Landing The Temples and Templing the land
Updated: Sep 21, 2018
Fold your wings, my soul,
those wings you had spread wide
to soar to the terrestrial peaks
where the light is most ardent:
it is for you simply to wait
the descent of the Fire --
supposing it to be willing
to take possession of you.
~ from HYMN TO THE UNIVERSE by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
It is difficult to force fast-flying birds to fly slowly. There is no greater sacrifice than when a consciousness, already expanded, consecrates itself to manifest reality. Agni Yoga 359.
If the end of all our exploring ( as T.S. Eliot reminds us ) is to arrive at the place we first left and know it for the first time, why bother setting out in the first place? If everything is always already sacred, why bother creating temples at all? When we understand that there is nowhere to get to and no self to get it, why not trash the whole self realisation gig and simply enjoy whatever and wherever we find ourselves?
All good questions Bruce and no doubt you will have some jazzy answers for us but will they be sexy? Will they help us come alive? Will we want them as much as they want us?
I don’t know but I do have a couple of observations that you can flirt with before you decide to invest in the denser text below. Firstly, not all people with their feet on the ground have learned to fly. Choosing to land is quite different from not being able to take off. Secondly temple is not just a noun but a verb that requires conscious alive relationship between humans and the earth. To ‘temple’ is to be able to, and to choose to, treat all beings with respect and in a sacred manner. Place may be inherently sacred but it is the interaction with dedicated human consciousness that makes it a temple. To love freely requires choice, even if that choice is to simply surrender to what already IS.
In transpersonal psychology, Ken Wilber talks about the pre-trans fallacy which essentially means that pre- personal attributes of the self are confused with trans-personal attributes. An example would be the difference between a childish ( pre-personal ) belief in magic and a child-like ( trans-personal ) one. In pre personal states we are unable to distinguish between ourselves and our surroundings and so we internalise and explain outer events according to internal experiences or vice versa. For example a parent dies, we experience abandonment and secretly believe they left because we were unloveable or didn’t clean up our room. Collectively pre-personal states in early cultures often involve superstition. The crops fail after an eclipse or a volcano erupts and it is attributed to the decadence of the tribe or a scapegoated individual. The essence of pre personal experience is always taken as deeply personal - the event revolves around the self because it is the self which is trying to stabilise and develop. Trans-personal magic is different. The self is still there but it has been transcended so the events are seen as linked or mutually arising out of the same ground that the self arises from. They are related and interactive but one does not ‘cause’ the other. Meaning is not inherent or given in either outer or inner experience but comes from the interaction of awareness and form.
And so in the process of landing temples we can talk about pre-flight and trans-flight or pre-liberation and trans-liberation communities. The first are full of seekers trying to make a better world but still trapped within it. They are like fledging birds huddling together on the edge of cliffs summoning the courage to jump. They have yet to individualise - a painful and often difficult journey that requires standing alone in the light of ones own soul, trusting to the wings of spirit - making one’s living ( and life ) from the core of one’s inherent gifts as a unique being rather than from family, function or fit. One can often tell pre-flight communities because they are usually polarised ‘against’ the existing status quo of material civilisation. This active rejection is really the summoning of the courage to fly. They are also often still struggling with survival issues and drawing on the land, the body and materiality itself for security while at the same time professing to reject it.
The generation that set out on the journey of liberation en masse ( many individuals and pockets of society have gone before ) was that of the 60’s and 70’s. In 1970 Richard Bach published a book that immediately found resonance amongst them. it was called Jonathan Living Seagull and here is the quote from the blurb. "For most seagulls, life consists simply of eating and surviving. Flying is just a means of finding food. However, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is no ordinary bird. For him, flying is life itself. Against the conventions of seagull society, he seeks to find a higher purpose and become the best at doing what he loves."
