DEVOTION AND MEDITATION
By Bhiksu Heng K'ung
We develop our wisdom through meditation and our compassion through devotion. Devotion is just worship. We accept on faith alone the object of our worship. Our faith is based on the authority of the scriptures and the testimony of those who have certified to the fruit of their cultivation. Devotion develops a wish in our hearts. This wish at the beginning is like a seed without shape or form. As it is nourished with the effort of our devotion, it begins to take shape until one day we behold our heart's wish.
Usually when we meditate we have some sort of concept in mind, a mental picture, that we concentrate on until it becomes more and more real, until the subject of our meditation actually becomes more real to us than the world we perceive through our sense organs. This is the breathless trance of Samadhi. Worship, on the other hand, through the performance of devotional duties, develops us in a different way. It can be considered the way of the heart rather than the mind. Rather than nourishing a mental image, as in meditation, we create a wish. A wish is developed that consumes all our present concepts of Truth, Reality, Self-Nature, etc. Rather than becoming established in a Truth that gradually smothers out our erroneous views as we become more and more deeply rooted in that Truth, we become as a sponge that absorbs all erroneous views without losing its shape.
Although that which is revealed through devotion is not different from meditation, the mental attitude that one must embrace while treading the path is quite a bit different. Those of a devotional nature should cultivate the path of worship and employ meditation as a support or secondary practice. Those of an inquisitive or intellectual nature should investigate meditation and employ devotional exercises as a secondary practice. Devotion creates a gap that must be fulfilled. We carve a reservoir in our hearts that gradually, as we work harder, becomes more and more difficult to endure. An emptiness is developed within, a longing that must be satisfied. This longing become increasingly keen as we reject one by one all attempts of the intellect to satisfy us with delights of the imagination. According to the amount of effort and sacrifice that we make in the performance of our devotional duties, just to that extent is our capacity for an awakening developed. Therefore if we cultivate extremely hard, we have a great awakening, if we cultivate just a little, we have a small awakening.
The necessity for hard work cannot be ignored by those wishing to develop to the greatest extent possible their hidden potentiality. Nor can the importance of keenly recognizing the mental attitude that is most harmonious with our natural mental inclinations be ignored when choosing the path of devotion or the path of meditation.