Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

Neophytes are very much ready to fight. Irrespective of religion, if somebody is neophyte, he is a neophyte. In our tradition we speak about kanishtha-adhikari (a beginner on the spiritual path) – he is a neophyte; he is always ready to fight. Because he thinks: “I have the truth and everybody else is mistaken.” And it does not depend on age. To tell you one little story: once I was hitch-hiking and an old man stopped his car and took me. I had to be on time, because I had to give a lecture, but he was a very fanatic follower of some Christian faith. He wanted to preach to me very much! So, although we were moving on the highway, he was going quite slowly – to take the time to explain to me everything in a strongly fanatical way. He was an old man, sixty years old minimum, highly qualified – some kind of engineer or I don’t know what – but, sorry to mention, in my calculation in a very fanatic and neophyte mood. For example, as a positive comment I dared to mention that: “Ah, it is so nice that there are many editions of the Bible.” He said: “No! Only our version is good!” I could not relate to that, it was too much. Otherwise he was very nice, because he had almost taken me to the spot, to the hall, where I had to give a lecture. But finally I did not want to frustrate him. So I did not tell him, that he was stopping and taking a Hindu monk and that he was taking me to a preaching program; but rather I was thankful to him for giving me a little lecture.

Kanishtha-adhikari means “neophyte”. Irrespective of the faith, irrespective of the age – if somebody is a neophyte, he is a neophyte. But what is the Sanskrit term – kanishtha-adhikari. Adhikara means “competence” – kanishtha-adhikari is when you are competent to some spiritual practices, but you do not have the full vision. So, kanishtha-adhikari means when you think: “God is in our church.” Automatically you think:”And nowhere else.” Usually kanishtha-adhikaris follow very nicely the rules and regulations. And this is really good, because it is the only thing that keeps them on the path. But as soon as the circumstances are not so strict, they are easily and readily giving up the practices.

Just to give you a very bad and very sad example: you know, many times the vaishnavas, I mean the krishna-bhaktas, devotees, are accused of applying brainwashing. I think you have all heard this expression: brainwashing. I will tell you something more about this later. But in America they have debrainwashing offices also. Especially those people, who were captured by some dangerous sects and cults. And unfortunately, the results were very sad from the point of view of vaishnavism, because it happened that the neophyte vaishnavas were the most easy to be debrainwashed. Too bad.

But actually, what is brainwashing? Brainwashing is to have influence on other people. And do you know what is the origin of this expression, “brainwashing”? No idea? It is coming from Hollywood. In the fifties they had a stupid movie where the Chinese captured some American soldiers and brainwashed them in order when the next election in the United States would happen, they should kill the president or something. So, brainwashing is coming from the Hollywood movie. But actually Hollywood is best in brainwashing. The whole world tries to wash your brain: „you belong to us”! Even the advertisement is having the same effect; our schools are very strong institutions of brainwashing. People say: “I have read in the newspapers!” And when you say: “I have read in the “Bhagavad-gita”, they will say: “Ah, no, this is brainwashing! My revelation is the newspaper. This is my authority.” Or – usually people have gurus. Everyday they worship Shri Guru in their home. There is only one shortcoming – he is one-eyed. It is called television. Every evening they worship; whatever is coming from Shri Guru, they are digesting happily. And sometimes they worship, put some nice garland on top, clean it, so many other services… pay donations, do not forget! So all the formalities are there and people take it very seriously. They believe everything that is coming from that source. And that source will not support that you should go to a spiritual authority and inquire about spiritual topics. They do not want to lose you!

We should not be neophytes. What is the second level? This is the intermediate devotee – madhyama-adhikari, middle stage. The middle stage devotee is fixed in his faith – no doubts. If he has some doubts, he knows the method also how to overcome the doubts. He has good experience in the fight with illusion; and he has some good results also. It is not always that he is losing.  Such a person – an intermediate devotee – is able to lead others. He is a fit person to follow. He can help you, because he knows much more than you.

But intermediate devotee sees difference: „This is a nice devotee, that is another nice devotee… But…” And he sees also that somebody is favorable, other person is unfavorable for bhakti. So he can discriminate. What is the level of highest bhakta? This is uttama-adhikari, who sees no difference. He sees everybody as a vaishnava, everybody as a devotee, bhakta. And the main qualification of an uttama-adhikari is not obvious. It is hidden. And this qualification is that he never criticizes anyone in the heart. Very high qualification! It does not mean that he cannot use harsh words. But he never criticizes in the heart.

How do we act? Ah, we use very sweet words, but our hearts are full of criticism. This is not an uttama-adhikari level. But to qualify ourselves to come to this high level, takes a long time. Uttama-adhikaris understand each other very well. The method to stop fighting is to become uttama-adhikari, perfect practitioners of our religion.


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