"Cryptic" Reflections

Number 1, The Ante-Chamber



Contents List:

Semi-Circle
Vestibule
Centre
Names for God
"Personification" of God
Cycles
Axis

Return to:

Temple Guide

See also:

Ritual Crypt
The Enjoyment of God


Semi-Circle

The Ante-Chamber is in the shape of a semi-circle. Semi-circles do not occur in Nature. Hence, the semi-circular shape of the ante-chamber is an artificial contrivance suggesting incompleteness.

Where is the other half of the circle? It is in the Ritual Crypt proper, which is dedicated to recognition of the presence of the Unknown God.

Vestibule

The Ante-Chamber is approached through a vestibule where the needs of the body are recognised. It affords facilities whereby the body may be made as comfortable as possible in order to minimise physical distraction in attaining recognition of the constant and ubiquitous presence of a Single Deity Whose Absolute Laws underlie all the manifestations of the Universal Creation and give coherence to all human experience. The shape of the Ante-Chamber helps to emphasise the incompleteness of a life that refuses to recognise the Ultimate Reality of the One God.

So the Ante-Chamber is a space where persons who desire to attain completeness may compose themselves, lay aside the cares of the world, and prepare to concentrate their minds on the presence and significance of the One God Which created them and Which sustains them, body, soul and Spirit.


Centre

The centre of the circle is in the doorway to the Ritual Crypt. It is reminiscent of an expression sometimes attributed to Empedocles (fl. c. 450 BCE) : "The nature of God is a circle of which the centre is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere".

Does this "ring true" for you? If it does, is it not because you already have some recognition that God IS your Centre? Such a recognition implies that attempting to escape from your own Centre is equivalent to committing moral suicide.


Names for God

Although the One God whose Presence underlies the whole of Nature must perforce be incomprehensible to our limited human understanding, thinking of God and our relationships with the manifold aspects of Nature requires us to designate some symbol or name to "stand for" God in our thinking and conversation. But we should always try to keep in mind that any such symbols or names, and any qualities we may attribute to such symbols or names, are bound to fall far short of the Ultimate Reality. It is our human failure to realise this that gives rise to all religious disputes, many of which escalate into wars. Is it not foolish to quarrel about different names for our Common Creator? Should we not all benefit from realising that it is the One God that animates each and every one of us? If we take time to reflect upon this, are we not driven to the conclusion that, in our deepest beings, we are all the same?


"Personification" of God

Reflection on the foregoing paragraph reminded me of a passage from C G Jung's Psychology and Alchemy referring to the inadequacy of the general psychological education of the European:

"...religion excels all rationalistic systems in that it alone relates to the outer and inner man in equal degree. We can accuse Christianity of arrested development if we are determined to excuse our own shortcomings, but I do not wish to make the mistake of blaming religion for something that is due mainly to human incompetence. I am speaking therefore not of the deepest and best understanding of Christianity but of the superficialities and disastrous misunderstandings that are plain for all to see. The demand made by the imitatio Christi [imitation of Christ — Ed.] — that we should follow the ideal and seek to become like it — ought logically to have the result of developing and exalting the inner man. In actual fact, however, the ideal has been turned by superficial and formalistically-minded believers into an external object of worship, and it is precisely this veneration for the object that prevents it from reaching down into the depths of the psyche and giving the latter a wholeness in keeping with the ideal. Accordingly the divine mediator stands outside as an image, while the man remains fragmentary and untouched in the deepest part of him. Christ can indeed be imitated even to the point of stigmatisation without the imitator coming anywhere near the ideal or the meaning.

"For it is not a question of imitation that leaves a man unchanged and makes him into a mere artifact, but of realising the ideal on one's own account — Deo concedente [God willing. — Ed.] — in one's own individual life. "We must not forget, however, that even a mistaken imitation may sometimes involve a tremendous moral effort which has all the merits of a total surrender to some supreme value, even though the real goal may never be reached and the value is represented externally. It is conceivable that by virtue of this total effort a man may even catch a fleeting glimpse of his wholeness, accompanied by the feeling of grace that always characterises this experience.

"The mistaken idea of a merely outward imitatio Christi is further exacerbated by a typically European prejudice which distinguishes the Western attitude from the Eastern. Western man is held in thrall by the "ten thousand things"; he sees only particulars; he is ego-bound and thing-bound, and unaware of the deep root of all being. Eastern man, on the other hand, experiences the world of particulars, and even his own ego, like a dream; he is rooted essentially in the "Ground", which attracts him so powerfully that his relations with the world are relativised to a degree that is often incomprehensible to us.

"The Western attitude, with its emphasis on the object, tends to fix the ideal — Christ — in its outward aspect and thus to rob it of its mysterious relation to the inner man."


Cycles

The wall that divides the Ante-Chamber from the Ritual Crypt is a diameter of a circle. As soon as we enter the Crypt proper from the Ante-Chamber, we become aware of the other half of the circle. We are able to reflect on the fact that if we keep going around the circumference of a circle, we keep coming back to where we were before. There seems to be no end to it. This helps us to "make sense" of the cyclic variations which occur in so many aspects of Nature: breathing; daily sunrise and sunset; the phases of the moon; the seasons of the year; the life of man...


Axis

A diameter of a circle can also be an axis about which the circle revolves to generate a sphere. In the case of our crypt, this implies the co-operation of God and man to generate new material manifestations. The sphere is an idealised representation of many things which occur in Nature, notably fruits. This serves to remind us that material manifestations do not arise from human effort alone: the co-operation of God is required to supply the raw material and the cohesive forces which confer temporary stability on what we are prone to think of as "our" creations. Whether we know it or not, God provides the axis about which all our lives revolve.

Does this not imply that the more we strive to understand God's Natural Laws and co-operate with them, the more "powerful" we are likely to become?