Ex Opere Operato I – Empty Gestures

‘Even if you lack all faith, simply to seat yourself before an image, hold a rosary and take up a sutra book is to perform a virtuous act, however perfunctory; even seated on your meditation chair with distracted mind, you will sink into meditation before you know it. Phenomena and their essence are intrinsically one. If outward actions conform, inner realizations will naturally follow. Do not decry a lack of faith – such ’empty gestures’ in fact deserve our reverence.’

Yoshida Kenko, Essays in Idleness.

‘You want to find faith and you do not know the road. You want to be cured of unbelief and you ask for the remedy: learn from those who were once bound like you and now wager all they have. These are people who know the road you wish to follow, who have been cured of the affliction of which you wish to be cured: follow the way by which they began. They behaved just as if they did believe, taking holy water, having masses said, and so on.’

Blaise Pascal, Pensées, Series II, translated by A. J. Krailsheimer.

‘For we must make about ourselves: we are much automaton as mind. As a result, demonstration is not the only method for convincing us… Proofs only convince the mind; habit provides the strongest proofs and those that are most believed. It inclines the automaton, which leads the mind unconsciously along with it… In short, we must resort to habit once the mind has seen where the truth lies, in order to steep and stain ourselves in that belief which constantly eludes us, for it is too much trouble to have he proofs always present before us. We must acquire an easier belief, which is that of habit.’

Pascal, Pensées, Series XXX.


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