For several minutes, in our first inquiry, we found ourselves experiencing pure emotion. The participant brought herself fully to the moment sharing both laughter and tears – no words necessary. When Gangaji had finally composed herself enough to speak, she said, ‘Laughing and crying – it’s all the same – the realisation of the truth.’ She then turned to the participant and said, ‘Show them the face of life and the beauty of the self. It’s a great shaking when the shift of consciousness returns to itself.’
‘There’s so much that I’m feeling,’ the participant shared.
‘All is well,’ Gangaji responded. ‘Life includes everything. Form appears and disappears. It’s closer than form.
People used to come to Papaji and he’d just laugh at the end of it all, no matter what they brought – pain, bliss – he’d just laugh.’
The next participant shared that she had closed the door to her heart and couldn’t find the key. Gangaji gently directed her to stop. ‘There’s no door to close. The heart only knows open. It’s the mind that closes. Inquire into what is the reality of this closure. First you find your heart and then you find the substance that separates you. Send your consciousness right into it and meet what appears to be separating it.’ ‘I don’t know,’ said the participant. ‘Give up any idea of knowledge and just feel it,’ Gangaji suggested. ‘What’s the feeling?’ ‘There’s an opening,’ the participant responded. ‘In this moment of investigation, give up all knowing, except the knowledge that you’re conscious and you’re here. We make alters of our past experiences, but they’re past, and if you try to know that in the present, that’s entanglement. In innocence, allow yourself to see what’s here. The mind chatter, perhaps if the past experiences are profound, will drown us. In the moment of drowning, we feel enlightenment.’
Another participant acknowledged that being here for him was getting real – an option that hadn’t been realised before. ‘I’m so glad,’ said Gangaji. ‘It’s the freedom of choice.’ Then the participant shared that he has never been able to feel his heart, so that when people say, ‘come from the heart,’ he can’t. ‘However, the moment I said that,’ he further shared, ‘I could almost hold my heart in my hand as if it were a baby. I’m so happy.’
Gangaji took his hand in hers. ‘Then the doubts come back,’ he said. ‘Can it really be so easy? This consciousness being aware of itself is just another notion. I am kidding myself? This morning, meditating with so many people, was fantastic. When I asked what was really true to myself, there was no doubt, and,’ he added, ‘I am totally in love with you….’ (At this moment, someone sitting in front of me whispered, ‘We all are!’) Gangaji smiled humbly in acknowledgement and said, ‘You bring up an important point – how easy it is. Maybe we have to go through so many hell realms to appreciate it. With Papaji, when I finally realised the truth, I said, ‘Oh, you mean that.’ We discard it so readily because it’s so easy. University studies show that when people have to go through an initiation, they appreciate more; however, if something is totally given, they don’t appreciate it. Perhaps we create our own initiations so we can appreciate ourselves in the deepest sense.’
The next participant revealed that he had been experiencing a lot of resistance to dropping and allowing, and asked Gangaji if she could help him move through this. ‘Can you experience that even more?’ she invited. ‘Make it as hard on yourself as you can. Really bring it on.’ The participant reported feeling fire. When you jump into that fire, into the unknown, your heart is on fire – your life force is fire.’ ‘I want to hold back,’ the participant insisted. ‘Let it hold back,’ Gangaji replied. ‘Where is the fire? Let’s fan it a little. You have to make it worse to make it better. Your heart is calling you. It’s a huge bonfire. You can even borrow resistance from your neighbours and make an even bigger bonfire. It’s your ally, not to be got rid of. It’s fuel.’
The participant said that he had been triggered yesterday when we talked about the transit lounge and flatness. This triggered anger which caused him to feel resistance. His mind caused it because he wanted to feel something, to know something was happening. He thought, ‘What am doing here – nothing’s happening?’ He even thought of going home. Gangaji understood this thinking completely. ‘Really, under it all, nothing is going on. It’s theatre. That thought is terrifying to us because it means death or eternal boredom. The thought of nothing going on is completely different from what’s actually going on. The invitation is to open to silence – no theatre, no entertainment, no, ‘I gotta’ find another show.’ Just silence. You’re free to go to the show, but know where your home is. I never know when you’ve been entertained enough by the gyrations of your mind, or the drama, or the theatre, but eventually your heart will tell you the truth. Really, what do you want for this lifetime? It’s so short. Three days ago it was so many days, but where is that now?’
