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Reason as a ritual

Written by jayson. No comments Posted in: Philosophy, Rituals

What is a ritual?

Rituals are actions or a series of actions that we take for the purpose of satisfying desire and engaging the Process. They involve either realizing or deconstructing abstractions – but usually doing so purposefully, even if we aren’t aware of the purpose*. They are the tools we use to believe in our realizations and to construct the world as we would like to live in it.

Rituals can take many different forms. For example, marriage is a ritual we use to realize a stronger bond between ourselves and another person. Not only the ceremony itself, but also all of the societal customs and expectations built around it. Marriage is a big example, but rituals can even be simple habits like knocking on wood or listening to a certain song when you are in a particular mood.

The faculty of reason is perhaps the most basic of all rituals. It touches nearly everything we do. It is, at its heart, the act of questioning – a kind of sacred “why?”.

It may seem strange to think of something so innate, and also something we are told is the foundation of the modern human, as “merely” a ritual. But as I’ve said before, rituals, like abstractions, are both necessary and non-arbitrary. It is a ritual, like any other, but it is a powerful one.

We use reason to immediately put our abstractions into deconstruction mode and set them up to be reevaluated, removed, or altered. It is impossible to use reason – to ask why – without one of these three things occurring.

This makes reason as dangerous as it is powerful.

The “age of reason”, which has brought us to the “age of information”, sought to replace faith with reason – to use reason to destroy faith as unnecessary and “merely” an abstraction. The only way it has failed is that, in doing so, it reified reason – causing it to suffer the same problems as any faith.

But reason is a ritual. It is a tool to help us realize the will to power and go through the satisfaction of desires. Like any tool, it is only useful when it fits. It makes no sense to use a hammer on a screw, or a screwdriver on a nail. Likewise, it is not useful to use reason in many cases that we try to today.

The purpose, or usefulness, of reason is to deconstruct, change, or destroy abstractions about reality.

Previously I spoke of sources of values, and sources of information. Asking why – thinking critically – about our values and their sources is very useful and is so potent a tool that we should all have it at our disposal. However – as many people of faith know, but cannot put into words – reason cannot be used as a source of values.

Reason will never give you, or your life, meaning. What it can and will do is break down your abstractions, and if you use it long enough, will break them down until there is nothing left – a kind of ego death from endlessly asking why.

When you reach this moment you are left in a causal limbo. When faced with this abject meaninglessness, this impossibility of finding truth in the world through reason, you are left stunned, dumbfounded, afraid. But is there anything we can do when faced with this?

If we don’t want to be nihilists, the only way to proceed is to take a leap of faith, an arational leap of faith that is beyond justification.

It is when the sacred “why” becomes the sacred “yes”. Yes, this is what I want. Yes, this is what I will create. Yes, this is what is true.

This sacred “yes”, coming from one who has gone through this ritual of destruction-by-reason, one who has shed themselves of all sources of values other than those that are beyond reason, is one of many things I seek to realize through my discussions with you.

*I reference purpose here as a feeling, not a state. Trying to “figure out” purpose is itself a ritual – an act of ex-post-facto justification that abstracts the apparent actions of others into something our ego would view as purposeful.

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