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English issues

жената-птици

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)

 

 

Question of Yamuna: Why the soul through reincarnations is forgetting the previous events? Don’t we need this in order to make the connection and get the picture? Isn’t it more useful to us to remember rather than to forget? Krishna says in the Gita that: “I am the forgetfulness.”[1] Why does this forgetfulness come to us not through maya, but through Krishna?

Swami Tirtha: In good case it comes through Krishna; in general case it comes through maya.

Yamuna: So, to put the question: when the body dies and the soul reincarnates in another body, is the forgetfulness coming from Krishna or is it coming from maya? And why is it necessary for the soul to forget the previous experience? Isn’t it rather necessary to make the cross-references and stop feeling rebellious that: ‘I am the victim. I don’t deserve that!’

Swami Tirtha: I like this last part. So, in ordinary cases forgetfulness comes from maya, illusion, but in special cases it comes from Krishna. Just like remembrance also comes from Krishna. They all have a big part to play in our system. Because forgetfulness covers not only our previous merits and achievements, but also our mistakes, our big faults and our failures. Many people think: ‘Oh, it would be so nice to have an impression of my previous lives. Because in this lifetime I am suffering so much that definitely I want to have the information of my previous lifetimes!’ But my dear brothers and sisters, if you suffer today, what was your story last time? Same! So, why do you want to remember that much? It’s better to have it covered. It is not by chance that there’s something you forget, something you remember. Especially with a sincere practitioner this is also under divine guidance. So, don’t poke your nose into your past soup. Lord Buddha was said to remember one thousand lifetimes back. But he was powerful enough to carry the burden of thousand lifetimes. We are so weak even to tolerate the burden of one, this present lifetime. And then we want to see the others? Didn’t you have enough in this lifetime? Why do you want to know the previous ones and the upcoming ones? One element of sharanagati is to accept Krishna as the maintainer and the protector. If He wants to protect us by making us remember something, then we should accept. If He wants to protect us by making us forget something, we should accept that also. This is for our benefit.

Otherwise if we always know permanently something, it might become boring. And it is said that Krishna likes the fresh gopies. This is His nature. Sometimes it’s good to forget about something. Because then it will feel like new. Permanent and complete consciousness and memories – it’s a heavy burden. Sometimes we even have to pray for forgetfulness. ‘Please, my Lord, help me to forget about my mistakes! Help me to forget about the shadows of others’, because that is not the real thing. The real thing is something essential, it’s not the shadow. The light is always ahead of us and the shadow is always at our back. This should be our approach and we shouldn’t worry. Even if you want to remember, by age Krishna will provide you the forgetfulness. 

Yamuna: That’s bothering. 

Swami Tirtha: No, that’s sweet. Because what is it we shall remember at the end? Not so much, because philosophy is too complicated. ‘Yes, some years back I was able to see, but not anymore. So, I didn’t read the Gita for twenty years now. And I heard so many teachings, but I cannot remember anything. But one thing I remember is… how was that? Hare Krishna! Yes! I remember this!’

So, we shouldn’t be too proud of our knowledge and of our understanding, because Krishna will remove it very easily. When we are young… Bhaktivinod Thakur said: “When I was young I was collecting knowledge! And I thought that this is the way; but now in my old age I see that knowledge made a fool out of me. Now I am so old and I am so incapable to enjoy life. And what a misfortune – I forgot to worship you, my Lord!”[2] This is something essential; this is what we should not forget. Not very complicated – He is there, don’t forget about Him!

So, remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness also come from the divine source. And we should be sure, that whatever is necessary for our benefit, for our connection back home – it will be provided. Some might reach the same destination by knowledge; others might reach it by forgetfulness. So, it’s a kind of special duty if we remember our past lives. And actually if we analyze the present situation, we should be able to understand the past and also the future. Because the present is the future of the past and the past of the future.

But we should never forget that we are spiritual sparks. Sharing the divine qualities. He is eternal, we are also eternal. He is shining, we are also shining a little bit, reflecting something. Because if we forget about that, then we compromise the divine glory, so to say.

So, in one sense you are all great! I don’t want to flatter you, but you are great! You are part of a divine plan. Not only by dedicating yourself, but ontologically, by nature, you are all part of a divine plan. So, the more we realize this, the closer we are. Because there is a dignity of the soul. It’s not only the horror of the body. And also there is the joy of self. So it is this we should not forget.

