Bruce W. Du Vé. January 1998

Mouni Sadhu was to my knowledge, the last practicing master in the great European tradition of occultists and White Magicians. He was thoroughly versed in the history and methods of these covert arts and when I knew him lived two parallel lives.

Publicly, he was a jovial, intelligent and rather mischievous though polite and formal European gentleman of the Victorian era. He taught his class to a small group one evening weekly and occasionally socialized with them, a meal at his apartment or at a friend's house or restaurant. The other life was a more secret one.

Having studied classical occultism from his teens in university, he had become a meticulous, safe and efficient practitioner of white magic. When I knew him, after his time with Ramana Maharshi, he no longer practiced occultism as he felt it preferable to confine his actions to the highest plane. He did however point out the nefarious nature of some of the methods being used by certain Easterners to exploit the growing interest in eastern religion at the time, as being areas in which a white magician might have intervened. He continued to live a private and solitary life in a pleasant, ground floor apartment opening onto a pleasant garden shaded by mature trees in the suburbs of Melbourne and maintained much of the structure and discipline that his earlier days as an occultist had required.

He left a legacy of written records, and personally trained a small number of acolytes in his latter years. I had the great good fortune and honor to have him as my mentor for the last three years of his life.


As he was loath to talk about his personal details, the following is as much as I could gather about him from my conversations with him, and with others who knew him well.

Born in Russia, (I was told by others that his actual name was Mikhail Sudowski), he fled initially to Germany with his family as a small child. He had vague memories of the large estate mansion that had been his home, and my guess is that he was about three or four years old.

He was well educated, having studied mathematics to a high level. As he became a flight ballistics mathematician at Cape Canaveral after World War 2, he must have been quite advanced. He continued to put his education to use, occasionally taking on high paying contract work in the field of electrical engineering to support himself. During one of these brief stints of about three months on a job, he impressed on me the value of having a livelihood based on a skill that enabled one to spend as little time working as possible, so as to be able to devote one's attention to one's spiritual life.

While at university, he commenced his studies in occultism and undertook the mental and physical disciplines necessary to be able to operate safely as a magician. Strict adherence to structure, discipline, thorough preparation and most of all safety were his fundamental principles with regard to magic. However, he always considered occultism as a mere stepping stone to higher wisdom and in his later life, left magic and its trappings far behind.

He fought as an infantry soldier in the German army as a young man in World War 1. Being fluent in Russian, he undertook espionage missions in Russia during World War 2 as a member of the British secret service that based in USA at that time[1]. In the later part of the war, he was seconded to the US army as a captain, and took part in post war rehabilitation work in Europe, mainly France. He was obliged by the Official Secrets Act to maintain discretion about the details of his activities.

[1] See "A Man Called Intrepid" by Sir William Stephenson. Details of Secrets Act materials released at the time of Philby's defection concerning the British Secret Service in USA during the war.

I am not sure of the actual timing, but I assume that it was prior to his leaving for America, he spent a period of time in Paris in a monastery near the Pere Lachaise cemetery, practicing meditation and contemplation with the aid of "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis. He used to spend most of the day in one of the chapels and was approached by one of the monks on one occasion and cautioned against spending so much time in contemplation without reading. Brother Mouni showed him the book he was using, the monk smiled, blessed him and walked away.

He had been loaned "A Search in Secret India" by Paul Brunton to read while in Paris and had been resisting reading it, but finally did so in order to be able to return it without embarrassment. Profoundly moved by the chapter on Brunton's encounter with Sri Ramana Maharshi of Tiruvannamalai in South India, he wrote to the ashram for guidance and was advised to contact the leader of the Ramakrishna Mission in Paris. He did so and the man who was a devotee of Maharshi's, gave him instructions in the use of the Vichara and also a mantra by which to contact the spiritual presence of the Maharshi. (The Vichara is the question "who am I" repeated at first verbally then by non-verbal implication, its purpose being to facilitate the 'diving" into the "place" out of which the "I" thought emerges. The mantra was "Om Ramana Om".)

