Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

Question: If someone wants to make a compromise, to light a cigarette, just one cigarette for today, or just one beer – in that sense, how does the material cleanliness influence the path? We think at the same time that we shall sing few songs, we shall make our chanting and everything will be wiped away.

Tirtha Maharaj: No doubt, the holy name is very powerful. If you start to follow the practice, the rules and regulations, then you can quickly jump from your previous position. I do not really like compromises, because compromise means that I have to give up something. But I like consensus, that means we both agree on certain points. So instead of compromises we should go for consensus.

But it depends on the situation. Once there was a sixty years old lady, vegetarian for forty years and she had some blood pressure problems. So the doctor told her: “Well, sometimes you can drink coffee.” And she said: “Coffee!? Oh, that is very sinful! How I will go back to Vaikuntha if I drink coffee?!” But if you drink a coffee for your sense enjoyment, to have the feeling – or you take it instead of some pills to regulate your blood pressure – in this special case I think this is not an obstacle. Yet, if in the sampradaya everybody wants to regulate his or her blood pressure by drinking this and that – of course that is stupid!

The basic rule is to keep all the regulations. Actually there are three levels: one is the dharma, the teachings as a whole; then there are the rules and regulations, the prohibitions; and the third one is the recommendations. All three we have to follow. Basically try to understand this whole structure of beautiful philosophy and practice. This is bhakti-dharma. Then follow the rules and regulations, it will help you. Krishna says in “Bhagavad-gita”: “Always think of Me. If you cannot do that – follow the rules, then you can come closer to Me.”[1] But in most of the cases the rules and regulations will tell you what not to do. Do not do this! Do not do that! Then what to do? That is given in the recommendations. Do this, do that. This is the positive side – giving some good advice and if you follow you will see the result. We should take the full story. Not only a limited version. You pick certain parts of the picture which you like and you practice, and for the things you do not like you say: “This is external.” No, we should take the full picture.

But love of Godhead is ultimately not a question of diet. This is not a question of fashion, what kind of robes you wear. Not a question of language – Sanskrit or other. But this is a question of transformation in the heart. And all the knowledge in this divine science – all the rules and regulations, and prohibitions, and all the recommendations work for your benefit. Replace the bad practice with good practice.

And where to learn the good practice? Therefore we go to the saints, therefore we associate with the devotees. Sometimes people learn languages by themselves. We had one writer, who had learned English by himself in a jail. And when he started to speak to English people they ask: “What kind of language you speak?” He thought that he is speaking English, but it was something else. In the same way, if you take your “Bhagavad-gita”, you sit at home and you start to study how to become a devotee, Krishna will ask you: “Sorry, what kind of language you speak?” But if you have a professor, he will tell you the correct pronunciation. Therefore we must have some instructors, therefore we must have some companions, we must have a spiritual master, who will explain to us how to understand, how to go deeper, how to penetrate this high topics. By following the advice of our spiritual masters we can come to a more regulated lifestyle and also we can achieve our spiritual goals. Simply by following  sadhana, a spiritual regime, a practice you can be very effective in your life. But if somebody cannot meet certain standards you should help him or her. Time is on our side.

[1] “Bhagavad-gita” 12.8-9

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