Q&A with Br. Dayamrita Chaitanya
Attending Satsangs
Question: Swamiji, what is the benefit of attending weekly/monthly Satsangs? Isn’t it enough to sit at home and meditate?
Aum Aum Aum
Answer: If you can sit at home and meditate, well and good. But you cannot sustain this for a long time. After some time you get bored, repeating your spiritual practices like mantra japa, archana or meditation. When you routinely do these practices, they become mechanical and you begin to lose interest.
If you watch your progress doing spiritual practices, this is what happens: In the beginning, you have so much enthusiasm. After a while, the enthusiasm keeps waning until finally, you end up doing very little at home. When you attend Satsang, however, you see other people engaging in spiritual practices and performing many more practices than you normally do. This in turn gives you the motivation and enthusiasm to pursue your own practices. This is the first benefit of attending Satsangs regularly.
Number two: Amma says when we perform the 1000 Names alone, we get the benefit of chanting the 1000 mantras. But when we are in a group and we chant the same 1000 Names, the effect is multiplied by the number of people who are present there. So, even if there is only one other person at Satsang when you chant the 1000 Names together, instead of getting the benefit of the 1000 mantras, you get the benefit of 2000 mantras in the same amount of time. If there are 10 people present, then the benefit is 10,000 mantras and so on!
Imagine how much time and effort is required to chant 10,000 mantras when you do it alone. It will take at least 10 hours; can you achieve this in one day? Probably not - it would take 3 or 4 days to accomplish it. So by attending Satsangs, you are not only progressing fast in your spiritual journey, but the energy created in the process is very special; it gives you enthusiasm and motivation to do more.
Of course, insignificant things also happen while attending Satsangs. Different types of devotees attend Satsang. People who gossip, people who are negative and people who just want to talk a lot about all kinds of things in this world; they will all be there. We need to understand the purpose of Satsang. The goal of Satsang is to do our spiritual practices together as a group and obtain the benefit of this gathering. Otherwise how is it different from going to a social gathering or a club? We have to understand that there are people who suffer from loneliness and so we should be kind; we can listen to them once or twice but we should not become the crutch they lean on, burdening you with all their problems in life all the time. Not only will this not solve their problems but it will just be a waste of time for us. We should have the compassion to listen to them, but should watch out that it doesn’t become habitual.
When we gather together for Satsang, a divine atmosphere is created. This cannot easily be replicated at home. When we do practices together, the energy created is very important. It benefits so many people around us. Various studies have been conducted on this topic. For example, when people meditate together, the crime rate of the city decreases, people feel calm. For the most parts, the results of our spiritual practices are subtle and hence cannot be perceived through our senses. It really requires a great guru like Amma to help us understand this.
Once when Amma was in San Ramon, a Satsang group of 20 people came to see Her. They were complaining to Amma that whenever they gathered for Satsang, they all became very negative. They fought, they gossiped and they indulged in all sorts of negative behavior after Satsang. So, they wondered aloud to Amma if there was any point in having a Satsang at all. Amma asked, “Do you do your spiritual practices together?” to which they replied “Yes. First, we start with the 108 Names and then the 1000 Names and then we do some reading of Amma’s books and sing bhajans and after that we perform the Arati. We spend 2 – 2.5 hours doing different practices..” Amma then told them, “Do you know how many people are getting the benefit while you’re doing these practices together?” They said, “No.” Amma said, “At least 20,000 people are getting the benefit. By your practices and prayers, the atmosphere is getting purified. This brings them more peace of mind. Nature also benefits through your practices” She said “Keep doing the Satsang for the benefit of those 20,000 people, even at the cost of your peace of mind.”
Even if we do not see any benefit for ourselves while attending Satsangs, we should go to Satsang. By doing spiritual practices together we are progressing and not regressing. It takes a lot of time and effort to remove the negativities from our mind. But this should not stop us from attending Satsangs.
Many of the Satsangs also perform community service and seva. While attending Satsang, the opportunity to do seva is also of paramount importance. Alone, you will be able to help one or two people; or maybe a few. But when many devotees gather together at Satsang, you will be able to help a lot more people in a very efficient manner. Doing seva together also builds team spirit. Thus, Satsang is indeed very valuable for us in our every day life. As Amma says: Just as we don’t live a day without food and water, we should make Satsang an integral part of our daily life.
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