Real physical temples are spaces set aside for contemplation of life and celebration of its perceived significance, temporarily secluded from the hurly-burly of the everyday world.
It is probably unfortunate that most temples are associated with a particular religion and that most religions prescribe a set of dogmas to which their adherents are expected to subscribe. It is my hypothesis that it is not necessary to subscribe to any particular religion in order to live a religious life but that it is healthy to make room in one's life for, and give expression to, religious feelings if one becomes aware of them. This is further discussed in Why 'Temple'?.
The word 'religion' is derived from the Latin religare meaning to bind back. When I ask myself 'What is bound back?', two answers come to mind. Firstly, religion is the means by which the Spirit of man may be bound back to the body from which it has become culturally detached, never more so than in the material-obsessed Western world of today. Secondly, religion is the means of psychologically binding space and time which seem to have become seriously dissociated in the popular consciousness despite recognition by physicists as well as mystics that they are inextricably linked.
The temple provides a space and an ambience conducive to contemplation. It assists the meditator to escape temporarily not only from the concrete world but also from the thoughts connected with the humdrum details of daily living. The temple user (or worshipper) sets aside the time to visit the temple and also contributes by trying to achieve the single-pointed concentration needed to gain some measure of understanding of the possible meaning of life and hence determine more clearly the part he wishes to play in the world. If 'all the world's a stage' as Shakespeare suggests, then each actor has a large measure of control over the writing of the script for her part and over the 'business' associated with it in performance.
It may be easier to 'worship' the principle underlying life, or the 'Author' or 'Creator' of life, by imagining some form or other with which one or more of the apparently essential attributes of such a Being may be associated. However, all such representations imply limitation of the illimitable, and there is no reason to assume that other people's ideas about the fundamental nature of God or the Universe are more true or reliable than one's own. Each of us is free to construct his own image of God and use that image as a symbol of the Infinite without mistaking it for the ultimate actuality.
Religion is essentially a personal preoccupation: indeed, it may be the defining characteristic of what it is to be a person rather than a zombie. Thus it has no need of the priests or 'ministers of religion' who have down the ages made a corner in this specialised area and sometimes arrogated to themselves powers beyond their competence. Neither does religion need elaborate physical structures, many of which seem to serve better as tourist traps or props for religious professionals than as havens for healing hurt humans.
The Ardue Temple is therefore a purely mental construction. However, just as physical temples have traditionally been constructed as symbolic representations of spiritual truths, so the Ardue Temple is constructed as a symbolic representation or psychological analogue of what I imagine to be the essential Economy of Life.
Although the diagrammatic symbols chosen bear a strong resemblance to those which are found in the Western esoteric tradition, they may be used and interpreted in ways which are readily comprehended by reference to the day-to-day experience of the dweller in modern Western society.
The model is based on the hypothesis that the human being manifests in at least two forms: a material form which is readily discernible by the five physical senses; and an immaterial form whose existence may only be discerned by metaphysical 'senses' or inferred by the intellect, particularly from consideration of the contrast between a living human and a corpse. It is further hypothesised that whereas the material body decomposes after death into its constituent elements, the spiritual essence or 'soul' which animates the body survives death.
There is no material Temple in Ardue. The Temple exists on this CD in very simple outline and there can be as many different mental realisations of it as there are readers of this description. Please feel free to design, furnish, and decorate your personal variant of the temple in whatever way most appeals to you.
The fundamental purpose of the Temple is to help seekers after wholeness to marry together their earthly mortal bodies and their ethereal immortal souls to form a vehicle through which they can obtain intense personal satisfaction and achieve a harmonious union with the entire Universe.
As with all temples, the design of the Ardue Temple attempts to represent in symbolic form some of the important relationships that seem to me to exist between the individual human being and the greater Cosmos of which s/he is part. It represents my current mental model of the operation of the principal 'laws' which seem to govern the personal aspects of the Cosmos.
Even though this model will probably change and, I trust, improve, with time, it is offered here and now in the hope that it may serve as an elementary introduction for students interested in the study and practice of mysticism and metaphysical philosophy.
Looked at from the side, the Ardue Temple looks like a cone with the apex upwards. At the apex is a light. Lower down the cone, there is a transparent "false ceiling" or filter through which some of the light can penetrate to a reflecting "Ground" floor at the base of the cone. The cleaner this ceiling is kept, the more clearly will its image be reflected in the floor below.
Viewed from above, the Ardue Temple takes the form represented in the Temple 'logo':
The 'asterisk' in the centre represents the Light which forms the apex of the cone. The essays grouped under 'Light' attempt to explain a little of its significance.
The circle enclosing a 'Star of David' shape is the semi-transparent 'ceiling' intermediate between the apex of the cone and the base. This ceiling is intended to represent the individual's personal experience of life including the external influences arising from Nature (symbolised by the star) and society (symbolised by the shading surrounding the star). The reasons for the design of this ceiling are explained in The Economy of Life. At this point, it is sufficient to note that the degree of transparency of the ceiling determines how much light gets through to the reflective floor which is represented in the logo by the outer circle.
The colours at the points of the star were chosen to set off the white central hexagon mainly because they were readily available in my software and I thought they 'looked nice'. However, they also serve as a code whereby the quotations in the Perpetual Meditation Calendar may be related to one of our seven topics to start off a daily reflection or meditation. Experience suggests that consistent repetition of a weekly round of topics for reflection causes helpful thoughts to become embedded in our sub-conscious minds and thus become part of our 'character'.
This central circle also bears a symbolic resemblance to the eye. The grey shading corresponds to the eyelids, the coloured points of the star to the iris, and the white centre to the pupil. It suggests that if we keep our lids closed (i.e. blink or 'are blinkered') we are content to accept without question whatever thoughts and beliefs prevail in our immediate circle. The coloured points filter the 'light' of experience symbolising the way in which the conclusions we draw from our experience may be 'coloured' by culture and schooling, but also reminding us of the way in which the iris of the eye adapts to the ambient light and enables us to 'take in' perceptions gradually, so preserving us from being overwhelmed by a 'blinding flash'. Our ultimate objective should be to gently enlarge the central pupil so that it may eventually fill the whole eye. We shall then be fully illumined.
The 'motto' surrounding the logo is intended as a reminder that the Holy Spirit of the Architect of the Universe surrounds and pervades this Temple as it surrounds and pervades all other forms and aspects of consciousness. It reminds us that while we human beings have bodies, it is Spirit that animates us; that while our bodies exhibit superficial differences between us, the animating Spirit within each of us is identical; that while our temporal bodily circumstances may differ greatly, our eternal spiritual essence is One and the Same.
Although we may appear to be fragmented, we have the potential to become living examples of Unity in Diversity. To be Holy is to be Healthy. To be Whole is to be Wealthy.
The floor, analogous to the retina of the eye, is intended to represent the human being's capacity for reflecting upon life's experiences, drawing conclusions from them, and acting upon these conclusions. This idea is further expounded in the essay entitled "Reflection". For the present, please note that the clarity of one's reflections depends on the amount of light reaching the reflecting base, i.e. on the individual's ability to 'see through' life's experiences.
Whereas the experience of the great majority of humans, even of those who choose to keep the symbolic eye open, is initially limited to the space between the floor and the false ceiling, there may be a few who aspire to see increasingly clearly through the false ceiling and perhaps utimately extend their consciousness above it.