15.05.2017 13:29

Devotion and attachment

These two qualities seem to have similar meanings and sometimes are used even as identical notions. Nevertheless, more deep analysis shows that there is substantial distinction in these two qualities, and we’ll try to understand them. On the way of discipleship the first quality is welcomed and considered to be an essential feature, when the second is thought as an obstacle, a hindrance which is necessary to overcome finally.

Let’s firstly make an attempt to understand what attachment means on a psychological plan and in everyday life.


In the teaching of Buddha the attachment is mentioned as the quality that limits us, which is necessary to be free from, when the bonds of matter have not power over us. The attachment means certain dependence on desires, flashbacks, and conditions. Our senses keep memory about previous bright impressions, both positive and negative, and in the future they tend again and again to reproduce the positive impressions as complete as possible or to avoid the negative impressions with the utmost guarantee. Such an emotional attachment makes a man constrained and compels him to direct the thought in certain direction which is specified by this attachment. Thus perception of reality somewhat narrows and loses its panoramic feature. For example, wish to reach more comfort and convenience allows the man to demonstrate wonders of ingenuity in creation of various mechanisms, devices and contrivances to satisfy the most intricate desires. And simultaneously it is resulted in the global ecological catastrophe, led to the life in artificial surroundings with its remoteness from nature and to the technogenic dependence.


It is fear that lies at the bottom of many attachments: fear to lose, to be deprived of anything, fear to experience again something unpleasant and painful.


Attachment is also the source of a different sort of disagreements, conflicts, constrains, wars.


Thus, attachment is linked with our ability:


·             to react on different impressions of outer world and characterize, estimate them from the point of view of our personality;

·             to bear these impressions in mind and reproduce them in a similar situation;

·             to manage oneself and/or surrounding circumstances so much that it becomes possible to expect the achievement of the desired result, namely, to obtain the object of attachment.


A man who follows the spiritual path tries to become free from low, rough attachments of the sensual nature having instinctive and unconscious character, and to transform them as far as possible into the so-called «upper register», to make them conscious and socially oriented. Be it reverence, respect, care and other good qualities which we manifest to the selected objects. However, our awareness will never allow us that while showing an attachment to the selected objects, we display injustice, hostility or aggression in relation to the others.


We must admit that an attachment plays a significant role in forming our own life and environment, many people are very similar in their attachments, however, and not all to an equal extent realize how strong their dependence is. Our sensitive nature is at the bottom of the attachment, she forms the appropriate motives, but the way from the impulsions to the actions in a human foresees the participation of a thought, reasoning, comprehension, drafting the plan of realization. While at an animal stage the transition from the motive to the action takes place instinctively.


During the development the focus of the man’s consciousness moves to the area of mind, to cogitative activity, therefore a mind acquires the control above the emotional manifestations. Any impulse that outgoes from the plan of emotions is analyzed and estimated on the plan of mind, and only after it the method of reaction is chosen, that is an action. In other words, during evolution a man comes out from the power of own emotions, their influence becomes weaker. It is beginning of the process of liberation. Gradually rough emotional manifestations without external realization lose their power, transform into more elevated and noble feelings. And this process lasts for million of years when final liberation of a human being occurs.


Master KH writes about it in his letters:


Until final emancipation re absorbs the Ego, it must be conscious of the purest sympathies called out by the esthetic effects of high art; its tenderest cords respond to the call of the holier and nobler human attachments. Of course, the greater the progress towards deliverance, the less this will be the case, until crown all, human and purely individual personal feelings – blood-ties and friendship, patriotism and race predilection — all will give away, to become blended into one universal feeling, the only true and holy, the only unselfish and Eternal one — Love, an Immense Love for humanity, as a Whole! (ML, letter 8).


