Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The importance of devotion

The importance of devotion

In these interviews, recorded by a team from, Venerable Thubten Chodron answers questions about her life and what it means to be a Buddhist in the 21st century.

What is the importance of devotional practices and prayers, especially for Westerners?

I think it’s as important as it is for Asians, which is that these practices, first of all, they are not based on faith without investigation.

You’ve got to be very clear. Devotional practices should not be based on faith without investigation. They are based on understanding the Dharma, and by understanding the Dharma, your confidence and trust in the Three Jewels of refuge arise. And based on that confidence and trust, which is another translation for the word that is often translated as faith (but faith is not a good translation of the Buddhist word), then based on that confidence in
the Three Jewels, these different practices come where you may do visualization, you do the seven-limb prayer, offer mandalas, make requests, recite an abbreviated lamrim prayer with all the steps of the path on it.

Those kinds of practices soften the mind. If you’re studying a lot, if you’re thinking a lot, then sometimes your mind can become a little bit hard and dry, or sometimes it becomes kind of stuck, so if you do these more devotional things, then it loosens that “stuck-ness.” And it just softens the mind, so then you can go back to your studies and the mind is softer and more open.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

More on this topic