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Extra English Issues issues

Прабхупад като птиче

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2016, morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

“Every living entity under the spell of the material energy is held (considered) to be in an abnormal condition of madness. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam it is said: Generally the conditioned soul is mad, because he is always engaged in activities, which are causes of bondage and suffering.”[1]

Once I met a sociologist and he had some questions to be answered. Like how did your movement start, how many practitioners are there, etc. – basic stuff. And then he came up with some difficult questions. He quoted Shrila Prabhupada. He asked: “What is your opinion about the following fundamental expression: “The majority of human beings are mad”? Sometimes Shrila Prabhupad said that “90% of humanity is simply mad.” “This is too fundamental!” said the guy. What could I say? I told him: “Well, I have read the official health statistics. It says that more than 60% of the Hungarian population is affected by some mental disease like depression and this and that. So, it’s only 30% left. How is it that you don’t take the official statistics as fundamental? To claim that the majority of your population is crazy – isn’t that fundamental?! Sorry! You are not upset at that, but if a saintly person says: “If you lose your chance for being happy, you are crazy” – then you take it as offensive? So wait a minute! Come to your senses, don’t read only the words! Try to catch the essence, the meaning – why does he say like that? Sometimes, please, you also have to be able to defend the dignity of our process if some stupid opinions come.

But here Prabhupad is even more fundamental, he says: “Every living entity under the spell of the material energy – all are in madness. Spirit soul in his original position is joyful, blissful, eternal and full of knowledge. Only by his implication in material activities has he become miserable, temporary and full of ignorance. This is due to vikarma. Vikarma means ‘actions which should not be done’.” 

(to be continued) 

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2

 



food-offered-to-krishna-660x400

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2016, morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

Of the three types of devotional service let’s discuss the first one: “Practice means employing our senses in some particular type of work. Therefore devotional service in practice means utilizing our different sensory organs in the service to Krishna. Some of the senses are meant for acquiring knowledge and some are meant for executing the conclusions of our thinking, feeling and willing. So practice means employing both the mind and the senses in practical devotional service. There are certain prescribed methods of employing our senses and mind in such a way that our dormant consciousness of loving Krishna will be invoked, as much as a child with a little practice can begin to walk. One who has no basic walking capacity cannot walk by practice. Similarly Krishna consciousness cannot be aroused simply by practice. When we wish to develop our innate capacity for devotional service, there are certain processes which – by our accepting and executing them – will cause the dormant capacity to be invoked. Such practice is called sadhana-bhakti.”[1]

Sadhana. I think we all know many features of sadhana-bhakti. Many times it is stressed that it’s very important to follow all the rules and regulations and all the prescriptions that are given to us. Why? Because if we agree on some points, on some basic principles in life and if we follow them, then we are protected. If we agree on the point that ‘The goal of my life is to achieve pure devotion’, then practically we have to agree that we shall do everything possible to achieve this goal. That is sadhana. One part of sadhana is to take a bath. This is not the goal. The goal of life is not to take a bath every morning. But without that sooner or later you will be stinking. If we purify our body, then automatically mind is also purified – to a certain extent. And then with this purified body and cool mind it’s easier to focus on our practice.

Therefore all this basic information on the daily necessities of life is meant in order to facilitate your practice. In the same way eating is a very popular habit in human life. We repeat this practice quite a few times per day. And if you are very careful about feeding your car with the proper fuel, you have to be careful about what fuel you provide to your body. In England for example, more than 20000 people feed their cars with a wrong fuel – into a diesel car they put petrol or vice versa. And some engines work, other engines don’t work after such a shocking experience. But this is not the topmost mistake of a person; once I heard that somebody put the liquid for cleaning the screen into the tank – that was a total disaster. Even the people in the car-repair service were astonished. They’ve never seen such a case before.

So, we commit mistakes from time to time. But we have to be careful about these very basic things – what we eat. Why feed our body with the wrong fuel? And we are not satisfied with simply a sattvic alternative. Because the pigeons are very sattvic in eating as well. They are eating only some grains, but we don’t consider them a very high type spiritual authority. Or a monkey for example – he is eating only bananas, but he is not the main acharya. So simply the sattvic alternative is not enough; we need sanctified food – that is the proper fuel for the body and the soul.

