Why I Love Being a Satsangi
This article was inspired by a nightmare in which I dreamt that I had to give satsang but with only twenty minutes notice! My wife said to me, “don’t worry, it will be fine”. As usual I believed her and calmed down. Then after a few minutes I became concerned and said, “What do you mean calm down! The meeting starts in five minutes and I have no idea what to say.” Suddenly the nightmare ended and I woke up feeling very anxious! Soon afterwards the idea came to me for a satsang about how Sant Mat, the teachings of the saints, has helped me. Here are the ways in no particular order of importance – perhaps it would be different for you?
Provides answers to the big questions about life
Before I came across Sant Mat I had been going through an intense and prolonged period of seeking. I was looking for my relationship with God. I had spent time at a spiritual community, lived abroad in the mountains, and spent time trying to understand my cultural heritage. But nothing felt quite right nor were my questions answered.
Then through an unlikely series of events, that some of you can perhaps relate to through your own experiences of learning about this path, I found out about Sant Mat, and during the course of an unusual afternoon, had all my questions answered by a sevadar. Life was never the same again after that. For me the purpose of life previously had been about “making a difference”. During that conversation, it shifted to being about God-realization and with that, my whole understanding of life changed.
Years later it is so easy to forget these things and take the path for granted. However, with a little reflection, we can become acutely aware that the path has brought both sense and meaning to life and to our struggles.
So many people are undecided about whether God exists or not, and struggle with the problem of evil, while we, as followers of a spiritual path have, at least intellectually, had these questions answered and learnt a practice that, we understand, will one day bear fruit.
Can be a low cost, high quality life style
This is particularly important in our ‘credit crunch’ stricken current, and hopefully short, period of history. But that aside, after meditating for two and a half hours a day, working and/or bringing up a family, there really isn’t that much time left over for expensive pursuits. On top of that there is, for most of us, a satsang somewhere nearby once a week plus the opportunity to do seva. This is potentially an extremely satisfying, low cost lifestyle.
Maharaj Jagat Singh points to the ideal when he states:
Happy is he whose wants are few. The fewer the wants, the happier the person. “Who doth not want many things, is the king of kings.” It is our wants that make us poor. One who has no wants is the richest person.
He continues with a story about Alexander the Great:
During his sojourn in India, Alexander the Great went to see a sadhu living on the banks of the river Beas, about whose supernatural powers he had heard a great deal. He found him sitting on a palm leaf under an umbrella made of banyan tree leaves. This was all the sadhu possessed. On being informed that he had spent all his life sitting there and had remained there even in torrential rain, burning heat and piercing cold, Alexander offered to build a house for him. This he refused saying, “Why build a house? Are we to live here forever?” Then Alexander asked if there was anything else he could do for him. “Yes, please see that none of your men comes to me,” he said.
Alexander offered to give half of his kingdom at the time of his death, to anyone who could make him live just for as much time as would enable him to see his mother. But the physicians replied that, even if he gave the whole of his kingdom, they could not add one single breath to his life. Tears welled up in the king’s eyes, and with a deep sigh he said, “Alas! Had I known that a breath was so costly a thing, I would never have wasted them in useless pursuits.” Then he directed that during his funeral procession, his hands should be kept out of his coffin with palms upwards so that the world might take a lesson from the Great Alexander, who had planned to conquer the world, but was going away from it empty handed.
The Science of the Soul
Provides opportunities for seva
By creating the opportunity for doing seva, the saints have given us the chance to experience ourselves as part of a larger community. For many of us this means the chance to work with a group of other people from different nationalities, ethnic backgrounds and life experiences, often doing very different activities from what we may do professionally. It is usually relaxing and uplifting. One returns home refocused on the path and keener to sit for meditation, even if a little exhausted!
Then, when there are visits by Baba Gurinder Singh, there is more seva to do. We are willing to get up early, work long hours, work as part of a team in order to please and serve our Master. Many of us would never consider working that hard for money, but are happy to do it without any expectation of material reward!
Follow a living Master
The founders of the world’s major religions passed away many years ago. If you were to tell a friend that there was an opportunity to go somewhere on earth where they could see the founder of their religion and ask him questions, they would probably do anything for the experience. We are fortunate to be able to see the living Masters and hear their satsangs. Our Master and our path can act as an anchor, holding us steady when we face challenges in life.
There have been many such Masters in different times and countries. I think that we do not realize how fortunate we are and how accessible the current Master makes himself. Perhaps one day when sufficient effort has been applied to our meditation, we will truly realize who our Master is.
An antidote to worrying, planning and regret
Yes, the solution to all our problems is Simran 24/7. Prioritizing our focus on the spiritual path will help support us through the inevitable challenges that life brings to us.
Know where you are going when you die
This could reasonably be considered part of the second paragraph of this article but I have chosen to treat it separately as, of all the big questions in life, it is the one that is impossible to ignore. At some point all of us face our own mortality, whether it is through experiencing the death of someone to whom we are very close, or through an illness or near death experience or just through the passing of the years and the inevitable realization that this brings. In doing so, for many of us, there is a considerable amount of fear to face; fear of the unknown, and regrets about how we have lived, who we have been and who we could have been.
As satsangis we undersand, at least conceptually, that death is not the end of our existence. That we are a soul, a spiritual being having a human experience. That this is one of the thousands of lives that we have had. That when we shed this body, we will be provided with another one to return to this plane or to sojourn for a while on another. That we have nothing to fear because, if we play our part well, and put a sincere effort into our spiritual practice, our Master will meet us at that (not so) final moment.
In the book Call of the Great Master by Daryai Lal Kapur, there is a chapter which tells the story of a reformed drunkard and thief who came to the path in the time of Maharaj Sawan Singh. His story ends with him giving himself up to the authorities and paying the ultimate price for his crimes. His faith in his Master enabled him to face his punishment with courage.
Know what to do in retirement (and during other periods of unemployment !)
Even though the Masters advise us not to put off our commitment to our spiritual practice, there are certain times in our lives when opportunities can be grasped.
Maharaj Jagat Singh advises us as follows:
To one who had recently retired on pension the Master said: “You should look upon this day as your most lucky day. You have played your game well. All your wordly duties have finished. Now you should do something for yourself. Up to this time you have been doing others’ work. Now do your own. All desires and wordly cravings should be turned out from your mind. Tell your mind that you have finished your game in the world and now God’s inning begins. Take your mind out from family, children, houses, property, wealth, honour, country and all connections with the world. Bring your mind to such a state that the existence or non-existence of these things may have no effect on you. Now give all your thought, attention and time to God and God alone. Become his now. Cleanse your mind of everything else. Think day and night of bhajan and of nothing else. Work hard. Fight the mind fearlessly. The Guru is with you. With his help, subdue the mind.”
The Science of the Soul
These wonderfully inspiring words express the ideal that we are striving for. To become so immersed in our bhajan practice that no matter what happens, we maintain our balance.
Discover what love really is
Over the years I have realized that my understanding and experience of love is limited. The love I have experienced so far has been a little selfish and self-centred. Viewing the saints, it is incredible how they dedicate their entire lives to their disciples, without asking for anything in return. For them, everyone is equal.
Loving the Lord and his creation should not dilute the love we have for our own families. Rather, it can make it purer and improve our family relationships. I am slowly realizing how important my family members are and am trying to spend more time with them.
The saints say that the love we have experienced thus far is the tip of an iceberg. But from earthly love, and a loving heart, spiritual love will grow.