Rules, Rituals And Tradition In Religious & Spiritual Paths
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I speak on the dangers of dogma so often it may seem that I dishonor the place religious practices can play in spiritual growth. This isn't the case; I see the value in many disciplinary observances and devotional rituals.
In business I've learned that proper implementation of systems and processes is critical for sustaining efficiency and success. The same can be said of various disciplines, rituals, and traditions when it comes to walking the path of devotion to the Supreme.
This came up for me during a recent family talk when my uncle, a Christian, was expressing his concern about people (children and adults alike) being on their cell phones in the sanctuary; even during service. Now, most of us have dealt with people who are sticklers about rules, even if the rule doesn't really matter. But I sensed energetically that his complaint was coming from Heart, not from mental rigidity.
He went on to say that, before cell phones, folks went to church perfectly fine knowing their answering machines would store messages for them. He felt that a rule about not using cellulars in their church was in order. He's not wrong.
Sure, we're accustomed to having our tech gadgets with us at all times but, if you claim to be a devotee of Christ, can't you dedicate your attention to him for at least a couple of hours? "In honor of God, don't use cell phones in the sanctuary," this is a good disciplinary rule.
In 2014, I was blessed to participate in my first Maha Shivaratri holy-day celebration at Shiva Mandir. (It was amazing, by the way!) When it came time to offer flowers to Shiva, I was seen sniffing mine and was politely informed that it was no longer good for offering; to drop it on the ground and get a different one. I followed the instruction in humility. Would you bake a cake for someone and cut a piece out for yourself before giving it to them as a gift? Respect. Plain and simple.
As I offered the next flowers - ones I made sure not to smell - I became more conscious of Shiva's holiness. I was more aware of what we were there for; to honor God, not to enjoy some personal pleasantry. (Though, again, I can't say enough how enjoyable that night turned out to be!) It was not my flower to sniff. It was dedicated to Shiva. I understood and honored that along with the rest of the ceremonial rituals I took part in that night.
Adherence to the rituals according to tradition served to deepen my connection with the One we were there to glorify. I'm so glad they didn't let me slide simply because I was new to that type of ceremony.
Don't get trapped in rituals for rituals sake, but respect the reasons behind why certain rules are in place. Let's appreciate when brothers and sisters on our same path help to correct us. If a path turns out not to be for you, that's fine; but when you choose devotion, be humble enough to honor the One you're devoted to in all your ways as much as you can.