Sadhana-bhakti also includes certain ritualistic part, like puja should be done like this, chanting should be done like that. And this is very important to learn all the rules and practices – just to tame the wild animal first. Then when you obtain your control, you can go further in your finer cultivation.

Mahadev: Gurudev, my question is about this veganism that is so popular nowadays. How do we as vaishnavas refer to it?

Swami Tirtha: This vegan lifestyle I consider a sattvic alternative – which is not bad in that respect. But we consider the prasadam principle a higher principle. Simply to avoid certain foodstuff will not save you. But to be connected in this divine circulation of energies by offering and receiving – that will save you.

And what can we do – our dear Krishna appeared as a cowherd boy! He likes butter. That is His preference.

So if somebody wants to practice the vegan lifestyle, I think we should encourage him: “Go ahead! This will purify you on sattvic and karmic platform to a certain extent.” But we should understand that sacrifice is a higher principle than diet. And if we sacrifice so to say our food, then it’s a different type of practice than simply avoiding this or that type of foodstuff.

 

(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2

 

 



Oct

11

Helping hand

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2016, morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

Let’s discuss something about the first stages of devotion.

“The three categories of devotional service which Rupa Goswami describes in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu are listed as devotional service in practice, devotional service in ecstasy and devotional service in pure love of Godhead.”[1]

I think we can stop here. So, there are three categories of devotional service: in practice, in ecstasy and in pure love. Sometimes devotees use very high expressions. “This is full ecstasy!” Or ‘What was that very special feeling at the end of the kirtan?” Or “This prasadam is not rasa, it’s ruchi – the highest rasa possible!” So sometimes we use very high class of expressions, although most probably we are on a very elementary platform of our spiritual practice. Nevertheless we have a hope that after practically doing our service if we attain the second platform, then full ecstasy will come. Ecstasy means ‘to go beyond yourself’. ‘To stand outside’ – ex-stasis[2] – outside, to stay outside of you, to go beyond yourself. When you can transcend your limitations – that is ecstasy. This is not a result of a pill, this is when you go beyond your utmost limitations. And ultimately the highest stage is devotion in pure love of Godhead.

“There are many subheadings in each of these categories. Generally it is understood that in the category of devotional service in practice there are two different qualities; devotional service in ecstasy has four qualities; and devotional service in pure love of Godhead has six qualities. These qualities will be explained by Shrila Rupa Goswami later on. In this connection Shrila Rupa Goswami suggests that the person eligible for Krishna consciousness or devotional service can be classified by his particular taste. He says that the devotional service is a continual process from one’s previous life. No one can take to devotional service unless he has had some previous connection with it. For example, suppose in this life I practice devotional service to some extent. Even though it is not 100% perfectly performed, still whatever I have done will not be lost. In my next life, from the very point that I stopped in this life I shall begin again. In this way there is always continuity. But even if there is no continuity, if only by chance a person takes interest in a pure devotee’s instruction, he can be accepted and can advance in devotional service. Anyway, for persons who have a natural taste for understanding the books like Bhagavad Gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam, devotional service is easier than for those who are simply accustomed to mental speculation and argumentative process).”

So, continuity. Everything has got a reason before. But what is the first reason? Because in order to continue something we have to begin somewhere. How that first moment happened?

Hayagriva: Some sukriti[3].

Pavitra: The good fortune to meet a saint.

Swami Tirtha: And also there is one other chance – if we start to have preliminary trust. It is not preliminary faith, but preliminary trust. All these factors can help a person to be connected somehow. Our own efforts in a good direction, in a sattvic direction; or by some good fortune we can meet a pure devotee; or before we have accumulated some merits, some good deeds – sukriti – and this will bring the fruit of being able to start a spiritual process.

But why should we analyze so much the first moment? Shrila Prabhupada said that if you are drowning in the middle of the ocean and if by some good fortune some ships are around you, and somebody extends a hand to you to save you, why should you analyze from which ship, which hand, who extended it and how it happened – just grab it! Because if we analyze too much, then we are drowned. So better be saved than to be clever.

