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.
Readers Remarks: worshiping Brahma Baba
Dear Brother, First of all thank you for your wonderful insights and sharings. I feel really blessed to have found your site! I am relatively new to Gyan….. having ‘followed’ Sr Shivani’s programmes on TV for nearly 4 – 5 years. What really drew me to BK was that this knowledge came from the supreme soul himself….of course via the instrument of Brahma Baba. Having been attending the Centre now for app 1 year, the reverence and worshipping of Brahma Baba can be seen a lot. This I find really confusing. Sisters tell me that if I would sit in front of BB’s picture staring at his eyes, all my questions will be ‘answered’!! I thought we only had to concentrate and focus on Shiv Baba!?? While I understand about BB’s Karmateet stage, I am seriously been struggling with the concept of ‘BAPDADA’ and the ‘bhakti’towards his physical form; and his pre planned seasonal meetings through Gulzardadi! Also the meetings I have seen, it seems to be all Brahma Baba and hardly any Shivbaba words! How can God plan these dates in advance? Please note dearest brother, that I am simply trying to understand these points… not challenging them! I would be so grateful if you would kindly share your valued thoughts and insights to help clarify these points.
Thank you for your kind words.
If you have recognized this knowledge called, “Gyan” as of Godly source or Divine source, then you will have the tools for the next step, which is to be a “self realized” being. It is as simple as that.
Brahma Baba was and “is” an extraordinary being, but so we are. Many times, we are not willing to understand the message and are just happy admiring the messenger. We need to learn to respect that “difference” for everyone is at a different level. In this “university” you have all different grades and levels mixed up. Those who look down upon others, will fail in the subject of ego. Those who feel “bad” when referred in a “low” manner, will fail in self-respect. We learn from each other.
Basically, it works like this: Shiva is God. Shiva had a message. Shiva needs a “chariot” to convey the message. That is Brahma Baba. When both are together, it is known as BapDada. There is always a “filtering” in the message which is brought to us through the filter of Brahma Baba. Dadi Gulzar is the physical chariot for BapDada. There are many other realizations that we could come up with about this, but there is no way to know if we are right or not…but it doesn’t matter! That is not the point. Let us concentrate in the message.
To set a “date” for a meeting with BapDada shouldn’t be an issue, for there is no time in the subtle region.. 🙂 In other words, BapDada is always “there” for us.
Every religion has its own “Godly messenger.” That is how Spirituality is one, but the interpretation of it at different times in history has made the differences. Spirituality has always been about self realization. Consciousness. Everything else are just details.
There are 2 unique things about BK gyan which is important to be aware of: 1) Its philosophy known as Gyan, is able to explain all aspects of life from different points/views of consciousness. Sakar Murlis were based on the physical realm, the intellectual understanding of knowledge based on Hindu devotional background. Avyakt Murlis are in the subtle realm where to understand means to “practice,” to experience. Obviously there is an immense range “in between” these two. That is where BKs are positioned in a numberwise way. Some feel that devotion is love. Some feel that knowledge is to be “interpreted.” Some feel that to know is to interpret things literally, some feel that rituals are part of knowledge, etc, etc.
Find your own “comfort zone,” but respect the rest. Brahma Kumaris as an organization needs to “standardize things,” (like any other religion or large organization) thus, it becomes a religion. It cannot be otherwise, for that standard creates security among followers as far as “how to do things and relate among them.”
Those “standards” may have “devotional” practices to cater to one group, but also there is the possibility to churn gyan in a different way, and that is how you can read this blog. Some like this blog. Others care less. Acceptance is the keyword.
The other unique aspect of Gyan, is that it is typically explained in a “child like language.” In that way, someone without much “spiritual understanding,” nor “intellectually educated,” could grasp the main ideas from their perspective. In this University the teacher teaches to the “understanding” of the “lowest” student. (Unlike any other university.)
That is why, there is “churning.” That is why we have to experience this knowledge and learn from that. That is where your path becomes “personal” from my view.
Dear soul, in my years of experience in Brahma Kumaris, let me suggest this: Learn by churning/realizing the teachings of the teacher. Experiment with that, share your findings not as the “truth” but as your experience and move along with others in accpetance… the rest is of absolute no consequence if you would like your life to prosper in spirituality.
Question: It is Customary that when BK soul enters the centre ,first the soul visits Baba’s room ,While leaving the centre also the same is followed . Even at amritvela though there is no place in Baba’s room -goodmorning is done then proceed to Class room for meditation .What is the esssence behind this practise. Need to understand
Thank you for your question!
In my experience, I haven’t been in a Western country when that practice takes place. However, in India when I visited a center in Jodphur, I recall such practice somehow.
Traditions and ways of doing things will change among centers in the world and among centers on the same country even. Depends on the person in charge.
Some souls may feel that by doing that practice they are giving respect to Brahma Baba or BapDada as to follow a tradition.
If I am in a BK center where that is required, I will follow that practice out of respect for that center.
However, that is where spirituality separates from religious rituals in my view. That religious ritual is not needed for self realization, but at the same time; to acknowledge someone else’s beliefs; is to show care and love which is part of that self realization.
Question: Dear brother, With your current article, If I realize it correctly, the true spirituality depends not on praising the trainer who has taught us how to swim, but rather using that teaching to swim, become a good swimmer, while learning to swim , there might be some help needed from the trainer, but at the end what matters is to be able to learn the art of swimming and be without any dependency. Here, swimming could be substituted for soul conscious, spirituality or enlightenment or karmateet stage after all these are just labels. Your thoughts?