 

[1] Bhagavad Gita 15.15

[2] See Bhaktivinod Thakur’s song: Vidyara vilase

 



лодка в нектарен океан (1)

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday) 

“Question: “So if someone says that the Guru himself will personally come back – that is a mundane conception, a wrong conception?

Shrila Shridhara Maharaj: Yes. The main thread is there, but it will not always appear in the same form. Although to the beginners one may say that “he will come back,” ultimately we find that a disciple may even be transferred into another section, and then yet another section, so that he may gradually reach his destination. According to the unfolding of his inner necessity, the departmental change may occur. And he will always perceive his own Guru in newer and newer ways. At first sight he perceived his Guru to be of one type; then again with progress he will see the same Guru in another way, and thereafter another new characteristic will be found in his Gurudeva. The disciple will feel, ’I could not detect so much in my Guru in the beginning. I saw him in one particular way, but now I find that he is something more, and then he is still more.’ In this way there is a divine unfoldment. In this world there is unfoldment, and in the higher domain also there is unfoldment. So the Guru is something like shaktyavesha. Shaktyavesha is this special person who is deputed according to a particular time, place or circumstance, and there is also the permanent shaktyavesha; but in all cases, according to the necessity of the situation and by the divine dispensation of the Lord, the disciple will be connected and he won’t feel any distrust, it is the presence within. He will quench the thirst for the full progress of his heart, there will be divine unfoldment within his heart, and again he will begin a new thirst. And that new thirst will be quenched by whom? His Guru. It will be quenched by his Guru and he won’t have any feeling of unscrupulousness or anything else. As his internal thirst is being satisfied, he will feel, “There is my Gurudeva.”

Wherever there is unfoldment – gradual unfoldment and full attention given to that – then we can understand that from the upper side there is Guru. Gurudeva is my guide; and as I progress, guidance of different types will be necessary for me. Always new guidance, and my progress will take me into different places, and there a new type of guidance, a new life, will again come. In this way a dynamic life is going on and the main thread is there: raso vai sah – the pure rasa, the pure ecstasy is there. And my inner heart will approve: “Yes, I want this. This is my fate; this is my fortune.” Otherwise, if any madhyama-adhikari is appointed as Guru and has so many disciples, and if he is to come back again and again, then he could never enter into nitya-lila. But that cannot be so. In any case, whoever is connected with a genuine Guru will be satisfied, because the Lord is present there”[1].

To see the Supreme in the Master is not in name only – it has a very specific purpose. “Krishna says, “Don’t try to limit the Acharya! You may have come up to a high position, but will you then think that you have surpassed that Acharya through whom you received your initial instruction in spiritual life? No, navamanyeta – don’t think that there is less in him, don’t consider him to be of lower position. No – I Myself was there! I was there in your primary teacher, in your ‘college-level’ teacher, and I am there in your ‘post-graduate professor’ also! So don’t look at only the outside. I Myself am your guide in different forms. It is Me.”

“Sarva deva-mayo guruh: the Acharya has got more spacious characteristics than that of the ordinary, general Vaishnava. Krishna says, “For you, I am there. And mayanukulena, I am backing so many Acharyas. There are so many Acharyas, and I am working through them. The Acharyas are like helmsmen in so many different boats, and I am the favorable wind helping those boats to make progress. So don’t limit the Acharya – try to see him on the same level as Me”.

“Sarva deva-mayo guruh” that’s like a quote, like a proverb – that all the demigods and all the gods are included in Guru[2].

Question of Yashoda: I cannot understand the conception of Shrila Shridhara Maharaj because I had heard that Guru is coming back for the disciple and here it was said that it’s not exactly like this.

Swami Tirtha: I cannot understand his guidance either, but I worship this. Because it’s not necessary to understand the truth. It’s enough to worship. But just imagine a master with a hundred lazy students. Where is the liberation of the master if he has to go after all these guys running up and down the Universes? Or maybe we expect some magic yogic powers from our masters – that they should multiply themselves and go after me, go after the other and the third one. Is this your expectation? Well, if we have that expectation, then we should also qualify ourselves. But somehow all this guidance is a divine function. And whatever is impossible according to human capacities it’s very much possible according to divine power.

[1] The Golden staircase, “Divine unfoldment” by Shrila Shridhara Maharaj

[2] Shrimad Bhagavatam 11. 17. 27.

