Posts Tagged ‘temple’


There is no need for temples … Our own brain, our own heart is our temple.
—H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama

Today the temple went to the post office.
Of course it wore its mask. There,
it met several other temples, also masked,
some of them in a hurry as temples sometimes are.
The temples joked with each other
about haircuts and lost keys and ripped old shirts.
All day—while working on the computer,
while making macaroni and cheese,
while taking out the cat litter and feeding the fish—
the temple managed to forget its own temple-ness
and the temple-ness of others
until finally, while weeding milk thistle in the garden,
a bell did not ring and a clarity came—
a brief brush with infinity that lasted a millionth of a second,
and there between the beets and the sunflowers,
was a moment when the temple was temple.
How quickly a thought comes in. Even now the temple
wrestles with its own metaphor, tries to discern its mystery
by disassembling itself into piles of knowable parts—
bricks of meaning, tiles of purpose—that, huh,
somehow, when dissected, don’t resemble a temple at all.

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In the secret temple of my heart

was an altar

with nothing on it—

I love nothing,

the pure potential

of it. Sometimes when others

journeyed here, I sensed

they were surprised,

perhaps even sorry for me,

as if it would better

with a lotus or a cross

or a star or a figurine

or a photo of someone.

Or a stone. Always something.

I tried, in fact, to put things

on the altar, but

no thing let itself

stay. There was a day

when, in a single moment,

the altar had everything

on it, and by everything,

I mean everything—every

bee, every stick, every

plastic bag and beetle,

every crushed empty can,

every crumpled shirt,

every door handle, compass,

broken thermometer, apple,

trashcan, tree, everything.

And it was so beautiful I wept.

For hours. Oh, the pure potential of it!

And then, that altar

was no longer in some secret

temple in my heart,

but everywhere. Everywhere

a place to worship.

Everything a prayer

waiting to be heard,

to be touched.

And inside, the most beautiful

nothing, not even an altar,

which is, oddly, everything.

I can’t say how.

Sometimes, when I am quiet enough,

I notice it. Sometimes, when

I get out of the way, I fall all the way in.

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