Many of you are likely familiar with the story of the Two Wolves, one version is as follows.
The Wolf You Feed
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt,
resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence,
empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:
"Which wolf wins?"The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
As we proceed with our spiritual journey, seeking love, peace, understanding, and freedom, we encounter countless moments when we need to make choices. Although we may have intellectually recognized our tendencies to revert to habitual, familiar, and conditioned choices, these result in our continued feeding of the first wolf, the one that prolongs our suffering. To combat this habitual reactivity the ego needs to surrender its primacy, but how might this happen?
Each of us knows the quality of devotion, whether it be devotion to family, work, friends, children, pets, our body or mind, or perhaps our spiritual path. Devotion is a kind of love that activates our heart, mind, and energy. It manifests as a deep caring. It reveals a divine arising within you; you become an extension of divine love. The ego doesn’t want to surrender, however we can encourage the ego to allow devotion.
Developing a practice of devotion encourages us to feed the wolf of spirit, to be real, to find what is true, to live with love, to know your true nature, to answer the heart’s call, to come home, to be a better human being, to know God.
Mystics, teachers, and sages have encouraged practices designed to help keep you focused on feeding the wolf of spirit. These range from self-remembering, witnessing, or mindfulness, as well as breathing exercises or devotional mantras, rosaries, or japa. They are all intended to divert you from feeding the wrong wolf as you develop new habits of heart and mind.
The great opportunity of human birth is to transcend the egoic mind, through perfect knowledge and devotion, and thereafter remain as the natural mind, the Supreme Being.
Whatever we attend to will flourish because of the energy our attention gives it. If we attend to the objects of perception - thoughts, emotions, past and future, etc., those objects will thrive. If we instead attend to our own blown wide open, free, eternal being this will become more and more our living reality.
Being devoted to the objects of perception makes those objects our reality. Being devoted to our ever present freedom now makes that our reality.
When we come out of the womb, immediately there are objects of perception drawing our attention. The root object that draws our attention is the object we come to call “myself”. And as more and more objects appear in our consciousness, slowly slowly they become the primary and sole locus of our attention. We lose touch with the objectless self that we are and through infatuation, we become totally fixated on the objects of appearance.
Now we believe that these objects are the only thing happening and we give them all-importance. This is the cause of our separation and suffering. We look for solace there, but never truly find it.
Once we begin to turn attention back to our source, our ever present, eternal, objectless being, we find freedom, contentment and peace. This is our true solace.
Once this is known, it is devotion to our essential being that brings liberation from the bondage of experience, including what appears in the mind. This it the paradigm shift I speak about.
It is a new way of being, of living this life. It is not esoteric, spiritual or mystical. It is the natural human condition, available always to each and every one.
~ Salvadore Poe
To know God is to love God. Therefore the path of bhakti (love-devotion)and of jnana (knowledge-wisdom) are the same.
~ Ramana Maharshi
Being in deep devotion comes as a surprise the first time, because it is so difficult for people to feel even love, and devotion is the highest form of love... just the essential fragrance of love. If love is the flower, then devotion is just the fragrance. You cannot catch hold of it. You can feel it, you can smell it, you can be surrounded by it, you can be drowned in it, but you cannot catch hold of it. It is not that material.
There are lower and higher stages of devotion. In the lower you romanticize the journey. You merely shift the focus of your melodrama from marketplace to temple. The images in the temple, the temple itself, your participation in worship, the love, say, of Christ, of Krishna, of Buddha, become preoccupations. You want to think about, talk to, play with, and open your heart to them. This level is romantic; you have fallen in love with your vehicle for going to God. But your love grows and your beloved becomes the whole object of your life, you tune to a deeper place within yourself. Then the emotional, romantic qualities of devotion give way to a new kind of love where finally you see all people as the beloved.
~ Ram Dass
Real devotion is an unbroken receptivity to the truth. Real devotion is rooted in an awed and reverent gratitude, but one that is lucid, grounded, and intelligent.
~ Sogyal Rinpoche
Time exists so that you can experience these flavors as deeply as possible. On the path of devotion, if you can experience even a glimmer of love, its possible to experience a little more love. When you experience that a little more, then the next degree of intensity is possible. Thus, love engenders love until you reach the point of saturation, when you totally merge with the divine love. this is what the mystics mean when they say that they plunge into the ocean of love to drown themselves.
~ Deepak Chopra
Knowledge without devotion will be like a misfire.
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Think of some of the teachers that you know or heard about. Nisargadatta, he always prayed. He realized that he was Consciousness. He was Self-realized, but at the same time, he chanted, he prayed, he had devotion. It sounds like a contradiction. For you may say, "If someone is Self-realized and knows himself or herself to be all there is, to whom do they pray?" Try to remember that all spiritual life is a contradiction. It's a contradiction because words cannot explain it. Even when you are the Self, you can pray to the Self, which is you.
Ramana Maharshi always had chanting at the ashram, prayers, devotional hymns. These things are very important.
Many westerners, who profess to be atheists, come to listen to lectures on Advaita Vedanta, and yet nothing ever happens in their lives. As long as you do not have devotion, faith, love, discrimination, dispassion, it will be very difficult to awaken.
Therefore, those of you who become bored with practicing Self-inquiry may become very devotional. Surrender everything. Give up your body, your thoughts, all the things that bind you, whatever problems you may believe you have. Surrender them to your favorite deity. You are emptying yourself out as you do this. Do a lot of it. Become humble. Have a tremendous humility. If you can just do that, you will not have to search any longer.
