Extra English Issues issues

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 30.09.2017 morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

“There is oneness, unity. But more efficient service may be drawn from a particular point rather than a higher point. Everyone has their particular capacity and service and if they serve from there, they will be best utilized. If located in a higher circle for which he has no such fitness, enmity will be created and he will be a loser. Do you follow?”[1] – that was the next question of Shridhara Maharaj. And then the devotee says: “It is still not so clear for me.”

So this is what we can see – the two participants are floating on different levels. One is trying to use all his ear and brain capacity to understand something, but as that capacity is limited, he will understand very little; while the other is using all his heart and all his mouth and all his emotions to explain something – and he also feels limited. ‘I need millions of mouths to properly glorify my master!’ – this is the feeling of the great ones. And what is the feeling of the small ones? ‘I need millions of ears to listen to you!’ So, “it is still not quite clear for me…”

Then Shridhara Maharaj says: “Acharyam mam vijaniyan[2] – in the beginning stage we are told that the acharya, the guru, is Krishna. Then Raghunath das Goswami, the acharya of prayojana, the ultimate goal, says that the acharya’s position is not that of God Himself, but is that of His most favorite one. Ultimately we find that Krishna’s dear-most is in the department of His potency and that is guru.”

You see, it’s so nice. First we see the divine function, and this is good. Later on our vision is more refined and we can differentiate between sevya-bhagavan and sevak-bhagavan – the served God and the servitor-God aspects. Therefore we sing so often: sakshad-dharitvena … kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasyam[3] – “The spiritual master is very dear to Krishna”.

“In the beginning it is mentioned in the shastra that Brahman means the Absolute as the whole. But by clear vision we see that there are Narayan, Vasudeva, Ramachandra and so many forms. And by even more clear estimation we will find Krishna to be within. Do you follow?”

Now, after all these theories, let’s come to a story. “Once Krishna was in a conference, with Balarama and Uddhava. And they saw a mass of light approaching. Then after a little time a figure became visible within that mass of light. Then, after the light mass approached even closer, they could see the figure of a male person. And then still closer – they could see: ‘Ah, this is Devarishi Narada!’ So, in this was from far off you may get a conception of the whole – just as by viewing the Himalayas from a distance you can see many things. But as much as you approach you will find specific parts, with more clarity. And when you will actually arrive, there you will find your Lord and your friends and you will mix there. At that time you do not find the whole Himalaya, but you are located in one particular position. And there, not within the whole, you will find that the desired end of your life has been fulfilled.” So beautiful! You cannot take shelter in a huge mountain range, but you can take shelter in a small cave.

“Similarly, when you approach Krishna from afar, He is sat-chit-ananda, He is infinite! Then, as you approach Him, because you are so small, you will be located in a particular position. In this way, according to your fitness you will be taken into a particular position of service. There you will engage in whatever service is required from you and from there you will draw the fullest satisfaction to your nature.”


(to be continued)


[1] from Shrila Shridhara Maharaj, ‘Specific service’

[2] Shrimad Bhagavatam 11.17.27

[3] Shri Gurvashtakam, 7

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 30.09.2017 morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

I think the best way to celebrate the guru-principle is to remember those representatives who bring this principle so close to us. Therefore I’d like to read from Shrila Shridhara Maharaj. ‘Specific service’; this is a question and answer meeting.

“Question: The disciple sees his guru as absolute, but others may see the same person in a relative conception. So, is the guru relative or absolute?

Shrila Shridhara Maharaj: Generally the advice is that in the beginning the disciple will look at his guru as a representative of the Supreme Lord Himself. But when he makes some progress and inner enlightenment begins, he will gradually find that Krishna, the Absolute, has a particular system and He has His potencies of different varieties. According to the disciple’s inner awakenment, he will have fitness for that particular class of service. That will be considered and he will be taken under guidance in that particular type of service.”

So, that means that in the beginning we have a general conception of divine principle: ‘My master is very divine’. And later on our vision should not change to ‘He is not divine’, but to be more specific: ‘He is divine in a special way’.

“When one sees his guru gradually according to his innate capacity and quality, he will find dasya-rasa, sakhya-rasa, vatsalya-rasa or madhurya-rasa. The government grants the service. He will face some examination, some test, and he will be put in a particular department, where he will find his immediate boss under whom he will serve and be guided. That is the general situation and in this way the devotee will find his maximum gain there.”

