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The importance of ritual in religion


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Offering to the Gods: A Neoplatonic Perspective by Edward P. Butler, Independent Scholar.




Ritual is important for religion as experimental physics is important for physics which means ritual deals with the practical knowledge and methodologies through which religious ideas and beliefs are tested to see whether the beliefs and ideas is in accordance with the nature of reality out there, even though rituals exists in all religions it is explicitly practised and is given much importance in pagan religions and ritual was the only means to achieve oneness with God.


The author gives us a perspective of a ritual through the eyes of a Neoplatonist and explains the importance of Gods in achieving the higher good.


The names of Gods:


The author compares the different views on the significance of the names of the Gods. Porphyry is of the opinion that the language and the names of gods of a particular culture is insignificant means the names of gods can be translated to different languages where the syllable of the name of the Gods changes and Porphyry thinks that the ritual will work and will transcend us independent of the language in which the names of Gods are spoken.


Iamblichus replies to Porphyry that the names of gods carry a supra-rational efficacy in the cosmos and that they have high significance in ritual worship, this was the view adopted by Neoplatonists which in my opinion is the correct view because the names of Gods seems to have a direct effect on nature, means it as an efficacy, rituals performed uttering the names of Gods show empirical results where as rituals performed without uttering the names of Gods have no effects on nature.


Is it simply a means of ascent to a universal and transcendent divine that is either undifferentiated or not differentiated in a manner coinciding with the manifest differences between cultures?


Each culture has its own myth and its own pantheon as to how the cosmos got originated and manifested in its various forms. Even though the the theory is the same, the names and the description of the Gods surrounding a culture is different from one another. For example, the Buddhists call the masculine aspect of God as Samanthabhadra and the feminine aspect of it as Samantabhadri, The Vedic Aryans call them as Savithru and Gayatri respectively, the Valentinians called it the Pistis Sophia and the Holy Father, now the question arises are each culture talking of and describing the same Gods or are they talking of different Gods coming from their own respective pantheon and if so which pantheon represents the manifested reality out there?


I think the fact that different cultures have discovered these myths on their own it is not wise to dogmatically assert that only one pantheon represent the manifested reality out there and the other pantheon is false or even to say the different cultures are talking about the same pantheon, instead it should be realized that not only the rituals of our nation work and the Gods of our pantheon are true but also it must be realized that the rituals of different cultures and their pantheon works indeed which philosophically we can term it as the divine Logos the working principle of the cosmos while simultaneously preserving and giving importance to the specific rituals and specific Gods discovered by each culture because only through this path of the Gods we can transcend the manifested reality and achieve the non-dualistic unity.


So even though the manifested reality appears differently for different cultures in truth it is undifferentiated which means the rituals and the pantheon of different cultures indeed works and this was the kind of liberal view adopted by Neoplatonists.


Is engagement with this culturally determinate material perhaps even a hindrance to attaining this transcendent viewpoint?


No, actually it is a ladder for attaining this transcendent viewpoint which means the pantheon of Gods in each of these traditions or cultures are as essential and important for achieving unity, actually it is the only true path for perfection, the Gods are real and they do exist.


The difference between private worship and public or mass worship like in Churches and temples:


One must ‘‘stand aside from all other pursuits’’ in order that ‘‘alone, one may associate with the solitary deity, and not attempt to join oneself to the One by means of multiplicity. For a person like this accomplishes the very opposite, and separates himself from the Gods.’’ - Proclus


Its important to worship privately and silently and the aim should be towards the subordination of ourselves to the Gods for it is the right way to approach the Gods and receive illumination from them and the aim of worship should never be to fulfil the need of Gods for they have no needs and should never be to fulfil one's own external needs for we curse gods when they give the very opposite of what we want and move ourselves away from the Gods without understanding it is impossible to blow wind towards the north and the south at the same time for sailors who pray for wind in the opposite directions respectively.


The importance of performing rituals with high respect and care:


‘‘just as it is impious to ill-treat the statues of the Gods, in the same way it is not righteous to err regarding names.’’

- Proclus


"He[simplicius] spells out what should be determinative for our attitude toward the Gods explicitly in three theses:

the Gods exist, they exercise forethought, and they do so in a way that is just and in accordance with correct reason."


One should not err while uttering the names of Gods in the ritual and shouldn't do carelessly.


The importance of Philosophy and Theology:


"A balance was thus struck such that the primacy of the theological discourse protected it from rationalizing ‘‘demythologization’’ while the universalizing philosophical discourse, equally divine in origin, held its ground against the absorption of philosophy by any particular, dogmatic theology."


It is wrong to study the pagan religions purely from a philosophical perspective for the pagans gave as much importance to rituals and the Gods and they made sure that the intense rationalization or intellectualization didn't suppressed the importance of the Gods and their rituals without which there is no philosophy.


