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Ritual and Religion

If we are to discern the significance and value of ritual in religion it becomes
necessary to trace that ritual back to more primitive times and people and learn
what it originally meant. For, without exception, these rituals are merely
modifications of practices handed down from an age in which the priest followed the
same type of ceremonial as the sorcerer, except that the magic of the priest was
directed to disperse evil spirits and benefit people rather than to harm them.

The ceremonials of the various churches not only are derived from the practices of
white magic in ages gone, but they still perform the essential functions of ceremonial

These functions, as set forth in a preceding lesson, are three-fold: 1. Through
arousing the emotions of those present to furnish an energy supply sufficient for
magical purposes. 2. To direct that energy into the proper channels to perform the
work desired. 3. To contact intelligences of the inner plane who will assist in the

ritual and religion

White Magic Today

–As an illustration of white magic performing these three functions, I turn to
newspaper reports. March 1, 1932, the baby of Colonel Charles Lindbergh and Anne
Morrow Lindbergh was kidnapped, and up to March 7 it had not been discovered that
the child had been murdered. In the Los Angeles Examiner dated March 7, 1932,
there is the reproduction of a photograph of school children kneeling before a shrine,
and the following inscription below it, “Two hundred Youngsters of old St.
Stephen’s School, Chicago, praying at shrine for Lindbergh baby. Youngsters knelt
in earnest hope that son of national hero was unharmed.”

Other quotations from the same newspaper on that day read: “Supplications Offered
Up In All Churches. Hopewell Residents Turn Out En Masse For Services to `Soften
Kidnapers’ Hearts’.” Hopewell, N. J., March 6. “Fervent prayers were offered up
today in Hopewell’s six churches for the safe return of Charles Augustus Lindbergh,
Jr., 20-month-old son of Colonel and Anne Lindbergh, who was kidnapped last
Tuesday night.

“Virtually all residents of this small, sleepy town that nestles in the valley under the
Lindbergh Sourland Mountain estate turned out to pray for little Charlie.”

Further headlines in the same paper: “Los Angeles Implores Divine Aid for Child.”
“Britons Pray for Safety of Lindbergh Baby.”

It is apparent from the above quotations that people believe that their prayers are
more efficacious when they congregate in a church or kneel before a shrine. Such a
ceremony, simple as it is, does heighten the emotional element; and it gives
collective force to the energy so released.

The energy is directed by the ceremony to the accomplishment of a definite purpose,
in this case to “Soften Kidnapers’ Hearts.”

The ceremony does not, however, merely direct the thoughts of those present; but
also solicits Divine aid in the undertaking; that is, it directs the mind to an
intelligence, or intelligences (angels) on the inner plane who are asked to assist in the
accomplishment of the work thus undertaken.

Religious ceremonies make use of the same principles for benefiting others, and
aiding in cosmic progression, that the black magician uses to block progress and
injure mankind. And even the witches’ sabbat has its counterpart, although directed
into constructive channels instead of those destructive, in contemporaneous religion.

Anyone who has ever attended a revival meeting of the old-fashioned “Shouting
Methodists” will find it difficult to believe that even the witches in their sabbat
became more excited. And this enthusiasm, like the olden epidemics of witchcraft,
often swept a whole town or countryside. Each night, after an hour or two of singing
and praying, the spirit had hold of numerous new converts, and they then realized,
between hallelujahs, that they were saved, and as such they came forward and knelt
before the altar.

In the conduct of such a meeting, it was common to interlard the enthusiastic mass
vocal efforts of the congregation with the most pathetic and soul-stirring songs
obtainable, sung by a trained singer who could render, “Oh, Where Is My Wandering
Boy Tonight”, and “Tell Mother I,11 Be There”, with unusual pathos. The more
efficient the leader in stirring the congregation to emotional abandon, the more
successful became the revival.

In these religious seances, which called upon Deity as a guiding power, the efforts of
mass hysteria, instead of being directed into channels of iniquity, were turned to
converting the individual to a better life, or to something helpful. They were
designed to arouse a frenzy of emotion directed to some beneficial end.