 

 



connection

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)
 
We have to continue our readings from Shrila Shridhara Maharaj and this very intimate topic “The eye to see Shri Guru”. So, how to find and how to serve the higher divine authorities? 
“Question of a devotee: “I don’t know if this is correct, but I have heard it is said that if the disciple is not spiritually successful, then the Guru may not return back to Godhead, but may remain in this brahmanda (universe). He may not return to Krishna until the disciple can also go.
Shrila Shridhara Maharaj: If that is the case, then no Guru can ever return to Krishna at any time, because the continuation of the disciples will go on, so he will have no final result at any time in his life. But we cannot think that this is so. Sometimes he may be deputed himself, or others also may be deputed in that case. But the inner instruction and inner feeling and paraphernalia will be such that in any case the disciples will have no trouble. The officer might change, but the function will go on smoothly. So the Guru may return – the nama-guru, mantra-guru, sannyasa-guru – they are all Gurus, but we must recognize something similar in them, and hence we are given the statement about the ontological aspect of Guru: sakshad dharitvena samasta – “I Myself appear as the Guru, who is simultaneously and inconceivably one with and different from Myself.” Krishna says, acaryam mam vijaniyat: “You should look there for Me. I am there. I am your Guru. With My different types of shakti, by the jivas recruitment or by any other way, it is My function to take you up to a different place. In every case I am there. I am there in My madhurya-rasa shakti, or sakhya-rasa shakti, My vatsalya-rasa shakti, dasya-rasa shakti, and in a general way also.”[1] Sometimes one may be recruited by the Ramanuja Sampradaya and then be converted to join the Krishna Sampradaya or the Gaudiya Sampradaya. That is also possible. We are to remember the eternal link” .
Is this clear? This situation is very similar to a family connection. Guru is like a father, disciple is like a son. And here the question was whether if the son is not successful, then the father cannot return home back to Godhead. But is that just? If I am stupid, I will give big trouble to my father. Well, it’s not very just. The other case doesn’t happen – that the father is stupid, there is no such case. But in the tradition it is said that sons can help the fathers. Whatever is accomplished by the father, will be inherited by the son; and whatever is not accomplished by the father the son can continue and fulfill that duty. So, you as fathers and mothers are also included. What is your inheritance that you will give to your children? Your negative bank account? ‘Yes, my dear son, this is my gift to you. Take care of this.’ Or what? So, you have to collect some merits in order to provide for others. But in case you, fathers, are not successful, please have sons and train your sons in such a way that they can help you. And this is not an excuse for lazy fathers: ’Well, I am here to enjoy my life, and if there is God, maybe my son will help me to reach there’. Not in this way. 
But as I told you many times, the Sanskrit expression of the son is very meaningful. What is the word for a son? Putra. Put means ‘hell’, tra means ‘to liberate’. So, a real son is such a person who can liberate the father even from hell. And what is the other word for a son? Mutra. Mutra is ‘urine’. Both urine and the son come from the same channel – one is useful, the other is like a waste material. 
So, my dear brothers you are not only fathers, but you are also sons of your fathers. If you expect your sons to be putra and not mutra, then please also qualify yourself as putra and not mutra. In case the father cannot accomplish something due to some reason, the sons should be so strong and dedicated that they should accomplish. 
Some very similar connection is there between the spiritual masters and their dedicated followers. In case something is not accomplished by the Guru, the disciples can inherit and continue. And as all these principles are under divine guidance, ultimately success will come to all parties involved. 
Question: When is a person ready to go back to Godhead? Is it when this is the only wish he has? 
Swami Tirtha: Well, it’s one side, one prerequisite; but there is another side also – he has to be invited or accepted. Just like in the case of prasadam. We have a little part in this and Krishna has the bigger part in prasadam. Our part is to cook, to prepare, to chant the mantras, to ring the bell, make the offering. But don’t think that this is enough! ‘I had rung the bell’ – it doesn’t make it a prasadam. The bigger part is done by Krishna, because He accepts. In the same way we ‘cook’ ourselves in sadhana-bhakti, we ring our bells, etc. etc. We do all the necessary engagements, but ultimately we have to be accepted – then we might enter. Otherwise who can say: ‘Yes, now I am ready’?  
 
(to be continued)
 
1. “The Golden staircase, Chapter 2, by Shrila Shridhara Maharaj


Mother

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Question: Gurudev, what happens if one recognizes as his guru somebody who is already not in a physical body?

