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Why Search for Myths and Rituals?

I used to search far and wide for myths and rituals because I thought my modern lifestyle had stripped the mystery from life and made it cold and calculable.

What a gigantic idiot I was to think that!

Now it’s obvious to me that there are myths everywhere I look.  Love, friendship, America, entertainment, the morning and the night, transportation, being bored and being interested, being lonely or being together, the Arm, the Leg, the eye, the hand, the brain, the heart, the New, the Old, the Family… They are all stories that make no sense but capture the imagination, black holes with event horizons that zap crackle and zotz us with energy.

I have to say if myth is to prose as ritual is to action, then there are even more rituals.  Talking is a ritual.  A birthday party is a ritual.  A late night walk with a friend is a ritual.  A kiss is a ritual.

What do they mean?  Why do we do them?  They bind us together, they enact our relationship with the unknown, they embody our contradictions, they make and unmake the Great Work of Time.

And if that were not mysterious enough who is to say that my kiss means the same as her kiss?   Or that my kiss today means what my kiss did when I was a child, or yesterday, or a moment ago?

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9 thoughts on “Why Search for Myths and Rituals?

  1. Second thought: You weren’t an idiot. Culture in the 80s and during much of the Cold War was lacking in spirituality. Like you, I also went on a spiritual journey. It is a part of who I am and your journey is a part of who you are…today. To throw away the ladder is not the right approach. I’d suggest taking it all with you. And perhaps it is worth considering the wisdom that you have learned from Buddhism, Judaism, etc. The “rituals” and myths of Kabbalah, Zen, etc are not empty. And although you are write about the holiness of everydayness, one doesn’t exclude another. The question is how the world becomes wonderful. For many in the daily grind, its hard to see anything spiritual about everydayness.

    • Thank you for your comment! I do not believe that the myths and rituals of Kabbalah and Zen are empty. I just think I was idiotic for missing the rituals and myths that were under my nose!

  2. “Myth is to prose as ritual is to action.” This is an exquisite statement. So rich in possibilities! What you say here brings to mind Jean-Luc Nancy’s profound analysis of myth in The Inoperative Community.

    I really enjoy your reflections. They stem from a wonderful “still small voice” within where pain and peace tenderly hold hands.

  3. I love this line (last comment, from me). Great prose and an interesting transposition of embodied life into narrative (stories): They are all stories that make no sense but capture the imagination, black holes with event horizons that zap crackle and zotz us with energy.”

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