Christopher Greenwood, the executive assistant to world-renowned humanitarian, philanthropist, and spiritual teacher Mohanji, has compiled the gleanings of his experience of living and working with Mohanji for a period of years, into a book called “The Ultimate Gamble”. This is the second and final part of our conversation with Christopher about the book and a direct continuation of the first part, which can be found here. We talk more about he lessons he’s learned, and his reasons for putting out a book of this nature. The wisdom he shares is direct, uncomplicated, profound and far-reaching.
The Awakening Times (TAT): Have you found that those inauthentic expressions have less impact?
Christopher Greenwood (CG): Definitely, because people feel it as well. When you speak authentically, there’s more of a connection and people appreciate that. Because after all, we all have these things inside us: insecurities and fears. Those environments where people were not being so supportive, made me realize that we’ll build strength of character and that it doesn’t really matter what people think, some people will like you, and some people won’t like you. That’s in the book as a lesson as well.
Other people’s opinions don’t really matter. As long as you’re true to your experience, that’s the best you can do. Do not worry about what the people say, because that just pulls you down. That also ties back to that deepest lesson, which is acceptance of self. You can only be who you are, you can only behave as you are, as long as you are trying to live with kindness, and compassion for other people, and if people don’t like it, that’s no problem. If they do, great that’s also useful. That brought freedom to life. I was no longer worried about whether or not I might be liked, or not liked. You can just be yourself, fully yourself, which is one of Mohanji’s key teachings. It’s one thing to hear and read that in a book, but by being close to and working closely with Mohanji, he puts you in all the situations where you experience it practically. That experience is internalized into a depth of knowledge and understanding, which you cannot lose; you’re fully becoming stable and strong.
Something that I was thinking about is: if I wasn’t with Mohanji, if I was somewhere else, there’d be more opportunity to not do the work with such force and intensity. An example would be Mohanji encouraging me to speak and share experiences, which was the start of this book: The first one I wanted to record was a simple audio message. Mohanji had said, “Throughout time, many people have served me, but not many people have spoken, and actually, by you being in close proximity to me, you’re denying somebody else an experience. So, the best you can do for that is to share your experience, because that way people get to benefit from what it’s like to live with me.” Many people hadn’t done that. So, I thought, reluctantly, I’ll try and do this. I made a video, and I didn’t quite like it. I thought, “Okay, that’s enough.” Then Mohanji reminded me once, then twice, and I thought, “Okay, fine, I have to do something.” If I wasn’t next to him, it would be easy for me to ignore that prompts. The first time that I tried to record one of the lessons, it took me three hours, because I recorded it, I listened to it, and I couldn’t stand the sound of my own voice. I went through such a trauma, maybe “trauma” is a bit dramatic, but I was trying to break out of this shell that I created for myself, and this worry, and all these ideas of what might happen. Finally doing it was such a relief. Clearly, Mohanji gives you the work which is needed to help break something, for me speaking and sharing was one of them. So, after 3 hours, I recorded the first lesson and it had some positive feedback. I thought maybe I’ll do it for like 10 days and there might be about 20 people who listen, but then by the end of it, there were about 500 people a day listening. It became something that was useful for people. That’s a small example, of how by being close to him and being with him and living with him, I was practically able to grow and transform.
TAT: Having witnessed him across these last 3 years, have you seen changes in him?
CG: Definitely. For example, the Mohanji organization now, compared to where it was 3 years ago is completely different. His mode is much more intense. One of the sections in the book is basically the stature of Mohanji; it’s a section of nine lessons of my experiences wherein I’ve seen how tremendously more Mohanji is than a physical form and personally, because the work that he does is absolutely tremendous. I mean, on a physical level from morning to evening, he’s completely working nonstop, from 4 in the morning, right through till 10 At night, it may start with something like responding to WhatsApp messages, he is relentless. Now he is in Kerala, and the work he’s doing is insane. We have a team who traveled with him, and after a few weeks, people are exhausted, completely drained, like you need time off, but there’s no stopping for him. It’s like there’s no shortage of energy.
TAT: To what do you attribute that; the vastness of his energy, if you had to venture a guess?
CG: Well, I’d say, he’s an Avadhoota, connected to Consciousness, connected to an inexhaustible source of energy. The difference, as he explains it, between us and him, or people who have that connection and people who don’t, is purely identification. The fact that I believe that I’m Christopher Greenwood, and you believe you are Hein (TAT interviewer). This construct that we have, which we frame with a mind, he doesn’t have, he has completely dissolved that sense of identity and exists as one in tune with a much higher operating state of consciousness or intelligence.
