By definition, devotion is “Love, loyalty, and enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause”.
At the end of last week’s class, which you can read in that blog here, I repeatedly heard myself using the words attention and presence. It reminded me of Mary Oliver’s quote that I have always adored,
Attention is the beginning of devotion
It’s so imperative to begin to offer ourselves our own undivided attention.
To offer ourselves our own presence. It’s so important because having a loving and supportive relationship with ourself, and to be able to listen to our own body, mind and heart, is what will guide us to truth. It will guide us not only to our truth, and the Truth of the universe that is love, but it will also guide us towards truth here on earth. We will be able to discern what is true and what is not true, and we will have that ability to trust our instincts and intuition, and to see and feel what is resonating with us. This becomes important when we begin to choose to offer devotion outwards. Then we will devote our energy and efforts towards those things that are loving and good. And we will also be able to discern when we need to leave, or when something is not meant for us. And we can walk away even with love in our hearts.
Why, first, the relationship with self is so important?
It is so that we do not become wrongly attached, or enmeshed with someone else so much so that we lose ourselves…
The aspects of attachment and freedom are aspects of the heart chakra. These qualities are of the hearts longing for connection and simultaneously desire for freedom. And this is why the heart chakra also is the home of the essence of balance. For, we are creatures of connection and community. We need such a community to survive and to also feel purpose and meaning. And at the same time, the freedom to be who we are and to do the things that we love to do separate from the community, or even a partner, are the supportive acts in life that allow us to feel such freedom of our spirit. It becomes a dance of holding on and letting go, of connecting and releasing, of pulling in and pushing away. This dance is needed and it is a part of life. It also is the dance just like this within our own emotions.
Rollo May wrote,
To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the positive — to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before.
I think of my kids right here. I am so devoted to them. And, I love them so deeply that I want them to experience all that life has to offer, and I know that that requires a level of non-attachment to them on my part. To offer them freedom to spread their wings and explore! And, to love them so deeply that I can still be a loving foundation for them to always fly back to and to rest and to know no matter what they do or what happens in their life that I will love them unconditionally.
Sadhguru writes, “… Emotion has always been the dominant factor in human beings
When you are overwhelmed by something or someone, you naturally become devout. But if you try to practice devotion, it creates problems because the line between devotion and deception is very thin – It will lead you into so many kinds of hallucinations. So you cannot practice devotion, but you can do certain things so that you arrive at devotion. If you just recognize one thing, you will naturally become a devotee: The cosmos is very large”. What he is saying here is to recognize the cosmos, to give your attention and presence to the cosmos. Because they are so vast and large and we have even yet no idea how large, it changes our perspective.
He says that it will become very natural for us to be devoted when we move our perspective towards that which is so profound, beautiful, vast, indescribable, divine. And he reminds us that we are a part of it all. This is why he says, “It is only because people have lost perspective of who they are and what their place in this existence is, that they have become arrogant fools”.
He goes on to state, “If you pay attention to the nature of creation, how can you not be a devotee?”
Sadguru continues, “If you learn to look at everything around you with attention and care, you will realize that you cannot even figure the nature of an atom in its entirety. Everything is above your intelligence. Everything is higher than yourself, you will naturally become devout. A devotee knows things that you cannot even imagine. He can grasp things that you have to struggle with because there is not much of him within himself. When you are too full of self, there is no room for anything higher to happen.
Devotion does not mean you have to be a temple going, Pooja doing, coconut breaking person. A devotee has understood what his place in the existence is. If you have understood this and are conscious of it, you will walk as a devout person. There is no other way to be. It is a very intelligent way to exist. … Devotion is a multiplied and enhanced version of a love affair. A devotee is in an unfailing kind of love affair because if you fall in love with a man or a woman, they do not go the way you expect them to, and eventually gets into some trouble. That is why people choose God. It is simply a love affair, and you are not expecting any response. Your life becomes utterly beautiful because your emotion has become so sweet. Through that sweetness, one grows. That is devotion. Devotion is another dimension of intelligence. Intellect wants to conquer the truth. Devotion just embraces the truth. Devotion cannot decipher but devotion can experience. Intellect can decipher but can never experience. This is the choice one has to make.”
What is your vision of love?
I asked that question here because when we hold our inner gaze always towards that love, that is the moment of the change of our perspective, that changes our emotion, that connects us to all in the universe. And, it connects us to That within our self. And then we do know our place in existence. And we see how we are then devoted to our own self, as well as all other beings, and all of nature, and all of the cosmos. All is one.
I love this statement from Mindy Newman and Kaia Fischer Who wrote in their article “The karmic power of devotion” out of the Buddhist magazine, ‘Tricycle’:
“True devotion does not actually drain us. It is a source of vibrant energy that makes our commitments come alive and become a source of joy.”
I know that when I am enthusiastic and love a cause or a person, it makes me feel alive and vibrant. It brings me joy to help serve even a cause that comes from some pain or suffering, but it’s because there is connection and healing and love that is being shared.
It brings my perspective to the beauty of life. To the beauty of love. To the beauty of connection with my neighbor as we pass each other holding the door open for each other saying hello and have a great day. It changes my perspective and seeing the beauty in all of the smallest moments of life, up to the big milestone events of life!
And that is why I close not only this blog but I have been closing these classes with this well-known poem by Mary Oliver, “the summer day”:
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean –
The one who has flung herself out of the grass,
The one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
Who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –
Who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
How to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
Which is what I’ve been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
This time as I read it, it felt as if she was asking me, what do I want to devote my love, enthusiasm, and loyalty to? I know some of my answers to this question, what are yours?
The next time I read the poem, I realized she was giving her full attention to that grasshopper. How loving! And, what a beautiful way to look at all things; with wonder, love, devotion, and the ability to recognize the entire Universe within It. The entire Universe within one creature, one being, one plant, one atom. All is One, and You, dear Reader, are so important and a part of It all.
Breathe and Believe.