“In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away” – Shing Xiong

Monday, October 26, 2015


I was reading an article about the benefits of ritual in daily life and started to discuss it with Sensei. She said for her, being raised as she was - a preacher’s kid, every day and every moment is spiritual and she recalls the many discussions she had with her father and many other spiritual leaders about the division between the mundane and the spiritual. For her there is no need for ritual, everyday acts are rituals. Putting on her socks and shoes is a ritual.

That level of mindfulness is likely why I am with her. I want that level of attentiveness to daily life. That is very exciting and uplifting to me. I don’t get there but a few minutes every day. That feels like all I can handle - all I have the energy for. But how invigorating and powerful that is. Those few moments are the time I live for, what I spend the rest of the day gathering energy for. Gathering energy thru the persistent repetition of the practice, by coming back to the breath, to mindfulness, by substitution of a kind thought for a mean one, by dropping the train of thinking, by recalling the wisdom of the Dhamma.

If another tool is a ritual I can use that too. Sensei avoids traditional ritual because it is abused and even detrimental at times, but I like structure like that. Getting up and walking the dog in the morning is a ritual for me. I am a committed member of the Church of Dog. Doing a qigong routine before a test or giving an acupuncture treatment could be considered a ritual. But I never think of those as rituals because both are terrific exercises not empty wishes. I guess I have to rethink ritual and see traditional rituals as more than rote prescriptions. They could have a deeper impact.

OTOH, as Sensei says they didn't work for her family at all. Sitting down to family dinners? Did that, but didn't get the benefits they were supposed to bring. Prayer before and reading a passage after was a very ritualized part of her childhood but certainly didn't have the effects described in the article. This is why I love Sensei so much. Her critical thinking skills - she sees right into the matter at hand. So ritual is fine - but don't make a big deal of it. As soon as it becomes necessary it is toxic.