The Pillar of Satsang
One of the principal ways the Lord showers his grace on his souls is through the medium of satsang. Those who are marked by the Lord for his special grace are pulled to the satsang of the living Master. To come to the satsang of a saint may not be a conscious decision but that doesn’t matter. We sometimes respond sincerely but subconsciously to the inner yearning generated by the Lord in our heart.
The meaning of satsang is “association with the Truth” and the Master is the embodiment of Truth. The Master possesses the wonderful ability to touch our hearts and change our direction in life. In his abiding love for us, the Master is absolutely determined to bring about an inner transformation in all who come under his direct protection.
Satsang is that unique atmosphere in which everyone benefits, even those who are in a negative state of mind. Maharaj Charan Singh used to give an example of a stone immersed in water. The stone may not change but it still manages to escape the intense heat of the sun. Some of us can be stone-hearted in that we do not allow ourselves to absorb the teachings of love. Nevertheless, at least during the time of discourse, we remain in a safe and protective environment and escape the materialistic heat of the world.
Another example Hazur gave was that of a blind man passing through a rose garden. Even though he will not be able to perceive the beauty of the colours, he will surely enjoy the sweet fragrance of the flowers that will pacify his troubled mind. We humans, suffering from the affliction of the body and mind, need some soothing words of comfort and encouragement, and there is no greater persuasion than the sweet melodious voice of the Master. The physical sight of him brings peace and calmness and generates love. Even when he is not physically present, we benefit.
Alongside our need for instruction in the basics of spirituality, we stand in greater need of inspiration to meditate. In Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. I the Great Master writes:
Together with the thought currents, the waves of spirituality that emanate from the Master during his discourse help to make the subject matter clear so that everyone can comprehend it thoroughly. In this way the dirt of evil thoughts gets washed away, the gloom of ignorance vanishes and in its place emerges the light of knowledge.
Satsang is a unique boon which the Master distributes free to both the learned and the ignorant. His over-powering grandeur, his refulgence and magnetic force attract each person according to his merit, with the result that they become oblivious of the world and its objects and completely lose track of time and the manner of its passage.
Satsang is a pillar of spirituality alongside meditation. There is a direct link between satsang and meditation. Those who fail to appreciate the real value of satsang are often waylaid by the mind. We are told that satsang is a fence around the crop of meditation. Without this protection, the precious crop is liable to be looted. Attending satsang is a basic discipline of spirituality and a fundamental requirement if one is to remain steady and make progress.
When we gather in satsang when the Master is not physically present, the dignity and significance of the occasion is not diminished. The Master is always spiritually present when we meet in his name and memory. Christ said: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” In a similar vein, the words of Maharaj Charan Singh come to mind. He has been memorably quoted as asking, “How do you know I am not there, when I am not there?”