The word satsang literally means to be with the truth. From the spiritual and vedantic perspective only god is considered as the truth, all else is considered as false.
Satsang is to be in the company of god. Since all sages, monks, spiritual and wise persons are looked upon as the embodiment of god, the time spent with such people is termed as satsang. In the broad sense we could even say that any time spent with anyone remembering god is satsang too.
The term God can have various meanings. One of these is higher consciousness. From one point of view one can term the search of god as the search and achievement of higher consciousness.
To understand the term higher consciousness we can look upon it as that force which helps us develop our minds towards higher values. Truth, compassion, knowledge, love, courage, respect for others, etc are all some of the higher values. Higher consciousness helps us achieve higher knowledge and hence higher intelligence or we could say the reverse is true too. This leads to all the developments, the inventions, art, and even social upliftment. And this is a very short list, one could well expand it.
Most of us occupy the space of our minds with the thoughts of our day to day existence. These thoughts constantly float within our minds and we continue to reflect on them. However all these thoughts take us away from the spiritual and entangle us deeper into the marshes of worldly existence. Each person who wishes to go deeper into the spiritual must culture the habit of utilizing all his waking time in remembering god. There are many different methods to constantly train our mind to achieve higher consciousness.
One time I was waiting for a flight and a man walked up to me and started talking with me. He observed that it was easy to meet people who would tell him about the gambling, the races, the wine and the women but it was difficult to come across spiritual people who would talk about the more evolved aspects of the mind and our existence. He then admitted that he himself was involved in all these things but then he went on to add “Swamiji, but I do not go near the temple or wear any religious symbols lest I offend god”.
I told him that he was culturing bad qualities but he was not giving his mind the possibility of culturing good qualities. How can one develop good qualities if one stays away from them? I wonder if the wine is stronger or is God? One of the qualities of god is incorruptibility. God is pure, he cannot be corrupted. Is it not tragic that the fear of god keeps men away from him? I prefer a loving god.
We must divert our mind towards better deeds and actions by choice. Development is a wilful process. To those of you who practice yoga I would like to say “It is good that you work hard with your spiritual practices, asanas, pranayama, mantra and meditation however please do not forget the aim. The aim is to expand your consciousness. The means alone is not the aim”. Satsang or the company of the lovers of god is one such means that helps you expand your consciousness.
As with all spiritual, each aspect has many levels. The levels reveal themselves to only those who are ready for them. The same is true with satsang too. At the deeper levels, the Guru and the Shishyas(Disciples) sit everyday in the ashram and the Guru talks about the spiritual. There is a transfer of knowledge from the Guru to the disciple. Spiritual teachers have enormous knowledge but more than that they possess the quality to change people around them. The Guru has enormous spiritual energy and this energy surrounds him. At a very high level just being in the presence of the Guru becomes satsang. To a ready student the mere presence of the Guru continues the process of change. Answers come without questions, like a revelation. Boundaries cease to exist. The mind of the Guru and the Shishya becomes one.
And beyond this stage the mere rememberance of the Guru and god invokes tremendous energy and bliss. Just remembering the holy feet of the guru invokes overpowering love and ecstasy. That is the highest level of Satsang. A connection is formed with no regard to space or distance. And a transformation occurs immediately.
In reality the presence of a live master or the company of an advanced spiritual practitioner has no equal. Just as a man of sensual tastes seeks sensual companions similarly men of spiritual inclination seek spiritual company. If one lights 10 watt bulbs in different places, the light is dim but bring them together and we have a celebration. So I would say let all come together for a celebration of consciousness. And then let us each one continue to practice in the privacy of our homes that strength that we have received from each other.