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English issues

Shyam

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 24.07.2016 morning, Sofia)

Question: I got the information that yesterday morning at 8 o’clock there should be your lecture here. I came, but there was no lecture and have lost 4 hours. Will I be compensated somehow for this loss?

Swami Tirtha: If you dedicate, if you sacrifice 4 hours from your life for a spiritual purpose – I think it’s not a loss. Because your offering is there. Maybe there was no lecture, maybe I couldn’t arrive on proper time. This is my mistake, this is my part. But your part is accomplished. You came, you gave the attention, you made the sacrifice. And it’s never a loss.

We have to perform our duty. If there is some feedback or good result or if there is none – we have to do it. Because whatever experience we face in life, there are two ways to resolve any question. One is the practical side, the obvious side that we see. There is a feedback, there is some success, there is a failure. But the other side is the unseen, the invisible side, the spiritual side. And that is more powerful, that is more important. So, if inside we can somehow touch this divine peace, this spiritual security, then we are successful. Because Krishna says: “I’m not satisfied with grand offerings, but if there is something affectionately offered, then I accept.” In the same way it is this special quality we have to add, this spiritual affection. Maybe our offering is small or grand, it doesn’t matter. This very fine ingredient we have to apply – this is full dedication.

Anyway somebody will take our time. Illusion has robbed us not only 4 hours, but unlimited lifetimes. Now Krishna has robbed 4 hours of your life – for some good purpose, He knows why. Because He is a butter thief. He is a thief. He will steal our time. He will steal our attention. And ultimately He will steal our hearts. So, if we have the proper vision, we shall see Him behind everything that happens to us. Therefore we can say that a pure devotee is so powerful – even more powerful than God, the omnipotent God. Because He can never hide from the vision of a devotee.

premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilochanena

santah sadaiva hridayeshu vilokayanti

yam shyama-sundaram achintya-guna-svarupam

govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami[1]

“Those pure devotees whose eyes are anointed with divine love will see in their hearts permanently the presence of Shyamasundara, Krishna.”

[1] “Brahma Samhita” 5.38

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 24.07.2016 morning, Sofia) 

Question: How to judge who is faithful and who is not, who is real and who is fake in his devotion?

Swami Tirtha: Well, let me quote two occasions in answering this problem. Once Shridhar Maharaj asked the devotees around him “How can you judge if somebody is intelligent or not?” Everybody started to think very intelligently how to judge this problem? But they couldn’t come up with a good answer. And then Shridhar Maharaj said: “If you are intelligent. If you are intelligent, immediately you will understand who is intelligent.” Because if we are not intelligent, we shall think of a very stupid person to be very intelligent. But as soon as I have the proper measurement, I will immediately, without a second word, understand who is on the same platform. In the same manner, if you are pure in heart, you will immediately recognize those who are pure in heart. If you are strong in your faith, immediately you will see the strength of the faith in others. If you are real, you will find who is real.

But this is not the top platform. The top platform means that even if you see the mistakes or the shortcomings of others, you are not interested in that news. Even if you see that others are not so strong, you are ready to make them stronger.

Other times somebody asked Gurudev: “How can we judge the level or the progress of a devotee?” How can we judge devotees – basically this was the question. I know that I mentioned this story hundreds of times to you, but it’s worth repeating. He was very upset and he said: “God didn’t send us the devotees to judge them, but to serve them!” So, this should be the principle. If we have devotees around, let’s appreciate them. Because maybe we cannot judge who is real and who is not real. But Krishna can and guru can. But let’s help each other to become more real. Because we work on a very special principle – your success is my success also. So, if one person makes one step ahead in spiritual progress, that is beneficial, that is an achievement of all others as well. Because the strength and the spiritual power of the whole group is improved.

