"This Interview never happened"...
Raghu; Who is Satto?
Satto; Who is Satto?... Good question! (laughter) That's a mystery... actually Satto doesn't exist! Just a borrowed name on a borrowed body, easy to go with in India... In France I use my legal name, borrowed as well, it doesn't change anything. Satto in Sanskrit means Reality, Truth, and Being. This is what I recognize and share, Self-realization, Being, simply being, far away from all the complicated concepts that mind likes to play with. Only Being is. No argument about that. No matter the form it takes, that's what I invite people to recognize, this being-ness that everything is and which is not dependant of anything. This freedom of being that we are in truth.
Raghu; What's your approach of satsang?
Satto; Satsang means to meet truth within oneself, by oneself, for oneself. That's the greatest intimacy and authenticity one can have. So I just invite people to meet themselves truly behind their believes and expectations, in the nakedness, innocence and simplicity of the very moment, where everything reveals itself, where self-recognition and realization dwell and where people are met for what they have always been. It's free.
Raghu; How did happen your encounter with spirituality?
Satto; That's a far-reaching matter... First we would have to see and say what is spiritual or not. Hard to make it short. Let's say roughly that at the teenager's time, having to face too many contradiction from different "educators", including catholic, not being able to know who was speaking true or not from priest, teachers or parents, I just dropped it all and determined myself not to take anything for granted or true before I could check it out directly by myself in my life, "no God no Master", that was my motto (laughter). Freedom was the only thing important to me (nice french conditionning!). This has been my "path" and this led me, after a lot of tribulations, including a surprising and unexpected period of grace, to realize what I am truly, or better say "what truly is", and in the same time to realize what I am not and what nobody is! And this second point is as much important as the first one! That's this double aspect of self-realization, instantaneous and unpredictable, that you could call improperly my re-encounter with what we call spirituality. But in truth we are it, there is no path, nothing is separate and nothing is separable. It's all encompassed. There is no duality.
Raghu; Which master have you met or associated with?
Satto; I like to say that my masters were my mistresses! That's true, they are formidable masters!(laughter) Actually my sole master was this burning desire for freedom, and in my case an unconditional and natural love for nature, but this is not in any way a reference! There is no reference, this is absolute!
Apart from that, after this non happening that we call "awakening", I met in France, three years later Yvan Amar who was the living confirmation of this "awakening". Great guy! I had the luck to attend to his meetings there for six months in Gordes. You spoke of "master", he was not mine and was saying himself that he was not a master, but he has been a master to send me right back to myself! Awakening has no copyright!
The second one, that I met years later was Bashô, you know, "Sitting silently, doing nothing, the spring comes, the grass grows by itself"... I was sitting in the coffee shop corner, in the same and simple recognition of being and this came obvious. When I say I met Bashô, I met him in myself; Bashô's quality was met and recognized within itself... Pure obviousness!
Actually there is only one master, it's truth, and it recognizes itself. The rest is only speechmaking, even if "spiritual". Not long after, in the same way, I met Buddha, "Buddha's quality". I've never been attracted by Buddhism, but it's like Jesus, it has nothing to do with religious or spiritual precepts given in their names. It's the same quality, the same truth which recognizes itself under different shapes and expressions... It's timeless and impersonal! The true master doesn't die. True life doesn't die!
After that I just walked or better say, sat my way not looking for anything. Two years later I met Dolano, it was the first time I heard someone speaking directly and clearly beyond all spiritual talks and discourses, it was like my own voice speaking... And I had great time and laughter attending her satsang! (laughter) She is living in India, in Pune where we are. Roughly that's it. There is one I would have like to meet, that's what brought me back to India in '98, that's Poonjaji, unfortunately I came a few month too late. That's a lineage I like, Ramana, Poonja, Gangaji, Dolano, Shapiro.... by the way I met Ramana last year! The quality, the "heart" Ramana. You see, it's never too late! It's timeless. I also have a special tenderness for Nisargadatta Maharaj, A burning tenderness!
Raghu; What about Osho?
Satto; Alright! Osho! We are in Pune, I forgot... I have not been really in the Osho's wave, I have lots of sanyasins friends though, I just "surfed" on his writings but the Ocean is the same! He was obviously a nice fellow, a first class dialectician and a great joker! And free enough to smile in handcuffs!... It says a lot... Actually I came to Pune to meet Kiran. Names, faces, times, preferences, sympathies are felt and expressed, but it's not significant, what's relevant is the Heart, the Core, and here, all names and stories gone, it's the same!
Raghu; Can you speak of your awakening experience?