Probably the closest present-day approaches to the witches’ sabbat principle, yet
directed constructively instead of destructively, are some of the Pentecostal
meetings. Here it is the common thing for those most devout to expect the “power” to
descend and take possession of them. Some, in this state, fall to the floor and roll
about, hence the term, “Holy roller.” Others “speak in foreign tongues.” Some go
about healing those who are ill by laying on of the hands.

Anyone who thinks that some of these people, who often are simple in faith and quite
illiterate, are unable to do rather remarkable healing in this manner has certainly
never investigated them thoroughly. After all, they are merely following, according
to their conception, the precedent of the healing and talking in foreign tongues of the
early apostles.

Nor, in this mention of the functions of ritual in religion, do I discountenance the
belief that these people, or those who pray at a shrine for the safe return of a
kidnapped child, actually contact beneficial intelligences on the inner plane. God is
an abstraction, or, if you will, the intelligence that permeates all nature. But when the
devout person offers up a prayer to God, he has in mind a much more definite image
of attributes which are beneficent. And this prayer penetrates the concentric layers of
the astral region, and reaches a realm corresponding to its vibratory rate. And the fact
that it is directed to an image, or even a quality, of high beneficence, increases its
carrying power in this direction.

Just as the black magician with his sign and symbol and inversive evocation, calls up
the telephone number, so to speak, of some unknown gangster, and asks this crook’s
aid in his undertaking; so the devout individual, by his prayers and religious
ceremonies, calls up the telephone number, so to speak, of some benign intelligence
of a higher and better plane. And some intelligence occupying the plane to which his
devout thoughts connect him will be reasonably sure to get the message. If the
ceremony and prayer are unselfish and of high aspiration, and not directed to some
restricted lower circle, he need have no fear that the message will be received by a
gangster. The gangster is unable to tune in on any high-frequency rate, because his
own rate is too sluggish. Furthermore, the high-plane intelligence thus contacted will
be quite apt to do what can be done, under the circumstances and in all justice, to
render the help desired.

Religious Ceremonies May Wall Out Essential Information

–Right here, however, another element enters that must be given full consideration.
It is the influence of organization.

Even as the gangsters in the astral slums have organizations, so also the churches of
earth, and the various religious sects, are quite as completely organized on the inner
plane as on this one. Of course, when the individual belongs to any organized
religion, and becomes more enlightened than the others of its membership, he resigns
from it and joins something more progressive. Or, at least, he severs his association
with the organization.

But if the organization on earth is narrow in tenet, and manifests doctrines that are
wholly unsound, those who remain faithful to the organization on the inner plane will
still cling to these outmoded notions. For if they have outgrown them they will no
longer remain members of it.

As is explained in Course XX, Chapter 2, those of fixed belief, especially when there are
many of the same thought, often build up an artificial environment on the astral plane
that quite vindicates–until they awaken to the true condition–all their
preconceived ideas about what the next life is like, how the universe is run, and the
appearance of God and the angels.

It is necessary to understand this in order to recognize how religious ceremonies
under certain conditions may greatly benefit an individual, but at the same time place
him within a wall through which little enlightenment can penetrate; and how such
ceremonies, by specifically directing his thoughts and prayers to a preconceived and
limited region, prevent their rising above, or recognizing a response from, other than
this restricted area of the inner world.

I believe in this place no proof need be advanced that religious organizations, as a
rule, offer to their followers the idea that they are each the one and only avenue of
mediation between man and God. Each holds forth the doctrine that salvation is
assured in its own fold, but is doubtful or quite unobtainable to those belonging to
other denominations. They are like political parties, which commonly proclaim that
the country will be saved if it adopts the platform and candidates they advocate, but
will certainly go to ruin if any other candidates are elected, or any other platform

And like political organizations–for religious heads are the modern representatives
of the priest-king ruler of old, and of the medicine man who counseled the chief in
still more primitive society–religious groups are jealous of rivals, and those in
authority are keen to retain their station and power. The essential ceremonies are only
efficacious when performed by the Brahman caste, for instance; which gives them
power, prestige, and an easy and ample income. Or, in America, the burial services
can only adequately be performed by a priest–in certain organizations–otherwise
the body cannot be placed in sacred ground, and the soul will probably have a hard
time of it. And although the laws of the country make a civil marriage ceremony
legally binding, in order for it to be a real marriage, and not just prostitution legally
authorized, one church holds that the ceremony should again be performed by the proper
religious official.