Of course we have to be a little intelligent to understand this. Because what is our measurement? Maybe somebody follows all the external formalities, but no inner meaning. Maybe one is enjoying the position, but doesn’t possess the real qualities. Or we might think that ‘There are the front line devotees and there is this second class devotees.’ But I feel myself like third or fourth class. So, anyway a little intelligence is also necessary to have the proper measurement. And there is a Bengali proverb: ati bhakti chorera lakhana. Ati bhakti. You will say: ‘Ah, yes! This is about bhakti! This is for us!’ But beware! Ati means ‘extremely’ or ‘highly’, or ‘very much’. Ati bhakti – too much devotion. Lakhana is like a ‘sign’ or a ‘symbol’ of something. And chorera this is like a grammatical case of chora. What is chora?

Answer: ‘Thief’.

Swami Tirtha: Yes. Now how can we put this together? Too much thief is a sign of good bhakti? Or how to put this together? Ati bhakti chorera lakhana – “Too much devotion is a signal of a thief”. So, if somebody makes a show of his devotion, beware. If somebody is very humbly serving and keeps doing his commitment – follow him, that’s the good example.

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 24.07.2016 morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Live, love, leave. So, we live the spiritual life, we take the experience with all the pros and cons. We try to learn and experience divine love. And then leave. What is this ‘leave’. What do we have to leave? Shridhar Maharaj says: “From the realm of distrust we have to enter into the realm of security”.

‘Leave’ means that sometimes we have to get rid of our spiritual illusions. It’s very useful. Not very easy, but it’s very useful. ‘Leave’ means a total leave. Now I only quote, I don’t have this quality, this level. It is said we have to leave all concepts, sarva dharman parityajya[1]. Give up all attachments! It’s easy to give up the attachment to objects, it’s more difficult to give up the attachment to partners or friends. But to give up our attachments to our ideas, to our concepts – wow! You might think: ‘I’m a great devotee!’ Or you might think: ‘I’m a small devotee’. To give up all these different concepts – this is difficult.

But in such desperate moments the divine mystery like a flash can reveal to you. I have a friend and he told me that he made a big mistake, he felt like ‘Now I failed.’ At that moment he had a revelation. Personal talk to the Supreme! So, what is our goal? To have this direct contact. And what is our path? Is it failure, or mistakes, or all the nonsense that you can commit? No, no, no. I think you understand what I mean – that you are never left alone. When you feel strong, then you don’t cry desperately. But when your life crumbles in front of your eyes, then you cry. ‘Oh, my God! What happens? You didn’t tell me that! I expected something else. And now! So far I could manage my life. But now everything is falling apart. Now this is Your turn. You manage my life. I cannot do that anymore!’ Then immediately all the rishies, munies, yogis, bhaktas and the whole parampara, the previous members – they start to smile: “Finally he or she understood! Yes! We were waiting for this moment!” Have you ever calculated how many well-wishers you have? You have no idea of it. Sometimes scientists say: “Oh, human beings that are so many, they are the majority.” No, those living entities here – that’s a minority. An insignificant minority. The better part and the majority are living over there. It is said one material universe – it’s big enough – is just like a grain of a mustard seed. If you have a big bag of mustard seeds and one seed is lost, what is the loss? None. So, it’s an absolute minority. The living entities, all the experience that you might have here, all the concepts that you might have here – it’s an absolute minority compared to the divine and spiritual reality. It’s zero.

And here we might have one or two friends. It’s a very good proportion in a lifetime, if you have one friend, real. Who is not a friend only until you pay the bill. Because until you pay the bill, you will have many friends. And you will have many bad friends also who are there with you only when the sunshine is there. But to have a real friend who is your second self, a gift of God – it’s more difficult to find. And to have a few well-wishers is also very rare – who don’t want anything in exchange.

