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Satsang with Nirmala

 

Advaita Spiritual Teacher

 

Who are you really? Are you your body, mind, and personality? Or are you the spacious awareness in which they appear? Questions like these point us to the infinite oneness and Presence that is the true source of peace, happiness, and love. Satsang means "gathering together to inquire into our true nature." It is an opportunity through inquiry and dialogue to discover that the love, peace, and happiness you have been seeking are available here and now. Satsang is a chance to finally rest from all seeking and struggle and to experience directly the completeness and perfection of your Being.

Nirmala invites you to enjoy the free spiritual ebooks, satsang video and audio recordings, nondual blog and many free spiritual teachings on this site that point to this essential truth. You will discover the sweet richness that is revealed when you give this truth your undivided attention. Nondual Spiritual Mentoring with Nirmala is also available to support you in giving attention and discrimination to the more subtle and yet more satisfying inner dimensions of your essential nature.

 

Listen to Satsang with Nirmala:

Listen to Satsang with Nirmala

Nirmala offers free spiritual poetry in his book of Spiritual poems entitled Gifts with No Giver.

Love Is for Giving

(Note: This article is translated into Spanish here, Polish here, and French here . This article is an excerpt from Nirmala's satsang book, Living from the Heart, available in English here and Spanish here.)

What is love and where is it found? We search for love and try to get love, and yet it seems like we never get enough. Even when we've found it, it can slip away as time passes. What if there is a source of love that never fades and is always available? What if love is as near and easy as breathing? What if you have been "looking for love in all the wrong places" instead of actually lacking love?

Love is both simpler and more mysterious and subtle than we imagine it to be. Love is simply the spacious, open attention of our awareness, which is the gentlest, kindest, and most intimate force in the world. It touches things without impinging on them. It holds all of our experience but doesn't hold it down or hold it back. And yet, inherent in awareness is a pull to connect and even merge with the object of your awareness.

It's this seemingly contradictory nature of awareness-the completely open and allowing nature of it and its passionate pull to blend with and even become the object of its attention-that gives life its depth and sweetness. There is nothing more satisfying than this delicious dilemma of being both apart from and, at the same time, connected to something you see, hear, or feel.

Awareness is the beginning of all separation. Prior to awareness, there is just oneness or "is-ness," with nothing separate from the oneness that would be able to experience it. With the birth of awareness comes the subtle distinction of two things: that which is aware and the object of awareness. And yet, those two are connected by this mysterious force we are calling awareness, or love.

This flow of awareness and love that connects you to all you experience is the true source of satisfaction and joy. We have all experienced it to some degree. Whenever you fall in love with a person, pet, piece of music, beautiful object, or anything else, you have felt this flow of intimate, connected awareness. Unfortunately, we've been taught to believe that the source of this good feeling was the object of our affection. So we suffered whenever we lost our apparent source. When your lover leaves, your beloved pet dies, the concert ends, or your dream home is repossessed, you feel bereft of that loving, connected feeling.

The Heart of Satsang

What is the most important part of satsang or any spiritual gathering? Contrary to what you might expect, the most important thing in satsang is not the spiritual teacher sitting at the front of the room. A true spiritual teacher is an invaluable blessing, but the teacher is not the most important element.

Similarly, the spiritual teachings being shared in satsang are a great gift. But the words being spoken and the wisdom being shared are not the most important thing. And while the word satsang implies a gathering or community of like-minded souls, this community or sangha may be a tremendous support in someone's spiritual journey, but it is still not the most important thing.

The most important thing in satsang is you. Not the usual egoic sense of yourself, but the mysterious awakeness that is reading these words. That is what satsang is all about. The purpose of gathering is not to provide devotion to the spiritual teacher or to acquire spiritual knowledge or to enjoy the company of others. The purpose of gathering in satsang is to bring you home to yourself.

What is this beautiful mystery of awareness here right now? How do you know what you are seeing as you read these words? How do you know what you are feeling right now? The light or brightness of awareness is shining out of you right now. The ultimate mystery of awake consciousness is here experiencing this life you are living. That is what satsang is ultimately about.

Any opportunity to gather in satsang is a tremendous blessing, whether it is a room full of people or a one-to-one conversation with a spiritual mentor or friend. There is a cumulative aggregation of this mysterious awareness whenever two or more are gathered, that can make the Presence and awakeness of consciousness into a palpable thing. The truest gift of this enhancement of awareness is when it shows you that is who you really are. It is not just an experience that comes and goes or that depends on a great spiritual teacher or special group of people. It is the essence or core of you.

Awareness is the heart of satsang, and that is who you are.

Role of Spiritual Teachers

In usual terms, a teacher or mentor instructs, guides, or helps another in the process of gaining understanding, knowledge, or skills. How about spiritual teachers or mentors? What is the role they play? And also what role does a spiritual teacher in the Advaita or nondual satsangtradition do? A spiritual teacher's role is different from the usual teacher in that the goal is not so much to transmit understanding or knowledge as to somehow nurture an awakening in the student to their own pre-existing true nature.

This is more subtle than simply teaching someone a skill or piece of knowledge, not that a spiritual teacher never assists with spiritual teachings and understanding about spirituality and self-realization, but by itself, that knowledge or understanding is not the goal. A student can acquire a broad knowledge of the principles of spirituality but may still not have realized those underlying principles as being inherently present in his or her own true nature. So an Advaita teacher may not teach anything or they may teach a lot, depending on what a student needs at that time to facilitate their enlightenment, or realization of the spiritual truth of their true nature.

This may appear to be a subtle distinction between the spiritual teacher's role and that of a regular teacher, but it makes a big difference. The regular teacher usually has something very specific to share, and there is often the implied assumption that the student will have acquired more understanding or somehow be better off when the teaching is finished. In contrast, the spiritual teacher points to a spiritual truth that is always already present in the student. It's like teaching someone to have legs. You can't really teach the having of legs to someone who already has legs! But you can make them more aware of the legs they already have.

In the specific case of an Advaita or nondual teacher, the spiritual teacher is pointing to the essential qualities of the student's true nature, specifically, the qualities of awareness, oneness, and emptiness. The Sanskrit word Advaita means "not two" and refers to the mysterious oneness or nonduality of everything that exists. There is only one nondual reality that everything is made of, including the student and the spiritual teacher. (Here is a definition of Advaita that includes an experiential exploration of oneness.)