Devotion can’t be practiced! You cannot rehearse, and then perfect it, because the very nature of devotion is the pure immediacy of instantaneous feeling. It’s the Bliss of Total Feeling: saturating and then radiating, saturating and then radiating.
So, you don’t have to be a great Realized Being to be authentic or sincere. But even if you are in the waking state, just a tiny bit of sincerity will be liberating, even if you’re not Enlightened, even if you’re not Awake – or you don’t consider yourself to be.
If you go to ashrams, you’ll find hundreds of people, all trying to pretend something that they’re not.
Like an actor that learns how to become an actor … in the end the real actor just plays himself. The great actor, the greatest actor, finally comes to the recognition that it’s him or her in every part, and they begin to surrender to their own spontaneity, as they act, as they display their acting talent.
So, you can mimic devotion with devotional practices, but practicing devotion and exuding Devotional Bliss are polar opposites.
You can dress up a murti of Krishna, or Devi, or Ganesh, or one of the other thousand deities in Hinduism, and sing mantras to them for 30 or 40 years, but you’re still practicing devotion: singing to a doll is not devotion.
Devotion is when your own utterly Broken Heart begins to finally bleed though the surface of your life and you cannot hide it any more. You cannot hide what you’ve become — and what begins to bleed through and radiate is the Supreme Origin of all Things, the Supreme Consciousness that is in everything, that is on the outside of everything also.
And as it starts to bleed out, you become drunk on your own Love-Bliss. You become drunk on your own Arising Awareness – because of the inherent magnificence of It, the inherent God-like Quality, the inherent sacredness, of Awareness Itself.