Satsang & Darshan
Satsang: The spiritual practice of being in the presence of someone who has realized the Self. Association with truth (Sanskrit सत्सङ्ग sat = true, sanga = company)
Now what is truth or Self cannot be explained by words and anything that is said about the truth or the Self is not true and any knowledge about it is a contradiction in the mind. Talking about it is only a play of light (it does nothing except entertain). Only in silence the real truth is revealed and that is why our satsangs have no teachings and are in silence as the Self lies in the emptiness of knowledge and the dissolvement of who you think you are.
Realizations come no matter what teachings are given or not. Realizations are beyond the mind and will take place whenever they have to take place.
However if the mind does not know what to do or if you really want a teaching to hold on to, you can remember this:
If this is not enough and you want to know more, you only have to read one book on the subject, no other books are required or needed or even useful after reading this book. It is called Silence of the heart by Robert Adams. It is the start and the end of what satsang and darshan is all about.
Silence of the heart has at its core the meditation practice called Self-inquiry.Self-enquiry (also spelled self-inquiry) is a practice designed to rapidly bring about Self-realization, Self awareness, spiritual liberation or enlightenment, and is most commonly associated with its most famous modern advocate, Sri Ramana Maharshi, see picture below. While Sri Ramana said that Self-realisation could be brought about --- as it was for him --- merely by giving up the idea that there is an individual self which functions through the body and the mind, few could readily do so. When asked for the most effective practice to facilitate Self-awareness, he commonly recommended forms of self-enquiry, along with recommending Satsang, in the form of mental contact with a realized Guru, or more properly the One Guru "within".
Beginners in self-enquiry were advised by Sri Ramana Maharshi to put their attention on the inner feeling of ‘I’ and to hold that feeling as long as possible. They would be told that if their attention was distracted by other thoughts they should revert to awareness of the ‘I’-thought whenever they became aware that their attention had wandered. He suggested various aids to assist this process - one could ask oneself ‘Who am I?’ or ‘Where does this I come from?’ - but the ultimate aim was to be continuously aware of the ‘I’ which assumes that it is responsible for all the activities of the body and the mind.
In the early stages of practice attention to the feeling ‘I’ is a mental activity which takes the form of a thought or a perception. As the practice develops, the thought ‘I’ gives way to a subjectively experienced feeling of ‘I’, and when this feeling ceases to connect and identify with thoughts and objects, it completely vanishes. What remains is an experience of being in which the sense of individuality has temporarily ceased to operate. The experience may be intermittent at first but with repeated practice it becomes easier and easier to reach and maintain. When self-enquiry reaches this level there is an effortless awareness of being in which individual effort is no longer possible since the ‘I’ who makes the effort has temporarily ceased to exist. It is not Self-realisation since the ‘I’-thought periodically reasserts itself but it is the highest level of practice. Repeated experience of this state of being weakens and destroys the Vasanas (mental tendencies) which cause the ‘‘I’-thought to rise, and, when their hold has been sufficiently weakened, the power of the Self destroys the residual tendencies so completely that the ‘I’-thought never rises again. This is the final and irreversible state of Self-realisation.
Edward Muzika, a student of Robert Adams has a good dissertation on self-inquiry here.
Darshan in simple terms is the act of merging somebody’s mind with the divine / emptiness by looking into the eyes of an enlightened person and by doing so releasing all the stress that is encountered until nothing remains, this includes the feeling of “I”. It can be received via an image or sculpture from an enlightened master from the past or can be received directly in live darshans around the world.
Now stress comes in many different forms and flavours such as emotions, problems, desires, out-ethics, habits, trauma’s you name it. It is all stuck energy that remains in place until fully experienced. It even survives after the body dies hence some people recalling past lives. At its core stress is identified as YOU. I am afraid, I have to but cannot, I want this, not that, I want to do this, I do not want to be alone, what have I done, I feel guilty, I feel shy, I automatically avoid pain, I want to go away, I do not want to think about that etc etc. All “I”
Now darshan is obviously not the only method that will release stress. Tantra (the release of stress through sex) when practiced correctly is also very effective and can lead you to the Self as well. Basically all energy work such as Tantra, reiki, shamanism, qigong, the reconnection etc. work on releasing this stress and once stress is released it is felt as energy flowing and or channels opening, hence the term energy work.
There is a great quote from Osho about what satsang really is:
Last night someone asked me what satsang was. I answered that satsang meant the company of one’s self, of the truth, and that the truth was not to be found outside. Neither guru, nor teachers, nor shastras can give it to you. It is inside you and if you wish to attain it, seek your own company. Be with yourself. But we are always in the company of someone or other, and never at all on our own.
Meister Eckhart was once sitting all alone under a grove of trees in a lonely field. A friend who was passing by saw him sitting there. He went up to him and said, “I saw you sitting all alone and I thought I would keep you company and so I have come over to join you.” Do you know what Eckhart replied? He said, “I was with myself, but you have come and now I am all alone.”
Are you ever in your own company like this? This is satsang. This is prayer. This is meditation.
When I am all alone within myself and when there is no thought, no thought of anyone, I am in the company of my Self. When the outer world is absent, inside there is the company of one’s Self. In that companionless-ness and solitude, in your pure being the truth is realized because in your innermost being you yourself are that truth.