If an orange is genetically modified to have a green skin and soft green flesh that is a little sour, is it still an orange? How are there so many fruits defined as orange, even though some are sweet and some are bitter? Some are big and some are small?
How much can something change and still be the thing?
There’s a great story of a monk who was trying to pray and kept being bothered by a cat. So he tied the cat to a nearby tree so he could pray. He ended up doing that every day.
Eventually the monk died, but his protegé also tied to the cat up to pray. Eventually the cat died, so he started tying another cat up to a tree. Eventually generations of cats died, generations of monks died, but they always found a cat to tie up to a tree.
Eventually the tree died, and they planted a new tree to tie a new cat up to, before praying. One day, someone asked, why do we tie a cat to a tree before we pray?
Well it’s what we do. It’s what we’ve always done.
How much can a ritual change and still be meaningful?
How hard can we hold on to a ritual and suffocate it of all of its meaning?