What I am trying to bring out here is that those possessing religious authority have,
from the earliest times, set themselves apart as a favored caste, and have neglected no
possible means to maintain their caste and enlarge the scope of its power. I am not
implying that religious leaders do not endeavor to benefit their followers. But I am
pointing out that they have so invariably “rationalized” their desire for authority that
they have deluded themselves into the belief–as political leaders also often
do–that the salvation of the world depends upon them retaining power and
assuming still more authority.

From such a “wish fulfillment” motive, comes the doctrine, for instance, of
Apostolic Succession. This doctrine holds that only those who have been duly
ordained by the Church can perform spiritual ceremonies; which really means that
those already in power in the Church reserve to themselves the right to appoint their
successors and other religious officials. And to maintain this right they pretend that
the Holy Ghost is thus passed on from one to another.

Kings also, throughout the past, pretended that they were appointed by God, and that
the Divine power to rule and exploit their less fortunate brethren could be passed on
only through heredity. If present day politicians could formulate some plausible
theory by which they could convince their constituents that it was the intention of
God that they should select their successors and all others who should hold office,
how much more secure they would be, and how relieved of the responsibility of
serving the people efficiently!

Religious potentates, themselves, have propounded numerous cunning explanations
why they should be allowed to pass divine power to those who later prove, by their
acts, to be even unworthy of any esteem of decent men. But it remained for the most
subtle, and yet manifestly self-seeking, theory to be advanced under the guise of

“If the faithful had to institute an exhaustive inquiry into the private character of a
priest before they could feel certain of the validity of the Sacraments received from
his hands, an element of intolerable uncertainty would be introduced, which would
practically render inutile this wondrously-conceived device of the Christ for the
helping of His people. He had not planned His gracious gift so ineptly as that. To
compare great things to small, to attend a celebration of the Holy Eucharist is like
going to a bank to draw out a sum of money in gold; the teller’s hands may be clean or
dirty, and assuredly cleanliness is preferable to dirt; but we get the gold all the same
in either case. It is obviously better from all points of view that the priest should be a
man of noble character and deep devotion, and should thoroughly understand, so far
as mortal man may, the stupendous mystery which he administers; but whether all
this be so or not, the key which unlocks a certain door has been placed in his hands,
and it is the opening of the door which chiefly concerns us.

“First, only those priests who have been lawfully ordained, and have the apostolic
succession, can produce this effect at all. Other men, not being part of this definite
organization, cannot perform this feat, no matter how devoted or good or saintly they
may be. Secondly, neither the character of the priest, nor his knowledge or ignorance
as to what he is really doing, affects the result in any way whatever.”

Attempts of the Unfit to Retain Power

–We might just as well claim that Thomas A. Edison was incapable of inventing
anything useful because he was not a college graduate; or that Henry Ford could not
succeed in manufacturing because he does not belong to a trade union. And we might
just as well say that any ignorant man, if he were but sanctioned by certain people in
authority, could build automobiles or invent useful machinery.

But, while wealth and social station can be conveyed through inheritance or gift,
ability in any line–and religion is no exception–cannot thus be conveyed. An
Abraham Lincoln is not made through the favor of a political party; otherwise we
should have more Lincolns; and spirituality, as well as the ability to transmit any real
spiritual energy, lies within the character of the individual, and cannot be passed
about like so much gold and silver.

This does not signify that those who attend the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, or
other religious ceremonies, do not receive a certain amount of benefit. Such benefit
as they derive, however, with a bloated, dissipated religious factotum officiating, is
due to the elevation of their minds by the ceremony. If their emotions are energized,
and the vibratory frequency raised sufficiently, they tune in on truly spiritual regions,
or at least on realms of the higher astral, where kindly disposed beings dwell. Yet, as
the ceremony, and therefore the thoughts of those present, revolve around the one
who conducts the service, as a center, the character vibrations and the temporary
vibratory rate of this individual tend to tune all in on entities and forces of his rate.
Thus, because those present are somewhat in rapport with him, they are influenced,
in their rates and in their contacts, by him.

