Devotion for Westerners
Devotion is one of those practices which are least understood in Western countries. As a matter of fact, the most “advance” the country, the least devotion will be seen unless there is an Eastern religious practice going, devotion as such is misunderstood, even by the ones practicing it.
At one time, I had the opportunity to see “Westerners renunciates” making a line to kiss the feet of someone considered a “Spiritual evolved” person.
It almost looked as “something mechanical,” something to do for a “protocol,” rather than the feeling of reverence or love. The action is just a “way” to express but behind that outward symbol, lies the feeling.
Whenever I visit India or Peru, I can see devotion from a far different perspective. It is that “blind love,” that sort of strong need to relate with that which is seen as holy or higher which is usually represented by a human being.
The vision however, is to be related with God or a Divine power through a human being. Kissing the feet of someone considered to be “holy” then, it is not just a “protocol” but an honor. This is a different perspective on the same activity.
How is that related with Spirituality?
It is fundamental to have that love. Without that love or that devotion, in us; our spiritual practices; whatever they may be, will be just another “job” something “mechanical,” something which will not bring much transformation in the self, for transformation implies love in one way or another.
In Spirituality, we see that love for something considered “higher,” as devotion. That devotion many times is just “outwardly” mechanical such as to say the name of a person, God, etc… There are no feelings, just protocol.
What are the typical sources of “that” love?
Love for God is the first one and most popular one. That is the love for that “someone” who is the highest. Our life becomes this awareness. That “relationship” could be forged through a “devotional practice,” or a prayer or meditation, etc. There has to be a way to relate in however way we perceive God is. The perceptions differ, but the feelings are important.
At the same time there is that love for something which does not have that “hierarchy,” as a person or someone but as the experience itself of awe and inspiration, that is Nature, for example. There is no person, no form in particular but the appreciation of beauty and the splendor of being part of it.
There is that love through “emptiness” as well for some, through the recognition of wholesomeness with the Universe; in them that love is usually known as “compassion,” which is that love for all.
Without this “compassion,” there is no way to connect with the rest, there is no communion with the Universe.
Therefore, in every spiritual or religious path, there is a need for love. That love for our own spiritual practices to connect with the Guru, God, saints, deities, Nature, etc; as a sure way to surrender that “ego” which is “proud” of being “itself,” and which needs a certain “status.”
In the “normal” world, we have seen that need to “love,” through the romantic scene of finding that “special one.” It is supposed to be a relationship of “equals,” in the best human relationships, nevertheless; many times we find that for one partner to be the center of attention is not unusual, and that becomes unhealthy although accepted. In this type of “give and take” there is no chance for that “higher love” to arise.
In the absence of something to “accomplish,” “to complete,” or something to “become,” there is the enjoyment of “doing” something for the sake of doing it. The “ulterior motive” is the one who kills the expression.
Even in something such as running (Which I understand and have experienced its beauty,) there is sheer enjoyment of simplicity in movement and the opportunity to feel how the body is capable of flowing in effortless, economical movement. That enjoyment could be “killed” when there is the ulterior motive to “beat John in the next race” as “my” goal.
Then, I am “using” running for this “goal,” that is to “show John who I am.” Many will discuss this point. They will say that they “enjoy to compete.” I would correct that, to “you enjoy to show off what you are capable of.” That is ego in action, transformed with the word “good.” To compete is good…. The world depends on it.. 🙂
Enjoyment is without goal. Just like devotion.
When there is no “goal,” flowing happens, transformation happens as long as there is love.