Ritual and Superstition

imagesIn some religions, ritual is believed to be efficacious ‘from its own side’ ―that is, the words and actions that constitute the ritual are considered effective, independently of other causes and conditions, and even in situations in which causes and conditions are unfavorable.

In some, the careful pronunciation of mantras and the elaborate observance of certain practices (ritual exactitude) are believed to produce results. In others, rituals are operative if the forms are respected, independently of the purity of the performer. In still others, ‘accepting the Lord in the heart’ through the utterance of a formula is considered sufficient for salvation. Spells and incantations are often considered efficacious (à la Harry Potter) if the correct substances are employed and the directions are followed without deviation. And in yet others, if you can visualize it, declare it, and affirm it, it will happen…

Buddhist rituals have very little in common with these views. Mantras have no intrinsic power, nor are there inherently sacred objects or procedures. In Buddhism, ritual is merely a vehicle for intention. It is the mind of the practitioner that is transformed by ritual, and not the external world.

One thing is to use ritual properly as a skillful means to deepen and sustain intention, and quite another to believe in its independent efficacy, which is mere superstition and magical thinking.

About Tashi Nyima

I am a Dharma student, and aspire to be a companion on the path. I trust that these texts can offer a general approach and basic tools for practicing the Buddha's way to enlightenment. ||| Soy un estudiante del Dharma, y aspiro a ser un compañero en el sendero. Espero que estos textos ofrezcan a algunos un mapa general y herramientas básicas para la práctica del sendero a la iluminación que nos ofrece el Buda.
This entry was posted in Dharma View. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Ritual and Superstition

  1. Jan says:

    Could you please tell me how the sangha is suppose to act towards there Buddhist teacher. I have heard you are not to touch them. Brief description please..

    • Tashi Nyima says:

      There are no hard and fast rules. The basic instruction –as with any person– is to respect their preferences. Of course, one should take into account their civil status. Not all Dharma teachers are monastics, but those who are have certain rules that they must observe, like limiting contact and avoiding excessive interactions. I would suggest observing and rplicating the conduct of ‘older’ members of the Sangha.

  2. Dharma fool says:

    Reblogged by Dharma Fool…

  3. Yonten says:

    Thank you Tashi la!
    Humbly – Yonten

  4. paulfarma says:

    Thank you. PKL

    Great Middle Way 於 2015年03月28日 (週六) 9:49 PM 寫道﹕

    #yiv7474790410 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv7474790410 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv7474790410 a.yiv7474790410primaryactionlink:link, #yiv7474790410 a.yiv7474790410primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv7474790410 a.yiv7474790410primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv7474790410 a.yiv7474790410primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv7474790410 WordPress.com | Tashi Nyima posted: “In some religions, ritual is believed to be efficacious ‘from its own side’ ―that is, the words and actions that constitute the ritual are considered effective, independently of other causes and conditions, and even in situations in which causes and condi” | |

  5. Steve Legge says:

    Thank you Tashi. Well said…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s