If the one conducting the ceremony is noble of character and spiritually minded, he
assists those present to contact regions and entities of like spiritual power and
beneficence. But if he is gross and lustful–in spite of any apostolic succession or
other folderol–such influence as he possesses to determine the vibratory rate of the
congregation is toward bringing them into contact with unseen entities of licentious
proclivities. As much so as the influence of a corrupt ward heeler is to besmirch the
honesty of all those over whom he gains an influence.

It is certainly true that the church itself becomes a center which collects and
conserves the vibratory rates that are tuned in on under the emotions of those who
participate there in praise and worship. It becomes saturated with the astral influence
thus contacted. But this influence is of the grade of spirituality, or lack of it, of the
thoughts, aspirations and desires of those who habitually come there; and these
vibratory rates, in their quality, are determined in large measure by the officiating
priest. To the extent that he has influence, he exercises a controlling influence over
his audience and synchronizes their thoughts and vibratory energies to those which
he holds. And if his vibratory rates are gross, those who attend such a service,
influenced by the prevailing vibratory rate even as are those who attend a
mediumistic seance, are brought into contact with lower entities, and are anything
but benefited by it.

Spirituality, or any inpouring or downpouring of spiritual force, is not like gold
handed out by a bank teller. If it were like gold our wealthy class could buy their way
into heaven, as some attempt to do. Nor is real spiritual force like rain, which falleth
on the just and the unjust alike. Instead, it is like education, and must be gained.
Money can be passed from hand to hand, but spiritual energy can not. No one can
acquire an education for another; but a competent teacher can assist a student to
acquire an education. No one can acquire spiritual energy for another, but a
competent spiritual instructor can assist the individual to raise his vibratory rates to
the spiritual frequency, and can assist the individual in making contacts with spiritual

I do not say that a gross man cannot assist people in a material way; for even evil
sorcerers are able to heal the sick and help people acquire wealth, when they are so
inclined. The handling of astral energies to gain physical results is not dependent
upon morals. The witch performs deeds that if accomplished by a priest would be
deemed miracles. But a gross man cannot impart spirituality; for his vibratory rates
are so low he cannot contact spiritual planes or spiritual beings.

One might as well say that it makes no difference if a college professor knows
nothing; for he is quite able to instruct others efficiently because some college has
given him the title of professor. Thus the illiterate man, by being ordained a
professor, should be able to teach students higher mathematics and the classic

It is true that a student in a college with an illiterate professor might by his own efforts
make considerable attainment. But it would be in spite of the teacher, and not because
of his help. And also, those who attend religious rituals conducted by corrupt and
licentious officials may, through the uplifting influence of the ceremony, gain in
spiritual power. But such gain is made in spite of the tendency of the priest or minister
in charge to attract low entities.

Aside, however, from the influence of the one conducting the service–who often is
really a spiritually minded person, and therefore helpful in tuning up the emotions
and minds of his congregation to a higher level–there are two other features of
religious ceremonies, and of lodge ceremonies also, which should receive
recognition. One of these features is usually very beneficial, because it arouses
emotions of a higher vibratory rate, elevating the fundamental and the transitory
vibratory rates. The other, through directing the mind to make specific contacts and
walling it off from other contacts, sometimes is beneficial, but more often, at present,
curtails and limits the budding spiritual powers.

I shall consider this latter first.

The Ceremonial Wall

–The majority of those belonging to a political party have certain beliefs in
common, to which they are firmly attached. Fraternities and occult organizations
usually are grouped, likewise, about certain definite principles and ideas. And the
most obvious thing about a religious sect, or church, is usually the fanatical manner
in which it holds to certain tenets, even though they are disproved completely by
experimental science and the developments of philosophy.

These religious bodies, as well as the chief fraternities of an occult nature, exist also
on the astral plane, and are there constantly recruited from members on the physical
plane who pass from the physical body. And so long as they belong to this group on
the inner plane, they must continue faithful to the doctrines it propounds. Because of
the thought-building power of the mind on the astral, they live, until such time as they
receive new light and abandon the organization, in just such an artificially created
environment as their religion describes. As is more fully explained in Course XX, Chapter 2,
they cling to the same beliefs they had on earth, and reject every effort to bring to
their notice any evidence that contradicts the notions they held on earth.

