What is a Satori – Interview

An Interview with Clare Soloway for SEIN Magazine, Berlin.

For many years you have been doing a Satori process – Can you explain what a Satori is?

Clare: It is a direct experience of truth, in a moment. It is recognition of everything being absolutely as it is – as perfect in itself. It is felt and perceived and you are inseparably at one with it in that moment. You experience the truth fully, completely. And the Satori experience comes with an absolute certainty of “Yes, that is”. You know. All the resistance, all the stuff we put up to shield and protect us – all fall away. And then suddenly the realization sets in: “It is as it is as it is.”

In the moment you experience a Satori there is no fight, no resistance, just a sense of being. When a Satori happens to you there is no doubt, but a certainty from deep within, a “yes, that’s it!” It is one of these true ‘aha’ experiences. It is a moment of profound understanding. Usually when it begins there is some door in you that starts to open. And suddenly the realization of the truth just pops in out of nowhere. And it catches you quite by surprise. It is because you keep communicating during the Satori process that the truth drops in, becomes deep and literally fills you.

Is a Satori moment like enlightenment?

Clare: No, I would not say that, although I don’t know, since I am not enlightened. But, the way I understand it from what I have seen and experienced, is that enlightenment is an ongoing and sustained experience described as bliss, nirvana, and ecstasy. A Satori experience can last from a minute to days and weeks and then the direct experiencing of the truth goes. However, the memory of it stays, the understanding that went along with it never leaves you. And this changes your life accordingly.

In the Japanese tradition the monks take years to reach a state of Satori so how can normal everyday people reach it within a week – what’s so special about this process?

Clare: A number of things. First of all, you sit and work with your question. There are a series of life questions that you address. Each is designed to take you deeper into the Satori process and each one brings on a new and different Satori experience. As soon as you have reached a Satori with the first question you progress to another.

Of course, one of the reasons the process is so deep is because of the communication. You sit exploring the question intensively with different people throughout the day. You put across whatever comes up for you when you face your questions. Whatever that is for you. This is very powerful. When you keep communicating in this manner, it invariably leads you deeper and deeper into yourself. If you manage to stay focused totally, you can do the work of 10 years in one day.

Everything works faster in the Satori process, incredibly fast. The structure of the group is designed to give you every possible assistance and support so that you are free to go deeply into your question. The support of the structure and the other participants is such, that the questions are seen and recognized within a few days and not years. It can be painful and difficult at times and a fight against realization can be there. The process itself, however, enables the participants to let go of things that are in the way. I believe the Satori process does that more than any other process I have come across.

What does a Satori do for you in the long run?

Clare: The experience of a Satori is a revelation of a deep and profound truth. It alters our perspective in a way that we learn something which is never forgotten. The actual experience goes, but the truth of what we have learnt stays with us and changes our perspectives. You will never be the same again.

Each of these questions empowers us all individually. It gives us a sense of how each of us can have absolute choice in our lives. We realize that we do create our own reality. And this is not just words. It is something that actually happens in you and in your life. The very fact is that once we realize deeply that we are responsible for ourselves, we are liberated. Because in that moment we have freedom. We are freed from feeling we have to be and live as victims. We are free. And what we do with that freedom is again our choice. We never lose the understanding of that after experiencing it in a moment of Satori. It is pure empowerment.

Does that mean that the Satori process is better suited for people with a background of therapy or spiritual practice?

Clare: No, not at all. It is equally potent for people with a vast amount of therapy and spiritual experiences as for those who are doing this kind of work for the first time. And the revelations that happen for both are not more easily available for one or the other. Some might even find that their prior exposure is a little in the way. Because when we have a lot of experience we are very sophisticated and tend to think we know.

People who have spent years on some process of developing themselves and their awareness are amazed at the new and penetrating insights they gain with the Satori experience. Suddenly it is as if all the work they have been doing is seen from a different and new perspective. And for those new to this kind of work – they are in a sense without spiritual baggage and they bring a freshness and innocence to the process. That brings them equally quickly to the same place. What I find so beautiful about the process– that each person learns enormously and each becomes an important part in the learning process of the others, a mirror.

How does this affect the group and the participants?

Clare: Well, the Satori process is an adventure which we embark upon together. There is such a sense of equality and sharing with each other that we emerge from the experience with a quality and depth of feeling close which has been forged in a completely new and different way. What begins to emerge is a kind of bonding. It happens because we go through everything together – through pain, resistance and tiredness, through joy, spontaneous bursts of laughter, playfulness, exhilaration and ecstasy. That’s why there is a sense of being very united in this quest, it’s like being part of the right family.

You have a vast experience with many therapies and group therapy, both as a participant and as a group leader and therapist. With all that in mind what do you personally treasure most about the experience of Satori?

Clare: When I did my first Satori group 40 years ago I had already been in therapy and running and participated in groups for several years. And it was as if the experience I had had up till then – all my work and training and personal experience – fell into place. You could say everything fell into the right configuration. My configuration became precise and clear and complete.

I had spent years learning and talking about various concepts of understanding life and had had moments of “getting” that. But when I had my first Satori experience everything fell into place and I knew with absolute certainty. After that I was able to speak with an authority that I had never before known. Krishnamurti – such a passionate man – was entreating the people around him not to treat him as a teacher, a guru or a master. Saying again and again “You are your own guru!” The Satori experience taught me beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am my own authority – I learned to trust in myself.

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