Swami Tirtha: It’s a sensitive topic. If you had asked me that question twenty years back, I would have immediately said: “Wrong”. But if you ask me today – if all the participants are very pure and innocent in their hearts and also if there is no cheating mentality, if this is not an escape from a living connection – then I might say it is possible.

Nevertheless it is always very good to have a feedback. But we don’t believe in the bodily existence, we believe in the spiritual existence. On that platform the higher ones might come and invite you to join their mission. Maybe they don’t show their bodies, but they show their willpower or invitation.

Yet I am sure we all had heard that as an excuse: “Oh, I have heard that this is the divine desire, so I will do it.” If there is no security system, in that case, it’s risky, no doubt. And how can we protect ourselves? Only with sincerity. Because actually one engagement in this material world is very popular – cheating others. It’s widespread! There is only one engagement that is even more popular than this – it’s cheating yourself. So, how to avoid cheating others and cheating ourselves? Be sincere!

Question of Paramananda: If it is appropriate, one more question on the topic of guru. We know that Bilvamangala Thakura is having generally said three spiritual masters. We can say that the first one helped him to really start the active spiritual part of his life. The second one was giving him direct instructions and gave him initiation. I think also the second one gave him the sannyas order initiation. And the third guru is a very interesting phenomenon for me, because he explains that his instructing guru was Krishna himself. If you could, please, share more about this topic. One of the things which I am specifically interested in is if the position to be instructed directly from the Supreme is reserved only for those persons who belong to His close entourage. Or practically every soul can somehow receive this position?

Swami Tirtha: I also have a question. Who was the first guru?

Paramananda: Chintamani.

Swami Tirtha: What was her position? Worldly engagement?

Paramananda: She was a prostitute.

Swami Tirtha: Yes. So, Bilvamangala Thakura’s life story shows that we should go beyond formalities. Formally the social position of a prostitute is not very high. But she was more devoted and more aware of the real values of life than her partner. So, usually we expect guru-tattva to manifest in a splendid orange dhoti. But sometimes guru-tattva comes in the shape of a prostitute – unexpected! So, go beyond formalities. We can never know who the dark horse is. Respect all and be eager for instruction!

Concerning your second topic – whether the direct instructions are available or not. Well, there is a connection between Krishna and all the souls. Through His presence in your heart He is able to instruct every individual. And our duty is to purify our capacity to hear and perceive the instructions so much, that we are able to get that message. So, this subtle inner guidance is always there. We only have to remove our resistance.  

 

 



4501_Curve

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

Question of Damodar: There was a discussion – where we should concentrate more: on guru personality, or on guru-tattva? I was meditating a lot on this topic and I would like to share my opinion, but in the same time it will be a question. Actually if we understand guru-tattva, that should be more important and more substantial. Because if we understand that, we should for sure automatically treat properly our personal guru.

Swami Tirtha: Hopefully.

Damodar: From the other side it’s easier to accept him as a person, some kind of person.

Swami Tirtha: Not some kind. Special person! Not some kind of person. So, is this your question?

Damodar: The initial question is on what we should concentrate more to enter the principle of guru-parampara? If the institution is more important?

Swami Tirtha: Very good topic. On which part to focus more? I should quote Gurudev on this subject. I think it happened on 24th of April in 1986 when he said: “Don’t try to understand the personality of guru. First of all it’s impossible, second it is not necessary! Try to follow the instructions!” Yet, today I am sure he would add something more: ”Think what you can learn from a person.” Of course I don’t want to push it over him, this is my opinion; but we should examine properly what we can learn from different personalities, different people. How can we understand another person? We cannot understand even ourselves, right.

So, focus on tattva. I tell you why, to be personal – because I know my limitations and I know my mistakes also. And I know that I will make mistakes in the future as a person. But the tattva will never make mistakes! I know that I am limited and I will make mistakes, but the tattva will never make mistakes. So, by serving and by being connected to the tattva we can tolerate the shortcomings of the person. Another heresy – guru making mistakes, right? Uh! But what happens if the guru makes mistakes? If you live in a dream and all of a sudden you wake up and say: “Hey, hey, wait a minute, what is this?” This is an answer, in case that special person makes any small, little, insignificant mistake, due to being a human being – because he is a human being, any human being can make mistakes. But the tattva that he represents will never make a mistake.

