Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche on Devotion

An Excerpt from  Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse's Guru Drinks Bourbon 

How to Generate Devotion

Most of us think that because we have studied the Dharma for a while we have understood a few things. We may have understood a little, and we may have even had some fleeting experience. If we are aware that this knowledge and experience can always be improved upon and transcended, if we are not satisfied with the little that we have, if we have the courage to let go of what we have and still hunger for more, this is the dawning of devotion. This is a sign of humility. Humility is the moisture or fertilizer from which devotion will grow.
To help that devotion grow, remember the following

  • Your friends, family, identity, or projects, big or small, will not provide you with the fundamental basis necessary for bliss and happiness.
  • Absolutely everything around you is impermanent, even your body, and while you can be sure you will die, you can have no certainty about when, where, or how.
  • The people with whom you associate, who accompany you through this life, will all eventually lead you to pain.
  • All your relationships are temporary. When you check into a hotel you don’t immediately start thinking that you’ll spend eternity with the managers, maids, and waiters. Your home, your friends, your ideals and values are just part of a hotel experience. Sooner or later, you will have to check out and leave them all behind.
  • The triple gems are glorious. Think often on their enlightened qualities,
    and whenever possible, try to associate with a virtuous friend, a guru who will point out your mistakes honestly.
  • Nothing happens randomly; everything happens according to the mathematical logic of cause, condition, and effect. To this logic we owe our complete trust. Modern people already trust the function of karma on some level: for example, we know that a marigold is not created by a god but that it grows from a seed when all the necessary conditions
    come together. What we don’t all have is the more profound, undeniable trust in karma. This is what leads to so much disappointment and the feeling that life is “unfair,” especially when we do our best to do the right thing yet suffer unexpected consequences. We trust only the immediate and obvious causes and conditions and never suspect that there are layers and more layers lining up behind them.

If you arouse these thoughts in your mind, devotion will also be aroused.

Four Types of Devotion

  1. According to Jigme Lingpa, there are four different types of devotion:
    Inspiring devotion: You read and hear the words of the Buddha and they
    make sense, and therefore you feel attracted to the Dharma. Ideally, this is the
    kind of devotion you begin with.
  2. Desiring devotion: Like a bee desiring pollen, you have a desire to create certain qualities in yourself—the desire to apply the teachings and attain their result.
  3. Trusting devotion: You begin to see the unsurpassable and nondeceiving quality of the triple gems, and therefore you have confidence in the master and the teaching from the bottom of your heart.
  4. Nonreturning devotion: Once you’re convinced that the thing above you is the sky, nothing will shatter that conviction. Once you have developed a trust in view, meditation, and action through hearing, meditation, and contemplation, you will never see the guru as anything other than the Buddha. You enter onto the path of the Dharma with strong determination and a conviction that you will never turn back. This is what we call “nonreturning devotion.”