How to develop devotion to a deity?

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How to develop devotion to a deity?

Postby philji » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:56 am

In our meditation group we have just started song a mantra and visualization practice of Green Tara.one of the group tells me he feels no devotion and thinks it is all fabricated... I am wondering what advice to give......how to develop devotion? What to do if you have none? Many thanks...
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Re: How to develop devotion to a deity?

Postby Motova » Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:06 pm

Have a solid understanding of what the deity is, what they do, and see them as a role model. Then practice, practice, practice.

I'm still a newbie with no teacher, but I did that and had success with developing some devotion towards Green Tara.

My questions are: Can devotion become unhealthy and eventually turn into attachment? If so, how would one avoid that?
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Re: How to develop devotion to a deity?

Postby KeithBC » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:17 pm

Motova wrote:My questions are: Can devotion become unhealthy and eventually turn into attachment? If so, how would one avoid that?

Devotion to a deity is an upaya - a skillful means to exploit our tendency to attachment and redirect it to a (hopefully) more positive end. The only way it works is if you remain focused on the reason why you are doing it - the bodhisattva vow to attain enlightenment for the purpose of helping sentient beings. If you lose sight of that purpose, then it is just one more attachment.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: How to develop devotion to a deity?

Postby Malcolm » Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:03 pm

philji wrote:In our meditation group we have just started song a mantra and visualization practice of Green Tara.one of the group tells me he feels no devotion and thinks it is all fabricated... I am wondering what advice to give......how to develop devotion? What to do if you have none? Many thanks...



In order to have devotion to a practice, you need to have devotion to the master from whom you received it. If you feel no devotion towards that master, then how can you be expected to have devotion towards a given practice?

Perhaps this person would prefer to practice śamatha.

M
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Re: How to develop devotion to a deity?

Postby Ayu » Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:05 pm

philji wrote:In our meditation group we have just started song a mantra and visualization practice of Green Tara.one of the group tells me he feels no devotion and thinks it is all fabricated... I am wondering what advice to give......how to develop devotion? What to do if you have none? Many thanks...

In my opinion the deities differ a littlebit. For me, Green Tara is a silent person, full of loving kindness, but she doesn't show immediately. One has to proove sincerity.
So for to deal with Green Tara it is quite normal to feel nothing in the begining.
My advice would be: "Try the practice sincerily for one or two weeks every day. Don't expect anything, but also don't think, you know anything already. Don't think you know it better. Just try with an open heart."
If she shows herself in any way, there is no need for this person to develop devotion - it will come as an natural effect. If nothing helpful happens within these two weeks, then maybe this person shouldn't do diety-practice. Maybe something else like mindfulness or breathing-awareness would be better for him/her.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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Re: How to develop devotion to a deity?

Postby smcj » Tue Aug 20, 2013 4:12 pm

My questions are: Can devotion become unhealthy and eventually turn into attachment? If so, how would one avoid that?

At the end of the practice the deity dissolves into the Dharmakaya. There is nothing left to hold on to. You can be as devoted/attached as you like, the dissolution will correctly resolve any issues for you. There's no need for any elaborate intellectual understanding of emptiness, the deity already knows all about it.
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Re: How to develop devotion to a deity?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:22 pm

Fake it till ya make it?

I didn't get anything out of it for a while, but I get to do it with a Lama leading it, and all the instruments and such, so i'd go anyway because the instruments and musical part of the sadhana really grabbed me, even if I had no immediate reaction to the deity. Eventually the visualizations just kind of "happened" coupled with the English text, the language is pretty evocative. In my case it really helped to read about the meaning of some of the stuff in the sadhana, for Chenrezig and Green Tara practice, as well as really focusing on specific parts of the text that grabbed me.

If it's just the mantra, you can just concentrate one pointedly on the sound, melody etc., no need to force some contrived sense of devotion if it isn't there I don't think.

An explanation i've found really helpful is that there aren't any "incorrect" practices if the motivation and intent is there, as long I do the practice correctly to the best of my ability and put forth effort, there's nothing to be ashamed of, including perception that my mind is doing the wrong thing, or rather, my mind doing the "wrong" thing is part of the practice, rather than outside of it.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: How to develop devotion to a deity?

Postby Sherlock » Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:46 pm

Malcolm wrote:
philji wrote:In our meditation group we have just started song a mantra and visualization practice of Green Tara.one of the group tells me he feels no devotion and thinks it is all fabricated... I am wondering what advice to give......how to develop devotion? What to do if you have none? Many thanks...



In order to have devotion to a practice, you need to have devotion to the master from whom you received it. If you feel no devotion towards that master, then how can you be expected to have devotion towards a given practice?

Perhaps this person would prefer to practice śamatha.

M


I found this advice you gave elsewhere more helpful:

If you practice, then you are devoted if not, then not. Devotion is not an emotion.
vajracakra.com
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Re: How to develop devotion to a deity?

Postby TaTa » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:00 pm

My devotion towards deities and vajrayana in general came first through intellectual understanding, and then through practice and experiential understanding. Im still a newbie, but when i first got interested in vajrayana y had the same doubts, i was an atheist and never thought about anything "mystical" or transcendent but keeping an open mind to things i didnt get right away and following the process described above i eventually began to understand and experience this kind of things. Now i feel how i cultivate devotion and other qualities in each practice =)
I think there is no need to rush to vajrayana, sometimes i feel that there is a tendency to do that and sharavayana is left aside, wich i consider the foundation of everything.
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Re: How to develop devotion to a deity?

Postby smcj » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:39 pm

Devotion is not an emotion.

My lama made a distinction between emotion and feeling. Feelings are more refined than emotions according to him.

I believe there is wide consensus that devotion is an opening of the heart. It can include elements of faith, trust, gratitude, reliance, appreciation, humility, etc., in varying proportions according to one's karma and personal disposition. Ultimately it is a form of love. (IMHO)

My understanding is that according to Dharma love is correctly expressed in two ways: through compassion, where you wish to give happiness and protect from suffering, and devotion, where you appreciate and aspire to the exalted and beautiful. Bodhicitta is the combination of the two into a single feeling. But that's my take on it and not a rigorous definition.
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Re: How to develop devotion to a deity?

Postby michaelb » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:16 am

Malcolm wrote:In order to have devotion to a practice, you need to have devotion to the master from whom you received it. If you feel no devotion towards that master, then how can you be expected to have devotion towards a given practice?

I'm not sure. I suppose it depends by what you mean by devotion. I've felt connected or drawn to certain practices and yidams before anyone has given them to me. I've also had faith in the efficacy of a practice that I received from lamas I haven't really known well enough to have 'devotion' in them. I also have devotion for practices that lamas I have devotion for have told me to do, though another lama who I don't feel so connected to gave me the practice. And, lastly, I've also had no real devotion to other practices that lamas I have devotion for have given me.

I understand the thing about there being no yidam apart from the lama but maybe things don't always work in such a straight forward way.
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Re: How to develop devotion to a deity?

Postby philji » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:34 pm

Thanks Guys for the food advice.. Especially Johnny..the " fake it till you make it " sounds good... and i guess as has been said , initially the mantra and image of a yidam can be a purely shamata practice and maybe at some point it transforms into something else... Cheers. :stirthepot:
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Re: How to develop devotion to a deity?

Postby lobster » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:23 am

:smile:
It seems devoted practice is something we can offer. It is a slight change in emphasis from 'how do I get devotion' to 'how do I give devotion'.
Any relationship is improved by input rather than, 'what do I get out of it' . . . :popcorn:
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