Skip to main content

What Is Satsang? - The Definition of Satsang

You have always been in satsang. . .

Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means "gathering together for the Truth" or, more simply, "being with the Truth," and generally refers to a spiritual gathering between a spiritual teacher and their students. Truth is what is real, what exists, and it is the heart of satsang. All there is, is Truth. Whenever something increases your experience of the Truth, it opens your Heart and quiets your mind. Conversely, whenever something, such as a thought, fear, or judgment, limits or narrows your experience of the Truth, the Heart contracts and the mind gets busier. We are all equally endowed with this capacity to discriminate the Truth. Thus, the true spiritual teacher, or satguru, is within you, and satsang or being with the Truth, is endless. You have always been here in the embrace of your true nature as aware, loving space. You have always been in satsang.

Truth is too simple for words
before thought gets tangled up in nouns and verbs
there is a wordless sound
a deep breathless sigh
to find the end of fiction
in this ordinary
yet extraordinary moment
when words are recognised
as words
and truth is recognised
as everything else

 (From Gifts with No Giver, a free spiritual ebook of nondual  poetry by Nirmala.)

The Heart of Satsang

What is the most important part of nondual 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 definition of satsang implies a spiritual gathering or community of like-minded souls, which is a tremendous support in someone's spiritual journey. However, this community or sangha 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 nondual 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 your true nature as limitless awareness.

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 inner 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 the deepest meaning of 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. Whenever two or more are gathered, there is a cumulative aggregation of this mysterious awareness, which can make Awakeness palpable. The truest gift of this enhancement of awareness experienced in satsang is that it shows you who you really are. Awareness 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.

Why fear this moment
when no thoughts come
at last I lie naked
in the arms of experience

why fear this moment
when no words come
at last I find rest
in the lap of silence

why fear this moment
when love finds itself alone
at last I am embraced
by infinity itself

why fear this moment
when judgment falls away
at last my defenses
fail to keep intimacy at bay

why fear this moment
when hope is lost
at last my foolish dreams
are surrendered to perfection

(From Gifts with No Giver, a free ebook of spiritual poetry by Nirmala.)

Why Bother with Satsang?

 A common question arises as to why is satsang or any spiritual practice necessary. I wrote a blog post on here that addresses this issue. Here is an excerpt:

My sense is that there are many levels of truth and that they are all true simultaneously. Many people are stuck in the practical and personal levels of truth and so the role of most satsangs and spiritual teachings is to point to the much bigger truth of our ultimate nature as pure consciousness. But the small truths are still true, and so there is still also a place for all of the ordinary practical considerations of human life.

No matter how enlightened someone is, they still need to prepare and eat food, go to the dentist, do their laundry and so on. And so there is also a place for spiritual teaching or satsang and also for contributions to support it. But of course, if you do not have any problems with your teeth, you do not go to the dentist that week. And similarly, if you do not have any doubts or illusions about your deeper spiritual reality, then you might not need to go to satsang for pointers to your true nature. You might still enjoy satsang (see above for a definition of satsang), but you would not need it.

All of the different levels all appear within the same totality. There is no separation between the levels and it is only a question of what your awareness is focusing on in a particular moment that creates the appearance of a different level. You are always free to move in and out of any perspective as the moment seems to require. My sense is that the ideal is a total flexibility to move in and out of all of the different levels. Getting stuck in any level is limiting whether it is the relative level where problems and other people exist, or the absolute level where it is all seen as an illusion. Again because many people are stuck in the relative, satsang and spiritual teachings typically point to the absolute. But it can be equally a limiting place of suffering to become stuck in the absolute, and a good spiritual teacher will point someone back to the relative when they see someone stuck in the absolute.

About Nirmala

Nirmala offers Nondual SatsangNirmala offers nondual satsang and mentoring in the Advaita tradition of spiritual teachings. As a spiritual mentor and spiritual teacher, he has worked in satsang with thousands of individuals all over the world to help them open their hearts and awaken to their true nature. He also offers spiritual mentoring in one-on-one satsang sessions either in person or over the phone. He is the author of several books, including a free spiritual ebook, Living from the Heart. More information about individual satsang sessions with Nirmala and samples of his spiritual teachings are available on this website. You can also view a playlist of all of his satsang videos on Youtube.