My grandchildren, you all must start to learn to have devotion. Thus, you will always be reminded of humility. In many teachings, devotion is always symbolized with prostration or bowing. When you look down, you look into your inner self. You see your smallness, your dullness, your weaknesses and your shortcomings so that your arrogance and vanity disappear. You are just human being among so many people. Among so many creatures. Your life depends only on the plants living around you. You can only live when the water is still flowing. You can only live if the wind is still filling the room and there are still many more pictures of your helplessness. Also when you are devoting, you will learn about sincerity, silence, surrender, love and much more about inner tenderness.
Thus, my grandchildren, so many advantages you can get that arise from within each of you. On the other side, you have done good deeds based on propriety, custom and culture that developed in the lands of your ancestors. A long time ago, worship and devotion were always carried out by our ancestors, in a diverse way. Even, some are combined with art and culture. With devotion, people can also gain respect. Because the other form of devotion is respect itself.
Then, to whom do we address our devotion?
My grandchildren, I always ask you to think smart. But I also always ask you to think slowly and thoroughly. Think of the simplest first. Look around you first, then you can look away. Similarly, when you show your devotion. Start to devote to those closest.
Devotion to Parents
Why do you have to show devotion to your parents? My grandchildren, your parents are the reason why you were born into this world. They have been expecting you even before you existed. Then, their hope bears fruit. Even your birth is something they really anticipate, doesn’t it instantly make you become the yearning of this couple of husband and wife? Logically, they must’ve loved you, mustn’t they? Even before you were born.
So that I do not bluff too much about your birth stories. Because you won’t understand it either as you are just born. Let’s imagine something. I’m sure you have seen birth in your neighborhood, or heard about it from short stories by your friends. Usually, they look happy embracing the birth of their baby. Some throw a small party, invite the neighbors, and there are many other expressions to this occasion. Many of these parents even call their baby the greatest gift from God. That ishow their love embraces your presence.
After this little baby was born, there comes a new stage of the drama in this house. If both of this couple are working, one of them has to give up their job to take care of the baby. They are starting to get busy managing their work and responsibilities in the process of taking care of this baby. They even have to give up their hobbies and passions. Long story short, this baby catches the attention of the whole house. Everything, starting from food, books about how to take care of babies, knick-knacks for the house, and everything is bought out of consideration that there is a baby at home. Even I and your grandmother who live far away from here have to stay in this house for quite a long time to teach your parents how to take care of a baby.
Is that all? No, my grandchildren! When this baby is crying, the parents can be so confused since they do not know what they should do. They can take turns staying up all night to make sure this baby doesn’t cry. The baby can be very troublesome because she cannot talk. She can only cry or laugh. When she is in comfort, she will sleep or laugh, when she isn’t, she will cry. When she is hungry, she cries. When she wants to pee, she cries. When the air is too hot, she cries. And there are many other circumstances that make this baby fussy. But, your parents still take care of you wholeheartedly.
And there are many other struggles of your parents, until you are grown into independent children. Teach you how to speak, walk, eat, take a bath, and many more. Give you a direction of which one is good or bad, which one you can follow and which one you cannot. And many other moral lessons that underlie your memory system.
There are so much endeavor and knowledge that your parents give. You can even gather all your school teachers, and the knowledge that you learn from them is nothing compared to the knowledge you learn from your parents.
Those are the love, care, responsibilities, endeavor, and many other things that your parents have done. If they are summed up, my grandchildren, you cannot pay them off no matter how until the end of your life. That’s why, your parents are the first figures that deserve your respect.
Devotion to Grandfather, Grandmother and Ancestors
If the process of human emergence is the same now and then, doesn’t your parents also have the same problems as you? They owe an unpayable debt to your grandfathers and grandmothers. And your grandfathers and grandmothers also owe a substantial debt to your great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers, this goes on until it’s difficult to name them. So, I call them ancestors, and they are figures who deserve our respect.
The huge debt that you owe is of the same amount as the debt that your parents owe to your grandfathers and grandmothers. If you cannot pay off your debt to your parents, isn’t it only natural if you ease the debt of your parents to your grandfathers and grandmothers? Besides, your grandfathers and grandmothers, when they are still alive, also play a substantial role in bringing you up.
And never doubt how much your grandfathers and grandmothers love you. Because they also anticipate your birth. Even far before your parents do. Because they, your grandfathers and grandmothers, are the ones who encourage and initiate the marriage of your parents until you are born.
This string of love is what connects you forever from generation to generation. So for me, your grandfathers and grandmothers as well as your ancestors are those who are worthy of your respect.
Devotion to Teachers
My grandchildren, in human life, including yours. Every day you will learn about so many things. There are some things that you learn formally, and many things that you learn informally. If teacher is a name for someone who gives a lesson, then you have had so many teachers. Then, why do they deserve your respect? Because they are the ones who give you light. They give you a lantern in the darkness. They help you cast off your stupidity. They help you solve so many problems. You won’t walk safely in the darkness, will you? And won’t your life be in a mess without education?
These teachers are figures that are present in your life who teach you lessons and responsibilities so that you can see the world more broadly and beyond. These teachers are the ones who have helped your parents guide you to maturity. When the knowledge of your parents is limited, then these teachers come to make up for those gaps. That is how important their role in your life is. So they, teachers, are figures that you should respect.
Devotion to Predecessors
I call them ‘predecessor’ just to ease your comprehension because they came into this world before you. Why do they deserve respect?
Because many of them left something valuable. Some struggled in the spiritual field so that you can easily learn about life and this life without having to look for it on your own. They are the pioneers of many lessons on morality and social order.
Some fought for humanity from generation to generation. From their history you can learn about love and equity in humanity. With their hands, the transgression of humanity is diminishing. Slavery is now unheard-of in the current social order.
They also fought persistently for the prosperity of human being so that now we can work on our rice field and farm without worry. Development by development has been made by our predecessors. Now, what we can do is to continue their endeavor.
Some also fought for the comfort of human being. They are the inventors. Now you can enjoy electricity, transportation infrastructure, communication devices, and even hair cutting devices! Haha… let’s think about it. Don’t they have a very important role in your life? Then, all of them deserve your respect.
Devotion to Earth and Everything in It
Haha… it even confuses me to mention one by one the supporting aspects in your life. Then, it’s enough for me to just say ‘the earth and everything in it’’, starting from plants, water, air and many other particles. All of them are supporting your life. I do not need to mention why you need to respect the earth and everything in it. You should have understood without the earth and everything in it, then you, even your parents, your teachers and your predecessors won’t be able to live!
In some places, they perform a certain ritual for the earth and its nature. And their ways of doing it becomes their ever-developing custom and culture. Some call it ‘Devotion to Motherland’. In Java, some call it Sedekah Bumi (Gifts for the Earth). And there are still many other ways of how our ancestors show their respect to this earth.
And the most important is you need to show praise and devotion to the Causer for All This Life to work. That is what I know about this devotion. Maybe your maturity can lead to other praise and devotion that I haven’t mentioned.