Words and terms from the East
In the East, meditation and being with a Guru* are ancient traditions. In our part of the world this is still unknown to many, although it is gradually becoming acknowledged. Many of the symbols and terms we use in Dharma Mountain originated in the East. They come from several different traditions such as Zen Buddhism, Taoism and Sufism. Here are some brief explanations of the most used terms you might find in this webpage.
The word “Dharma” comes from Sanskrit and it means “the natural law”, the law of harmony in all things. It is not a “law” in the sense of dogma or teaching. It simply refers to the natural connection between nature and all living beings.
In the traditional sense, the meaning of the term “sannyasin” is “one who has renounced the world”. It refers to people who have withdrawn from family and society to dedicate their lives to spiritual practice and living a monastic life.
At Dharma Mountain and around Swaha, we have a more modern interpretation of the term. We haven’t “renounced” the world. On the contrary, we are part of society wherever we live in the world. The decision to become a sannyasin comes from the inside – it is a commitment towards ourselves, to cultivate love, friendship and peace in our lives. You don’t need to spend the rest of your life in a monastery to find peace! Inner peace is always available inside, in the depth of our hearts. That is the invitation from Swaha: to live in the world, in society, but always in touch with the depth inside which is always at peace.
There are no requirements to become a sannyasin. It is totally up to each person. Why we do it and what it means to us is also up to each individual. For many of us, asking for sannyas* means to stand up for an inner longing for a life in awareness, and a desire to grow as human beings. It is a way to acknowledge that “This is my path”, “This is how I want to live”.
The term comes from Sanskrit* and it means “meeting in truth”. We use it to refer to the gatherings when Swaha comes and sits with sannyasins and other participants in his retreats. During Satsang we sometimes sit in silence; some other times Swaha answers questions or shares stories.
You may wonder where our Indian-like names come from. In the East, Gurus initiate their disciples by giving them a new name, sannyas. This new name is the symbol of a new beginning, a new life in awareness. Most of the sannyas names we have are of Sanskrit origin. After a person asks for it, Swaha gives sannyas. He also explains the meaning of that name, which can be related to our potential or our individual qualities. For us, sannyas is an important and beautiful reminder of the life we have chosen to live – following our hearts and seeking silence and peace within ourselves.
Sanskrit is the oldest literary language of southern Asia. It is the language of the scriptures of the Hindu religion, as well as much of the literature of the Jains and Buddhists.
Satori is a term which comes from the Zen Buddhism of Japan. It means «awakening». A Satori is a glimpse, an insight into one’s true Self, into one’s true Being.
In the East, the word Guru is used to refer to a person who has attained a higher state of consciousness. There is no equivalent word in the West, but the word “master” is probably the closest. The Guru is the one who shows us the way/path back to ourselves, the one who shows us what is possible, our potential.
The Guru is no leader, but simply somebody who has “awakened”, who is free from the grip of the mind and is always in a state of presence and clarity. The Guru can bring light to our path, but we have to walk this path ourselves. Many people experience great insights about themselves when they are close to a Guru.