Satsang and The Art of Living
Satsang is the most obvious exemplification of The Art of Living’s commitment to make life a celebration. Many of the activities of The Art of Living are more overtly ‘serious’ – humanitarian projects for the less fortunate, stress-management programs for all segments of society, Yoga and Meditation programs. In fact all these activities also serve the same goal of making life a celebration – one cannot live life to the full with a stressed mind, regardless of whether that stress is caused by a natural disaster visited upon one’s family or whether it is the stress of a demanding career. Satsang completes the celebration once our stress is removed – we sing and dance and reflect on the deeper questions that give meaning to life.
Satsang – reuniting the self
From the perspective of contemporary western culture it combines normally separated activities – philosophy, discussion of key issues for successful living, and music and dance. This is based on the understanding that these two spheres of human activity properly belong together. In recent years education and brain research has also come to the conclusion that we need to connect intuitive and intellectual activity, corresponding to the right and left halves of the brain, to function best. Too much of one or the other creates an unbalanced personality: for instance those teenagers who listen to music all day through headphones dull their intellects, whereas those who only engage in intellectual activity and never sing or dance can become a little stiff or unnatural in contact with others. (Intellectuals are often popularly perceived as ‘party poopers’! In the European philosophical tradition, Aristotle made was an ancient Greek joke in the spirit, “Everyone should learn to play the flute – but not too well.”) [To learn more about the healthy, some-free and drug-free clubbing promoted by The Art of Living, see our Yoga Rave and Pure Party sections]
Satsang and Wisdom
On a more subtle level, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explains that in most everyday activities our minds are separate from each other, we each have separate opinions and thoughts. But when we sing and dance together, we are one. It is a common experience that parties relax you after a hard week’s work, satsang takes this to the next level by being more healthy, and therefore more relaxing. [To see Gurudev at satsang and even post him a question,click here]
Art of Living satsangs transcend cultures and bring people from over 180 countries together to enjoy music, celebrate life, and meditate. So wherever you are from, whatever your musical tradition, you can join in or even start your own satsangs.
A popular aspect of satsang is to invite participants from various countries to play national songs from their countries, to bring the world’s cultures together in an intimate setting. Nothing is more intimate than Christmas celebrations for Christian culture, coming together with our family and friends, as we do – or Ramadan for Muslims. And yet intimacy and friendship are by their nature there to be shared.
Let’s share our In fact, as Christmas clearly illustrates, the traditions of individual cultures can become global traditions. Santa Claus, as Gurudev has pointed out is a symbol of generosity, his belly is a common symbol of generosity (‘a bellyful of laughter’) – as is the chubby Buddha we are also used to seeing. There is a Christmas spirit which you cannot deny – whether you go to church or not – and this spirit is carried by Christas carols, the music of that celebration. Here is a selection of songs from around the world, those most often sung at satsang to celebrate our diversity.
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Founder of The Art of Living, has often comented that we readily enjoy the food of other cultures - and Art of Living satsangs reveal how easy it is to enjoy the culturesr of the world – so why not enjoy all the wisdom of the world as well? ‘Own all the traditions of the world,’ Gurudev says. Be inspired by the words of Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, celebrate the holy days of Jainism and the Sufi saints. This calendar of world celebrations is a small step towards spreading the awareness of our various traditions, to make us realise, as Gurudev has said, that though ‘truth is multi-dimensional’ it is also one. The contradictions we perceive between the wisdom of various traditions is only apparent, when we go deeper, ‘we feel the oneness.’
- Celebrating our differences
- Various songs from various culture
- World celebrations calendar with Guruji’s commentary