Soul Nourishment & Modern Satsang
Satsang is a Sanskrit term derived from two root words, sat meaning true and sanga meaning community. A Satsang, therefore, is a gathering together to seek the truth. The human life can be challenging and fraught with many obstacles. Questions, concerns, confusion, and doubts may arise at any time. All of us sometimes get stuck or feel like we're just spinning our wheels living a construct of a life, without really getting to the deeper experience of being alive. Being a human also presents us with the opportunity to go after every experience that we desire. It offers unending pleasures and awe to each of us.
There is a South African phrase, ubuntu (oo-boon-too) which means "I am because we are". The term is derived from the phrase Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, which translates to "a person is a person through other people". Former US President Barack Obama referenced this word at Nelson Mandela's funeral saying, "We are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; there is a oneness to humanity; we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us."
Satsang fosters both of these things: the seeking of truth, and the sharing of self.
A few of the requirements of a Satsang group:
Each person must be committed to bringing out the best in another
Each person must be committed to the investigation and "not knowing"
Each person must be curious about the deeper meaning of life and the human experience
When a group gathers under these conditions, it can have a profound effect. In a shared space of support and unity, the veils of illusion can be more easily lifted.
When we talk about Satsang, and sitting in the "truth", we are referring to the truth being what is real, what exists. So all there is, is truth. Whenever something increases your experience of the truth, you heart opens and your mind quiets. Conversely, whenever something (such as a thought, fear, or judgement, limits or narrows your experience of the truth, the heart contracts and the mind gets busier. We are all equally endowed with the capacity to discriminate the truth. Therefore, we are all the teacher.
Rumi said, "Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and righdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there."
This is Satsang. The field where there is no right or wrong, only investigation, and further expansion. The purpose of Satsang is not to provide devotion to a spiritual teacher or acquire spiritual knowledge - the purpose is to come home to yourself.
(For a practical look into Satsang, the the kinds of questions explored, take a peek at this excerpt from the book Nothing Personal, Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self by Nirmala.)
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Mindy Amita Aisling