When I met my teacher I was very preoccupied with spiritual seeking. I wanted to become “enlightened.” Now I’m not sure what that word means, but that’s what I wanted then. It was actually a way of saying I wanted to escape from the suffering, constant change and turmoil of being a human being. I went to see him and told him I wanted to be free of seeking.
Instead of saying, “Okay here’s how to do it; recite this mantra or do these yoga postures,” he simply asked everyone the same question: “Who is it that wants to be free? Who is the one seeking for some spiritual state?”
This question is usually overlooked. Who is this one? Who is this person involved in spiritual practice, trying to achieve something that is not yet achieved?
Later my father came to India. He is a British journalist properly educated at Oxford. He met my teacher and liked him. After a few days he had to ask me the inevitable question: “Why are you not just getting on with a normal life? Why are you here in India with all this dirt and chaos, living with a guru? Why aren’t you doing something useful?” I said to him,
“We are usually so busy in life, doing this and that, we never stop long enough to ask, ‘Who am I?’ Who is the one here?’” I said to him, “Daddy, who are you?” and he gave a response that sums it up for all of us. He said,
“One simply doesn’t ask oneself that kind of question. Why would you want to know that? Why is that so important?”
Recognizing why this is so important, may be the most important question now for this entire species on this planet. This may sound a little fanatic, but I’m of the opinion that the very survival of life on this planet rests in the simple question,“Who Am I?”
We have been chasing after more money, more happiness, more sex with more people, more this, more that, without asking who is it that is chasing after all these things.
“Who am I?”
If you go to an art gallery and see a beautiful painting, say, the Mona Lisa or a Botticelli angel, you might look at that painting and find it very beautiful and feel deeply touched. But someone else might walk into the art gallery, look at the same painting and not like it at all. So where is the beauty? Our normal day-to-day experience tells us that the beauty is in the painting, but that cannot be, or everyone would see the same beauty in the same paintings. Where is the beauty, where is the origin of beauty?
It must be in that which perceives the painting. Otherwise everyone would find the same thing beautiful. It is within you, projected out.
The same is true when you love someone very deeply. What is the source, what is the cause of the love? We want to say the love is caused by the presence of the other. But not everyone will find your beloved as beautiful as you do, or feel the same love and intimacy. At least you’d better hope not! The love is coming from within you. It is projected out.
In the investigation of this question, “Who am I?” in the total absorption of attention back into your Self, the source of love, the source of happiness, the source of peace is revealed. This is not only the end of seeking and unnecessary struggle for you, or for me, but for the world we live in — for our children. This world is characterized by separation, by me against you. I win, I get more money so you get less. Competition. As long as we overlook the real source of happiness and peace, there never seems to be enough. We always feel lack, striving for more. We are willing to sacrifice forests to get more money.
Satsang means to turn our attention back to the real source of happiness. We break the addiction to looking outside. We no longer have to create enormous physical houses to create security. You can feel secure in the awareness of who you truly are. This is the purpose of Satsang.
This is an excerpt from Arjuna’s book, How About Now: Satsang with Arjuna. Click here to purchase your copy today!