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Letter from H H Bhakti Tirtha Swami Maharaj

ei baar karuna karo vaisnava gosai...

23/04/05, Bhakti-Tirtha Swami sets the stage for his
final offering

Dear Maharajas, Prabhus and disciples

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to
Srila Prabhupada.

This is probably the penultimate special message of
wisdom from the ground hog aka the beggar aka
spiritual warrior. So let this prepare you for the
ultimate message. (smile) You can see that this kind
of communication that I am doing must actually come to
a stop. Firstly because it is natural, for I
definitely have to get out of this body sometime in
the near future, but also because if I am not careful,
this sort of communication could become my biggest
failure. Just consider how every time I send out some
of these messages, so many nice devotees all around
the world write and call and offer me kindness and
praise. Yes, this is wonderful but can you see all the
danger in this? One of Maya's most special tricks is
to get the devotee who has acquired some little
achievement to start thinking, 'just see, I am an
advanced devotee.' For instance, if I'm not careful
and if I let myself start thinking in this way, then
when the helpers come to take me out of the body
they'll take me straight to Brahmaloka or some place
of this nature. They'll say, 'this was your final test
and you accepted certain adoration and glorification
as your own, therefore go ahead and enjoy now for 311
trillion years managing your own planet or universe.'
Isn't Maya just so tricky? (Smile) When Vasudeva the
leper was healed by Krishna he prayed very intensely
'please do not let me become proud'. When the great
devotee Madhavendra Puri was called out by the pujari
and the deity Ksira-Cora Gopinatha he was so eager to
avoid praise. We've never heard of devotees like
Narottama Dasa Thakur, Bhaktivinode Thakur or our
Srila Prabhupada (we can go on and on and on), being
in a mood of arrogance. They were constantly writing
and praying, addressing how they do not have love of
God and how they are unqualified in so many areas etc.
Anyway, what I'm writing now is for my own edification
and purification and maybe for yours as well. Devotees
like me, in one sense have no qualification in
practically any area but have received blessings by
causeless mercy. However, pride manifesting as
pratistha (a desire for fame) is a serious enemy.

When I had my amputation I offered up a sacrifice. I
offered that a substantial quantity of pain that some
of the women, children, elders, brahmins, and cows etc
in our movement had suffered, could be absorbed in my
extremely deteriorated leg and that when the leg was
amputated, as it was thrown away from my own body,
that there would also be some elimination of this
unhealthy karma from the body of our institution. So
now today in a similar spirit I want to offer in
sacrifice all the rest of what remains with this body.
In other words, I fully want to present myself to the
Lord in the mood of Saranagati - full surrender. 'Thy
will be done, so please use me in this last way to
make an ultimate sacrifice for those devotees, saints
and sadhus who are having seemingly insurmountable
obstacles in their own spiritual journey.' I would
like to also make it specific, particularly focusing
on forgiveness.

The duty of a brahmana is to culture the quality of
forgiveness, which is illuminating like the sun. The
Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, is pleased with
those who are forgiving. (SB 9.15.40)

All of us have so many people who we've interacted
with who have hurt us in different ways. Just to
exist, or to be engaged in any type of relationship
means we're going to be hurt by someone and we're
going to hurt someone. We all have people who we need
to forgive and there are so many people who need to
forgive us. Sometimes the person we have the greatest
difficulty forgiving is ourselves. Why am I bringing
up forgiveness and resentment? Because I am noticing
that it is a very serious issue. I am especially
sending this message out to those children who've been
abused. In the USA for example, the statistics show
that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys have been sexually
abused and unfortunately most of these kinds of abuse
are done by the people who are actually supposed to be
their protectors or overseers etc. So this is a global
problem of people being abused and hurt by their
fathers, uncles, brothers, mothers, sisters, Doctors,
counsellors and all other types of mentors. In other
words this is so unfortunate and is never to be
justified, but it has gone on everywhere on this
planet. And surely each institution, community and
family must find more ways to minimise so much of the
suffering that people are experiencing through these
abuses and traumas. Some may say what right do I have
to ask others to forgive, but I can assure you that by
being born in a minority body, (without the active
presence of my father) and going through all the ranks
of ISKCON, I surely have my history of all kinds of
abuses. Let's get right to the point.

A) Forgiveness does not mean:

i) That what happened to you was your fault

ii) It doesn't mean that you allow those who hurt you
or any others to continue the abuse

iii) It doesn't even mean that you have to forget as
sometimes we have to remember the past so that it
doesn't repeat itself and often we have to learn from
the past while we look and plan for the future.

iv) That what happened as horrible as it was, really
wasn't so bad after all

B) Forgiveness does mean:

i) That you stop allowing whoever hurt you so much to
continue to daily hurt you by carrying this around in
your mind everyday and therefore being attacked,
disappointed and hurt everyday again and again.

ii) That you now live for the present and the future
and you stop bringing a wounded you into all of your
present encounters. It is not right for you to hurt
yourself or those who come around you, who you really
want to give your greatest love, attention and full
presence to. But when you do not forgive you keep
dropping a wounded you on others day after day.

iii) That you're ready to stop giving up, denying your
power everyday and being so faithless, for Krishna can
use us and help us in so many ways if we do not keep
shutting ourselves down with resentment.

iv) That in spite of whatever else may be happening
you are ready to keep looking for and accepting
Krishna's mercy which cannot happen without accessing
a deeper level of compassion and sensitivity
ourselves. Isn't is true that the greatest achievers
have had to deal with the greatest obstacles, and in
some cases they particularly turned their obstacles
into opportunities

C) When we do not forgive

i) It is like carrying around in your hand a bunch of
hot coals and waiting for a chance to throw them at
the person who hurt you. But look how you burnt you
own hand waiting for the opportunity. In essence
forgiveness actually does more for your own well being
than for another

ii) We have to ask ourselves how much suffering do
those who hurt us the most have to undergo before we
can release them? Must they be run over by 10 trains,
chopped in to a hundred pieces or even eaten up by a
pack of lions?

Let's just be honest, if we look at the lives of all
the great personalities in our sastra we will see the
amazing ways in which they forgave. If any of you have
time, I gave a course in Mayapur in 2003 on forgiving
those who hurt you the most and we talked about over
40 or so great personalities in our Vaisnava history
and examined what we learnt from the amazing ways they
forgave. So the groundhog aka the beggar aka spiritual
warrior is praying that the ultimate sacrifice he
makes in having to walk away from his body will act
somewhat as a catalyst for helping us all to look
closer at resentment and forgiveness. The sad thing is
that most of the time we're prone to think that we
have already forgiven others. It can be a gradual
process which has many levels. For example, think of
the person who has hurt you the most, and now think of
all the most wonderful things you can imagine
happening to this person. If you are very
uncomfortable with this, or if you feel too angry or
uneasy hearing or seeing them, then more than likely
you haven't released this person from your
consciousness. Remember that to see a Vaisnava and not
be happy is an offence. (Skanda Purana)

So that this beggar does not engender pride thinking
that he has some special sacrifice to make or some
very special wisdom to offer he will try to
particularly use some of these points to look deeper
at the subtleties in his own consciousness. Hopefully
if you listen to the seminar on forgiveness, the
wonderful pastimes about our great acaryas and how
they forgave and the amazing honest sharing amongst
the seminar participants, it will help you to help
yourself to help others.

Yours in Srila Prabhupada's Service With Love
Bhakti-Tirtha Swami

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