Essay 9 Building the inner temple

Challenges of Birth, Life and Death – Building the inner temple
Chapter 18 of Mysteries and Challenges of Birth, Life and Death

The human being of today is called to build a new temple that, although it has to resemble the original human tabernacle, is fundamentally different. What is the reason? The human being is no longer a complete human being! True, he is in principle, but in practice he is in a very mutilated state. 

The spirit figure and soul figure function almost automatically. There is no longer any question of conscious guiding, building, ordering and prompting by the spirit. The soul-state is in accordance with this total aridity, this spiritual sleep of death. Of the original divine creation there remains only a bi- ological, mechanical person, in a heavily crystallised bodily figure. There is no longer any question of a binding with the Logos, with God; man is a broken reality. […]

When you want to do good, you either do evil or unchain it. Such is the law of dialectics, the law of opposites, which keeps good and evil linked with each other in a constant rotation. You are imprisoned in a borderland. So the question can be asked: how do I reconstruct the original man?

J. van Rijckenborgh,
Elementary Philosophy of the Modern Rosycross, chapter 11

Building the inner temple

For thousands of years humans have been building temples all over the world that enable him to experience and strengthen the connection with his deepest inner being and with the spiritual world. When the temple work is performed properly, participants receive nourishment for their souls so that they can be recreated into new human beings. The word temple is derived from the Latin word templum, meaning sacred space or sanctuary and can be described as ‘house of becoming-whole.’

Many of the earlier temples have disappeared, but in some places ancient and impressive buildings are still standing that previously had an important sacred function, but nowadays are mainly tourist attractions. Think for instance of the megalithic monument Stonehenge in southern England, the pyramids of Giza in Egypt and the many medieval cathedrals in Europe, of which the cathedral of Chartres in France perhaps appeals most to the imagination. It may surprise us, as people of the 21st century, that in earlier centuries our peers were able to realise such magnificent structures with very simple tools.

The mentioned shrines had to be a reflection of cosmic laws with regard to their dimensions, proportions, structures and location. That is why the master builders were expected to know those laws first and foremost and could apply them. The condition for that was that they realized them in their own lives: that they were students of the mysteries or were closely connected to a mystery school.

In the past, ritual gatherings were often held in nature. In those days nature was, much more than now, seen as a reflection of the sacred . For example, the priests of Celtic populations, called druids, considered trees to be sacred. The word druid is derived from the Celtic word dair, which means oak. In Western Europe, druids held services in places with powerful energy such as open spaces in the forest and places near running water. Once Christianity arrived, churches were often built at those locations.

The Celts had many gods and also knew a divine trinity. Taranis was the father god, Lugos the son god, and Brigid the divine virgin who would give birth. Rudolf Steiner writes that the druids were very willing to let go of their old religion and to focus on Christianity because, after the mystery of Golgotha, they could experience the Christ spirit in the astral sphere. That could explain why there was already Christianity in Ireland in the first centuries of our era, even before missionaries arrived there from Rome.


Other natural sanctuaries that were used all over the world were caves. In many cultures, a cave is an ancient symbol of a shelter for people and for cattle. A cave is also an image of birth and rebirth. It is written about both Krishna and Jesus that they were born in a cave.

Caves were important for Catharism, a large Gnostic-Christian movement that had many followers in the 12th and 13th centuries, especially in southern France. The caves in the vicinity of Ussat-les-Bains were an important initiation center for the Cathars. Believers who requested admission and were found suitable received an intensive training of at least three years, during which prayer, work and reflection were their core activities. After this process of education they were initiated as a parfait (perfect) in the socalled cave of Bethlehem in the holy mountain (montagne sacré). Through that ritual it was confirmed that the person concerned was re-born within.

Caves also played an important role in the so-called Mithras mysteries. Mithras was a Persian god who was worshiped during the Roman Empire. He was supposedly born of a rock and was then worshiped by shepherds. There was one central myth in that cult in which this sun god kills a bull, symbol for the death of the animal instincts in humans, and afterwards ascends to the sun with his chariot. The worship of Mithras initially took place in caverns and natural caves and later also in constructed temples. There were benches on either side of the room and the walls were decorated with scenes from the Mithras myth.

Supporters of the Mithras religion knew high-standing ethics, professed the return of their savior, believed in the resurrection of the dead and in a final judgment of the good and the evil. The Mithras religion as such also knew the forgiveness of sins through baptism, a sacred meal, Sunday celebration, and a birth celebration on December 25, three days after the winter solstice. In the fourth century, the date of December 25 was declared an official Christian holiday to commemorate the birth of Jesus. Historically nothing is known about the actual year and date of birth of Jesus.

There were clear similarities between Mithraism and young Christianity. That is why several investigators conclude that the Mithras mysteries provided fertile ground for the development of young Christianity. In the first centuries, Mithraism and Christianity competed with each other. Christianity came out as victorious. We can read in history books that this came about because Mithraism was intended exclusively for men, while Christianity was for both men and women from the very beginning. However, there are also more hidden reasons why Christianity gained power over the people.

