September 2021
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Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 31.07.2016 evening, Sofia)

We started a topic in the morning; the question was how to recognize a spiritual person. I think that’s an interesting question, so, it’s useful if we have some information about this. Therefore my humble suggestion, if you agree, is let’s continue to discuss this topic.

Let me ask you: what is the use of a saint? Usually a saintly person is very useless. He doesn’t have a job, he is not working, he is not like us. He is a little outsider. And always he gets the garland, not me – how is it? He is not doing anything and is receiving all the respect. What is the use of a saintly person? Is there any material benefit from a saint?

You say no, then why we need such a guy? We have learnt before that in spiritual life utility is the main principle – whatever you do must be useful. What is the material benefit of a saint? Not so much material use. Then why we should discuss this topic: how to recognize a saint? Maybe in order to avoid it? Because if you meet such a dangerous person, such an outsider, maybe it’s better to avoid. But if there is no material benefit from a saint, then maybe there is some other use? Usually if you try to approach a saintly person with your material ambitions, what will happen?

Answer: He will give you the blessings.

Swami Tirtha: Yes, crushing our dreams is a kind of blessing. Therefore we have to be careful about associating with saintly people. Because they work for our ultimate benefit, not for the relative benefit. Only on the relative platform we might say that there is no use of a saintly person. On the spiritual plane this is the point: to find a saintly person and to associate with him.

In India a saintly person is called sadhu. But who is a sadhu? Who lives according to the truth, according to the real – sat. Sat, divine reality, will make him into a sadhu. And if you are not living according to the spiritual standards, according to that truth, it’s very difficult to be in his company. A sadhu will always recall and remind us of this divine reality. We come with a relative consideration and he comes with an absolute vision. This is called confrontation.

Once it happened that Shrila Prabhupada, who was a very famous and very elevated spiritual teacher, visited one of his temples. He opened one door in the brahmachari room, students’ room, and what did he see? Some leftover prasadam, half rotten food. He was furious. Because you know practitioners of yoga should practice self-control and not to stock foodstuff for the evening or for the hard times. What to speak of such remnants that are spoiled. So, he became furious. And if the guru is furious, that’s a difficult moment. Fortunately our tradition gives good advice what to do when your spiritual master is furious. And that shows that you shouldn’t expect your spiritual master to be always very nice and peaceful. Gurus are sometimes furious, point number one. Point number two: what to do in such a case? In the holy scriptures it is suggested that whenever you see that your spiritual master is furious, especially at you, then the student should go out of reach of sound and wait until he pacifies. Because that is expected that he will regain his cool temper soon.

You see, practicing yoga, especially devotional yoga, you will find very-very unexpected things. Rotten food in the cupboard, furious gurus around. What to do in such a case? Yet why Prabhupad was furious in this case? Of course, he didn’t lose his control. But he wanted to show the disciples what is proper and what is not. He said: “If you leave your food hidden and rotten in the corner that is tama-guna. And I am in sattva-guna – it’s too big a distance between the two. Therefore this tension is there.” So, one way to avoid the anger of a spiritual master is: 1. Do not leave foodstuff in the corner. 2. Come closer to his standard. Don’t expect that he comes closer to your standard. Try to elevate yourself and follow his footsteps.

And what will happen if I follow an outsider? I will also become an outsider. But you know, to be an outsider of illusion that’s a glorious position. So we want to be outsiders. Therefore it is said: “A realized person, although he lives here, nevertheless he lives in a totally different world. Only the body is here; the mind, the consciousness is somewhere else. It’s always connected to divinity. And due to this connection it is so challenging to meet such a person. Because he brings a different vibration.

(to be continued)


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