After the war, he worked at Cape Canaveral for some time as mentioned above. He immediately embarked on a contemplative lifestyle for three years, focussing on the Vicharra, in order to prepare himself to be able to obtain maximum benefit from a visit to the Sage.

His work on Cape Canaveral being too time consuming, he obtained a post as chief engineer at an hydroelectric power station in Brazil. His purpose was to spend the greatest possible part of his waking hours engaged in contemplative exercises, and as his new job only involved about two hour daily of routine inspection of paperwork in the mornings, it was an ideal situation. After another two years, during which time he taught concentration etc. locally and did some writing in Portuguese, he felt that he was ready to meet the Maharshi.

He obtained a passage to India on a freighter. Due to the shortage of ships post war, it was still quite difficult to travel that route as a passenger, so he took the post of ship's electrical officer and jumped ship when she eventually docked at an Indian port.

He stayed at the Ashram for several weeks. He only spoke to Maharshi twice, in greeting on his arrival and again in farewell on his departure. The entire teaching was conducted in silence. He was utterly transformed by the experience, achieving his life's goal, the ability to enter the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi (Awareness) at will.

He told me a few details about his spiritual progress. He said that during his life until the end of the war, he had never made really satisfactory progress, always getting off track or not fully completing his task of completely mastering his mind. Eventually, he became really angry with himself, after which he said that the task became relatively straightforward. He said that he considered it had taken him until his late forties to become sufficiently mature. The real turning point seemed to be his time in the monastery in Paris at the monastery and his encounter with the Maharshi's teachings. He said that he had never expected to find his spiritual goal in India, as he had been searching ardently in Europe for the Master or Masters associated with the old, secret societies there. He had particularly hoped to be able to find Paul Sedir's Master. (See "Initiations".)

Despite his high level of meditative and contemplative practice and three years using the Vichara, he said that it was not until he sat in silence in the presence of Maharshi that he finally entered Samadhi. He described the process as being as though the master were actively stripping away layers of resistance inside him, allowing him access to a realm he had previously been excluded from. He said it was as though the Master was pushing from outside while pulling from within. Day after day he was drawn into the State, until he became independently able to do so at will, unassisted. He said that he had wanted to stay, but got the impression from Maharshi that like a hot-house plant, he now needed to go out into the word and follow his own destiny.

He made one very interesting remark. He had wanted to get an object blessed by the Maharshi as a parting gift. Apparently the Maharshi never granted this request to anyone. Mouni experienced such love for and from the Master that he felt that somehow he would allow him the gift. When the time came to say farewell, he completely forgot to ask. It wasn't until quite some time later when it was too late, that he remembered what had previously seemed to be such and urgent and important mission. In my time with Mouni Sadhu, I had the same experience over and over again. I would meet him with the intention of discussing something, and it would be as though my mind was wiped clean. He would talk about something else entirely. Even when I asked him a direct question, he almost never answered it, but would infallibly go on to talk about what was really pertinent to my current situation.

After his time in the ashram, he left for Australia where he spent the remainder of his life. Establishing himself in Melbourne, he continued writing books and teaching a small group of students. There were two groups, the public group which he taught in a classroom hired in Flinders Street Station in Melbourne of which I was a member. He also had a inner group which I never attended, being very young and no doubt too immature at the time.

He withdrew from teaching about six months before his death, but was kind enough to allow me to continue to visit him. I last saw him several weeks before his departure. Although wracked and wasted by cancer, he was radiant, humorous and kind as always, gently preparing me for the shock of what lay ahead. He made his farewell in the courteous and dignified manner of the old style European gentleman that he was.