Satto; Ah! Here comes the question!... Big matter full of promises, imagination and even more of misunderstanding! (laughter). Awakening is not an experience, it's the "imperience" itself! That's absolute realization! Absolute of any word, of any term. In Self Realization words are not. Only the total obviousness of Being and Consciousness... and Love! That's what we are, what everything is. That's what is. Nothing else. It is! (laughter) ...
Awakening is not an experience because in that there is nobody to have an experience, no "me", no subject to have an objective or subjective experience of "awakening", only "That". Pure Intelligence, Absolute Consciousness, Absolute Love, Pure Beingness. Pure Information. Literal.
"Awakening" simply is the realization of our true nature, and that's infinite... now. No time. Nothing else. No before, no after, no birthday... And I am unable to say which day it was! No way! In that time itself disappears... Mind too! (laughter) Everything vanish, the world, the observer, no-thing left. Pure Intimacy. Awakening is that, no birth date to celebrate, only that. Pure "Nowness". Pure "limitlessness"... No dating, no claiming. - No awakened - Only "Awakeness". Pure Aliveness aware of itself... "Awakeness watching over itself from an infinite awakeness"... Rough quoting from Stephen Jourdain... Great guy as well!
It's funny, we're chatting and lots of pictures are coming back... So at the time, which never existed, I didn't even know this word awakening in the spiritual meaning. Never heard. Not a single concept on the matter, not even the slightest search or expectation. Free. Only the vastness and the surprise of the realization. I was simply "turned over", totally reeled by the revelation's shock. Absolutely new and innocent. No awakening. Only "that" dancing, singing and celebrating itself...
Raghu; No awakening okay, but can you develop more?
Awakening is in itself a paradox because there has never been a sleeper! To make it short, we can say that awakening is the realization of the Absolute in one self, that everything is this Absolute, and that everything is one self. Nothing else. Absolute absolute in Itself. If it's absolute, and it is, nothing can be said really, one can only be. That's absolute! (laughter)
It's in itself a non-event, that's our nature which recognizes itself; not our human nature, poor thing, Nature of "Reality"... (sorry to use those big words)... Let's say that True Nature recognizes itself through out our human-ness. It's the Infinite which plays hide and seek with itself! So, awakening is a joke (laughter) Because this nature knows very well it has never slept!... What awakens in a body-mind in fact is a recognition, a gratefulness... and that's endless...
Another way to say it, or at least to try the impossible ( I spent years playing with that! ), would be to say that awakening is an annihilation, annihilation of the belief in the "me" dream and of a separate world. That's the "seeker's death". That's the realization that all the world display is only a dream playing in consciousness. Nothing else. And often that's where the seeker gets even more in confusion.
There has never been a "me" nor any solid world, it's a dream. Nevertheless, apart form the belief, nothing change, neither the appearance of the "me" nor the dream, nor the world. Apparently nothing changes, but profoundly everything is changed. It's a total turn over, the famous Métanoia of the Greek Gospels. What exists not (the "me", the dream or illusion) cannot be destroyed. Simply the forgetful dreamer reminds itself as the deliberate dreamer, or the innocent and unlikely creator of an impossible play...
Raghu; How to recognize awakening?
Satto; We don't. It recognizes itself. AWAKENING IS NOT A STATE. In block letter, and it's fundamental to hear that at least once! (laughter) So not being a state, awakening or realization is not comparable, there is nothing to compare with, no comparison at all! It's always the same! It doesn't change. It's not a come and go business... So we can say how to recognize what is not awakening: whatever come and go, all passing by states is not it. So we can forget about them and free ourselves from our suffering addiction of nostalgic bliss experience and of the endless search for the ultimate one! It is not an experience, I got to say it again.
We are aware of sleeping, dreaming and waking states and we can compare their differences. That which is the awareness of all these states and which is not a state by itself can be say to be the source we call awakening. States are alternative, "awakeness" is the under-lying and unchanging thread. It is not an alternative! (laughter) It's always! And we don't even notice it, it's remarkable! (laughter)
It's the fascinating power of the dream that makes we don't bring our attention or almost never on that. Our attention is always caught and focused on objects of perception, including thoughts and keeps us busy, that's the illusion of senses... Our attention rarely focus on what is not objective, or rarely stops focusing on objective perception, but we can simply and easily turn our attention on that which is the Pure Awareness of this unfolding, of the play of attention. Jean Klein used the term "back-ground" to point to that. Awakening is the realization of that. Pure Absolute Consciousness. It's free... No story here and we built a huge drama about it! (laughter))
... And that's where the mind struggles! Mind will try by all means to capture, to reduce this Absolute, this "story-less" at the scale of its own definition. Mind wants certainties recordable in its own reference and logical systems... And it's impossible! That's the last battle, the conditioned mind facing pure Intelligence. The last individual resistances, in short, the death agony of intellectual pretence and its identity! That's hell! (laughter)...