But then we have to continue. Because once we have started we should never give it up. In that respect life is long and we might face unexpected situations. For example today you have the entire positive and nourishing environment to practice your spiritual life. Everything is provided for you: Mahaprabhu is here, the sanga is here, the ashram is here, your guru is here, your japa is here, your little-little willingness to do is also still present. So you have all the favorable circumstances for practice. All right, let’s remove some of the elements of this list. If Mahaprabhu is not here, then what happens? Your heart is broken and you die immediately; then how can you practice? Or when our spiritual master leaves? He is inspiration for us! Or if the sanga is removed? You remain alone. Or if there is no ashram? Or ultimately – if you lose your willingness? These are very difficult moments of life. Therefore we have to grab the opportunity until we have it. Don’t take it for granted.

 

(to be continued)

 

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2

[2] From Greek ‘standing outside oneself’

[3] Sukriti – spiritual credits

 



Oct

5

six goswamis

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2016, morning, Sofia)

We continue our readings from this very important book – The Ocean of Bhakti-rasa. What do we expect from an ocean? To be big. And also? It must be deep; with some living animals inside; to be an ocean of nectar; to be secret. And also to have waves. So this book is divided into waves. So you can see how innovative our Rupa Goswami was. Not simply following the pattern to divide the book into chapters, but waves. One of the features of the vaishnava is that he is poetic. And how can we describe the nectarean ocean of bhakti-rasa in a composed or in a boring manner? Chapters, subchapters and this and that – no, impossible! Waves! You can see that even from these very simple contents of the book we can learn a lot.

Our goswamis, our teachers are of very diverse character. One was very strict on the rules, regulations and all the necessary elements of the practice. Hari-bhakti-vilasa – this is like the law-book, the code of the conduct of the practitioner. I tell you, it’s very difficult. There it is mentioned something like this that if you follow varnashrama-dharma for 25000 lifetimes without a mistake, then you can qualify yourself to go further. According to that standard we have had 24999 lifetimes before and now we have to qualify ourselves fully. And also all the details of the ritualistic part of our process is described. All the necessary qualities of a prospective disciple are described; what is the meaning of initiation, etc. So, you can see that Sanatan Goswami gives very detailed information on the rules and regulations.

Then Rupa Goswami, who is another top senior of the goswamis; sometimes he starts with very simple instructions. Like vacho vegam manasa krodha-vegam jihva-vegam udaropastha-vegam[1] – those who have controlled the speech, the tongue, the genitals, they are qualified to be like masters. And then what are the necessary elements of practicing bhakti, like enthusiasm, some knowledge, some renunciation, etc[2]. Or what are the features of the relationships between the devotees, like exchange and opening up the mind, etc[3]. Then from the very basic information he quickly jumps to some very ecstatic topic – to describe the Radha-kunda: “If once you immerse yourself into Radha-kunda, then ecstatic prema is provided.”[4] What does it mean? Is he a spiritual tour-operator? If we visit Radha-kunda as a tourist and if we jump into it – shall we get it? You will not get it. We have to have the proper mood. Taking a sacred bath purifies not only the body, but the subtle body where your karmic action-reaction data is kept. So, in order to be purified and to receive something higher, we must have the proper mood. Therefore Rupa Goswami describes the preliminary steps, like control and practices, dos and don’ts, and things like this. Nevertheless this is just like a very difficult discipline for him – to speak about ABC. Because he wants to speak about XYZ. He wants to tell the secret; but in order to provide the secret, he wants to prepare us to be able to receive it. And in many other books Rupa Goswami describes very essential points. Just like here in this Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu.

But let’s take some other goswamis. Let’s take a neophyte from them – Jiva Goswami, the young one. Jiva Goswami is a very high class philosopher. He is not only an eloquent speaker and the best person in arguments, but he is a very profuse writer. So in case you have any trouble in philosophy, you can refer to him. His famous books – the Sandarbhas – are like containers of essential philosophical points and debates and arguments, etc. He is describing the glories of the Bhagavatam and establishing it as the ultimate scriptural authority. And he defends the dignity of his senior teachers and of the whole sampradaya with these philosophical points.

Let’s take another goswami – Raghunath Das. The title of one of his books is Vilapa-kusumanjali – the Bouquet of Flowers of Separation. Now we have reached the pinnacle of titles.