We have different intelligences within us, we have the reasoning: linear; through experience we gain intelligence, and we have one gained through acquisition: we read books, and we know something. He’s operating from a different one, which is this intuitive consciousness, all the time. This is why when you see him speaking Satsangs, he doesn’t prepare any notes before he speaks. He responds to the questions that come and the answer comes to him, it comes through him. He doesn’t have that filtering of mind and comprehension, which he says takes away a lot of energy from a person. When he’s operating in that, there’s just a very, very high pace of activity. Whereas us, we have our likes, we have our dislikes, “My stomach is sore, so I won’t do this today. I feel a bit tired today, so I won’t do this.” He doesn’t have any of that. There’s no tiredness, there’s no succumbing to the body.
Many people have spiritual insights, I do not, I just have what’s purely in front of me; what I can see. I can observe and put 2 and 2 together, seeing this happen and this effect, I can see that he’s operating from a much different plane. For example, there are, I don’t know, 300 Mai-Tri practitioners who are connected to him. They use His consciousness to remove blockages from people which can result in healing. How does he do that? When I’m sitting in front of him, and he’s talking to me, people are connecting to him and that’s happening all over the world. People are having various communions or experiences with him in different parts of the world.
One morning, I put this in the book, when I was sitting with him, we were talking about some projects, and he stood up and quit the conversation. I hadn’t been with him long at this point, maybe a month or two. He stood up, he got a cushion, he put his knees down, and he started doing push-ups. I was thinking, “Is this time for fitness? Should I do this as well?” I was so confused. Then he stopped. He did a few push-ups got back up and then carried on the conversation as if nothing happened.
“Mohanji,” I said. “What was that? Why did you do this?” He said, “Somebody was dying. I had to help them.” I said, “What do you mean you had to help them? How did you do that?” To which he replied, “Don’t ask me these questions. Don’t waste time.” Fine, I thought, because he’s obviously a busy man. Then later that day, a phone call came from a lady who said, “Thank you Mohanji,” because her father had had a heart attack in the hospital, and they had to bring him back to life. She was praying, “Mohanji help, Mohanji help!” and she said that Mohanji had saved him. Now Mohanji didn’t say, “This is what I’ve done,” He will never say anything like that. He just does his job. But for me, I understand now that he’s also doing things elsewhere when he’s doing stuff in front of me.
It’s only through observation that you truly get glimpses of a different stature. Because when you look at real, authentic Living Masters on Earth or Gurus, they have nothing to prove. If someone’s trying to show you how good they are, how great they are, and what they can do, it’s a sure sign that it’s rooted in some insecurity, and probably they’re not completely authentic. Whereas someone who’s fully accomplished, accomplished in the sense that they just exist to give to others and help others on their path. They will never do anything to prove anything; they will never show, they’ll be the humblest and the simplest, the most unassuming people you’d ever imagine, because why do they need to prove anything? They know who they are, they have a job to do, they come and do it and leave. So, it’s up to the people who are with them to share, so that people around now and people in the future can benefit. People can do this in their own way. The beauty of many people doing it is that we all have different perceptions. We all have different capacities; we all have different capabilities. Me being a basic person, very rudimentary, I can see what’s in front of me and that’s it. I don’t have any visions. I have no astral communions. I don’t have any extrasensory perceptions.
TAT: I’ve seen you speaking about Mohanji before, at events and the like, and you never speak beyond your own understanding, it’s always an authentic thing that you have experienced.
CG: I think that’s the key thing for people as well because I don’t imagine something different. This is also part of the ultimate gamble, it’s in the book: there’s nobody else to prove anything to in this life other than ourselves. Because at the end of the day, we’re born alone, we’ll die alone, and our life is our experience, so if we deny our experience, we’re denying our own life. Regardless of what other people think about it, whether they think you’re crazy, whether they think you’re mad if it’s happened to you, it’s happened. If you experienced it, you experienced it, and that’s it, it doesn’t have to mean anything. So, I firmly believe that the best thing to do to help others to connect to their own experience is to speak your experience authentically, without color, without embellishing it, just as a truth. Then people can relate to where they stand. This book is not complete in the sense that “this is what Mohanji is”, because if you speak to 10 different people, they’ll have many different experiences. Devi Mohan, Mohanji’s wife, has released her book and she has various visions, through Mai-Tri and MTM, so she gets a whole different dimension of Mohanji. I believe that if more people speak, over time, you’ll have the mosaic of Mohanji that eventually people can piece together to finally really understand him fully.
TAT: Now, after more time with Mohanji, and with more experience and contemplation, what is spirituality for you?
CG: I’m trying to think of something cleverer and wittier than his simple: “Be You.”