Actually it's the imaginary mind fight against its own certainties broken down in pieces by realization. We can't reduce the limitlessness to limitation. Liberation is when mind eventually comes to realize by itself clearly enough the fact that it cannot be done. A surrender, a shift happens there. From the "outsider" position of personal intellectual resistance, mind opens back to Intelligence itself that it has always been. Final dot. That's the end of personal arrogance.
Raghu; A personnal question though, do awaken beings recognize each other?
Satto; Good question again! (laughter)... It's fun, what recognizes itself is the same, there is no awaken or unawake being. Awakening is the recognition of nobodyness. That's Absolute Identity or "sameness". Relative identity that we take for ourselves, or that we pretend to be, is not real, it doesn't really exist and never did; it's a fake. It's not true. That's the "me dream image". What recognizes itself is no separation, non-judgment, no pretence. It's the same embrace without any word. Yes, that recognizes itself, no doubt. Only that. Once again, awakening recognizes itself in itself. There is no one to recognize awakening.
Raghu; What advice can you give to people who seek self realization or which start on the spiritual path?
Satto; A question could be useful ; « How to recognize one who can really help for this recognition ? ». That's simple ; Yvan's way, it's the one which is not another, for my side, that's the one which doesn't carry you away, the one which doesn't promise you some other or later or better and which invites you directly to self recognition in the moment.
Otherwise, nothing. Don't do anything ! Stay quiet! Forget it all right away! There is nothing to perform nor to achieve. You are what you're seemingly seeking! Not you as the apparent person seeking and dreaming of self realization, but that within yourself which is the pure awareness of this movement, of this thought. That's a radical shift of consciousness unto itself, Here&Now, right away!
To make a joke; what you're looking for is right in your back! That's literal! That's the "hidden face". We are looking everywhere else what is actually right here! Let's just do a little experiment, bring your attention now in your back, simply. What happens? Nothing special, you're simply here now instead of being all over the place. You simply are. The invitation is to taste that. It's free.
All this is a Play, a Comedy and we make it a Drama! ( laughter) There is only Alive Consciousness which pretends itself other to itself in its own theater! That's an impossible game, an unbelievable "tour de force" but a real success though! (laughter)....
However, if you're really cooking with this illusion, no matter what your convictions are, be one with your self, 100 per cent! Don't be lukewarm! There is no answer but consciousness. Since we are in good wishes time, here comes mine, "be true, be your self, don't pretend what you are not." That's enough. Peace is already here, it's just waiting you.
Raghu; What's your schedule, where do you teach?
Satto; Only here and now! And it's not a teaching but that's a full programme! That's the only one! I teach nothing, I invite this meeting and recognition in the moment, that's all! That's really All!... Be it in a coffee shop, in formal meetings or in intensive workshop, it's always the main focus. Then the schedule gets organized... or not! Anyway I'm not an organizer but it's meaningless, what's significant is this moment, nothing else. We, my partner and I, have a website designed in a way that you can find all the information you need... and much more !...
Here in India, in Pune, it's simple, it goes by itself. Indian culture is a traditional support for this matter, and people which travel here, be they know it or not, come for that. In France it's more delicate, it's less cultural, the average french "unculture" is skeptical and critical, not to say cautious and reluctant, and the "anti-sect" case amalgam is not providing a great support. But once more, it doesn't matter at all, the spirit blows where it likes... and as Voltaire said; "All is for the best in the better of the worlds"... And it's true! (laughter)
The essence of satsang, of the invitation, is to rediscover what we really are, not to manage or improve our personality. It's a clear cut in the jumble of the stories we tell ourselves on one self. Including the 'spiritual' one. Individual identity is a fake, here is our main discomfort, our main suffering, our main offence; "Forgery and use of forgery"! (laughter) That's the major crime of humanity, the famous original 'sin'. That's a pity and the joke altogether... What would happen if we stop to pretend what we are not??? Let me know! (laughter)
Raghu; Well, you already answered for a part to the question I wanted to ask for France, remains politic; the recent riots, the urban violence, the environment?
Satto; You know, what we call the world has not much reality in itself, a tissue of believes, of stories, memories and information made up roughly... and we make it a world! (laughter) Actually the world is satsang. The world always invites us to meet truth, to denounce the lie, even if it takes violent appearances, Jesus has been already crucified, no need to take the role back nor to replay the scene! " Return to Cesar what belongs to Cesar"... Consciousness always calls itself, no matter what the events are, be they so-called "humans" or "naturals". Then it's our responsability to inquire truly. Who is this one inquiring? Who testifies? Who is this one?...
