What are the Influences You Let Into Your Life? Still Not Making Any Progress? Still Not Meditating? Still Not Following the Path?
Don’t let your mind drown in eclectic new age spiritual quotes on the Internet. So many paths and religions; so little time. It’s been my observation that, in the category of spiritual teachings, influences and motivation, serious Sant Mat spiritual seekers or devotees must make the teachings of the Masters their top priority, their PRIMARY FOCUS. Otherwise, we just end up hopelessly distracted and not properly motivated to seek initiation, or follow the guidance of the Masters, or do our meditation. Our minds drown in feel-good syrupy passages about stuff we already know… or ain’t so, or don’t matter whether true or not, or that may seem harmless yet provides us with no destination, and we end up getting talked out of our original dreams and yearnings to return to the Abode of Love, the home of the soul in the highest of heavens. See the article below on the Three Levels of Satsang (Associating with Eternal Truth) that serve as regular reminders about adopting the Path, following the Path, staying on the Path, doing our meditation practice, and having some “within” time. Who you let influence your thoughts and let into your life… is up to you.
The Three Levels of Satsang (Associating with Eternal Truth)
According to Saint Tulsi Das there are several modes of Bhakti practice. One major practice is called Satsang — the society of realized Saints. Satsang means “association with Eternal Truth” as well as “association with God,” and is to some extent comparable to “church” or “temple,” but not in any institutional sense. A saying of Jesus in the New Testament provides a good definition of this spiritual gathering called a “Satsang”: “Where two or three are gathered in My Name, I am there in their midst.” When devotees or initiates of a spiritual Master sit together for worship, instruction, and meditation, the Masters teach that there’s a spiritual charge or energy, a stronger manifestation of the loving Presence of God and a kind of ‘communion of Saints,’ past and present.
Satsang is also an experience of spiritual community, an opportunity to be uplifted by the collective energy of our brothers and sisters on the Path, for we’re influenced by the company we keep. Devotees make this a time and place of spiritual Remembrance, and this helps to keep us on the Path.
The format of Satsang can include: a spiritual discourse, guidance about following the teachings of the Masters, a recording of a Master giving a talk, readings from the writings of the Masters, the reciting or singing of banis, bhajans or kirtans (hymns of worship composed by Sants), and silent group meditation. It’s considered the greatest of blessings if it is a genuine spiritual Master (Sant Satguru) who conducts the Satsang in person.
The effect of Satsang is that of divine remembrance, thus, with such a spiritual boost, encouragement and support for the spiritual journey, those who attend Satsang are much more likely to stay-on-the-Path and put effort into daily spiritual practice at home. (from the article, The Yoga of Love, Becoming a Lover of the Beloved)
“Dear Aspirants! Each day strive to do both kinds of satsang: inner and outer. Outer satsang is listening to the teachings of great saints and studying the sacred texts. Inner satsang is the practice of one-pointed meditation.” (Maharishi Mehi Paramahans)
“Without the association of great saints, there is neither discourse of the Divine nor the understanding of the scriptures. Without these two, selfish attachment does not loosen its grip. And without dispelling attachment to the world one cannot attain the realm of the Divine and the true devotion that is essential to realize the Divine.” (Sant Tulsi Das)
“On the gate of liberation are found four gate keepers endowed with wisdom. These four are: discipline, thoughtfulness (reflection), contentment and association with saints.” (Maha Upanishad)
“Discord and delusion can be removed by the power of the association of saints. For those who associate with saints, suffering dissolves and they will remain immersed in joy. Joy arises from noble company and pain arises from association with the wicked, says Kabir, go to a place where saints dwell and their association is possible.” (Kabir)
“By association with a pure soul the mind becomes pure and the darkness of attachment is dispelled. In attending to these quotes from different saints it becomes clear that satsang is vital and very necessary for any serious spiritual seeker.” (Yogi Panchanan Bhattacharya)
The Three Levels of Satsang (Associating with Eternal Truth), by Swami Santsevi Ji Maharaj
The word satsang is comprised of two words sat and sang. What is sat?
Sat is that which can never be destroyed. It is the essential element which is indestructible and beyond the limitations of time. And it is Truth. Sang means association or contact. Thus association or coming in contact with Sat or Truth is satsang.
In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna says:
“Whatever is Truth always exists and is never non-existent. That which is non-Truth has no existence whatsoever.”
* The First Level of Satsang (Association with God)
What is this element which is indestructible, has always been constant and will forever remain as such? That element is the Supreme Being of the universe. Association with this Being, in reality, is association with Truth (satsang). But, what is it that would associate with this Supreme Being? Is it the body or the senses? The answer is that it is neither of these two. It is only apart from the body and senses that we will be able to associate with the Supreme Being. This is because it is only our soul that is an inseparable part of the Divine. It is only we (our soul) that is capable of merging with the Divine. Our individual soul is truth, and also, the Supreme is Truth. True satsang is the unity of the soul with the Supreme Truth. This is the highest kind of sat-sang. However, this highest kind of satsang, unity with the Divine, does not occur all of a sudden. This category of satsang requires many lifetimes of good actions and spiritual imprints (samskaras).
* The Second Level of Sat-sang (Association with the Saints)
Sant Tulsidas says:
“The association of the saints brings association with the Divine, and alliance with people who are engrossed in the world leads the way back to this world again and again.”
To attain Ultimate Liberation it is essential to have association with the saints. Saints, having realized the true form of God, become that True Form. The accomplished great beings who have attained unity with the Divine, and who have experienced the Supreme Being even while living in this body, have become the Supreme Being [They become one with their true Divine Form]. Association with these saints is this second category of satsang. However, finding such a saint is not an easy task. A true saint is rare and difficult to find.
Sant Tulsidas says:
“Without accumulation of many good deeds one will be unable to gain the association of a great saint.”
When our good karmas permit, we are able to come to experience the association of these sentient beings. A more important point is that even if we have a direct encounter with such a saint, we often do not have the wisdom to be able to recognize a genuine sage.
A great Sant, Tulsidas, says:
“If someone says ‘I have recognized a saint,’ then I put my hands on my ears in astonishment. [It is not an easy task.]”
If ordinary people could recognize saints, then why, since antiquity, have so many great saints, sages, and prophets been tortured, maimed and killed? Many saints have had to face horrible atrocities. This simply would not have happened if we were able to recognize the genuine great saints.
* The Third Level of Satsang (Association with the Writings of Sages and Saints)
In daily life we need the guidance of a great sage or saint. Even though we might encounter many so called mahatmas or sadhus, the task of finding and identifying an accomplished guide is difficult. So, in consideration of this, how would satsang (association with a true saint) be possible? The answer is that we can study the teachings of the great saints of the past, because in their teaching we will find the elaboration of the Truth. This then is the third category of sat-sang. Generally, when we speak of satsang, it is this third category that is meant. This kind of satsang includes the study of scriptures and the words and writings of the saints and prophets of the past.
As we continue diligently in this third type of satsang we accumulate the meritorious karmas which will lead to the meeting with a true saint. Then we will be able to do the second category of satsang. As we continue in association with a great saint, and with the saint’s blessings, we will gradually begin to meditate and undertake the prescribed spiritual disciplines. By diligently practicing these disciplines, we will one day, experience the first category of sat-sang — the association with the Supreme Being. When we have thus accomplished the highest category of satsang, our life’s purpose will be fulfilled.
— Swami Santsevi Ji Maharaj, Harmony of All Religions