Final letter from B.T. Swami:
“All we really have is each other”
Posted May 9, 2005
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
(May 8, 2005) This is the final letter that I will be sending out. Our movement is like a young adult. There are many things that everyone experiences -- individuals as well as institutions -- that are part of the maturation process. As we grow, we also have to deal with growth pains. Often, after these growth pains, we experience the greatest benefits from our struggles, just like a mother who is pregnant and who is bringing forth children. Each time before she gives birth she has to deal with almost unbearable challenges.So we as an institution have experienced so many birth pains and challenges especially each time there is opportunity for major acceleration. Sometimes some of these tests institutionally and individually have heavily bewildered us, seriously wounded us and, unfortunately, sometimes temporarily destroyed us. But we all know that there cannot be serious growth and advancement without austerity.Prabhupada explains in the Bhagavatam that an easy life and Krishna consciousness go ill together.
Each of us has our own battle of Kuruksetra that we have to deal with. In any battlefield situation one can be victorious or one can be a failure; however, even when one is a failure, it can be used to come back stronger at a later time.In a battlefield situation one is in the most dangerous environments where the most gruesome as well as the most noble things take place, but with good association the individual has more guarantee to be successful.We have been offered the very best strategy and association by our wonderful acaryas, so really if we become failures it is ultimately our own fault.If we keep in good association, even our temporary defeats will remind us but not define us. From these setbacks we should individually as well as collectively become stronger and hopefully wiser and more unified. At the end of the day, all we really have is each other.Ultimately a genuine family is eager to see how to help each other; they share in the defeats and they share in the successes, especially since devotees are para dukha dukhi.
So many of us have been pioneers. Pioneers naturally make sacrifices for future generations, but ultimately they establish the foundation.The special mercy is all that we did is in our spiritual bank accounts.I have personally noticed that many devotees build up their spiritual investments and when it is almost time for them to benefit from their credits, i.e. to receive empowerment and to accelerate by leaps and bounds in their consciousness, Maya finds a way to trick them so that they become unaware or unable to benefit from what is available at the right time. These kinds of tests bring a person to tremendous crossroads.
At a crossroad we can take the path of success; more profound selfless devotion, offering oneself more intensely than ever before to Guru and to Krishna or, we can choose the path of selfishness, with all kinds of subtle attachments that will lead to downfall. My realization is that without sufficient humility and high quality association, many people will take the path of temporary failure. It seems that several of the recent serious fall downs in big places are connected with four major factors: aparadhas, a lack of humility, a lack of quality association and a lack of understanding of some of the dynamics of advancement (some of the great-dark-night-of-the-soul challenges).As more of us raise the quality of our own consciousness, this will lead to consistent manifestations of deeper purity and we will have a greater impact on the environment. Just as Maya is contagious, authentic Bhakti is contagious.
I have made many mistakes in my devotional career especially in the area of being more sensitive to devotees needs.I feel I was given a special service in Srila Prabhupada's mission to help the devotees to look closer at how to rise above anartha nivrtti. A lot of my focus in preaching was to care for and to help the devotees as best as I could, especially to help them to recognise their stagnations while they simultaneously develop the faith and technologies of how to be less and less distracted.I also feel that I was given a few special privileges and lots of help in addressing a small part of Srila Prabhupada's mission on how to solve material problems with spiritual solutions.
This required a certain style of presentation. It wasn't so much that I sacrificed developing external sadhu qualities, but I think it had more to do with some of the ways I needed to function to go in like a needle and come out like an elephant.After all, it was these kinds of services, creative sankirtana, which constantly got me Srila Prabhupada's favour when he was on the planet.
This was one of the reasons I chose to leave my body in the west on the battlefield.Another reason was that I realized if a few more of the senior leaders left their bodies where there are major projects, this would play a significant role in helping to develop and secure those projects, what to speak of reminding ourselves that so much of Srila Prabhupada's success was in establishing holy dhamas all around the world. Since the scriptural injunction states that one should always desire to live in the holy dhamas and one should leave one's body in the holy dhamas, we should understand that yes, it is physical, but more importantly it is a state of consciousness.
We should never minimize the sacredness and the benefit of leaving our bodies in the holy dhama.So many wonderful special helpers are there in the holy dhamas to assist one with their transition.By the mercy of Srila Prabhupada all kinds of help for the devotee is arranged.I have shared with many of you that even when we think we are doing our best, it is still so insignificant, and by the mercy of Krishna, Srila Prabhupada and their many helpers, they will maintain what we have and supply, big time, what we are lacking. By the mercy of all of you, there are indications that I may be on my way back to the spiritual world in perhaps one or two weeks, and I may also be able to continue to have some influence here to assist the mission.
I want to offer my apologies to all of you that I have offended, especially due to my often radical and unorthodox nature.I want to thank you so much for helping my life to be successful by allowing me in my own small way to offer myself up in sacrifice, somewhat in the mood of Vasudeva Datta to try to be the servant of the servant.Only by your constant prayers and the constant forcing of Srila Prabhupada in keeping me somewhat focused was I able to pass the final test. So I leave with you my funny mantra with its different variations. "We are all spiritual warriors, who are blessed by the best, and we have a duty to reach out more to help each other to pass their test."In order to successfully deal with the pains of maturation, the birth pains, and our own battle of Kuruksetra, all of us really need more of each others protection, and that protection manifests more profoundly in how we allow ourselves to be conduits for Krishna's and Srila Prabhupada's mercy.
This experience of leaving the body is frightening and scary at times, full of surprises, pain, and inconveniences, but I also understand that so much of my suffering is just a token due to Srila Prabhupada's mercy.When I look at all the people that Srila Prabhupada used me to assist in various ways, all of the inconveniences and suffering are surely worth it.So I will now go ahead and join some of those who have already left and help them in making arrangements for so many of you.Isn't this powerful, global, inter-planetary family we have so wonderful?
Lastly, let me say to my biological family: I want to thank all of you for allowing me to take birth in your family so I could hide out a little bit and do the special work that I was sent here to do in connection with previous lifetimes.
There should not be much ambiguity after my departure, as many things have been spoken or written down -- for example, how my disciples and well-wishers should continue with various projects. Later there will be a posting of whom to contact when one sends in an application for a health grant. The grants will be in gifts of one thousand to three thousand dollars for each legitimate request as long as the money is available.This amount is insignificant, but it is just a token from me in an effort to use money that was sent from around the world to cover the cost of my health expenses.It is one way that I want to bring more attention to the fact that it is not just the leaders who should receive so much support, but each dedicated sadhu should be able to look forward to various support systems kicking in for him or her more and more in the future.
When we think more about others' welfare, Krishna will hear our prayers. He will help us to find more and better ways to do our part in serving our own communities as well as serving the world.We are not Salvationists; we do not want to just give assistance and love only to those of our same faith.We don't want to be pseudo-spiritualists who just want to facilitate their own kind.We want to be active agents for global consciousness-raising.I love you all and will find even more ways to show it after I leave this body.
Yours in Srila Prabhupada's Service,
Bhakti Tirtha Swami
P.S.: I want to thank all the wonderful Doctors, nurses, health
practitioners and other caretakers who assisted me throughout my
sickness so nicely.Although you may not have been able to cure me of
the disease, you surely healed me with your expert care and love.