Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 10.01.2014, morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

The eighth principle of bhakti is “Accepting only what is necessary or dealing with the material world only as far as necessary.” I don’t know what your experience is, but I observe that this material world is like a wolf – devouring everybody. Not satisfied with your fingers, he wants your arm. And not satisfied with your arm – he wants to catch you completely. 

In the Indian tradition they compare the material existence to a huge snake. Have you studied the digestive system of the snakes? They take the entire foodstuff in one gulp. If a big enough snake catches a sheep, it can devour it completely and then starts to digest inside. Material life is the same – skin and bones, it’s ready to devour you. And the jaws of this snake are like phases of time – past and future. So actually what happens? Your past and future are slowly but steadily catching you completely. 

We cannot satisfy the material environment. It captures us completely. So we should be very careful about dividing our attention, dividing our time and efforts between the material engagements and the spiritual goals. 

This principle is very important, because it says “accept only what is necessary in life”. Yoga means control. Therefore our masters are ready to help us understand what proper control is. Let’s take one very simple example – in yoga we have to control our eating habits. If our master said: “Don’t eat!”, this advice would be very difficult to accomplish, right? Therefore they give a license – to make it easier: “Don’t eat meat.” So, you can eat this and this, but don’t eat that and that. Certain control is there; it’s not necessary to give up our eating habit totally, but have a limit, have a control over this bodily function. Accept only what is necessary.

Actually this was also formulated in the medieval European philosophy – accept only what is necessary. If you have proven one truth, it’s not necessary to bring another proof. Why? Because if something is proven, why should you support it more and more and more? 

But then the main question is: if we want to apply this principle in our life, we should open the debate ‘What is necessary for me?’ ‘A little excursion to Hawaii is very much necessary. This is part of my life. It’s nothing special.’ So I think you understand that we might come up with certain special needs which are not really necessary. But if you go down to the basics, you will find very simple principles – eating, sleeping, shelter, company…

Ultimately humans have only two basic needs: one is to love and the other is to be loved. Which one is more important? 

Answer: First.

Swami Tirtha: To love someone. This shows that ultimately humans are emotional beings. If your body has to fast, you can tolerate that, right? But if your heart and soul have to fast, it’s much more difficult to tolerate. 

So, accept what is necessary. Find your limits in a reasonable way. It is said that this world is equipped in such a way that everybody’s needs are fulfilled, taken care of. And this principle helps us to establish a very good culture – the culture of contentment. Don’t complain! 

Here is one story coming from the Jewish tradition. A head of a family goes to the rabbi and he says: “Ah, rabbi, I have a problem.” “What, my dear?” “Ah, I have my wife and I have my family; it’s always a scandal there and you know, it’s very difficult to tolerate, and we have such a small place, only one room, so I have no privacy there. What should I do to find my inner peace?” Then the rabbi asked: “Do you have some relatives?” “Yes, yes, I have some relatives.” “And do you also have some animals?” “Yes, I have some animals also.” “So, please follow my advice: invite all your relatives and take also your animals inside the room. And come back to me after two weeks.” I think we don’t have to enter more into the story. If you think that ‘I have a reason to complain,’ just look around. So many fellow human beings live a very miserable life. ‘I was complaining of not having shoes until I met a person who didn’t have legs.’ 

So please, accept what is necessary. In a very positive way this means – be satisfied with what you have got. Actually this is a very important yoga practice. On the material platform we shall find all the reasons why to complain about our position. But in the spiritual life we have to find all the reasons why to be satisfied. Turn the complaints into compliments. Just imagine: God provided you this lifetime – your environment, your body, your brain, your karma, good and bad – everything. He is working very hard to do that. And then you start to complain about it? It’s not very nice. Better we say: “Thank you, my Lord, You are so generous! You have given such a good chance for me.” 

(to be continued)



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