Even great Mahatmas are not fully free, while they are staying with us on the earth plan of being. This is the way Master KH characterizes himself:


Yes, I confess that individually, am not yet exempt from some terrestrial attachments. I am still attracted toward some men more than towards others, and philanthropy as preached by our great Patron "the Saviour of the World — the Teacher of Nirvana and the Law…" has never killed in me either my individual preferences of friendship, love – for my next of kin, or the ardent feeling of patriotism for the country – in which I was last materially individualized. (the same letter).


The etymology of the word «attachment» contains a kind of a hint suggesting that somebody or certain force has tied a person. There is the fact of being tied, bound, to be dependent, with a tint of violence and artificiality. Even if it were you who tied yourself and you are trying to keep this state, anyway sooner or later you will understand this limiting influence, and you will want to be free from these bonds.


The etymology of the word «devotion» suggests us that the conscious act of devotion to somebody or something is going on; and it is of paramount importance that moves all other things to the second plan, out of the way. Devotion per se expresses not only a certain kind of a person’s relation to any object, but certainly some actions that express this attitude.


Devotion is one of the most valuable human qualities. It was always valued in human relations, each of us dreams about a true friend, loving spouse, children who love their parents and care of them. Many people try to incarnate this dream, although they choose the devotion of a pet. In every business group there are employees who are the mainstay of all organization, they worry about the prestige of their company, about the quality of products, about labour conditions and many other things. They show concern, personal interest and responsibility, consider their enterprise to be the second home (sometimes the first).


Many of us know about the facts of the devotion of animals to their owner. A lot of cases are known when an animal experienced pain of the owner and tried to cure him, to save, even to sacrifice its life for the sake of the owner. One may notice that not all animals show such a quality. No need to say that they manifest this quality not to every owner. This fact may serve as evidence that devotion is also observed among animals, and we can conclude that this quality is inherent to deep divine core of a living being and during the evolution it is manifested in more accomplished and elevated form.


Devotion is the basis of heroism and a heroic deed. For many people devotion to their Motherland, duty, ideals, convictions at all times was the source of their vital deed. And for the sake of it they put their life, freedom, prosperity at the altar of life.


On the pupil's way the quality of devotion is especially needed, as it helps to head on, when the tests and obstacles try to draw aside. Devotion to the Teacher was always considered the higher virtue on the East, exclusive privilege of a student who found the way. However, the Teachers distinguish very clearly, when it is the honouring of a personality of the Teacher, and when it is adherence to the deed which the Teacher together with the students serve to. Master KH in one of the letters wrote to Sinnett:


If you would go on with your occult studies and literary work -- then learn to be loyal to the Idea, rather than to my poor self. (ML, letter 55).


Today many aspirants in the West are liable to dream about the Teacher, about the object of boundless trust and devotion. Reverse aspiration is also obvious - Great Teachers of humanity search and wait when aspirants and world students are ready for collaboration and partnership. Master KH in one of his letters speaks about it:


The conventionalities of the weary world, outside our secluded "Ashrums," trouble us but little at any time; least of all now, when it is men not ceremony-masters, we seek, devotion, not mere observances. (ML, letter 4).


Master KH describes the quality of devotion of a student, characterizing H.S. Olcott:


Him we can trust under all circumstances, and his faithful service is pledged to us come well, come ill. My dear Brother, my voice is the echo of impartial justice. Where can we find an equal devotion? He is one who never questions, but obeys; who may make innumerable mistakes out of excessive zeal but never is unwilling to repair his fault even at the cost of the greatest self-humiliation; who esteems the sacrifice of comfort and even life something to be cheerfully risked whenever necessary; who will eat any food, or even go without; sleep on any bed, work in any place, fraternise with any outcast, endure any privation for the cause. . . (ML, letter 4).


Devotion is the quality which shows the degree of readiness of a student. Love, understanding and selflessness are in the basis of the devotion. This form of precedence helps a man to form an ideal and to find an adequate form of service to this ideal.


Let’s try to tune our mind with our heart to enable us to recognize the quality of every our action, both internal and external.



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