take some time to really try and find out what it was that I could put myself into that would bring more satisfaction. More than money, I wanted contentment, more than things and travel, I wanted satisfaction and fulfillment. Then Mohanji came along and I sort of got pulled into the Mohanji platforms, where all the work is happening across the world.
TAT: This desire for something a little bit more substantial, something that contributes to the world… Did you voice that to anyone? Or was it entirely internal?
CG: At that time, it was a journey into spirituality too. I was practicing yoga, and I was moving away from a lifestyle and a friend group that was very much into the typical things; drinking, partying, the usual, run of the mill life, you go to work, then you get the girl, then you have a marriage, then you have a family, then you have a job, blah, blah, blah. I started to tell people and started to share my thoughts enthusiastically, but then I realized not many people were receptive. In fact, they were quite critical. I started to just to keep things to myself and just do my own thing.They were noticing changes, like, I stopped drinking, for example. Like that slowly, slowly, things are changing. The whole process was more internalized than anything, I didn’t really have anyone to speak to about it. There was no one, I could lean on, I didn’t have that those people in my sphere to talk to about these types of things. Whenever I did, it was either met with ridicule or not understanding, or I just couldn’t explain it. Not that I blame anybody, but after a few experiences, I realized that maybe it’s better to keep a few things to myself.
I didn’t actually know much about Mohanji yet, and I hadn’t had much interaction with him. I guess if I go back a little bit, there were a few key points, which are in the book. The way I’ve structured the book is that this book is about the lessons that I’ve learned living with Mohanji. That’s, that’s the key content. The lesson being that Mohanji, as a force, as a presence in the world; his life is his message, his life is his teaching, his laying of the roadmap, as an example of a truly purposeful life, is incredible. Most of the lessons are observations. This is how Mohanji is, this is how I see Mohanji do things, that’s one part. The second is my understanding of the situation, like a commentary. The third section is condensing that into a learning which people can take and put into their lives. Over a year, each day, I wrote small lessons for people to hear. I was doing like a podcast; a voice recording and a message. These are what have been condensed into this book.
I also included a bit of a background, because who’s Christopher Greenwood? Who is he to write about Mohanji? I had to write a bit of a story, I didn’t want it to be too self indulgent, just enough to show people my journey was one of going from the traditional, usual pattern of life, to something of much more purpose and not just a life of purpose, but also delving into the world of spirituality, which is essentially understanding ourselves.
Mohanji says this quite nicely: that everybody in life has an opportunity to connect to God, God not being the man with a white beard up in the sky, who’s looking down and, and answering calls and requests, but God being the energy which sits inside of a soul, which enlivens us all, is silent as a witness, but makes our body functioning, supporting all of our experiences in life. When you connect to that, and realize that self realization or enlightenment, is already inside you. They say that everybody has the opportunity to connect to that in their lifetime. The option is given; maybe it’s a meeting with somebody, maybe it’s a book, maybe it’s what someone might call a coincidence. But those moments are opportunities to choose a different life, to explore something different, because life is very conditioned. I mean, you’re told to go to school and have the education, you’re told what the good jobs are, then you should have a family, then you’ll be successful. But, that’s not necessarily the case.
In the journey of my life and in meeting Mohanji, there were a few occasions when I had an easier option: To pursue something which I didn’t know was much more difficult than just saying, “Okay, I’ll just go out into the pub or something like that. For example, going on a retreat, I’d have the option of going on a retreat, but then many obstacles would come, and excuses would come up; reasons why I shouldn’t go. One trip for example, was travelling to a place in India called Girnar, associated with the deity Dattātreya, who is a representation of the creation, the sustenance and the dissolution of life, and Dattātreya exists in nature. He said, “I am the nature.” That principle is something that’s very powerful in the Hindu pantheon of deities, so going to Girnar is almost like a symbolic confirmation that you’re ready to achieve the highest state. It’s on top of 10000 stairs, an incredibly difficult climb. There was an event that was taking place for that. I was in Serbia, very comfortable, I was there to do some work. I had just moved into an apartment with a friend and I planned to stay there for quite some time. A message had come a few days earlier, saying that Mohanji is going on this trip, with just a few people, if anybody wants to join, they’re welcome. That was it. I felt a calling, that I should go because this Girnar had come to me in some internet searches. Maybe you’ve experienced this; you’re just Googling things, and some things come to you, something pops up, and that leads you to something else and something else.
