When we are caught in notions, rituals, and the outer forms of the practice, not only can we not receive and embody the spirit of our tradition, we become an obstacle for the true values of the tradition to be transmitted. We lose sight of the true needs and actual suffering of people, and the teachings and practice, which were intended to relieve suffering, now cause suffering. Narrow, fundamentalist, and dogmatic practices always alienate people, especially those who are suffering. We have to remind ourselves again and again of our original purpose, and the original teachings and intention of Buddha, Jesus, and other great sages and saints.”
–Thich Nhat Hanh
I couldn’t say it better myself. Dogma and ritual might be comforting at times but they can be a real hindrance also. I’m currently finishing another of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books, “The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice.” It’s been a great book and I’m almost through with it the first time through. He asks a lot of good questions in the book and like most if not all of his other books it really doesn’t matter what tradition you are from. I would love to meet him sometime. However, I enjoy his presence whether that ever happens. He is with me whenever I am mindful of his presence. He has taught me to see good and God in all things.