Contemplation and Worship

Contemplation is always to be seen to some extent in true worship. Worship is a faculty different from thought, different even from love; it is the little self finding itself within the greater self, as though the sun reflected in a pool of water should look up at the sun in heaven and feel a sudden liberation into that greater life. It has not lost itself; it has gained itself. This is the experience of a man suddenly confronted with a realization of that which is utterly greater than he had thought. Thus he occasionally forgets that which he used to call himself, and this more and more frequently, so that it becomes only a sub-conscious element, as it were, in the new life.

It is the opening up of a new faculty. With the physical body we contact the material things of the world; with our lower emotions we rejoice in their energy; with our mentality we deal with the “material laws” that govern all those things; with our higher emotions we become sensitive to the life in our neighbor, and devoted to a joint welfare and happiness; but with this faculty of worship we break through the duality of devotion into the unity of self and God. No longer is it “Thy will be done”, but the actuality of what is a paradox to the lower mind: “Thy will and mine are one”. In certain advanced circles “O Thou” is the greatest heresy.

Emerson spoke of this faculty as the flowering and completion of human culture. On the tree of life it is not always the biggest branch that is the highest. At the animal stage of evolution we see that the physical and emotional powers have been developed, and there is also a growth of mind. At the ordinary human level that growth of mind has become dominant, and the man uses his judgment to select his desires, to decide which feelings he will keep in his mind and which he will set aside, but in him there is yet only a tiny appearance of the higher human emotion, the ethical instinct that can make him consider others as himself. In the man of saintly type that ethical instinct has grown till it over-shadows the mentality and in him the mind is occupied only in planning for the service of that great human heart. But even he has still to develop to its full proportions another faculty — this realization of the divine Self, the faculty of worship.