The Way of Devotion
The Devotee within us is naturally loyal and committed to a job,
a relationship, a set of principles, a way of life, a daily routine,
a religious teacher, a spiritual tradition or a life goal.
- Are you more prone to faith than skepticism?
- Are you are naturally loyal to a job, a person or a community?
- Do you yearn to be dedicated to a greater cause or higher principle?
- Do you long to be committed to a spiritual teaching, teacher or higher power?
Many of our most important life-goals are virtually impossible to achieve without commitment and dedication. Whether the goal lies in the fields of athletics, academics, the arts, society or spirituality, we need to be devoted to our objective, to our teacher, and even to the founder of the tradition of our teacher. Why? Because, in practical terms, devotion helps us to be steady, consistent and determined. Simply put, devotion is a practical psychological tool for accomplishing any life-goal.
We naturally devote ourselves to the things we think will make us happy. But, during the course of our lives, we are often disillusioned because the objects of our devotion don’t always bring us happiness. When this happens, we shouldn’t blame devotion, but rather, the false hopes and dreams we projected onto the object, person, goal or idea to which we were devoted.
And yet, there are good reasons for being leery of spiritual devotion. Too often we have seen how so-called spiritual teachers have abused devotees desperate for spiritual bliss and enlightenment. Therefore, we must carefully examine the qualities of potential teachers before becoming devoted to them and their teachings. An old Hindu maxim tells us, “Since it is the disciple who must judge the guru
-ness of the guru,
it is the disciple who is the guru
of the guru.”
Thus, for devotion to be effective, it should be accompanied by other spiritual styles, such as The Way of Reason; for it is up to us to discern what is worthy of our devotion. Impetuous devotion often leads to heartbreak. When it comes to spirituality, devotion is just one of a number of necessary conditions for success. Devotion needs to be accompanied by intelligence, prayer, ritual and compassionate interaction with fellow beings. Devotion alone may not be sufficient for spiritual awakening and transformation.
For more on this, refer to the book “Mandala: Creating an Authentic Spiritual Practice.”