Recent discussions and dialogs in the sangha prompted me to write about devotion. Over the years I have heard many people speak about devotion. I have also made remarks about people being ‘too devoted’.
When we connect with our human nature we see that everyone on earth deals with life issues. Everyone is touched by some kind of suffering. This realization really should bring us closer to people instead of separating us. Helping people is a two way street. It is not about ‘saving’ anyone it is about active participation in living and uncovering our innate abilities and wisdoms.
Devotion is the necessary ingredient in creating auspicious circumstances for compassion to flow easily between people. Devotion does create a deeper level of compassion. Compassion is the moisture needed for the teachings to be understood and embodied.
Devotion in many ways is a loving respect and trust towards a teacher. I only need to think of my Wisdom mother – Lama Tsultrim Allione to feel connection, embracing me and nourishing love and mutual understanding that flows between our minds and hearts.
Devotion in this way is my total trust in HER wisdom and in the way she is guiding me and thousands of other women. It helps me to be the best I can be in teaching and living this wisdom. Devotion is not about being right or wrong, it is about being present in reality of the moment without rejecting it. There is no denial in devotion.
Devotion is not nativity and it is not ignorance. Devotion has naturally built in common-sense.
Devotion can be understood at different moments in life in different ways. In world’s spirituality that is mostly masculine devotion to ‘God’ who is not personified and invisible prevents people from developing proper relationships. The relationship between student and teacher is a precious relationship. In Tibetan Buddhism this relationship between a master and a student is much like that of a father/mother with a child. There is unbroken trust and commitment from the student towards the teacher and towards the teaching(s) that are offered.
In the early history of Buddhism when students were seeking teachers, it took a long time for a teacher to accept a student, not just anyone could take teachings from a recognized teacher (you had to have intelligence to be a student, means to pay for the teachings; usually you would give everything you posted to a teacher and committed to years of study and practice, as well as comprehension and skill to understand, develop further and contemplate the teachings, and apply them in life – we call this the precious Vajra body) Our karmic weight determines what type of rebirth we have and wether or not we have a Vajra body. There are many people in the world who have qualities, circumstances and resources and do not have the necessary karma to be a Buddhist student/teacher.
It is a great blessing to be able to study Dharma and to have intelligence to understand it. The teachings of emptiness may appear simple in essence they are, yet embodiment and practice in daily life is what brings us in touch with impermanence and realization of fragility of life.
Devotion in this is a surrender to knowing that living is embraced through the interdependent connections we have with our environment, people in it and visible and invisible filed of merit.
Devotion can be felt more or less throughout different times, devotion requires necessary awareness and sensitivity to life and being human (ex: not being crude and rude). devotion thus is a practice in and of itself. As Buddhists we prostrate to the Three Jewels; the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha these are the refuge that nourishes and sustains us on the path and continues to direct our devotion and mind stream to be in unison with the Buddhas.