The Acquisition of Devotion

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Swami so and so has moved to California.  He has a dark coffee brown, shoulder length, wavy, fluffy hair, parted in the middle and warm, thoughtful, and caring brown eyes that sparkle, as if a tear were imminent. The Swami has set up a spiritual center in the middle of town, including yoga instruction and within a few years has acquired many disciples. 

The context for devotion is said to develop from three things:  1) when one gives good advice, 2) the quality of one’s teachings and or 3) one’s ideas, research, or writings. There may be other cases where one acquires Beatle-like mania, or Rockstar status or immense fame and acquires a great many fans, but this story speaks exclusively to the acquisition of devotion.

There are multicolored fast-paced changing traffic signals that run the tempo of New York City. With great desperation for peace, New York City could be the Yoga capital of the world.  There existed a popular small yoga center on the upper east side, where one teacher emerged as superior.  His ascension could be documented. Each student that arrived one of his yoga classes, ended as one of his disciples.  So much so, that when he moved to a new nearby yoga center, a few blocks north, his students as they heard of his departure and relocation, like a wave followed their teacher. 

What he had that was so special for students that made him so insanely popular in the city, he gave precise advice, his descriptions were precise and connected, he gives you exactly what you need in a moment.  You ask, he answers.  He had minimal work for maximum result. He had a style where the students held their poses for a specific amount of time to maximize the impact of the pose.  Even after some time, one realized that he had reshaped and sculpted their bodies, he had lifted their buttocks, he had aligned their spines.  In the new yoga center where the yoga teacher taught his students, they left drenched in sweat, feeling elated, limber and purified.  It became an ecstatic yoga feeling of elation, even one associated to him.  He came to have many followers of his teachings and their subsequent devotion.  Even other teachers fond of his style, became his disciples.   

He often wore a simple divine looking handkerchief or scarf tied to his balding head.  It came to spiritualize the way a turban or headwrap would.  Perhaps it placed emphasis on his head, and in some strange way on God, it may have comforted him or placed him within the spiritual context.  He looked like a gypsy or a pirate. Souls waited for his words. He was energetic and magnetic. 

Some students say, “the whole class had reached a plateau.”  He struggled to make sure everyone of his students graduated to an advanced level.  What could be deduced from this description is that devotion is not necessarily given to preachers or ministers casually, but is actually a thing of “teachers.”  Most often, one comes to “worship” when someone has touched their soul or imparted a great teaching, one may then be their master.  It is for masters, or for teachers-devotion.

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