It’s like a hierarchy. And the original meaning of hierarchy is ‘the structure of sanctity’. So it’s a divine structure and if you integrate yourself into this hierarchical structure, which is based on divine principles, then you will find your prospect. What is a family? A family is a hierarchy. Some participants might have some misunderstanding, like prabhus might think that they are the boss; let them live according to this illusion. But in general we can say that there is a head of the family, there is a mother of the family, there are some kids in the family. And if a kid integrates nicely into this structure, he will find shelter. Problems will start when he starts fighting for his freedom. Then the hierarchy is broken and he will find no shelter or a different shelter. In the same way, if we integrate ourselves into a spiritual structure, so to say, then we can find our place, we can find our service. And this gives us a prospect – where to go, how to act, how to think, how to feel.

“At first the whole system is as if one – like an integrated unity. Then a devotee will find himself in a particular part of that system, arranged according to his fitness and awakenment. Then finally he will be posted as a servitor to a particular guru, under whose guidance he will do anything and everything required from him.”

So, gurus have an eternal path and disciples also have an eternal path. And sometimes these tracks meet and cross. Sometimes a devotee is given to a guru and other times a guru is given to a devotee. But as both parties, the guru and the disciple, represent the principle – the principle of guru and the principle of the disciple – when they meet and this meeting is harmonious, then this is a divine act. So don’t think that only guru is a principle. Sishya is also a principle. Not a theory, it is a tangible reality.

(to be continued)


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 30.09.2017 morning, Sofia)

We came here together for a Vyasa-puja celebration. I hope you don’t have the illusion that you will be able to celebrate a person, an individual, because we came together to celebrate a divine tattva, a divine principle. Nevertheless you might ask: “But how to celebrate a principle? What is a principle? It sounds so theoretical.” And you are correct, a principle usually is theoretical. But don’t forget, we are part of a mystic process. And mystic means – theory might become practice; a principle might become personal. And it is also true on our present stage of realization in our process: whatever seems like an inaccessibly high destination might become true for you, for us. Are you happy to be part of such a mystic process?

In most of the cases, for people in general God is a principle, an ideal, a power. Many say that this is like a purple haze. But if somebody would tell you that you are a purple haze, you will be offended: “No! I am a person! I am more!” So principles should turn into personalities.

Or a principle of dedication, of divine life – it’s nice. So many millions of people have started their career on this planet Earth to accomplish that goal. Because it’s so inviting, it’s so charming! How can we live without ideals!? It’s impossible. This is not life, this is only survival. Ideals will make us live properly. So this principle, divine life, is so inviting that we are ready to run to it. But we shouldn’t be satisfied to have a divine life on principle, to have a divine life theoretically. It’s not enough! We need to put it into practice, we have to realize that.

‘Realization’ again sounds very technical. But I think you understand what I mean: from the clouds – down to earth, here and now. And this is not a corruption, this is an upgrade of the present stage of life.

Where to find God? Where to find devotion as a living reality? History will say: search in the past. Mystery will say: search in the future. But love will say: here and now. Why wait for heaven, if we can have a taste for that here? Why wait for the next lifetime if you can accomplish now, today? And again, if we are not able to be spiritually happy today – when will the day come when you can do that? Because if you postpone: ‘Tomorrow I will be a good devotee’, that tomorrow never comes. That tomorrow should happen today, right now.

Guru for many people is a principle, a heavy principle. Because guru means ‘heavy’. Heavy in what sense? He is heavy like the Himalayas, you cannot shake him. However you try, you cannot – he is so strong, so firm, so established. Because guru is a principle, right? And how can you shake a principle? We can only approach a principle and we can admire a principle. We cannot corrupt a principle. The personal experience and the principle are different. Theory and practice are different.

Love in general for most people is again a principle – impossible to realize. And sometimes our experience is bitter. But should it compromise the principle of love? It’s impossible! The principle is always perfect. My understanding of that principle and my realization of that principle are partial, they’re limited; but divine reality is not limited.