TAT: That teaching can easily be misappropriated or abused.
CG: It can be, that’s why I thought we can we can speak on it a little bit, because people might say, “Well, screw you, I am who I am, so I’ll do what I want.” But, actually, “Be You” is recognizing that beyond the body, beyond the mind, beyond the intellect, beyond the ego, beyond all the functioning systems happening inside, there’s something else that is running this: that is you, and that is permanent, and that you can connect to. The journey to that I can’t say I’ve completely reached, but as Mohanji has outlined spirituality, all you have to be in this lifetime is just yourself authentically. The biggest gift that you can give to yourself is just to simply be who you are, and live your life fully without worry, without any fear, without any hesitation.
When you strip back all the insecurities, when you strip back the fears when you strip back all of these things and remove everything, you start to live a life of more peace, more contentment, more stability, more satisfaction, more fulfillment, and this is not one that’s born from achieving external expectations of what a good life should be. It’s an intrinsic feeling of just existing and being in now, in the present. Being with those experiences as they’re happening, moment to moment, and being happy with them.
I now think that spirituality really is that simplicity of life and existence. Just being here, being present, and being as Christopher Greenwood is my experience, of living fully. We don’t know what life will bring, we don’t know what destiny will bring around the next corner. For example, on October the seventh, we had a car crash with Mohanji, this could quite easily have been the end of Mohanji, and that came from nowhere. So, we don’t know what destiny has in store for us, but if we can make sure that today is good, living as much as we can, getting the most satisfaction, and if we have dreams and goals, taking steps towards them. Being in action, being in service, doing good things that uplift us, having good conversations that make us feel good, avoiding gossip, criticisms, judgments and speaking good thoughts, feeling good, feeling light, feeling happy; that’s what spirituality is about. It’s not about meditation, it’s not about yoga, it’s not about any of these things. It’s not about wind chimes and gong baths, it’s about living just an authentic life for you. That’s my understanding now, and that’s after having been through, I wouldn’t call it a circus, but a whole journey of going into yoga, looking for something much more than my life before, to only realize that some of these scenes, it’s the same things happening, with ego with competition with anger, just rather than being in suits and ties it’s in yoga pants with smoothies. Various people think that activity is being spiritual, but actually, it’s in the essence of just being.
TAT: “Beingness in activity”. Can you talk on your understanding and your experiences of that?
CG: This is much more satisfying because if I go back to how I used to live before I was fairly successful, relatively successful for my field and what I was doing, I had a good job. That’s what I wanted to have. That’s what I dreamed of having. But all the time that I had that job, I was dreaming about something else. So even though I was there where I wanted to be at that point in time, my mind was somewhere else. I wasn’t happy there and I was happy nowhere else. When I wanted to go traveling to different places, I’d be there but I’d be thinking about being elsewhere.
The next trip, or the next travel, or something else, could be better. That really saps away life, and fulfillment I found. Now I have allocated duties, so I get satisfaction and, “Okay, I have to do something today.” This is a simple example: Yesterday I wanted to release the book on Facebook and social media and stuff like that and have it available for people. I was happy that, “Okay in this 45 minutes, I’m going to do this. What do I need to do? I have to record a video…” I recorded the video, I wrote up my post, I had that checked with a few people, I shared and it was done. In that small task, everything was done with no distractions. And I felt good that I had done everything to my best ability in that small time. It was done, and finished, now on to the next.
So, that being in life for me now, is being able to be much more present, much more focused, disciplined, and living life without distractions. If I’m having a conversation with someone, I’m training myself to be with that fully. If I’m having interactions with someone else, training myself to be in that place, so that at each moment life is a full experience, it’s not partial.
TAT: I suppose if you are approaching each experience that way, then the need for repetition is far less?
CG: This is the higher karmic level that he speaks about and it’s not just Mohanji that speaks on it, but all of these ancient texts, in India especially, say that human existence is born predominantly out of karma; unfulfilled desires. If you’re here to have experience, then you should have those experiences. If you’re having an experience, but your mind is somewhere else, then you’re not having that, which means it’s not finished and you’re likely to have to do that again.
There are 2 things, in Mohanji’s philosophy and spirituality: One is not wasting time. The other is Completion. If you have an experience, finish it. If you want to do something, do it fully all the way to the end, not leaving loose ends. If I say not to leave loose ends and complete things that are meant to be completed, then that might bring up a few scenarios. For example, relationships. That can be an easy one for people to sort of keep open and not of conclude. That’s one dynamic.
TAT: Can you give us four or five key takeaways from the daily lessons in the book: The Ultimate Gamble crib notes?
CG: I’ll explain how I’ve done this book. I have my acknowledgments, which is obviously standard, some forwards. Then there is meeting Mohanji. I give a bit of a brief for anybody who doesn’t know who I am. I tried to keep it as short as possible just to show that, you know, I’m a person who had a certain life, I went on a journey, I had some idea of what I wanted to do, and then through various twists and turns, I had the opportunities to come to Mohanji. Just so that people don’t say, “Who is this guy? Why does he write this book and how is it possible?” Then I explained what this book is for, to help people take that step over that threshold in their own Gamble’s, whether that’s deep diving into spirituality or just having a more effective life.
Then I’ve split it into four sections. I did this is because even if someone doesn’t care about spirituality, some of Mohanji’s practical lessons are useful for anybody right? The first section is about success and personal effectiveness. A few examples include: “No postponement. It’s now,” if you want a spiritual life, it’s about getting on and doing the things that you need to do. “Having flexibility”, and “Getting things moving,” which means not waiting for perfection but just starting things. “Why a vision is good”, “Having action over perfection,” because perfection is a never-ending journey, right? You don’t wait for perfection before starting something, you build stuff up over time. “How to position and have a good reputation in life”, “Focusing and concentrating on one thing at a time”, “Reinventing yourself” and “An effective life is a real life”, meaning that life is not eating, sleeping, drinking and dying. Life is about your contribution to the world, your contribution to society, and how much with this life, you can actually be useful. Mohanji’s famous quote is “The true wealth is what you can give to this earth rather than what you take”. Because now many people come here for what they can get. Very rarely do people actually come here and give and actually, that brings much more satisfaction. That’s the first section and I’ve given a quote from Mohanji, which relates to that lesson. So, you have a quote, then you have my overview of how Mohanji practically lives this. This is not Mohanji saying, “You should do this”, he lives it. He’s doing this day in, day out.
This is his quote, which relates to no postponement: “Sometimes in life, we have to take painful decisions to break our comfort zones in order to be purposeful. Comfort zones make us cowards. Procrastination paralyzes life. Habits are hard to break, patterns keep defeating us. Winning takes great effort, winning means victory over what we like to do with what we have to do. When patterns are broken, life will start moving forward, success begins there.” That’s almost like a key for the whole book, you have to get into action if you want to really have an effective life.
That’s the first section, then it’s about living life lightly and joyfully. I put this in because sometimes in life, people can feel heavy. I know I did. It feels like life is a drag each day or you’re trying to pull yourself through life and various situations happen, various interactions, it’s designed to give some people some awareness that their life can be easier and lighter.
The first one is from a casual conversation that Mohanji and I had. I was speaking to him one time about a task. He said, “Speak to this person and see what you can get going, what you can get moving. I said, “Mohanji, every time I speak to this person, I just feel drained. They’re not giving anything. I give all the ideas and it’s like it’s all just gone away like it goes into nothing.” Casually, he said, “Sounds like a black hole. Some people are like black holes that you’re with no matter what you give, no matter what energy you’re trying to support them with, all they do is just take take take take, and nothing comes back in return. It’s useless, basically. Then you have other people who are like suns, you’ll interact with them, and they’re just brightness, they’ll help you, they’ll give their time, they’ll give good feedback, they will give you a good contribution. They’re the real suns. In life, we should always have the awareness when we meet people or interact, of who we should be around and who we shouldn’t. Avoid black holes and stick with suns.” At the time this was really mind-blowing for me because always I thought you just try and work harder with some people. But then realizing actually, that was just a waste of time and energy. Work with someone else, or do something differently.
In there as well, you have “Criticism and others’ opinions,” which is not listening to the opinions of others. For example, I know you. I’ve had experience with you, I have a good understanding of what you’re like. So, if someone comes and tells me that you are a certain way, or that they saw you doing something, I’m not going to just believe them. I’d say, “Well, that’s not the person I know.” If it’s something that I think is important to tell you, I’ll ask you. That’s about having integrity in yourself, knowing that our relationships are precious, and we shouldn’t buy the opinions of other people easily. Someone might have a bias against another person. They may not like them, so they tell bad stuff. For many people, another’s opinion can spoil them. That’s happened with Mohanji; something’s happened or there was gossip about him where someone said, “Hey, this Mohanji is bad, he was doing this,” and rather than asking Mohanji directly, they believe the person and then eventually they go away. So, that’s about living life lightly and joyfully.
