What Are Rituals & How Do They Work?

Ritual Practices

Rituals are a set of actions designed to be special — to highlight, differentiate, and privilege what is being done. Making certain acts feel formal, using symbols, evoking emotion, using repetition — these all are potential ways to mark that specialness. None of them are strictly necessary. Yet, just by declaring that certain acts are special, we make them meaningful. They draw our attention, imagination, and sometimes hopes, in a way that mere habits don’t. As such, they change the way that otherwise mundane actions speak to our minds.

Bringing About Change

At heart, almost all rituals seek to bring about change. By altering how our minds encode and process information, the ways we move our bodies in space and in relation to others, and the values and expectations we place on ourselves and those around us, rituals regulate our beliefs, our behaviors, and our bonds with others. In so doing, rituals help us to experience joy, manage pain, persevere toward difficult goals, and bounce back from painful losses.


How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion
David DeSteno

Living In The Present Moment

The Present Moment

The present moment is the only dimension of existence worth inhabiting, because it’s the only one available to us — the past is no longer and the future has yet to come. Yet we live virtually all of our lives somewhere between memories and aspirations, nostalgia and expectation. Greek philosophers looked upon the past and future as the source of all anxieties which tarnish the present.

A Life Worth Living

We imagine we would be much happier with things like new shoes, a faster computer, a bigger house, more exotic holidays, different friends. However, by regretting the past and guessing the future, we end up missing the only life worth living — the one which proceeds from the here and now and deserves to be savored.


A Brief History of Thought
Luc Ferry

Who Was Ba’al In Ancient Times?

The God Ba’al

Ba’al, whose particular responsibility was agriculture, was a well known god in Canaan. He was the storm god who came riding in on the clouds to fertilize the parched ground. In fact, that is the reason for the name Ba’al.

Meaning of the Name

Officially, Ba’al’s name was Hadad, but he’s usually referred to by the Hebrew word Ba’al, which meant “master” or “lord,” but also “husband.” Ba’al was the earth’s spouse, whose rainwater fertilized the soil and made the crops grow.


The Great Shift
James Kugel

What Makes Life On Earth Precious?

Our Place in the Universe

Modern astronomy has given us a perspective on our place in the universe. Life is a fragile development in an air pocket on the surface of Earth, a small planet revolving around a minor star in a galaxy of trillions of stars in a world of billions of galaxies.

Competing Agendas

Our fate is intertwined with our planetary air pocket and the life that shares it. Within the “small space” many competing agendas bump up against each other — species against species, group against group, individual against individual.

Importance of Life

If humans are important, it is because we are important to ourselves. And, if life is important, it is because life is important to us.


Staying Sane in a Crazy World
Sherwin Wine


What Is The Sound Of A Flower?

Sound of a Flower

Silently a flower blooms,
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment, at this place
the whole of the flower
the whole of the world is blooming.
This is the talk of the flower, the truth of the blossom;
The glory of eternal life is fully shining here.

     Zenkai Shibayama, Zen Master (1894-1974)


Silence on Fire
William Shannon