‘I’d like peacefulness,’ asserted the participant, ‘without this drama going on.’ ‘Can you love peace even if it’s boring?’ Gangaji began. That’s why we go to war – little kids love war. We need to be willing. Maybe we need to play our war games until we are ready to love peace. There needs to be commitment. We need to marry peace – I am betrothed to this peace. If you’re willing to drop your ideas and just see what’s here, if you are blessed enough or graced enough to fall in love with peace, not knowing if peace will love you as much as you love peace. It’s an affair of the heart. It’s filled with laughter and light, but it’s also deeply serious. It’s about your life – life here is so short. It’s your choice, to be willing to live your life. So, obviously, I’m inviting you to choose peace, but the choice is yours. Peace is here. We can also call it love or truth or self or unknowingness. Maybe you don’t know what choice to make yet, so inquire – If I choose the theatre, what are the results? – If I choose to go home, what are the results? When you marry someone, you don’t know what the result will be. It’s nuanced as life is.
The next participant to approach just wanted to thank Gangaji. He’d been an obsessive-compulsive seeker, but was inspired to hear Gangaji put the truth into words so beautifully, although he also admitted to ‘not being there yet’ and to not fully understanding everything she’s said. ‘When the search arises,’ Gangaji replied, ‘it’s beautiful and true – it’s a holy arising. However, the very medicine of your life can also be the poison, the pollution, when it’s my search….’ The participant then told Gangaji he was not putting her on a pedestal as a guru to be worshipped, to which she exclaimed with significant relief, ‘Thank-you! You’re a good friend.’
Another participant brought a report of having left his home to come to the retreat in the middle of a story and expressed gratitude to be here. He works with men and was happy to see young men unclenching their hearts these past three days. His question was, ‘How can he do this in his own work with men?’ ‘You can’t,’ Gangaji concluded. ‘What makes it possible is a mystery. All any of us can do is to open our own heart, to meet our own death, our own happiness, and that will serve others. It’s frustrating, particularly for parents and teachers of young people, but we can’t know what it takes for others to open. You can be a gift to anyone as long as you are not attached to the outcome. Freely give yourself and you’ll see surprises. It’s a mystery. In a prison in San Quentin I was once in a circle with a large group of male prisoners. These were heavy duty guys, huge, mostly black, but some white, in for life. As I looked up I saw a big, white man, with a shaved head and tattoos, weeping and I asked him to speak. He spoke pure satsang. He shared himself – right there in the heart of San Quentin prison. These types of prisoners are transferred from prison to prison regularly so that they don’t build alliances. Whichever prison he gets transferred to he gets together a group of men to sit satsang. How seemingly unlikely. So anyone can open. Everyone has the capacity because the heart is open. It’s only the stories and the retelling of the stories that gets in the way.’
The last participant to share told of a scary dream that she had had the night before where she dissolved into nothing. Gangaji assured her that ‘death in the dream was scary, but in truth it’s bliss. If you fight, it’s hell, but if you surrender, it’s bliss. It’s sublime peace. You have the opportunity while you are awake to give up the illusion of control. Right now, give up all illusion of control. You are free. You are peace. And that’s not a dream – that’s reality. Let it live you. May you recognise whenever you are trying to control. You have support for that. That’s a really perfect place to end our formal meeting together. We have met ourselves. This can always deepen. We may or may not ever see each other again. It doesn’t matter. You discover that you are the totality of what is alive, what is life. I thank you deeply for your willingness to meet this place, your self. In closing, Gangaji said she had read in the retreat literature, ‘Gangaji’s Final Meeting.’ And on that note, a burst of laughter once again filled the auditorium and echoed through the ethers.
Thank you for joining us on this inspiring journey of self-discovery. If you would like to know more about Gangaji and her work, visit: http://www.gangaji.org
Definition of Satsang
Satsang is a beautiful sanskrit word, meaning company of the wise, of the virtuous. This definition comes from Excerpts from This by Sri H.W.L. Poonja (Papaji, Gangaji’s teacher).
Satsang is the association with Sat, the Truth.
Keeping association only with That
which will not destroy Love is Satsang.
Being Truth, Being with the Wise is Satsang.
It has no past, no future, no this, no that,
just your own nature, a field of Beauty.
The One who comes to Satsang is Happy;
even gods will take a human form in order to attend.
The Guru’s part in Satsang is
to show you there are no parts.
When you do not inquire you are in parts
and you become that which can be destroyed.
Satsang in the human body is so precious and rare,
don’t waste it by asking, “What is this and that.”
Just humbly ask, “WHO AM I?”
– Mattie Porte –
May 25, 2008
Photographer: Sverre Koxvold