Rituals are not for the strong
- January 1, 2017
- Posted by: Reena Saxena
- Category: Behavior Management
What if there were no rituals to be followed, and you had absolute freedom to decide what to do, with your day or life? Brush your teeth at 5.30 pm, file annual tax returns in any convenient month, and celebrate New Year in July. The actions would still have the same impact, though reducing your social acceptability.
So, that is what rituals are all about. Keeping the world moving in a co-ordinated manner, as we are all part of a social, political, economic and religious structure. Modernization is a continuous process, whatever the word means to you. It is a constant replacement of the old with the new. The past is not abolished with a stroke, it gradually fades.
The same applies to the rituals that one follows. Worship may have been replaced by the gym, television-watching has given way to internet and app-surfing, and the umpteen religious festivals are replaced by the umpteen “…. Days” that are celebrated.
The communication media and content creators do enjoy a commercial advantage, hence, they keep propagating new ideas that have an emotional appeal. Sure, it reminds us to think of the individuals and concepts that influence your life, but are relegated to the mental backwaters (your parents, doctors, the environment, whatever … ). The content circulated gives a fillip to thought, and enforces extension of courtesy to the chosen theme.
Rituals become an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder at one extreme, and create a total freak on another.
Should it be allowed to suppress individuality?
Why should it ? As long as you can be the best version of yourself, and contribute to the larger interest of society, creating a sub-set of your own rituals is fine. What matters is the total output and its quality.
Organizations are paying homage to this principle by relaxing dress codes and offering flexi-time schedules. Organization structures have been flattened to give people more functioning space.
What we need to develop is the capacity to think, assess, analyse and conclude independently, accept and follow only what we are convinced about, and refuse to get swayed by the need to belong.
WHY NEW YEAR ? When Today is just another day …
Because we need a renewal of faith, hopes, ambitions and modified action plans to suit current reality. It keeps us from becoming obsolete. And a framework of time has been superimposed on it, to maintain regularity. It can be any day in the year or month you choose, when you go through this process.
It is just meant to remind that life flows on, and New is always on the horizon. It takes away an year from your life span, adds to accumulated life experience, and lends a renewed vigor to execute your plans in the limited time that we have.
“This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn’t have the specific ritual you are craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
DO WE NEED A FRAMEWORK ?
Yes. Since Time is the original oxymoron, being both transient and ever-moving. Our life-span is the framework imposed on it, to give a concentrated focus to individual efforts. The soul may be immortal and infinite, but this life is not. We are unable to use 100% of our brain power within this limited span, hence, we need to choose an area of specialization.
The framework should enrich, not restrict. Life should become more meaningful, not a mindless series of events. Existence should be dynamic, a constant learning process, not just an execution of a given set of rules.
And beware of the forces that make you believe that the influence exerted on your thoughts, is your Choice. The Art of Persuasion has been mastered by the forces that wish to rule the world. Coercion has just acquired a refined subtlety.
Stay strong, Be Yourself !