Then I talk about why service is important. The purification of selfless action, how that practically works. In our time here on Earth, we’ve acquired and used so much that we have to pay back. When we give, when we serve selflessly, we’re lightening our burden. This is not a theory, if you practically do it, you can experience it. For example, feeding birds, feeding animals, feeding the fishes, you do that for 41 days, going out and feeding them, you just feel how different you are, you’re doing something for the world, you’re benefiting other people, you get the feeling of this.
The third section of the book is about the stature of Mohanji. I wanted to give people a really different feeling about who he is, that they may not have experienced before. Then finally, the fourth section is the spiritual path: What’s the path of liberation? Why this path isn’t complicated. It’s all about connection to a guru and why that’s important. What the Guru principle is. What a master is, and how they can test people. The signs of spiritual progress. Finally, on the spiritual path, acceptance is the total sum of the teaching. We just have to accept life. That’s a whistle-stop tour.
Something else which is good to know is that many people have served Mohanji, I’m not the only one. I’ve got an appendix in here, “Walking with Mohanji. All those who’ve recently spent some time serving Mohanji, they’ve written a small section about their experience and the lessons they’ve got from living with Mohanji, and that concludes the book.
TAT: I’ve observed that all the people who have had that contact and made use of the opportunity have become incredibly powerful, independent people.
CG: The opportunity is there; Mohanji is there for everybody, and I don’t think that that opportunity ever disappears. It just takes us to walk. Because essentially, what he’s doing, the way that I’ve described it in the book is that if your ultimate goal is say, liberation, freedom from this, human existence, you can do all the practices that you want to and things like that, but if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re sort of stumbling in the woods in the darkness. What’s better is to be with someone who’s actually walked it, they understand it, and they can see your karmic roadmap, they can see your blueprints, so they know what activity is best for you to cross various hurdles and progress. The job is just to listen and follow it.
My understanding is that he understands your aspiration, which is your highest possible. In our current form, we may not see that potential, because we have our own limitations or mental concepts, our own mind blocks, “I can’t do this, etc. How does this work, etc.” Whereas he’s telling people that our potential is limitless. The only thing that’s holding you back is your own mind. He’s the one who’s going to shake you, kicks you, slaps you, to say, “Look, this is not who you are.” Now we could stumble through life, thinking like this is right for us, for our inner core, but why get lost in the woods when you can go to somebody who can clearly guide you. Step by step, they’re helping you navigate through difficult waters. All it requires is consistency. If you can say that an accomplished task is down to Mohanji, that you know this happened because of Mohanji, because of this presence, this person in your life, then that’s almost like a confirmation of a conviction.
Mohanji is not looking for promotion, but the person needs to do that, because if you deny the source, or you deny the reason for your transformation, and you don’t have that recognition, then this is completely lying to yourself in a way. The master is a representation of the master inside, you have that principle inside you, that’s just being manifest externally so that it can talk to you and guide you. If you deny that, you’re denying what’s inside you, you’re denying yourself.
Mohanji has told me stories of people who’ve had transformations in their lives, because of him, but then they’ve equated it to something else: “Oh, no, no, I did that. I went and did some puja…”
TAT: How does that how does he react when that happens? Be it out of ignorance, egotism, or ownership, whatever the reason why a frank acknowledgment of the cause of the transformation might not happen. How does that affect him?
CG: He doesn’t, that’s the key thing. That’s one of the most interesting things about living with Mohanji, living with him every day, right from morning until evening. sitting in his room for three hours talking. Seeing him right at the end of the day, this is during COVID as well, so not going anywhere. Even now, two years later, I travel with him. He hasn’t changed. He doesn’t need anything from anybody. He has his meals and that’s it. People bring him gifts and things like that which he accepts, but there’s no real extravagance and there’s no need to praise him. The way he operates is completely unconditional. If someone’s come to him, he sees that there’s a reason, so he does whatever he can for that person whilst they’re there. If they go away, no problem. They’re not his responsibility. But whilst he is there, his own integrity and, way of being is: “I will give everything now, regardless of what might come next.” If people don’t recognize it or acknowledge it, it makes no difference to him. It doesn’t matter. He’s not sad. He’s not angry. He’s not mulling over why because as far as he’s concerned, he did his job. He remains completely free because there’s no binding. There’s no obligation. The same with the people who come in to help the mission; he never asked anybody to come. Nobody asked anybody to go. He didn’t ask me to stay. He just asked me if I’d like to do some work together. He didn’t ask anything of me. What he did say is, “This will be good for you.” In my case, it helped my own acceptance of myself and my experiences. It broke barriers. I think up until then I was maybe trying to project a life that other people might accept, rather than just living who I was, which was a bit of, I wouldn’t say a schizophrenic existence, but a bit of a tiring existence. Misaligned.