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By Irma Gomés

Humans are creatures of habit. We check our alarm clock the night before, iron our clothes on Wednesdays, do grocery shopping on Sundays and brush our teeth before going to bed. When we do things at regular intervals, they become second nature to us, and we commonly name them rituals.


We use the word Ritual to describe a set of actions aimed mostly at attaining a spiritual goal or ideal, and which have been prescribed upon the performer by an external source. Weddings, jury trials, birth celebrations and some practices in sports are also part of our rituals.

Buddhism has been established in the west for a number of years now. For those of us who adopt this new spiritual tradition, rituals help us break our old habits and develop new ones aimed at specific spiritual goals. To a westerner, all Buddhist iconography and ritual at the beginning may be a little alin, especially at the beginning. It takes a little time and the study under a Holy Teacher to understand for example that all those Buddhas are representations of our enlightened selves, and they are depicted with symbols of qualities we need to develop, and that meditations have been designed for setting us up for success!

The good news on the case of the Buddhist tradition is that these rituals have been tested and passed on by centuries of unbroken lineage teachings:  hundreds of people before us have experimented and perfected them, so that we have a sweet feeling of confidence that they work! Furthermore, when get their transmission from a Teacher who has realized completely their meaning, we receive the blessing of confidence and we are empowered to obtain the same results by means of hard work. All we need to do is to follow repeatedly all instructions to see for ourselves.

> Page 2: Use and treatment of paintings and statues

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