So, these scriptures are very important for us. These books contain not only very delicate information, but very delicate insights into spiritual reality. And some of the books of the goswamis can be found online in the 21st century. But you will find some of the books of the goswamis buried in Vrindavan. Because they are so high that the followers decided to bury them, to protect the content from being widespread. There is a grantha-samadhi – samadhi for the books of the goswamis, buried under it. So we can understand from this that there is some very high class information concerning our process. And therefore we should appreciate Rupa Goswami’s books also in the same manner.

 

 

(to be continued)

 

[1] Upadeshamrita, verse 1

[2] Upadeshamrita, verse 3

[3] Upadeshamrita, verse 4

[4] Upadeshamrita, verse 11

 



pouring-extra-virgin-olive-oil-royalty-free-image-1597238508

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 04.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continued from the previous Monday)

Question of Kripadham: Do we have to be conscious about the pure devotional service or we are not conscious of it? What is the feeling when we are close to the pure devotional service? And if you could please give some example of pure devotional service?

Swami Tirtha: If we are conscious of pure devotional service or everything is unconscious for us? Actually these are two levels of spiritual realization. One is the so to say official regulated devotional service, like a sadhana – that we engage all bodily activities and mental activities consciously and purposely in the service. This is good, this is very good. And the other side is the spontaneous flow. When it is not necessarily a well-thought structure that: ‘Now, today I will offer this and this type of service, because this will bring that kind of fruit’ and etc. But it is like a flow.

I think we discussed the flow of oil. The oil flows in a different manner than the water. Water is you know jumping all the time. But when you pour oil, it’s very smooth, it’s very much uninterrupted. In this way we have to offer our uninterrupted attraction, spontaneous attraction to the lotus feet – as the oil flows. Our attraction should flow towards the divine service in the same manner – pure, very condensed and very smoothly, uninterruptedly just emanating there. If you ask the oil: “Whether you are conscious how you pour yourself or not”, he will say: “No, I don’t know how I do it.” The oil will say: “I have no idea, this is my nature, I flow like this. Naturally it comes, I cannot do otherwise.” In the same way we have to come to the natural spontaneous flow – uninterrupted, when we cannot really explain. Until we can come up with some explanations, it’s a lost case. We are still on the mental platform. But when we have no explanation… Can you explain love between human beings? You can come up with an explanation, but everybody will be bored. If you want to explain ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to people, they will not listen to you. Because we don’t need explanations of that! We need the experience. And the divine experience is like a free flow of the oil of devotion.

But don’t be depressed if you don’t feel like the oil, if still you have to control yourself sometimes and to engage yourself in devotional service. Sometimes you are jumping like water here and there, splashing. But the oil will simply flow. Be patient, your time will come. Whether consciously or spontaneously, we should offer ourselves, we should offer this very sacred energy – our life – in the divine service. Then we don’t commit the mistake of sinful activities – to use a higher type of energy for a lower purpose. Life is given to human beings in order to serve the Supreme. So whether conscious or unconscious, spontaneous – let’s do it!

What was the second part of the question? How do we feel if we are coming closer to the pure devotional service? Well, thank you; but you should ask someone who is closer to pure devotional service.

Kripadham: In my simple understanding, Gurudev, I think I ask someone who is close.

Swami Tirtha: Once in the classical puranic times there was a case. There was a very eager disciple. And he approached his spiritual master after years of cultivation. He said: “Ah, my dear master! I have one request to you. Can you please instruct me what divine love is?” Such a special moment! Right, we think that this is a proper question. But what happened? The guru was very much upset: “Why do you ask me? I know nothing about that topic.” Even more sacred moment! Because it is said in the shastras: those who declare that they know, they don’t know; and those who declare they don’t know – they know. But sometimes it happens that those who declare they don’t know, they really don’t know; and those who declare they know – they really know. Enigmatic! I tell you, this is too complicated. So what can we do? Can we understand it by logic or some intellect? Impossible! And as you were not satisfied with a God of justice, I think in the same way you are not satisfied with a God of intellect. But we need a God of mercy and miracles. This is what we need. And Shrila Shridhara Maharaj says that “Krishna’s path is full of miracles. So, be prepared for miracles!” Such an invitation!

