Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 09.05.2017 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

Comment: It is said in the Second Chapter of Bhagavad Gita that the soul is not affected by external things, but here in King Rahugana’s teachings it is written that somehow it is.

Swami Tirtha: Yes, theoretically it’s not affected, but practically it is. Because where is the suffering? Is there any suffering in the body? The bodily elements – earth, fire, water – this is what we are. Fire doesn’t suffer, there is no suffering for the earth element either. Of course, if sometimes we are too sinful and we trample upon the Mother Earth, that may give a little suffering for her. Yet in general the original elements don’t suffer. Is there a suffering for the soul? The nature of the soul is sat-cit-ananda, it’s not mentioned that suffering and limitations are there. So there is no suffering for the soul either.

Yet, do you know the feeling of suffering? Suffering – does it convey some message to you? I think we all know what it is. Although either you consider yourself as a body of material elements – you shouldn’t suffer, or you consider yourself spiritual – you shouldn’t suffer, yet suffering is there. Then where is this suffering? Very complicated question. And we can say: theoretically the soul is untouched by any material influences. Nevertheless in this, so to say, illusory reality we all perceive ups and downs, happiness and distress, failures and successes of life.

We can conclude that suffering is somewhere in between the spirit and the matter. And what is the connecting field between the two? This is the mind. Mind, intellect and ego – this is practically the same subtle covering over the soul. It’s just like a buffer zone between the spiritual realm and the material realm. The input from the material side is coming there and the reflection is projected over the consciousness of the soul. And until we are fully and totally realized as spiritual sparks, we shall have this reflection over our consciousness and therefore we perceive a kind of a suffering. So, theoretically, in philosophy and in ontology, we can say that there is no suffering for the soul. Yet we all perceive what it is due to the impure state of consciousness.

But the discussion between the king and Jada Bharata will continue for a long time and I think they will disclose these little subtle aspects.

And we might think that ‘All right, the material life is the miserable one, it’s full of suffering. Let’s go to the spiritual life.’ But beware! In Dwaraka for example there is one lake, it is called the Death of the Gopis Lake. Separation from the Lord is so painful that they experience death. This is one type of ecstasy actually – the feeling of death. So beware what type of spiritual practice you start to follow. Of course, this is not actual death, but like a feeling of death. So intense! The feelings, the bhava, the mood is so intense that you feel like you lose your life. It’s the ultimate intensity. The gopis of Vrindavana – what is their daily bread? “Krishna!”, they are crying. If the weather is good, they cry, because “Ah, Krishna is going to the fields with the caws, we won’t see Him.” If the weather is bad, it’s raining, they cry: “Oh, it’s raining, Krishna is not going out from His home! We won’t see Him.” So, the daily bread of the gopies is not Krishna, it’s crying. They attend the crying school of bhakti.

Therefore, one of my god-sisters had a question to our Gurudev. She said: “All right, we understood that material life is suffering. But now you explain that spiritual life is also suffering. What is the difference then?” Then Gurudev said: “But spiritual suffering is eternal.” So please, my dear ones, think twice. You laugh so much about eternal suffering. But while we can laugh about it, I think we are on the safe side. How do we perceive that suffering? I don’t know, but it’s there. Yet usually the most painful drops give a very high kind of realization.

Now we discussed suffering and everybody was laughing. And we know that chanting the holy names brings the greatest joy. But when we sing our bhajans, sometimes you cry. So, what is this? This is the behavior of a madman. When you remember eternal suffering, you laugh. When you taste divine blissful nectar, you cry. My dear ones, please come to your senses.

So please try to remember these discussions between our king Rahugana and Jada Bharata. And try to apply that is your daily life, in your practice. And this is our spiritual practice – sometimes we laugh, other times we cry. And sometimes we mix the occasions. But nevertheless, while we keep on going with our spiritual practices, we are on the safe side.

Leave a Reply