The meaning of Satsang.

May 8, 2018

A group of teenagers was walking down the street. They were all very fresh faced and youthful and exuberant. Everyone seemed eager to contribute to whatever they were discussing. In fact, even those who were being put down by others wore disparaging comments like a badge on their sleeve and laughed heartily. The girls were simultaneously appreciative of the comments made by their friends and very assertive of their own views. Periodically, they were checking the surroundings to collect appreciative glances. Suddenly, an exaggerated loud laughter broke out over a rather trivial comment. They were all very happy, young and carefree. Clearly, tomorrow did not exist for them and they were fully living in the present.

In our youth, the company we keep is not constant. We constantly make new friends as we gather new experiences. Thus, as a youngster, it is difficult to identify a particular person to whom we consistently looked up to. The importance of other people in our life becomes very apparent when possibility of having new friends starts diminishing. Over a period of time, we develop roots and become less adaptable. We now talk about and appreciate the influence spouses or friends or parents have on our thinking. Over a period of time, we can only think in a way that is consistent with the thinking of the close ones, people whom we have declared to be important. Moreover, such company is formed with mutual consent. Thus, those who are close to us also behave in way that is consistent with our thinking. This mutual agreement further strengthen personal bondages. As a result, more compromises are made to protect these delicate, important dependencies of our life.

On the other hand, what is true can never be comprehended with a vision that is compromised. Therefore, in spiritual realm, the capacity to think independently is given utmost importance. But, as described above, we have naturally developed blinders so that our ability to comprehend the entire truth is vastly compromised. We have to discard these self-inflicted limitations of our thinking so as to become a serious spiritual aspirant. The only way we can synthesize our natural instinct of being agreeable to those near us with free vision is to be close to the people who themselves appreciate freedom. This is called satsang in Sanskrit. Its literal meaning is to be with reality. The physical embodiment of this reality in our life lies in the existence of people who allow you to be completely inconsistent. Since Truth is ever new, a person who is aligned with it does not follow repeatable patterns. People who allow you to reinvent yourself are realistic people. One should cherish and appreciate company of such people.

Of course, we cannot just expect others to be of certain type of individuals without we being so, isnÂ’t it? The real understanding o what is said above forces us to make sure that our company is also a satsang to those who are near to us. Therefore, being constantly aware that the whole world is reinventing itself must now become our way of life. Which forces us to stop carrying the baggage of the past as a possible utility for dealing with the future. Thus, to an honest person, the very notion of satsang (without experiencing it oneself) is capable of making deep changes in life! In other words, satsang makes its presence felt even before it actually appears in our life.

The effects of this newfound insight about living are fundamental. Once our mind is free of the burden of the past, an inexpressible feeling of lightness is felt. Then, we know how much our past experiences were weighing us down. This feeling of being free from something whose existence is felt only in its absence is like the complete silence filling up the room when the air-conditioning is switched off. It is not possible to describe this experience to those who are insensitive to noise. Thus, spiritual practices are only meant for those who already have fine sensitivity towards all beings. Satsang makes sense to only those fortunate souls who are born with empathy and also have the strength to face truth. In Indian mythology, Shiva embodies these characteristics. Being one with Shiva is nothing but having satsang with oneself. Then, there is nothing else to do. The examples of Sri Ramana Maharshi and Jiddu Krishnamurti show that it is not imperative to have actual satsang to understand the real meaning of life. Full understanding of the notion of satsang and the desire to make our company a satsang to others is enough.