Their leaders continue to lead them on the astral plane, and they are still bound into an
organized group working for the spread of their religion. And because they have not
yet discovered its fallacy, whenever opportunity affords, they exert what pressure
they can to confirm this belief to those on earth, and to influence them to hold fast and
refuse to permit any other conceptions to be received.

The ritual of the church on earth, the vestments, the various paraphernalia used,
especially those bearing symbols, the consecrated water, the magnetized incense;
each and all are devices to concentrate the mind on the one particular religion and
tune in on those belonging to it on the inner plane. They are, in fact, instruments of
ceremonial magic which, instead of the instruments of the sorcerer which place him
in contact with invisible gangsters, are instruments to place the congregation in
contact with the invisible brethren of the particular church.

Usually such religious ritual begins with hymns of praise. This singing in unison
tends to give a common mental swing to the whole congregation, so that lesser
vibratory rates are suppressed, and the unified force dominates to a point where the
chief thought-vibrations of all are completely synchronized. At later points in the
service, oral responses are required of the audience or some part of it, tending still
further to unify the vibration.

Amen, for instance, is a word of endorsement. When the leader says something, and
the response is Amen, there is a thought interchange, and the leader has the dominant
influence. Thus the swing of the music, and such responses as are called for, unite the
audience in a common strong vibratory rate, and enables the priest or leader to direct
the frequency of the rate, and the type of invisible influence to which all are tuned.

Under these circumstances this congregation vibratory rate may be really spiritual
and uplifting; but at the same time, because the signs, symbols and tokens of this
religion are used, it contacts only the members of this particular religion on the inner
plane. If these members are liberal minded, and searching for further information,
this will have no restrictive effect. But if the members of the organization on the inner
plane– which is the case of a religion of narrow ideas–have a fixed faith that the
universe is run according to their preconceived ideas, their influence will all be
toward confirming the congregation in these narrow concepts.

Among the western nations the most universally used ceremony is that of the
Eucharist. Primitive man believed that by eating some of the flesh and drinking some
of the blood of a slain creature it was possible, by means of a magical ceremony, to
cause the attributes of the creature to pass to the character of the man thus partaking
of it. Cannibalistic practices were not due to a taste for human flesh; but were magical
ceremonies, in which eating a fragment of the body and drinking the blood of the
slain enemy was supposed to transfer the bravery and energy of the one slain to those
partaking of the feast. Cannibalism today, wherever practiced, is well known to be
chiefly for this magical purpose.

The using of wine for the blood of the god, and a wafer of bread as a substitute for his
body, was practiced in Mithraism and other cults long before the Christian era. It was
a magical process, conducted by the priest-magician, by which the quality of the god
was supposed to be conveyed to those who took part in the ceremony.

Some western denominations conduct the ceremony of the Eucharist with great
pomp and splendor. And, of course, the more impressive it is to the eye, the ear, the
nose and other senses, the more it tends to arouse emotion and impress its suggestion
upon the unconscious minds of those present. But even when the ceremony is merely
the offering up of a prayer, followed by the ceremonial partaking of the bread and
wine, it is a ritual which tunes in the minds of those present on the members of their
denomination on the inner plane. And while these invisible intelligences no doubt
exert an influence to help their members follow the straight and narrow way, as
outlined by their religion, and therefore tend to give moral benefit, they also wall
them about with as much influence as they can to keep them from accepting anything
not taught by their leaders. So, while an uplifting influence is often present in
religious ceremonies, all too often such rituals imprison the mentality of those
subject to them.

Of course, if the ritual is that of some organization which does not limit the thoughts
of its membership, but encourages them to research and investigation, such a limiting
influence is not present. On the other hand, it places those on earth in closer contact
with their invisible brethren who have advanced further along the path of knowledge,
and who are able to do something to assist in broadening their mental horizon. It is
not that the religious ceremony, as such, stunts mental growth; but only that it ties the
individual closely to a particular organization. If this organization is narrow in belief,
this makes it far more difficult for him to form broader conceptions; but if the
organization is progressive and alert for new truths, this aids him through
unconscious contact with those on the inner plane who likewise are striving for real
knowledge and real spirituality.

