This week in our Buddhism and meditation society, KJ led a Buddhist ritual where we dedicated our group to following the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha; dedicated it to following the five precepts and skilful action as a unit.
In general, I’d love to see a Buddhist ritual or Puja with the tools to which I’m used to using. As a Pagan, I use candles, visualisation, movement and incantation/chanting to set the tone and create sacred space.
For me, that almost defines ritual. The tools may be as mute as sitting under a tree with a candle or bottle of water. But ritual without symbols; without consecration or dedication of the space- it doesn’t raise my energy along with the intention and to be honest, felt a little empty as a gesture.
We repeated the words of the dedication; then could light a candle each if we wished to.
Intent to Action
I chose to light a candle to seal the intention; to transfer the energy from my mind/intention to the outer world. Through actions we live our words: without action, I feel the words may fall empty.
However, it sounds as though in the Buddhist Centre; there are candles, statues, chants and visualisations of the three protective circles [lotus, diamond lightning bolts, vajra wall] not dissimilar to the elements and spirit of Paganism. With many involved, perhaps following a meditation to get everyone in right mind; then perhaps some chanting to consecrate the space – the ritual could have such power and meaning. To our society; a room of people who maybe shy from ritual as they know it; the dedication was a simple glimpse of the words; of one possible action.
I’m used to Druid and Wiccan rites; to the energy I raise alone in my circles. From the moment I form a circle in my mind; before it is even cast or blessed; I feel the sacred quiet descend.
To me, yesterday felt a little like an empty gesture; full of potential just not tapped into. However, when I spoke the words back, I did feel the underlying possibility for power within them, and repeated them only if they felt true to me; before lighting my candle with intent.
I’ve been practising ritual for 7 years this June; my expectations of words; or tool use and even the familiarity I have with how raised energy feels are likely to have skewed my particular feelings about this display.
We were there to learn and he taught. His role for that hour is to guide us through Buddhism as a daily path; so he shared a little glimpse of that. Perhaps it was a necessary tone for the others in the group.
Perhaps I’m using the wrong words here. Do I misunderstand ritual as a cloaking term for all religious and spiritual rites?
Can words read out of a book and repeated back to someone really be ritual? Does energy not need to be raised; space not need to be dedicated to the purpose?
What do you deem important in ritual?