Updated: Oct 10, 2019
What all spiritual traditions have in common, besides a love for the Divine Reality and a teaching to love everyone and do no harm, is the practice of ritual. Ritual is the practice of a certain ceremonial action that is done the same or similarly every time for the purpose of connection with and devotion to the Divine. It is a way to channel devotion and spiritual intention into a prescribed action that, by its being prescribed by a spiritual authority or community or even by your own design, has greater significance than normal actions and therefore is sacred and cultivates spiritual communion. It is much like prayer in action, and can often include prayer in the form of phrases, poetry, or singing. Rituals can also include specific ways to walk or dance, or ways to approach or use sacred objects or altars, and can be in groups or alone, all for the purpose of channeling spiritual intention and communion.
Ritual is a very powerful tool for spiritual growth and transformation. One sure way to tell whether you are performing a ritual is if there is a strong channel of devotion and a deepening of one's consciousness. Ritual can even induce trance like states. Beyond all the experiences is the underlying sense of communion with the Transcendent.
Ritual can be a way to let go of our day to day selves, and perform action that is inspired and devoted to the Transcendent. When we perform the rituals, we are no longer our worldly selves, for we have donned the spirit of devotion, and have invited the transcendent to work in us.
Time is different for a ritual. Since it is repeated, either on a specific day of the year, or once a month, or once a week, or every day, These rituals offer a way out of time, since they are the same every time they cut out all that is always changing, which is our usual day to day ups and downs. This unchanging quality echoes the “unchanging” ineffable nature of the Transcendent, which is always completely itself now and now and now, without diminishment even for an instant. Even though this “unchanging-ness” is apparent, it is also itself in absolute freedom, meaning it is unlimited and therefore without any specific essence or nature we can think of. It is transcendent.
If you do not currently participate in ritual of any spiritual tradition, it is easy to make up your own. Simply have the Divine in mind while you perform actions that celebrate it. It can be dance, or music, or art, or saying poetry or prayers, or doing prostration to an altar you can make on your own. It can be traveling to a spot in nature you find to be sacred and just being there, maybe meditating there or praying there. The possibilities are endless. Try to make the rituals something you repeat regularly. That way you can have the experience of it being a timeless window of communion, and a constant reminder of the sacred. May you come to know the power of ritual that you may learn to use it for the purpose of devotion and communion with the Divine.