Satsang is a beautiful word from Sanskrit, the ancient language of the seers. Sat means “truth” and sang means “communion”. Hence satsang: “communion with truth”.
But what is Truth? Hmm, such a serious question. Or does it provoke a belly-laugh? One might say this distinction is what separates the unenlightened from the sages. However, the essential question “what is truth?” provides the basis and impetus for all spiritual search. Those humanity considers wise unanimously agree: truth which can be said is not the truth, but that truth is something that must be lived to be experienced.
Osho, known for his relentless hammering of disciples’ questions, says that when a question-less state of mind is reached, what he calls no-mind, is it possible to glimpse the truth. Only when all questions have disappeared and there is simply silence can the flame of awareness be passed from master to disciple. Such a silent communion beyond words and mind is the essence of satsang.
My first taste of satsang was with Osho. These were silent sittings, gatherings of disciples and master, and different from Osho’s discourses where he would speak on various topics; or darshans which were informal meetings with disciples and visitors.
Satsang with Osho almost always happened in the morning. Osho gave them a format which he would modify from time to time. They were invariably one hour long and for the most part silent sittings, but sometimes the musicians would play several improvisations. Also, there was always a humming stage in which everyone participated. At Rajneeshpuram (also known as The Ranch) I remember hearing Osho comment that the humming was the most important part. This came as a shock to some of us musicians, but I was also intrigued. Surely he must have another reason for saying this other than to hammer our delicate musicians’ egos. From this time on, though, I began to pay more attention to the silences.
On occasion, Osho would have someone read from a particular text. For example, at The Ranch during one particular festival, the readings were from The Prophet by Kahil Gibran. On other occasions, there was space set aside for the gachami’s (as we called them) which were a call and response chant from ancient Buddhist scriptures the whole community recited in unison. Slowly, I began to understand that every “technique” Osho employed, no matter what the twist, was in the service of silence — the music, the readings, the humming, the gachami’s — even the gaps. Everything pointed to silence.
In the time since Osho left-the-body, satsang has evolved into a structured meditation in its own right, something that can be done by anyone, anywhere, anytime. The communion in my understanding is no longer something that that needs disciples and masters. The joy of the meditation is the communion in that happens in silence with oneself, or expansively, the communion of oneself with the whole of Existence.
Those of you who know the One Sky Events know that the Morning Satsang Meditation is a much-loved part of the program. Its basic format is exactly how I experienced it with Osho: a silent sitting of seekers punctuated by several improvisations from the musicians, gaps for silence, and a humming stage somewhere in the middle. Sometimes Osho quotes are played but other than this, there is no speaking or any dialogue between individuals. Satsang has nothing to do with the world of words. It is a meditation that supports relaxing into oneself and letting go into silence. I will not be as bold to say that this silent “communion” is where truth happens, but … perhaps it is. I invite you to see for yourself.
On this note, I would like to share a morning satsang meditation that was recorded at Osho RISK Center in Denmark during the Summer Festival 2004. I discovered the recording recently while cleaning out my cupboards. I decided to give it a listen before assigning it the fate of other accumulated, old stuff of mine headed for the trash. I am not a big fan of live recordings. Perhaps this is why I never listened until now, but wow — what a wonderful surprise. The music is not only beautifully played, but skillfully recorded and mixed — a rare combination. Realizing it might be something nice thing to share, I connected with the musicians they all said YES! So I want to thank and acknowledge them, also the recording engineer, Deekshant, for allowing me to make this available. It features Palash on the Chinese harp called guzhen; Chintan on tablas; Rishi on framedrum and percussion; Chandira on keyboards; and Yoko on Japanese bamboon flute called shinobui. I had the luxury this particular morning to sit and enjoy the meditation as a participant.
To prepare the music for this sharing, I did some minor technical clean-ups then formatted the track precisely as a one hour meditation. It has a bell at the beginning, a bell in the middle signaling the start of the humming, and three bells at the end. The first of the music stages starts around the two minute mark. I would suggest before beginning to fast-forward ahead to this point and set the volume of your player to a comfortable listening level. Then roll back to the beginning to start the meditation with the first bell. In this way, you can enjoy the meditation from start to finish, undisturbed, without having to adjust your player’s volume.
Satsang remains one of my favorite meditations simply because there is not a lot of technique involved in doing it. When the music is there, I listen; when the silent gaps come, I relax and let-go; when the humming starts, I hum — all the while knowing these minor “doings” are in the service of deepening the silence. Sound like a great meditation? It is — divinely and deliciously so. The musicians and I are happy to share it here with you as a free download. Meditation is one of life’s great luxuries. I invite you to sit back, relax, close your eyes, and enjoy satsang.