Dale S. Wright

‘Although sometimes an “irreverent” critique exposes hollow ritual or presumptuous ceremony, it is as true today as in earlier cultures that ritual and ceremony function socially to cultivate the feelings necessary for reverence, even when we do not use those particular words. If reverence is a range of emotions that includes awe and respect for all that transcends the human, then those emotions need to be developed in cultural occasions meant to evoke them. Emotions, like anything else, “arise dependent” upon conditions suited to them, and when those conditions are not mindfully maintained, we cannot expect these feelings to arise. Feelings of reverence are certainly not limited to ritual occasions. Ideally, they emerge on their own whenever an occasion for them arises looking out over the ocean or a mountain landscape, staring out into the stars at night, contemplating the magnitude of the universe in an observatory, or observing the play of a child. But their origins are nevertheless socially conditioned through ritual and ceremonial occasions, and no culture car afford to forget that.’ (The Six Perfections)

Much of my thinking at the moment, as I prepare for dharma talks in April and July, is germane to this idea.

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