Archives

Calendar

April 2021
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  



Extra English Issues issues

mirror

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 09.01.2016 morning, Sofia)

In order to be receptive, fine tuned to receive a higher type of spiritual message, we need a certain pre-purification. Ultimately everything is a question of resonance – whether we are able to perceive this very delicate spiritual presence of the Supreme, whether we can perceive the divine, whether we can generate such a wavelength, so to say, just to be connected to the divine reality. Therefore sound vibration by the resonance of the body-mind structure, and also the fine, delicate resonance of the heart and soul connect us to a very high, very real layer of reality. Don’t forget about this principle. Whatever you say, whatever you think will have a certain effect on your system. And we should not stop with action-reaction, but we need the third step also, which is perfection.

Today we continue our readings from the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu: “These four types of devotees have been described in the Seventh Chapter of the Gita and they all have been accepted as pious. Without being pious nobody can come to a higher platform, to devotional service. It is explained in the Bhagavad Gita that only one who has continuously executed pious activities and whose sinful reactions in life have completely stopped can take to Krishna consciousness. The neophyte devotees are classified into these four groups – the distressed, those in need of money, the inquisitive and the wise – according to the gradations of their pious activities. Without pious activities, if a man is in a distressed condition, he becomes an agnostic, a communist or something like that. Because he does not firmly believe in God he thinks that he can adjust his distressed disposition by totally disbelieving  in Him.”[1]

Agnosticism is just like another diseased condition of the present age. So, according to the level of pious activities we are classified. And don’t forget, in the material world all actions are covered with some mistake. It is said in the Gita that they’re covered like smoke covers the fire, or like baby is covered by mother’s womb, or like dust covers the mirror. Always some shortcomings, some mistakes cover our activities, our consciousness. Therefore a certain process of purification is necessary. We have to remove the dirt from the mirror of the heart. Then you can see properly. The smoke will always cover the flames to some extent, especially when it is wet – then more smoke comes than fire. The fire serves while the smoke only disturbs. So even in some good activities, if there are some negative consequences, we have to discriminate between the two. Some part of your activities might help, but there is a part of your activities that will give more disturbances. Yet the purity of the mirror is hidden under the very thin layer of dust – it’s very close to the original, right? If there is a fire, there is always some smoke, it’s a natural consequence; and from the smoke we can understand there is fire. The most hopeless is the case of the baby in the womb, because there the spark of consciousness is hidden very much. Therefore we have to be careful about our activities – how to act properly, so that less dust, less smoke and less layers of coverings are there.

And if we don’t have firm faith, then we might give up faith totally. Then you become an agnostic. Agnostic is a so to say scientific disbeliever. Or you become a communist. Communist is an even non-scientific disbeliever. They miss the main point – the mystic point in life. Because with any type of material activities you cannot correct the material mistakes. Rather we create more troubles. Of course I don’t say: don’t act, because if you don’t act, there is no reaction. It is said in the Gita[2] that simply by refraining from activity you cannot achieve perfection. A piece of stone is very inactive, yet it is not a spiritual authority. Except if it is coming from some special places, but that’s a different case.

Therefore we have to learn how to act properly, how to think properly, how to speak properly – so that all the different fields of our existence are connected, harmonized with the divine principles. And the language of this harmony is pious life. What can we expect from the divine reality if we lead a very impious life?

(to be continued) 

[1] Nectar of devotion, Chapter 3

[2] Bhagavad Gita 3.4

 



157700407_862892641229173_3247918148392068653_n

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 08.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

Question: If a pure devotee is protected by the Lord, what kind of protection receives one who is an impersonalist? He is neither accepting the material nature, nor does he accept the personal aspect of God.

Swami Tirtha: They are brothers. All the transcendentalists are brothers. Whether mayavadi, brahmavadi, this vadi, that vadi – we are all brothers, because we want to go beyond the material limitations. And as we all have some spiritual goal to realize, we shall reach that – them also.

