More on confession and ritual

I was obviously in a grump when I wrote my last rant about the Buddhists. This week felt better though its hard to say why. One thing I learnt regarding what felt like a moralising tone to ‘confession’ was that at the time of the Buddha the notion of a personal ethical life as part of religious life was only just developing. The religious life upto then consisted of making sacrifices and carrying out observances. This would explain not only the Buddha’s warnings that just wearing the orange robes of a monk wasn’t the way to reach nirvana but good will and good deeds. This seems a rather obvious thing to point out today. Similarly, the New Testament teaching of Jesus emphasised the emptiness of following traditional jewish teachings without a transformation of the heart and the way that people deal with eachother. I think today we have such an exaggerated sense of the importance of our individuality that we can’t help but respond to these ancient religions as if they are calling to us overwhelmingly as individuals to be transformed from within, with our emotional life, and our personal behaviour leading us toward this new life. I think there might be some unfamiliar value in a flavour of the formal in our ritual. In other words, it could have value whether ‘our heart is in it’ or not.