Actually we should focus on both. Through the guru person we should try to approach and serve the guru principle and by the blessings of the guru principle we can serve our guru person. One helps the other to improve.

Dragi: I will compare the spiritual master to a locomotive and I will tell you what is happening at Sofia’s railway station. There is a passenger train and a certain locomotive should start it. And usually it happens like this. There are situations though, when the locomotive is missing. Five minutes remain till the time the train should leave, but still there is no locomotive. Two minutes remain – still no locomotive. I will not explain what happens with the dispatcher in that moment. They find whatever locomotive is available from somewhere. So, somehow, with delay, the train goes with whatever locomotive.

Swami Tirtha: I like your example. “The show must go on”, the trains should depart on any conditions. Your example is quite up to the point. Here in this case we understood who the dispatcher is – that arrangement is made by the Lord or His swarupa-shakti – just imagine, if one locomotive is missing from their mission. There must be some uneasy moments. Yet, they can start the engines on time.

If we apply this principle in our life – on any condition we should continue our service. What happens if I cannot perform properly everything? I shouldn’t do anything? No, this is not a good solution. At least something we should do. If you cannot accomplish 108 rounds per day chanting your japa, then better if you don’t do anything? ‘Because I cannot do complete, then I will do nothing.’ But then it’s a hundred percent loss. At least do something and there is a little gain. We should keep up the spirit. Because every mantra you say, every little service you do is another victory over our false egotism, over our illusion. So, we should do it!

(to be continued)

 

 



Patachitra style

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Question of Damodar: What I am hearing about guru-disciple relationship, takes me to the direction of thoughts that it’s possible that somewhere before the positions of these two personalities have not been in the form of guru-disciple. Maybe they could be completely normal – like friendship, like husband and wife. So, it comes out that one of these two personalities somehow managed to elevate himself on the spiritual path, while the other one remained backwards.

Swami Tirtha: I’d like to agree with you. Of course this is my private, personal opinion. But this is heresy, so beware! If you listen to this, in some cases they will burn you at the stake. Yet do you want to hear my opinion?

Answers: Yes!

Swami Tirtha: This is the way to improve your desire. So, I also think that due to some divine arrangement these positions, accepted by one and the other, might change from time to time. But I wouldn’t say that one could elevate and the other remained back. Because without a younger brother there is no senior brother. Without a weak one there is no powerful one. The other party is very much necessary for the connection. And maybe the younger one is more important than the powerful one. If there is nobody to save, what can a savior do? So, the fallen guys are very important because this will engage the saviors in their duty, this will help them to accomplish their divine mission. Therefore we should be very careful about our vision. Pure spirituality is 100 percent perfect. Not that one is better and the other is weak or not so elevated. Everything is divine; on the divine platform everything is divine. Shridhara Maharaj says that in the spiritual sky even the specks of dust should be considered as superior. Everything is divine there.

Guru is a special person. Why? Not due to his human character, but due to the divine function that is manifested through that person. Therefore it is said in the Shrimad Bhagavatam that who considers the murti to be a stone, or the holy place to be a simple reservoir of water, or the spiritual master to be a simple person… well, he is an animal – it’s a big mistake. Big mistake, because then you miss something. What does a horse do at the Ganges? Goes there and drinks the water. This is not bad if you drink the Ganges water, but you know, he cannot take a purifying bath in the waves of the sacred river.

Of course there are many critics. One famous person said: “I was waving the ghee lamp to this piece of stone for years and nothing happened! If you think that taking a bath in a holy river will purify you, then what about the fish there? They should be holy!” You can never know! Anyway, you will always find criticism about sacred things, sacred objects, sacred faith. But if you want to find the essence, then you should come to the spiritual platform, where the cloud of illusion doesn’t block your vision. And if there is such an intimacy of the connection between souls, that they are ready to exchange their roles even, I think that is very high.

But why I said that this is heresy? Because in most of the cases you will hear: ‘Oh, the spiritual master is a Param-Bhagavat! He is absolute and we have to tremble in front of him!’ But what happens if he doesn’t feel satisfied with some guys always trembling? He needs sometime some reliable, reasonable guys around him.