But sometimes this question is answered in a funny way. If you don’t mind, may I give a funny explanation? There are basically three different achievements in spiritual life. One is sat aspect – eternity; the other is chit – consciousness, as an achievement of spiritual ambitions; and the third one is ananda, bliss – divine, spiritual happiness. Sat-chit-anandam – we all know this. So all the different practitioners of spiritual life have a goal; they have a spiritual ideal to aspire for. Those who practice yoga realize the transitory nature of the human life in this bodily existence. So they want to achieve eternal life. Therefore they are very intent in their meditation. And when they reach perfection and come to the spiritual world, they take one part of this offering – sat. They will take the eternal part of this big cake of sat-chit-anandam. Then we have our friends who are very wise – the philosophers, the gyanis. They know perfect Sanskrit. They are aware of all the different scriptures. They are very good at arguments, refutations and logic. And they are also very intent in spiritual practice. So when they reach the spiritual realm, they will see that one part of the cake is already taken, because the yogis have taken sat, eternity. ‘What is left for us?’ Chit – the perfect state of consciousness – because they are always very punctual, very intent in their practices. And the third type of spiritual practitioners – these are the devotees. And you know the devotees are always very busy with some service – to make the garland to the altar, to cook some prasadam or to preach to somebody… So, they are usually late. When you agree with a person to meet at, let’s say, 4 pm., you have to inquire: “Is it German 4 pm, or Indian 4 pm, or devotional 4 pm?” Because German 4 pm is 4 pm. – exact. Indian 4 pm means ‘same day’. And devotional 4 pm is ‘maybe in this kalpa’. So, you know, devotees are usually late a little bit. The yogis were on time – they had taken sat, eternity, from the cake. The gyanis also came on time, they took their share – chit, perfect consciousness. Devotees came too late. What is left for them from this cake? Anandam! What can we do?! Only bliss remains for the devotees.

So, everybody will get their share. And we can say that devotees will receive the most fulfilling part – spiritual bliss. Our other brothers will take other parts of spiritual perfection. Because we can say that from the general, impersonal concept of the Supreme, there is perfection. There is a kind of spiritual bliss contained there. But from the exchange – to associate personally with God Supreme – it is more bliss you can derive, more satisfaction we can feel. Still all other pure-hearted and really committed practitioners will achieve their perfection and Krishna will satisfy them according to their taste.

The same question is mentioned in the Gita: Arjuna asks: “Please tell me, what is better – if someone worships You in general, impersonal matter or those who worship You as a person?”[1] And Krishna says: “Both are welcome. But those who worship Me with pure dedication, pure love – they are very dear to Me.” Therefore we can say that this is a nice process. We can come very close to the Supreme. Because the impersonal concept of God is like the smell of the cake. It’s also nice, who can deny? But when the cake melts on your tongue – that’s a different experience. It’s sweeter, more fulfilling. In the similar way, to have any conception of the Supreme is good. But there are certain ways to come closer by more essential, more fulfilling concepts.

Yadrishi yadrishi shraddha suddhir bhavati tadrishi [2]– according to your faith you will achieve your perfection. So, if we have this loving type of faith, we shall achieve a loving type of answer from the Supreme. This is our hope.

 

[1] Bhagavad Gita 12.1

[2] Brahma Samhita 5.61

 



unnamed

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 08.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

Question of Paramananda: You mentioned that in the beginning when we meet the bhakti process, we have one type of motivation, and during the practice our motivation is changing and getting more refined. Could you please share something more about this?

Swami Tirtha: Yes. Generally first we seek our happiness, our fulfillment. ‘Where is my salvation? Where is my fulfillment? Where is my liberation or spiritual happiness?’ Later on, if our progress is proper, we want to search and find the satisfaction and contentment of others. And on this second platform the institution of the guru is very important. Because then we can live for his satisfaction. This is very simple, we don’t have to overcomplicate this. If we live for the satisfaction of a pure devotee, then our progress is provided.

Then the next question comes: how to satisfy a pure devotee? If we become very dedicated devotees also. How can a son satisfy the father?

Answer: By fulfilling his will.

Swami Tirtha: If  he is a selfish father, you can satisfy him by this. But a selfless father is happy if the son finds his own ways and becomes a nice gentleman – as a minimum! The father of Shrila Prabhupad, for example, had two expectations of his son. What was that?

Paramananda: To be a servant of Radha.

Damodar: To become a pure devotee.

Tejasvini: To be a good mridanga player.

Swami Tirtha: Yes, these two expectations he had: “My son should become a perfect player of mridanga. And he should become a pure devotee of Radhika.” Well, my dear fathers sitting here, what are your expectations of your sons and daughters?

