Do you bathe or shower every day? Wash yourself, maybe wash your hair, apply various products to your body and dress in clean clothes? Why do you do this? Is it just good hygiene, or something more? Two and three hundred years ago, Europeans didn’t bathe nearly as often as we do now, and unless they were rich, they probably had only one change of clothes. In some cultures, daily washing is not just about being removing the dust, dirt and smells of life from our bodies, but about something deeper. It’s about purifying the body in a ritualistic way, for a deeper purpose.
As Western culture moves away from highly ritualized religious practices, we find remnants of rituals – unconscious, aborted rituals, if you will – scattered throughout our lives. When we remove conscious ritual from the flow of our days, it continues to pop up in other ways. The way we wash ourselves; the way we prepare (or don’t prepare) food; the way we engage in sport and games, and work. In our entertainment – especially television, movies, the Internet, music concerts, and recreational drug and alcohol use. But because these ritual fragments aren’t connected to something deeper, they often feel empty, and unsatisfying.
Go back and look at these common steps that make up most rituals. Can you identify the habitual activities that you perform, that were probably once an integral part of a spiritual ritual?