At the initiative of Emperor Constantine the Great, the foundations of the Roman Catholic faith were established at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 and under Emperor Theodosius 1, Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire in the year 380. The Romans were masters of organization. Partly because they started to record and organise the Christian faith, inspiration disappeared and crystallization and calcification appeared. That led to the decision made during the council of Constantinople in 869 where it was decided that man has no spirit but consists only of a body and a soul. As a result of the reductive scientific thinking that arose in the seventeenth century, even today millions of people are convinced that man has no spirit and no soul and that he is only a body that lives as a result of physiochemical and biological processes.

Egyptian roots

Several places in the New Testament of the Bible make it clear that man is composed of spirit, soul and body. As the apostle Paul writes in his first letter to the community of the Thessalonians: ‘And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

We also find the concept of tri-unity of mind, soul and body in Greek philosophy (in particular neo-Platonism) and in Judaism. Jan van Rijckenborgh, one of the founders of the School of the Rosycross, writes in his book ‘Dei Gloria Intacta’, published in 1946, that the liberating values from previous philosophies and world religions have been merged and renewed in original Christianity, and its essence – renewal of spirit, soul and body through transfiguration – has yet to be proclaimed.

Much less known is that Christianity is also largely based on the Osiris myth from ancient Egypt. In his book ‘Ancient Egypt: Cradle of Young Christianity’, the Dutch theologian and researcher Tjeu van den Berk maintains that the great stories of Christianity originated in the first century from a group of liberal Jews in the melting pot of Alexandria, the Northern Egyptian port city where the Nile flows into the Mediterranean Sea.

It is well known that Christianity is firmly rooted in Judaism.  The first Christians in Alexandria derived their identity, albeit mostly unconsciously, from the then more than three thousand year old myth of Osiris. In this way we can understand where the typical non-Jewish themes in the Christ epic come from, such as a triune deity, a child born of a virgin, who is both god and man, dies, descends into the underworld and rises from the dead after three days.

We can see Christianity as a gift from heaven, the seed of which was laid at the banks of the Nile. That already starts with Moses who was pulled out of the water of the Nile as a baby, later on is initiated into the Egyptian Mysteries and becomes a leader of the people of Israel, leading them from slavery in Egypt to the promised land.

Moses probably lived around 1300 BC. He was the one who introduced the tabernacle, a movable temple tent that was made and furnished according to the instructions that Moses received from God on Mount Horeb. In this tent for religious gatherings, three parts can be distinguished: the court, the holy and the holy of holies. We see the same triplets later on in the Jewish temple. The holy of holies of the tabernacle and later of the temple was shaped in the form of a cube and was separated from the rest of the tabernacle by a curtain or drape.

Much later the need arises in Jerusalem for a permanent Jewish temple for ceremonial Jewish worship. Around the year 1000 BC King Solomon built the first temple in Jerusalem in cooperation with the master builder Hiram. He was king, priest and magician of Tyre, the area nowadays called Lebanon. This initiate in the gnostic mysteries comes with cedar wood and workmen to build the new temple. The leader of the believers of the people of Israel, in this case King Solomon, therefore asks for help from an esoteric worker in founding the temple and the associated community. A representative of the outer religion therefore requests and accepts the help of a representative of the inner religion.

Jewish temple

The first Jewish temple, along with the city of Jerusalem, was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. They deported the Jews to Babylon and during the Babylonian exile, the Jewish people developed the Institute of the Synagogue, in order to be able to celebrate the Jewish feasts and rites.

Immediately after the Babylonian exile, the foundations were laid in Jerusalem for the second Jewish temple, which was completed in 520 bc. According to the Gospels, this temple is the one where Jesus was on several occasions; it was destroyed in the year 70 by the Romans under the leadership of Titus. In the gospel of Luke we read that the baby Jesus is dedicated to the temple of Jerusalem by Joseph and Mary, who meet old Simeon and Anna there.

Luke further tells us about the 12-year-old Jesus teaching in the temple, greatly impressing the listeners through his wisdom. In their gospels, the evangelists Mark and John describe the story of the cleansing of the temple, in which Jesus harshly drives out the traders and money-changers from the court of the temple because they have turned the place of worship into a robber’s den. In the past, this story has often been cited to justify violent and aggressive behavior. ‘Jesus acted relentlessly, so we are allowed do that too,’ was the reasoning.

But when we apply the inner key, a completely different picture emerges. We can see our entire human system as a temple that has fallen into disrepair, has been desecrated and has become powerless. That is why we can recognise the invitation in the Gospels to demolish that old temple and to build a new temple in a threefold process: the temple man. That is inner temple building.

In the oldest known writings of Christianity, the apostle Paul’s letters that he probably wrote between the years 52 and 58 AD, the importance of the inner temple is already emphasized.