I know how it is because I experienced it. Although experience is not the highest type of proof, but I experienced it. When meeting Shrila Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaj I always felt this. He was 90 plus years old. And each time we met, only few occasions in this lifetime, I always felt this not simply fatherly, but like grandfatherly affection from him. Although I was not a part of his mission, I didn’t serve him, I didn’t move around him too much, but all the time I felt this very pure and very affectionate attention from him. So, it’s there. Here we might have a few well-wishers like this. But over there you have the majority. All the perfected souls are waiting for you. Because they feel it’s never enough. They feel ‘We are a minority. Still there are some lost servants. And until we cannot’ collect back these lost, escaped souls we are not happy.’ So, this is our hope and this is our conviction – that the majority of our well-wishers are waiting for us.

Therefore live, love, leave also applies in spiritual affairs. We have to live for the Divine Couple, we have to love Them, and we have to leave all the false concepts. Live, love, leave. This is our proper adjustment, this is our religion.

Now everybody floats in the waves of spiritual feelings. But let me crush this dream. What does it mean on the practical platform? That ‘I fix the broken window’. This is the practical application of what you have experienced now. Don’t be lazy bums hanging around, enjoying the facilities of the ashram and the mission. Do something about it! But one person is enough to do this. If everybody wants to fix this one window – that’s another misery. So, be well organized. Therefore it is said: “You have to feel yourself like a fool number one in front of your spiritual master. But don’t act like that.” Don’t act like that!

[1] Bhagavad Gita 18.66

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 24.07.2016 morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Then the next principle applies – love. First step is live, then love – this is the point. Passion! We all speak that language, right? If something is too sattvic, it’s so boring. Nothing happens there – only peace and perfection. Give me some passion, fire, action!

So, the second part is love. This is a very powerful side of the soul practically, because it doesn’t belong to the body, but it belongs to the soul. This capacity to love, to appreciate – it belongs to the soul. Therefore we have to learn how to apply, how to… not to purify because it’s originally pure, but how to excavate that spiritual capacity of ourselves. We all have some experience of the material side of affection, right? But we have only some information about spiritual love. Information is the candy, just to invite you to taste. But realization must be there. To have the full taste, to have the full capacity. Live, love. Love is so powerful, even on the material platform people are ready to die for it. How stupid!

Sanatana: Pushkin.

Swami Tirtha: And many others, too many. But actually, basically even in this case you don’t die for the other person, you die for your own illusions, your dreams. So, if we are ready to die for our material partners, are you not ready to die for God, your eternal partner? How is that, my dear?

So, this divine love is the natural function of the soul. Rupa Goswami compares this basic, natural function of the soul to a very natural function between human beings. He says: when you put a young boy and a young girl together, naturally some affection will appear. The movements of divine love are of the same nature. If you put yourself, your real spiritual identity close to God, Krishna, naturally affection will manifest. But as on the material platform these love affairs, romantic affairs, move like in a meandering way, like the snake, in a zigzag way, in the same way spiritual affection moves in a zigzag way. So, don’t be surprised if your path looks like turning to another direction or you meet some unexpected experience.

Once Gurudev visited us in the difficult times and then he started to leave from the ashram. One devotee was carrying the bags and helping him, and when they approached the car, what did they see? Police is around the car and many people gathering. And you know in those times, if you see the police around your western registration car… So, Gurudev immediately said: “Oh, this is surprising!” and turned in another direction on the street. Of course later on it turned out that somebody broke the car and the police was there only to help. But beforehand you don’t know what’s going on. So sometimes we meet some unexpected experience in our spiritual life. What can you say: “Oh, this is surprising!”  And maybe we make a turn, but we never make a U-turn. Please, note this!

The Ishopanishad, one of the main secret teachings calls God, Krishna: “Oh, my Lord, supremely powerful as fire!” He is very powerful! And who are you? You are the essence of life. Life is the milk and the essence of life is the butter. If you take a piece of butter from the fridge of material existence and you put it just close to God who is supremely powerful as fire – what will happen naturally? You will simply melt. That means connection, affection will start to manifest somehow. Maybe we have some information, maybe we have some hope, but if we apply the process, definitely something will happen.

