I struggle with devotion. There it is. And I think people assume the opposite of me. I have a big altar at home. I respect it and lovingly care for it. I enjoy chanting. I like to participate in puja. But I analyze it too much perhaps. I observe others who seem “devotional” and it seems to me they are playing a game, pretending somehow. Like they are hoping for a gold star. It reminds me of a Rumi poem, “Two Ways of Running” – from The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, exerpted here:
A certain man had a jealous wife and a very, very appealing maidservant.
The wife was careful not to leave them alone, ever. For six years they were never left in a room together.
But then one day at the public bath the wife suddenly remembered that she’d left her silver washbasin at home.
“Please go get the basin,” she told her maid.
The girl jumped at the task, because she knew that she would finally get to be alone with the master.
She ran joyfully.
She flew, and desire took them both so quickly that they didn’t even latch the door.
With great speed they joined each other. When bodies blend in copulation, spirits also merge.
Meanwhile, the wife back at the bathhouse, washing her hair, “What have I done! I’ve set cotton wool on fire! I’ve put the ram in with the ewe!”
She washed the clay soap off her hair and ran, fixing her chador about her as she went.
The maid ran for love. The wife ran out of fear and jealousy. There is a great difference.