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Library: theory


Author: Lum
Date:Jul 1 1998

It is about "ritual".

Here, in #38, we have ritual's place described.
  When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
  When goodness is lost, there is morality.
  When morality is lost, there is ritual.
  Ritual is the husk of true faith,
  the beginning of chaos.

The reason ritual works to begin with is b'cos of reality and people in the
purest sense.  People design reality (or a "piece" thereof) and ritual.  It
works b'cos reality was designed, or "designated" in that way.

And what exactly is "reality?"  In one sense, it's just something "there". 
But for this purpose (just listen for a while) a circular thing.  We define a
part or piece of reality ("ie. this is what a house should look like") and
then we go about the ritual for modeling it as such.  Once the ritual is
complete, and the house is built, then there's a part of reality called a
"house", where there was nothing much before.  That "nothing much" is the
"pure chaos" or "pure potential" mentioned in verse #38.

When you think of reality in such a way, ritual becomes commonplace.  For
instance, I want to get to my neighbor's house, from mine.  So I get up and
walk, out my house, down the sidewalk, and back up to her house.  This is
called  "ritual".  If the parameters are correct, it should work.  We can say
this b'cos reality -is- or -is defined- this way.  My neighbor's house is the
house "next to" mine.  We define reality spatially in this way, and ONE way
you move through spatial reality is called "walking".  If reality didn't have
a neighbor's house, I couldn't walk there.  But it works, b'cos its a part of
reality and b'cos the ritual is "valid".

Is a ritual "part" of reality?  Not in that sense.  But reality is designed so
that a ritual does work.  For instance, I make a door.  You definately want a
door to be openable, so I design it in such a way that there's a ritual for
opening it.  You turn the doorknob.  You pull the door.  It opens.  That's the

There are other ways to open the door.  But some are "strange", others we
label "impractical".  And what we label this or that does depend on
circumstance.  For instance, if the door is someone else's, we might be able
to get it to open by knocking.  But, if we know the door is "ours", or if we
know no one is behind, knocking won't work.  A ritual can only be gauraunteed
to work if all the parameters are fulfilled in reality.  As for rituals that
"seem impractical", I could first acquire some Pottasium Perchlorate salt and
disolve this in water.  I could mix this with a weak acid and let it react (an
equilibrium reaction) and I would eventually end up with some amount the same
weak acid and some amount of perchloric acid (a strong, corrosive, highly
reactive acid) in the solution.  Using a noncorrosive beaker, I could pour the
acid onto the door until the door began to dissolve, and if the door was
wooden the solution and door would become so reactive they would catch fire. 
I could use this method to dissolve the section of the door around the
doorknob, and then take a bent metal stick, place it on the hole disolved by
the acid, and use it to pull the door open.  We designate this ritual as
"impractical" b'cos it's a lot of work, isn't it?

So this is where the idea of "ritual" comes from.  A ritual is something that
somehow changes reality.  And reality is "everythiung", even you.  A ritual is
someting like this.  

So much of this is perspective.  We can consider thoughts as rituals even,
b'cos we see them and they change things.  For instance, a native who has
never seen a phone before comes across one.  It rings, and he jumps back,
suprised.  He then shrugs, not knowing what to do.  He then witnesses someone
picking up the phone, and answering it "Mushi mushi".  Next time the phone
rings, maybe he'll pick it up, and answer it the same way.  He didn't know the
sinificance of the object before, but now he does.  Now, suppose the phone
just rings, but when he picks it up, and answers "Mushi mushi", no one ever
talks back.  After answer the phone a few times, maybe the main will think
"hmm, like, what's the point."  And once again, he'll imagine the phone
differently, and begin to ignore it altogether.  You can say this is a
"ritual" b'cos thsi man is a part of reality, and the phone ringing but no one
responding when he picked it up (maybe it was one of the newer phones and the
voice volume was turned all the way down), combined with his thoughts about it
being pointless was the ritual that made him not give a damn when the  phone

What is an "object" then.  We know in some way that an object "exists" in
reality and that it is a certain way.  But we don't know a whole lot else even
about an object in particular.  Everythign we know about an "object" is really
just based on perception.  For instance, I see a pair of cylindrical wooden
shafts joined by a chain, and say ah nunchuka, a rather brutal martial arts
weapon popular since the '70's.  But someone from pre-occupied Okinawa sees
these and says ah, that's a gardening tool, used for threshing wheat.  Or it's
used as a horse stirrup.  In "reality", its exactly the same object, but to
both of us it both means different things.  And this "meaning" affects how the
object is used.  So we cannot consider an object's use part of its definition
since we as people define this (if we want to keep objects constant in
reality.)  Think about it.  

So this is the beginning of the so-called dilemna.  Don't most of us consider
the use of an object an inherent part of that object?  If we do that, we have
to accept that people can inherently change some object just by thinking about
it (fortunately not too many people think this way in this day and age).  Or
if we don't consider use an inherent part of an object, then we'll probably
bore ourself to death and outweight ourself with useless semantics "This is a
cup, I could say it's used for drinking things but I can't be sure of that, so
I'll just call it a cup b'cos that's the semantical name, I call it a cup, you
know it's a cup, *yawn*."  Some people in the network talk like this (since
the network denies "all formes of magic" and they're very boring, no fun to be
around and have no real friends and such.
  Now what does this have to do with ritual.  A ritual (for instance, the ones
in other books) is really no different than say walking to your neighbors
house or picking up the phone and dialing.  As people, we design the object
this way, and that's one of the ways it works.  I can make a phone which looks
just like a phone, but which has none of the electronic parts inside and it
won't work, even though it would resemble a phone in every other way.  And we
would perceive it as everythign such.  Likewise, the only way to verify a
ritual is to test it yourself.  I can tell you thousands oftimes for instance
that this place is "real" and that the people you meet here are "real people"
but that doesn't change a thing, they're still fake.  Sure, they pretend to
know each other, and to meet each other in life and such, to have conventions
and get-togethers, to give out imaginary "points" in return for "donations",
but hmm actually take that back, now that I think about it if this place is
totally 100% fake then there must be at least one real person (other than me)
who "manages" it.  If I was truly bent on believing thise (actually I'm pretty
sure th this place is for real, there's a notion hmm maybe it's all fake, but
my common sense won't let me bbelieve that) but if I had no such ccommen sen
se and I was stuck on beliving that then NOTHING you could do or say would
convince me otherwise if I was stubborn enough.