There are a lot of stupid people out there who don't understand that Advaita Vedanta, Buddhism, Gnostic Christianity, Neoplatonism etc takes the existence of Gods very seriously and it is impossible to separate their philosophy from their Gods, they are inseparable because for them the Gods are real and they are everywhere and it is through these Gods they achieved oneness with the Cosmos.




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Ritual is important for religion as experimental physics is important for physics which means ritual deals with the practical knowledge and methodologies through which religious ideas and beliefs are tested to see whether the beliefs and ideas is in accordance with the nature of reality out there,
You need to back up this outrageous assertion immortal, if this was true all religions would be seen as false immediately...
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You need to back up this outrageous assertion immortal, if this was true all religions would be seen as false immediately...

 

 

Nope, a few will remain and neoplatonism will be one of them.

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Nope, a few will remain and neoplatonism will be one of them.

 

 

And why is this? Could it be because a connection with reality is not a prerequisite?

 

It would also be nice if you stopped calling people who disagree with you stupid!

Edited by Moontanman
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There are a lot of stupid people out there who don't understand that Advaita Vedanta, Buddhism, Gnostic Christianity, Neoplatonism etc takes the existence of Gods very seriously and it is impossible to separate their philosophy from their Gods, they are inseparable because for them the Gods are real and they are everywhere and it is through these Gods they achieved oneness with the Cosmos.

!

Moderator Note

immortal, calling people stupid because they don't hold the same opinion you do is a violation of our rules on civility as well as a logical fallacy. Please refrain from doing so in the future.

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And why is this? Could it be because a connection with reality is not a prerequisite?

 

 

You do realize that I am not stating things as my opinion, I am stating things as facts, neoplatonism will remain because it is in accordance with the reality out there and anyone can test it, these are the basic facts of the world.

 

Roger Penrose contends that the foundations of mathematics can't be understood absent the Platonic view that "mathematical truth is absolute, external and eternal, and not based on man-made criteria ... mathematical objects have a timeless existence of their own..."

Intellect exists in a Platonic realm and even science confirms it and one cannot separate the Gods from neoplatonism so all evidence is showing that Gods are real and they are everywhere.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFbrnFzUc0U

 

Add to that the rituals of pagan religions indeed works and show efficacy and empirical results when they are tested in nature showing that the universe is far strange than it seems.

 

It would also be nice if you stopped calling people who disagree with you stupid!

 

I am not here to be nice with anyone, I am here to expose the kind of double standards that people show and the stupid mistakes that people do when evidence is shown against their preconceived notions and beliefs, the scholarly evidence doesn't allow them to disagree with my claims and its time to shut them up, if they persist continuing to ignore the evidence then that's what they should be called.

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I am not here to be nice with anyone, I am here to expose the kind of double standards that people show and the stupid mistakes that people do when evidence is shown against their preconceived notions and beliefs, the scholarly evidence doesn't allow them to disagree with my claims and its time to shut them up, if they persist continuing to ignore the evidence then that's what they should be called.

And yet you did it right there in the OP before a single person had even had a chance to offer response. Fancy that.

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And yet you did it right there in the OP before a single person had even had a chance to offer response. Fancy that.

 

I have already given them a fair chance to respond to my posts in numerous threads and have politely explained to them that they have been misinformed. Our ancients didn't give the names of Gods to the outside natural forces or to the external things or they didn't made up Gods to convey their message. Tell your fellow men not to make strawman arguments like such and waste our time. For our ancients Gods are individuals, they are beings existing in the intelligible realm and they appear to humans in anthropomorphic form to the Nous(Mind) which we call as Visions and it is through ritual one attains the oneness with the cosmos in all its manifested forms.

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I have already given them a fair chance to respond to my posts in numerous threads and have politely explained to them that they have been misinformed. Our ancients didn't give the names of Gods to the outside natural forces or to the external things or they didn't made up Gods to convey their message. Tell your fellow men not to make strawman arguments like such and waste our time. For our ancients Gods are individuals, they are beings existing in the intelligible realm and they appear to humans in anthropomorphic form to the Nous(Mind) which we call as Visions and it is through ritual one attains the oneness with the cosmos in all its manifested forms.

 

 

How about you provide some actual evidence for gods other than your own beliefs and faith.

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I have already given them a fair chance to respond to my posts in numerous threads and have politely explained to them that they have been misinformed.

Then why bother opening a new thread? Nothing in your reply negates my point that you've called others ignorant before they even had a chance to put forth their views in this discussion. That's hardly a reasonable and mature approach to intelligent and respectful dialog, and it's a problem you seem to have in nearly every thread where you participate.
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You do realize that I am not stating things as my opinion, I am stating things as facts, neoplatonism will remain because it is in accordance with the reality out there and anyone can test it, these are the basic facts of the world.