Paul writes in his first letter to the community of Corinth about the individual inner temple: ‘Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?’ (1 Corinthians 3:16). He also wrote about a collective invisible temple that can be constructed by all community members. He writes to the community of Ephesus: ‘So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone; in whom each several buil- ding, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

In this context, Paul also speaks about the body of Christ. The classical rosicrucians name it in their manifesto from 1614, ‘Fama Fraternitatis R.C.’ (The call of the Brotherhood of the Rosycross) as the domus sancti spiritus or the house of the Holy Spirit. They conclude their invitation to the rulers, statesmen and scholars of what was then Europe with the following text about the invisible collective temple: ‘Our Building, even if thousands were to see it from nearby, will forever remain untouched, indestructible and totally hidden from the wicked world. Under the shadow of thy wings, O Jehova.’

Focal point and powerfield

In building both the inner individual temple and the invisible collective temple, an outer temple can play an essential role. There the pupil of the soul receives the insights, powers and materials needed to raise the temple man. If all goes well, an outer temple is much more than a building where religious gatherings are held. A true outer temple is a reservoir of spiritual energies that make spiritual awareness and renewal possible. Those present in the temple can absorb the light power that is present and constantly being released there, and so be healed inwardly. The reservoir does not get depleted because the light power is constantly attracted and vitalised through the focus of the participants in the temple services.

In this way an outer temple can become a focal point of what is sometimes referred to as the universal Brotherhood, which consists on the one hand of human entities who have gone the gnostic path, who no longer have a physical body and are liberated from the wheel of birth and death; and on the other hand, people on earth with a physical body who provide insights and powers from heavenly realms with which the liberating path can be walked.

The quality of the powerfield of a temple is most importantly determined by the intensity of the services that are held there and by the inner development and directedness of those present. A temple building can function as a spiritual focal point only if it is kept clean and pure in every respect. Noise, material and etheric dirt, destructive or wounding thoughts, a disharmonious accommodation and earthly orientations disturb the extremely sensitive temple field and weaken it, or even cause it to withdraw completely.

From these insights we can understand why Jesus was rebuking the livestock traders and money changers whom he sees trading in the temple. When the Christ Light becomes active within us, supposed certainties are, as it were, taken away from us. Greed, symbolised by the merchants and money changers, is driven out of our degenerated inner temple so that there will be room for the development of serving love.

We may wonder to what extent church buildings can still be considered temples. We have seen in Western Europe that church attendance has been declining strongly for a long time. Many church buildings have been demolished or given a different purpose. For example, there are church buildings that have been converted into apartment complexes, multi-company buildings, school buildings, libraries, bookstores, health centers, neighborhood centers and wellness centers.

At the same time we also see that more mosques are being built, that the migrant churches are growing, and that the more conservative churches are building large new churches because the existing buildings have become much too small.

Furthermore, we can establish that certain church buildings can be maintained only because they are used for several different purposes. Then there are celebrations on Sundays and Christian holidays and, during the week, there are activities such as fairs, exhibitions, congresses, receptions and film evenings. It will be clear that all these activities do not contribute to the development of a power field that promotes spiritual awareness and renewal.

School of the Rosycross

Within the School of the Rosycross, the temple work has played an essential role right from the beginning in the year 1924. Important large temples in the Netherlands are located in Haarlem, in Bilthoven (at the Renova conference center) and in Doornspijk (at the Noverosa conference center). Furthermore, there are thirteen centers in the Netherlands that have a temple. All these temples are used exclusively for spiritual activities, for the maintenance and further development of the inner individual temple and the invisible collective temple.

The classic Rosicrucians from the seventeenth century wrote a mystery story titled: ‘The Alchemical Wedding of Christian Rosycross’. At the beginning of this story, the main character, Christian Rosycross, is invited to go up a mountain where three temples stand, to attend the wedding between the queen and the king. We can see Christian Rosycross here as the personality that strives to become one with the queen, symbol for the soul, and with the king, symbol for the spirit. We can see the three temples as the three sanctuaries of the body: head, heart and pelvis. They correspond respectively to the holy of holies, the holy and the forecourt. However, we can also interpret them as the temple of the spirit, the temple of the soul and the temple of the personality. These three can be united by ascending the mountain in a symbolic sense. That is going the path of spiritual awareness and renewal, the way of the Christian mysteries of being born, dying and reviving.

We conclude this book with a part from Chapter 20 of ‘The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ’ in which the twelve-year-old Jesus compares walking an inner path with the building of a temple.

‘One day as he was bringing forth the tools for work he said, these tools remind me of the ones we handle in the workshop of the mind where things were made of thought and where we build up character.

We use the square to measure all our lines, to straighten out the crooked places of the way, and make the corners of our conduct square. We use the compass to draw circles round our passions and desires to keep them in the bounds of righteousness. We use the axe to cut away the knotty, useless and ungainly parts and make the character symmetrical. We use the hammer to drive home the truth, and pound it in until it is a part of every part. We use the plane to smooth the rough, uneven surfaces of joint, and block, and board that go to build the temple for the truth.

The chisel, line, the plummet and the saw all have their uses in the workshop of the mind.  And then this ladder with its trinity of steps, faith, hope and love; on it we climb up to the dome of purity in life. And on the twelve-step ladder we ascend until we reach the pinnacle of that which life is spent to build the Temple of Perfected Man’ (The Aquarian Gospel 20:12-21).