Think of yourself: just a few years back how it was before you have started, before you have met the devotees; and how is it now? You might say ‘I was happier before because I was unaware what’s going on. This darkness of illusion was so charming; no higher thoughts, no problems. Before I was engaged only with material ambitions, now I have double problems, I have spiritual ambitions also.’ Beware, more trouble is coming to you. But nevertheless you know that it is worth to have such troubles. Because we had found at least one small little piece of candy for ourselves, therefore we are here.

(to be continued)

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 24.07.2016 morning, Sofia)

Life means correct your mistakes. And according to the definition of Shrila Shridhara Maharaja, religion means proper adjustment. Proper adjustment – is that some welfare activities? Or is it some material adjustment – how to make our life comfortable? Or something else? Well, on the practical platform proper adjustment, especially considering the material realities of life, means survival. We take our birth and we try to survive – with less success. Because one thing is sure: if you start this journey on the planet Earth, it will finish. In that sense, if we accept that the material side of life is a kind of survival, then we need to examine the purpose of this survival. Life is not simply a biological affair, life is a mystery. And it’s not enough to discuss or to think about this mystery; we have to experience it. So life is an experience. It’s a mystic experience, depending on the quality of your life. We can waste it or we can make it. But what makes it worthwhile to live, to survive, even on the material platform? It is this mystic experience, the divine encounter. To meet divinity in our life.

But as I told you, however hard we try to fully survive this life experience, we shall fail. Life on this planet Earth is in three words – live, love, leave. The middle part – this is our try of survival. This is how the human being fights with this basic fear of annihilation. This is our demonstration against death. Yet we fail, because we shall leave also. Come and go. So, in a material sense it’s only a few years, right. Still sometimes you feel this short time is a never-ending game.

But a spiritual survival means you die for the body and you are reborn for the soul. You die for the limited time and you are born again for eternity. You die for the insignificant and you are born for the real. That is the real survival. And there again what will you experience? Life. That is real life. Spiritual life is the real life. Eternal life. Of course if we project our experience of this limited lifestyle to eternity, I am not sure that we want to enter in eternal life. Because you say that life is a misery. Shall I have this misery for eternity? I’m not ready for that. Don’t give me that. Just to quote one very positive and optimistic person – Shopenhauer, he said: “Life is a misery. Therefore I decided to think about it.” Are you satisfied with that? Do you want to project that for eternity? No! Although we know that this limited lifestyle is a kind of misery, naturally if we think about eternal life, we want to have it like full enjoyment. Then you start your sadhana; what is it you will experience? You think: first of all peace, second – ecstasy, third – super ecstasy. So, you start and what is your experience? Misery, again! ‘How is that? I made the shift, I wanted to change! And I am still walking in the same shoes.’ But I tell you, this is only the beginning. More is waiting for you. You think of more misery, ah? No, no.

According to our previous conditioning we have to go through a period of purification, no doubt. Which brings sometimes some bitter, other times very happy experience. As it is said, if you overcome others, you are strong. If you overcome yourself you are powerful. And we all have smaller or bigger victories.

Once it happened in this temple room, a dear devotee asked: “We all know that spiritual progress means crushing the false ego, but cannot we have it in a mild, in a soft way?” Therefore we have to go through a period of realizations. One step closer to the truth. This is the first step – live. If we live for ourselves – that’s useless. If we live for God, we live for everybody. So, in spiritual life again the first principle is ‘live’. We have to live it, we have to try it, we have to do it. With all the struggle, with all the difficulties – we have to go through it. And we have to be convinced that at the end of our path, somebody is waiting for us. This basic trust must be there in our heart, that ‘however I have to struggle and whatever I have to go through, somebody is waiting for me at the end’. 

(to be continued)

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 23.07.2016 pm, Sofia) 

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Once there was a very mystic experience. We had a visitor swami from India preaching. He gave a very standard speech, describing all the difficulties of material life. This is a very popular topic because everybody understands. And one of our devotees was contemplating meanwhile: ‘How can I capture Krishna in my heart?’ Then he remembered this story from our acharyas that there is only one place from where Krishna cannot escape – this is the jail of the heart. And immediately our visitor started to mention this story: “If you want to capture Krishna, you have to create a very nice jail in your heart.” Mystic experience. You think of something and the lecturer will mention the same topic.