 

Roger Penrose contends that the foundations of mathematics can't be understood absent the Platonic view that "mathematical truth is absolute, external and eternal, and not based on man-made criteria ... mathematical objects have a timeless existence of their own..."

Intellect exists in a Platonic realm and even science confirms it and one cannot separate the Gods from neoplatonism so all evidence is showing that Gods are real and they are everywhere.

 

 

Add to that the rituals of pagan religions indeed works and show efficacy and empirical results when they are tested in nature showing that the universe is far strange than it seems.

 

 

I am not here to be nice with anyone, I am here to expose the kind of double standards that people show and the stupid mistakes that people do when evidence is shown against their preconceived notions and beliefs, the scholarly evidence doesn't allow them to disagree with my claims and its time to shut them up, if they persist continuing to ignore the evidence then that's what they should be called.

 

 

I am quite sure no one would ignore any evidence based in reality.. so far you have provided none...

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!

Moderator Note

 

immortal

 

phi warned you here in this very thread about describing other members as stupid (you have also been warned about personal slurs in other threads) and you immediately defended and reasserted your supposed right to do so. If it is your intention to continue referring to other members as dishonest or stupid then be advised that the moderators may feel the need to take further action; let us please avoid that situation.

 

this thread was advertised as the importance of ritual in religion - could we all return to the OP topic please?

 

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How about you provide some actual evidence for gods other than your own beliefs and faith.

 

 

Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice.

http://www.pnas.org/content/101/46/16369.full

 

The traditions of Tibetan Buddhists, Smarta tradition of Vedic Aryans, Neoplatonism and Valentinian tradition are real and they are empirical, they can not only self induce high amplitude gamma synchrony they can also self induce de-synchrony and cause motor impairment to the body and this is a fact and we all know what these Tibetan Buddhists who belong to Nyingmapa and Kagyupa traditions, the meditators chosen for this study believe in, yes they believe in the 100 peaceful and wrathful deities and these deities are inherent in their mental practices and you cannot separate them.

 

http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Hundred_peaceful_and_wrathful_deities

 

Gods are real and they are everywhere.

 

Then why bother opening a new thread? Nothing in your reply negates my point that you've called others ignorant before they even had a chance to put forth their views in this discussion. That's hardly a reasonable and mature approach to intelligent and respectful dialog, and it's a problem you seem to have in nearly every thread where you participate.

 

Why bother? It is the kind of double standard positions that people hold on to is what bothers me, if you believe in Platonism you need to accept his Gods which is what people like Roger Penrose don't do, that's double standards, if you believe in non-dualism you need to accept the existence of Gods which is exactly what majority of them don't do, either stay away from these things or accept things as they are, any compromise position is untenable. I state things as they are, that's why its annoying for everyone.

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Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice.

http://www.pnas.org/content/101/46/16369.full

 

So they have different EEG patterns - big deal! London Cabbies have gross changes in the anatomy of the brain - doesn't mean that the black cab is god (although many of them behave like they are). those skilled with an MRI can spot a piano-tuner and much as I love the ivories they are not supernatural. If you could whack an FMRI around my head whilst I juggle Rubensteins revenge I am pretty sure you will spot some hoopy wave forms - but none of this shows any hint of the supernatural; merely that our brain and its functioning is plastic and adaptable.

 

The traditions of Tibetan Buddhists, Smarta tradition of Vedic Aryans, Neoplatonism and Valentinian tradition are real and they are empirical, they can not only self induce high amplitude gamma synchrony they can also self induce de-synchrony and cause motor impairment to the body and this is a fact and we all know what these Tibetan Buddhists who belong to Nyingmapa and Kagyupa traditions, the meditators chosen for this study believe in, yes they believe in the 100 peaceful and wrathful deities and these deities are inherent in their mental practices and you cannot separate them.

 

http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Hundred_peaceful_and_wrathful_deities

 

Gods are real and they are everywhere.

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It is the kind of double standard positions that people hold on to is what bothers me

 

I certainly feel your pain. Have you considered weeding out your own double standards as a good place to start?

 

 

I state things as they are, that's why its annoying for everyone.

 

No, trust me. That is definitely NOT what we find annoying with your posts on this topic and others.

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I state things as they are, that's why its annoying for everyone.

 

 

No, actually you state things as you want them to be and then get annoyed when everyone doesn't agree.... more than a bit of difference...

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I certainly feel your pain. Have you considered weeding out your own double standards as a good place to start?