So, the roles might change under certain divine arrangement – they might change their positions of being a guru, being a disciple. But this is my personal understanding. And I have something to support that vision. For example, the guru should be considered the main authority on any questions. Shrila Prabhupad was a famous guru and a big authority on many things. His disciples took him to a studio to make some recordings, Prabhupad had the earphones, he was listening to the different tracks. Then the devotees asked: “Prabhupad, how should we mix the different tracks?” And he said: “I don’t know! You know it better!” Would you expect such an answer from your divine master: “I don’t know!” You wouldn’t expect such an answer. But this shows his humility: “I’m not an authority in sound engineering! I can play the mridanga, I can sing my song! This is your job, do it!”

Or what did Krishna do? God Supreme, controller of everything, the worshipable and servable object of all! He took the position of Partha-sarathi – the chariot driver of Arjuna. God became a servant. So, He is ready to change his position. Isn’t that intimate? When He is ready to give up His divine position and He acted like a friend, like a servant to His worshipper. So, this exchange of positions, when the servant and the master change – I say in very intimate cases it might happen.

 

(to be continued)

 



11988539_10153608669809628_866992268485997133_n

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Question of Kripadham: What is our attraction to our guru?

Swami Tirtha: Yes – whether it is to the external form, or his behavior, or his diet, or taste, or whatever? Or is some essential understanding: what is the goal of life; how to live properly; how to express ourselves properly? Because just imagine: if for example we are sitting in Egypt, discussing the divine principle in a dervish monastery, then we shall use different phrases. We shall have different understanding about things, we shall have different names. Even different diet. But what is the topic? How to find the way back home, back to Godhead? The dervishes will say: ”Let’s dance a little bit!” and this is the way back home for them.

Or – yesterday I received a bulletin. It reads: Orthodox Church “Saints Cyril and Methodius” and there is a quotation from “Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians: “Brothers! Always rejoice in the Lord! God is near!”

It’s a good message! My dear brothers, find your happiness in God! It’s a part of some general message and there are always practitioners for all these general principles. Then what is specific about our process? This is what we have to understand properly. It’s not a question of who is better or who is second, who is first. In that sense it’s not a competition. But we have to examine what is the special contribution that God needs from us. Because He can take from others for example this flower. From this group He can take that service. What is the service that He wants to take from us? This is what we have to understand – what is the special contribution of a devotee to Krishna’s full satisfaction? If we can identify that, then we are fully convinced what to do, how to live, what to avoid. Then you know that: “Oh, this is my loving offering to my beloved Lord!

Question: I don’t know so well the books which you are quoting, but this is not an obstacle for me, because even outside the form the wisdom remains. That’s why I am coming with joy here. Yet, I’ve read the letters of St. Apostle Paul and I didn’t understand the joke about him.

Swami Tirtha: Joke?

Comment: With the bulletin.

Swami Tirtha: Oh, but it was not a joke! No, no, no! Please, don’t misunderstand this! I just wanted to show that in many respects we are the same. It just happened to come to me yesterday and what was the message there: “Be happy in God!” Of course we are happy to hear that message – that God is close. This is what we want! That shows that irrespective of the cultural setup, irrespective of the religious differences there is some universal message.

Comment: My conviction is that all those religions are coming from God and if it brings benefits, so it’s good. And actually we are all brothers.

Swami Tirtha: Yes, that’s true. That’s correct. We all belong to the Supreme. The differences in religions and between human beings are done by the humans. The unity is established by God. So, we should decide whether we are on the human side or on the divine side. The spiritual is universal, the human is limited. The big question is how to become a real Christian, a real follower of Jesus? How to fulfill the requirements in the “New Testament”? There is a very simple answer – become a devotee. Because I had seen, the devotees are living what is written in the Bible. For them this is not only some old books; no, for them this is life – to live in divine love. 

(to be continued)

 

 



reflections

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Suppose a disciple takes his next birth in a particular country or a particular sect. The Guru may also appear in a particular country or a particular sect, but that the disciple will again come exactly in the same position as before – that may not be. And that the Guru will also come as he did previously, in that fixed position – that also may not be. Still they will be able to recognize one another. The Guru will know about the disciple’s previous life, and the disciple will also think, ‘He knows everything about me.’ With such broadness of vision we are to look at our Guru Maharaj. So, guru-tattva means it is sakshad dharitvena: not only the person, but the person plus something more.” Sakshad means ‘directly’, hari – ‘arranged by Hari’. It’s a divine connection. ”And that arrangement is made by the Lord or His svarupa-shakti. But whatever the external circumstance, there will be no disturbance regarding the path for the disciple.”[1]

Does it make any sense for you? I think it’s very substantial. What does it mean? The story goes on two different levels. One is the external platform, where we act like gurus and like disciples. But the other, the internal story is going on permanently. So, something divine is hidden here. Therefore we should approach this topic with the utmost care. Because something very important is hidden here. Maybe you have some questions?