In fact, that's the only relevant question, nothing can replace the direct investigation or meeting. Those questions can only find answer in the recognition of what we are really, of what really is. All these questions send us back to consciousness, and consciousness is the only answer. Otherwise we stay in believes, opinions, the illusion of separation and judgment. That's hell again! (laughter)
You know in formal satsang, it's rare that I speak on any relative matter, at least not before self recognition is set-up, otherwise it would be only confusing discourses, useless words; what's going to be said would be heard from the personal point of view, from the point of separateness, of limited or narrow mind. Reality is now, not the passing-by contents appearing. Here we can have a real look, not anywhere else. Anywhere exists only in our imagination.
Just a moment, if we are honest, what do we know but now and here? Naught. Thoughts passing by, a soup of information, not to say a jumble, a chatter of unchecked memories. We are like kids which play building sand-castles... and tread them on the following instant! (laughter) Nothing remains... but the Joy of the Play! (laughter) It's unbelievable ... but delightful! Once recognized, the Drama is pure Jubilation! (laughter) Joy remains...
Raghu; Being with you I can sense that, but in daily life we don't always feel the same ... We experience some suffering along the day, why?
Satto; Yes, that's a good point. Why? Because we let ourselves drift and be taken away by the movie, by what appears to happen and we forget again reality. We resist, we don't meet directly what's coming to say "hello". Resistance is suffering. We cover up joy with our attachment and identification, not to say addiction to dramas and suffering. Nothing wrong in experiencing suffering, it's like salt and pepper, bitter and sweet. But it's only a flavored taste, a covering, that's not the real or say plain taste. If you really taste, underneath the different "spices", joy is here, always. The pure joy, the pure awareness, the pure delight of tasting! mmmmmmm....(laughter)
There is only one thing to really hear and to consequently take in full consideration. This moment, right now, is the only acces to reality. Realization, self realization is not something that can be achieved in time and it doesn't depend on circumstances. Realization doesn't stand any delay. There is nothing to argue with! All delay is "suffering", is a lie we tell ourselves. Here is the apparent suffering. Suffering is to pretend to be what we are not ! If we are honest, right now, without telling any story, in the very consciousness of the moment, where is suffering ?... We might experiment some discomfort, alright, but is there suffering now?... and tell me when this moment is not? It's always available, right now!
A last 'message', you are free! More, Freedom itself. Already, here and now. It's not a "be-coming", it's our nature. We have always been. Set yourself up. Doubt what your mind says, don't believe a word I say or anyone says. All promises of future are fakes and all backward looking "mass" or nostalgia are cheats. What idol are you going to worship? The only mass, the sole celebration, the sole jubilation, the sole delight, is Now.... And it's Free!... So we are free to suffer or enjoy our drama as well! That's what we do!(laughter)
Raghu; Well, after all, this famous "Awakening", what that's for ?...
Nothing, it's like truth... It cannot be manipulated. What remains is our nature... Just Consciousness and Peace... and a subtle joy bubbleling underneath. Nothing else. What do you want more? Control, fame, power? You don't get any, you are the power, the pure potency! Not a specific power, nothing demonstrative, nothing "special"... What's the use to be in peace?... None... It's very intimate and confidential, and it doesn't even make the business work! (laughter) ... Actually, this interview never happened!...
You know all these words, "awakening", "freedom", "truth", "god", "spirituality", are concepts and we easily get lost in translation! (laughter) I mentioned the french conditioning with this beautiful words of "freedom-fraternity-equality", in France it's like a religion as you know, but as all religion or dogma there is an exploitation behind, or at least a "twist", not to say a cheat! And as millions I have been deluded by it big time!(laughter) And that's good! That's how one can really look for what's finally true.
Not to search for an escape in some far away magical, spiritual or mystical "Truth"! And if we do it's okay, dis-illusion will happen and will bring us right back now! I did it too! (laughter) What matter for me in sharing is not to explain this or that, to add concepts to concepts, but to see practically what can be the direct living enforcement in our life. Again, if we cannot find right now the living reality of it, better to drop it all right away and go for a walk or have a good breath! That's much more healthy! (laughter)
It's an endless play, aspects and aspects of manifestation, the overwhelming flow of Being, of Life's mystery. In other words, not being separate, not being alien, Source is not responsible, or better say, Source is the liberation of... its smears!... (laughter) It's Unfathomable... and impossible! What's left?... Life, this astounding aliveness. This moment, the crushing, the abyss here and now. Pure openness and beatitude of being. Pure "Poetry", pure creation. It's inexhaustible!(laughter) We cannot say what it is, more we dig and more it overflows! There is no stopcock, no security tap!(laughter) That's the Endless Play and its Joy!...Now is enoughness... Satisfaction... That's enough now! (laughter)
Thanks for asking these questions.
Interview with Satto by Raghu, Pune January 2006.