~ Robert Adams
You can know everything that the books have to say, but ultimately it boils down to whether we do the inner work of devotion and surrender, whether we can put aside our own agendas and allow the spirit to move through us.
~ Marianne Williamson
There is a reservoir of devotion in the spiritual heart which rests waiting for a silent song, akin to moonlight whose soft touch opens the evening flowers. And then it flows unreservedly from heart to heart.
~ Pamela Wilson
Too easily we come to practice out of the "efforting" perspective of the inner critic, thinking “I SHOULD meditate" daily. This is a setup for failure and feeling guilty. It is not just the actual practice we take up that supports our soul to flourish, it is also the attitude we bring to it.
Turn to spiritual practices - be they of inquiry, meditation or devotion, that most feed your soul, but let it be powered by your heart’s natural love for the truth, for God, for the source of your existence itself.
When you feel into this love of the real, even if you are not quite sure what this is, you are drawn deeper into contact with the mystery. Grace begins to open you deeper than your familiar ego with its patterns of defense.
~ Miranda Macpherson
Devotion to any teacher, any sage,
Perpetuates the illusion of
Division and separation.
That which animates the teacher
Direct one’s devotion to That.
~ Wu Hsin
Spiritual evolution occurs as the result of removing obstacles and not actually acquiring anything new. Devotion enables surrender of the mind’s vanities and cherished illusions so that it progressively becomes more free and more open to the light of Truth.
~ David R. Hawkins
Sound or vibration is the most powerful force in the universe.
Music is a divine art, to be used not only for pleasure
but as a path to God-realization.
Vibrations resulting from devotional singing
lead to attunement with the Cosmic Vibration or the Word.
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Realization and liberation require many things: dedication and commitment, love and devotion, awareness and sensitivity. But more than anything else, they require understanding. Understanding is the central faculty needed for liberation, especially when we go very deep in our experience and arrive at subtle places.
~ A H Almaas
With every breath, I plant the seeds of devotion, I am a farmer of the heart.
One makes a gift of one's life and endeavors by sanctifying it with love, and devotion and selfless service. When seeking to uplift others, we are uplifted in the process. Every kind thought or smile therefore benefits oneself as well as all the world.
~ David Hawkins
Devotion is a disease. And you catch it from those people who have it. Devotion is a way of being, it's not something you do. It's dedication to finding awareness and Love. Chanting is like asanas for the mind and the heart.
~ Krishna Das
There is no short cut to God; sadhana must be performed regularly and with devotion. It is our own effort which will enable us to experience the grace of God which is being showered on us all the time. Therefore, whatever spare time you get, use it to seek God. If you create peace in your own heart by doing sadhana, then that will have a positive effect on your family, your work and so on. The peace and love of God will overflow out of your heart and encourage others to move on the right path.
~ Mata Amritanandamayi
I think the greatest gift we can give our children is to show them that devotion to God's purposes - love for all beings - is the center of all right living.
~ Marianne Williamson
Love combined with wisdom is bliss, and that is devotion. Devotion is a strong bond, a sense of belongingness. Everybody is born with it. It’s just like becoming a child again
~ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Spiritual joy is devotion, it's like a virus you know? It's a benevolent virus, but it spreads. It's infectious. Ram Dass was like a mentor in those days.
~ Surya Das
You say your life is service to God.
But at a certain stage, the duality between you and God must merge and become one Harmony.
Ultimately, if your devotion is sincere, duality cannot last.
Naturally, you will get pulled inside the Beloved.
Only then will your Being experience its Completeness.
My own lineage is reflected in the name Ram Dass, which means “servant of God.” It’s a path of devotion to God/Guru, and the expression of that devotion is through service to all beings. Mother Teresa reflected this lineage when she spoke of serving the lepers in the streets of Calcutta as serving “Christ in all his distressing disguises.”
~ Ram Dass
Prayer, sitting with a picture of a holy being, singing to the Beloved – all of these are devotional meditative practices, the way of the heart. Devotion balances the more impersonal wisdom that comes from most kinds of meditation. It allows us to cultivate our humanity while we transform our consciousness.
As an example, imagine a being standing before you, someone to whom you feel particularly tuned, such as Christ, Mary, or Hanuman. This being is radiant, luminous, a being whose eyes are filled with compassion, a being in whom you feel the wisdom that comes from an intimate harmony with the universe.
Despite all of the impurities to which you cling, despite all your feelings of unworthiness, such a being loves you unconditionally. To sit before such a being, or to imagine such a being sitting in your heart, to be with that being and return the love, to see yourself reflected in such compassion, unjudging eyes, to open more and more, as if to a beloved, to carry on imaginary conversations with such a being, opens you to compassion, tranquility, warmth, patience, to all the qualities of a free being.
This interpersonal quality of devotional meditation allows you to start from your psychological needs, to love, to be loved, to be in the presence of wisdom, compassion, and peace. When you are with a being who embodies these qualities, they rub off, and you feel more evolved, even to the point of recognizing the radiant light within yourself. This acknowledgment of your own beauty allows you to open even more to the beloved, until finally the lover and the beloved merge and you find out that what you had seen outwardly as perfection is a mirror of your own true being.
– Ram Dass
When you surrender completely to God, or to the Self.
That's devotion, Bhakti.
it sounds easy to some people, but it is not, because it means every decision that you have to make is left up to God.
You give your mind to God, totally, completely and absolutely.
And that leads you to self-realization.
~ Robert Adams