The Meaning of Satsang
The unprecedented cancellation of satsang throughout the world has left a lot of initiates and seekers bereft. Our lives have been turned upside down, our daily routines shattered. This includes our usual Sunday satsang, our sanctuary from the influences of the ever-encroaching world around us.
But what is satsang? The word literally means “the company of the truth.” The beauty of satsang is that we already have that company inside of us, with the Master, with the Shabd. All the inspiration we need is within. Sant Mat is not a religion. At its core, it is an individual relationship between the Master and the disciple. Its mode of communication is meditation. We gather in satsang to be inspired to do our meditation, to be encouraged to lead a Sant Mat way of life. But satsang is not a social event, nor is it a religious ritual.
Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh tells us that “anything which is persuading us towards meditation” is satsang.1 That could be a phone conversation with a friend, reading a Sant Mat book – or any book for that matter. It could be watching films about seva and the Dera on the RSSB YouTube channel. It could be listening to shabds or Hazur’s question-and-answer sessions on the RSSB website. It could be going for a walk and appreciating the beauties of nature, and perhaps even remembering our simran. It could be sitting with a cup of tea and staring out the window, watching tree branches wave in the wind against a stormy sky.
The point is, satsang is not an outer ritual. It is not something we do because we have always done it, or an event around which to organize our lives. Hazur wrote to a seeker: “In life we have to go to so many places, and everywhere you may not be near satsangi brothers and sisters. We have to build our own atmosphere of the Sant Mat way of life and live within it.”2
To build our own atmosphere of the Sant Mat way of life and live within it is the challenge we took on at the time of our initiation. That is the goal and purpose of our lives, and to pursue that goal, attending satsang is helpful but not essential.
Baba Ji said last July when he visited the USA something like: We’ve read enough, heard enough, talked enough. Now it’s time to practice.
Practice – what a concept. Actually, it’s the one thing at our level that’s not a concept. It’s something we can do, and we can do it all by ourselves. There is an old saying: When life gives you lemons, turn them into lemonade. We need to turn the adversity of these strange days to our advantage. Life will not adjust to us; we have to adjust to life. Now is the time we can take all those spiritual teachings and inspirational messages we’ve heard at satsang over the past many years and act on them. Now is the time to turn concepts into experience. Now we can look within and build our spiritual strength. Now is the time to practice what we preach.
It’s time to get back to basics. We can’t always be near our brothers and sisters. It doesn’t matter. This path is between us and our Master. When we turn to him within – whether with simran, prayer, tears, confusion, longing, or gratitude – with whatever we’ve got and whoever we are, that’s satsang. That’s keeping company with the truth. We have all we need.
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, #177
- Unpublished letter