Many set out on this journey to fly or what we might call soul initiation. Most eventually went back to the old civilisation and got jobs again either regretting their idealism or putting it down to youthful enthusiasm. Some flew and many of those are still flying. Since then more and more souls are being born with wings or more correctly - not having them ripped off at birth by a society that is bent on survival - or waiting to open them…one day. We can see the lines of demarcation in the world becoming clearer and clearer. There are those who are still trapped in a decaying civilisation bent on surviving even at the cost of the ecosystem and the rest of humanity. There are those who have made the transition into soul and who are sourcing themselves in their creativity, their love of all life and the inherent invincibility of the human spirit. And then there are those caught between the worlds, rejecting the first but not yet anchored in the new.
And so we are at a time of critical transition for life on earth and what the temples represent are places where those still ascending can meet and mingle with those who are now folding their wings and coming down from the celestial heights. In practise we have all these three stages at play in us the same way we have three types of brain but it is the centre of gravity of the self which determines our actions.
In esoteric traditions the temples are like the chakras and nadi points of the energy body of the earth activating as human souls are drawn through resonance into these vortexes of transformation. They are places where the currents of ascent and descent are balanced and harmonise. To found them we need free flying birds willing to fold their wings and ascend by descending. Once the individual achieves his or her own freedom and exercises their joy of flight they begin to see themselves more fully as part of the greater whole - as that part in fact that was able to get free and now is in a position to help - if they choose. It is this choice that marks the difference between pre and trans-flight landing. Pre-flight people feel they have no choice - spirit or circumstances - inner or outer phenomena greater than them - are driving them. Trans-flight people know there is nothing inside or out that is more powerful than what lies beyond both and makes up their core as well as the core of all things. They can choose. And what they choose is an act of free and unconditional love. The true sacrifice of the temples is the willingness of the free soul to fully land and embody itself.
According to Maori myth, Tane-mahuta, god of the forest, was worried about his children, the trees, as bugs were eating away at them. He consulted his brother Tane-hokahoka, god of the birds, who asked his children to come down from the forest roof and live on the floor. But the Tui was scared of the darkness on the forest floor, the Pukeko didn’t like its dampness, and every bird had another excuse. Only the Kiwi agreed to sacrifice his beautiful wings and feathers to live on the forest floor.
This story is part of the tradition of this land, NZ where the temple at Highden is landing and I think it speaks to the generation of flyers in the same way the the story of Jonathan Living Seagull spoke to those in the seventies. I would modify it slightly to reflect the modern situation:
For most birds who have learned to fly life consists of enjoying their freedom, creating beauty and art, eating organic food and experiencing blissful orgasmic union with each other and/as the divine. Landing is simply a means of gathering resources for the next flight and inspiring others to ascend into the purified air of the subtle realms of energy and ecstasy. But Kiwi is no ordinary bird. For her the land is the living face of the goddess herself. Land and the physical body is the final wrapping of her divinity, the last sacrifice in the descent of Inanna. The fulfilment of her capacity to fly and be free is her decision to land and live that freedom unashamedly in a dense 3d world that is still afraid, where many are yet to find their wings and many who have are yet to fold them and fall with her into the depths. `As she turns the rich dark soil to plant sweet potatoes, she sings to that which is buried deep in her own flesh and bones. A song of return, a song of hope, a song of love and a future where heaven and earth are one and the garden of eden is restored.
All civilisations are created and destroyed from a state of ecstasy says Peter Kingsley and we are right in the middle of a cycle of such creation and destruction. The temples are not just places of refuge for those fleeing a civilisation in decline or looking for an alternative culture within the prevailing system. They are more radical than that. They are the very breath of the new arriving. They are not a place to retreat but to advance in a new direction; towards the earth. Towards the earth, not as mother but lover. They are landed by free souls who have liberated themselves from the gravity of survival and necessity, yet have come back to kiss the ground, to co-create and listen to that which has been waiting in their own bodies and the earth itself, longing to be met with love and danced in freedom. Come on Down.