Buddhist Beliefs, Practices and Experiences

Devotion

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Devotion is a key practice in the Buddhist life, which has three aspects: commitment, transcendence and love. 

 

Devotion as Commitment

 

Devotion as commitment involves dedication and steady focus. Whether it is in business, education or sports etc., we can not attain anything in life without faithfulness to a goal. Spiritual victory and living a winning life takes struggle and commitment. Symbolic of our faithfulness to total spiritual transformation is our daily Going for Refuge in the Three Jewels of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. Going for Refuge means reorienting our priorities from the unreliable transitory nature of life, such as money, sex, fame, friends and career, and placing as the center of our lives the universal truth of the Three Jewels, which grant us solidity, assurance and freedom. Likewise, devotion also applies to other transformative Buddhist practices such as the nembutsu and attending fellowship. These practices can not just be seen as ‘nice’ things or virtues but must be lived in a real way in order to experience its fruits. Total engagement with the dharma on a daily basis will transmute our existential burdens into the substance of received wisdom and compassion. This can only be carried out through devotion.

 

Devotion as Transcendence

 

Devotion as transcendence is an invigorating attitude towards life that swings our priorities from the petty concerns of our daily life to view and adopt the wider or bigger view of reality. Transcendence gives us an expansiveness of self that comes from acknowledging our interdependence and even identification with all things. As a result, devotion becomes the catalyst to actively engage in improving our society’s social, political and environmental problems.

 

Devotion as Love

 

Devotion as love unifies the aspects of commitment and transcendence. In Buddhism, love is the engaging action that uplifts the suffering of others. However, the source of this pure love does not come from our limited and confused self but received as the gift of shinjin, the experience of awakening, channeled through us from the One Life, symbolized as Amida. As an expression of shinjin, devotion as love gives us the inspiration and aspiration to practice single-heartedly in order to nurture and lead all beings to the Pure Land of liberation.  This aspect of devotion opens us up to the path of the Bodhisattva who is a person dedicated to his/her spiritual cultivation while ceaselessly works for the welfare and spiritual liberation of all beings. Ultimately, devotion as love transforms our practice into a beautiful offering in service to the world, giving us direction and purpose for our lives. See segment on the Buddhist Lifesyle.

 
 
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Copyright 2006. G.R. Lewis, All Rights Reserved

The author grants permission to copy this document for personal uses only.