What connotations arise in your mind when you hear the word 'temple'? Many religions create some type of temple for prayer or in homage to deities. But taking the religious context away, the definition of a temple would be a structure built for spiritual activity. The last part of the poem "Today" by Mary Oliver depicts stillness as being like a temple door. Since stillness comes from within, that means to me that this temple door is also within each one of us. If the temple door is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, how do we hop onto the rainbow path that leads us there? How do we find the path of stillness inside and learn to sit back and follow it?
Note I said follow the path; I purposely did not say lead yourself down the path. Leading means you have control, that you are manipulating yourself in some way. Following means you are receptive, open and willing to surrender. Are you?
Meditation is a means to finding stillness. In meditation, we learn to surrender to the process not try to lead it. If you attempt to lead yourself, it is your ego mind that grabs your hand and says great, let's go! The ego mind will attempt to distract you with thoughts so that even though you seem to move forward quite a distance in your mind, the stillness is left farther and farther behind.
The way Mary Oliver writes this, I create a vision in my mind of a path leading my mind down to depths of quiet and peace, an oasis of silence. When I learn to track this path easily, I eventually am rewarded with the sight of a temple door in front of me. Observe the details of your door when you get there. What is it made of? Is it elaborate or rustic? How does it open? Does it open for you? And on the other side of the door, as you softly move through, your reward for your time well spent in learning to silence everything. Everything except your inner voice. The words you hear now in this place are the treasure. They come from a place so deep inside you that most people do not know how to access them, have forgotten or simply are not interested in putting forth the effort. But do put forth the effort, just do.
"Today" by Mary Oliver
Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple."