September 26, 2016

Daily Wisdom: What is “Temple Consciousness”?

imgres-3To be in temple consciousness is to be in God. Eros pure and simple. This shift in consciousness is hidden within the folds of biblical myth text itself. We have already seen that the biblical term lifnei hashem, usually translated as “before God,” can be more fruitfully unpacked as “on the inside of God’s face.”

This allusion plants the seed for the much more radical move made by mystic Isaac Luria in the 16th century. In Luria’s graphic and daring vision, the world is not formed by a forward thrusting male movement which creates outside of itself. Quite the contrary – Divinity creates within itself a sacred void in the form of a circle. This is the Great Circle of Creation. The circle, unlike in the original biblical image, is within God. It is an act of love which moves God to withdraw and make room for other – paradoxically – within God.

Within the Womb of God

In this vision, all of being is within the womb of God. Nature is not outside of God but an expression of the divine. This is of course precisely the power of paganism. In paganism, there is an understanding that God is “on every hill and under every tree.” The hills are alive with the sound of music. The trees are part of God’s erotic manifestation. The central symbol of much of the ancient pagan cult in biblical Canaan was the Ashera tree. The Ashera is the feminine earth goddess erotically expressed in the image of the Ashera tree.  In the wonderful phrase of Keats, “Even as the trees that whisper round the temple become soon as dear as the temple self.”  For the pagan, the hills were literally alive with the sound of Music. As Abraham Abulafia’s mysticism reminded us, music is divinity undressed to the human ear.  Every hill, brook, tree, and blade of grass was invested with its own divine muse.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

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