Dear Light Group,

A Buddhist, Chogyam Trungpa, wrote, “At first, devotion is inspired by a sense of inadequacy. We begin to realize that we are not up to coping with life or that we are confused about it. So devotion…comes from a sense of poverty….we feel trapped in the problems of life. We have failed to make a comfortable nest.”

He went on to say, “You might say that certain people approach the path from more positive inspirations. They might have had a dream or a vision or an insight that inspired them to search more deeply. Possibly they had money to fly to India….Then they had all sorts of exotic and exciting experiences. Someone stuck in New York City might consider it a rich and heroic journey. But fundamentally such people still have the mentality of poverty.  Although their initial inspiration may have ben expansive, still they are uncertain about how to relate to the teachings.….The more inadequate they feel, the more devoted they become. Such devotion involves valuing the object of devotion. The poorer you feel, the richer the guru seems by contrast.”

Trungpa’s words are a reminder to us to not make a god out of any guru, something Jim Goure also told us to avoid doing.

But Trungpa is also asking us to be aware of what motivates our spirituality. He’s not judging us if our devotion “comes from a sense of poverty.” He’s simply telling us that, if that’s the case, be aware of it.

What else might we want from devotion to a guru? Trungpa says we might want to “feel glorious, fantastic, good. creative. I want to be like my guru. I want to incorporate his admirable qualities into my personality. I want to enrich my ego.”

It’s this notion of wanting to enrich our egos through our spirituality that is Trungpa’s main target. Are we using our spirituality to acquire what Trungpa calls “credentials,” things that supposedly show we’re spiritual but in fact are there to burnish our ego?

Jim Goure had similar concerns, which he couched in terms of us still being absorbed in our personalities.

At United Research, we have a wonderful message of hope, that we can transform ourselves and our world through prayer. It is important that we remain ever vigilant against our egos coopting that message for personal benefit. We are here for the good of all.

If you would like a prayer to accompany these thoughts, you might try something like, “May my intentions be pure in Thy sight, O Lord. May I be free to join the dance of Thy universe, unencumbered by ego or personality. May I let go of all that confines me, so that I may experience the spaciousness of Thy being. May I give of Thy Light for the Good of all.”

Love and Light,