TAT: You were kind of being primed so that when the opportunity came you were you were aware?
CG: That’s how I see it. But, being in Serbia and the trip happening in in India, and happening in a few days time, I wondered how I would get there. Doubts come up: Would I make it on time, for example. So, I sent a message to find out and I didn’t get anything back. So, I thought, “Okay, not for me.” Then two days before the trip, the message came back, “If you want to come, then come. I said, “But it’s tomorrow and I’m in Serbia.” They replied, “Oh, well, maybe next time.” But I really wanted to go and then another message came: Well, if you really want to, then maybe you should.” I checked the flights and if I left that very second, I would have caught a flight that would have made it in time. But, I deliberated: I couldn’t go because I’d have to order a taxi, a taxi would take at least 20 minutes. So, I said that I can’t make it. Then I asked, “What time are you actually going, because I can take another flight, but I’d arrive there by 9pm.” The reply was, “It’s okay, because if you’re quick, you can catch us up on the mountain. I booked the ticket, and I went, and all of this had to happen fairly quickly.
Why I highlight that is I think that sometimes in life, we get presented with an opportunity, which we know inside is good for us, but the difficulty of making that choice means we just slip back into a usual pattern. Sometimes it’s much easier to not do something and give voice to excuses, than it is to break out of a comfort zone and and try something different. It might be a trip like that, or it might even be just a concept.
One of the one of the things I wanted to address with this book, is that some people in the West don’t really understand what a real Guru or a living Master is, which is perfectly normal, I had no idea either. There are a lot of guys who position themselves as gurus, but are actually exploitative. It even has a bit of a bad name in the west and in India. You’ve got these programs as well, like “Wild Wild Country” about Osho, which is sensationalized and biased. Even to be open minded to what a Guru could potentially be, is a huge blessing. A Guru is there to remove your ignorance to help you see truth. But, people don’t see that and they think the so called Guru is removing your money, so that they can buy themselves cars and clothes and other things. The true Guru, or Master doesn’t need any of that. All they are there to be available to help you on your own journey.
TAT: I’m curious about the title, why “The Ultimate Gamble”?
CG: Sometimes in life, we have to take a bit of a dare. We have to recognize: “This is my mindset, but it might not be complete. I think I’m correct, but am I correct?” For example: “Let me experience or connect to someone who’s considered a Guru, rather than having all my prejudices in front and my concepts in front, let me just put those aside a second, and I’ll take a bit of a gamble, and I’ll see… What have I got to lose?” Then you you become more receptive and open and something might happen. Perhaps there’s an event happening; a meditation, or something which is internally pulling you towards a certain track, or maybe something happened in life; you crossed paths with someone and that meeting changed the course of your life, you might say that it was a coincidence but, it was probably a divine arrangement, .
So, the the gamble is believing and trusting that there’s potentially a path that’s been set for you to achieve your highest, and then taking steps towards that. For me, I already had a good job, I was already successful, I had good money, it would have been much easier for me, “traditionally”, to just continue as I was; I would have had a nice house, I would have had a nice car, probably would have had a family. The gamble, was to dive into something in search of deeper truths. I started to understand what consciousness is and that a human being has the potential to exist in a super-conscious state and have all knowledge available to them, and live in complete bliss; be enlightened. It was the gamble of moving from a well trodden path of existence, which is prescribed by society, to one which is a completely renegade approach; where nobody agrees with you, where people say you are crazy, and ask, “Why would you give up all these things”, for something which doesn’t externally, through the lens of society, have any true value. On various levels, people in life have to break out of comfort zones to to live a life that’s truly fulfilling for them.
The gamble is also an invitation for people; maybe people don’t want to take the full gamble and connect to a Guru and try and reach the highest of enlightenment, but they should at least take steps to achieve the goals and the dreams that they want, so that life can be completely fulfilled and happy. There’s happiness, there’s contentment. In order to achieve that, you have to take steps, you have to gamble sometimes. Somebody who wants be an entrepreneur or public personality and is scared of public speaking; of what people might think, has to gamble and do it and not worry. Otherwise, you’ll still be just stuck in your little comfort zone and nothing will grow. It’s an invitation for people to move into an existence, which is calling them but for which they might not yet have the courage, the strength, or the understanding, or awareness to take steps into. People like me, who were from a completely Western background, had no idea about spirituality, but something is calling them, yet they’re trapped in the bubble of a friend circle, or a peer group, that has no real interest. Hopefully, someone might read that and think, “You know what, screw it. I’m gonna give it a go. It’s my life. It’s my experience. It’s my existence. I want to at least try.” Actually it’s a little bit silly to call it a gamble, but it’s a title that attracts people. Now more than ever, I’m realizing that it’s not a gamble. It’s a necessity. For me, the calling inside, is that there’s no other way.