So, encounters with divinity are not too far away from us. Only one step ahead. Yet this one step always remains. Nevertheless we have to start our run. It’s a chase. But if you want to be successful in your chase, you have to change the direction of the chase – not that you are running after divinity, but divinity is running after you. That’s the real thing. Loving search for the lost servant – this is our conception about God Supreme. He is so compassionate, so full of loving emotions that He wants to share. Therefore He had invented this feeling of separation. He wants to meet newcomers. They say that sometimes Krishna is bored with the oldcomers. He needs new faces. And we cannot meet if we are not separated, right? If you are always there, you are like a bookcase – always there and not moving. We need separation in order to be united again. This is purva-raga. When we are separated, we need, we are yearning for the meeting. And when you meet, you have a bitter drop of fear of separation. Do you know this feeling? When everything is so beautiful, but still you have a little fear: ‘How long it will stay? Right now, in this moment, I feel the ecstasy. But the next moment comes and then I will lose this ecstasy, because super ecstasy is waiting for me.’ You see, devotional life is full of losses, you always lose. You are a loser. You lose the present moment of deep ecstasy to come to a deeper ecstasy.

 

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 23.07.2016 pm, Sofia) 

Life is like a long journey. We all follow this path. The point is not to start the journey, but to arrive. Many start, yet few arrive. Today we feel very fortunate, because we started and we did arrive. Nevertheless this is only the beginning of our common journey.

When coming here I was thinking: What can I tell you? You know so much. You are so qualified, you are very serious practitioners! At least this is my vision. But then something came to my mind: to discuss encounters with divinity. How to meet the divine? We are entangled, we are encircled by the material. So we know how it is. But encounters with divinity – we don’t know. This is like a white spot on the map of life. And this is like a real adventure trip – to meet divinity in our life. Encounters of the first kind are when you meet the divine and you don’t recognize. Encounters of the second type – you meet for a while, but then you lose the contact. Encounters of the third type – when you meet and you maintain, but sometimes you lose the contact. Encounters of the fourth type – when you meet and you are never separate anymore.

Fortunately our Mahaprabhu was realistic. He was not floating in the ecstatic waves of union, but He always discussed separation. Why? Because He knew very well how the basic human behavior is. When we have, we cannot appreciate. In order to appreciate, we have to lose it! Then immediately you will understand what you have lost. When we have the divine contact or the blissful state of spiritual devotion, sometimes we cannot really appreciate. But in the absence of such blessings immediately we understand their value.

So, what is our prospect? Shall we remain like normal human beings, same like others, trained not to appreciate when we have it? Or shall we become angelic super human beings who can appreciate when they have it? And who can appreciate even when they don’t have it. Do you see the depth of this prospect? Just like Mahaprabhu expressed: “Whether you embrace me or you kick me out, I am Your unconditional servant”[1]. It’s a very high standard of spiritual dedication. When I read it for the first time, I was really touched. Somehow beyond any formalities it just captured my heart. It’s that’s deep! So, read and remember just like at the first time.

Let’s focus our attention on these encounters with divinity. Let’s pray that they happen in our life. It doesn’t really depend on us. No, I have to reconsider – It does! Because our dear Lord Krishna is like a young boy. And what is the nature of young boys? They are running up and down, it’s very difficult to fix them in one place. Same with Krishna, He is moving so fast here and there, He has so many engagements. It’s very difficult to fix Him in one place unless we design a jail. One of His divine features is that He is totally and absolutely independent and sovereign. That means nobody can catch Him. He is free. Therefore we are searching for freedom. We want to be free also, we want to be like small gods. But then how to put a sovereign God into a jail? They say that there is only one type of jail from where He cannot escape.