Question of Kripadham: Does it mean that guru-tattva itself is a person in the same way as guru is a person? Because it comes from svarupa-shakti

Swami Tirtha: It was mentioned that this is under the protection of either God or His svarupa-shakti. So, you can decide which rasa you want to enter. Because then you have to select your guru accordingly. For a general rasa you can have God’s given guru-tattva. For a special rasa you have to obtain a guru from svarupa-shakti.

Kripadham: So, if a guru leaves and we remain on this material platform, practically the possibility for him to come, exactly that personality to come back for us is very minimal.

Swami Tirtha: Yes! But you can go with him!

Kripadham: But in case it happens that the disciple is not much surrendered and respectively he cannot follow the guru, guru somehow manifests – it doesn’t matter if on the moon or somewhere else – and the disciple again recognizes him. And you said the guru will also recognize the disciple.

Swami Tirtha: ‘Hey, again this guy – no! Save me, God!’

Yamuna: But for the disciple it will be: “Again my guru!”

Swami Tirtha: ‘Again, I can suck his blood!’

Yamuna: Maharaj, we have very different views of the same situation.

Swami Tirtha: Depends on the side.

Kripadham: So, I am asking, then what is it that is recognizing, if that’s not the same person? Who recognizes who?

Swami Tirtha: We have to differentiate between our personality and our identity. Personality might change, because it is a part of the false ego. You build it up, you expand it according to your experience, according to your desires, etc. So it is changeable. But the identity doesn’t change. This is our real ego, our real self and the real connection should be established on that platform. Because that changeable personality is practically made up of memories and impressions. But our real identity is made up of spiritual substance. And there on that platform connections are eternal. On the material or mental platform they are changeable. Therefore I said the story goes on two levels. One is the external, which changes from time to time; and one is the essential, which doesn’t change.

So, we can say that guru-tattva is an invitation of God: “Come back to Me!” And that will not change. It’s a permanent invitation. And if you are connected to that principle, if you connect to that divine energy, you cannot go there simply with your body; you have to go there with you essence, with your atma.

(to be continued)

 

[1] From The Golden Staircase, Chapter 2 by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj

 



Гурудев и Югала

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)

Maybe our masters are different as persons, but they are united as spiritual fact. As substance, as principle they are the same. And this principle will unite us all. As this is something very important for all of us, I think we should study that topic a little bit. I tell you why. Because when newcomers visit our programs, it’s very easy to trigger them with the guru principle. They will think: “Oh, I don’t have! I’m like an outsider!” And it’s very easy to create bad feelings in people if they don’t have access to something. But to examine the principle properly I think it is very important and we should enter deeper into this topic. And Shrila Shridhara Maharaja is an authority on this principle, no doubt. Because I have to tell you, I was searching, listening and carefully trying to understand the opinion of many acharyas; and many of course contributed with very substantial opinions. But the debth and the refined understanding is unique here.

“The Eye to see Shri Guru”. One devotee asks: “We are often told, regarding the Guru and the shishya (disciple), that if the shishya is not successful in becoming a completely pure devotee in this lifetime, then the Guru will return by taking another birth. But does the Guru personally take another birth?”[1]

Just imagine the situationone guru takes so many disciples, and 90% of them are spaced out. Then you have to multiply yourself, because one is going to the moon, the other is going to the sun, the other is going to the hell – in many places you have to run after them. So, how is it? Because we feel very fortunate: ‘If I cannot accomplish, then my guru will come and save me’. And what about your brothers and sisters? He has to save them also. So, we have to examine this very carefully.

Shrila Shridhar Maharaj answers: “The relationship must continue.” Actually this very short sentence is enough to answer this whole problem. The connection should continue. “Whether that particular soul who was delegated as the Guru in the previous life will personally come – whether he will again be sent or not – there is no guarantee; but in any case the disciple will maintain his awareness of that higher connection. He will recognize it just as it was in former stages, although it may be in a different form. It will not be unknown to him. And he will also perceive that “I am not unknown to my master.” But the Guru’s external form may not be similar.”