You know, when a master starts to feed a disciple with his own spoon – that’s a show of this free flow of oily, tender, loving attention. How can we explain that? How can we analyze the feelings? Better we should feel. Life and spiritual life is not a theory. It’s a mystery – to perceive it, to live it, not to speak about it! To live it. It is possible. Or at least, it is not impossible.

 



Krishna 1

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 04.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

And finally, pure devotion is attracting Krishna. “Shrila Rupa Goswami has stated that devotional service attracts even Krishna. Krishna attracts everyone, but devotional service attracts Krishna.”[1] So, why Krishna? The meaning of this name is ‘black’. And if you happen to visit India, you will see Krishna’s name on some billboards, like ‘Krishna tyres’ or ‘Krishna saris’. Once we visited Ayodhya with Kripadham and after a full day of very long and very tiring journey we arrived finally to our hotel. This hotel was a pure, white building, in marble and the name of this white building was ‘Hotel Krishna’ – the black hotel.

So, sometimes we take the name of Krishna like simple meaning ‘black’. The other meaning of Krishna is ‘attractive’. ‘All-attractive”. Not only attractive for some, but for all. And we can say He is the Dark Lord. Why dark? Because the real divine secrets are hidden. His dark hue at the same time emanates a very special darkness. It’s divine – a bright darkness. This is not simple material darkness, this is divine darkness. And this attractive power is unlimited. I can tell you that this is true; if He is able to attract me, then this is possible. So, Krishna-nam is not a sectarian denomination, but this is the ultimate feature of the Supreme Lord – all-attractive, the best in all respects.

But what is attractive to this all-attractive, ultimate cause of all causes? And why this Krishna? You know, once some rishis, some wise men, approached Brahma, the Creator, and they had some questions: “Please, tell us who is God? Who is the Supreme? Who is the boss here? Who frightens death?” Everybody is frightened by death. But who is that who can threaten death? Good question? I think it’s a very good question. “And who is that by knowing whom everything is known?” Is that a good question? It’s a very good question. Then you are not lost in details, but you are connected to the essence. And finally: “What makes the world go round?”

I think these are very serious questions. “Who is the Supreme? Who can frighten death away? Who is that by knowing whom we know everything? And what makes the world go round?” So, this is the standard quality of questions.

Then Brahma came up with the answers. What do you think, what is the answer for the first question – who is God, who is the Supreme? He said: “Krishna.” Krishna is the Supreme Lord. What was the answer for the second question?

Answer: Krishna.

Swami Tirtha: Yes, clever; but Krishna in a very special way. Which face of Krishna? Who can frighten away death? Which is the best way to pronounce Krishna-nam? It’s Govinda! Govinda. From Govinda death runs away. It cannot tolerate the presence of Govinda. All right, now you know who the Supreme is; now you know the secret of eternal life – how to avoid death. But then how to achieve full knowledge – by knowing whom everything is known? Who is that?

Answer: Krishna.

Swami Tirtha: It’s Krishna, but in a very special way. It’s not like a general all-attractive Krishna; it’s not Govinda, who is like your friend; this is Gopijana-vallabha – the dearmost beloved one of the gopis. By knowing Him you will know everything. Why? Because this is about a loving relationship, divine love. If we know this, we know everything. It’s not the details, this is the essence.

But the last and ultimate question: “What will make the world go round?” Now it’s not Krishna. Swaha – sacrifice. Sacrifice makes the world go round.

So, therefore we worship this Krishna; Krishna – because He is all-attractive. And He is the Supreme; and His feature can overcome death; and His other feature can give you full knowledge. And therefore we are ready to practice sacrifice – because that will make the whole system function. And what is the best sacrifice for the present age? It’s the holy name – nama-yagya, harinam-sankirtan – this is the sacrifice for the age.

So, “Krishna attracts everyone, but devotional service attracts even Krishna. The symbol of devotional service of the highest degree is Radharani. Krishna is called Madana-Mohana, which means that He is so attractive that He can defeat the attraction of thousands of Cupids. But Radharani is still more attractive, for She can even attract Krishna. Therefore devotees call Her Madana-Mohana-Mohini – the attractor of the attractor of Cupid.”

