Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ritual Wisdom: on matches, mileage, and love

There is a kind of wisdom that comes from rites, being in them, repeating them mindlessly sometimes. Rites like lighting matches to start fires, or checking mileage to see when we should have an oil change, or pouring someone a glass of wine--that kind of wisdom. We tend to forget it, being scientists, or thinking as we think they ought to think--scientifically. But non-scientifically,  ritually rather, this kind of wisdom comes from thinking about things as being wise, knowledgeable yes,  but even better right. It may take six strikes of the match to finally make a fire and one that keeps itself burning. It may take six burned out engines before you know you need to change the oil. One always pours wine for and hands it to someone one loves. This kind of wisdom is cumulative. In rites we don't even acknowledge as such so integrated are they with us and our lives, like cells with each other, and with what we call our "will," the wellspring of our actions form thoughts and fantasies.  Perhaps we were selected for this, seeing rituals conceptually in our ordinary existence and learning (becoming wise) from them--be patience, it will take six matches to start this fire. Be cautionary: keep the engine oiled regularly. This is how we make love--pour the wine.

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