Do observation and devotion go together?
Question: What is the real meaning of devotion in spirituality? How can devotion help one to reach the Truth? What is the path of devotion? How to prepare oneself for devotion? Which one is greater, observation or devotion?
Acharya Prashant: Devotion is a million times more powerful than observation. With devotion, if you are uttering the name of ‘Ram’, or saying, “Om Namah Shivaya,” with genuine heartfelt love and devotion, then forget everything about observation. Observation will happen on its own.
That which is precious is observed. Full stop. The mind is the road to Truth. And only the mind can be the road to Truth because you have no other road. Maybe after a point, the road too disappears. But till that point, you do walk on that road, don’t you? Then the mind will be obviously observed, if you love the Truth.
Love for Truth, or God, comes first. Observation then is a petty thing.
It just happens. Just happens.
You are in so much love with cleanliness and purity, that any rubbish shows up on its own.
That is observation.
Obviously, observation cannot show the truth to you. What do you see in observation? All the falseness.
Why would falseness ever become noticeable? Falseness becomes noticeable only when you are in love with Truth. Otherwise, falseness passes off. Otherwise, falseness is just everyday stuff — agreeable, acceptable. Those who are on the path of observation, very well know that all the blemishes show up. All the falseness, the biases, the inaccuracies, the prejudices, the attractions, the attachments, they are what is seen, right? Why must they become noticeable?
On the wall, why must a certain spot catch your attention? It does, when you want the wall to be clean, and pristine, and white. And then that little blemish is observed. Truth cannot be observed, obviously.
Love comes first. And where there is love, attention becomes compulsory.
Attention is an immediate obedient to Truth.
What is attention? Attending. Attending. Attending to whom? The Truth. That is also the only difference between focusing and observing. And also, it is the only difference between concentration and attention. In concentration, you want some little object, so you are pointing at it. And if you want a little object, you remain little, which means you remained secured, because little you already are.
In attention, you want something big, really big. And that is love. And if you want something really big, you cannot afford to stay small. And that is one very unfortunate tragedy. We want the big, remaining small. And then we curse the big that it doesn’t come to us.
“O! you don’t come to me!”
“How will I come to you? You are so small.”
But then, the argument is superb. You say, because I am so small, so you should come to me. The Truth responds. It says, “I can begin to come to you because you are small. But if I come close to you, and you are still determined to stay small, then I cannot come any closer.”
“Little girl, how will you put an elephant in your little pocket? I am an elephant, and your pockets are so small. And you refuse to grow up. So, I have no option, but to watch from a distance.”
In attention, it becomes mandatory for you to grow up, or dissolve. Concentration does not change you. That thing, that you are concentrating on, is small. So you too can remain small.
In attention, you are targeting something bombastic. Boom! So, you better be big. And why will you target something so big, and therefore so very distant?
Attention is possible only if you are devoted to the Truth.
Otherwise, why would you attend to the Truth? Why would you become an attendant, a servant of the Truth? Why? Without love, attention is tension, a lot of tension. A tension. And you already have so many tensions.
Will you remember that? Without love and devotion, attention is just another tension. And there are so many who think that they will be able to be attentive, without being devoted. They end up turning very, very dry. Very dry.
I have come across so many of them. They keep uttering — observe, observe, attend, attend. And ‘surrender’ and ‘devotion’ are words they are allergic to. The moment you utter the word ‘surrender’ to them, the moment you utter the word ‘surrender’ to them, it’s like they have been pricked by a pin at their backside. They jump up.
“Ha! Surrender. No, don’t talk of that. We will observe. Let’s observe. No devotion, just observation.”
Very sorry samples, they turn out to be. They can’t sing a crazy Kabir Sahib, or a Bulle Shah Bhajan, Kaafi, Sakhi, Wakh. They can’t. When a Meera is dancing madly, they will say, “I am observing.” When a Bulle Shah has gone crazy in the love of his murshid, they will say, “I am listening. I am listening.”
And all that is so idiotic. That pretense of intelligence.