From the Faculty: Miles Neale

What is devotion to you?

Devotion is spiritualized love. It’s the willingness to be both vulnerable and absolutely mad in pursuit of the divine. We all seek wholeness, to connect the wounded part of us with something completely beyond ourselves, and that is made possible through devotion.

Is your practice of devotion oriented towards a religious tradition? What is the connection or relationship of devotion to religious traditions?

Devotion to teachers and traditions is only a way station. It’s how we get our initial spiritual compass bearing. Anyone who has realized something profound, who has actually woken up, has warned us not to confuse devotion towards externals as the goal of our spiritual practice. Ultimately, devotion has to be focused on our own direct realization.

What are tools, techniques or special objects that inspire or help you in your devotional practice?

I have a mālā. It’s with me everywhere I go. Every retreat, every pilgrimage, every power spot over the years. It’s been in my hands, as mantras and prayers were recited. With each repetition, the mind is made more supple to hear an inner voice, to behold and inner vision, to be subsumed by a more refined state of consciousness. This mala is made of wooden beads, along with a few antique stones, turquoise and coral, passed down from the early Tibetans exiled from their homeland, who took refuge in India. It reminds me of Tibet’s cultural struggle, and their ability to face unimaginable suffering with grace, wisdom and compassion. This mala has been blessed by every great master I’ve come into contact with, and a friend even had it blessed for me by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I carry their collective inspiration as a constant reminder.

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