That means the principle is there, the essence is there. Form might be different, but the essence is there. Because who is guru? Guru is our personal savior. He is like an extended hand of God to you. And you see, these Indians know something – sometimes they describe God with hundreds of hands. Because He is reaching to us, to you, to the other, to all. He doesn’t have only two hands; sometimes He shows four hands; in many other cases He shows hundreds of hands. But actually He’s got unlimited hands – reaching for us, for you. This principle – that He invites you, He wants to embrace you – is always there. And when it is manifested through a person, then we are so satisfied.

And something very important – you will recognize and you will be recognized. Have you been acting as disciples? When all of a sudden you recognize something: ‘There must be some connection.’ Do you believe in connections? In great meetings? I’m a believer, I do believe in great meetings! It’s not by chance. It’s not only the question who comes first. Some gurus say: “Well, if I come first, they will love me. If you come first, they will love you”. Which might happen, but this is not the big meeting, the important meeting. Like when you recognize: ‘Something catches me here!’ Therefore I ask: Have you been acting as disciples? But we have to ask another question: Have you been acting as masters? When you recognize somebody: ‘Oh, I’ve met that person before!’ This is described here: you will recognize something, and you will be recognized. This is the connection. Something is established behind the scenes. You don’t know by your external consciousness, but with the finer, internal radar you will understand. You recognize and you are being recognized.

 

(to be continued)

 

[1] From The Golden Staircase, Chapter 2 Shrila Shridhar Maharaj

 



bug

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia) 

Question: I have a question which brings inner contradiction. I had the chance to explore and experience, and I do believe that I am an ancient spirit, like most of you here, and I do believe we come with a mission to this life. I think I need time to recall this mission back into my head, to remember why I came here. But why is it that when I take birth I don’t have my direction, I live in ignorance and illusion? I understand this is a relative reality, but at that time I can make many mistakes. And I make mistakes, I still do. Until I reach perfection I will continue to make mistakes. Why were we allowed to make big mistakes in our past? Why aren’t we advised immediately regarding our duties?

Swami Tirtha: That’s a good question. Once there was a saint, a great ascetic person. He was living fully renounced from all the possessions and all the charms of life, given to meditation, very focused, not paying any attention to anything external. He was sitting under the shade of a tree absorbed in his meditation, when all of a sudden some soldiers came. They were searching for some criminal and they found this person sitting under this tree. So, they were happy to catch someone and impaled him on a sharpened pole. We discussed before: action-reaction. Quite surprising – you meditate and you are tortured to death in such a strange method. So, our friend was taken to Yamaraja, the God of death. And he raised his voice: “Hey, Yamaraja! There is a mistake in your system! You keep track of all the mistakes and sins of people. I was meditating all my life and what happened!? You made some mistake!” Then Yamaraj said: “Yes, that’s very nice! But do you remember that little bug?” Because when this ascetic was a small boy, once with a thorn he pierced one bug. So, when the saintly person remembered, he said: “All right, there is no mistake in your system!”

This story illustrates that there is a reason for every reaction that comes to us. Nothing is by chance. And if we are permanently conscious of this – that whatever we experience in this lifetime has a story behind – then it’s a little easier to tolerate everything that comes to us. So, why are we given the chance to make mistakes?

Answer: Because we have independence.

Swami Tirtha: I didn’t want to enter that topic today. But why? Because usually people remember the most difficult parts of their life more profoundly. Mistakes are there to learn from them. Shrila Prabhupad said: “A fall down, a mistake is the pillar of success”. So, our mistakes or even our sinful activities should help us to realize what is proper and what is improper. If we don’t know what is proper – well, the action will bring the reaction, so, we have to pay the price. But if we know what is proper and if we go against it, it’s a qualified case.

And maybe a certain limit of freedom is manifested there. When Gandhi held a speech in the English parliament, he said: “We are striving for independence.” And he got the response: “Oh, but you cannot live with your independence, you will commit mistakes. You cannot use it properly.” And then he said: ‘No, we demand the freedom to commit mistakes!” Because that makes the game. Otherwise it’s boring. Otherwise everything is fixed. It is this little element of freedom that we can use or misuse. If we misuse this, then we commit the mistakes, we commit the sinful activities. If we use it properly, then we escape the system more quickly. Because then we catch on the divine mercy.