Let me explain my approach to the practice of ritual. For me ritual is an act of presence. It is presenting myself fully in this moment. It is bringing focused attention to what is now. This is assisted by symbols and representations that I imbue with meaning. This is a feeling engagement with what is of real value in this life.
In my home I have an altar.
On this altar I place various things of import to me. These are representations of energies I value greatly. There is a representation of a Buddha. There is a representation of Quan Yin. Quan Yin is a representation of the Goddess of Infinite Mercy. There is also incense and there is a candle. None of these are the real flow of wisdom and compassion. To feel this flow one needs a human body. These symbols are there to serve as an aid to remind me to awake from the sleep of unawareness.
This altar is there to remind me of the experience of alteration.
This is not because “I am” needs altering but that “me” who feels separate from LOVE needs to come home. When I gaze upon this altar these representations of energies remind me to drop judgement. They remind me to drop the discursive mind. They remind me to be in this body and to breathe in and out. They remind me that I am gifted the experience of eternity in the ever flowing present.
My main ritual of the day is writing.
This is sometimes engaged in when propped up in bed. This happens during spring and summer. In the wintertime I go to the small living room to sit before the fire. This sitting is done with full attention. As I engage with this exercise a reverence falls and quietude descends. I am making preparation for entering that other room. This is the room of presence. This is the room of flow.
The practice of ritual offers you many things. When beginning a ritual practice it is common for us to grasp. We enter the practice of ritual with the idea of achievement or we may engage with it with the possibility of atonement for something termed sin.
We are told if we dutifully practice our daily ritual we can have presence, we can have flow, and we can have joy. “Me thinks, ” this is great. “Me” thinks this is something to have. Just think of all the benefits. More friends. More sex. More success and of course more money. This is the focus that “me” brings to the experience of reverence. This is you and “me. ” We all do it. I do it.
Ritual is like learning to ride a bike. We do it by learning how not to do it. Then one time the knack happens.
When we are told not to grasp at presence or flow we often feel confused. Some of us feel guilt. We want this experience and yet we cannot have it because we want it. You have to let go of wanting it for you. When you are looking for it you get over anxious. Just practice the ritual without attachment to results. Just be in love with the action. This will be the way into the other room.
Ours is a results orientated society.
We are all seeking to gain this or gain that. We are all collectors. Mostly we collect other people’s ideas, beliefs and opinions. This is what we call our life. We collect our experience and we collect our memories. This is who we then believe we are.
We then become an accumulation of experience we call “me. ” This “me” writing this page is named “Tony Cuckson. ” I often think that this name and the fifty-three years experience of life is who I am. I am a collector of all the thoughts and feelings I have accumulated. I have those attributes that I like and those I do not. This then becomes the package named Tony Cuckson. Some people like this package and others do not. In between there seem to be myriad possibilities.
We all want results for our efforts. However, you cannot make God a result. You cannot make love a result. You cannot make the eternal a result. Once you make the aim of any of these a result it is gone. Once you have judged it to be yours it has disappeared. The paradox is that it becomes you when “me” and “mine” are no longer there.
Ritual reminds me of what I value.
These representations on this alter are not idols. They are imbued with the value I place upon them consciously. I value compassion. I value love. This is not my compassion but the energy of compassion. When this flows then the world is to right because the world is always to right. Even suggesting it is right does not convey it correctly. It is better to say it is only “what it is. ”
Ritual is a conscious action.
I enter it in silence. Sometimes I may include music. This is music that I consider scared. It is music were the musicians disappear and flow into the sound. This music is not the main focus. When I play music the focus is more on mood enhancement. It is part of the preparation for entry into the grace of being.
Ritual is done in time to remind me of the flow of the timeless.
It is a conscious action done to remind me that we are love flowing eternally. This action reminds me that we need to deeply understand our feeling relationship, as well as our intellectual understanding, of time. If you do not feel eternal, or have never had a feeling experience of eternity, then you will be continually stuck in the construct of time.
When I practice ritual I am reminded of time as Cronas time. For most of our human development we have lived by the rythmn of nature. It has only been since the time of train travel that we have become obsessed with time as seconds, minutes, hours and days. We have thus fallen out of the rhythm of life.
We measure our lives in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years.
We feel we exist in this construct of time. We think we are our bodies which are born in time and which die in time. We are promised that if we are very good, or if we are one of the chosen, we will come to eternal life. This will be, we are told, on the last day of judgement. This is a day that must be with within time. How do I know this? It is because it is called “the last day. ” How long it will take this last day of judgement to arrive no one is really certain. It might arrive tomorrow or in another hundred million years.
What is certain is that you are told by those who profess to know that you better be prepared or else.
This would be funny if it were not so tragic. This is the ultimate projection of those who do not know. It is the clearest indication one can have, if proof were needed, that those who espouse this doctrine do not know. They cannot have ever entered the timeless experience while living in a human body.
They and we have forgotten that we are beings of the timeless.
We are the free flow of energy that expresses itself in form but which flows from the formless. This is the energy of LOVE. This is God. This does not begin or end. It is outside of time and space. The real promise of Jesus is that you will know this now. The promise is not that you will know when you are dead.
Ritual is a form of window.
Our task is to keep the window open. This is a practice that you “do. ” You do it each day. It is an honouring your connection to the Divine. You are making preparation for the gift of grace. This is like a bird that flies. You allow it to fly in through this open window. When it comes you allow it to be just as it is. In any moment you find you and the bird are not separate. You recognise that you are grace.
This is enough. This is flow.
© Tony Cuckson 2004
Tony Cuckson is an Anam Cara. This Celtic term means “Soul Friend. ” He specializes in providing insight for the spiritual journey, Blessings for YOU, words of wisdom and finding inner peace. Visitors to Irish Blessings Matter website and Tony’s Blog get the opportunity to develop a purpose driven life through articles, newsletters and other programs.
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