Skip to content

Deep Apprenticeship

Flower in water on altar
Episode No. 234

Should we approach everything in life with the attitude of dig one well deep? What does it mean to apprentice ourselves to a wisdom tradition? A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast First Words

One of the most important vehicles for sadhana, for practice, in both the tradition of Trika Shivism and Dzogchen, is called the sandhi. It’s spelled s-a-n-d-h-i, but it’s pronounced like suh, sun-dhi. It means a gap, a juncture, or an in between.

So we’re often practicing with various sandhi. For instance the sandhi between the in breath and the out breath, and the out breath and the in breath. Or the sandhi between sleeping and waking. Or the sandhi between mantras. Or the sandhi that occurs when we pause and abide in the state of our practice. The sandhi is a natural opening that we can train ourselves to experience. It’s kind of a gateway to experiencing the natural state.

This instrument, the tanpura, is built around the sandhi. It’s a very simple instrument. It’s a drone instrument, but it’s considered to be the most important instrument in any ensemble that’s playing traditional music from India. The reason is because it’s the embodiment of all of reality. You could say it’s an embodiment of Shiva.

This is a travel tanpura. There are other ones that are made out of big gourds. They have quite a different sound, but you can still get the idea.

So you can hear in the way that I’m playing [plays tanpura] that every time I put my hand down that’s the sandhi. [plays tanpura] The notes that you hear, the individual notes, are like us. They’re the waves in the ocean, the manifestation. The drone that’s underneath those notes, that’s being created between the resonance of the strings, is like the ocean out of which the waves are arising.

And then the sandhi is the completely unconditioned vastness of the nature of god. [plays tanpura] Where we hear just that. Anything could arise out of that gap. It’s a complete teaching of view, this instrument and the sound that it makes.