Beyond the Temple

by elizabethbrantley

We often hear about the concept of our body being a temple. We strive to remember this when we have critical thoughts about it, when we find ourselves eating non-nourishing foods or simply when we put our body low on the list of our priorities. I have loved this idea since it implies sacredness, but it has always seemed slightly incomplete. There was something missing with this metaphor, and it wasn’t until last week that the answer made itself apparent.

In our present day society most of us don’t dwell, play or worship in a temple daily and I personally have forgotten what a temple really does or means. Why is the body a temple? Why not a playground? A garden? A meadow? A machine? A vehicle? Couldn’t the body be all these things too?

Of course! But the temple fits more for one particular reason. The role of a temple is not just a gathering space or simply a place of worship. It is to be the guardian, the outer walls that create space around a sacred altar. You don’t worship the temple. You worship what the temple holds. Like tending to an eternal flame within a place of worship, this is the meaning and highest calling of our bodies. Our bodies are the walls to our own inner flame and unique sacred altar. Maintenance and upkeep of our temple allows for the easy flow of visitors, yourself included, to come, worship and celebrate the Divine that is held within you.

While it is inherently sacred in its nature, like anything that is given continuous presence, ritual and interaction the sacredness and presence of this altar grows when we begin to incorporate it into our daily routines. By visiting or simply acknowledging this altar we are expanding the flame to be carried to others far beyond temple walls.

In my personal experience, if I don’t tend to the altar within me first before making any change, including one to my body, then there isn’t as much sacredness and Divinity in my actions. Yet it has been times, when I have given time and space to recognizing this Divinity within, that I feel as if Life itself is sacred in all of its moments. Can going inside, then, examining ourselves and looking to the alter rival the moments when we have known Life and Everything that is Good intimately and with love. Can turning inside and bowing down to the alter within be as breathtaking as a sunset that stops you from your busy pace, as moving as a deep connection with a new friend? Can we create a space within us that is the most sacred of all we know. Can we harbor within the walls of our temple bodies an idyllic geography that serves us and points us to the Divine as worship centers, camps, schools, or even your own home might do right now.

A temple is built for only one reason – to create a sacred space around the pure Divinity, the alter, that already exists. We all share this commonality of having such an alter within us. Can we praise the temple, tend and maintain the temple, but not forget and get lost in worshiping it, worrying about it, judging it, when its sole purpose lies inside. Can we love our bodies, embracing their individual and unique existence, which do need consistent upkeep like any structure, yet not be too distracted by this responsibility. Can we dare to not only find this sacred space within ourselves, but in all those we come in contact with? Can we possibly see everyone and all the masses of people just like they are, moving, breathing, working temples, serving the Divine spark that graces us at this very moment.