So these are some small, very insignificant ideas about pure devotional service. It’s not simply service, definitely not paid service, but devotional service and on the pure platform. It will bring all the benefits that you can imagine – and beyond.

(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of devotion, Chapter 1

 



30726333_1790890650932667_4798614436942184448_n

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 04.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

The rareness of pure spiritual service: “In the preliminary phase of spiritual life there are different kinds of austerities for attaining self-realization. However even if the executor of these processes is without any material desire, he still cannot achieve devotional service. And aspiring by oneself alone to achieve devotional service, he is also not very hopeful, because Krishna does not agree to award devotional service to merely anyone. Krishna can easily offer a person any material happiness, or even liberation, but He does not agree very easily to award a person engagement in His devotional service. Devotional service can in fact be attained only through the mercy of a pure devotee. In the Chaitanya Charitamrita it is said: “By the mercy of the spiritual master, who is a pure devotee, and by the mercy of Krishna one can achieve the platform of devotional service.” There is no other way.”[1]

So, guru-krishna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija – “By the mercy of the spiritual master and Krishna the seed of devotional service is planted in the heart.”[2] So nice! And what happens if we receive a seed in our heart? We have to cultivate it, so that it grows. You have to protect the small little plant, nourish it, water it, so that it grows and penetrates through the universe. And finally it should reach the lotus feet of Radha-Govinda to enhance the beauty of the Divine Couple. This devotional seed is very precious for us. Because it will not only bring leaves, but it will also bring some flowers and ultimately it will bring the fruits. And what is the fruit of the seed of pure devotion? This is pure devotion – the most delicious fruit of any spiritual activities.

Therefore by the mercy of God Supreme and by the mercy of His representative, the spiritual master, we try to cultivate this devotional seed. How can we be so stupid to reject the blessings of a pure devotee? To eradicate the seed from our heart? ‘I don’t need this seed anymore, I don’t need this mantra anymore, I don’t need your blessings anymore’… It’s rare.

“The rarity of devotional service is also confirmed in the tantra-shastra, where Lord Shiva says to Sati: “My dear Sati…” You see, this is so special! Here Shiva is speaking and Sati, the wife, is listening. What happens usually in a family relationship?

Answer: The opposite.

Swami Tirtha: You see, this is transcendental! This is the original version – when Shiva is speaking and Sati is listening. So, when the lady is speaking and you have to listen – that’s a material reflection of the original situation, sorry to say. And I don’t know if it is a joke or reality, but two husbands are discussing: “You know, in our home the final word is always mine!” The friend is very surprised and says: “How is that?” “Yes, darling!”  But let’s try to focus on the original version.

So, “Lord Shiva says: “My dear Sati, listen! If one is a very fine philosopher, analyzing the different processes of knowledge, he can achieve liberation from the material entanglement. By performance of the ritualistic sacrifices recommended in the Vedas one can be elevated to the platform of pious activities and thereby enjoy the material comforts of life to the fullest extent. But all such endeavors can hardly offer anyone devotional service to the Lord, not even if one tries for it by such processes for many-many thousands of births.”

Although it is said that it’s difficult and rare to achieve pure devotional service, nevertheless this is possible. The next aspect of pure devotional service is that it is beyond liberation. We understand from our tradition that liberation has different gradations: like to achieve similar status to God; to have similar bodily features; to come to His presence… Yet pure devotion is not satisfied with such achievements, but it wants to establish a living and loving connection to the Supreme. And we are not satisfied with this step-by-step liberation, we want an ultimate and supreme solution to all the problems.

Nityam bhagavata sevaya[3] – permanently, eternally serving bhagavata. Devotion will be established in the heart of a devotee as an irrevocable fact. And then the knots on the heart are resolved. Therefore we want this type of solution, which shows the very bright prospect beyond liberation. So, don’t be satisfied with this insignificant liberation. There is something more waiting for you. Liberation is not a goal, this is a side effect. Maybe today these are only words for you, for us, but this is a very high type of reality.

