I think first of all devotion is an ignorance. This we must know. Because it is a path. It has to be part of that corrosive path. Right. It is not something that we keep as a souvenir in the future once we get it, once we get what we want. Okay. Therefore, like many things, devotion has a blind element. Like I think word believe is quite good to describe, this element of so called believe. Shakyamuni Buddha in the Sutra, his teaching on emptiness is just amazingly logical I would say. So much argument, so much analysis and all of that. But at the end he told Ananda, ???, this is if you want to sort of intellectually understand, this is how it goes okay in emptiness. But if you really want to realize it the only way to realize is through the devotion. And this makes a big sense because actually it doesn’t matter who you are, you could be this sycophant, devotional superstitious backward primitive gullible. Or you could be critical, scientific, objective, rational, whatever you want to call it. We all human beings, all sentient beings, not only human beings, there is only one thing we can do at the end of the day. And it is called believe. Nothing else. Even so you are not believing, even you pride yourself so being critical to this this this you are believing so blindly to this reason why you are not believing in this and that. It always goes down to, boils down to so called believe. And remember I was telling earlier, freedom from known. When you are totally free from a known, or reference, then that is quite a high level, really high level of devotion. Because, you know the trusting and not trusting has a very very, the difference between trust and non trusting is so thin line. When you do not trust something, then you are blindly believing in reason for not trusting something. You are being nihilist basically. So when both, when you shrug off both your hang up of trusting and not trusting, when you are no more trapped by a known, then you have a devotion. This is, then you have nothing to lose.
Generally, a big generalization actually, there are three cause of taking refuge. Fear, compassion and devotion.
Outer, Inner and Secret Refuge, London 2010
Now then the next question is how much time do we have? Do you want to do it quick? Yes then, you know, the guru comes in here. And the guru, yes guru is difficult, really difficult. This guru business is really difficult. Situation like this happens. And needs a really strong devotion towards the path in order to apply the guru path as path.
I believe there are three kinds of faith or devotion. I am just making this up so if there is anything wrong you can refute me. There is a irrational faith. If somebody tells you, you should do hundred thousand prostrations because after you die you will be reborn in heaven so you can have seventy four virgin girls. And if you believe in that this is what I call irrational faith. And that is something that we don’t want. You understand. And then there is a rational faith which according to Saraha he said, actually devotion is trusting in cause, condition and effect. Now that is something that we should have but only for temporarily. And then our aim is to go beyond irrational and rational devotion, but that is almost like a goal. I guess you can say the problem with the modern world it is too skeptical and too critical, at times we maybe loving too much, in love so much with so called rationalism. So okay, we maybe managing to get rid of the irrational devotion but maybe we are stuck with the rational devotion. And this is where maybe we can try to transcend this two.
Buddhism beyond boundaries and time, Nepal 2007
To be honest, even Shakyamuni Buddha himself said, that the ultimate truth can be only understood through the trust or the devotion. So after a while, our analysis and our logic, our rationalism has to exhaust. Otherwise, you know, something called logic, I am sure you may have studied here, do you know fundamentally logic is the systematic door to illogic.
Buddhism beyond boundaries and time, Nepal 2007
Devotion in buddhism is actually trusting in cause condition and effect. It is something that the scientists do. If you cook an egg, you need a certain cause and condition. Stove, pot, water, fire, gas, whatever. And if you have no obstacle, egg will be cooked. And you can trust on that. That is how for centuries people cooked that egg. Because of that. And that trust in cause condition and effect is so called devotion in buddhism.
Devotion is of course the most efficient and most powerful way of accumulating merit.
What you have to do, whatever the thought comes, just watch it. Do not fabricate, just watch. What do we mean by that? If an anger comes – watching it. As it comes. Again, here we have to be careful. Okay, so an anger comes. This is a little subtle, so listen carefully. An anger comes to you. Now that you have heard me saying, you just watch. So you watch. If you label as you watch, if you label “Ah, this is an anger”, you are beginning to grasp. Similarly, if there is a devotion arising in you mind, you just watch. But as soon as you are beginning to label it, then you are already grasping. So of course I don’t have to mention when the anger comes, if you think “Oh this is really bad, this is a negative thought, I have to get rid of it”, of course you are already grasping then. If a love and compassion comes and at that point you are so happy, you get so excited, you try to cultivate it, you try to remember it, you try to really look at it. Of course you are grasping already.
So what do you do? What is non-grasping? Whatever the thought comes, watching it, watching it, again and again. Many many examples. Like small children looking at paintings, wall paintings, you are supposed to look at it. Without any distinctions, without making any fabrication. Just watch. That, what does that do? That is slowly, slowly establishing the normality I was talking earlier. Because as soon as you grasp, then you are not letting it be. As soon as you grasp and you alter, you label, then you are poking it. As soon as you are poking it it will change. And then it will change its color, shape and all of that and when it changes its color and shape you will get attracted to it because it is a story, there is a story then. Then you get more and more entangled with the story and then – you know for the meditators, twenty minutes gone by, you are still in the story, forty minutes gone by, you are still in the story. For none meditators, for the ordinary people, not only twenty minutes they have been going, life time after life time, they finish one story, they go to another, with another story.