Victim of Changes

What are people looking for in a religion? It’s probably true that, if you’re seeking a religion or tradition that you don’t naturally practice (not the same as being one that you were born into) you’re looking for something somewhere else — somewhere outside of yourself.

‘Course, Buddha or Jesus or Lao Tzu or David Blaine or whichever human MVP is your choice, does not speak of mystical stuff in an otherworldly sense. It seems all mysterious to hear a sage say where someone will go upon their demise or how their actions will bear fruit, but that’s just because (at the moment) we’re freaking samsaric stooges! With a clear perception, some of these things become straight-forward insights or observations.

The same realization can be said of great talents. So often you’ll talk to people and hear “buzz buzz, ballet is really hard! buzz buzz” or “blah blah, being an athlete takes so much hard work! blah blah”. Big surprise there! As if getting good at anything doesn’t take serious work. The point is, skills are very ordinary talents that come from hard work (and maybe possession by the daughters of Zeus, hahaha!). Coming into peak awareness of the universe arises from the same kind of dedication. We love those stories about people born to inherit the vessel of supreme realization, but they’re still people who come from prior causes.

In these cases of prior causes we often see the reason some people have natural gifts–people for whom hard work in certain realms of creativity or labor is natural or even necessary to their contentment. Such are the cases of great artists. Hard work is certainly difficult for anybody, but an inspired person finds their work flows naturally. I think this is what Hatsumi refers to as “riding the shinobi winds”. This is what we want to develop from religion/ritual and so on: an ability to flow.

Flow is a primordial skill that comes from practicing serious ritual. At Weakness With a Twist the other day, the point was made that:

Ritual is action taken with out consistent meaning. Ritual practice itself is not a defense against dogma; however, the practice of ritual has the capacity to reveal the way or mind seeks to lock on to a particular way of perceiving our world.

Ritual, particularly early on, can be very difficult to do consistently. But as this quote points out, to practice as such is making one aware of the distortion or discord in the environment or rhythm of one’s life, those things which pull one away from ritual. A ritual composed of weak desires or paths of no resistance does nothing to “enhance” or strengthen the spirit. It will merely contrast one’s weakest desires with everything else.

One more interesting thing from the same post is:

For heaven’s sake, ritual is not a discarding of reason. It is a good thing we use reason to manipulate our environments for pleasure and power. But reason is a form of aggression which itself can cloud our vision. Ritual has the capacity to re-pose the question: How important is reason?

This reminds me of how so many modern atheists or materialists or “naturalists” in modern society decry religious values as being some kind of primitive belief set or pure fantasy. However, religion is not identified as a “religion” or fantasy by those who originally practice it. Religious concerns very often come from past methods of reasoning used to determine meaning or ways of doing things productively and constructively to one’s community and self.

The way so many materialists talk about discoveries of science or the benefits people will receive from modern advancements away from religion, it’s like they miss the objective of doing hard work. Modern scientific advancements which make our lives more luxurious are nice, but they actually can work against us by catering to our basest pleasures and urges. Not a good devotion. It’s similar to the base idea that anyone who converts to Christianity, Islam or Buddhism will go to heaven or be reborn in a better place purely because they associate themselves with the religion (as opposed to doing the hard work of ritual and self-improvement). High-fallutin’ poppycock rubbish tomfoolery!

Advertisements

4 Responses to “Victim of Changes”

  1. cirellio Says:

    As usual, a very well-written and thought-provoking post. This one in particular gives me a lot to think on, considering what I’ve been yammering about on my site lately.

  2. parallelsidewalk Says:

    Good post, of course anything named after a Judas Priest song wins points right there. Two especially salient points;

    “However, religion is not identified as a “religion” or fantasy by those who originally practice it.”

    Holy shit yes. I didn’t realize until recently how almost everyone defines their religion as not being a religion. To Christians it’s a “relationship with Christ, not religion”; to Muslims it’s “din”, a word that in Arabic implies more of a way of life than organized religion; to Buddhists and Taoists (in the west, at least) it’s “philosophy”, not religion. Religion is always something unreal out there that everyone else follows.

    and

    “It’s similar to the base idea that anyone who converts to Christianity, Islam or Buddhism will go to heaven or be reborn in a better place purely because they associate themselves with the religion (as opposed to doing the hard work of ritual and self-improvement)”

    Yeah, for sure. I remember that Dogen mentioned that one head priest sold a ball of metal that was going to be part of a Buddha statue to feed a starving family. When the monks confronted him, he told them that yes, he had misappropriated something meant for the dharma and would be punished in hell for it, but it was still necessary to do it so he did and had no regrets. Dogen spoke approvingly of this. It’s a pretty atypical way of viewing it, but it makes sense to me.

  3. Good to hear people found this even remotely interesting.

    We’ll see if we can figure out a way to answer your blog meme, PS. I spent a long time trying to figure out who originally started it yesterday before giving up in exhausted despair. :-)

  4. Word. “Religion” is [i]work[/i].

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: