Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

“O descendent of Bharata, he who dwells in the body can never be slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any living being.”[1]

This verse actually gives the definition of sentimentalism. Because one definition of being sentimental is when you try to give more compassion to a living entity than God. Although this is a very difficult definition, if you try to give more compassion to an entity than God, then this is sentimental. How to understand this? This definition is very much connected with karma. Karma means action and reaction, you get what you deserve. You sow the wind – you reap the tempest. Whatever we do, there will be some reaction. This is one element of this question.

So, fate is written on the foreheads of people. Whatever happiness, success, suffering and failure is awaiting you in this lifetime, it is given in the beginning. So, do not revolt against your fate. Actually fate is not a punishment, but fate is a chance to fulfill our progress. Therefore we should be thankful for getting all the different opportunities in our lifetime.

Of course, during our spiritual progress, we must learn what is compassion. But remember the definition: sentimental means you try to be over-compassionate – compassionate over the path, over karma, over the fate of people. Of course, it does not mean “do not give help” if help is needed. But there are certain things that we cannot change. We should identify our limits. There is a nice prayer: “O my Lord, please, give me the power to change what I can change, give me the patience to tolerate what I cannot change, and give me the intelligence to recognize both.” This is not sentimental, this is practical.

Depending on our spiritual elevation, we enter into different relationships with others. There are actually three steps of compassion. The first is understanding. Understanding means that if you meet someone, you are ready to listen to the difficulties of the person. And simply by opening their mind or sharing their troubles, they are diminished. Therefore in the church there is this confession. Because if you give out your secrets, or sins, automatically you are relieved a little bit. If we enter into such a connection with others, we listen to their problems – this is called understanding. Considering activity and who is active in this sense, active is the suffering party: “I have the trouble, I go to you and I tell my trouble to you.” The other party is passively listening, giving an ear. Is that enough? Is there a next step? There is another step. The next step is called compassion proper. Compassion means that I am ready to listen to your troubles, and I am ready to share your troubles. In this case both parties are active. “I give you my troubles and you take part.” How would you feel if somebody is ready to take part of your trouble? I think it is good, because then it becomes more easy for us. But the third level of compassion is called love, affection, affectionate love, where you not only listen, you not only share, but you take away the sufferings of others. You relieve the other person of the trouble. In this way the person who relieves is the real active principle. He is not over-compassionate, he is not sentimental, but he is able to make the miracle. This is our magician. This is our master, this is our teacher. As Shrila Sadhu Maharaj says: “You just give the poison to your master. He will give you nectar instead.” This is the exchange.

You can identify yourself according to that scale – on which level you are. We are very happy even to meet a person, who listens to us. And when you give all your troubles, all your feelings, all your ideas to someone, then you will have the feeling: “Ah, such a nice conversation we had. At least somebody was listening to me.” Then real sharing means that you are ready to share the problems; and be ready to share the happiness also. But the real miracle happens on the third platform, when you feel: “I am changed! Hey, where are my attachments?! Where are my troubles!? I have lost something.” Miracle means when the dimensions start to change. When time starts to flow in a different sequence. When space is shrinking. And in the company of a pure devotee you can have that feeling, you can perceive that the dimensions are changing. Therefore guru is able to change the disciple. By initiation the divine knowledge is transmitted and the character of the practitioner is given a chance. The rest depends on the practitioner. As it is said: you can take the horse down to the water, but the horse has to drink alone. Guru leads the disciple to the spring of pure water, but you have to drink it.

This process can be practiced not by imitation, but by following. If a lady goes to the delivery room and starts to shout, no baby will come from that. Something else is necessary for that, some nine months before, some preparation. Simply imitating the voice – no result. You can try! Simply to say: “Hare Krishna!” – is that enough? Yes! By the mercy it is enough, because Mahaprabhu is so great, that He said: if somebody repeats once the holy name, he is a devotee. Still we should not use it as an excuse: “Gurudev, I have already once told the holy name, so I am all right! I have done my job.” It is not an excuse; but from this you can understand the quantity of that mercy, how big is God’s grace to embrace you. From this we can understand that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is sentimental. He is ready to be more compassionate than your fate, than your karma. He is ready to over-write your karmic path. The only little requirement is to say “Yes” to Krishna. Bhakti Yoga is very simple: it means to say “yes”.


[1] „Bhagavad-gita”2.30

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