What Happens in Satsang?

February 20, 2017

Shambhavi gives a short and sweet 5 minute talk about satsang. What is satang? Why do we gather for satsang, and what happens during a satsang at Jaya Kula? A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

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For those who are here for the first time, my name is Shambhavi, and this is satsang. I'm going to give a little intro.

First of all, satsang is probably the most ancient form of spiritual practice. It just means being in reality together.

Most of the time when we're running around in our ordinary lives, we're not being very aware, and we're not being very connected. We're in our little iPod, and we have goals, and we're hightailing it towards those goals. And we're only in a state of semi-consciousness a lot of the time.

So satsang is a place where you can come and have an experience or have many experiences, possibly, of just reconnecting with what is of most value to you, and also just reconnecting period. That feeling of relaxation is important. And sometimes in satsang that can be a special feeling of relaxation. And then many, many other things can happen too.

The idea is that you just get together with other people who at least, if not sharing the same path, at least share a feeling of yearning, and with someone who has done some spiritual practice, and anything can happen.

Now, if you'll notice, there were some people that came in, and they were being very polite, and they sat in the very back of the room. Well, that isn't really the way of satsang.

Satsang means being in reality together. It means being in all of reality together, not some limited version of reality. So this is what we're doing most of our day. We're being in a very limited form of reality. We have limited our self-expression. We're living with a lot of habitual emotions of fear and anger and whatever they are.

When we come to satsang, there should be an anything goes kind of a feeling.

So that if you come in, and you want to sit on a comfy cushion and not on the hard floor waiting for something spiritual to stop happening so you don't interrupt the spiritual activity of the teacher, you should just come and be and express yourselves as you wish.

The typical form of satsang is question and answer. This has to do with the nature of reality that we're being in together. We're in what could be called a call-and-response reality. We are in a reality that is communicative and where what we do is answered in some way.

So all of the Indian traditions, and especially the one that I'm in, function all the way through in this mode of call and response.

For instance, the ancient texts— teaching texts from this tradition, which is called Trika Shaivism, are all in the form of a dialog where a female and a male form of the divine are talking to each other, and one is asking questions, and the other is answering. Sometimes it's the woman asking the questions, sometimes it's the male. It starts there.

We have kirtan, which is a singing practice of call and response. We have a mode of relating to the teacher and the teachings that is very welcoming of questions and where we get sensitized to the call-and-response nature of the teacher-student relationship.

And in our seated practice, there's also a sense of call and response when we do ritual or when we chant mantra, things like that. So this idea of call and response is really important, and it is an echo of what our reality is really doing. That communicative aspect.

So in satsang, I give some sort of little talk, and then after the dharma talk, there'll be just a free-form conversation where you can ask whatever you like.

It can be about me, it can be about our community or this tradition. It can be about your personal life, about your spiritual practice, about highfalutin spiritual ideas that you have kicking around in your head. It really can be about anything. Then we have kirtan, and then we do some chanting and singing together.


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