The Teaching

An eclectic, Mouni Sadhu taught the "direct path" of Jnana yoga, with influences from western disciplines. The basic principles were as follows:

  1. Concentration

    The aim of concentration exercises is to attain the state of dyan, or one-pointedness, attention being focused on an object without the distraction of mental dialogue or external factors. A geometrical analogy could start with the definition of a point as being the precursor to the dimensional: "a point has position but no magnitude". Extend a point into the first dimension, length, and it becomes a line. If attention is focused on a point, which is then extended in time, we have concentration. Exercises were directed at obtaining effortless control of attention via the various senses. Visual focus on still and moving objects, the subject being able to maintain focus while sitting quietly or moving about. Focus on sounds. Focus on visualized images, stationary, moving and modified. The outcome was to prepare the student for effective meditation.

  2. Meditation

    While Concentration may be conceived as a linear focus of attention, meditation is the undistracted focus on a theme. This follows the principle of theoretical geometry: "a line extended into the second dimension has breadth". The idea of meditation in classical metaphysics is the undistracted attention to thoughts and images relating directly to the theme object. The practitioner uses the theme as a filter to exclude any random thought that does not directly relate to that theme. The outcome is a drawing together of all known information relating to the theme, culminating in an intuitive extrapolation into the unknown, i.e. realization.

    Intuition is defined as direct knowing without the intermediary of rational thought. The Akashic record is a paradigm that fits the sourcing of such knowing. Meditation in effect, expands our awareness in two directions. It extends our theoretical line along its single dimension, extrapolating our theme. By extending our line into the second dimension, we create a plane, which has length and breadth. We have expanded our theme, and introduced perspective, though in a limited, two-dimensional manner as we draw in ideas that relate to our theme from one side or another of our field of possibility.

    (An interesting variation on this a might be to consider our line to be an arc. Its extension would complete a full circle, encapsulating the fullness of the theme of our meditation.) We are now ready to add a further dimension to our structure.

  3. Contemplation

    Concentration and meditation are mental processes. The subject views the object, maintaining a separate viewpoint. The two remain distinctly different from one another. The subject's experience of the object is largely speculative and based on past experience and existing judgments. It is not real time experience.

    Contemplation begins at the point where the level of appreciation and understanding of the object by the subject, draws the two into a state of merger. The contemplative becomes at one with the object of his meditation. If we continue our analogy of spatial dimension, we extend our planar object into the third dimension. As a three dimensional creation, it now has length, breadth and height. The contemplative effectively moves into a state of unity with the object, becoming subjectively indistinguishable as a separate identity. (Occupying the same space). This is the critical skill that forms the foundation of all effective spiritual paths. To see God is to be God. The contemplative practices this art of being, by learning to identify with parts of God's creation, in preparation for eventual "reintegration with the Whole" as the Egyptians termed Realization.

  4. Nirvikalpa Samadhi

    The highest state of consciousness has a plethora of nomenclature. Mouni Sadhu used the Sanskrit word Samadhi, with its classical differentiations of Nirvikalpa and Sahaja.

    Nirvikalpa Samadhi is the experience of the saint. A saint is understood to be an individual who has reached a level of spiritual development that enables him or her to enter the state of Grace for a time, before returning to the accustomed astro-mental consciousness.

    On the direct path of Jnana, Nirvikalpa Samadhi is the next step after contemplation. It is considered to be a transcendental state, in that it transcends mentality. The mind can have no part in the experience. The state is the transition from the finite to the infinite, and the mind being simply a tool for grading and evaluating the finite, cannot participate.

    The mathematical analogy is the extension of a three dimensional object into the fourth dimension. This again is inconceivable to the mind, this mystery being the origin of the intense resistance we experience to attempting the leap of Faith required to access the Unknowable. It is the ultimate koan.

    One of the ancient occult exercises used to prepare one for the multidimensional viewpoint of the fourth dimension, was to create a mental image of a small familiar object, like a matchbox, and view it from every possible perspective, inside and out, until it can be viewed with ease from all directions simultaneously. Once this can be accomplished, we throw in a few matches. The final step is to contemplate the magnitude of the Power that effortlessly maintains such a perspective of every particle and force that comprises the entire universe.

  5. Sahaja Samadhi

    Sahaja is the state of the Sage, one who is irreversibly transformed, and whose ego-identity has dissolved finally in the ocean of the Divine and no longer manifests as a separate being. As Buddha put it, "The dewdrop slips into the shining sea".

