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Taking Theosophical ideas

into the 21st century


Mindfulness and the Building

of the Medieval Cathedrals

Posted 9/3/07


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I feel that it is unfortunate that we use the term “Middle Ages” which conveys an impression of something in transition and not fully developed rather than what I regard as a civilization in its own right.


What we now term the “High Middle Ages” in Europe from about 1100 to 1280 which has left us with the major cathedrals must rank as the pinnacle of a great civilization rather than a transitory phase of history en route to where we are now. Esoteric knowledge was contained in the great cathedrals much of which has been lost.

This posting covers only one such area.


In this extract from “The Hidden side of Things” C W Leadbeater describes the principle of mindfulness and attitude in preparation in the building of the great medieval cathedrals which would be quite familiar in Hindu and Buddhist thought but is rarely found in modern western thinking.


“In very truth men prayed as they built our great cathedrals, and laid every stone as though it had been an offering upon an altar. When this was the spirit of the work, every such stone became a veritable talisman charged with the reverence and devotion of the builder, and capable of radiating those same waves of sensation upon others, so as to stir in them similar feelings. The crowds who came afterwards to worship at the shrine not only felt these radiations, but themselves strengthened them in turn by the reaction of their own feelings.”


Although he is rather condescending, Leadbeater makes the point that the devotional nature of the preparation of the interior of the medieval cathedrals facilitated spiritual upliftment and communication at all levels of society.


“Still more is this true of the interior decorations of the church. Every touch of the brush in the colouring of a triptych, every stroke of the chisel in the sculpture of a statue, was a direct offering to God. Thus the completed work of art is surrounded by an atmosphere of reverence and love, and it distinctly sheds these qualities upon the

worshippers. All of them, rich and poor alike, feel something of this effect, even though many of them may be too ignorant to receive the added stimulus which its artistic excellence gives to those who are able to appreciate it and to perceive all that it means.”


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