Where’s the Temple?
The Book of Revelation was written around the time of the second destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. Though some suggest that the Temple Priesthood was in a corrupt relationship with Rome and so the Temple was in some sense destroyed before it was physically destroyed, one can imagine it as a collective trauma nonetheless. Some say the temple has to be rebuilt. Many Christian Zionists and Jewish fundamentalists are eager to see this happen. There is one problem: what is considered the site for the rebuilt temple is the place where the Dome of the Rock, the holiest mosque in Islam, currently stands. Christian Zionists like to take photographs and airbrush out the Dome of the Rock. Based on the definition I’ve given of 666/ the beast, this is very much a beastly act.
If you consider the Temple as a psychic rather than physical structure, it’s easy to see that the Temple in America has been destroyed, in the sense of a disconnect from the Sacred as it lives in and around us. American consciousness has for a long time been more conceptual than anything else. Even if one reads that their body is a temple and likes that idea, it is tragically too often a mental concept than an embodied experience. Perhaps this is the karma of white people who made war of the sacred ways of other cultures.
If you take the term temple in the sense of an embodied human being as a temple of the Divine Mystery, then it’s not hard to see that temple destroyed all around us, with each of us given the task to re-create the Temple. At the end of Revelation, Jerusalem is portrayed as the Bride. One can consider oneself as potentially an individual Temple in the Great Holy City that is the Bride. This is not dissimilar from some interpretations of the Second Coming of Christ as a state of consciousness in which every individual is a cell in the Christ Body.
Each individual temple is a part of the great Temple; each cell has its own place of belonging (Bill Plotkin defines this ecological niche as soul), its own style of being, its own part of the greater architecture.
In short, one very real response to the stories of the End Times is to commit to becoming Sacred Art, not in the sense of some outer-imposed idea of what the Sacred looks like, but what the individual soul most wants to live and express. In that sense, Sacred Art is what we already are, just as the world is Sacred as it is.
To become sacred art is often a subtractive rather than an additive process, that is to say: remove the coverings/ inhibitions over that living artwork / poetry in motion, and gamble everything for love if you are a true human being: Love, not as in finding a kickass partner, but as a way of living. For many of us, it requires excavation to find love under all the semantic propaganda. Many of us are be-spelled, ensorcelled, confused and led astray by words with propagandic deceptions amalgamated to their deeper meanings.
The same can happen with the idea of becoming a living temple – here in California, we’re notorious for ego-centric co-opting of radically healthy ideas. If you haven’t ended the self-other war, and aren’t able to see others, both human and other-than-human, both what you like and what you don’t, as aspects of the greater Temple, however desecrated the appearance, then you can fall prey to something similar to what a lot of women in this area fall prey to—the immature, egocentric version that looks something like this: “I’m a hot embodied goddess and I offer my divine self devotion via fair trade dark chocolate, tantric lovers, tattoos of sacred iconography, antique ethnic silks, and profound experiences in exotic locales.” Or, as Buddhist teacher Howard Cohen once put it at Spirit Rock, “Marin spirituality is about stringing as many pleasurable moments as possible together and calling it a spiritual experience. Latte, latte, para-late.” What I’m talking about aspiring to an x-ray vision of the heart, so that your heart is breaking in grief and love more often than not, whatever you see,. As Jesus put it, “Judge not according to appearance but judge righteous judgment.”
Belief will always be limited, because belief is primarily built on concepts we are taught, and a human being isn’t meant to live purely conceptually. Concepts disconnected from the wisdom of the emotional, the indigenous body, wisdom and intuition, will never get anyone anywhere.
In the two centuries that stories of the end of the world have been part of Western consciousness, along with apocalyptic disasters — natural ones such as the Black Plague, genocidal ones such as the witch hunts and the destruction of Native America, and war based ones such as the World Wars — Western consciousness has fallen deeper and deeper into a world- threatening duality.
Oriental yin/yang theory says, “What has a front has a back. The bigger the front, the bigger the back.” The United States has always had an idea about infinite progress, the pursuit of happiness, the American dream of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps, finding Mr. or Ms. Right and living happy ever after. It’s perhaps no surprise at all that alongside that impossible dream lives the fascination with doomsday. Perhaps the idea of infinite progress, with no decline, decay or death, has played a large part in creating a culture so violent and afraid of death that it looks to images of global destruction as a common source of entertainment.
The Underworld was banished, the feminine was banished, the body, matter and nature was banished, or at least given ‘less-than’ status. All that was banished is now pressing in on us from the borderlands of consciousness; they’re pressing against the barbed wire fences. When a person doesn’t know this is happening, it can feel crazymaking, or at the very least, stressful, a good reason to take anti-depressants. But the Sacred is coming to re-claim its place in Western consciousness. The Sacred never actually left, Western consciousness ‘just’ severed the relationship. For the sake of all life, Western consciousness must re-unite with that severed relationship, in a version of all great romance stories — loved, lost, re-united.
next up: The Feminine Apocalypse