Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

The source of pain, the source of lamentation is suffering. Suffering comes from separation. On the elementary, basic level, and on the high platform also, separation is the source of lamentation. Once Sadhu Maharaj said: “Life is suffering. Let’s suffer for Krishna!” And I think this is not a pessimistic approach, but this is quite a realistic approach. If you make a list of your happy moments and your difficult moments, you can draw the balance. Then you will agree that life is suffering. But are we born for suffering? Is this our daily bread? Is this our goal of existence? Don’t tell me! No! It is something else. Bhakti Yoga means to say “No!” to such ideas. Bhakti Yoga means that you separate yourself from stupidity. But again separation is there.
The goal of life is to take the experience. Suffering helps us to be disillusioned. When you hit your head on the wall you understand that this is not the door. This is not the way out of the labyrinth. And what is hidden in your head – this is intelligence, right? You should use your intelligence to find the handle of the door.
The source of lamentation is suffering, ignorance – so many different elements are there. Yet by spiritual practice we can come to a better and better and ultimately a perfect state of consciousness. So this is the practical side: we have to practice the truth, we have to practice the spiritual sadhana. And by this you can achieve mercy. Mercy comes in the beginning and by practice you can deeply understand it, absorb it, and then you can reflect on it. By purity of mind, by purity of consciousness you will understand how much mercy is given to you. At the beginning we do not understand that. But later on by practice, by purification, we shall really understand that this is incredible!
Yamuna: Maharaj, you were speaking about the suffering in the material world. Could you say something about the spiritual suffering?
Tirtha Maharaj: No, that is not a good propaganda. Once there was a question: “If material life is suffering and spiritual life is suffering, what is the difference?” Then the answer came: “Material life is finished once. But spiritual life is eternal.” It is said that spiritual suffering is burning like volcanic magma, but at the same time it is sweet like honey. So it is very difficult to live without that. But that type of suffering – spiritual suffering – we have no idea about it. Because that is so fulfilling, that is so nourishing! Therefore we all should pay attention to the philosophy of bhakti, because it is not a cheap propaganda that: “You just join and you will be happy!” Right, because usually people say this: “Join us and you will be happy.” Here what is the invitation? “Join us and you will be suffering.” So think, if somebody is so sincere about his process, then it is good to examine what is hidden there.
And what is the suffering of the devotees? “Ah, I am so fallen, I am so far from my Lord.” That kind of suffering is very delicate. Actually this word, this expression is not really proper – it is not a suffering, it is rather lalasa, a longing…. This is a very sweet longing.
Suffering is a necessary part on the material platform of limited consciousness; and in spiritual affairs it belongs to the nature of affection. Therefore in a good romance or romantic movie without suffering the story is not complete. In that sense we have to understand that in the spiritual life there is a tinge, there is a kind of suffering, which makes the whole story complete.
I think we were discussing once, there is one story when Shukadeva Goswami was leaving home. Shukadeva was a son of Vyasa. Vyasa is a very respectable elderly sage and his young boy is searching for perfection. And the boy says: “Father, I go in search of perfection. I leave you! I give up my attachments for the sake of perfection of God.” Do you like Shukadeva’s brave and powerful search? Yes, we all love that, because we also want to start our search. And what is happening to Vyasa…? He says: “O my son!” But only the trees are resounding his call. Shukadeva is going, leaving….
When I first read that story – about that age as you – I said: “Yes! Shukadeva is right! Jay Shukadeva! Leave the old father! Because even it is written: “He might know, he might not know.”* He is not an authority. Search for yourself!”  The young man is leaving and the old man is crying. Young men will agree with the young man. But when you grow old, you will feel the suffering of the father, who is crying after the son: “Don’t go, my dear…” but the echo is resounding in the trees – empty.
So there are different phases, different aspects of the same truth. Without sacrifice there is no fulfillment. This is the pain of separation. This is the suffering that I am talking about – suffering caused by affection. Is that a sweet suffering? It is a very, very deep emotional suffering, which makes the whole story complete. It gives certain bliss to everyone who is involved. And this is only the beginning of the connection between people.

*Shiva says: “Aham vedmi, shuko vetti, vyasa vetti na vetti va – I know, Shuka knows, Vyasa might know, might not know the meaning of “Bhagavatam”

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