Rituals eh, pointless, time wasting rituals, we all hate them, or, as Sikhs, we should, maybe hate is a strong word, a better description would be we find them pointless. Having said that we all have our rituals, and if my dear Veerji Bhagat Singh was not off line (they do not have the internet in India
), I am sure he would have something to say about that.
As Sikhism moves ever closer to ritual worship, pleasure is not gained by connection, but rather the partaking of ceremonies, incantations, checklists to be crossed off, and then a good Langar (cooked by paid sevadars of course).
Given this, it is no surprise that all rituals are now being questioned Clearly there are practices, formulas, and there are rituals, discerning between the two takes logic, experience, and in my view, such are unimportant if the foundations are not correct.
In my view, the foundations that should be in place, or at least be aspired to, as the very building block of faith are as follows.
To have no fear, to laugh at death, to stand up for who you are, and be prepared to die for it. I am not suggesting we all get a deathwish, but it is surprising how your life changes once you adopt this attitude. In fact, I would go so far as adopting this takes you further away from death, not closer, as you are simply no fun for bullies. How the Islamic torturers must have hated the Sikhs as they endured every form of pain with no response, no begging, no tears, no howls of pain. How can you enjoy your job as a torturer, seeing others in pain, when your victim looks you in the eye and asks you to do your job properly. It seems impossible to picture, but it happened, and we can all learn from Bhai Maniji as to the meaning of the words courage and acceptance. Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/sikh-sikhi-sikhism/38950-ritualisation-of-sikhism.html
To try your best to follow Hukam, I say try your best, because we are human, and we are riddled with thieves, whilst attempting to find salvation from them, we must live with them, not through aversion, but understanding, and it is through this understanding we find that salvation.
To be honest and truthful, I consider myself honest and truthful, however, I am known for also saying 'the wrong thing'. A better description of me would be tactless and blunt. Also, I find myself being deliberately tactless and blunt, because I have the power of truth and honesty. One should be honest and truthful, but one should also be tactful and compassionate.
Keeping thoughts, speech and actions pure. Every 'bad' thing I have ever done begins with a fantasy, and in the course of time, I turn it into reality, water weeds, and you will grow weeds. Now, I spray weedkiller on weeds, if the thought is negative, kill it, it will just waste time, one should be full of positive, uplifting thoughts.
To work hard and enjoy your environment, make a good nest, make a good life, enjoy it while it lasts, find contentment in what you have, to be in peace, both with those around you, and most importantly within yourself.
To find these qualities, look no further than the word of God, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, hone them, perfect them, and once that is done, I think at that point you will know what is ritual, and what is not.
Ritual is the easy way out, why bother spending time perfecting your inner self, when promises are made that such can be easily obtained by offerings, observance, incantation, worship. We have a religion that states outcomes rather than promises, but only as a result of damn hard work, study, introspection, in fact, there is much to envy for the ritual obsessed, all they have to do is 'things', whereas the rest of us have to chip away at our souls until the chisel reveals ourselves in our true glory, the selves we were meant to be.