Sunday, December 29, 2013

A POWERFUL TRANSFORMATIVE RITUAL FOR THE NEW YEAR: THE BURNING BOWL CEREMONY

The late American Protestant minister and author Dr Norman Vincent Peale once wrote, ‘There is a spiritual giant within you, which is always struggling to burst its way out of the prison you have made for it.’ That spiritual giant is a power---a potentiality---of which perhaps you are not even aware. This power can, however, remake you in every way. Call it God or the spirit of life, or Being itself, there is an almighty power and presence that lives and moves and has its being within you, and as you, which is capable of making all things new. (Note, I said all things.) That power and presence can indeed recreate each one of us in both mind and body, and fill us with new life. It can even transform our whole world.


Life is, or at least ought to be, a continual process of ‘letting go and letting be’. There is a certain ‘rhythm’ to life and Nature, and that rhythm is one of … letting go ... and letting be. Yes, letting go---so that the ‘new’ may manifest. The ‘old’ must go. As we approach the New Year, I ask you (and myself) this, ‘How willing are you---and I---to let go of all that is holding us back?’ I am thinking especially of bad habits, addictions, negative thoughts and emotions, and unhealthy relationships. 

You see, most of us resist change, largely because we fear it, but also because change---real, meaningful change in our lives---is never easy. We make so many excuses for giving up what is bad for us. We even say, ‘I can’t change. That's just the way I am’ Rubbish! That is nonsense. The way you are now may well be the way you have been for quite some time but in truth it is not the real person that you are. Actually, each of us is changing all the time. The problem is that as soon as we see we have changed (shock, horror!) we tend to revert quickly to our old selves, because that feels safer and more secure. But is it really good for us? You know the answer to that.

Now, there is a transformative ritual known as the ‘Burning Bowl Ceremony.’ It is a ritual that I have often performed both individually and in various fellowships. The performance of this ritual helps us to let go of old hurts, grudges, resentments, regrets and suffering, indeed, to relinquish anything that is holding us back and which we wish to relinquish. The ritual is commonly performed on New Year’s Eve, but it can be performed on any day of the year. (Most recently, my home congregation performed the ritual at the start of the current financial year. Not that I wanted greater prosperity ... although that might assist me in some respects.)


In most religions fire is a symbol of purification and transformation--and power! In the Burning Bowl Ceremony you write down on a small piece of paper whatever it is---it may be more than one thing---that you want to be free of. The act of committing to writing what you want gone from your life is a very important part of the letting go process. Indeed, there is great power in so doing. Then gently fold (or, if you like, roll) the piece of paper. Now, before placing the piece of paper in the ‘burning bowl,’ the latter being a fairly large, safe and unburnable bowl containing one or more lit candles to enable safe and quick burning, spend a moment or two in quiet prayer or meditation by way of personal commitment and surrender. If there is anything else holding you back---there almost always will be, you know---become aware of what it is, and let that go as well. Now set alight your piece of paper, and quickly drop the paper into the burning bowl ... before you burn yourself in the process. (I don't recommend or endorse the latter.)

Please perform this transformative ritual, either alone or with others. If you do so in a sincere, meaningful way, the ritual will help you to effect real, deep change in your life---and we all need that. And if you and I change, then others, after seeing the change in us, may decide to change as well. That is the only way to change the consciousness of our world. So please take all that I've said in this post very seriously indeed.


Saint Paul wrote ‘be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Rom 12: 2). That is what the Burning Bowl Ceremony is all about---transformation and renewal. It all begins in the mind, and takes place in the mind, before it manifests elsewhere.

May the fast approaching New Year be a great one for you and your loved ones---and may it be a time of real, meaningful spiritual growth as well.


Note. In the Burning Bowl Ceremony some people and fellowships use what is known as ‘flash paper’---available from magic supply stores---which burns in a flash and leaves no ash or residue. Flash paper is, however, ordinarily quite expensive to buy, although you can make it yourself but I don’t recommend that. I prefer to use regular but extremely thin and easily combustible paper---not tissue paper but something similar (eg crêpe paper). Then, having placed the lit paper in the bowl, I watch the flame and smoke as I ‘let go’ of whatever it is I want ‘out’ of my life forever. IEJ.




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