So, if we return to the original point: guru for many people is a principle. And this is a divine principle. But as this is divine, therefore it is sensitive. It’s a very delicate principle. Is it good to have a spiritual master? Is it Bulgarian ‘yes’? And is it easy to have a spiritual master? You know, Indians have an advantage, because they can shake their head as they like and it will mean as you like – you read this body language according to your understanding. You see, such a refined culture! One gesture can mean anything. So it’s very delicate; same with the divine love principle, same with the guru principle – they are very delicate. One little signal can mean all. Therefore we came together to celebrate this principle – the guru-tattva. It’s so nice, so strong, so elevated! This is beyond human capacities – as it is divine.

(to be continued)

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 29.09.2017 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

The grand-master level of exposing the truth is when it’s so very surcharged with affection that the person doesn’t even think of any offence; he is not hurt. Actually this practice we can learn from our shastras. From krishna-lila you can understand how to expose to others their true face.

You know, Krishna is moving too fast – running here and there, always boiling you in the apprehension that He will go. How to stop a person from running up and down? Any ideas?

Somebody: Shoot him!

Swami Tirtha: Actually that was chosen by Krishna to leave the planet. He let Himself be shot. But we understood that we should start from ahimsa, right. Don’t kill others – this was the first message. So if you want to stop somebody from running up and down, maybe you can catch his hand. But what will happen? He is so strong that he will pull you along with himself. It’s not enough; catching the hand is not enough. So what to catch?

Answer: The heart.

Swami Tirtha: Ah, the heart – it’s romantic. It’s very nice, but be practical.

Somebody: Give him sugar and ghee.

Swami Tirtha: And then he will run to the sweets – good idea. But if you catch his feet, he cannot escape. This is one suggestion that the gopis followed: if you want to catch Krishna, catch His lotus feet and give them a little massage. And then He will feel very satisfied. He is also a good candidate for maha-vrata – practicing perfect contentment. You give Him a little caress and He feels happy – not moving, enjoying the situation. But then the gopis came with the message – when He was not able to move. “What is Your conception about love? What do You know about love? What kind of lover are You?” Krishna starts to feel uneasy. ‘My God, I’m on the hook!’ But this is very scientific, because then they start to explain: “There are three types of lovers. First category: who shares if he receives – so when he receives some love, he will respond to it. First class. Second is so full of emotions that even if he doesn’t receive, he will share. Third type: whether he receives or not, he is not sharing anything. What kind of lover are You?”

So, if you want to give a strong message to your partner, your devotee friend, your husband, your wife – first catch their feet. First give the service, right? Make him or her feel satisfied. And then come with the message. “What kind of lover are you? What do you know, what is your conception about love? Because we have a scientific understanding of that.”

This is our maha-vrata – to catch the lotus feet of God; and then your heart will also be captured, then your ability to serve with butter and sugar will be included. Then you don’t need any other technical control of the mind. You are simply there! You have no second thought. This is your first reality.

So, to be fully competent in maha-vrata, this is our suggestion. “Crystal-clear dedication to the Supreme, compassionate feelings towards other living entities and the ability to harmonize all the different aspects of daily life with the divine truth. This is the cream of spiritual advice for all those who are searching for the essence of the absolute truth.”

So this is my humble offer for you. Try to embrace these three principles in your heart and in our daily life: crystal-clear dedication, compassion and harmony.

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 29.09.2017 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

Question of Krishna Priya: You mentioned before that it’s good to have friends everywhere and I wanted to ask: who is a real friend?

Swami Tirtha: You should be a real friend for others! Don’t wait for others to be friendly to you; you should be a friend to them. This story also starts with you. Don’t expect to be loved and appreciated. But try to serve and love others.

Prem Prasad: If they understand. Because sometimes they don’t.

Swami Tirtha: That’s their business. Our business is to be friendly.

Prem Prasad: It will not happen in one shot. Slowly-slowly.

Swami Tirtha: Бавно[1]. If we are full of bhaava, then it will happen. Because in that sense friendship is not a feeling. It’s not something that will satisfy me, that will give good feelings to me. Friendship is a vision. This is my approach to things in general – friendly mood. To be in good terms with the Supreme – this is a philosophy, we can say. It’s not a feeling, it’s a vision. Love is not a feeling, it’s a vision. It’s a state of consciousness. Because feelings are coming and going, changing all the time. These are products of the mind. And mostly – of the uncontrolled mind. And what will the result be – these bitter fruits that were mentioned in the beginning. You expect your happiness from others, right? It’s romantic! Romantic equals foolish, but in a more polite manner. Be smart! Be able to see beyond the matrix.

