Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.”[1]

In this verse there are three different steps to consider: pranipat, pariprashna and seva. That means to observe, to search out, find; then to check, examine; and then to serve. So that the transcendental transaction happens, first we have to meet. But meeting is not enough, then we have to check. But checking is not enough – we have to serve.

The first step: the search or the meeting… We can think whether we are searching after the guru or the guru is searching after us. I cannot give a full and satisfying answer, but I think the best is if somebody is searching for us and we are ready to join. In certain schools there are different opinions whether one should do for the spiritual progress or one should not do, actively participate or not. Shrila Shridhara Maharaj says that we are more like active participants, we agree with the active participation. The example of the cat and the monkey is given. The mother cat is carrying the baby in the mouth and the little kitten does not do anything, it is just hanging. But the small monkey is actively catching on the mother. What happens? In both cases the cub is transferred from one place to another. But what is his contribution: simply hanging or catching on? Hanging is for the lazy ones; catching on is for the monkey types. Anyway, try to find your mother, who will carry you. Guru is also a mother, he will carry you… He or she, she or he – it is difficult to say, but he will carry you from this place to a different standard. So, search out and catch on this cosmic traveler.

What was the opinion of the guru of Shrila Prabhupada about him? Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati had an opinion on Prabhupada when they first met and this was: “He is a good listener.” Important quality. We can say a listener is a cat type. But then later on, after few decades Shrila Prabhupada became like a tiger – from a small kitten – a tiger – converting minimum the half of the world – if not the whole! But we are afraid to come close to a tiger. Therefore most of the practitioners, instead of tiger sannyas will take a cat lady, a pet lady as a wife. They consider: “Ah, the tiger is too strong for me, better I take a nice cat.”

But from small kittens – well, I would not say we should become predators – but we should become active, we should become mothers if the time will come. To carry the subordinates or the dependents through the material sphere – from one side of material ocean to the other side of eternity.

So, the search is the first approach; then the examination. We have to find out a spiritual master – or he has to find us – and then we have to understand, to check what is going on. The search, the checking, the examination must be there, because the blind following and the absurd questioning is also condemned. Still inquiry is necessary to understand. In the beginning we are full of questions; later on the questions start to diminish and there are two reasons for this. Either you start to understand or you start to not understand at all. But this search, this checking goes on for a lifetime. Yet about friendship it is said: first check then love. Not the other way round: that first you love and then you check, then you reject. First check – then love; first examine – then serve.

And that is the third quality mentioned in the verse – to serve the higher authority. Why should we serve? Because the knowledge and the blessings will come as a result of our service. Then due to this divine meeting, due to this divine inquiry, and due to this divine service, we shall be able to find divine qualities. And then in the spiritual master we shall find what kind of qualities? We shall be able to discover divine qualities in our master.

So, we can conclude what is worshipable in the human being. What do we worship in a human being? If we come closer to our spiritual master and if we examine him, then we shall find some divine qualities and actually this is what we worship in a human being – divinity! Then let me ask another question: what do we worship in God?

Ramvijay: I think the human, human qualities.

Tirtha Maharaj: I agree. As we worship in the human divinity, we can worship in the divine humanity. Because the absolute truth, the supreme transcendental principle cannot take birth as a baby to give you happiness and to be bathed in milk and water and whatever! ButKrishna as a personal God, as a personal friend, lover, or son, or father and mother – everything included – He can come. He can take any human qualities, in order to come closer to you. And I think this is the most beautiful transaction, the most beautiful dynamic harmony: when Divinity comes as human and when human becomes like Divinity. So, let us worship Divinity in humans and let us worship humanity in the Divine!

Question of Premananda: Is it that you should trust your guru and check yourself? In a sense not that what is written here you should check, but if it does not manifest in your life. You think you do the effort, but it does not manifest – then there is something wrong in the way you do it. Is it like this? I am asking because for a western person this checking means to analyze.

Tirtha Maharaj:This is a very good understanding. Analyze yourself. Because there are some opinions, let’s say, they propagate in written and in spoken form that if the disciple does not feel the ecstasy, immediately he should give up his guru. And I never heard to mention that maybe he should work harder! Only give up the guru! But that is true; instead of analyzing and discussing and thinking and faultfinding, we should have to apply the method more and more, in order to come from the external to the real.

[1] “Bhagavad-gita”4.34

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