Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

“How to recognize our spiritual master? We should not identify him with the picture that is perceived by our senses. In the wintertime he is using a big coat and during the summer he is dressed in a small dhoti. The clothes are not so important. In one life guru can take such a body, in another life – different body. In different times guru appears in different forms. On the higher planetary systems the demigods, gandharvas and siddhas also have spiritual masters, although there have no such crude physical bodies. The form might be different or different acharyas might perform their services parallel. But to recognize the spiritual master outside vision is not enough; we must perceive the essence. Krishna says: “Ultimately I am the acharya – acharyam mam vijaniyam – Know, that I am no different from the acharya.”[1] This is a divine function, but to recognize this divine function, we must have transcendental vision.

A human being is judged according to the most superficial qualities – like his cloths, his body, his mind or intellect. But the spiritual clear vision will show us reality in a correct manner. We should get rid of the misconception that the picture shown through our senses is reality. Real reality is beyond the conception of the senses and only with the help of the spiritual master we can conceive that.”[2]

With the help of the spiritual master we can understand that the real reality is beyond, it is over there. But with his help we can understand that this “over there” is over here! Yet we should not mix that what is over here is over there; this might be a mistake.

“Perfect knowledge can come to some conclusions from even small signals. From the superficial signs we should come to the essence. Of course it does not mean that the physical presence of the spiritual master should be neglected, but the essence hides in a deeper recess. The things, left by our spiritual master, like the coat or the shoes, are worshipable, but the personal service is more precious. The photograph is not the guru although it describes him. Vision or hearing does not give a full vision of a person. The real experience is the words or the understanding of the instructions of the spiritual master. This is real Krishna consciousness.”

Sometimes the disciples of Shrila Prabhupad were collecting the dhotis of Shrila Prabhupad – just to remember the spiritual master… But I am convinced that it is not enough to collect some relics from our spiritual masters, to keep it like in a museum, sometimes to clean it from the dust – and otherwise this is our surrender to our masters; it is not enough. Тhe essence here is to understand the instructions. Our spiritual growth, our spiritual understanding is tested on the achievement how much we had understood from the instructions.

“Beyond the different qualities of our master we can appreciate his charming character, his way of behavior, his gestures or intellectual capacities, but we should not miss the essence – i.e. the instructions. This should be the highest goal and for this high goal we should be ready to sacrifice everything.”

So, I wanted to mention these little thoughts and quote this from Shrila Shridhara Maharaj – how to recognize the master. And as the wrist-watch is not time itself, it only shows the time, the picture is not the guru himself, but describes the master.

[1] “Shrimad-bhagavatam” 11.17.27

[2] Shrila Shridhara Maharaj, “Shri Guru and his grace”

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