Friendly disposition – it’s an approach to life in general. It’s not an expectation, this is a service, this is an attitude. I know a person who has this friendly disposition practically to all. Yet some consider even him as an enemy. But this is the business of others. Your business is to possess this friendly disposition.

Still, to be practical: who is a real friend – that’s a very good question. Because usually people consider ‘a friend’ a person who will hide your mistakes. For example, in devotional relationships you are very good friends with somebody: ‘I know your maya and you don’t expose my maya.’ Best friendship! ‘In this way we serve each other nicely, right? And we agree, deeply!’ Is that a real friend!? You are balancing close to the edge and somebody comes and pushes you down – is this a good friend?! No! Somebody who will come and save you by exposing you to your difficult side.

But all those who are neophytes in this respect, they will come in a very pushy manner – they will show all your shortcomings to expose you to your true face. Usually this is a little offensive. Yet the master’s degree here is when you can expose others and show their true realities in such a manner that they are happy about it and accept it. And the grand-master level of exposing the truth is when it’s so very surcharged with affection that the person doesn’t even think of any offence or something like this. He is not hurt.

Prem Prasad: We should be happy when we are shown our bad sides.

Swami Tirtha: Yes, we have to prepare for that. Because this is a jump into the darkness, right? But we hope that if we jump, somebody will catch us. Therefore you can feel safe.

(to be continued)

[1] It’s a play on words; ‘бавно’ in Bulgarian means ‘slowly’, but it sounding reminds of ‘bhaava’ (full of feelings) in Sanskrit

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 29.09.2017 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

Actually what is mentioned in Yoga Sutras – these are the basic practices of yoga in general. But what is the specific feature of bhakti as a practice? All the great saints and prophets of bhakti gave their explanation. Some say that the specific feature of bhakti is trying to see the divine essence everywhere. Others say that it is to be committed in your services to God. Or follow these rules, pros and cons, in a very profound manner. While Narada Muni says that bhakti is divine nectar. And to feel separated from our beloved Lord is the greatest pain – this is bhakti. So we have to fine-tune our understanding about yoga in general and bhakti-yoga in a more specific manner.

Actually in our practices all the different limbs and other spiritual practices are included. Yogis in general practice asana; what is our asana? To sit in a lecture for two hours – such great self-control! What is our prana-yama? When you sing so much that your voice chokes up. What is our control of the mind? If you remember your beloved ones.

And finally if I may share something personal that happened with our Gurudev. Once we were driving home to his main ashram. He returned from a world tour where he had met his brothers and seniors, and he had collected so much – not only information, but impressions. And he shared his impressions – good ones and not so happy also. He was in a very serious mood. He shared and also inquired about other things. So we started to give a report. 6-7 hours drive and mostly he was keeping silent, it was smashing silence. Sometimes he would say something that crushes your heart. Other times he would say something that will make your soul fly. For example, we had to visit one place where one devotee was serving, but he had already left that ashram to join the celebration in Nanda-falva. So when we informed Gurudev that this devotee was gone, to instruct us he said: “Impossible! In Prabhupad’s times it was out of the question that you move from one place to another without the permission of your spiritual master – impossible!” This was something that squeezed your heart a little bit. To make us think: ‘Whether I move with the blessings of my master or without that?’ Then another silence for half an hour. Time to ponder. But when we started to give the report, at that time one of our brothers was really in full ecstasy. He was rising first, going to bed last and he was ready to all the services and really his company at that time was a real shot of ecstatic devotional service. So we hardly had found words to express our feelings about him. And then Gurudev changed. He was chanting and he raised his arms to the air and said: “This is life – glorification of devotees! This is real life!” This was something to make your soul fly, but definitely followed by another half an hour of deep silence.

So all the practices of other schools of yoga are included in our line. But to control our mind it is the best to glorify others.

Now we know how to be real candidates for this maha-vrata, for this great vow of perfection. When you are on the hook, when you cannot do anything, when you cannot escape, then our vrata, then our tapa, then our mantra and our japa – your vows, renunciation, meditation and chanting – are more provided.

