The Living Temple
The world, of which we are a part, is sacred.
Seeking natural places of magnificence, we contemplate the power of nature and its overwhelming grandeur. Rendered seemingly insignificant by the near-infinitude of creation we may come to better accept our own inevitable annihilation at the end of this pilgrimage we call our lives. Simultaneously, we may find solace in the fact that others will endure without us and that nature will outlast us all. We may experience a sense of eternity, moving beyond the reach of history both personal and cultural. In these moments we come in contact with the divine, both without and within. These precious experiences offer us a chance to reconsider our conventional habituation, renewing opportunities for self-actuation and co-creation.
For me, what started as a formal preoccupation became a philosophical fascination – with symmetry. A natural organizing principle linked to proportionality and reciprocity, symmetry can be found at both the largest and smallest scales we perceive. Like so many life forms, we are symmetrical. So too are the sacred sites and temples we design for spiritual contact, celebration, and development. Developing complex symmetries reveals a hidden dimension in the world around us and draws forth a rich upwelling of associations within us. At once a window out to the world around us and a mirror into the world within us, these organic Rorschach patterns are revelatory on multiple levels. Through this lens, all things appear to have a life of their own. Nature is seen as a living temple.
The whole of nature can be experienced as a living thing. When this realization becomes deeply felt, a profound transformation of consciousness takes place. In a sacred state of mind, we are compelled to contemplate the interconnectedness of all things.
We are created and we create. We are co-creators. The spirit of man and place at one point in space and time influence one another profoundly.
Every moment of our existence, we take the world into us and give ourselves back to it, through breath. Eastern traditions offer a practice of meditation called circular breathing, designed to circulate energy through the body and to transmute physical force into spiritual force in a variety of ways. Various forms of visualization serve similar functions. Frequently, both processes are combined with one another. The extent and specific nature of these effects is currently unverified by western science, but it has verified beyond a shadow of doubt that the mind affects the body – and vice versa.
A form of the pan-cultural practice of pilgrimage, the Australian aborigines have a tradition called walkabout. They navigate through ‘dreaming-tracks’ or ‘song-lines’. They feel that it is not only the people who speak but also the land that speaks through them as they journey into it. By doing this, they participate in the revitalization of not only themselves but also the world. They consider land that has not been celebrated ritually to be barren, even un-living. These rituals are perceived as co-revivals producing a co-regenerative effect. “Through the singing we keep everything alive; through the songs … the spirits keep us alive.”
Universally, sacred stories arise out of these types of quests. These stories are used to initiate other individuals and future generations on their own quests. Communal activity, sustained generationally, is perceived to intensify the effects.
Countless cultures have traditional practices that engage the world in a similar manner. Contemporary western culture is perhaps the only culture that does not make shared practices of orienting both sacred and profane space in alignment with larger features and forces both terrestrial and celestial.
As my culture currently offers nothing to foster these kinds of experiences, I create my own set of practices. I create in order to participate in these larger, deeper, more connected dimensions of human experience. I invite others into this process so that they too might experience, create, and share their own authentic experiences.
Find out all about John Paul Caponigro at johnpaulcaponigro.com. John Paul Caponigro, author of Adobe Photoshop Master Class, is an internationally reknowned artist. A contributing editor for Digital Photo Pro and Camera Arts and a columnist for Photoshop User and apple.com, he teaches workshops both privately in his studio and at select public venues. A member of the Photoshop Hall of Fame, a Canon Explorer of Light, and an Epson Stylus Pro, his clients include Adobe, Apple, and Kodak. Learn more by visiting www.johnpaulcaponigro.com and get over 100 free downloads plus a free subscription to his enews Insights.
Process Published July 13, 2012
SACRED WORLD Published June 06, 2012
Refraction Published January 05, 2012
Landscapes Within Published November 25, 2011
Correspondence Published August 01, 2010
Reflection Published August 01, 2010
Condensation Published August 01, 2010
Antarctica Published July 15, 2010