From Church Hymns and Rituals from The Hidden Side of Things by C.W. Leadbeater
The extension spoken of under the first head has often been called the fourth dimension.
Many writers have scoffed at this and denied its existence, yet for all that it remains
a fact that our physical world is in truth a world of many dimensions, and that every
object in it has an extension, however minute, in a direction which is unthinkable to
us at our present stage of mental evolution. When we develop astral senses we are brought
so much more directly into contact with this extension that our minds are more or less forced
into recognition of it, and the more intelligent gradually grow to understand it; though
there are those of less intellectual growth who, even after death and in the astral world,
cling desperately to their accustomed limitations and adopt most extraordinary and irrational
hypotheses to avoid admitting the existence of the higher life which they so greatly fear.
Much exception has been taken by the ignorant to the statement always
made by the Church that the celebration of the Eucharist is a daily
repetition of the sacrifice of the Christ. But when we understand
from the occult point of view that that sacrifice of the Christ
means the descent into matter of the outpouring of the Second
Aspect of Deity, we see that the symbolism is an accurate one,
since the outflow of force evoked by the consecration has a special
and intimate connection with that department of nature which is the
expression of that divine Aspect.
The priest who comprehends this will not fail to assign to that service its due position, and will take care to surround its culminating point with whatever in the way of ritual and music will add to its effect and prepare the people to take part in it more receptively. Realising also of how tremendous a mystery he is here the custodian, he will approach its celebration with the utmost reverence and awe, for though his attitude towards it makes no difference to the central fact and to its effects, there is no doubt that his deep devotion, his comprehension and co-operation can bring down an additional influence which will be of the greatest help to his congregation and his parish. A priest who has the advantage of being also an occultist has a magnificent opportunity of widespread usefulness.
As a student of magic, he appreciates to the full, the effect produced by music, and knows how to utilise it so as to produce harmonious and powerful forms. A great deal may be done by inducing the congregation as far as possible to join in the music of the church. It is impossible that they should do so in the production of the more elaborate and magnificent forms, which produce far-reaching effects at higher levels, but they themselves may be helped to an almost incalculable extent if they can be induced to join heartily in stirring and well-chosen hymns and chants.
This has been more fully recognised by the English branch of the Catholic Church than by the Roman, and a corresponding advantage has been reaped. The powerful influence of the corresponding advantage has been reaped. The powerful influence of the processional hymn must not be neglected, for this operates usefully in all directions; first, by bringing the choir down among the congregation and moving them slowly through the different sections of it, the people are greatly encouraged and helped to throw themselves with vigour into the singing. Secondly, the splendid appearance of a well-organised procession, the colour and light, the rich banners and splendid vestments, all combine to fire the imagination, to raise the people' s thoughts above the prosaic level of ordinary life, and to help their devotion and enthusiasm.
Many of these considerations apply also to ministers of other denominations.
Though they have not the power of the priest which brings them into touch with
the reservoir of force arranged by the Christ for his Church, they may do a great
deal for their congregations, first by their own devotion and secondly by evoking
that of their people. The resources of congregational music are at their disposal,
and if they can work their followers up to the required level, they also may
produce the wonderful results which flow from the combined devotion of a large number of people.
A grand outpouring of force, and a magnificent and effective collective
thought-form can thus be made by a gathering of men who join heartily in a service;
but there is generally great difficulty in obtaining this result, because the
members of the average congregation are entirely untrained in concentration,
and consequently the collective thought-form is usually a broken and chaotic mass,
instead of a splendid and organised whole. When it happens that a number of
occult students belong to such an assembly, they can be of great use to their
fellow-worshippers by consciously gathering together the scattered streams of
devotion and welding them into one harmonious and mighty current. It is
evident at once that every member of congregation has here a definite duty.
Better results than those produced by an ordinary
congregation are frequently obtained from the united
devotions of a body of monks, because they have gradually
trained themselves into something approaching to concentration,
and are also well used to working together. The influence flowing
from a monastery or nunnery of the contemplative order is often
beautiful and most helpful to the whole country-side-- a fact which
shows clearly how foolish and short-sighted is the objection sometimes
made by the Protestant that, while the active orders of monks are at
least doing good work among the poor and the sick, those who adopt a
contemplative line are merely dreaming away their lives in selfish isolation
from the rest of the world.