(to be continued)

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 29.09.2017 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

 “The reasons of bad and detrimental activities are: kama[1], krodha[2] and ignorance. This is the reason of violence and all other mistakes. These influences might be weak, medium and strong. And they will bring the bitter fruits of ignorance and suffering.”[3] I think this part we all know. Have you tasted some bitter fruits?

“But what is the neighbour of strong peace? This is if we can renounce the opposite feelings. If we are strong in truthfulness, in this positive cultivation, that will mean that we can control our activities and the fruits of your actions. If we avoid stealing the property of others, then all the good qualities will appear. If we control ourselves by practicing brahmacharya, then we will be very brave, courageous. And if we don’t depend on the support of others, then it is very easy to understand the causes and the purpose of taking birth.”

You see, the cultivation of these ‘don’t do-s’ will bring very profound results. Mahaprabhu said that in order to practice spiritual life properly, we need three qualities: sincerity, determination and we have to be courageous. So if you want to achieve the highest thing, you have to be brave. It’s a jump into the darkness. But is it useful to jump into the light? There’s no risk there. Jump into the darkness – when you don’t know what will come.

Then you can say: “But, swamiji, this is material life! We jump, jump and we don’t know what is next.” Right, it always happens. You take one step and you don’t know what is coming to you. But what is the difference between the two jumps? In the material jump you are full of fear, because you are uncertain what will happen and this will bring you some apprehension. The spiritual jump into the darkness is also a very brave action, but it’s full of hope. ‘Wherever I jump to, it will be nice.’ It is full of hope.

The only thing is that we shouldn’t cross the magic circle drawn by our spiritual masters. So jump inside this circle. If you jump outside, then this is the fearful jump. It’s better we follow the rules of the game. This is the way to develop very profound good qualities.

And if we practice the ‘do-s’ that we should follow, it is said: “If we practice purity, then we shall be independent of the bodily impressions. And we should be able to avoid the bad association with others.” It shouldn’t mean that you don’t respect other living beings, but associate with their best parts. And you don’t need to agree or associate with their wrong parts – the mistakes or misunderstandings. These are like the external results of being strong in purity.

But the fruits of internal purity are very beautiful. “You will be able to see the essence in a very clear way, with a clear-cut view. Your thoughts will be very elevated. Your attention will be very one-pointed. And you will be qualified for self-control and atma-gyana, to know yourself.” I think these internal results of the practice of purity are very strong.

Next one: “If you are contented then you will reach the supreme happiness. From tapas a kind of purity will come – you can eliminate contaminations. And from this the perfection of your senses and body will come.”

But so far all this advice was focused on ourselves. ‘How to control my mind, how to practice purity, how to do this, how to do that?’ – the story starts and ends with you. But the next one says: “If we study properly the scriptures, then we shall meet our beloved God.” So, this is the proper cultivation of studies. It’s not that you will be clever; the result is that you will be embraced, you will meet Him.

And finally it is said: “If we are determined in meditation over Ishvara, then the full success of the spiritual commitment is provided.” So ishvara-pranidhanad va – with full dedication to the Supreme Lord all perfection will come. This is what we can say for the character of an apt candidate for yoga. Some laughter? You don’t say in unison: “This is my way, yes!” But we have to say it.

(to be continued)

[1] lust

[2] anger

[3] Readings from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 29.09.2017 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

Control of the mind – this is a very popular topic of all the different pseudo-spiritual trainings. But how to control our mind? What do you think?

Answer: I don’t know!

Swami Tirtha: It’s easy to say. But if somebody comes to you and asks: “Can you help me to control my mind?”, would you say: “I don’t know how”?! It’s not enough, that’s not helpful. What will you say? How to control the mind? What is your advice?

Question: My mind?

Swami Tirtha: No, my mind! I want to control my mind; what is your advice?

Answer: To meditate.

Swami Tirtha: You see, that’s good advice. Nice. All the Vedic scriptures have two types of advice: always remember God and never forget Him. Easy! Good advice is always very simple. Ultimate truth is not complicated. And through this meditation we can come in contact with the source of everything. So that’s a very perfect way of controlling the mind – in case we are not victims of some kind of spiritual illusion.