So it’s intended as inspiration, sort of a self help; if you’re interested in just being effective in life, there’s some good good lessons. If you want to know how to live life, a bit more joyfully and without so much weight, that’s one section. The second thing I wanted to show is what it’s really like to live with a living Master or Guru, because it’s not easy. I had misconceptions. I thought it’d be flowers and roses. At satsangs and events, it’s very beautiful, he explains lots of things, you sit in the satsang environment, but when you’re in private, none of that happens.
First of all, I can frame what being close to a Guru, a Master, means to me: That is an outward representation of a state that you’re trying to find. If you think of it this way, the person who comes to you is someone who’s trying to guide you back to yourself, back to the highest representation of yourself. In that sense, you need the Master, because you can’t find that yourself, you can’t see it. They act like a mirror, of your highest potential, of whatever is inside you as aspirations, dreams, etc. If that’s complete liberation from being a human, that means you have to break through all of the things you’ve acquired throughout all your lifetimes through this life, and break through all the barriers, the comfort zones. The impressions which force you to have another life.
Karma is the reason you’re born here, your unfulfilled desires, the result of all the experiences that you choose to have in your life. When people have the aspiration, “I don’t want this anymore,” or have aspirations for certain things in life, the Master appears and guide you. He holds your perfect ideal. So, me as Christopher Greenwood, for example, he knows what the perfect form of Christopher Greenwood in a lifetime is. the same as like Cain. You come to him as a raw rock, in his mirror, he knows what needs to be carved into that rock, for you to achieve your highest. In order for that to happen, you’ll be given work which suits you, which moves you in that direction. You’ll also be given the corresponding scoldings and intense sort of reprimands, to bring you back on track. If you’re being lazy, which is called Tamas or inertia, there’s no space for that, because he’s operating from a place that there’s no time to waste in a lifetime, if you want to achieve anything, you have to do it now. If you don’t do it now, you’ll never do it. If life is for experiencing, and you’re delaying anything, you’re denying yourself that experience, which potentially means that you’ll have to take more lives to experience it.
So, he gives the kick. That means early morning, 4:30am, getting up, starting to work, no time for sleep or rest, doing things promptly, doing things right now. Alertness and awareness, so that there’s no sloppiness or indiscipline. In the early days, this was the biggest lesson. The lazy habit of, “I’ll do it later. Maybe tomorrow,” is something which was beaten out of me, not physically, but circumstantially. It’s an opportunity to be in that proximity, I was realized that if I didn’t do it soon, somebody else would be doing it, I’d lose that opportunity. That’s how Mohanji really worked. He gives people opportunities, but once he asks, twice he reminds, the third time he’ll find another way. He’s got a grander plan for what he wants to achieve with his activities in the world. Everyone in the Mohanji platforms is supporting that.
One of the things which is difficult, whilst it’s happening to you, is to understand the changes. A master having that ideal of what you could be, he then goes to work on you, through various circumstances that happen, meetings that will take place, situations, which will knock your ego, that will put you into confrontations with people that will test your patience, that will make you let go of certain attachments, that will make you see realities, for example, for me, a relatively quiet person, I would let things slide and maybe be a bit passive, forcing me to situations where that wasn’t possible, I’d have to take a stand. Slowly, slowly like that.
If you talk about what it looks like for people to who’ve been to Mohanji, how did they change, I think you can look at anybody that’s been close to Mohanji, judge them by what they’ve lost rather than what they’ve gained. We’re not gaining big stature here, we’re chiselling away and we’re destroying some of the blockages, the barriers, the boundaries, the mindsets, which we might have acquired, which are stopping us being effective. For me, a big one was the fear of what people might think. Speaking to you now about this, it feels much more natural, but three years ago, it’d be very difficult. I’d be very intimidated, wouldn’t know what to say. I’d probably be saying something which I think you’d want to hear. It’s almost be acting. Rather than being natural, I was lying to myself, deceiving myself, I wasn’t being authentic in what I was saying. I was projecting something else for some crazy insecurity or a lack of acceptance of myself. To Be Continued…