If you will excuse me for saying so, the Christian ritual, for example, has a large element of magic in it.
You have to say that the transformation of unleavened bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Christ is something magical. There is nothing rational or factual about it. Yet a Christian feels sanctified by having partaken of that bread, because he has an instinctive feeling that it is not just bread. He eats bread every day and much better bread that he has to take in church and yet he has this sense of upliftment there. You may say, It is the general attitude with which he goes to that service, then there is the ceremony and there are chants and music all these have an effect.’ But that is not enough to account for the devotee’s feeling of upliftment; he believes that the bread has actually become the body of Christ. Here something magical is being accepted in Christianity, and I should say that that is a very important element, even the main element in the Christian ritual.
But in ritual there is also the human approach. The attitude of a devout Christian towards Christ, for example, is utterly human. Although Christ is the Son of God, he is also the Son of Man, and therefore a devotee can come to God through His Son, who is the God-man. It is essentially an anthropomorphic approach, just as is the Hindu worship of the Personal God.
The third element in ritualism is symbolic worship. Now, some of you might well say that the Christian Eucharist, which I have called magical, is also symbolic. You see, there is a form of meditation in which a person thinks he is gradually transformed into the very object on which he is meditating: his body has become the body of God, his mind has become the mind of God, his soul has become the soul of God, and if he is meditating on God with a certain form, then his form has become that form of God. I would not advise you to try this out for yourself. Many of you read books or come to lectures and pick up some hints and suggestions and think that is enough for undertaking spiritual practice. It is not. Sometimes great harm comes. You have to know the right practice for yourself, individually. However, there is this practice of self-identification with the object of meditation. Now, one could easily introduce this meaning into the Eucharist. One could say, Yes, the bread is just bread, but it is a symbol of the body of Christ, and by taking it I feel that my body has become Christ’s body and my soul has become Christ’s soul.’ I do noticnow whether or not Christians do that, but it would be quite possible to use this piece of bread symbolically as a symbol by which you feel yourself transformed.
Or this ceremony of Holy Communion might have a deeper meaning (and I know that meaning is inherent in Christianity): it is the enactment of a great sacrifice. Christ is the priest, Christ also, as a form of God, is the object of worship, and Christ himself is the victim being sacrificed to this God. That is another kind of trinity, in which the same being is the priest, the victim, and also the Deity to whom the sacrifice is offered the purpose being to enact that great sacrifice which is another name for existence. Existence, if you understand it, is nothing but the drama of sacrifice.
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