I DO NOT want to see any temples
I DO NOT Want To See Any Temples.
As I travel through the beautiful and sacred land of Thailand I have become present to something that I feel is worth addressing.
It is something that has become grossly apparent while I have been here and I feel may play a role in many of our lives in a multitude of subtle and not so subtle ways.
It’s this experience of being an observer. A spectator.
I was sitting with a new friend at a cafe and we were talking about finding a space to meditate. They were offering a multitude of places as potential locations.
She mentioned there was a temple made out of all silver “that would be really beautiful to go and see.”
For reasons that I was unaware of at the moment, I was passionately indifferent. I told her that, truthfully. ”If we are going some place to meditate, my eyes will be closed so I do not really mind where we go.”
With that we decided to go to the nearest temple.
As we arrived I began to really consider if we were connecting to the essence of why the space was created. Was the space itself still alive with it?
Mind you, the temples in Chiang Mai, where I am currently staying, are works of art. The level of detail that was put into the design is beyond what I have seen in any modern structure.
With that, to see the temple doors closed and people walking around taking photos, it felt more like a museum piece than a temple.
I think, did the people who created this magnificent space do it from a place of ego, so that hundred of years later people who come there would say “Wow, what a beautiful temple”?
Or was the space designed to support ones spiritual growth? Were the symbols and signs that were painted on the wall with such care with the hopes to withstand time, put there so that we would not forget this internal journey?
I really began to consider this…I have never liked the term tourist, because for me it implies a sense of simply observing a space. It feels superficial.
Now, I am aware that may not be the technical definition of the word. My perspective may just be a byproduct of the way we have chosen to engage in our travels as a culture or, should I say, the lack there of.
Simply, what this comes down to is objectification.
We make things objects and believe they are separate from us, therefore can simply observe them and think that us looking at in does not affect that very thing.
This perspective and means of engagement in itself I feel is one that is unconsciously violent.
We objectify environments, cultures and people on a regular basis and do not see anything wrong with it. Like people who go to zoos to witness animals in cages and feel that it is entertaining.
People witness monks in a space, consider the novelty and take pictures but do not connect to the humanity of someone who has chosen this path as a way of life: a human being who is breathing and standing right in front of them.
I got the sense that the monks may have even become resigned to the entire routine of foreigners coming and participating in this way.
Becoming an insatiable sightseer is one of those things that is so easy to do. Life is so magnificent that, in some ways, it is hard not to just look at what has been created and be in awe. But that is not why the beauty in life has been designed. Not for us to stand back and say, “oh how nice!.”
It has been designed for us to be in more of a participatory awe. To become unified with it and to meet the grandness of any experience with all of who we are.
This situation for me was just an indicator. Going to temples to take photos is only one way I feel this disconnected energy can manifest.
I just think about how we watch television and speak about people and situations as though they are not actually real. It’s as if we are just sharing our opinions and perspective about nonliving inanimate things.
I feel I always have to share ideas and must acknowledge the paradoxical nature of situations.
I do not feel that inherently taking photographs of anything means that you are objectifying it. I do feel that there is a way to be in such deep love with someone or something that taking a photo may actually re-present that love, or be an expression of that love.
This conversation is really about our internal experience. Are we participating or are we simply observing?
Someone can dance and be doing all the movements that they believe they should do and be in the right step at the right time for today’s fashion, but can at the same time be totally void of the authentic feeling, joy and bliss of that dance as a natural expression.
In this way we objectify ourselves. We become temples that were built to be inhabited by the essence of life but only act as a human museum or show piece.
I am not perfect and am sure I am not void of this approach in certain situations. But as one who is on the path, I wanted to open up this dialogue, this conversation in hopes that we can all become aware of it to eventually outgrow this limited experience of life.
I love you all,