As always, anyone who knows a thing or two about Buddhism should go easy on my phrasing; I don’t mean to communicate a completely coherent Buddhist doctrine, I just mean to pull out some important points.
Buddhism, at its core, is about untangling oneself from the world, and the notion of using rituals is a contested one. It is famously said that, through the progression of Buddhism, one sees a mountain as a mountain, then one sees a mountain as something other than a mountain, and finally one sees a mountain as a mountain. In some schools of thought, rituals are too worldly and suggest that there is some doing that can be done to pull back the veil of reality. In other schools, rituals are used to point the minds of students in a particular direction, guiding them toward enlightenment. In particular, some rituals are designed to aid the student in pulling back a small part of the veil; rituals involving, for example, one’s bowl, and ritualistic meditation allow the student to focus on a piece of his reality, rather than working on the whole of the universe.
Meditation is also a central part of the ritualistic Zen Buddhist lifestyle, particularly zazen, sitting meditation. The practitioner sits with a straight back, folded legs, and lidded but not closed eyes, a posture designed both to center and to keep one wakeful. Sometimes, after several consecutive, lengthy sessions of zazen, the student may become tired and fear falling asleep. In Soto Zen, between sessions, the one meditating can bow his head and fold his hands, requesting to be stuck on the back with a stick by the watchful Zen master. The stick, called a keisaku, is light and flexible, and as the student exposes both shoulders in turn the master deals light licks, stinging but not causing any permanent damage.
It is, again, not difficult to see the analogy to #alephone. Ray has already remarked on this, in vocabulary not quite so flowery, though you can hear the love in his voice when he writes, “Thermoplyae has your best interests at heart, so you should graciously accept any kicks he gives you.”
We’re all in 4GET together.