The word ‘temple’ comes from the root ‘tem’, to cut – a forest clearing. The inspiration of those who made civilisation’s first temples and churches all over the world, was the forest. You can see it in the pillars, the arched roofs, the decorated ceilings. For the gods walk in the forest. If you walk in alone, deep into the heart, you will feel their presence. They speak in the terrible silence. You may walk through the trees, down the naves, and suddenly, in this place of massive trunks, great brooding boughs, and below this spreading green canopy, you are about the altar. And you are really alone. Alone as a person in pain, or close to death. You do not quite know why this is the place. This glade of all glades. But you are suddenly an intruder. You walked into it the master of your fate. You had a purpose. You suddenly forget what it was.For a voice says, ‘Be still’. And if you have the courage to heed, and wait, you will be on the brink of knowing.
A forest has depth. You walk through woodland. You walk into a forest. A hundred doors close behind. A hundred open up before. You are engulfed in an environment just as free and natural as the sea shore, or the mountain peak. There are three things that cut a man down to size – the sea, the mountain, and the forest. And there are three journeys that can make towards self-knowledge, and to glimpse the immense reality of life – down to the sea, up to the mountains, or into the wilderness. But you must leave as much as possible behind.
Strange how these things happen isn’t it? I have been meaning to post these passages from John Wyatt’s The Shining Levels for some time but on the day that I finally get round to it, I find that they could almost be companion pieces to the quotes from Herman Hesse that Solitary Walker has posted.