I have just been watching a fantastic programme on the BBC iPlayer, all about the Japanese obsession with fish. One segment of it got me thinking on a familiar tangent again; the chap doing a tour of Japan's fishy culture stopped at a fugu trader's where he saw the highly poisonous puffer fish caught and prepared for the plate. The preparation of the fugu meal was a highly ritualised and theatrical event much like the incredibly disciplined chanoyu (tea ceremony) that is more familiar. It isn't the content of these ceremonies that got me thinking, more the acts in and of themselves; the formal and ritualised actions for a specific purpose – making something that could be rather mundane into a very ritualised process.
There is something about this that appeals to me. The carrying out of an act or series of acts in a very strict manner for no other apparent reason than to do so in a manner that shows honour, respect and significance to the person receiving.
Perhaps it is something hanging on from my Roman-Catholic upbringing (I used to be an altar boy) which leads me to want to participate in these formulaic and ceremonial actions as a compliment of the more relaxed and simple and personal practices I carry out.
I think that perhaps the matter deserves more thought; who should such a practice by directed at and what should its constituents be? I imagine that something disciplined and ceremonial carried regularly will become second nature allowing the mind to wander as the body does what it needs; perhaps it can become a very meditative process.