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Dharma Talks , Inspirations

Slow Dilation Devotion

To be real, being devoted these days is a challenge. I wonder myself how to embody devotion when the world changes so fast, people and circumstances are unpredictable and so many untruths scatter all about. None of us wants to believe in anyone or anything blindly. Worshipping false idols is the opposite of devotion. Devotion can never be blind. It always requires not just the heart, but “third-eye” insight.
And so we come to heart felt devotion if not it through a kind of trial and error….one that inevitably includes LOSS. Like a yoga practice that requires experimentation and exploration, perhaps being devoted to throwing out the old technique that doesn’t serve you is as important as discovering something anew. The process of awakening, what Walt Whitman once termed the process of “slow dilation,” itself requires devotion. It is like a child’s need to know. If we cannot permit ourselves to open to the new, to dilate slowly, then our devotion, our love can get stagnate. You may put your devotion into someone or something, and realize 20 years later that your heart needs something else, that your center of gravity changes… and you change.
Perhaps what we need is a commitment to stay devoted to learning, evolving and to the process of becoming. Otherwise we risk stagnation. The line between love and devotion and attachment is a thin one. Like the story of the monk who grew attached to the Buddha:

One Zen master became so fed up with his disciple’s attachment
to the Buddha (and concepts around buddhahood),
he announced that if anyone should announce the name of the Buddha
he would go down to the stream and wash his mouth.


Devotion comes from trust. The hardest thing of all is to trust the process, to not know exactly where you should go but to trust the going. You may have seen the film Oppenheimer, filmed here in N.M at Ghost Ranch where I first lived when I moved to the Santa Fe area.
It was J Robert Oppenheimer who once said: try to “live always at the edge of mystery, the boundary of the unknown.” So what if being devoted is not to find the answer but to be open to the mysterious process of discovery and to being willing to be discovered yourself.
If we stay devoted to unpacking mystery, we will always be opening to the new, with a willingness to be surprised. Ken Kesey of the Beat generation in the 50’s put it this way:

The answer is never the answer.
What’s really interesting
is the mystery.
If you seek the mystery
instead of the answer,
You’ll always be seeking.
I’ve never seen anybody
really find the answer—
They think they have,
so they stop thinking.
But the job is to seek mystery,
evoke mystery,
Plant a garden where
strange plants grow
and mysteries bloom.
The need for mystery is greater
than the need for an answer.


So today let us go into the garden where strange plants can grow, where like a vine we can creep along, groping, stretching, reaching, longing, and discover as we go. When we stay devoted to the process of uncovering, recovering and discovering, we are always on the cusp of change and renewal. I think we each owe it to ourselves to evoke mystery and let it be our guide.

Alchemy + Aim