This is the way to satisfy a father, and also this is the way to satisfy a spiritual master – if we ourselves not only fulfill his dreams, but we reach something spiritual. His father didn’t say that: “Well, I’m very happy if you serve me nicely.” He said: “I’m very happy if you serve Them nicely.” In the same way, if we serve our spiritual master, the best way to serve our guru is to serve the Divine Couple properly.

This is the refinement of motivation. First we work for ourselves, for our own contentment, liberation and satisfaction; later on we work for the guru and the vaishnava principle; and ultimately we can dedicate our efforts to the satisfaction of the Divine Couple. So, it’s not enough to learn the principles of bhakti; we have to apply them, to put them into practice, to realize them.

(to be continued)

 



18118711_10208682900179456_6611053863014152244_n

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 08.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

The soul – it’s not the body, it’s not the mind, it’s not the thoughts, it’s not the cultural identity that we develop. It’s not even the personality that we think we are; it is something beyond. We have to find the essence in this body-mind structure. The essence is the atman. And the atman is me, it’s me. I am the atman. Ultimately the atman inquires, the atman asks the question “Who am I?” Sometimes the atman might be afraid: ‘Ah, I have put on this false identity – what will happen if I lose it?’ Just imagine, all the conditions that helped us to come to our present state are just a part of that identification that we have – more or less false. But we are not this, not that. We are the spiritual spark beyond all these conceptions. So, if we are strong enough in our self-reflection, we might be able to come to that essential point of atman.

Material life is complicated. We might think that spiritual truth or theology is also very complicated. But we can break it down into only three principles. You are a soul – this is the spiritual spark; you belong to God; and there is a living and loving connection between the two. Is that complicated? No, it’s not! I’m not the dying body, I’m an eternal soul. I belong to the Supreme – to the Great Fire, God. And our connection is based on affection.

So, don’t think it’s very complicated – it’s very simple. The ultimate truth is always very simple. Once I met a lawyer. We discussed some spiritual topics and all of a sudden by chance I said that “Well, God is good.” And he said: “I have a problem with that: If somebody could prove me that God is good!” Then I said: “You will have a hard time. If it is not obvious, who can prove that?” God by nature is good. If He is bad, He cannot be God, what to speak of good! Ultimate truths are very simple – based on acceptance, faith, realization. So that spiritual theory becomes a reality for us. This is what we need. Therefore we associate with those for whom divine reality is already a realized reality. If we associate with people with weak faith, we also become with weak faith. If we associate with people with strong faith, we might also become faithful. Because this is contagious. Love, divine love is very contagious! It’s highly contagious – beware! Don’t touch those who have this disease, because you will also catch it. For all the other types of disease there is a remedy, there is a solution, you can regain your previous condition; but not from this. You cannot recover from divine love. But this is the sweet-most disease, the sweet-most state of mind, state of life that we can ever imagine.

So, returning to your original question[1]: always try to examine who is asking, who is inquiring, who has the doubts. If we can penetrate deeply enough, finally we shall reach ourselves, the real one, beyond all the false concepts that we might have.

And if we feel that we might lose something – that is not the real self. Because we have to find our real self, not to lose it! This is our hope – that finally we shall meet ourselves. Therefore in the Gita Shrila Prabhupad declares that self-realization goes hand in hand with realization of God. One cannot happen without the other. If I understand that I am atman, soul, it’s much easier to understand the Supreme Soul. Only a spiritual spark can search for the spiritual fire. A material spark cannot find the spiritual fire, because they are incompatible. Only entities of the same stuff can associate with each other. Birds of the same feather flock together. People with the same spiritual inclination need each other’s association. Therefore we need to keep together with those, who share the same mood and the same feelings.

This is something very important, because we might think that there are different instruments to approach God. You might think that maybe this is my mind or this is my intellect – that I will understand. Or I might think that my body is the instrument to understand God. Or through the penance I will reach God. But actually I have to tell you, we have no other instrument than ourselves. Therefore it is stressed in the Shrimad Bhagavatam: atmanam atmana[2] – by the atman, by the soul, you can approach the Supersoul. Very beautiful! The soul can find the Supreme Soul – beautiful! It’s not the body, it’s not the mind – it’s your self! You are born from there and you are destined to reach there. Atmanam atmana – by our essential part we can understand the Supreme Lord. We all have that instrument. So, let’s apply it. Through our soul, let’s find our original connection to the Supreme.