    This state arises when all of the Vasanas have been resolved, and no trace of attachment to the gross and subtle creations of the ego remain. Vasanas are likened to the smell that remains in a jar once the contents have been removed, and the jar washed thoroughly. The most effective way to remove the smell is to leave the jar open in the sun for many days.

    The voluntary exposure of ones' self to the sunlight of Nirvikalpa Samadhi performs this task in the saint, and when the last taint of the ego is resolved, Sage-hood is the outcome.

    In traditional Western and Eastern metaphysics, it is generally accepted that Sages incarnate deliberately as Avatars or Bodhisattvas. They have no personal agenda to fulfill, no Karma to draw them back to this world. They come voluntarily to help their younger brethren. This is the concept of Redemption, the older, stronger brother, taking on his shoulders the burdens of the weak.


Mouni Sadhu wrote a number of books, the majority of which were published by George Allen & Unwin. The following is a brief summary of content, as well as the purpose he expressed to me for having written some of them.

In Days of Great Peace

This is virtual diary of his experiences in the presence of the Indian Sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi. It is significant, in that it is an account of a real and permanent transformation, in a man who was already thoroughly prepared. It is refreshingly different to many of the descriptive narratives frequently produced by visitors to ashrams and saints.


A manual of technical exercises, effective in obtaining mastery of the mind, and preparing it for mediation. The book also throws much light on the evolution and diversification of self-evolvement practices both in the Eastern and Western traditions.


This is a manual with extensive exercises for developing the classical art of mediation to the highest level of proficiency. As always with his work, the book is a practical manual of methods that have been used effectively in the past, spiced with relevant theoretical details.


Samadhi is a descriptive manual for the attainment of the limitless state of "Super Consciousness". Incidentally, the terminology used in his books is as follows: The word "Awareness" is used to illustrate limited states. "I.e.: Objective experience requires the subject to be Aware of an object. Consciousness" is used to describe limitlessness. It is considered to be beyond limitation, infinite subjectivity, beyond subject or object. It is the truth of Self, the Absolute, indivisible beingness. This is a significant differentiation, as some later writers used the same terms in the opposite context.


This is a very unique work, showing the crossover between exoteric Christian tradition, and its generally unknown esoteric counterpart. A manual of effective worship, the book is in two sections. The first part is a brief history and summary of the most effective methods of invocation and supplication used by some of the earlier masters, as well as the European secret societies. The second is an explanation of the use of some of the more profound methods used within the Catholic and Orthodox churches, with special reference to the processes of exorcism, traditionally employed against the spirits obsession, sickness and other entities.

The Tarot. The Quintessence of hermetic occultism

This book is to my knowledge the most complete initiatory manual of Hermetic Occultism in existence. Its use presupposes a thorough training in meditative and contemplative techniques.

It deals quite thoroughly with the concept of malevolent, two-planar "entities" or "larvas" as understood in the Egyptian/Hebrew/European traditions of White Magic.

Ways to Self Realization

This is a collection of essays concerning occultism and spiritual paths.

Initiations. by Paul Sedir.

This book was translated from the original French by Mouni Sadhu. Unfortunately, due to a legal blunder, the printer misappropriated the first and only edition and sold it independently. It is consequently very difficult to find a copy. (Remarkably, a similar incident occurred with one of Sedir's last books. An associate in the literary world published a plagiarized work prior to the release of Sedir's book.)

It concerns some of the experiences of Dr. Paul Sedir with his principal mentor, Maitre Phillipe of Lyons. Sedir was one of the most prolific and authoritative writers on the subject of Occultism at the turn of the century. Maitre Phillipe was a prominent magician of the time. The climax of the book is an moving account of the charismatic meeting of Sedir with his mysterious Spiritual Master, an event that involved the resuscitation of one of Sedir's dead patients.

This event is very significant to the life of Mouni Sadhu, as he had devoted much effort to connecting with the lineage of the same master prior to making his connection with Ramana Maharshi.