Buddhist monk plays with a tiger at the Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, otherwise known as Tiger Temple, in Kanchanaburi provinceby Alireza Nurbakhsh

My father who was also my master once told me that it is better to be devoted to a cat than to nothing at all. Actually, the Persian word he used was eradat which is somewhat different in meaning from the word “devotion.” Eradat conveys a spiritual significance, and is commonly used to describe a quality one must bring to a relationship with a spiritual guide to whom the devotee intuitively surrenders his or her own egotistical inclinations. It is based on the principle that to reach the Truth one has to act against one’s ego by following someone who manifests Truth.

It is important to recognize that the application of the act of eradat is only relevant in the spiritual realm and within spiritual discourse. If one is in pursuit of understanding any of the human disciplines, one must take a critical stance towards the subject and question one’s teachers and mentors.

My father’s remark that it is better to be devoted to a cat than to nothing at all was made in the context of advising me not to insist on my opinion and my preferred course of action. That was his way of letting me know that I could not know or choose what was right unless I completely devoted myself to him. It is through eradat to another human being that we let our hearts open to compassion, mercy, self-effacement, fairness, and most of all, love and sincerity. We need all these qualities to be good human beings and to make the right choices in life.


photo © Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters / Corbis

90_FRONTCOVER-WEBSITESubscribe or Order the Current Issue Today!