Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

(continues from the previous issue)

The moments when the sadhus or the rishis are angry, it’s always noted. But the years when they are peaceful, it’s not given in the stories. Because that is boring – what’s happening when you meditate in a cave? Nothing! But somebody disturbs your meditation and you give a little curse here and there – ah, that’s a story! Finally something happens! Simple enlightenment and inner peace – that’s not yellow pages.

So, unfortunately we have that boulevard press mentality, we are searching for the ugly stories. Therefore we have to be very careful what we read, what input we provide for our mind. Because, for example, the “Mahabharata” is 100,000 verses or the “Shrimad Bhagavatam” is 18,000 verses. Let’s say from the “Bhagavatam” ten verses discuss curse. 15,000 verses discuss glorification, meditation and inner peace. So you see that this is not the yellow pages, because the bad news or the intriguing stories are very minimal and the real beautiful divine stories are the majority. But when the glorification comes sometimes we feel: “Ah, it’s boring. “You are so great, You are so nice…” Let’s jump to where something happens!”

Therefore Vyasadev and Valmiki Muni and all the other great rishis I think they attended the best school of dramaturgy – to keep your attention awake. Because just imagine – the munis meet and everybody starts to glorify each other, embrace and faint in ecstasy. It’s boring! You say: “Again they faint!? Same old story. Give me something new! Devotees come together, sing together, eat together – and what?! Give me an interesting story!”

Therefore the preachers use stories. Because show me one person who will be fired up by reading the “Vedanta Sutra”. None, none, nobody on this planet Earth. Except very few. Therefore our Krishna is a very clever God. He knows our nature. And He is tricky enough to invent stories, to interfere into your life and He is such a miracle-maker, that He can enchant our dull mind.

Question of Lilavatar: Gurudev, and what about our expectations towards ourselves?

Tirtha Maharaj: Is there any?

It’s a difficult topic. Because sometimes our over-expectations will lead to hypocrisy. I expect myself to be more perfect, but I’m not. For a long, long time we play a role. Usually this role is a little better than our present reality. It’s nothing wrong if your ideals are running ahead of your practice, until you are honest and sincere. Because if we have some goals ahead, that means we are approaching some higher ideal. But when we start to develop a habit of concealing something, or when we start to play games, then this is very unhealthy from the spiritual point of view. Krishna says in “Gita” that “Even the wise men act according to their nature, so why they should reject or renounce that nature?”[1] So, in this verse He accepts the limitations: “You have limitations, realize your limitations, your present assets, so to say, and work accordingly.” But then in another place He says: “If you renounce certain things, but you have the desire, then you are a hypocrite.”[2] This is a very high expectation! But then He gives the key also how to meet our own expectations, because “I want to give up my bad habits yet still they are here.” So how to get rid of these conditionings? He says: “By higher taste”[3]. If you have the higher taste you can very easily give up the lower taste.

So, if our expectations start to provide this improper hypocrite mood inside, then we have to be very careful. Therefore we associate with others. Because I might think that I am a great saint, but the others will tell the truth.

But in a positive sense I fully agree with expectations, I call them goals, a program for this lifetime. If you don’t have a list of “do”-s for this lifetime, then you will do nothing. So we must have a plan for this life – what should be done on a practical level, how I will express my faith, how I will serve my God. This is like a private, personal plan of purification. This is what I call expectations towards ourselves. “I want to fulfill this goal.” This is very positive.

And at least one expectation we should have towards ourselves – no expectations to others. In Bhakti Yoga there is only one expectation – no expectations. Because then we start to develop the habit: “I have expectations to myself, I have expectations to others, I have expectations to God also. He should save me according to my taste.” No. Let’s give Him the freedom to save you as He likes.

Question of Kripadham: How to find out our limitations? How to reach our limits? And how to be sincere with ourselves?

Tirtha Maharaj: Ah, that’s good question! How to find our limits?

Yamuna: By approaching them.

Tirtha Maharaj: Yes! Go to the ultimate limit. Once there was one sannyas disciple of Shrila Prabhupada. And Prabhupad was quite demanding. He gave so much service to that person, that he started to cry. A sannyasi himself, he started to cry, he said: “Prabhupad, it’s too much, I cannot!” Just imagine yourself in the situation when your spiritual master gives you so much service that you start to cry. Of course it depends on your capacity. Because maybe your spiritual master will say: “Would you please chant the holy names” and you immediately start to cry: “Ah, that’s too much!”

But definitely the sadhu helps us to understand our limitations. And also inner sincerity. If we are connected to this inner guide, this is a divine function, he will show us what is our level, what is our position.

And one little humble remark may be of little help for you: if others start to glorify you – don’t believe. Don’t believe. Don’t think that it concerns you. Whatever glory comes to us, we should offer it, we should pass it on the parampara[4] – then you are safe.

Kripadham: And how to be sincere with ourselves?

Tirtha Maharaj: “Sadhu-sanga sadhu-sanga sarva-shastra kaya lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya – Associate with the saints, because in their holy company even a moment will help you to reach ultimate perfection”[5]

[1] Bhagavad Gita 3.33

[2] Bhagavad Gita 3.6

[3] Bhagavad Gita 2.59

[4] The line of teachers

[5] Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya, 22.54

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