But here in the Yoga Sutras it is said: “To avoid the wild thoughts and cruel ideas, we can control the mind through developing better ideas.” So, instead of a bad practice, try to develop and cultivate some good practice. Give food to the mind. Because if you would say to people: “Don’t think of anything!”, it will never happen. First of all, if a person is a moderate one, he will ask: “Can you explain to me what is nothing?” Then you will have a hard time. Or other times, if he is not so polite, he will simply say: “It’s impossible!” So, negative advice is not enough. We need a positive cultivation.

Do you remember the steps given by Rupa Goswami according to the spiritual progress, starting from faith?

Krishna Priya: Sadhu-sanga, anartha-nivritti

Swami Tirtha: Very nice! Adau shraddha, tatah sadhu-sanga, tha bhajana-kriya, anartha-nivritti[1]. So the first step is faith, to develop faith, to exercise our faith, to show our faith. It is said: if you don’t understand something, try to believe it; if you cannot believe, try to respect it. So you see, understanding has so many different aspects, so many fine delicate methods of approach. And then the advice also goes on: if you cannot do that either, then try to glorify it. So, from understanding we come to glorification – as a method to approach the truth. Beautiful!

But we need to focus on this control of the mind, right – how to control my mind? Don’t give nothing to your mind, because it will not be satisfied; give something! Something better, a better engagement than the previous one. I have learned this from one very elevated great devotee. Once Tripurari Maharaj, a very dear brother of my Gurudev, explained that anartha-nivritti, or the relief from bad qualities, is very much possible through the positive cultivation of artha-pravritti – not only to reject something that is useless, but cultivate something that is useful.

So if we give to a person the advice to meditate – let him meditate over something. Have a positive type of meditation, a positive type of cultivation. In order to avoid the bad ideas, we need to develop good ideas. It’s very simple! This is the way to cultivate the mind, to train it in such a way that it will develop and react in this manner – giving only good, positive feedback.

(to be continued)

[1] Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya, 23.14-15

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 29.09.2017 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

Many people try to achieve spiritual perfection through some ascetic practices. But what is the greatest ascetic practice? It is not when you fast if you like it; it is not when you invent how you will torture yourself. The greatest ascetic practice is to be obedient. Have you tried? It’s really difficult, I tell you. Of course! Because then it is not you who will decide – therefore it is difficult.

Other times it is suggested to make different vows in spiritual life – like you chant this number of mantras, and you make that number of sacrifices, and you make that number of offerings, and you invite that number of brahmins to feed – so mantra, tarpan, yagya, seva… it’s complicated. But it is also said in the shastras that if we nicely, obediently serve the spiritual master, it will bring much more happiness to our Lord Shri Krishna than all these complicated rituals. Krishna says: “I’m more satisfied if you serve a pure devotee than if you try to do other types of spiritual practices.” Therefore we have to be very intent and very committed in this respect. This should be our vow, our vrata. This is the door[1] of perfection.

But what kind of vrata? Simple, small, easy; or a grand, grandiose vrata? I think we need a maha-vrata! Do you agree? Shall we check what are the qualifications of a candidate for a maha-vrata? I don’t want to frustrate you, just to give some information. So, you agree with a happy face. I like this so much!

Baladev: It’s before the reading, Gurudev.

Swami Tirtha: Let’s see what happens after. “Maha-vrata – this is one special function and collection of qualities of yoga. So, the character of a yogi, who is a proper candidate for that grand vow is the following: it is necessary to practice the yama and niyama[2] rules; also the asana and pranayama; and then also the withdrawal – pratyahara; and then concentration – dharana; after that meditation – dhyana; and finally spiritual penetration – samadhi.”[3] We know that these are the eight principles of yoga, right?

So, the yama, or ‘the don’t do’s’, are the following: “We have to practice ahimsa, or nonviolence; then also truthfulness; we have to respect others’ properties; we have to compose ourselves in the relationships; and also we need not to depend on others” – not to receive too much from external sources, not to crave for donations or support. We can say that these are ‘the don’ts’; and let’s see what are the ‘do’s’ in spiritual life. “We have to practice purity; also we have to practice satisfaction, contentment; also a little renunciation; also we have to practice some studies; and finally – full and perfect dedication towards God Supreme.”

