About Rituals.

Any ritual which are done without understanding the true meaning and which is not faithfully followed in one's life but merely as a ritual is hypocrisy, deception and is not ethical. The story of Nachiketa in Katha Upanishad will tell one that.

COMMENTARY ON THE KATHA UPANISHAD ~ SWAMI KRISHNANANDA

“Desiring heavenly enjoyment, Gautama performed a sacrifice called sarva dakshina. He had a son, Nachiketas, very thoughtful and discriminative.”

He wants the pleasure of this world, so he did not part with the good cows; and he also wants the pleasure in the other world, so he gives (useless) cows. It is a poor sacrifice, because he offers that which is unworthy.

In the fourth mantra, the teaching proper commences with: sa hovaca pitaram... “To whom do you propose to offer me?” The ‘me’ represents also the self of Gautama. If it is offering all, sarvadakshina, then it should include not only what belongs to one, but also his own self. Three times asked Nachiketas this question. The answer was, “Unto death I offer you.” Though this was the answer to the son, it mystically means the death of the soul. Three times asked the boy, implying the ‘I’ has to be given up in three stages, not at once. The first one is the physical offering, followed by the subtle and the causal, because we are this threefold being; we can also call it conscious, subconscious and unconscious. We are citizens of three worlds; this is brought out when one takes sanyasa.

The Mirror of Relationship: Love, Sex and Chastity ~ J. Krishnamurti

The repetition of a word, however well-sounding, is obviously a mechanical process, is it not? Look at your own mind. When you take the word om and keep on repeating it, what happens to your mind? When you keep on repeating that word day after day, you have a certain stimulation, a certain sensation which is the outcome of repetition. It is a mechanical response; and do you think a mind that keeps on repeating a word or a phrase is capable of sharpness or swift thought? You have repeated mantras, and is your mind sharp, pliable, swift? You can see whether your mind is swift or not only in your relationship with another. If you observe yourself in your relationship with your wife, your children, your neighbor, you will see that your mind is dull. You just imagine that your mind is sharp - a word that has no referent in your action, in your relationship, which is never clear, complete, full. Such an imaginative mind is an unbalanced mind. The mere repetition of words obviously gives a certain stimulation, a certain sensation, but that is bound to make the mind dull.

Similarly, when you perform rituals, ceremonies, day after day, what is happening? The regular performance of a ritual obviously gives a certain stimulation, like going to the cinema, and you are satisfied with that stimulation. When a man takes a drink, a cocktail, for the moment he may feel uninhibited; but let him keep on drinking and he gets more and more dull. It is the same when you keep on repeating rituals - you pour into your rituals an enormous significance which they do not have. Sir, it is your mind that is responsible for making itself dull, thereby making your life a mechanical process. You do not know what it means. If you thought it out, if you started all over again, you would not go on repeating words. You do so because somebody has said that repeating these words, these mantras, will help you. To find truth you need no guru, no book; to have a clear mind you have to think out every issue, every movement of thought, every flutter of feeling. Since you do not want to find truth, you have this convenient dope, and the dope is the mantra, the word. I know you will go on doing these rituals because to break away from this practice would create disturbance in the family, it would upset the wife or the husband. There would be trouble in the family, so you carry on. A man who carries on, not knowing what he does, is obviously an unbalanced person; and I am not at all sure that those who perform rituals are not unbalanced. If these rituals have any meaning, they must have a response in daily life. If you are a factory manager or owner and do not share your profits with the workmen, do you think you will get peace by repeating that word umpteen times? Men who are using people, monstrously exploiting their servants and employees, perform rituals and repeat the word peace, peace - it is a marvelous escape. Such a man is an ugly, unbalanced entity, and no amount of talking about purity of life, performing rituals, repeating the word om, changing the clothes of his God, is going to alter it. What is the good of your mantras and rituals? You are talking of peace on the one hand and causing misery on the other. Do you think such action is balanced? You will do innumerable rituals, but you will not act with generosity because there is no spark of life in you. Most of us want to be dull because we do not want to face life, and a dull mind can go to sleep and live happily in a semi-comatose condition. Mantras, the performance of rituals, help to produce that sleeping condition - and that is what you want. You are listening to words, but you are not going to do a thing. That is what I am objecting to. You do not drop your rituals, you won't stop exploiting, you will never share your profits with others, you have no interest in raising the standard of the underprivileged. It is all right for you to live in a big house, but it is all wrong for them. Since you are not going to do a thing, I do not see why you listen so raptly.