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Finding Your Tribe (Satsang & Music Festivals)

Satsang, as it’s known in Hinduism, or sangha, as it’s known is Buddhism, is a group of spiritual seekers who come together to help each other along the path. It’s a collection of individuals who have uncovered the same innate truths through their practices, and due to this connection, can assist each other through their evolution, while spending time enjoying the presence of others who are of similar essence. This is a group of people who look out for each other, serve each other, and get high simply from being together and sharing experiences. Satsang/sangha are terms generally used to describe traditional spiritual groups/gatherings, but where I first found satsang, before I even knew what it was, was standing in the middle of a 20,000 person crowd at the first Electric Forest, being totally wrapped up in the love, sharing, inner exploration, and divine connection that is a music festival.

Since moving to Southern Appalachia, a very potent satsang swathed in bhakti yoga, the yoga of love and devotion, has taken me in. We sing kirtan, we feed each other, we hang out, and we talk about both the lofty and the mundane. Finding this group of individuals and singing kirtan with them for the first time, completely blew me away. I was speechless. It was like I had known these people forever and the feeling that exuded out of me was this super potent condensed, yet expansive feeling of total compassion, love, and gratefulness. The only other thing that really ever came close to this for me was the feeling of being together in total harmony with family, or the feeling you get at the end of a set of live music, when the lights turn on, but everyone is still so wholly in a state of flow and union that they can’t help but gush to the person next to them, so completely opened and connected after such a powerful collective experience. That personal and communal opening at the end of a kirtan or the end of a set of live music, is a very specific kind of Shakti, or energy, which is teased out of us when likeminded individuals gather in the name of connectivity and devotion.

This particular flavor of Shakti, I’ve noticed, is really curated through devotion and is generally more potent when done collectively, in groups. It’s a highly palpable and almost comical distinction between when people first show up to satsang, still rather timid and awkward, to when we have finished kirtan and people are so chatty and interested, that you would think someone spiked the dal. It’s such a similar thing at a music festival. Day one at a festival is generally the group of people getting to know each other. Good connections are made and good conversations are had, but fast forward to day four, and it’s like all of these separate individuals have merged into this one thing, this one total flow. Yes, there are some outliers, as you will find anywhere, but for the most part, the energy of love, caring, sharing, and connectedness have penetrated the scene so deeply by that point, that the mental walls of separation that we normally allow to slice up our reality, have come crumbling down, leaving us in a beautiful, sunny, open field with 20,000 of our best friends.

To get outside of our normal rational way of thinking, the judging mind, the mind that creates separation, the mind that wants more for itself and its incredulous ego; to get outside of that, in absolutely any way possible, is a miracle. I’m not much of a hockey fan anymore, but when I was watching a decade back, I remember a sloppy goal going over the line and the announcer said, “Well, they don’t ask how,” and that really stuck with me. Use whatever method works for you. If it’s a tried-and-true method like kirtan or meditation, groovy, go for it. If it’s getting super wiggly with a bunch of Deadheads or Bassheads at a festival, right on, you have found your family! If helping feed people with others at a soup kitchen gets you high, amazing! If playing a video game, or having sex, or floating down a river gets you to that place, beautiful, you have your method. “They don’t ask how.” It’s not about the form. So find what “get’s you there” to that place of oneness, connectivity, love, sharing and unity. Find what gets you there, and through that, you will find your tribe. That’s your satsang, your sangha, and through your shared love for each other and shared respect for helping each other along the path, you will always have a family and always have home. As Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home,” and I'd like to add, that home is where Your heart is.

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