We can say that these are the ten commandments of yoga. Starting from ahimsa – don’t kill others! It’s a basic principle, but we have to tell it. And finally reaching up to ishvara-pranidhana – the total surrender to God Supreme. It’s quite a path, right? And recently the scientific side of psychology also comes closer to these ancient principles. For example there are these trainings for nonviolent communication, right? They are very popular! Starting from ahimsa; so it is not a scientific accomplishment, this is an entrance fee to a spiritual school. And I’m not very well informed in psychology, you are better informed: is there such a training where ishvara-pranidhana is explained? Maybe you can invent a new school. So, these are the ten commandments of yoga and those who are determined to practice all this, they are the candidates for this maha-vrata.

(to be continued)

[1] Gurudev makes a wordplay: in Bulgarian ‘vrata’ means ‘door’

[2] The moral codex of yoga

[3] Readings from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 29.09.2017 evening, Sofia)

First of all, let me offer my respectful obeisances to my divine masters and to all the devotees present. The time for another meeting has come. And we were desperately waiting for this moment, right? I can speak on my side: I was desperately waiting for this moment. Because if we have a small little dedication to God and we have a divine holy devotional company, that will grow, that will multiply. This is my side. Maybe I have some little morsels from my masters, but in your company they will grow. But if somebody has a big amount of devotion, they also need somebody to share with – right? This is your side. And I feel like a perfect candidate for that. So this is our spiritual race – we are running after each other: to give and to receive. And in a spiritual race you never know who is winning. Because sometimes you feel: ‘Ah, I have lost!’, but that will turn out to be the greatest win. Other times you feel: ‘Ah, I have won!’, but that will be a big failure in your life.

Life is long. And you know, my vision starts to become distorted more and more. I was looking through the window in the morning and what did I see on the street? A very determined young man approaching the ashram with a mala in his hand. So determined he was, that it was obvious that he wants to finish this troublesome journey on this planet Earth. I was waiting for 15 minutes for him to ring the bell; it didn’t happen. So maybe my vision is wrong. I see devotees everywhere.

But it’s better to have such a distorted vision. That will always remind each of us of our own story. Because somebody had a merciful vision over us; he didn’t consider our shortcomings, he didn’t consider our past, but he was really considering our future. So it’s better to have such a distorted vision – when we see only the good side of people, the possible chance of perfection; however small, but it is there. And if somebody paid this trust in advance to us, we also have to carry it onward, share it with others. Because whatever we have received, we have to pass it on.

Those who attended the army know this principle. ‘Whatever suffering I have received, I have to pass it on.’ Correct? But we are serving in Mahaprabhu’s army and that works under different principles: whatever good you have received, you have to pass it on. Because then it will definitely grow.

During this lifetime as a grand experience, so many times we feel hurt and burdened and suffering and in tears and in blood… But what is the best way to start to heal our own wounds? Try to heal the wounds of others and automatically your wounds will also heal. Because comparatively we don’t suffer that much. Maybe if we focus on ourselves, we feel like: ‘Ah, all the suffering of this planet Earth is on my shoulders! That shows my greatness; I’m chosen to suffer in the best way!” But my dear brothers and sisters, it is not like that. Others suffer more, unfortunately. So if we start to develop this eye of compassion, automatically you will feel very secure, very safe, very happy. “I was complaining that I don’t have shoes until I met a person who didn’t have legs.” So comparatively, we don’t suffer that much. And we have a chance! We have a chance to reach perfection. Which is rarely given, rarely provided. Therefore we have to be intelligent enough to grab this chance.

How can we express our willingness to accomplish this chance for perfection? To agree theoretically is not enough. ‘Yes, but…’ – it’s not enough. We need to penetrate deeply this God-given chance. This is a gift of God. And we have to express our willingness to join that invitation. Because if there is an invitation, most probably some guests will come. God Supreme had invited us – we are the guest in His palace, in His world. We need to express our gratitude, we need to express our willingness to be embraced. So, simple theoretical agreement doesn’t help. We need to show something. Because our Lord has shown so much from Himself. You should also show something of yourself. But please, show the better side of you. When you feel that your weak side is fighting with your fallen side, that is not enough. It’s better to show our hopeful and better side. You all have a better side.

Therefore we have to be committed. And commitment in spiritual life means that you say, you mean and you do.

(to be continued)