(to be continued)

[1] The question from the previous issue: “What is the soul? Because as I am materially conditioned, I’m thinking that my individuality is inside the mind. And if the mind is not working, then I lose myself. What part of my self is in the soul?”

[2] Shrimad Bhagavatam 2.2.31



13043331_1752472541650976_5143168177877541463_n

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 08.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

Question: What is the soul? Because as I am materially conditioned, I’m thinking that my individuality is inside the mind. And if the mind is not working, then I lose myself. What part of my self is in the soul?

Swami Tirtha: Well, the first step in the science of self-realization is a proper understanding of ourselves. We have to analyze: who am I, who is asking, who is wondering what is what? Is this the body that is concerned of being in the cage of the mind; or somebody else? Is it the mind that is in the cage of the mind and asking the questions; or something else? Where is my personality? Where is my individuality? Who am I? Ultimate questions.

And actually this is a long-standing problem for humanity. Five hundred years back Sanatana Goswami had the same doubts and the same questions. He met Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and asked: “I don’t know what the soul is. Who am I? Why am I disturbed by all these material conflicts? What is my original position? Somebody tell me – who am I?” Then Mahaprabhu gave a very clear-cut answer. He said: jivera svarupa haya krishnera nitya-das krishnera tatastha-shakti bhedabheda-prakash[1] – “The original position of the soul is to be connected to God Supreme, Krishna, in a loving service mood. Because the soul is the marginal potency of God, similar and different at the same time to the source.”

If we analyze this definition a little bit, we understand a lot. The soul is a marginal energy of God – just between the super-spiritual and the material energy. So – energy! We are energies! And what is energy? Light is energy. Heat is energy. Love is energy. This is what we are! You are a particle of light, divine light. You are a divine spark. Isn’t that beautiful? You are not a heap of dirty matter! You are a part of divine light! Sixty kgs of water, some carbohydrates and this and that… this is zero in value! We are divine energy, coming from divine source. Therefore we belong to this ultimate source of all energies, of all brightness, of all love. Life comes from life, consciousness comes from consciousness and love comes from love – this is what we are.

So, we belong to the divine realm – this is our home, this is our origin. And if we belong there, we share some of the qualities. God is great, we are small; but we also have a measurement. He knows everything, we know some little things. He is fully blissful, we are partially blissful. We share something common with Him. If we want to use other words: we are sons and daughters of God. We come from the same family. At the same time we are a little different, because He is the source and we are the emanations. He is great, we are small. He has His individuality, we have different. He is unique, one without a second and we are also unique, one without a second. So we resemble, we share the same nature in quality, but on the quantity side we are different.

We also have an original occupation, duty – that is a harmonious loving connection with Him. So, the soul is a spiritual, personal energy – this is what we are. And the energy always belongs to the source of that energy. If we come from this divine source, that means we can return to that divine source. Therefore we are not born on this planet Earth to die. We are born here to learn that there is an eternal life. And this is our great chance – that we can realize that.

 

(to be continued)

 

[1] Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 20.108

 



69502259_10157508851470489_2908476982981296128_o

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 08.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

“Dhruva Maharaj was in need of his father’s kingdom and therefore engaged himself in devotional service to the Lord. Then in the end, when he was completely purified, he declined to accept any material benediction from the Lord.”[1] So, by following very strictly and in a very dedicated way the instructions of his spiritual master, finally Lord Vishnu appeared to him. And then he said: “Ah, I was praying for pieces of glass… And finally I have got Your darshan, I could meet You!” Then immediately he realized that material benefits are very insignificant compared to the divine presence.

“Similarly Gajendra was also distressed and prayed to Krishna for protection, after which he became a pure devotee.” So there are many examples of great saints who in their previous position had some kind of material distress, ambition or whatever; they turned to God Supreme and they were fulfilled. “Just like the sages in Naimisharanya – the grand forest of liberation. The sages were inquisitive and were always asking Suta Goswami about Krishna. Thus they achieved the association of a pure devotee and became pure devotees themselves. So that is the way of elevating oneself. In whatever condition one may be, if he is fortunate enough to associate with a pure devotee, then very quickly he is elevated to the second-class or first-class platform.”

