It started to rain so we had to take shelter under a nearby barn. Sitting on a wood trunk we observed how the sun appeared between the mountains while the rain shower continued. The wet purple flower meadow in front of us looked very beautiful with its sparkling raindrops on the grass.
There was something truly mystical about the combination of rain and sunshine. While starting the chanting of the holy name I could not believe my good fortune. Here I was sitting next to His Holiness Sacinandana Swami. I felt extremely grateful. This is a moment that could have lasted forever, chanting with Maharaja under this barn. After the initial flood of thoughts became calmer, my chanting became extremely focused. This is not so surprising if one sits next to a Sadhu like Sacinandana Maharaja, a person who has been practicing and preaching about the art of attentive chanting for many decades. On my own I don`t have the strength to experience such depth of meditation, but in the association of Sadhus, this becomes possible.
Association is very important, it acts just like a crystal stone, which will reflect anything put before it - that was the topic of my last blog, with the focus on giving up bad association. The positive aspect of the same principle is to always strive for the association of Sadhus. If you want to become a devotee, you have to associate with devotees. This year's Bhakti Retreat, a summer camp in the Swiss mountains, has been a great source of inspiration for many of us. It is here where we get a whole week of close association with Sadhus. This kind of association is very rare and extremely valuable. Narada Muni says: mahat-sangas tu durlabho 'gamyo 'moghas ca - The association of great souls is rarely obtained, difficult to understand, and infallible. 1
What actually happens in the association of Sadhus? We get reminded of what is truly important in life. Sat Sanga means association with truth. A sadhu is one who is dedicated to truth and who helps others to dedicate their lives as well. Sadhus show us how to go deeper in our spiritual practice. Sadhus help us to see Krishna behind everything that happens in our life. Sadhus remind us that the pleasures in this world can`t give us true happiness, true satisfaction. Only in the relationship with Krishna can we become truly satisfied. Sadhus warn us to not fall victim to the many temptations of the illusory energy. Sadhus make us understand that we have to give up our false idea of identity, that we have to become free from false pride and realize our eternal constitutional position as servants of the Lord. Sadhus teach us how to develop qualities like humility, tolerance, and respect. For me, Sadhus are the proof of the existence of God. Sadhus are true messengers of the Lord's compassion and love. Sadhus who are deeply absorbed in their own relationship with Krishna give us so much inspiration and enthusiasm just by their own example. In their association spiritual life becomes so simple, everything becomes so clear. How fortunate we are to have their association? Many people in this world no long believe in God. Many people think that saints have possibly existed in the past, but we know, they are also currently amongst us and their association means everything to us because we experience a change of heart due to their influence.
In the meantime, the rain had stopped and Maharaja and I were on our way back to the retreat center. While breathing the fresh mountain air after this cloudburst I began to reflect upon a purport, in which Srila Prabhupada talks about his own meeting with Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur: „What is not possible to achieve in thousands of lives can be achieved in one moment if there is an opportunity to meet a saintly person. It is therefore enjoined in Vedic literature that one should always try to associate with saintly persons and try to disassociate oneself from the common man because by one word of a saintly person one can be liberated from material entanglement. A saintly person has the power, because of his spiritual advancement, to give immediate liberation to the conditioned soul.“ 2
1 - Narada Bhakti Sutra
2 - Srimad Bhagavatam 3.22.5