BMCM eSatsang:
New Interactive Platform


In the book Passage Meditation, Easwaran describes the value of spiritual fellowship as follows:

The Buddha would say that most people throw themselves into the river of life and float downstream, moved here and there by the current. But the spiritual aspirant must swim upstream, against the current of habit, familiarity, and ease. It is an apt image. We know how the salmon fights its way along, returning at last to its original home. Those who set out to change themselves are salmon swimming against the relentless flow of the selfish life. Truly, we need every bit of support we can get; we need friends, loyal companions on the journey. We have to do the swimming, of course; nobody else can do it for us. But there will be an easier and swifter passage if we can swim with those who encourage us, who set a strong pace and will not stop until they reach their destination. The burdens are shared, easing them; the joys are shared too, multiplying them.

In Sanskrit, this sharing is called satsang. The word derives from two smaller words: sat, meaning “the good” or “truth” or “reality,” and sanga, meaning “group” or “association.” Thus it signifies the seekers of the highest, banded together.

At the BMCM, there is a long history of in-person satsang groups. Growing out of the tradition set by Easwaran and his early students, groups have formed around the world meeting regularly for meditation and spiritual inspiration.

However, what about meditators who don’t have any other meditators living nearby? What about meditators craving more satsang than the once-a-week offering in their city? Out of the growing use of technology to connect, communicate, and build community, the eSatsang was born.

The Early eSatsang

In 2003, the BMCM’s first electronic satsang began as a weekly email group with 18 people. The format was simple – each week eSatsang members would receive an email with a prompt to reflect on an Easwaran article or video. Participants sent their thoughts back to the BMCM where we’d bundle up all the responses and send them out with the next weekly email.

The eSatsang grew to have over 1,000 members in over 45 countries and has been an invaluable resource to meditators around the world. Here are a few of their stories:

Dick in Nevada:

My two touchstones of spiritual companionship have always been satsang and retreats. But retreats are too distant and local satsang is occasionally just one or two others. The eSatsang is convenient, regular and overflowing with the viewpoints of sadhaks from all over the world. It also fits perfectly in my schedule, I can “attend” at my convenience.

While the screen will never be the same as being surrounded by smiling faces, eSatsang is the third touchstone of my spiritual companionship.

Marta in Canada:

A few years ago I discovered the eSatsang on the old BMCM website, and joined right away.

It was so refreshing, so interesting to see how people from different cultures, languages, ages were telling very similar stories, similar to mine as well, of how this guidance transformed their lives. I learned how perseverance is key in the spiritual life and I began my practice again with a lot of enthusiasm, and my life improved right away.

Cathy in California:

Besides the overall feeling of being a part of a spiritual community that one gets from the eSatsang, there are two other aspects that have been so important for me. First is the specific focus we are given, such as a particular one of the points to reflect on or an experiment to try. That type of structure helps me make progress in that one area of my practice. Second, I learn so much from the responses of the other participants. Over the years I've applied many of their strategies to areas of my life that are struggles for me. I'm so grateful to the eSatsang team and all of its members throughout the world.

Hasmita in India:

When I started my eight-point practice, I had almost no fellowship where I live, as I got started with meditation through Easwaran's books and the website. Finding a link to the eSatsang on the site, I waited to complete a month of daily meditation and signed up. That was several years ago, and the eSatsang has been my regular space for weekly fellowship. It has meant a lot to me to hear from other meditators in different parts of the world who are also going through the challenges and joys of being on this path, and getting to share with them, too. The readings and discussion questions give me something to ponder and practice or experiment, and help me deepen and strengthen my practice. 

After 13 years of successfully using an email format, in 2016 we decided it was time for a change!

The New eSatsang Pilot

We began with a survey, asking the eSatsang community what was working well, and what changes might improve the offering. We learned a lot! 

  • Many participants regularly engaged with the material: Of survey participants, 59% were reading the eSatsang every week, and 24% every few weeks.
  • We could revisit the length of the content: While 59% of participants thought the email length was “just right”, nearly 40% felt the email was too long.
  • We could do better at meeting the needs of the audience: While 46% of participants either “always” or “mostly” got what they were looking for from the eSatsang, 52% of participants only “occasionally” or “rarely” got the spiritual fellowship they were looking for.

We also learned how the eSatsang’s online format was important to users – the top two reasons were that the timing to participate was flexible, and that for 52% of users, it was their primary spiritual support since they didn’t have an in-person satsang near them.

We also learned what the current members wanted for the future:

  • To study Easwaran articles and videos together.
  • To discuss how to strengthen their practice.
  • To be able to discuss whenever they wanted – and not just get responses back once a week.

After reflecting on these survey responses, we decided to try out different technology platforms that might replace our weekly email, and ran a six-month pilot program. Based on the pilot experience, we iterated again and then in April of 2017 . . .

Launch of New eSatsang

Meet the new eSatsang!                  

In April, we migrated the eSatsang over to a web format which is available to passage meditators who have signed up for the eSatsang. Each week, a new article, audio talk, or video talk is published right on the website where participants can read or watch whenever they have the time.

The real change, however, is the comments feature! eSatsang members can comment at any time on each week’s material, raise questions, share what inspired them, or share ideas that they’re implementing in their own life. In the past four weeks since launch, we’ve seen a flurry of activity, with eSatsang members diving deep into the material.

Paige, an eSatsang member in California, shares how the eSatsang (and its new format) has inspired her:

When I first learned about passage meditation in the late 1990s, I read about satsang, and was intrigued, but it seemed exotic and scary. As it turned out, I didn’t fully embrace the program at that time, though I read the book periodically and used the mantram to fall asleep. When I finally started daily meditation in early 2014, and attended my first retreat in June, I knew that I wanted, and needed, satsang. I attended my local one for a few weeks, but sadly it disbanded when the leader moved away, so I joined the eSatsang! Just having that weekly connection to other passage meditators is part of the fabric of the eight-point program—a thread that helps tie all the other points together. Videos of Easwaran were included, readings, and the opportunity to discuss E.E.’s words as well as the challenges we each face in our daily lives. This is what makes satsang such an important part of the program.

I am really excited about the new format for many reasons. Maybe most important is that the online discussion allows interaction between satsang members at any time. The prior version was a weekly email, and you would send off your thoughts and not hear from anyone else for a week. And if you missed the cutoff time, you had to wait for the next email. Now, although the content comes out weekly, members can jump on to comments whenever they have time, and continue to discuss back and forth. In this way, it even has an advantage over an in-person satsang! I hope that this format will bring more people to the satsang and more people commenting.

Although this is not specifically a function of the new format, I really like the content so far. The videos of Easwaran are longer than the ones we got in the email satsang, and I like having a theme (satsang this month!) that helps to carry the discussion along for several weeks.

 I think the new format will help to weave that thread of connection through our lives more regularly and I look forward to “meeting” more passage meditators on the eSatsang!

Join the eSatsang

If you know the instructions in passage meditation and have started your own practice, we’d love to have you join the eSatsang. It’s free of charge, and you can participate as much or as little as you like.

You can learn more about all the BMCM’s satsang offerings, and sign up for the eSatsang, or the Young Adult eSatsang – which is an online group for passage meditators in their teens, 20s, and 30s – on our Community page.