A Spiritual Gathering & Teaching
Joan Shivarpita Harrigan, Ph.D.,
The term “satsang” is becoming more popular in spiritual circles, especially those interested in meditation and yoga. A Sanskrit word, satsang literally means “association with Truth or Reality.” A satsang is a gathering of students who come together to receive spiritual instruction from a qualified teacher whose company is uplifting. Traditionally, students bring questions about spiritual life to the teacher, who responds to them for the benefit of all present. The questions that students bring are based on their thoughtful contemplation of spiritual topics and concerns. Satsang gatherings are for the elucidation of points relevant to most seekers. For example, they may focus on issues of spiritual development, the workings of spiritual practices, aspects of spiritual life, questions about spiritual texts, and other pertinent concerns. A satsang is usually preceded by prayer and followed with meditation.
Traditionally, Satsang gatherings are not designed as a format for a student to reveal intimate disclosures regarding his or her personal life, practices, and spiritual progress, these being the subject of individual consultations with the teacher. But satsang questions do come from the heart and gut of the seeker and are not mere intellectual or curiosity based quizzes. At the satsang, the student takes the opportunity to engage the teacher in spiritual discourse and to receive inspiration and motivation. Most spiritual scriptures are presented in the form of such question and answer dialogues between teacher and student. The student inquires into the nature of reality, or the way to liberation, or how to deal with difficulties on the path, or other mysteries and quandaries, and the teacher is thereby stimulated to expound on the topic.
Such inspired instruction by the teacher is treasured by aspirants because in compassionately responding to the spiritual needs expressed by the sincere seeker, the teacher automatically taps the Divine Source, which then flows through the teacher to the mind, heart, and soul of the aspirant. Being in the presence of the teacher during prayer, spiritual instruction, and meditation is considered a boon to the student because in these moments the proximity to the spiritual power flowing through the teacher inspires the student’s awareness with divine grace to better understand spiritual truths.
To prepare for satsang, it is good to contemplate the growing edge of your spiritual life, and formulate questions that reflect your deeper spiritual inquiries. During the satsang, it is recommended to be present with open awareness and to let the teachings flow into your being. Keep what is useful, and let the rest go by. What you need, you will retain. It is helpful to give the lower, analytic, academic mind a rest and listen with your higher mind, a beginner’s mind, a spiritual heart that has no need to critique or do comparison/contrast studies, or to challenge. This is a sacred learning, so be serious, not curious. This information is for your soul, not for your ego self. It is spiritual, not intellectual or psychological. Your ability to comprehend the deeper import is based on your own experience, openness, and spiritual understanding. At times, the spoken words are not even the point: the message is in the silence and the holy presence. So receive with your deeper, broader self. Spiritual teachings have been here since the beginning of creation for the benefit of spiritual seekers everywhere.
Because you bring yourself to a satsang with great sincerity and faith and yearning for spiritual growth, you will receive exactly what you need to hear at this point in your development. Let that one nugget of spiritual insight be a treasure that you take home with you for ongoing spiritual contemplation and inspiration.
Joan Shivarpita Harrigan, Ph.D. is director of Patanjali Kundalini Yoga Care. She hosts monthly satsangs at the Oneness Sanctuary in Knoxville, TN. Her teacher Swami Chandrasekharanand Saraswati is visiting until May, 2012. For more information, contact 865-531-2004, kundalinicare.com.
Teacher Student Prayer:
May we be protected together.
May we enjoy the fruits of our actions together.
May we achieve strength for our mutual endeavor.
May our knowledge brightly shine, and
May we thus praise each other,
Never to be clouded by negativity.
OM peace, peace, peace.