(to be continued)

 

[1] Shikshashtakam 8



Gurudev-Narayan-roses

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 8.09.2015 morning, Sofia)

After these few days that we have spent together, a special moment comes, a moment of meeting – we shall meet the feeling of separation. Which, as our teachers say, is a very intensive feeling. Sometimes they say it is more intensive than meeting. Because when we are in the embrace of divine mercy we take it for granted. As soon as we feel that we miss this divine embrace immediately we can appreciate it. Even more than before. Therefore from the point of view of spiritual cultivation which feeling is better?

Rukmini: Separation is more deep, but without the meeting there is no separation.

Swami Tirtha: Oh, I see you know the higher conclusions of our devotional philosophy. Nevertheless I have to remember a few occasions. One occasion was when a very dear friend of Gurudev came and he gave very deep insights into our tradition, into our philosophy, and also how to put it into practise. And he mentioned: “Don’t take anything for granted in the spiritual life. Don’t think that ‘Tomorrow I will make it’. It is not sure if there is tomorrow.” If we cannot do it today, if we cannot achieve today, if we cannot be dedicated and – as a consequence – satisfied today, the day will never come. If we miss a service today, it is not sure that tomorrow we can make that. Because we can miss only the chance. We cannot miss our karma – that will come anyway. But devotional chance, divine chance comes by its own accord.

This is one little thing that I wanted to remind you and myself also: don’t take anything for granted, don’t think that ‘I can postpone my ecstasy for tommorow’.

And there is one more thing that I want to remember always. You always offer very nice garlands to your spiritual master. And I know him; he accepts such things only as a representative of some sacred institution. But in the old times once it happened that one young brahmachari in the ashram was working in a “nursery-garden”, where they sell plants for your garden. At that time we were expecting in the ashram our Gurudev. And you know there were so many roses! So many roses, that we could put roses all over the temple room. And because in a rose garden for selling, if buds are a little opened up, they are not for sale anymore, they cannot sell it. So, it was possible for this boy to collect all these opened roses. He broght thesе roses to the ashram in his shirt. The shirt was filled with roses, like a big belly. You know at that time the ashram was very poor, so we couldn’t afford too many flowers or too much greetings for Gurudev, but now we had roses! At that time we made a garland long enough to touch the ground if it hangs over the neck of Gurudev. We finished the garland, we were waiting, and waiting, and waiting. And Gurudev didn’t come that day.

Usually we don’t mention names, but I have to mention that young brahmachari who collected these flowers and made this garland for Gurudev – this was Nandakumar Prabhu. I hope you all will be able to collect as many roses in the rose garden of your life, as he did to greet his spiritual master.

 

 



parampara

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 7.09.2015 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

Question of Krishna Priya: You mentioned setting goals. It is hard for me to understand anymore goal setting, because in retrospection all the goals that I have set for myself turned out to be an illusion. And I don’t dare to set some spiritual goals, because they seem to me unreachable and now I’m in something like a vacuum.

Swami Tirtha: No! As we have learned from the advice of Shrila Prabhupada, in order to reach the supreme power of transformation of the philosopher’s stone, we need certain qualities. And that was determination, that was honesty, purity inside, good company – we can develop these qualities. And we must know where we are going. Because if we don’t know to which port we are sailing, no wind will be favorable. But if you know your destination and if you are clever enough, you can take benefit of all the different winds.

In that sense I don’t agree with you. We must be able to find our spiritual goals. Satya-sankalpa is mentioned in Vishnu Sahasranama; that means He is the true commitment, or the true dedication. And if we have this true dedication, the goal, then we need a satya-sadhana, a perfect process to reach that goal. Therefore we have to identify our goal, then find the proper method and accomplish it. What is our goal? To find our way back home to the divine Reality the Beautiful. What is the way? This is chanting the holy names. And how to realize that process? By chanting. So, it’s not that complicated.

