“I Can’t Do Devotion”
Devotion and compassion are the same, in the sense of losing our ‘self’ identity. The devotional approach to spirituality is said to be very powerful and to work wonders, but some may not feel this way. There may be connotations due to misunderstanding the spiritual process, or perhaps it doesn’t feel right just to follow others’ displays of excessive affection which could be little too sentimental, and unlike the juiciness of genuine, inner-essence love.
It may be that our own culture is in turmoil, but that’s where we are. We may encounter those who seem too ready to adopt the mannerisms of another culture. For example, trying to appear humble may be just a show: devotion is meant to destroy pride, not create it. We can have devotion in a quiet way, through quiet respect.
There is nothing mystical about devotion: it is psychological. We look for someone whose understanding seems more complete then our own. Once we understand, the universe is our oyster.
As Shakespeare wrote in “The Merry Wives of Windsor”:
“I can do whatever I want in this world.
The world is my oyster.
Why, then the world is my oyster,
Which I with sword will open. “
That sword is the sword of wisdom and compassion!
Devotion is usually directed towards a spiritual teacher, guru, or lama in order to achieve spiritual progress. Vajrayana (or tantra) is all about guru yoga – devotion to a deity: it is one approach, but there are others. For westerners, this isn’t an easy approach as devotion may have connotations of other meanings which may confuse us. In addition, we may notice a bias on the part of the teacher; alternatively, we could fall into the trap of wanting to be one of the teacher’s favourites. We might wish to be devoted, but if it just isn’t there, it just isn’t there.
We all have devotion, but need to find what it is. To do this, we have to look at where our enthusiasm lies: there is an natural inner longing. What do we most appreciate? Is it the essence of truth? Isn’t it true that, whenever we watch a movie, we hope for a ‘good’ ending?
To understand the essence of the teaching, we need a teacher. The teacher is there as a reminder of inspiration and direction. All spiritual paraphernalia is to remind us of essence, our essential nature. Once we ‘get it’, we can be devoted to the essence of the teaching itself – and then that devotion is our way of life.
The teacher is only the teacher because of the teaching: the teacher is enlightened activity on the path. When the teaching is tested and understood, then everything becomes the teacher, as all illusory appearances are a display within the reality of emptiness. We learn that, in opening the oyster, the jewel is not the pearl. The jewel is the sword of wisdom itself!
We can now stand on our own two feet. We ‘get it’, so now our focus is on the direct experience and realisation, while still remembering and supplicating to the enlightened ones for support and blessings. ‘Blessings’? All I can say is that it’s an inner inspiration.
It is all too easy to go astray through arrogance. We have to review our own motivations constantly.
Now devotion turns into compassion. Devotion is not something we acquire. We finally realise that devotion is what we are – one in love.
Of course, I could be accused of being a wannabe teacher ;D but all I’m saying is that the whole phenomenal universe is our oyster – our teacher. The ultimate teacher is our own mind. Everything appears within the emptiness of mind. It is the only reality.
There is an abundance of ‘teachers’ in the world. They’re all over the place, collecting students.
It all depends on what truth we seek.
“Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives; they who seek find;
and to those who knock,
the door will be opened.”