August 2019
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Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

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( from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, evening, Sofia) 

We’ve come together on a blessed day, Easter, to celebrate the victory of life over death. Shall we discuss about that a little bit? I think that is important. Because death does not really exist. Although sometimes it looks very fearful and realistic, it doesn’t really exist. We believe not in death, we believe in life. Life, eternal life is our guiding principle. Compared to that nothing is significant. First we have to deeply understand that we are eternal souls, individual separate particles of the energy of the Supreme. And as God is unlimited and eternal, we share His qualities in that respect. We are also eternal, but our power and our expansion is limited. And unfortunately we live in a very difficult age – the age of degradation. So even that small capacities are diminished. Before people had broader and deeper understanding, but today we have very weak and very shallow understanding. Even we forget that we are eternal souls. Therefore the first step in our spiritual path is to deeply realize that we are not impermanent, we are not changing. Whatever changes is superficial; deep down we are permanent, we are eternal.

Then you might say: ‘How can I change my character? How can I get rid of my bad habits – if there is no change?’ No, we only have to revive the original, primordial state of existence and consciousness. First we have to deeply and profoundly understand that we are eternal. Second we have to pacify our intellect – because we are always disturbed by different intellectual influences. But even if you become very smart on the intellectual platform, that is not the happiness of the soul. Therefore ultimately we have to find the happiness of our heart and soul.

So, we live in the age of degradation. And on this blessed day I would like to illustrate that degradation by an example coming from the history of arts. What is the main symbol of Christianity?

Answer: The cross.

Swami Tirtha: Correct. And is this cross empty? Somebody is on the cross, right? So the main symbol of Christianity is the corpus – Jesus on the cross. I don’t know how that is in the Pravoslav iconography, but if you examine that in the western Christian iconography, in the early centuries you will see the crucified Jesus with a smiling face. He is not with a broken face, showing the signs of utter pain and suffering; no – happy, jolly mood. How is that – is crucifixion a happy event? If you imagine yourself being crucified – well, it’s not that easy. But what was the symbol in the early times? Lord Jesus on the cross with a smiling face; and the section of the cross was on which chakra platform? It was on the heart chakra. So, the crucified Lord, son of God says: “My heart is open to you! Please come, I want to embrace you for eternal life!” Therefore He was happy – because He was ready to serve all those who were ready to follow Him.

Then the centuries started to progress. And step by step you will see Jesus is falling from His heart chakra position. Now you can find Jesus is just hanging and the section point of the cross is not even on His crown chakra, but it’s above His head. That shows the degradation of people’s understanding. Instead of the happy resurrection, now they see only the suffering. You can see the transformation of the symbol. The cross in the beginning was an invitation of eternal life; now this is a fearful reminder of total annihilation. Do you see the difference?

But what is the greatest symbol of the vaishnavas? There are so many that it’s difficult to mention one, but let’s say: the dancing Mahaprabhu, or Krishna playing the flute. There are so many happy symbols in our tradition. Please, take care so that our happy symbols are not transformed into some fearful reminders.

(to be continued)



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