But spiritual illusions are there. Therefore we need a certain disillusion. Maybe at the beginning we are very ambitious. We want to be the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant. Later on when you improve a little bit, you are satisfied with a lesser position to be a servant of the servant of the servant. And if you improve a little more, then you are satisfied to be a servant of the servant. And then we are back to the original point that ‘I identify myself as the follower, the student, the servant of my beloved master, who is a servant of the Divine Couple.’

 

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 7.09.2015 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

Question of Tejasvini: You mentioned that first we have to clarify our position. How we can do it? And how we can act accordingly?

Swami Tirtha: Well, very nice question. Thank you! If we want to identify our position, then we need to distinguish between the bodily and the spiritual platform. Because no doubt our bodily identity has some needs. The body has to be fed to gain some energy. The body has to sleep, the body has so many other desires and needs – it’s a long list. While the spirit, the soul needs a different foodstuff. There also a kind of energy input is necessary, but of another type. And in order to progress nicely we have to understand the proportion of our attention over our body and spirit: how much we are under the bodily influence and how much we can identify ourselves in the spiritual sense. Because maybe our soul wants to chant the Holy names day and night. But the body will say for the day ‘I’m busy’, and for the night ‘I am tired’. This is the situation, let’s face reality. We all know what the theory is: ‘Oh, loving ecstasy day and night!’ Yet Monday morning comes and ‘Oh, I have to rush to my job and then I am back at home and in the evening I’m so exhausted that I just crumble.’ Does it happen sometimes? ‘Yes, we know this feeling. Finally something we understood from the lecture. This tells about our life.’

Then what to do? Somehow this material life wants to exhaust you totally, wants to capture your soul; you have to sell your soul in order to reach any little achievement. If we analyze this question a little bit more, then very soon we shall find some very beautiful ideal for us. ‘Yes, I want to be like this devotee. I want to have that kind of devotion like Narottam dasa Takura.’ Or whatever. But very soon we realize we don’t have that. Don’t worry, every long journey starts with the first steps.

Nevertheless we have to find an identity for ourselves. I think for a considerably long time in our spiritual practices if we identify ourselves as servants or students of our master – it helps us. Because this is our reality, this we can accomplish. Maybe I cannot accomplish madhurya-prema and gopi-bhava all of a sudden. This is very unrealistic. But I can have this new identity ‘Yes, I belong to a spiritual lineage, I belong to my master!’ This we can do, this is real. And then through this new identity that we acquire, we can start a process of purification – by serving, by association, by chanting. And then slowly-slowly the anarthas or the obstacles will be removed.

So, this is my suggestion: let’s try to identify ourselves as servants, as students of our masters. Because an obedient student follows his master. Wherever the master goes, the student will also follow. Sometimes the master will say: ”Now I go alone.” Then you have to wait by the door. Don’t worry, he will return to pick you. So, this sincere and honest sense of reality means: ‘I identify myself in a realistic way.’

But you might say: ‘All right, in the beginning I identify myself as a student or a servant of my master. Until I don’t have pure vision, until I’m not enlightened – all right, I am a servant! But what happens with my identity if I am enlightened? Finally will I become a master? I have been a servant for such a long time. I have been listening to these lectures for how many years! Finally I want to give the lectures – so that others are listening to my revelations. So, what happens if I achieve enlightenment?’

Let me quote a story about a Buddhist monastery. The young man joined the Buddhist monastery and he asked the mahant, the swamiji: “I want to achieve buddhahood. I want to achieve enlightenment. What am I to do?” and the old man said: “Oh, very nice that you came, my dear son! If you want to achieve enlightenment, you have to carry the water and chop the firewood.” “Very nice my master, I will very diligently carry the water and chop the wood. But tell me, what will happen after I achieve enlightenment? What am I to do?” “Carry the water and chop the wood.” Same activity, but on a different platform.

So, what will happen to us if after identifying ourselves with ‘a student of my master’ finally we achieve liberation? Then again this identity will help you, but on a higher platform. It’s not necessary to become masters. Be a master of yourself. To win over others – this is strength. To win over yourself – this is power.

(to be continued)