Excerpted from Pilgrim of Love: The Life and Teachings of Swami Kripalu with permission of Monkfish Book Publishing Company.

Satsanga is like a lake. You can bathe in it. By bathing in pure thoughts and good company, your thoughts and actions are then purified. As long as your thoughts and actions are impure, you cannot recognize God or guru even if they were standing right in front of you. Once you receive the guru who is showering grace upon you, there's nothing else you have to do. When one is convinced that God exists and is for real, then prayers get established and shradda, or faith, is created in satsanga. "Sat" means God. "Sanga" means "friendship." Whatever helps you fall in love with God can indeed be called satsanga. The most dynamic form of satsanga is the relationship between the guru and disciple, that serves as the source of growth and transformation for whoever follows the guru's teachings closely. Unfortunately the dynamics of that relationship are not well understood in the west. When you meet a true guru and steadfastly commit yourself to his teachings, your faults and impurities will gradually be removed. Of course that doesn't happen through the guru's efforts alone, but through your conscious determination to work at removing such faults. At last when those impurities are removed, however, you come to the realization that God has been with you all along.
In order to gain full advantage of satsanga, then, you must learn the difference between right and wrong company. As long as you haven't entered the company of truth, there will be no real transformation in life. ... In true satsanga, the impurities of the mind are gradually washed away and the mind becomes pure. Only that which can change the direction of our minds has any power. By closely observing such influences, we begin to determine what's good and what's not good for us, what's true and what's a lie. Once there was a devotee who traveled everywhere in search of Ram. No matter where he went, his poor heart cried out, "Where are you my Lord, where are you?" Then he met a saint who told him that Ram is located in your heart. Grateful for such information, he replied, "If Ram is in my heart, I intend to find him there. So he sat down under a tree and closed his eyes. He began to meditate, searching for Lord Ram. After some time he saw two glaring eyes, a huge mouth and ugly features in the face of a demon. Then he experienced lust, anger, jealousy, and fear. Frightened and dismayed, he opened his eyes and said, "If Ram is in my heart, why can't I see him?" What he hadn't realized is that those demons dwell up front but Ram's hidden behind them. Only when you remove impurities can you reach Ram. Rather than fearing the demons, on this path you'll have to face them. Although worn out from his search, this devotee continued asking the same question. Meeting another saint, he asked, "Where can I find Lord Ram? Do you know his address?"

The saint responded, "Yes, I do. If you go around asking everyone, you'll never find him. But when people gather together to chant and pray, that's where you'll find Ram. He dwells in satsanga." When he found his answer at last, this devotee gladly joined others to chant in satsanga where he instantly made Lord Ram's acquaintance.

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