Raising the Vibration Through Ritual

–Now, the rather elaborate services and rituals conducted by some denominations
are very effective, through appealing to the various senses, in arousing emotion. The
solemn procession, the unusual and symbolic garments of those conducting, the
chants, the colors, the banners, the incense, the gorgeous settings; all tend to fire the
imagination. The whole process is laid out along efficient psychological lines for
releasing emotional energy. It has been handed down from times most remote,
unknowing the term psychology, but nevertheless psychologically sound, as
determined by the effects upon the participants as observed by a long line of priests,
and by the pagan medicine men that preceded them.

More commonly, in these religious rituals, the minds of those present are directed to
higher levels of aspiration. In the sense, therefore, of tending to raise the fundamental
vibratory rate of the individual, they have a spiritualizing effect. It is only when some
corrupt and debased leader dominates the trend of the vibratory rates with his own
vile thoughts that there is apt to be thought-contagion spreading unwholesome

But whatever gain in fundamental vibratory rate is made under the influence of
present-day orthodox rituals, is usually more than paid for by the loss at the same
time due to shackling the mental freedom. Not merely do those on the physical plane
who lead such services discourage any thought or investigation which might reveal
facts which would upset their creeds, but the ritual serves habitually to tune the mind
in on invisible regions where only those holding to this creed abide. The ritual,
therefore, under such circumstances, becomes an invisible instrument to hold the
minds of those who attend its performance in a set and predetermined groove.

Yet until the mind is free from the fetters of such narrow conceptions, and is willing
to accept a progressive conception of life, in which the soul does not merely attain a
stationary heaven, or sink into a permanent hell, the amount of spiritual progress it
can gain is quite limited. A ritual, therefore, to be of high spiritual advantage must not
only arouse the desire for high endeavor and an unselfish life, but also must tune the
mind in on regions whose inhabitants are not walled about by ignorance of nature,
but are seeking out new facts, and themselves are making true spiritual progress.

Thoughts-Forms in Motion

–The holy water, which is used in some denominations, is water that has been
prepared according to usage; that is, according to magical formula. In its preparation,
therefore, it has been thoroughly magnetized for its purpose. This purpose is to carry
the will–the thoughts–of the priest using it.

Water is one of the most readily magnetized of substances. As it is sprinkled, or cast,
so the astral energies which the priest has brought to a focus are directed. The drops
of water thus act as carriers of his magical power. They are usually used in the
ceremony for purifying something or someone. And as thus prepared and used they
are quite effective instruments for driving out and dispersing other entities or
vibratory rates than those sanctioned by the priest. That is, the vibratory rates of the
priest are conveyed to the object or person so sprinkled, which tunes the thing or
person in on his vibratory rates strongly; and this, of course, cuts off any other
vibratory rate which has been present. Very similar methods are used by native
witch-doctors to drive out evil influences; and are quite as successful. Both modern
priests and native witch-doctors make use of the same principle to attain similar

“It was the duty of the exorcists in the ancient Church to cast out devils, to warn the
people that non-communicants should make room for those who were going to
communion, and to pour out the water needed in divine service. The book of
exorcisms was handed to him with the words: `Take and commit this to memory, and
receive the power to lay hands on demonaics, whether they be baptized or
catechumens.’ The candidate was admonished that as he cast out devils from the
bodies of others he should rid his own mind and body of all uncleanness and
wickedness lest he be overcome by those whom he drove out of others by his
ministry. For then only would he be able safely to exercise mastery over the demons
in others, when he should first have overcome their manifold wickedness within

This driving out of devils is mentioned in the Bible, and is occasionally practiced by a
modern priest; but has mostly fallen into disrepute. It is an inheritance of the Church
from the period of the witch-doctor. Nevertheless, even in modern times, it has been
known to cure cases of obsession.

But before discussing further either the influence of the Church, or the effects upon
devotees of healing relics, baptism, or the absolution of sins, a few words must be
devoted to the creation and attributes of thought-forces.

