The Meaning of Sat

Bay of Fundy
April 5, 2018

Sat doesn’t mean truth. Shambhavi talks about the meaning of Sat from the perspective of Trika Shaivism. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

first words from podcast

There’s a word in Sanskrit — Sat — that you might have heard in common phrases like satguru and satchidananda. A lot of the time when satsangs, hymns, poems, prayers or even mantras are translated, the word Sat is translated incorrectly as truth. So these are words that Sat actually means. And I wonder when you look at this, when you read this collection of words, how do you feel? It gives you a good feeling, right? So Sat is talking about God. It’s talking about existence. If you want to translate it in purely philosophical terms, Sat means existence itself, but then you see it means all these other things. It has more to do with a livingness, a living quality than just some Western philosophical idea of existence. So first of all Sat means existing.

One of the main points that Abhinavagupta wanted to make with respect to other so-called non-dual traditions is that there is no possibility of anything being unreal. There are some other non-dual traditions in India that got filtered through more popularized works, including Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. In those traditions something is considered to be unreal, and then something else is considered to be real.

Abhinavagupta said it isn’t possible for anything to be unreal because the unreal cannot exist. It’s a profound but simple point. There is no point talking about the unreal. The only thing that can exist is existence — things that exist. Only existing things can exist. He loved making points like that. Sat means existing and it also means existence, that which exists. So your thoughts about reality, no matter how deluded, are actual real thoughts about things. Your experiences, no matter how limited, are actual experiences. Your body, no matter how limited in comparison to the unlimited body of God, is a real experience of that body. There’s nothing unreal about it.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.