Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia) 

Question: I have a question which brings inner contradiction. I had the chance to explore and experience, and I do believe that I am an ancient spirit, like most of you here, and I do believe we come with a mission to this life. I think I need time to recall this mission back into my head, to remember why I came here. But why is it that when I take birth I don’t have my direction, I live in ignorance and illusion? I understand this is a relative reality, but at that time I can make many mistakes. And I make mistakes, I still do. Until I reach perfection I will continue to make mistakes. Why were we allowed to make big mistakes in our past? Why aren’t we advised immediately regarding our duties?

Swami Tirtha: That’s a good question. Once there was a saint, a great ascetic person. He was living fully renounced from all the possessions and all the charms of life, given to meditation, very focused, not paying any attention to anything external. He was sitting under the shade of a tree absorbed in his meditation, when all of a sudden some soldiers came. They were searching for some criminal and they found this person sitting under this tree. So, they were happy to catch someone and impaled him on a sharpened pole. We discussed before: action-reaction. Quite surprising – you meditate and you are tortured to death in such a strange method. So, our friend was taken to Yamaraja, the God of death. And he raised his voice: “Hey, Yamaraja! There is a mistake in your system! You keep track of all the mistakes and sins of people. I was meditating all my life and what happened!? You made some mistake!” Then Yamaraj said: “Yes, that’s very nice! But do you remember that little bug?” Because when this ascetic was a small boy, once with a thorn he pierced one bug. So, when the saintly person remembered, he said: “All right, there is no mistake in your system!”

This story illustrates that there is a reason for every reaction that comes to us. Nothing is by chance. And if we are permanently conscious of this – that whatever we experience in this lifetime has a story behind – then it’s a little easier to tolerate everything that comes to us. So, why are we given the chance to make mistakes?

Answer: Because we have independence.

Swami Tirtha: I didn’t want to enter that topic today. But why? Because usually people remember the most difficult parts of their life more profoundly. Mistakes are there to learn from them. Shrila Prabhupad said: “A fall down, a mistake is the pillar of success”. So, our mistakes or even our sinful activities should help us to realize what is proper and what is improper. If we don’t know what is proper – well, the action will bring the reaction, so, we have to pay the price. But if we know what is proper and if we go against it, it’s a qualified case.

And maybe a certain limit of freedom is manifested there. When Gandhi held a speech in the English parliament, he said: “We are striving for independence.” And he got the response: “Oh, but you cannot live with your independence, you will commit mistakes. You cannot use it properly.” And then he said: ‘No, we demand the freedom to commit mistakes!” Because that makes the game. Otherwise it’s boring. Otherwise everything is fixed. It is this little element of freedom that we can use or misuse. If we misuse this, then we commit the mistakes, we commit the sinful activities. If we use it properly, then we escape the system more quickly. Because then we catch on the divine mercy.


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