May 2021
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Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 09.01.2016 morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

Question of Baladev: You said in connection with entanglement that our every action here in this world is connected to some mistake. And one very major mistake is the egotism that we have even unconsciously and it’s a very tiresome habit. How to get rid of this habit, or rather how to replace it with another one, because I have heard that when you want to get rid of some habit, you have to replace it with a better habit?

Swami Tirtha: Well, egotism is not bad – if we are on the real ego platform, on the atman platform. The problems come from the distortion of this principle of self-esteem and identity. Aham – myself or ‘I am’ – there’s nothing wrong with that. Actually aham in Sanskrit means ‘me, I am’. It’s a highly mystical expression. Because what is the beginning of this word? ‘A’. Krishna says in the Gita: “From the characters I am ‘A’”.[1] ‘A’ is the first character of the Sanskrit alphabet. And which one is the last character? You guess! The last character is ‘ha’. And what is the last sound of this aham? It’s the ‘m’, the nasal vibration sound, which always signifies the spiritual essence.

So aham means: from the very beginning of the alphabet to the last character, plus the spiritual surplus – everything! Everything that words can describe – it’s Me. Of course it’s not your ‘me’, it’s the divine ‘Me’. “I am.” Who says: “I am”? If you say “I am”, it’s limited. If He says “I am” – that’s a divine message. Who dares to say: “I am”? With all the rights only one person can say “I am”, who is in full possession of existence. So it’s a divine word “I am”, aham.

So is there anything wrong with aham? There’s nothing wrong with aham. Aham means the sanctity of existence. But then what’s wrong? We all feel that something is wrong. The distortion is wrong – when it is aham-kara. Kara means created identity. We, spiritual souls, we also can declare: “Aham, I am,” but we are a dependent reality on the Supreme aham, the supreme existence. So our aham is relative to someone. If we forget about that relationship, then it becomes distorted. Then we create an identity for ourselves and this is ahankara, the created identity, the created ‘me’. The only problem is with that – with this created false concept about myself.

And basically we, humans, have three images, three identities concerning ourselves. One is how others consider us. The second is how you consider yourself. And the third one is who you really are. For example you might consider yourself a wise person. While others consider you a fool number one. Yet in reality you are neither a fool nor a wise man, but something in between. So you have these three types of identity: what others think of you, what you think of yourself and who you really are. And if these three pictures come closer and closer together, then it’s healthy, then it’s progressive. You don’t try to create an identity for yourself that others would appreciate, but you are ready to show yourself as you are. Yet in order to do that first you have to achieve your proper realized self.

So the only problem is with this distorted identity, this ahankara. And we have to replace that created, false egotism or identity with the real one, revive the real one, revive the original consciousness. The whole spiritual process is about reviving our original identity.

I don’t want to be very general, but usually we think that we are the centre of the universe. Which is also more or less true, because our life is the most important for us, we have to do something about it, so we have to focus on ourselves to a certain extent. But only to remove the dirt, remove the dust, remove the coverings, the layers – and then the original spiritual spark will shine. Under the spell of illusion we nourish our false identity, while under the protection of the spiritual master, the process, Mahaprabhu, Krishna, we nourish our real identity. This is the way to get rid of the false concepts and to find our ultimate spiritual identity.

[1] Bhagavad Gita 10.33

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