Sacred Space

Sacred Space

This past week I drew a lot from Vanessa Zuisei Goddard’s article in Tricycle magazine entitled, ‘The Places We Go To Be Here’.  Read the article in full here.
Note: I have quoted Vanessa and others when necessary. I have placed curly brackets around quoted pieces that I did not end up speaking to in my yoga classes but had been considering to include. Anything starting with the addition sign comes from me. 

These two, above, are sacred space to me.


“…Is there something inherent in the night sky that causes that feeling of awe in us? Or is this a conditioned response? Is it somehow created? The same questions apply to sacredness. And although the qualities that make a space sacred are not easily quantifiable, trying to understand what sacredness is and how it works on us has been part and parcel of religious practice since humans have had the power of reflection.”

{“So let’s start by saying that sacred space is differentiated. We can only speak of what is sacred by comparing it to what is not, and this dichotomy between the sacred and the profane, as the philosopher and religious historian Mircea Eliade said, is and always has been evident in the experience of hierophany- The manifestation of the sacred.”}

“Our upbringing, our beliefs, and our customs all shape our experience of the sacred. … still, something in us hungers for that which endures, that which is worth putting our trust in and my actually deliver the happiness we are all pursuing.  Things are nice, but they don’t last. A throw away world is not a fulfilling place to live in. So, some of us continue to orient ourselves toward the sacred–In fact, we co-create it–In order to be reminded of what is all too easy to forget. In response to hierophany, We build or venerate spaces that reflect and enhance our experience of the sacred, thus making it visible and tangible.”

“In differentiating sacred space, sacred space also has a threshold, the boundary that marks our passage from the ordinary to the sacred. ” 
+Such as stepping onto your mat, or stepping into your own sacred heart.
“‘Sacred space’ is another way of saying ‘with intention'”, says S. Kelley Harrell.
+What else do you do with intention? How can you step into all places with good intention?

{“Sacred space is not only differentiated space but it’s also a change in time.” …”When we immerse ourselves in a moment and meet it in its suchness or wholeness–whether through prayer or meditation, or through more ‘profane’ activities like doing the laundry or having a cup of tea–All of time gets folded into a single point: now.”}

“A well known saying attributed to Nicholas of Cusa, the 15th century German philosopher and mystic, is “God is an infinite circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere”.  This dissolves the boundary between the ordinary and the sacred, between then and now, allowing all things, all activities, all beings, into the circumference of the real. Nothing is kept separate. Nothing is left out. Therefore, everything is holy.”
“But this doesn’t mean anything goes, either. holding a keg party in a zendo might not harm its holiness, but it will affect the way we view and experience the space. Sacred space is relational and dynamic.”

“Remember, this is an act of co-creation, which means that all of the elements in a sacred space help to shape that experience of heirophany, the manifestation of the sacred, which in turns affects our actions further. So in this process of creation we are both creators and created.”

**”We don’t exist independently of the spaces we inhabit.”**
+I invite you to begin to inhabit your spaces, outer and inner, with intention and the sacred. Mat Auryn said, “sacred space is not just an external place. It is an internal place as well.”
+And, in the knowing that Sacred Space is co-created, can you then begin to feel and see how it’s possible to walk into a space that you would consider otherwise not sacred, and to enter with pure and loving intention, and begin to create the sacred?! To begin to co-create it with the sacredness that’s already in the space, and to invoke it, as much as the sacred is summoning you in that space? it is relational, and you are part of that relation, you are the sacred, and you play an important part in manifesting the sacred! 
+May you therefore, enter into your own sacred space of your sacred breath, sacred heart, sacred consciousness, with the same awe and care and respect as any other place you consider sacred. And, may we all attempt to do the same when meeting others. 

Vanessa Zuisei Goddard goes on to write,
“yet invariably, the moment they enter the space(Buddhist temple), something happens….. Starkly confronted with reality: silence.
Silence is both a necessary ingredient for the experience of hierophany and a common response to it. … I think that all of us, whether we know it consciously or not, understand that in order to be in relationship with the sacred, we must be willing to become still and quiet. We must be willing to be, if only for a short while, silence itself.”

**”Be silence.”**

“In the sacred space that is our body mind we practice noble silence with the intent to abide in reality. Again, not because at other times our living isn’t real but because we forget that it is. …We therefore need spaces and objects and practices to remind us that since our center is everywhere and our circumference nowhere, it’s not possible for us to get lost. We need deep, abiding silence to remember that no matter how far we think we’ve strayed, how long we’ve wandered, we’ve never really left home.”

“at the same time, we need actions and gestures and words that give expression to our wholeness and our belonging. As much as we need silence, we also need the language of the sacred to simply and directly communicate the truth of our holiness.”

So we can do things like chant and move, meditate and pray, invoke and summon,…” By summoning these qualities of the divine, we are in turn summoned by them. We are asked to remember, and turn to, and give voice to the very reality we are working hard not to forget. 
  So we chant or pray, we stand or kneel, we bow or prostrate ourselves, opening body and mind to the subtle communication that takes place when we orient ourselves in the direction of holiness.”

+To orient ourselves, is to give our focus to and to put our body, mind, heart, and visions towards the uplifting.
+And here again, we feel and experience the relational quality of sacredness. Every action, every gesture, every thought, every prayer, and more, is the sacred.  And isn’t it so beautiful that the embodiment of the heart chakra, and the heart itself, is imbued with relationships.  The heart chakra is the place of representation for relationships. Is it no wonder then that we’re always invited to lead from the place of the heart? 

+I invite you to meditate envisioning a place that for you is sacred.
+I invite you, if possible, to go and meditate in a place that for you is sacred.  Notice what transpires in the relationship as you step into this space and become silent.
+I invite you to set intention each time you step into a new place, an intention to be a support and a channel for the sacred and the loving.

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.” -Joseph Campbell

“Right where you are, the potential of the universe is.”- Alexandra Katchakis

Breathe and Believe.