June 2022


Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

driving the thoughts away

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2017 morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

What are the gradations of service, of servitude? The most brutal form is slavery. At the same time this is the highest also. Because then I’m not my own master, but I’m fully in the possession of somebody else. But this is difficult to understand, no doubt. Therefore many people think that the selfless service is the highest principle.

Then another level of servitude is when consciously, intentionally you identify yourself as a servant. Then when you are a humble servant. And finally the less positive term is the forced service – when you are obliged to do something and although you don’t like it, nevertheless you fulfill it.

So, the top level of servitude is this selfless service and on the divine platform this is devotional service. We always need a qualified service – not a simple service, but a qualified one. And therefore devotional service is the top.

But if we have a service, we also have to observe the motivation. On the job what is your motivation?

Answer: Salary.

Swami Tirtha: We have two motivations: ‘To save my time and to obtain the boss’s money’ – if you are an employee. But this is not a very high motivation. We have to qualify a little bit more. Nevertheless the benefit, any kind of benefit is a motivation for a long time. So the measurement for development of our understanding of service is how selfless it is, how much you are free from the attachment to the fruits. And beyond time, money and benefits there is one very subtle motivation – this is the appreciation. That people appreciate what you do – it gives a very deep satisfaction. What does it mean in service? You serve until it is appreciated. Or if the receiver will say: “Ah, you are such a nice servant!” Then you are ready to do more. If there is no feedback – it’s more difficult to perform.

We have to be aware of these subtle motivations also and not to be on the hook of the feedback of people. People are starving for feedback. Isn’t it? We are starving for appreciation. But be conscious that this is also a subtle enjoyment.

And especially in devotional circles there is one very special feature: if you invent the service, you are very happy and it’s so easy to perform it. But as soon as your spiritual master will say: “Ah, very nice service! Just please go on with this!” – with the same thing – it starts to become a disaster, it’s so difficult! It’s not that he told you: “Please, do this,” but he agreed: “All right, you invented something for your satisfaction – go ahead!” – immediately it changes.

So we have to be very attentive in our observation. We have to analyze ourselves and we have to catch ourselves if we are in this trap. Do you agree? I think many times it happens. Until this is your business, you are very enthusiastic to do it; but as soon as you get an approval for that, you start to lose your enthusiasm.

In service we have to consider two consequences. One is the shreyas – what is useful, utility; and the other one is the preyas – which is very dear. Preyas comes from priya. Unfortunately this is obvious that the human being is designed to accept and follow which is more charming and sweeter than what is more useful. Usually we are like this. We try to enjoy the happiness derived from the senses and the contact of the sense objects, which in the beginning feels like nectar, but at the end turns a little bitter; instead of the sattvic happiness that you can derive from other practices, which in the beginning feels a little bitter, but later it becomes like nectar.

(to be continued)


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