Ritual as Affirmation and Transformation

Robert M. Torrance

in The Spiritual Quest

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1994 | ISBN: 9780520081321
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520920163 | DOI:
Ritual as Affirmation and Transformation

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  • Social and Cultural Anthropology


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If the spiritual quest is a fundamental human activity rooted in biology, psychology, and language, it will find expression throughout the world and throughout the ages in the supremely important acts and stories embodied in religious rituals and myths. However, the rich diversity of human cultures suggests that the quest must be understood as much through the shifting forms it has taken in different times and places as through the common impulse to which these multifarious expressions bear witness. The widely variant cultural refractions of the quest are essential properties of a creatively self-transformative process irreducible to a single fixed paradigm, and this wealth of particular and ever-changing expressions must be fully taken into account. Elaborate ceremonials nevertheless remain, like the “ancestor worship” with which they are often connected, oriented more toward perpetuation of an immutable past than toward the exploration of an indeterminate future essential to the spiritual quest.

Keywords: quest; biology; psychology; language; rituals; myths; ceremonials

Chapter.  9187 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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