I went a couple of times to a Benedictine monastery, but I simply could not settle to the fact that in the modern architecture of the church, which looked more like a refectory, the tabernacle was not at the head of the altar, but to one side, and where I expected the tabernacle was a seat for the presiding priest. That seemed completely wrong to me.Yes. The outer temple serves a focus, but the spirit can be lost in the ritual?
Yes. I'm reading this almost as a response to the attitude that everything has to be logical and that there are no mysteries about it? But I completely agree with you that the external and the internal forces are both necessary, obviously. Jesus clearly kept the Jewish feasts and observances.LOL. It's interesting that the Synoptics have Christ make one journey to Jerusalem, whereas John has Him visit multiple times, in accordance with religious observance.
Yup them old Benedictine brothers are finding it hard in the 21st century. I have such a huge respect for them, though few seem to really be happy men. However -- is anyone?I went a couple of times to a Benedictine monastery, but I simply could not settle to the fact that in the modern architecture of the church, which looked more like a refectory, the tabernacle was not at the head of the altar, but to one side, and where I expected the tabernacle was a seat for the presiding priest. That seemed completely wrong to me.
But I didn't mean to deny the spirit can be lost, it can, but I would add that it can be found again ...
Well indeed, but again, if this is lost, it's npot the fault of the temple, but a flaw in human nature.
As regards the temple itself – a precis from my essay The Rended Veil:
The exoteric understanding is of a sanctuary as a sacred place, from the Greek sacare 'to set aside' and thus denotes a place set aside, by man, for the worship of God and for no other purpose. The esoteric dimension of 'sanctuary' is that within it one is outside of ordinary time and space.
Here below it is the temple alone that is acccorded this meaning of 'universal centre' because it 'solidifies' the idea of a principial centre as such. According to the Talmud (Yoma 54b) In it is found the 'foundation stone' (eben shetiyah) around which the earth was created and upon which the whole world rests. In the Kabbala (Zohar: Terumah 157a) the Holy of Holies is the centre of the temple, the temple is the centre of Jerusalem, Jerusalem of The Holy Land and the Holy Land of the world. As foundation of the world the temple stands in direct line of the vertical axis of creation and thus represents the locus of the influence of the Divine, which determines its exterior and functional aspect as spiritual centre for the people of Israel.
According to Greek myth Zeus let fly two eagles from opposite ends of the earth, and they flew towards each other and met over the town of Delphi, and this point at which they met was thus determined as the centre of the earth. The point was marked by the Omphalos stone in the temple of Apollo. When Harmonia wove the veil representing the whole universe, she started with the Omphalos stone at the centre and from there worked outward. For the Pythagoreans, the Omphalos symbolised the Monad, the seed of the universe. In Egypt their omphalos was the Ben-ben at Heliopolis, the theological centre of their culture, and prototype for the pyramids and the obelisk. Dedicated to the sun, the soul of the sun-god Ra, in the form of the Phoenix, would often alight upon it. There is an omphalos in Ireland, at Tara, the seat of the High Kings of the Gaels, and the Stone of Scone sat beneath the seat of the kings of Scotland. Of course, there is the Dome of the Rock in Islam. The notion, both of centre, and of foundation, finds its expression in all traditional cultures.
In Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies is where God resides in His Isness. Outside or 'below' was the Holy, wherein stood the symbols of the Jewish Tradition and here was enacted the ceremonies and rituals of the liturgical life. Finally 'below' the Holy was the Outer Court, and it was from here that man commences his journey back to God. Here was the altar and the basin and oral tradition informs us that sacrifice and purification were (and still are) necessary dimensions of spiritual realisation. Buddhist temples conform to similar principles.
To the Christian, it goes without saying that this ternary structure of the temple prefigures the Trinity. This is not to imply that the Doctrine of the Trinity is an extension of the temple tradition, in fact the reverse is the case, the form of the temple is itself founded in revelation, "According to all the likeness of the tabernacle which I will shew thee," (Exodus 25:9) and follows a Divine pattern, not a human one.
The Temple 'fixes' this relationship in time, by the procession of its liturgical calendar, and also in eternity, or more accurately in the eternal, in the transcendant, by the remembrance and thus continuance of the given covenant upon which tradition is founded, a contract which springs from the eternal and is the sapiential life and being of the temple itself.
The human alone cannot signify these essential truths, although in effect as God is everywhere, He is a centre without periphery – every soul stands under the vertical axis.
If you highlight a section of the post that you want to respond too, a black reply button box will appear below the highlighted section. If you press that button, the section you highlighted will appear in your response box at the bottom of the page, between the normal square bracketed quote boxes.I'm still trying to figure out how to offset your and my comments, sorry. I shall do it this way:
There are in Buddhism traditional contemplative exercises on the Buddaguna, the qualities of the Buddha, to give a counterexample. The "success rate" in terms of epiphanies is unknown, not unlike that of contemplation of choirs or sunsets.There are many instances of people experiencing epiphanies while contemplating nature, or art, or listening to music, etc., but relatively few, I would suggest, while contemplating another person.
There are in Buddhism traditional contemplative exercises on the Buddaguna, the qualities of the Buddha, to give a counterexample. The "success rate" in terms of epiphanies is unknown, not unlike that of contemplation of choirs or sunsets.
Of course, man is a maker of symbols, so sacred art and architecture is an expression.but in my thinking, man out-symbolizes a building anytime ...
Of course, man is a maker of symbols, so sacred art and architecture is an expression.
As Donne says 'no man is an island', and the idea of the temple, indeed any sacred art, is something set apart or dedicated to God, which man cannot do of himself, other than follow a monastic calling.
... but relatively few (epiphanies), I would suggest, while contemplating another person.
And both you and Cino have rightly picked me up on it – I stand corrected!
We Christians have our Litanies of the Divine Name, we have Benediction and the Mysteries of the Rosary ... above all we have prayer!