At my first satsang (teaching session with a guru), the teacher glanced around the room, our eyes met, and my mind stopped.
All thoughts vanished. What I knew of me, disappeared. I was pure awareness, which I’d associated with boring or nothing, but it was rich and expansive and robust—the pure bliss of being. It gave me a taste of my true nature.
It’s not like it was forced on me. I could have pulled away. When our eyes met, there was a split second where I knew something big was happening. My awareness was expanding while the concept of me was vanishing. I had to trust my teacher or pull back. I had to fully surrender while my ego wanted to hold on.
This didn’t happen every time I met my teacher’s eyes. My guess is she did this with new students and then on a more random basis. I don’t know if this happened to everyone. I do know it happened to other people and that certain teachers have this gift more than others. Regardless if this happens or not, just being with a teacher is powerful. Whenever I’m in satsang, I’m receiving the teacher’s vibration. It could be subtle or intense, but it’s a higher frequency of awareness. (Low frequencies are dense and slow. Higher frequencies are light-filled and expansive).
After that, it was up to me to stay true to this gift.
I do this by sitting in silence. I let go of all thought and drop into awareness, which will happen naturally if I’m not engaged with my mind, and if I am, so what, that’s what the mind does. I just drop back into sweet silence, into the still-bliss of being. I’m not sure if this would happen naturally if I didn’t receive the transmission from the teacher. To me, this is why a teacher is essential—to help the students realize that deeper than the concept of “me” is an expansive, light-filled, blissful being. That’s always there. It’s who I am.
Teachers are subjective. I’ve brought people to my teachers and they’ve felt nothing and I’ve seen notable teachers and have felt nothing.
My teacher used to say, “You don’t have to understand or remember anything I say. It’s not about the words.” I agree. I think satsang should be a visceral experience. All you have to do is ask if it feels right. After a couple of satsangs, you’ll know.
Words can only point you in the right direction. They’re limited by their very nature. The silent transmission from the teacher cuts to the chase, to what’s deeper than words. It’s the teacher’s greatest gift. It’s the grace of the guru.
One might say I’m a remedial student. I’ve had five spiritual teachers. Each one had their own unique gift and each one was needed at that particular time. As the saying goes, when you’re ready, the right teacherw ill appear. All you have to do is set the intention.
I was closer to some teachers than others. Some teachers taught in small, intimate settings and others had large, international followings. Each one expressed enlightenment through their own individual personalities. Each one is in my heart. I often think of them and feel blessed for what they gave me.
Author: Tom Marino
Photo: elephant archives
Editor: Travis May