 

The message of all these religions Buddhism, Taoism, Advaita Vedanta(Hinduism), Neoplatonism, Gnostic Christianity etc are one and the same and i.e. Gods are real and these Gods are everywhere in all aspects of human existence and in all aspect of human life, the doctrine of non-dualism doesn't make any sense whatsoever absent the view of the Gods, this is the central tenet of all these religions and if anyone else who misinterprets these religions rejecting the existence of Gods in these religions and only takes those things from these religions which suits them then they are seriously showing double standards and its a waste of time arguing with them. Go and ask that question to those people who show double standards not to me.

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As long as the rituals have some benefits ( based on science ) then it is fine. For eg, agnihotra, if performed outside, is know to cause rains and precipitation ( to my knowledge at least ). But, at the same time Vedic practices are filled with cumbersome and useless rituals also, done without any scientific bases. Those ritals should be thrown away and not performed. Also, in the modern world, it is not feasible to perform some of these rituals.

 

Doing rituals just because religion dictates it is really like asking for trouble from the Scientific Community !

 

And by the way, Immortal, please check the dictionary for the difference between opinion and facts.

Edited by CarbonCopy
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Rituals can be important in any aspect of life, not just religion. We all celebrate our birthdays/news years etc... Rituals just to mark the passing of time, and hopefully the accrual of wisdom.

 

In religion, take the ritual of bowing. We might bow to remember certain ideas which we put above our sense of self. If i bow to a Buddha statue its because the statue represents the concept of compassion By bowing to it i remind myself i have chosen compassion to be important to me. The problem comes with empty rituals - performing something either in the hope of getting something in return or for no reason other than you were told to do so both speak about what you have chosen to be important in life.

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As long as the rituals have some benefits ( based on science ) then it is fine. For eg, agnihotra, if performed outside, is know to cause rains and precipitation

 

Citation needed. If there is evidence in support of a ritual or rain dance that actually works, I think there are a great many people residing in drought ridden lands that would appreciate knowing what that is.

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Citation needed. If there is evidence in support of a ritual or rain dance that actually works, I think there are a great many people residing in drought ridden lands that would appreciate knowing what that is.

 

I read that in a newspaper and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to find it it now. But, I did find this link that describes the poin : http://www.agnihotra.com.au/effects-agnihotra-and-homa-therapy-water-resources

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I'm going to remain firm in my position that a ritual or dance cannot make it rain until something more than an editorial page or woo woo website is cited.

 

That's a common belief in this part of the world.

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/67973-how-silly-is-this/

 

Most people don't realize the implications of this, as Richard Dawkins says Jesus walking on water and born of a virgin mother are all empirical assertions which can be transformed into a scientific hypothesis and such a world in which these things are possible or a God exists will be of a completely different world. There aren't too many options available to us either rate yourself as 7 in the Dawkins scale and be a strong atheist or rate yourself as 1 and be a strong theist and any other compromising position is sheer double standards, no wonder why these two extreme positions annoys a lot of people.

 

 

 

I read that in a newspaper and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to find it it now. But, I did find this link that describes the poin : http://www.agnihotra.com.au/effects-agnihotra-and-homa-therapy-water-resources

 

 

 

That's exactly the kind of double standards that I am talking of, if agnihotra works in bringing rain to regions affected by drought then start taking the existence of these gods seriously because without Agni there cannot be Agnihotra.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agni

 

Agni_and_consort.jpg

 

Agni with his consort Svaha.

Edited by immortal
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That's exactly the kind of double standards that I am talking of, if agnihotra works in bringing rain to regions affected by draught then start taking the existence of these gods seriously because without Agni there cannot be Agnihotra.

 

 

But as it doesn't work (and there is no reason to think it does) then it is not evidence of Agni.

In fact, it's weak evidence against.

 

So, do you have any real evidence that it exists?

And I remind you that the mods have already warned you about not providing a rational debate or evidence and stating opinion as fact.

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That's exactly the kind of double standards that I am talking of, if agnihotra works in bringing rain to regions affected by drought then start taking the existence of these gods seriously because without Agni there cannot be Agnihotra.

Immortal, seriously ? I can't believe you said that. That sentence makes no sense at all. Just because it is postulated that agnihotra helps bring rains, you say that we have to believe in Agni God ? You have no concept of science whatsoever.

Anyway, agnihotra is supposed to bring rains not to drought effected area, but, to places that experience delayed rains. That's all. It's a bit like geoengineering. The butter added to the fire among other things is supposed to change the chemistry of the local atmosphere ( for awhile at least ). This is what I have read in that newspaper, some time back. I'm not able to find evidence on the internet for this. If you guys find something please post it here, because I'm starting to think this is just theory and not fact. Newspapers do sometimes tend to post not so accurate stuff. If no evidence is found on this it is as good as false.

Edited by CarbonCopy
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