So, this is the neophyte platform. It doesn’t matter what is our motivation – whether this is little suffering, whether this is little need – if we somehow are connected and if we live in the association of pure devotees, then it will help us and it will improve our life. Even if we consider that our spiritual progress is a long journey, it starts with the first steps. Why should we hesitate to make the first steps? Let’s commit ourselves to this beautiful process, bhakti. Because even if we are neophytes, newcomers in this line, we are very fortunate, we are blessed. Why? Because Krishna likes the newcomers. It’s not that He does not like the old guys around, but He is happier to receive somebody new.

Just like in a family. We are always very eager to receive a newcomer in a family. The first child – you are very eager to receive. The second – you are also very eager to receive. When the six goswamis all of a sudden appear in your life… then you feel like blessed. So, this is what keeps us engaged in the expectation. Therefore it is said: one child is good, two children are better and three children in a family is a minimum.

In the same way, in our spiritual family all the time we like so much the newcomers. Because they bring a new meaning of life. Whatever I have acquired, whatever I have collected in this lifetime – it’s for them. It makes the whole system useful. Why? Because ultimately, a very simple thing: we have to live for somebody, not for ourselves. We have to live for others. And if we are somehow engaged in this type of spiritual relationships, this is a big fortune, a great blessing for us.

At the same time the beginning of spiritual life is very enthusiastic and very divine – in order to show us the beauty and the prospect of the process. Later on we have to qualify a little more in order to maintain that original mentality. And maybe our motivation at the beginning was something very simple and very common; later on, as we are polished a little bit, we can find more and more refined motivation again and again. This is spiritual progress – that we can receive new and new taste in the cultivation. Therefore we pray, therefore we try to follow our meditations – to purify the consciousness and also to maintain that standard. If our mind is purified, then this is when it is a good friend. If our mind is not pure, then it will give much trouble. But hopefully we can turn our mind also into a devotee and then automatically you can associate with a vaishnava, who will tell you only good advice.

This is our hope – to upgrade ourselves from the neophyte platform. But without a beginning, we cannot come to the practitioner and the accomplished stages. So don’t worry about it! We are not expected to start the process at the end. You can very easily start it at the beginning.

(to be continued) 

[1] Nectar of devotion, Chapter 3

 



artworks-000650751301-m16ejd-t500x500

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 08.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

We discussed and understood about the classifications of devotees, like first-class, second-class and third-class – that is good, better and best. Now we continue our readings from this very important book, the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu:

“Further classification of a neophyte devotee is made in the Bhagavad Gita. It is stated there that four classes of men, namely those who are distressed, those who are in need of money, those who are inquisitive and those who are wise begin devotional service and come to the Lord for relief in the matter of their respective satisfaction. They go into some place of worship and pray to God for mitigation of material distress, or for some economic development, or to satisfy their inquisitiveness. And a wise man, who simply realizes the greatness of God, is also counted among the neophytes. Such beginners can be elevated to the second-class or first-class platform if they associate with pure devotees.”[1]

So, here are the four basic motivations to start a spiritual journey. If we suffer – this is a common language of materially diseased life on the planet Earth. Suffering – we all understand that language. And we want to find a solution – this is one reason to start to pray.

The other is some shortage in life. If we are in need, then we want to fulfill this need. Horror vacui – the fear of emptiness. We want to fill up the vacant places, therefore we are ready to decorate every niche and corner. It’s a cosmic fear of loneliness. So we are in need of fulfillment, of satisfaction – therefore ultimately, if we are wise enough, we turn to God.

Or somebody is inquisitive: ‘Hey, tell me, what the secret here is? This system looks like functional – how is it? This whole creation works – it’s a miracle! Who is behind?’ So, these are the very basic and very elementary approaches to the Supreme – like suffering, or need, or inquisitive approach.

While there is the fourth one and this is the wise. Those who are wise they want to be connected to the superior reality. Nevertheless all these four categories are considered to be neophytes.

