December 22, 2023

Who Benefits from Satsang?

Who Benefits from Satsang?

Satsang is the starting point of the journey of self-realization, yet it is seen that not all are able to benefit equally from it. Pujya Gurudevshri explains how various types of people derive different gains from Satsang.

There are five types of people attending Satsang–deluded, student, seeker, disciple and devotee.

(1)Deluded-He is someone who comes to Satsang without any purpose. Like a stick floating in water ends up on the banks due to the current, he reaches the lotus feet of a saint due to past meritorious deeds. But he has no purpose, no thirst, no choice. If the crowd is going to Satsang, he goes. Due to pressure from friends, spouse, or the family he reaches there. There is no interest in spirituality behind his coming to Satsang. He comes without purpose and so leaves without benefiting from it.

(2)Student – A student is one who has come out of intellectual curiosity. It is as though an itching has arisen! Just as scratching an itch feels good but it does no good, and at times even harms; in the same way, the student gets an intellectual itch – of curiosity, so he arrives at the Satsang. Satisfying this curiosity may seem good but it does not bring any benefit; may even result in loss. He comes to Satsang to gather information. He attends Satsang to increase his memory, enrich his vocabulary, augment his knowledge of logic and examples, nurture his ego, and develop his intellect. Thus, he comes with curiosity and leaves with an enhanced vocabulary, but with no spiritual benefits.

(3)Seeker- A seeker wants to be liberated. He comes to the Satsang to understand how he can become free. He wants to transform his life and experience the Self. He reveres Satsang. His inner state gets elevated, a resolve arises in him and he starts experimenting. But he is unable to put his full strength into it. Just as water does not vaporize until it reaches 100 degrees Celsius, so also, one does not transform without 100 per cent commitment. A seeker of this level cannot muster the courage to reach 100 percent dedication. During the process, he tends to become cowardly. There is a desire for food. To cook food, he lights the fire too. But when a little smoke rises and goes into his eyes, tears flow from the eyes and his spirit loosens. There is no depth-profundity in his effort. He does not remain steadfast in austerities. For some reason or the other, he gives up his efforts. Thus, the seeker comes with the purpose of spirituality alone, but goes away with no benefit other than strengthening the desire for liberation.

(4)Disciple – A disciple is one who is ready to learn the art of self-realization. He comes to Satsang with such eagerness that at any cost, even if he must bear great difficulties, he wants to experience what his Sadguru has realized. He listens to it with single-pointed attentiveness. He becomes very happy on listening to Satsang, a firm determination arises because of which he also undertakes experimental study, and even if there are hindrances, he does not lose patience or courage. Where does this courage come from? From complete surrender ship to the Guru! From his life wandering goes and stability comes, roaming goes and reveling stays. He remains steadfast in obedience to the commands of the Guru. By passing through ordeals he purifies himself. He puts his desires, energy, and life at stake and remains engaged in spiritual practices. Therefore, to enable the completion of his work, for his benefit, when the Guru becomes tough and attacks his ego, he continues to realize his faults and remove them. He knows that the Guru only removes the outer, false veils. A garment is only a covering, and it does not cause discomfort to a person while taking it off. But if there is such an identification formed with it that it has become skin-like, then that person experiences pain while it is being removed. He feels as if someone is scraping off his skin. But these veils have to be taken off – the ‘surgery’ has to be done! When the Guru, like a surgeon, performs this surgery, the disciple cooperates in this work. Thus, the disciple comes with the purpose of purification and therefore gains that kind of benefit.

(5)Devotee – The disciple is one who understands that purification is not possible without putting his life at stake, without obedience to the Guru’s commands. He knows this, believes in it, and acts accordingly. But when some impression latent in his subconscious gets aroused, his ego also arises. There is still the duality – I am the one who is putting myself at stake, who is surrendering; and the one to whom I surrender is the Guru. But a devotee has melted away because of his devotion. Just as ice melts in water, the ego of the devotee has melted away. Just as the river merges into the ocean and has no separate existence, when the ‘I-ness’ melts away the devotee becomes non-dual, the feeling of duality ends. He effortlessly abides in the divine. He does not consider anything as his own, which he can put at stake! He has become completely one with the divine. He had come only for this spiritual purpose, and he gets the ultimate benefit.

The disciple must pass through the purifying ordeals devised by the Guru. While the devotee has not remained, there is no one left to be tested. Seeing the surrender ship of the disciple, the Guru gets ready to carve out an idol out of stone and commences the process of making it. In the process, he also becomes tough at times, but there is nothing within Him except selfless compassion. He is concerned not about the disciple’s mind, but his soul and his spiritual welfare.

A scholar came to Raman Maharshi. He had a huge ego due to his scriptural knowledge. Sitting next to Maharshi, he said, ‘I want to have a little discussion with you.’ Maharshi only said, ‘Meditate.’

He said, ‘I just want to discuss Vedas. I will not talk about any trivial matter. ‘ Maharshi stopped him and said, ‘Meditate.’ The scholar said, ‘But why do you disagree to discuss? The scriptures themselves, in several places, have said to discuss. ‘

Maharshi again asks him to meditate, but he refuses to understand. At last, Maharshi picks up a stick and runs after him, assuming a very angry form. The scholar is running ahead and Maharshi is chasing him! Not only the scholar but even Maharshi’s followers present in the ashram are stunned to see this form of his.

After a while Maharshi returns to the room, puts the stick aside, laughs out loud and says, ‘He gave so much importance to the worthless. His tendency to store intellectual knowledge is of no use. So, to make him understand, it was necessary to show some harshness.’

Thus, the Guru, the embodiment of compassion, even if He has to play a harsh role, He adopts the same and guides the disciple on the path of spiritual welfare. In reciprocation, the disciple’s duty must be to follow the Guru’s commands without delay and with zeal, for Satsang to confer the fruit of self-realization.




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