Many cultures, both past, and present focus on building sacred spaces. As a result, there are many beautiful human-made structures around the world. Are these buildings a substitute for your inner sanctuary?
The search for spiritual connection spurs the desire to create something unique that inspires, brings us peace, and grounds us. What is behind this need to create a sanctuary, a place set apart from the ordinary?
Friends of Sacred Structures
What does it mean to be a friend of a physical structure or place? It means acting responsibly and with respect when you visit unique archeological and social interest places. It means picking trash and taking care not to disturb or leave signs of your visit.
It seems reasonable to treat the things others have spent time and resources to respect these sites. However, if you watch tourists at any of the famous wonders of the modern world, you’ll see they do not respect these places. You’ll see them dropping trash and defacing monuments that were crafted with care. It’s why many sites are roped off and blocked because we can’t trust people to respect the legacy of humankind.
“The Experience of Sacred Space makes possible the founding of the world: where the sacred Manifests itself in space, the real unveils itself, the world comes into existence.” — Mircea Eliade
Humankind has made impressive temples, mosques, churches, synagogues, and other shrines with a variety of styles and purposes. The expression of sacredness by creating something that amplifies our senses and opens our minds.
We are still trying to determine the original purpose or intent behind some sites. There is great controversy about the purpose and the actual builders of these sites like the Great Pyramids on the Giza Plateau. We may not know why they were built, but we “feel” their awesomeness.
The most interesting sites are often built at specific geographical locations, corresponding to a network of energy known as ley lines.
So why do we need these sacred structures and holy sites? What is our preoccupation with building sacred spaces for a focal point? Many think the obsession with religion disconnects us from the sacredness of nature. And so, we become disconnected from our true nature.
“The first gesture of an architect is to draw a perimeter; in other words, to separate the microclimate from the macro space outside. This in itself is a sacred act. Architecture in itself conveys this idea of limiting space. It’s a limit between the finite and the infinite. From this point of view, all architecture is sacred.” — Mario Botta
People make pilgrimages to visit these sites. They are often the focal points of their belief systems. Wars and conflicts exist today because people believe that the location should be theirs alone.
Building Sacred Spaces and Sacred Sites
Not everyone finds sanctuary within the structure but in the land itself. Many of the places are just as important as the structure. Take, for example, the city of Jerusalem. Here the temple mount is home to two major religions. They are in constant conflict over the domain of the site. Both religions place a high value on the location.
“The first western gardens were those in the Mediterranean basin. There in the desert areas stretching from North Africa to the valleys of the Euphrates, the so-called cradle of civilization, where plants were first grown for crops by settled communities, garden enclosures were also constructed. Gardens emphasized the contrast between two separate worlds: the outer one where nature remained awe-inspiringly in control and an inner artificially created sanctuary, a refuge for man and plants from the burning desert, where shade trees and cool canals refreshed the spirit and ensured growth.” — Penelope Hobhouse
Many people believe the only sacred places on the Earth are those built by the hand of man. Nearly 4 billion people believe that some sites are more sacred than others. It’s okay to be friends of sacred structures; there is nothing inherently wrong with building beautiful architecture.
The problem is that people do not see them as metaphors of the divine. They believe these sites have more divinity than others because of religious tradition. They create wars to maintain possession of these sites. That is how important these sites are to some.
“It was about finding the sacred within myself, my center, my peaceful core. We each have a sacred space within us, a part of us. This sacred space is a temple, a temple to our inner power, our intuition, and our connection with the divine. The Discovery of psychic powers, spells, and meditation are all things that lead us to the temple. They help us find the road within and walk our path to the inner temple.” — Christopher Penczak
The Need for Sacred Structures and Sacred Sites
In reality, the entire planet is a sacred living entity that provides us with life.
We become blind to the fact that we are part of nature, part of the Earth. Many enlightened spiritual teachers direct us to find our connection with nature. The ancient texts are replete with stories of sages who ventured into the wilderness to meditate. That’s where Jesus and Buddha went to find enlightenment. They did not find it in a building; they found it in nature.
“When one loses the deep intimate relationship with nature, then temples, mosques, and churches become important.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti
All the landscapes of nature are sacred sites. We focus on building sacred spaces in an attempt to capture the essence of sacredness, but it’s just a substitute. We always try to hold our preparatory meetings in or near a wilderness park. It makes it easier to connect with the sacredness of ourselves when we are in the sacredness’s presence of nature. Learning many modes of seated and moving meditation is often easier outdoors. It is necessary for forest bathing and tree grounding techniques.
A connection through nature, not human-made structures, makes more sense. Human-made structures are a substitute for the beauty of nature. We are part of nature. Thus, we are also a part of its sacredness. When we feel connected with nature, we become grounded and at peace. When we are at peace, we act from our hearts rather than our Ego.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with being a friend of sacred spaces. They represent a legacy of humankind’s expression of ingenuity and purpose. We should preserve them for future generations.
Find Your Inner Sanctuary
Everyone has sacred spiritual gifts. These gifts sleep within, waiting for us to access and awaken them. Whether these gifts are part of our DNA or spiritual or other states does not matter. When you are awake, you can see all creation is sacred. Some traditions call this Eureka experience Oneness.
“Solitude can become your most meaningful companion, and it can assist you in being a more giving person in your spiritual partnerships. Rather than regarding your partner’s need for time alone as a threat, see it as a time of renewal that you celebrate. Make every effort to help each other have that space. Treat that space as sacred.” — Wayne Dyer
The next time you visit a human-made sacred space, ask yourself, what do I feel? Why is this place important to me? Is it a symbol of my religion? Is it a substitute? How does this space relate to your inner sanctuary?
There are other ways to connect with our essence. We can use several spiritual technologies to build sacred spaces within our souls.
“Sacred places are made first in the heart. Some monuments and places cry out to our hearts… to recognize their sanctity and holiness. But sacredness does not exist without an observer to bestow reverence. This is why these places cry out. You can feel it…
We can connect to our own divinity through these sacred sites… They reveal the sacredness within our hearts. If only our minds would fathom the holiness of All Creation. We finally see… realize… and believe that we are sacred too. Then these places weep for joy. That is why these places are awe-inspiring…” ― Guru Tua
We place the tools for exploring the sacred space of the mind into four main groups.
Ask yourself, what are my sacred spaces? Do I find a connection in nature? Does your inner sanctuary relate to a specific location, or can I take it with me? Why do I feel the need to be in or near these human-made “sacred sites”? Perhaps now is the time to investigate and see if the substitute for sacredness is holding you back?
It’s good to support and protect the architectural wonders of the ancient world. Being friends of sacred structures does not mean you ascribe to the religious traditions that adopt them as monikers.
“My mind is the only sanctuary that has not been stolen from me. Men have tried to breach it before, but I’ve learned to defend it vigorously, for I am only safe with my innermost thoughts.” — Christopher Paolini
Building sacred spaces starts with creating your personal sanctuary. The best ones are those you can take with you everywhere, like the sanctuary of meditation.