Thank you for your feedback.
In fact, that is the message. However, it is not that “this brother is sharing his own manmat.” Rather, BapDada has mentioned that as well in avyakt Murlis: “Be equal to the Father.” “To have thoughts of the original self means to bring about transformation.”( Avyakt Murli, March 18, 2012.)
It is not about knowing in theory how to swim or how to praise the “trainer” or coach. It is about swimming, and eventually to swim without a coach as you mentioned. That is to be “equal to the trainer.”
As we are seeing there are many labels for the same “stage of being.” Such as: “karmateet,” “detached observer,” “the witness,” a “trustee,” “Being merged with the Father,” “having all relationships with the Father,” “enlightened,” “self-realized,” etc, etc, etc. Once we realize that the “coach” or trainer is not interested in my praise, is not interested in anything from me; we are free to find that “self.” BapDada in the role of the Father, treats us like little children. However, let us see that a little child cannot be “equal to the Father,” although is required to be a child in order to grow. That is the paradox.
The path is there waiting for us: praising, talking, singing and chanting or having devotion to pictures or people will not take us there. We need to walk the path ourselves at some point.
Question: Dear brother i love gyan so so much like you.brother,you have told in a answer that “it is imposible for god to create this world”. How can you say that? How can we judge baba’s limits. May be there is other method used,which is not comes in karma. May be the defination of karma is different for baba. Baba only told us”what he do”,not”how he do”. I hope you get my point because i am little slow in english
Thank you for your question!
I respect your viewpoint. If you want to believe that God can create the world, let it be.
That gyan which we both “love” does not support that, for everything is eternal. Nothing can be created. Every changes in time.
To say that “God creates the world,” is to deny a very important premise of “pure gyan.”
Many times we tend to confuse “admiration” to God as knowledge. That is the origin of “bhakti.”
Question: Dear brother, In today’s murli, Baba talks about not to waste time and money on the path of devotion, is it because our sanskars of being devotee is so deep that we need to come out of it or we still have not fully become a gyan soul?
Thank you for your question!
The sanskaras of devotion are very deep in Brahmin souls.
Only those who were “worship worthy become worshipers.” That devotion is of course “numberwise,” and that capacity to perform devotion goes along with the capacity of becoming “pure” that is, worthy of worship.
Baba is reminding us of some of our ways in devotion, obviously; the more visible ways, but it will take deep realization to break apart those old habits, as you may have experienced.
That may be called a full-gyani soul….in a numberwise fashion. 🙂
Devotion, self esteem and religious paths
One of the most striking characteristics of a spiritual path, is their use of devotion as a means of “going further away” from the original “purity” of their teachings. That is “entropy.”
There is no “religion founder” who wanted to be the founder of a religion, as far as I am aware of. A religion appeared because their followers wanted to “bottle up” the experience of the divine by their original founders and the sacredness of it, into perceived “easy steps to follow by followers.”
The further away someone is from a spiritual teaching, the closer that person will move into “devotional practices,” in other words the “substance of the teaching,” will be replaced by the “perceptions of what is sacred or divine.”
Another consequence of devotional practices is, that there will be little difference between the personalities of human beings for the aim will be to make a “cookie cutter” out of everyone. From the way someone dresses to the way someone smiles. There is a perception that by behaving in a certain “standard” way, then that former “divine experience” will be acknowledged, respected and followed.
As a religion emerges out of a spiritual teaching, then certain protocols are expected and perceived as the “proof” that a follower is in the “path.”
Interestingly enough, there will be little difference between this type of behavior and being part of a military force. A “look alike” has the perception of “loyalty.”
The “standard protocol” must be followed and the individual personality crushed, for the aim is to comply with a known standard to deal with and to be perceived by.
Perceptions become the main goal and substance is lost.
Devotion enters into this realm. Devotion is the way to express “low self esteem” in a nutshell. It is a tremendous sense of awe and being impressed by someone. That is often confused with love and respect.
Devotion, worshiping means the acknowledgement that “I am less worthy” than someone else, whether that is God or another guru or person. Devotion is the means to feel “part of” something which cannot be understood. In Devotion, a perception of love is used to show a sense of belonging to someone. However, there is no true love, for love is between equals in self respect, not between “unbalanced relationships.”
Devotion brings this sense of loyalty based on emotions. Devotion lacks understanding for if there was understanding, there wouldn’t be a need for devotion.
Many religions have extreme devotion to God. Their aim is to make a “person” out of God. To worship God. That is not the substance of spirituality but the perception of what “ought to be.”
We need to “sing His praise.” ” We need to obey His orders,” ” We need to love Him,” etc.
The teaching is lost. The substance is gone. Devotion takes over.
God is not a human being. God is not interested in my “devotion.” God is not interested in my little ways of stroking His ego, because He is ego-less. God has teachings. Gurus share a teaching.
The value of that teaching is in my own “imbibing it” out of that understanding and not by compulsion, not because I will be “punished,” if I don’t follow.
A spiritual teaching is meant to enhance who I am by showing me who I am. Change will happen. That is the “substance,” that is the “reason” for a spiritual teaching. That is the “reason” for a religion to exist.
The rest is well intentioned devotion.