Any image clearly held in the mind and vitalized with energy actually builds an astral
counterpart of the thing so envisaged. In this manner houses are built in the next life;
and in some detail I have discussed in Course 20 how the environments which are
visualized by religious enthusiasts on earth are thus artificially constructed on the
inner plane, and afford a place of occupancy for those who pass over with a fixed
belief in such a heaven or hell. And I there also indicated that even a being with some
semblance of intelligence could thus be constructed to act the part of God or devil,
until a more thorough conception of things revealed the source of its construction and
apparent intelligence.

But in addition to this, it should be understood that a strong and vivid thought sent out
with a given work to perform not only possesses power to influence, but also a certain
amount of intelligence to accomplish the purpose for which it was formulated. I do
not mean that it is a living thing, possessing living intelligence. It is an automaton.
Nevertheless it can perform a rather complex function, and make a variety of
adaptations to accomplish its ends.

A torpedo sent out to attack a ship travels directly toward the ship. Yet even if the ship
change its course and maneuvers about, this does not prevent the torpedo from
finding its mark; for it is so constructed that it will follow the ship until it strikes it.
And an aeroplane loaded with bombs can be sent forth, with no human being aboard,
to be steered, it is said, to a city a thousand miles away, there to drop death-dealing
missiles. Calculating machines now do the work of many accountants, and do it
accurately. Sorting and tabulating machines exercise uncanny ingenuity in
accomplishing the work for which they are created. And new mechanical robots are
coming into existence every short while, exercising the ability to adapt themselves to
a wide variety of circumstances and yet perform their function as if endowed with
human intelligence. They do have intelligence of a sort; but this intelligence is that
used in their construction, which enables them to do a definite thing under any
circumstance that is likely to arise.

In a very similar way a thought-form sent out to accomplish a definite mission
exhibits quite an uncanny appearance of intelligence. It does not have the kind of
intelligence possessed by a living thing, but the kind of intelligence that a torpedo has
in finding its target, or a sorting machine has in discarding certain things and
retaining others, or a tabulating machine has in analyzing a report. It is a mechanical
device constructed of thought energy and endowed with the ability to accomplish a
definite thing under almost any circumstance that may arise. It does apparently
exercise intelligence in the performance of its set task; but has no intelligence of its
own, nor does it exercise intelligence about other matters.

In addition to the faith engendered by its reputation, a holy relic becomes saturated
by the thoughts of those who have faith in it; and after numbers have witnessed its
power to heal, and have projected their thoughts toward it, a healing thought-form
may be gradually built up around the relic that has a surprising power to heal.

Likewise, those who make the pilgrimage to Mecca to kiss the kaba stone, perform a
magical rite. They expect to gain in spirituality by their toilsome journey and the
great sacrifice it entails. This has an affect upon their minds. And when they
approach the sacred stone in reverence, they add to the accumulated energy of the
thousands who have kissed it, and give it a little more potency to influence future
devotees, because of the addition of their thoughts to the thought structure with
which it is enshrouded. Because of their reverence and aspirations, they do benefit by
having their vibrations raised.

About such a stone, or about a church in which ritual is conducted over a period of
time. there accumulates an enveloping and penetrating mass of thought-forms. The
thoughts of the priests usually are the dominant forms, and the thoughts of the
congregation furnish additional energy. Those who enter this thought-edifice cannot
help being influenced by its strong vibratory rates. And these may mostly be spiritual
and uplifting.

But commonly those who dominate the ritual or service send out imperious thoughts
that those attending shall remain faithful in all details to the belief and creed of the
Church. That is, in such an edifice, or place, long used for ritual or service, there are
usually present energetic thought-forms which have been sent out during the process
of ritual, which have the definite mission to perform of compelling the members of
the congregation to remain faithful to its tenets and creeds.

Invisible Persecution

–It is not surprising, then, to find numerous instances of those who withdraw from
membership in such an organization who believe they are being persecuted by the
Church. They find that they are unaccountably emotionally and mentally disturbed;
that a seeming pressure is exerted by invisible forces to compel them to
discountenance the findings of their reason and return to the fold. As a matter of fact,
no one in the Church may even be aware of their change of views; but the
thought-forms of the Church, like faithful robots, are at work endeavoring to keep
them in line.

