Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

(continues from the previous issue)


Question of Ramvijay: About humility. This topic is very difficult for me to understand, especially this balance between humility and stupidity. For example Jesus says: “If someone slaps you on the one side, turn the other side also.” And frankly I like this. I mean, maybe foolishly, that this is a way to let your karma flow. Because if they hit you, it is not without a reason. Everything has a reason. And having received a hit, if I reply to this hit, next hit will come. And also since my nature is not the nature of a fighter, maybe I prefer to accept the stones of the children in the case of this snake rather than really fighting. On the other hand we know the advice coming from “Bhagavad Gita” that it is not always good to accept everything that is coming. So if you could enlighten us a little bit more on how to decide and how to act properly, not to mix up being very humble and at the same time not generating karma and not being stupid.

Tirtha Maharaj: This ideal that you have mentioned from the Bible to show your other chееk – I have read that many times and I have heard that many times, but I think I can tell you I have never seen that in practice. Why is this? Because this is a wrong idea? I do no think so. But this is too high. Too high! Too high to believe that it works.

Little examples I can mention. For example once a devotee was travelling in a metro. It was half empty, he was sitting and a strong guy came in front of him and said: “I want to sit down here.” And the devotee said: “Yes, please, take my seat.” And our violent man was so much impressed that he could not fight with this person, he was amazed. So sometimes non-violence really works.

But that standard is quite high – to show the other cheek. The limit of tolerance and humility in Hungarian language, in our use is: “You can chop wood on his back.” Tolerant person is such – you can chop wood on his back. This is also high! I had a friend who was like this. Many people tried this on his back and he was tolerant for some time. But then he said: “Now stop! This is the end.”

Of course humility is a risky game. Because if you are humble, you show your weakness. Weakness in such a sense that “I am not fighting.” When wolves are fighting they are very strong and very ferocious animals. When one feels “Ah, I am defeated,” he gives the neck: “You can bite my neck.” And what happens at that time? The stronger, the victorious does not bite the neck. What is the material standard amongst humans? You fight, you lose, you give your neck and they bite! Homo homini lupus – human is wolf for another human. Sometimes human beings are even worse than animals. What is a natural standard for wolves is a very unnatural standard for humans. So, if you are humble towards wolves and fools, then you lose.

But to handle such a situation there is a good advice: discriminate between the action and the actor. Because you can disagree with the activity, still you should fully respect the person. Even in difficult situation, even if some attack is coming to us. You can defend yourself, but you should have gentle feelings.

So, humility should be applied in the right company, where they will not misuse your humility. If somebody will misuse your humility, try to avoid that situation. I share your opinion, I would not fight either. But if somebody is a fighter, no problem, he can fight.

There is another story – it is a very nice story – that in the jungles of South America some Christian missionaries established their mission. And the same soldier who was before hunting for the Indians, later he became a monk and went to the same spot in the jungle to the Indian mission. And due to some political reasons they decided to close up this mission. The high priest and the high politicians said: “You should stop!” But of course they did not want to stop, because this is beautiful! So, an army was sent against them and the monks and the people in the mission were preparing – according to their nature. The old father was making puja. He was a brahmin, so he was making a puja, celebrating the mass, praying, singing – like this. And this new member of the mission, who was a fighter before, what was he doing? He was organizing the fight! He was teaching the young kids how to fight, how to use the guns and everything. So, he was using his capacities for the same purpose. We can say that this is violent, but in my calculation this is service. This is humility – to protect the mission.

So according to our habit, according to our character, according to our guna, we can also take part in our spiritual practices. Our humility is how to satisfy Shri Guru, Shri Krishna, vaishnavas – Hari, guru, vaishnava – three. Humility is the entrance fee to the divine realm. Do not forget to pay the price of entrance.

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