One project which I developed from my work with the Vedic ritualistic worldview was a theoretical investigation into the phenomenon of ritual interiorization. Bringing the topics of human interiority and ritual together can at first glance appear as a strategy for establishing a basic theme of antagonism between the inner and the outer aspects of human actions.
The main thesis of this study is, however, that although the depiction of interiorization and ritualization as opposing powers contains some elements of truth, the most vital aspects of their relationship are to be found in their interdependence—that, in fact, religious traditions inevitably have to live out this dynamism between interiority and ritual performance.
The basic account of ritualization in this study takes its departure the notion of abstract action in the ritual theory of Caroline Humphrey and James Laidlaw. The abstract quality of an action refers to the ritual being performed disconnected from its context, that the action is more directed toward its own performance than outside goals. This aspect of ritual action can also be connected with conceptual abstraction, that is, the movement from the specific to the general.
According to the perspective on ritual action elaborated in Ritualization and Human Interiority, the particular efficacy of ritualized acts, persons, and artifacts is an effect of that the abstraction achieved by ritualization provides a place for the performer in the world of ideal, abstract entities, making the person able to enter into relations with them.
The potential for deritualization by interiorization, however, reaches its peak when the three dimensions of ritual action are interiorized. The act is then performed in the interior, its goal is interior, and its efficacy is completely derived from interior principles. In this way, the ritual has no real relevance outside of the individual, the very opposite of hyper-ritualization. But the final link still attaching this interior ritual to intersubjective ritual norms is severed by individualism, when the individual takes upon itself to decide when or how to perform the ritual—in which case the ritual commitment dies and deritualization moves toward its completion. And, in all this, it is difficult not to perceive a profile of modernity emerging, which presses toward the interior in search of the really real and a secure foundation for knowledge, but becomes frustrated by the elusive nature of the hidden and subjective.
The project is now finished and the results are presented in the book Ritualization and Human Interiority published in 2013 by Tusculanum Press.