Then what is our place – again I put this question. Do I belong to the sufferer class? Yes, more or less I do belong there. If I don’t have anything to suffer about, then I create something – just to be engaged. Why waste time by simply being satisfied? Or do I belong to the category of those who are in need? Yes, so much! I’m a beggar. I’m a beggar of divine love. And I hope that those whom I search to give me something, they are not misers. And am I inquisitive? Well, to be inquisitive prerequisites some intelligence, so I cannot say too much. And definitely I don’t really belong to the fourth category of wise. Because if I’m wise, then I don’t suffer, right? A wise person doesn’t suffer. Just like a wise person is never bored.

You see – we share some qualities, we share some common fate in this material life. And therefore we all have to find some answers to our questions.

So, after we have understood that these are the classes of neophyte devotees, let’s read further: “An example of the neophyte class is Dhruva Maharaj.” Oops! Dhruva Maharaj – there are many chapters devoted to his story in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. He was a saintly kid, very determined in his meditation. And we don’t expect the Shrimad Bhagavatam – the essence of revealed scriptures – to discuss the character of neophyte devotees. How come Dhruva Maharaj is a neophyte devotee – who is able to fight armies of demoniac forces?! Can a neophyte do that? Or do you remember his meditation, his spiritual practice – how it was? First he controlled his eating. And control of eating in the case of Dhruva Maharaj meant that he didn’t take anything. Then he felt: ‘Ah, it’s not enough! I have to control my drinking.’ And control of drinking in his case meant he didn’t drink anything. But then he felt: ‘It’s not enough, I have to control my breath.’ And control of breath in his case meant that every half a year he took one breath. You know – as usually neophytes do. A little control.

If he is a neophyte devotee, then who am I? But fortunately there is a similarity between him and myself. Why? Because he was very much intent to achieve the darshan[2] of the Supreme and therefore when he met his spiritual master, he was very much obedient to him. This is what unites us! He was very obedient to his master and I’m also very obedient to my master. Right, this is what unites you and Dhruva Maharaj.

(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of devotion, Chapter 3

[2] Personal meeting

 



First-Step

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 08.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

We are here together for a spiritual discussion. And I really appreciate that you have come. Because there are so many factors that unite us. For example our common spiritual interest. Also our spiritual goals – the destination that we shall reach. And we share something else very common – all the differences that we have. This makes the whole picture more beautiful. Because a garden is nice if there is only one type of flower there; but a garden is more beautiful if there are many different types of flowers. In the same way, we are like different flowers in the same garden. And this difference unites us so much! Because we all work and live in order to make this divine garden more beautiful.

I was just wondering, with many of you we’ve met in the morning; and many of you, after a long day of hard work and full engagement, again dedicate your time to come here to the ashram. How was your day? If this day was another step to eternity? Or another step of wasting time, energy, attention? I hope that your day was another step closer to eternity. How can we do that? If we are always conscious of our ultimate duty on this planet Earth.

Just recently I’ve read about the opinion of some Chinese illiterate ladies. They said: “Somebody has given birth to us, we have given birth to someone else – what else is our duty?” You might think that this is too simple. But if we take it as a service to the sanctity of life, then it’s a complete spiritual journey. So everything depends on the consciousness. If we can maintain this connected, divine, surcharged consciousness all the time, permanently – then every day is a step towards eternity. Then it’s not a loss of time.

But in the morning we also understood one very common feature that unites us all, as we discussed who is an eligible candidate for practicing bhakti. Let’s remember how it was: “On account of the association with the great souls, mahatmas, one may attain a little bit of attraction to Krishna. But at the same time one may remain very much attached to fruitive activities and material sense enjoyment, and not to be prepared to undergo through different types of renunciation. Such a person, if he has unflinching attraction to Krishna, becomes an eligible candidate for discharging devotional service.”[1]

You see, this is what unites us. By some good fortune we have the chance to associate with pure devotees, yet we have our shadows and we are not very much ready to undergo different penances. This is our position. Nevertheless this makes us candidates for pure spiritual practice.

(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of devotion, Chapter 3

 



15965318_10154885470800489_3440088580014657660_n

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 08.01.2016 morning, Sofia) 

(continues from the previous Monday) 

So, who is an eligible candidate for devotional service? Who by some good fortune has the chance to associate with mahatmas, who is still conditioned by material ambitions and sense enjoyment, who is not ready to go under different penances – so this is us. And therefore it is so nice that we have a hope. This is just the beginning, this is not the end of the story. Hopefully we can more and more qualify ourselves in this gradation of spiritual growth. So that others should consider you as mahatmas. You can consider yourself a neophyte, no problem. But others should consider you a great example. And as Shrila Shridhara Maharaj says: “We are disciples and we shall ever be like that.”

