An interview with Katiza Satya & Kevin Sahaj
To set foot inside the sacred space of Katiza Satya and Kevin Sahaj is to feel submerged in the very essence of their being. The smell of sandalwood incense, the simple tones of dark wood, earthly colours and matted white walls, the many statues and tokens of those who represent the divine, holding the space that is their home now; all of it breathes the story of two yogis that are sincerely dedicated to be the living truth of what it is they teach to those around them.
After many years of traveling the world together to practice and teach their own special blend of Yoga and Dharma, they now find themselves settled in Amsterdam. Together with Delight Yoga they are turning their intention towards creating true sacred spaces, which will support many people in their own search for spiritual understanding.
I feel right at home and in a state of complete wonderment at the same time, as I sip tea from Bhutan. There is something so undeniably genuine about this place, that one cannot help but feel a little lighter, a little more peaceful upon resting in it.
Now my curious inquiry into the matter of sacred spaces starts, a topic needing little introduction with Katiza and Sahaj for it concerns a view that rests very close to their hearts.
Is there an urge or need for you to find a sacred space, wherever you may find yourself in the world?
Katiza: Not so much an urge, but it is something that kind of spontaneously happens.
Sahaj: First thing we do when we arrive somewhere is set up an altar, especially if we know we’re going to be there for some time. If I don’t do that, there is no fire, you know?
Could you take me through those steps of creating such a space?
Sahaj: Well, in our case, what we do is just find a space in the room, ideally at the spot where we’re going to be practicing. We don’t carry many objects. Just a picture of our teacher and usually a statue of Ganesha to represent the divine, and to hold the space. We usually carry our own sacred texts wherever we go, so those are there. And incense always.
We always light a candle, as a symbol for consciousness. The picture of the Guru represents our aspiration towards coming into the completion of our teachings. And than the incense is an offering to the space and the energies in the space.
Is that important, to do such offerings? What kind of purpose does it have?
Sahaj: Believe it or not, but in any room there are many energies we can’t see. If you light the incense with the intention of an offering, while for instance reciting the prayer Om Ah Hum, then that smoke becomes an offering to the unseen beings, asking them for permission to come into that space.
Of course in the modern world people don’t see these things so much anymore, but if you’re sensitive to energies you can actually feel that very often there is something in the room. When you do, you can no longer just step into a space and do whatever you do, before asking permission in this way. And even if you’re not able to feel these energies, I guess it just comes down to a sense of trust. Even then these methods are very beneficial.
So one really has to be humble and mindful of these lingering, unseen energies?
Sahaj: Yes, it’s a good idea. I practiced in Australia for more than twenty years, and not once in that time did I ask permission from the local Aboriginal energies that are in- and of the land there. I just didn’t see that. It wasn’t until we moved to Bali, where everything is a sacred space, that I began to see and respect the unseen energies and how important they are.
Actually, It was quite arrogant of me at that time to just be practicing yoga in this beautiful piece of paradise in Australia, a place with a history of a hundred thousand years of rich spiritual local tradition, without having asked permission for it. It was an ignorance of the energy level.
Later, when my teacher Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche was consecrating a temple there, he did ask a local aboriginal mystic for his permission and blessing. I just started crying, because I knew how arrogant I had been in previous years. It was a blessing, because I got a second chance to ask.