Today was another wonderful day as it was the day I got to photograph Mooji. I went to the Satsang as I’ve done each of the 5 days I’ve been in Tiruvannamalai and as usual it was wonderful. He’s really a beautiful man, in heart, in spirit, in action, in presence, and he teaches so simply. The more I go, the more his being and teaching seems to resonate in me at a deep level. I got there at 8:30am as a queue starts lining up I would guess around 8am. The earlier you get there, the better the seat you get and I keep getting there earlier and earlier each day in order to get an actual chair to sit it. Today I finally did get a chair and what a relief. This now 46 year old body just doesn’t do floor like it used to. It’s a rooftop space covered by a thatched roof, open air on the sides. About 200 people come, mostly westerners.
A couple of days ago, I wrote a note to Mooji on a 1 page document which describes the photography project I am working on. To remind you, I am photographing people who have a deep sense of heart and compassion and hopefully are able to express that in their countenance. I had seen many years ago a photograph of Ramana Maharshi and his eyes were more loving and softer than any others that I had ever seen. I decided to head to Tiruvannamalai because it is the home to his Ashram and is the place he came at the age of 16 after he attained enlightenment over a century ago. He lived in a cave here for 17 years. Anyway it seemed like the right place to start because it was his image that gave birth to the project in my mind. Arriving here and meeting Mooji certainly made me feel like I had come to the right place. I hadn’t imagined meeting someone with this capacity, that I imagine Ramana had as well. So getting on with the story, I wrote a note to Mooji a couple of days ago and yesterday his assistant called me and said that my note touched his heart and that he would be willing to be photographed. This afternoon, it happened. Yea!
I had been practicing photographing there with the midday light (certainly not my favorite) with the security guard and a sweet young Israeli woman named Nirvana, when Mooji came up for our session. I wish I could impress upon you what a dear man he is. He just makes you feel so loved and welcome, and he sees your essential being in a way that very few are capable. I told him a little more about what I was doing with the project and what I was hoping to capture in the pictures of him, and he sweetly hugged and held me for probably a minute or more. He told me that he too had seen that image of Ramana Maharshi as a young man once in a bookstore and had been touched by it, saying, “Who is dis man, he must be someone special?” So we clearly had this in common. Once we started, he was right there with me. I worked a couple of different lenses, posed him in a couple of different directions in relation to the outdoor light source, and took probably 50 images of him. Maybe more. At one point, I stopped and said it was all moving so fast and he said in his Jamaican accent “Take your time, I’m in no hurry, I’m not goin’ nowhere.” It was a very powerful experience for me, to have this time with him and for him to share that gaze with me through my camera for an extended period of time. I think I got a keeper or two and haven’t fully looked yet, but I will now to post something special for you to see.
Afterwards, I had Nirvana take some pics of Mooji and I together and then I did some of she and Mooji and also with his assistant Shobha. And of course with the ever present security guard who keep trying to get in the pictures! I had tipped him the other day and since then, we’ve been best buddies, although he doesn’t speak a lick of English. We hug, and it’s quite something to hug his incredibly stiff and rail thin, deeply S-shaped body (femurs leading the way). It is love though, unmistakably.
Anyway, the whole shoot was wonderful, and I felt very blessed. He signed my book too and in it he wrote:
Shining within the heart
As the intuitive presence
~ I am
Whose perfume is silence,
Joy, wisdom & Love.
This – you are!
A group of us including Mooji went to lunch together (and he laughed in talking about the abridged version of enlightenment which he calls “Forget about it!”) Whatever comes up, just forget about it. Simple as that.
I then joined a group of about 6 people walking up the mountain to Aum Amma’s cave and Papaji’s Samadhi (grave). Ramana was Papaji’s guru and Papaji was Mooji’s. There were some pools up there we dipped in, and we just hung out and watched the beautiful sunset over the fields. A family of monkeys came to visit us very casually, probably 10 of them. No aggression, but they did come very close.
So that’s it. This project has taken on some nice direction so far. Feels like there hasn’t been much resistance, which to me is a good sign that I am moving in the right direction.