Question of Krishna Priya: But how can we be an example if we are full of shortcomings?

Swami Tirtha: We can be bad examples also – what not to follow. Isn’t it? But you know our process is very divine, very transcendental. In the old times it happened that the devotees were sitting together and there was one young man entering the room. And the preacher giving the lecture said: “Now from this guy will never become a devotee!” Just imagine yourself entering the room and somebody claims: “You have no place here.” It’s a very strange welcoming message, right? And what happened? He became a first-class devotee.

So, irrespective of the long list of our shortcomings, if we follow the process properly, nicely, very soon we can qualify ourselves. Maybe we don’t develop all the qualities of a vaishnava, but at least some. It is possible.

And don’t forget about this first, second and third classification. Because really we can say devotees are of three types: good, better and best.

 

 



7611a12a331c5dc0d8eb454b868b82c0

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 08.01.2016 morning, Sofia) 

(continues from the previous Monday) 

A neophyte is a person who is very economic. Just like when you are in the kitchen. What do you do if you have enough butter? Then you cut the butter and put a big piece on the top of your bread, right. Thick lump of butter and a little bread. But what happens if you are in a scarcity of butter? Big piece of bread and a little butter. Spiritual knowledge is the same – the less you have it the more you spread it. This is the case of a neophyte – the less experience you have, the more you try to spread it. Of course, I don’t say to shut up totally. But be careful about your butter. First pile up a stock of butter; then distribute.

How can we pile up our butter? By associating with pure devotees who have unlimited stock. And don’t think that they are misers, that they don’t distribute their butter. But they preserve the butter for someone who likes it so much. One name of our Lord is Makhanchor. Chor means to take, to get a share for Himself. He will steal your butter. Therefore we have to have a stock. Otherwise if Krishna comes, what is it He can steal from you? Makhanchor is a very sweet name of Krishna. Many times you have seen a picture of Him as a small baby with a big pot of butter that He is licking. Actually this is not simple butter, this is makhan. Makhan is like a sweet whipped cream.

And you know this example when Krishna steals the butter from His mother and the neighbors – this is very instructive. Of course butter is very precious. Yet Krishna is freely enjoying it at home, sometimes He is going to the neighbors also to steal the butter; feeding Himself on it, feeding also the gopals, and when they are also fed up with this butter, then He freely distributes it to the monkeys. Come on, your most precious stock is distributed to these nonsense monkeys?! Of course the neighbor ladies were upset by this habit of Krishna. And they raised their complaints to Mother Yashoda: “You have to do something, you have to control your boy. He is very naughty. He always comes to our home and steals the butter. He has to go under some penance.” Then Mother Yashoda will say: “Ah, I’m very sorry! All right, then what can I do, what can I do…? Maybe I will take away His ornaments?” Because His ornaments and precious stones shine so much that even in the dark shadowy corners of your home He will find your butter. But then the ladies were horrified: “Ah, don’t do that! How can you take away the ornaments from Him?! Anyway these are not the ornaments that make Him more beautiful, He makes the ornaments more beautiful.” Then finally Mother Yashoda took Krishna by the hand and said: “My dear son, what are you doing? I heard that You are going to the neighbors to steal the butter. You know, stealing is not nice! And don’t you have enough butter here at home? You know that we have a stock for You, You can enjoy this butter anytime.”

But we can understand from this story that Krishna of course will take the home butter that is preserved for Him. He has a share and He will accept it. But He will take from home the butter for the market also – which is not preserved for Him, but for other purpose. He will take this. And not only from the home, but from the neighbors also. What does it mean? That He accepts whatever is dedicated to Him. But He will also take what we try to preserve for ourselves. So don’t be surprised. He will be very satisfied with your offering, but then He will claim more rights from you.

Therefore we need a big stock of butter. And you know what the butter is – the butter is the essence of milk. Life is the milk; and what is the essence of life? Correct, this is affection. We have a milky life and we need buttery love. In order to achieve the butter, you have to churn, you have to churn. We have to churn our life in order to achieve the essence. And therefore we try to associate with pure devotees and devotees in general.

(to be continued)