(to be continued)

 

[1] Nectar of devotion, Chapter 1

[2] Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya, 19.151

[3] Shrimad Bhagavatam 1.2.18

 



meditation 1

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 04.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continued from the previous Monday)

Then it is said that pure devotion is all-auspicious. “Shrila Rupa Goswami has given a definition of auspiciousness. He says that actual auspiciousness means welfare activities for all the people of the world. At the present moment groups of people are engaged in welfare activities in terms of society, community or nation. There is even an attempt in the form of the United Nations for world-help activity. But due to the shortcomings of limited national activities, such a general mass of welfare program for the whole world is not practically possible. However this pure bhakti movement is so nice, that it can render the highest benefit to the entire human race. Everyone can be attracted by this movement and everyone can feel the results.”[1]

So, to propagate the spiritual culture is the highest benefit of any welfare activities. Why? Because it will bring us back to our original position – and this is to enjoy the embrace of the Supreme. The original position of the soul is the service attitude. Exchange. Not paid service, but selfless devotional service. In the best case – pure devotional service.

Then this will bring happiness. Pure devotional service will bring happiness. “Shrila Rupa Goswami has analyzed the different sources of happiness. He has divided happiness into three categories. First one: happiness derived from material enjoyment; the second one is happiness derived by identifying oneself with the Supreme Brahman; and finally happiness derived from pure devotional service. In the tantra-shastra Lord Shiva speaks to his wife Sati in this way: “My dear wife, a person who has surrendered himself at the lotus feet of Govinda and who has thus developed pure Krishna consciousness, can be very easily awarded all the perfections desired by the impersonalists and beyond this he can enjoy the happiness achieved by pure devotees.” Happiness derived from pure devotional service is the highest type, because it is eternal.”

Practically all other types of happiness are limited – either by time or by circumstances. There is a special type of liberation also, which is called ‘non-eternal liberation’. Very strange; we expect liberation to be eternal, right? But there is a non-eternal type of liberation – when you go and then you return. This is like a dance – one step ahead and two steps back. Like a horo[2]. This is called krama-mukti – liberation step-by-step. Little up, little back, little forward, little back… And also it is said, those who forget to worship personally, to serve God Supreme, even if they have reached a kind of perfection, they have to return. While even though you didn’t achieve perfection, yet if you don’t forget about the personal service, you can enjoy the full benefit.

Because you know, usually there is a distinction between the process in general and the achievements. For example some people perform some very austere spiritual activities – in order to achieve ultimate peace, when they don’t have to do anything. Now they are very active – in order to achieve non-activity. They torture themselves – to find your peace. But for the devotees there is no difference between today’s activities and the eternal spiritual activities. So beware! If your daily practice is self-torture, suffering and complaints – you will do this over there also in eternity. Because Krishna says: “I can satisfy My devotees in the way they like it.” So if this is your sadhana, if this is your daily practice, “I will give you perfection accordingly. You cry today – you can cry eternally!”

Therefore we should be very careful about our daily practice. Try to refine your meditation. It’s not a game. We have to be very qualified practitioners in order to achieve very qualified perfection. And we have absolutely no conception of the highest types of perfection waiting for us. Pure bhakti is the beginning of all auspiciousness. It will definitely bring happiness. And the happiness from pure devotional service is eternal.

(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of devotion, Chapter 1

[2] Bulgarian national dance in circle

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 04.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continued from the previous Monday)
 
