About

Rituals bridge the gap between the mundane artificial human world we live in and the more meaningful natural and sacred worlds that we are equally a part of. It is in this way that our everyday lives may take on a higher level of meaning and purpose. In other words, these rituals transport us from the “as is” world to the “as if” world by using the human imagination, thus giving a deeper meaning to our lives.

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Quotations

C.S. Lewis
Christian theologian and writer
Christianity

“They mean that Christ is actually operating through them; that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts —that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body. And perhaps that explains one or two things. It explains why this new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief, but by bodily acts like baptism and Holy Communion. It is not merely the spreading of an idea; it is more like evolution— a biological or super-biological fact.”

The Qur'an
Islamic scripture
Islam

“We have appointed acts of devotion for every community to observe, so do not let them argue with you [Prophet] about this matter."

Jeffrey J. Kripal
Historian of religions
Islam

“Islam displays a special brilliance in the employment of ritual and myth. Getting a billion people to bow down five times a day facing a small city in Saudi Arabia is an extraordinary ritual accomplishment, which unites peoples across radically different cultures and backgrounds. Not surprisingly, the ritual is are-enactment of a powerful and defining myth: that of the miraj (“heavenly ascent”) of the Prophet Muhammad."

Saba Mahmood
Anthropologist
Islam

“The issue is not whether people perform rituals and acts of worship [ibadat] either to get recompense or reward [sawab], or out of fear of God, or the desire to show off in front of other people. The issue instead is how rituals [tuqus] and worship [ibadat] prepare for the creation of a type of person who thinks freely, is capable [mu’ahhal] of enlightened criticism on important daily issues, of distinguishing between form and essence, between means and ends, between secondary and basic issues.”

Jeffrey J. Kripal
Historian of religions
Judaism

“At the center of the Passover rituals is the seder meal, during which Jewish families and communities remember, through a series of scripted questions, answers, prayers, and pious acts, their ancient ancestors’ dramatic escape from Egypt[…]As numerous “gentiles” were converted to the new religious movement, this process was accelerated and eventually the Jewish Passover meal was transformed into the Christian Eucharist, which retold and re-enacted not the exodus from Egypt per se, but the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, now considered to be the Christ or Messiah.”

Confucius
Founder of Confucianism
Confucianism

“Lin Fang asked about the basis of the rites. The Master said, ‘A noble question indeed! With the rites, it is better to err on the side of frugality than on the side of extravagance; in mourning, it is better to err on the side of grief than on the side of formality.’"

Herbert Fingarette
American philosopher
Confucianism

“[In Confucianism] man is not holy by virtue of his absolute possession, within himself and independently of other men, of a ‘piece’ of the divine and immortal soul. Nor is flowering of the individual the central theme; instead it is the flowering of humanity in the ceremonial acts of men."

Erik H. Erikson
American-German developmental psychologist
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“Religion restores, at regular intervals and through rituals significantly connected with the important crises of the life cycle and the turning points of the yearly cycle, a new sense of wholeness, of things rebound."

Robert C. Fuller
Scholar of psychology and religion
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“Ritual sights, smells, and actions arrest our attention and lure us into seeking deeper connection with that causal presence or power that somehow lies ‘beyond’ the physical universe. Religion, through the ritualization of wonder, sustains cultural paradigms that establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations. Moreover, wonder continually revitalizes such paradigms by connecting them with belief in a general order of existence, a cosmic frame of reference. It is thus not just our appetite for wonder but also our ability to ritualize wonder that fuels humanity’s adaptive capacities."

Pascal Boyer
Cognitive anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“One might want to say that there are two kinds of rituals, religious and nonreligious. Ordaining a priest would be religious because God is assumed to be around, while a wedding at the registrar's office would be nonreligious. Armed with such a distinction, we could then try to discern the differences between the two types. This, as anthropologists know from bitter experience, leads to difficult problems. First, there are many intermediate cases where supernatural agents are mentioned but peripheral. Second, there are no very clear general differences between the two types of rituals (except, of course, the alleged presence of supernatural agents in one type). Many civil weddings follow a script that makes them very similar to the religious version."

Jeffrey J. Kripal
Historian of religions
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“It should be immediately added that there are at least two senses of ritual: a weak and a strong sense. The weak sense of ritual encompasses virtually all of human social behavior, taken as a coded and scripted set of actions that serve particular social and psychological functions. Here something like a baseball game is clearly a ritual: a set of coded behaviors of colorfully and bizarrely costumed men, with city totems no less, following very precise and very repetitive rules, in a marked-off space and time[…]The strong sense of ritual requires something else: an invocation of superhuman powers and a fundamental orientation toward an order of reality and an eventual state of salvation that transcends the social world and its material and pragmatic needs."

The Buddha
Buddhism

“There are, O monks, gross impurities in gold, such as earth and sand, gravel and grit. Now the goldsmith or his apprentice first pours the gold into a trough and washes, rinses, and cleans it thoroughly. When he has done this, there still remain moderate impurities in the gold, such as fine grit and coarse sand. Then the goldsmith or his apprentice washes, rinses, and cleans it again. When he has done this, there still remain minute impurities in the gold, such as fine sand and black dust. Now the goldsmith or his apprentice repeats the washing, and thereafter only the gold dust remains. He now pours the gold into a melting pot, smelts it, and melts it together. But he does not yet take it out from the vessel, as the dross has not yet been entirely removed and the gold is not yet quite pliant, workable, and bright; it is still brittle and does not yet lend itself easily to molding. But a time comes when the goldsmith or his apprentice repeats the melting thoroughly, so that the flaws are entirely removed. The gold is now quite pliant, workable, and bright, and it lends itself easily to molding.”

Taoteching
Daoist Text
Daoism

“Higher ritual involves effort
And should it meet with no response
Then it threatens and compels"

Chuang Tzu
Daoist sage
Daoism

"Rituals are just the frills on the hem of the Tao, and are signs of impending disorder.”

Sri Ramakrishna
Hindu saint
Hinduism

"When the fruit appears the blossom drops off. Love of God is the fruit, and rituals are the blossom."

Shoghi Effendi
Baha'i leader
Baha'i

"We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions."

Thich Nhat Hanh
Buddhist monk and author
Buddhism

"From time to time, to remind ourselves to relax, to be peaceful, we may wish to set aside some time for a retreat, a day of mindfulness, when we can walk slowly, smile, drink tea with a friend, enjoy being together as if we are the happiest people on Earth. This is not a retreat, it is a treat."

The Analects
Confucian Text
Confucianism

“To return to the observance of the rites through overcoming the self constitutes benevolence. If for a single day a man could return to the observance of the rites through overcoming himself, then the whole Empire would consider benevolence to be his. However, the practice of benevolence depends on oneself alone, and not on others.”

The Analects
Confucian Text
Confucianism

“Unless a man has the spirit of the rites, in being respectful he will wear himself out, in being careful he will become timid, in having courage he will become unruly, and in being forthright he will become intolerant.”