Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


Question: You have given the formula: “Attachment brings suffering and love brings pain.” Could you please define the difference between suffering and pain?

Tirtha Maharaj: The difference between suffering and pain can be detected by the sharpness and depth of the feelings. Freud gave the definition of happiness in a strange manner: when you don’t suffer too much. From this it looks like suffering is a general condition of life and this is supported by the shastras and tradition. In the East they say life is suffering, yet people in general are happy and contented; while in the West we usually want to say life is happy, yet we perceive suffering. So this is a condition, a general tone, and as the whole world of humans is based on rasas, as humans are by nature a rajasic type, therefore the natural consequence of passion is suffering.

While pain is little different in my understanding. Pain cuts deeper and more sharp, but this should not be simply a feeling, as feelings are coming and going. Pain is also generated in the emotional ego, but we should preserve our ability to perceive this pain only for the best part of life. And I do not say that life is a torture – rather the definition of love applies, as love is not with whom you could live, but in whose absence you’d die immediately.

But then you might say: although we might have intensive feelings, yet we do not die, neither permanently nor many times. But we do. For a kshatriya to die on the battlefield once is enough for perfection. While a brahmana has to die many times as in his case this is the progress – to die for the previous, less perfect state of consciousness, to die for the mistakes, shortcomings. And without the Divine affection this whole life is a kind of survival, waiting for the accomplishment to happen.

And on the top platform of ecstatic feelings, one element of vyabhicari-bhava is the feeling of total annihilation – due to the absence of the beloved Krishna. But this is very rarely manifested, and it is not necessarily a physical death, rather a state of consciousness, very similar to some emotional mundane feeling, although totally different from that.

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