Satsang is an invitation to rest, not just an invitation to realize, find, or understand yourself. That happens—that’s part of it. But the real core and heart of satsang is an invitation to rest, to simply rest as yourself. The value of any spiritual understanding or realization is the degree to which it allows you to just rest as yourself, to just be yourself and let Grace unfold your life.
You don’t have to wait until you’ve had a profound spiritual realization to accept this invitation. In your spiritual journey, you can pull over any time. You don’t have to wait for the rest area. Just pull over. Get out of the car, walk around, lay down under a tree, just be for a while. Satsang is like a rest area, an ever-present invitation to just simply notice what it’s like now, in this moment. Take a moment of rest from the journey to understanding or the journey to a better life or the journey to spiritual realization.
Satsang is an invitation to rest now, to rest even if there still is a longing for realization or an impulse to get somewhere. Sometimes the desire is to get somewhere, and sometimes it’s to get away from somewhere or to not have the experience you’re having. If either of these desires is present, that’s fine. You can rest even if these desires or impulses are present. Just because you pull over doesn’t mean you won’t still have the impulse, the urge, to keep going. So the invitation is to rest with that impulse and take the time to experience it, to actually have the experience you are having, which may include a lot of desire, a lot of hope, or a lot of fear and resistance. What’s that like? What happens if you just rest here with all of your hope and your resistance?
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with inquiring into where to go, how to get something, or how to get rid of something. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of inquiry. It’s just that satsang is an invitation to a much simpler inquiry, an inquiry into what is already here. You can even inquire into what is already at rest in your being. Even resting isn’t something you do. It turns out you don’t really have to pull over to rest. What is at rest right now? What is simply being right now? Being is being, whether you’re wanting to be somewhere else or not, whether you’re efforting or not, whether you’re resisting or not.
“What do I want?” is a valid question. But more fundamental questions are: “What is already here? What is your existence like right now?” The invitation in satsang is to ask: “What am I right now?” and “What is it like to be here?” including any impulse to be somewhere else, because that may be part of what’s here. You don’t have to pick and choose what parts of your present experience to include. You don’t have to do any weeding of your experience or clearing out of the underbrush. You can leave it all there and notice that there’s also something here that is at rest.
Probably the last place you would think to look for something at rest is in the impulses, movement, activities, and doing of your life. It may seem like you have to get rid of all your desires and activities before you can rest. But that idea just results in a more subtle list of things to do. Rather, the invitation is to ask who is it that has a to-do list? No matter how many things are crossed off or being added to that list, what are you in all of that? What is this self?
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the journey of life or even with spiritual seeking. But somehow along the way, the seeking often acquires so much momentum that we abandon the sense of ourselves. We stop noticing, recognizing, or honoring the fact that we already exist. We become so involved with where we’re going and what we need to do that we lose track of what we are.
So the invitation is to rest in what you are right now. It’s an amazing thing that you exist right now. Whether you are happy or sad, whether you are healthy or sick, whether you are enlightened or not enlightened, you still exist right now. What’s that like? What is this that simply exists? You always are. There isn’t anything you have to get rid of first to rest in this moment. There isn’t anything you have to accomplish first. Every moment is equally worthy of this simple inquiry into what are you.
Every place is a really good place to start resting. There isn’t a better place than right here to start resting. Just start where you are, even if you are hurt or overwhelmed or confused or desperate or ecstatic or excited or afraid. All those feelings are fine and very natural. It’s normal to feel them, and they are always also an opportunity to rest. What a strange thing it is to consider that even being excited or scared is an opportunity to rest. Every other flavor of experience is equally an opportunity for resting. All experiences are Grace appearing in her endless disguises.
After experiencing a profound spiritual awakening in India, Advaita spiritual teacher, Nirmala has been offering spiritual teaching and spiritual mentoring in the U.S. and internationally since 1998. Nirmala offers a unique vision and a gentle, compassionate approach, which adds to the rich tradition of inquiry into our true nature. He can be contacted here. In his mentoring sessions with individuals and in the book, Living from the Heart, Nirmala points to the wisdom within each of us, and fosters the individual’s own exploration of the full potential of the spiritual Heart. Nirmala’s books are published by Endless Satsang Foundation and are available here. More information and free ebook downloads of several of Nirmala’s books are available on this website. Nirmala lives in Sedona, Arizona with his wife, Gina Lake, and their two corgi’s, Bodhi and Gracie. If you enjoy the enlightenment teachings of Ramana Maharshi, Eckhart Tolle, and Adyashanti and "The Work" of Byron Katie along with the tenderness, wisdom and grace of Nirmala's own spiritual teacher, Neelam, you will especially appreciate Nirmala's writings about spirituality,including the story of his own spiritual awakening. Contact Nirmala on Facebook.