Satsang – how we benefit!

     Thanks to Sri Meenakshi Temple and the visionary organizers for the last several years, each of us has been eagerly looking forward to Sunday mornings, meeting, talking, listening, and deliberating on a variety of topics related to Hindu faith, its scriptures, practices and philosophy. The presenters painstakingly prepare the subjects, and the participants enthusiastically join the discussions. We have heard a lot, understood much, applied some of it into our lives, and overall these meetings have enriched us in ways beyond we can explain. I have taken the liberty of devoting this session assigned to me, to have an open dialog, to analyze, introspect and share our individual experience as participants of years of our Satsangs. With your permission, please allow me to open this up, ask some questions and listen to each other, with an expectation to further our utilization of these meetings
Let us evaluate ourselves; let us share our assessments As we go through each of the following areas of focus, let us have a dialog and perhaps, an appraisal. What have we benefited from our Satsangs? Did these sessions meet our expectations? Personally, do we have any suggestions for ‘improvements’? How have we ‘evolved’ from these, as individuals? Have we??? Let us check it out. Purpose of Satsangs: Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means “gathering together for the truth” or, just “being with the truth.” Truth is what is real, what exists. So, all there is, is the Truth. Whenever something increases your experience of the Truth, it opens your heart and quiets your mind.
     Similarly, the spiritual teachings being shared in satsang are great gifts. But the words being spoken, and the wisdom being shared are not the most important things. While the word satsang implies a gathering or community of like-minded souls, and this community or sangha may be a tremendous support in someone’s spiritual journey, it is still not the most important thing. The most important thing in satsang is you, the ‘Satsangee’. Not the usual egoic sense of yourself, but the mysterious awakeness that is the essence of satsangs. 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 us home to ourselves.
     There is a cumulative aggregation of the mysterious awareness whenever two or more are gathered, that can make the ‘presence and awakeness of consciousness’ into a palpable thing. The truest gift of this enhancement of awareness is when it shows you who you really are. It 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 the absolute core of you.
Spirituality and Religiosity as it applies to you: Spirituality is when you have elevated yourself from that of a slaved mind to an empowered mind. When you are transformed from one who begs through life to one who is self-reliant. Spiritual people have discovered there is only one true power and that resides within themselves. Spirituality relates to the soul, the little ‘self’ that is an extension of the big ‘Self’.
Religiosity by definition and by practice is to belong to a group, organized by humans and following certain guidelines as instructed by the particular religion. Sanatana Dharma, or Hinduism is not strictly a religion, but a faith based on scriptural teachings and philosophical wisdom that cannot be traced to any origin or founder, while the Abrahamic religions do have such regimentations and books that need to be followed. Religiosity is to follow observances, adhering to the instructions of each faith and BELIEVING that it would take us to the Truth, while spirituality is EXPERIENCING the Truth by reaching out within oneself.
Our concept about God: An unfathomable, incomprehensible, indescribable entity, that each of the followers arrive at their own conclusions, as comfortable and as confident, as they feel, dictated by the evolution of their minds and convictions through the levels of surrender or submission that they are capable of. Satsang, gets us closer to our goal?
Relevance of scriptures, epics and Puranas: We have been covering a diverse collection of the sacred Hindu writings. Hindu sacred texts are classified as either Shruti (“heard,” meaning revelation) or Smriti (“remembered,” meaning tradition). The former is comprised of the Vedas, the oldest and most authoritative of Hindu scriptures, which deal largely with rituals; the Brahmanas, commentaries on the Vedas; and the Upanishads, philosophical and metaphysical texts that have been central to the spiritual development of the tradition. Together, the Shrutis form the corpus of Vedic thought and literature, while the Smritis are the epics, like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata; mythological texts known as Puranas; theological treatises called Agamas; and philosophical texts called Darshanas. Despite being a part of the larger Mahabharata, the Bhagavad Gita is widely considered Smriti, as it is believed to be the tradition’s most powerful condensation of the broad spectrum of Vedic thoughts.
Application into life: One of the most distinguishing features of Hinduism, which is as ancient as the Vedas, is its emphasis upon the quest for self-knowledge as the means to mental and spiritual liberation from its duality, habitual behavior and mental chains by which one can gain true knowledge, mental clarity, peace, stability, and clear perception. Modern psychology also prescribes a similar approach to free our minds from cognitive distortions and perceptual errors. Each time we look at ourselves or at the diversity of life, we must bring freshness into our perception and emptiness into our minds. Only then, our self-knowledge will 282 be illuminated by its own truth rather than the truth that our mind and the perceptual world build for us. Hope our sessions of Satsang has helped each of us in that direction.
Our Path: Follow any of the four paths, alone or in combination, of our choice to attain the objective of Self-realization, the four paths to God. Hinduism recognizes four fundamental human temperaments.
• Bhakthi Yoga, the Path of Devotion. Merging back into God is the simplest and sweetest path.
• Karma Yoga, the Path of Action. The motivation without selfish interest, to be active, to submit totally without expectations, should be the drive-in our nature. • . . Jnana Yoga, the Path of Knowledge, finding God through wisdom.
• Raja Yoga, the Royal Path of Psychological Experimentation, blending all the other three paths and guiding to the ultimate through meditation. What is your preference, what is your practice?
And finally! Are we better human beings? Are we better than what we used to be: Kinder? Caring? Grateful? Accepting? Respectful? Forgiving? Loving? Helpful? Polite?
(July 28, 2019)

Author: Dr. Venugopal Menon

Was born and raised in a loving family in pre-independent India, became a doctor, served Indian army, got married, then came over to America with wife and a daughter, established as a successful Allergist, raised a family of three children, was involved in many social establishments, retired, and wrote memoirs, 'My Mother Called Me Unni, A Doctor's Tale of Migration'.

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