Baptism is a ritual of considerable importance in many churches. It is essentially a
magical ceremony, using symbolism to impress the purport of the change on the
mind, and by other portions of the service tending to tune in all present, as well as the
one baptized, on the invisible brethren of the denomination. The person realizes that
his life has been far short of what he desires in the past. But he has determined
henceforth to do differently. To commence with a clean slate, as it were, he goes
down into the water, where his “sins are washed away.” His conscience need not
bother with past derelictions. Only the future need now be considered, and he is tuned
in somewhat on forces, perhaps on strong thought-forms, which help him keep his

The conflicts within man’s mind between the standard of conduct which he has set
for himself, or which his religion has set for him, and what he actually does, leads to
inefficiency and unhappiness. If he believes the priest has the power to absolve him,
he has a means of reconciling these conflicting forces within himself, and starting a
new day also with a clean slate. Confession and absolution of sins at times have been
used by the Church as destructive agencies; and have aided the Church to retain its
temporal advantage. But they also have been of benefit to those who believe in them,
because they have enabled them to release mental disturbances and quiet inner
conflicts. Believing they were no longer sinful, it became easier for people to tune in
on high-frequency energies.

Like almost everything that is powerful, when used strictly for a constructive
purpose, religious ritual accomplishes much that is of great worth; but when used to
restrict the minds of others, or to exploit them, it is equally powerful as an agent to
retard human progress.

Effective Prayer

–Prayer as well as progressed aspects affords the thought-cell groups within the
unconscious mind with additional energy for use as Extra-Physical Power. And
although these thought-cell groups have intelligence of their own, and as witnessed
in their response to progressed aspects, know how to bring physical events to pass,
prayer, through the directive power of thought, may divert the activities of
thought-cell groups to performing a new and desired type of work. That is, prayer
may not only furnish the energy for work on the inner plane, but may also effectively
direct the intelligence of a thought-cell group to performing the job required in the
answer to the prayer.

In other words, prayer may cause the same thought-cell groups which are responsible
for the events attracted into the life when progressed aspects are operative, to exert
themselves to bring to pass other conditions and events which are sought.

Yet in bringing about the condition sought through prayer, man need not depend
upon the intelligence of the thought-cell groups of his unconscious mind. Each level
of inner-plane existence is inhabited by intelligent entities, and these respond to the
earnest desires of those of similar aspirations who can contact them. In the physical
world we do not rely entirely on our own abilities and efforts. There are friends and
associates with similar interests who give advice and who cooperate in various ways.
And through the avenue of prayer, which is a deliberate effort to enlist the aid of a
superior power, we more or less contact intelligences occupying some level of the
inner plane. And we more or less contact the all-pervading intelligence of Deity.

How much, in any given instance, the all-pervading Divine Consciousness responds
to prayer, how much inner-plane intelligences give their aid, and how much of the
results obtained are due to the activities of thought-cell groups within our
unconscious minds, is determined by a variety of conditions. But however much one
or all of these three contribute to the answer to prayer, the result is effected through
the Extra-Physical Power brought into play, Extra-Physical Power which in
principle is similar to that which brings other events, including those not desired, into
the life coincident with appropriate progressed aspects.

Such Extra-Physical Power may be directed from any inner-plane level. Under
proper conditions, even the brutal prayers of bestial men gain a force which brings
their answer. But the brutal prayers of bestial men can only reach and bring a
response, if they bring a response at all, from the bestial levels of the inner plane.
They only have a force which operates with intellectual cunning on the gross and
selfish levels of the animal world.

It is only those prayers which are motivated by the unselfish desire for the welfare of
others which have a vibratory frequency that extends the consciousness to those
basic levels of the inner world where dwell those who have once lived on earth, and
other entities which have never had earth experience, but which work for all that is
good and true, and which are willing to assist the beneficent purposes of man.

If the dominant mood engendered by the act of prayer exalts the soul in noble
unselfishness, if the thoughts and supplications are chiefly for the benefit of others,
the inner-plane level contacted will have a similar vibratory rate, and such
intelligences as there reside will be unselfish and devoted to being as truly helpful as
possible to all.

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