Once I heard a story about a man. He had a near-death experience. In this very special state of mind he had crossed the universe and ultimately met God. And God asked him to give a list of his sins and mistakes. So he started to collect his so to say official mistakes. You know, if we examine ourselves a little bit, we can make such a list; so he also made his list. And when he handed over this to God, The Supreme was very dissatisfied. He said: “Not this one, not this one! This is not serious. But one thing you didn’t add to your list – you were not affectionate to your daughter.” This was the only real sin, the only real mistake that He stressed. And then He said: “Therefore go back! Back to this planet Earth!”
Just imagine yourself in this case: you meet the Supreme, you have to submit your case. And you know – to meet God is only one step away from full perfection. Because He can invite you: “Ah, My dear son, My dear daughter, so nice that you came, just sit by My side!” But then He says: “Back!” It’s a very bad feeling. Yet if you return, you return in a different mood. It’s not the same person anymore. You have started with a long list and now you return with only one task – to correct that one real mistake. 
In our process what is a sin? It’s a misuse of energies. The most general and generous explanation about sinful activities – this is when you apply a higher type of energy on a lower purpose or platform. Our life is very sacred and very high class energy. Our prana, our life energy is sacred. So we shouldn’t waste it for some insignificant ambitions. We should use it for the best purpose. Don’t use, don’t waste your precious life with some stupid activities. 
Therefore Krishna says: “In case there is any trouble, any negative consequences if you give up all other engagements for the service of the Supreme – I will protect you.” And please, don’t forget: sometimes we think that the reactions will come later, but maybe this is already a reaction what we perceive. So please, do torture yourself a little bit with feeling guilty – still don’t over-torture yourself. Don’t focus on your mistakes; better we focus on the solution. We have to decide whether we are part of the problem or of the solution. And Rupa Goswami said that Krishna can protect us from any trouble. Therefore if we come, if we submit ourselves under this divine protection, we shall be safe. 
So, this is about the relief from material distress. Material distress is a reaction of some previous mistaken activities. And material success is a reaction of some positive engagement – this is called a good karma; suffering is a bad karma. So, what do you want: a bad karma or a good karma? 
Yashoda: No karma.
Swami Tirtha: Clever. Because karma means bondage. Whether good or bad – it’s bondage. And even those who have good karma, so to say, they can blow it, they can misuse the good opportunity. So, we should become transcendental, spiritual to the karmic action-reaction platform. Jump! From the bad habits, from the bad practice jump to some good practice. 
 
(to be continued)

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 04.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continued from the previous Monday) 

We have learned some qualities of pure devotional service: 1) it is the end of suffering; 2) it is the beginning of all auspiciousness, 3) it brings you inner satisfaction, happiness; 4) it is rarely achieved, unfortunately; 5) it is beyond liberation; 6) and also it is attractive for God.[1] Now let’s see some details, some explanation from Shrila Prabhupad about these features.

“Relief from material distress. In the Bhagavad Gita the Lord says that one should surrender unto Him, giving up all other engagements. The Lord also gives His word that He will protect such surrendered souls from the reactions of all sinful activities.”[2]

Sarva dharman parityaja mam ekam sharanam vraja – all other engagements, go beyond that. Dharma mean the duty of human life. Go beyond dharma, these general rules and commitments. Mam ekam – surrender to Me alone with one-pointed attention. Sharanam means to take shelter. To take shelter – this is like arriving home. This is a very good feeling.

So, the path of dharma is to be followed. Except in one case – when you fully surrender to the divine desire. Unless you cannot do that, don’t give up dharma engagement – the basic principles of human life. Therefore it is said: we should live according to the principles of dharma and we should think and feel according to the principles of rasa – the inner joy. Dharma is the proper engagement and rasa is our ultimate relationship to the Supreme.

But here it is also mentioned that God, Krishna, will protect us from sinful reactions. Finally a topic that we understand! Pure devotional service is so theoretical; sinful activities – this is our daily practice. But once Gurudev told me some bad news – that some devotees are listening to some stupid music. I was amazed to hear such thing is possible! I was horrified and I asked: “Ah, Gurudev, what will be the reaction of this?” And he said: “This already is a reaction.” Then I understood that I have to polish my understanding about action-reaction.

But what are these sinful reactions, what are these sinful activities? Again we have to frighten ourselves and torture ourselves with this concept of sin and feeling guilty? Yes! Yes, torture yourself a little bit. Because unfortunately that is true. We had committed a lot of mistakes. Our list is long. And if we depend on a just God, the way of salvation would also be long. So, do you believe in God of justice? No, we are not fans of a just God. We want a merciful God, who is not interested in where you come from, but who is interested in where you are going to.

There is something similar I have read in one book, the title is ‘The axis of life’. When our pilgrims meet the peasants, the lady doesn’t ask: “Where do you come from?”, but she asks: “What is your destination?” And then the master checks with all the disciples: “Do you remember this meeting, how it happened?” Some of the guys came up with different-different conceptions, but finally the master points out: “No. She inquired about your destination, not about your past.” So, irrespective of the long list what we have committed, we all have a balance, but irrespective of that there is a direct path of liberation and purification.

 

(to be continued)

 

[1]  Rupa Goswami Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.17

[2] The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 1