Q. How is Mindfulness/Zen way different from Devotion/Love towards the Divine? Are they same?
Ans. Well, the only real difference is “Surrender”. In devotion, you surrender, whereas in Zen, you simply maintain a mindfulness of your daily actions. You just are completely mindful at all times of your thoughts, your words, your actions and so on.
A long time back, I wrote on my blog this story from the life of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa where He talks about being a kitten versus being a baby monkey. A kitten just surrenders. A kitten just lies flat on the ground, and the mother cat comes, lifts that kitten in her fangs or in her teeth, and takes it to a safer place. The baby monkey on the other hand, clings to his/her mother with great mindfulness, even anxiety, but also with great faith, and that’s really the difference between Bhakti and Zen. In Zen, the onus is on ‘you’ to maintain that mindfulness. In Bhakti, the onus is on the ‘Divine’ because you’ve surrendered! Now, you are in mother’s lap and she will take you wherever she goes. That’s really the only difference.
Just remember though that in Devotion, I am not saying that you become a “fanatic”! Most people are confused about the two. Devotion does not make you fanatic, Devotion makes you soft, Devotion makes you more beautiful, Devotion makes you more mellow, Devotion makes you warm, Devotion makes you more compassionate, more loving, more kind. If these things are not happening on your path, then you are NOT walking the path of Devotion. I hope I’m clear on that.
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Note : I’m sorry for this short post. I am not well currently, and it was difficult for me to write down more. I didn’t want my streak to break, hence I managed to write these words of Swamiji down. Regards. 🙏