Monday, April 13, 2009

Ritual, The Husk of True Faith

Tao Te Ching 38
When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the beginning of chaos.
Therefore the Master concerns himself
with the depths and not the surface,
with the fruit and not the flower.
He has no will of his own.
He dwells in reality,
and lets all illusions go.

Ritual is important in religion. It is important in life. Can we become so clever that we reject the rituals? Sure, we know that waters of baptism don’t actually clean someone physically from intangible sin. The person doesn’t really die and then come back to life. The bread and wine of sacrament are not flesh and blood.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, spilled his blood and died for our sins upon a wooden cross. He was a symbol of great sacrifice. Did God really have to do that physically? Isn’t it the same to just think about the symbol? Can’t we just talk about? We can be very logical and concrete. There is no proof that it really matters. It is silly and naive to do such things, childlike. They are not necessary.
Or does that perspective tear away the husk of true faith?

We seek the sweet kernels of corn inside. We seek the fatty meat and milk of the coconut. It’s hidden inside past the husk. Those delightful morsels can’t become fruit without the husk to shield and protect them while they grow. Once the fruit is mature, is the husk of no use? No. It holds and protects what is inside — a container for something delicious.
The master knows that deconstruction beyond ritual is the borderline of chaos. The capstone can not shine and reflect in the rays of the glorious sun without the base stones holding it up.
Ritual is the husk of true faith. This is the reality. Can you let go of your illusions and let it happen?