Seeking Spiritual Evolution? Just Gaze At Cows!
I would like to narrate a fictional story to highlight how even a simple trigger can launch a seeker on the spiritual path to attain the highest. The story below is narrated in the first person by a disciple of a powerful Master who lived in India a few centuries ago relating certain interesting events from his life. So without much ado, here it goes.
My Master was a wandering monk who never cared about any of his identities and corresponding details such as date of birth, place of birth, name and stature. Many people followed him in his seemingly aimless journeys – some out of curiosity, some out of faith. He never stayed at one place for more than 3 nights and, irrespective of the climate, he always continued his journeys without fail.
Once a middle-aged person named Ramappa joined our entourage while we walked with the Master. Master did not have the habit of acknowledging, welcoming or receiving anybody who chose to join him. He probably did not even notice.
Master did not like conversations. We had seen Master gaze at cows and other animals intently for hours. In fact, he observed animals with more attention than he ever looked at people. We used to whisper amongst ourselves that Master was blessing them through his eyes. About a week after Ramappa joined us, he went close to the Master who was once again watching a herd of cows grazing in a field. Ramappa said, “Master, my life’s desire is to evolve spiritually. Bless me and help me.” Master did not respond. After a few minutes, he said, “Watch and witness cows.” That was it. He said nothing else. Master got up and walked away at a rapid pace. We rushed to catch up with Master, while Ramappa sat down to follow the Master’s suggestion – gaze at cows.
After this brief encounter, I didn’t see Ramappa again until several years after Master’s demise. Once I was returning to my abode with a few companions after my annual dips in the river Ganges during Kumbh Mela (the largest peaceful gathering in the world held at one of 4 locations every 3 years). I happened to spend the night at an ashram that hosted us with kindness and elegance. After dinner, I attended the discourse given by the chief of the ashram to his disciples. He said:
“Master asked me to observe cows and walked away. (This is when I felt he could be Ramappa.) I considered this as an initiation. And so, I sat at the same place that Master had been seated and began my practice. I did this one practice every single day.
In the beginning, I could only see the physical bodies of the cows and their seemingly monotonous activity. Within a few days however, I could recognise every cow grazing in that field. Soon, I started noticing their individual characteristics and the differences between them. I perceived the behavioural differences, mannerisms and the apparent hierarchies.
The cows were never in a hurry. They were forever peaceful and patient. The cows seemed to have neither anxiety about the future nor any visible regrets about the past. They ate only what they needed. They accepted their surroundings and realities without complaints. They were tolerant. They never complained about rain or sunshine. They were consistent in their actions. In fact, they did not utter a single unnecessary sound. They never got bored with the environment. I learned many things from them: concentration, acceptance, consistency, commitment, stability, peacefulness, stillness and an existence without comparisons, complaints or anxiety. I realised that spiritual evolution also needs these qualities. Heightened spiritual awareness is itself only a stillness of the mind. And these animals taught me that.
Day and night, I sat near that grazing ground and as these gentle beings wandered, I shadowed them. They became my Masters and taught me the deep secrets of life. I finally understood why my Master stared at animals – he was witnessing the higher states of beingness that nature exhibits in every leaf, tree and animal. One day, I realised that the cows followed the sun and ate only between dawn and dusk. So I surrendered myself to the sun and the sun too became my Master.”
The Lesson on Awareness
By this time, the above narrative convinced me that the chief of the ashram was none other than Ramappa and he was referring to my Master. I realized that in his usual unassuming and unorthodox manner, my Master had taught Ramappa (and through Ramappa, all of us) one important technique – practicing awareness. Masters typically initiate their disciples into complex rituals and meditations to reach higher levels of spiritual evolution. But my Master had taught awareness through mere observation of cows! He had bestowed the means for enlightenment upon Ramappa through an apparently casual sentence that, in reality, was a piercing command. As Ramappa had explained, cows have no prejudices or fears. They were always in the present, completely in sync and in acceptance of their body and surroundings. This is an important lesson in spirituality: Being in the NOW! Being in awareness! This is the space between contemplation and meditation.
When Ramappa paused in his narration, I introduced myself and told the audience that I had witnessed this incident. Ramappa and I embraced with tears of joy. I told him, “Ramappa, I am so happy to see that you not only have evolved spiritually as per your wish, but are also imparting the unorthodox methods of our Master to your students. You are keeping his memory alive.”
Not many understood our Master because he had hardly expressed himself. His life was his message. If people did not understand his life, they did not understand his message also. I have always observed his habit of observing animals keenly. He spent lots of time doing just that. He often forgot his own body, time, hunger, weather and sat watching animals and birds. Now after Ramappa’s narration, I got a clear insight as to why he was observing them as well as what he was seeing with such interest. He was teaching us the greatest of philosophies, that of acceptance and surrender.
He calls himself an ordinary man. It is little wonder then that different people connect to this globally respected spiritual leader and philanthropist in different ways. While some feel he is a mystic whose presence turns them inwards and creates rapid transformation in their consciousness, others feel completely at ease around him due to his seeming ordinariness. “True mastery is the mastery of one’s own mind,” says Mohanji, who maintains that one can continue to evolve spiritually, while simultaneously living and experiencing everyday life.
Mohanji works selflessly to spread sacred meditations, initiations and knowledge to all those who are ready to implement them in their lives. As a spiritual teacher, those seeking to connect with him are guided to walk along the path of awareness. He guides his followers to disentangle from daily challenges and experience a harmonious life. Being the consummate family man and a former senior corporate leader, he perfectly understands the need to blend spirituality into every aspect of one’s lifestyle – personal, family, work, etc.
The core essence of Mohanji’s personality can be defined in terms of five H’s:
Harmony – Harmony with all beings in thought, word and deed;
Honesty – Straightforward and sincere in all ways;
Humility – Simple and humble, he relates to everyone in equal measure;
Hard work – Tireless and ever ready to serve;
Humor – Bubbling with joy and inner happiness, he conveys profound truths in an engaging way.
Mohanji’s teachings resonate with simplicity and practicality. The core of his teaching is liberation from all bindings, concepts and habits of life. He emphasizes purity, faith, unconditional love and selfless service towards fellow beings across species. His teachings are simple and universal, not tailored to any specific religion or nationality. His definition of value is based on what value one adds to the world.
To him, spirituality is a lifestyle based on peace and harmony. He has provided inspiration for Ahimsa Vegan restaurants, Vegan First (India’s first web portal for vegans), Ahimsa Wear cruelty-free apparel, and other initiatives to create a cruelty free world. He is also a permanent invitee to the Peace Pledge Project (https://peacepledgeproject.org/), which brings together spiritual leaders from around the world to promote peace across the world.
His followers are spread through 50+ countries around the world across all continents.