How are we going to realize our true nature with all of these rituals standing between us and reality?
The human beings that most of us believe ourselves to be, actually encompass only a tiny fraction of the grand spectra of existence. Indeed, we are an integral part of the unfolding of reality.
We are sentient self-aware beings, distinct from most of the other beings that exist on this planet. The limited and docile Earthly persons that we, by default, tend to envision ourselves as, are actually far greater beings capable of, heretofore, unimagined feats.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few” ~ Sunryu Suzuki
Transcendence of our differences and re-invigoration of the primordial drive to transfigure our inner-selves into something more novel is the key. We have to move beyond this repetitive, cyclical, propaganda-induced lifestyle.
To do this, we need to abolish ritual and instead follow our innate sense of compassion by living in each and every moment as if it is the very first moment ever experienced. This is a return to the mind of a beginner.
The ancient Taoist philosophers wrote the following about ritual, in the Tao Te Ching:
Well established hierarchies are not easily uprooted;
Closely held beliefs are not easily released;
So ritual enthralls generation after generation.
Harmony does not care for harmony, and so is naturally attained;
But ritual is intent upon harmony, and so can not attain it.
Harmony neither acts nor reasons;
Love acts, but without reason;
Justice acts to serve reason;
But ritual acts to enforce reason.
When the Way is lost, there remains harmony;
When harmony is lost, there remains love;
When love is lost, there remains justice;
And when justice is lost, there remains ritual.
Ritual is the end of compassion and honesty,
The beginning of confusion;
Belief is a colorful hope or fear,
The beginning of folly.
The sage goes by harmony, not by hope;
He dwells in the fruit, not the flower;
He accepts substance, and ignores abstraction.
The author of this passage is trying to tell us that we need to stop basing our lives on rituals and beliefs, but instead we need to use the mind that we were given and think for ourselves, reacting to the events that take place and creating our own novel events, in each moment, with our intuition, instead of retreating to our beliefs to tell us what the world is and what our place is in this world.
These are revolutionary concepts that even the most “spiritual” among us have little to no understanding of.
It seems somewhat like having the “faith” that is so-often talked about by “spiritual” people, but instead of having faith in the words of someone you admire or the words of a book, you simply have faith in your own ability to discern the meanings of ever-evolving circumstances, without the blinders of belief standing between you and the reality of existence.
I put the word “spiritual” in quotes because I, for one, don’t feel that it is very spiritual to do what someone else tells you to do simply because you think they know something you don’t know or you feel that they are some sort of “guru.”
The individuals that a “guru” tends to attract to his or her belief-induced obedience, are less likely to use their own powers of discernment and live in the way that best suits them as opposed to some “one-size-fits-all” guru recommendation.
I have also observed that individuals who subscribe to the dictates of a “guru” tend to quickly rush to a judgment of others, without giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Often, their arguments are often filled with fire-and-brimstone explanations for what happens if one doesn’t follow their line of thinking, and they tend to exclude themselves from, what might have otherwise been, rich experiences.
Fearful of the possibility that we might actually enjoy something different, something outside of our current paradigm, we return to our beliefs, seeking a response that does not interrupt the supremacy the preferred belief set.
It is sad, when you really sit and think about it, how we fall in and out of these simple traps. The traps seem to be strewn about in every direction, as we are surely a ritual-enthralled society that has lost its way long ago.
Rituals are belief-based and they are fed by the fear of the unknown, so they reinforce themselves by leaving the “believer” in the dark, afraid of change, afraid to venture into the light and challenge these closely-held ties.
Those who are completely enthralled and entranced by ritual are as good as dead. Though faithful and sincere, their hearts are blind and unable to generate compassion without turning to their dogma. A resurgence of novelty is needed if we are to break free from these vane cycles and begin seeing things that we figured were not there.