In most of such monasteries the hours of prayer are strictly
observed, and the effect of this is a regular out-flow of force
over the neighbourhood many times each day. There are some such
institutions in which the scheme of perpetual adoration is carried
out before the consecrated Host in the chapel of the monastery, and
in such a case there is a steady and powerful stream always pouring out,
both night and day, bringing to the surrounding country a benefit which
can hardly be overestimated.
The effect produced in all these cases is far wider than the ordinary thinker realises. The young student of occultism, if he does not happen to be clairvoyant, sometimes finds it difficult to remember that the host of the unseen is so much greater than the number of the seen, and that therefore the people who benefit by church services or by outpourings of collective thought and feeling are not only the living but also the dead-- not only human beings even, but great hosts of nature-spirits and of the lower orders of the angels. Naturally, whatever feeling may be aroused in them reacts upon us in turn, so that many different factors combine to strengthen us when we make any effort for good.
The Christian Church directs some of her efforts intentionally towards her departed members, and prayers and masses for the dead are a great feature of the life in Catholic countries. A most useful feature certainly; for not only do the good wishes and the outpourings of force reach and help those at whom they are aimed, but also the formation of such prayers and wishes is a good and charitable undertaking for the living, besides providing them with a satisfactory and consolatory outlet for their feelings in the shape of doing something to help the departed instead of merely mourning for them.
Hundreds of good and earnest people are putting a great deal of strength
and devotion into efforts (as they put it) to "save souls"-- which to them
generally means imprisoning people within the limits of some particularly
narrow and uncharitable sect. Fortunately, their endeavours in this particular
direction are not often successful. But we must not suppose that all their
energy and thought for others is therefore necessarily wasted. It does not
do half the good that it would if it were intelligently directed; but such
as it is, it is unselfish and kindly meant, and so it brings down a certain
amount of response from higher levels, which is poured upon both the petitioner
and the object of his prayers. If the suppliant be earnest and free from conceit,
Nature answers the spirit rather than the letter of such a request, and brings
general good and advancement to its object without also inflicting upon him the
curse of a narrow theology.
There are in the world many people so constituted that ceremonies of
any sort do not appeal to them. It may be asked what kind of provision
Nature makes for them, and how they are compensated for their inability
to appreciate or to share in the benefits of these various lines of ecclesiastical
influence of which I have written. First to a considerable extent they do share in
the benefit of them, though they would probably be the last people to admit it.
Perhaps they never enter churches; but I have already described how these influences
radiate far beyond the mere buildings, and how the vibrations are sent out on all levels, and consequently have something which affects all varieties of people.
Still, it is clear that such men miss a good deal which the others may gain if they will; what sources then are open to them from which they may obtain corresponding advance? They cannot well gain the same uplifting-- nor, I suppose, would they desire it; but they may gain a mental stimulus. Just as the thought of the great saint, radiating out all round him, arouses devotion in those who are capable of feeling it, so does the thought of the great man of science, or of anyone who is highly developed intellectually, radiate out upon the mental level and affect the minds of others, so far as they are capable of responding to it. Its action stimulates mental development, though it does not necessarily act so directly upon the character and disposition of the man as does the other influence.
Perfect knowledge must make for goodness of life as much as perfect devotion; but we are as yet
so far from perfection that in practical life we have to deal rather with the intermediate or
even elementary stages, and it seems clear that elementary knowledge is less likely on the whole
to affect the character than elementary devotion. Both are necessary, and before Adeptship is
reached both must be acquired in their entirety; but at present we are so partially developed
that the vast majority of men are aiming at one and to some extent neglecting the other-- I mean, of course,
the majority of those men who are trying at all, for the greater part of the world has not arrived as yet at
recognising the necessity for either knowledge or devotion. The only organisation, in western countries at
least, which fully meets and satisfies man' s requirements along both these lines appears to me to be the
Theosophical Society, and its meetings, small and unimportant though they may seem to an outsider,
are capable when properly managed of radiating a powerful influence which will be exceedingly useful to the community.