In order to perform our practice successfully, it is necessary to have Satsang. It is a natural tendency of the mind to be influenced by the company it keeps. By association with the people of the world, the worldly tendencies predominate; and by keeping the company of spiritually-inclined persons one becomes spiritually orientated.
It is therefore clear that if one desires to advance on the path of Spirituality, he must necessarily keep the company of those who are on that path. For association with them will enable him to imbibe their good tendencies.
One who has manifested the Truth within himself is the incarnation of Truth, and his life currents have a powerful influence on his environment.
As a consequence, people coming in contact with him will also be disposed towards Spirituality. He works for us as a true Guru and a Guide because he has himself achieved the Goal. Such a one teaches us the method of attaining God-Realization and gives us the unbounded wealth of His Name. He radiates the currents of his mind, heart and soul into the audience attending or listening to his discourses.
Just as the perfume of flowers imparts its sweet fragrance to anything in close proximity to them – whether it is water, cloth or a room, in the same manner, the company of the virtuous and the noble exalts us. If, however, we keep the company of bad people who are engulfed by the filth of this world, then naturally we cannot escape getting smeared with it. By keeping the company of Saints and noble people continuously, we are influenced by the qualities of spirituality and Truth.
A person who is a seeker after Spirituality, should try to imbibe the peace and tranquillity which comes from the company of Saints. But in order to reap the full benefits, we should keep their company with a clean mind and a pure heart, so that we may be able to catch the spiritual currents. If, unfortunately, one is not in a position to come to the Saints in person, one should study the books written by them or read other holy books.
Satsang enables one to develop many good qualities. Whoever goes to Satsang receives the spiritual currents pervading in its environment, for the currents of love and devotion which flow out in such company are shared by all those present. Satsang ultimately leads one to the Lord. So by attending the Satsang of Saints we ensure our Salvation.
Education is available in schools, medicines in hospitals, heat in ovens, and coolness in water. Similarly, God can be contacted in places where His devotees live. The Satsang of Saints is a great boon in mitigating the suffering of this world. A person who takes the help of a Saint is enabled to cross the Ocean of Life.
Just as the water of a stream loses its identity when it is poured into the Ganges; just as the iron blade of a butcher becomes gold when it is touched with a philosopher's stone; just as a neem tree acquires perfume when it is grown near a sandalwood tree; just as a piece of stone turns into salt when it stays in a salt mine; so also does one become a Saint if he remains in the company of Saints. One is purified by the spiritual currents emanating from a Satsang, and naturally, good and noble qualities are awakened in him.
Maulana Rumi says:
Mind cannot be controlled unless it takes refuge in the Murshid (Master).
All types of people, including the wicked ones, are beneficently influenced by Satsang. Even wine, when poured into the Ganges, becomes the Ganges. Similarly, all people imbibe the goodness of Saints in their company. By attending the Satsang of Saints, whose consciousness is pure and superior, our own lower propensities begin to disappear. But a real Satsang is a discourse which deals with no other topic except that of the Lord and His Naam.
True Satsang is of two kinds:
The physical company of Saints and listening to their discourses. This purifies our mind and produces an urge in us for Spirituality.
The inner Satsang (the result of the outer), by which the soul contacts Naam and goes into the regions above. This can be obtained only if one is fortunate enough to be initiated into the secrets of Spirituality by a true Master.
Satsang is virtually a spiritual college where we are taught the method of Love for and Devotion to the Lord. It is an extraordinary workshop where the mind is so chiselled that all its ugliness and dirt are removed, and it is made worthy of meeting the Lord. It is truly a pilgrimage where hundreds of our bad karmas are washed away and the mind becomes pure. If one wishes to meet God, one must first seek the company of those who are dear to Him, because devotion to them, and their company, even for small periods, is worth more than anything else. For it is their company that awakens all our latent spiritual powers.