Jedi Master leaned in closer to the Apprentice with the earnest eyes of a pressing question.
“What troubles you, “ she asked?
“I am having trouble with the Temple,” he paused tapping his fingers, “not that kind of trouble.” Though Jedi Master said nothing, remaining still.
“It’s that I can’t see it. You know, in my imagination,” he said. “Recently, I came to the realization that my frustration arose from this empty place that I could not visualize. I wasn’t even aware that this blank space was at all bothersome.” Both leaned back in their chains, their silence evidence of thoughtfulness.
“A place is important. Temples are usually in a place of one kind or another,” she said, “and we don’t have one of those in any place out there. No images of it come to mind.”
“There are temples that I have seen images of and there have been some I seen in person,” said the Apprentice pursing his lips, “even been inside, but not one of our temples.”
“Not one of ours,” Jedi Master echoed. “What would one of ours look like?”
The Apprentice sat up, tilting his head to one side, “What? Where?”
“Let’s try this,” her voice barely a whisper. “Close your eyes and listen to my voice. Imagine a kind of landscape that you love to explore. Seaside? Pasture? Forest. Palm trees? Oaks? It’s your forest. How about a craggy mountain pass. A lake surrounded by birch and pine. Riverside or creek side. Waterfall in a tropical forest.” She paused letting her Apprentice imagine whatever he wants.
“Now that you are in that place, surround yourself in the warm feeling that this is a safe place. Nothing harmful ever happens here. Have no fear.” She awaited the feeling of contentment to wrap around him like a soft blanket.
“Look over the happy landscape, you are there. Now, slowly turn around to see the Temple that stands behind you. Now imagine what kind of structure it would be. An intimate place, an earthy lodge with a vast porch. Or castle like with high walls with lots of windows. The landscape and the temple complement each other perfectly. If it sits on top of a high place or nestled in a forest clearing it is a safe and happy place.”
The Apprentice’s breathing was slow and even.
“Go inside, no one is about yet, so right now you have the place to yourself. What does the inside look like?”
Jedi Master continued her visualization with her Apprentice suggesting details for the place and reaffirming the feelings of warmth and happiness. Earnest studies with other conscientious Jedi of all sorts mingling, laughter heard now and again. She asks the Apprentice to think of a common object that one might find there. Nothing fancy or rare. Small enough to fit in your hand. What is it?
“There it is on that little table over there,” Jedi Master suggests, “go over and pick it up.”
It is a small notebook. Pale leather. The Apprentice in his mind’s eye walks over and reads aloud the open page, ‘The adventure of the Grail - the quest within for those creative values by which the Waste Land is redeemed - has become today for each the unavoidable task; for, as there is no more any fixed horizon, there is no more any fixed center, any Mecca, Rome, or Jerusalem.’ The Apprentice stopped reading and with his eyes still closed said to Jedi Master, “This is Joseph Campbell’s notebook, from volume three of The Masks of God regarding occidental mythology.
Jedi Master spoke quietly, “Look about and see the other Jedi in the room greeting you with a smile or nod. A silent gesture of welcome and goodwill. Each holds something they have found awaiting them there. Candle. Kitana. Teacup. All sorts of things. Now, all the found things are each placed in the inside pocket of their respective Jedi robes. Open the great door and return to the landscape. Down the path, walk. When you are ready, open your eyes”
A few moments later the Apprentice blinked opened his eyes and said to Jedi Master,
“The temple is still with me. It is like a favorite book whose pages hold no surprises but is always fresh. It is a happy memory of a pleasant place. It is a familiar landscape easily revisited. The safe haven I carry within and to wherever I am. And so also for all the others. The temple is embodied in my dedication and devotion in becoming the Temple’s maxims and teachings, it is expressed in my life as code and creed. Our beliefs and tenets are like an artist’s brushes and paints with which she interprets her deepest love for the world and all that is in it. The temple is not ‘out there’ but it is who I am, it is how I act, what I value, the choices I make.”
And he smiled.
So did she.
Jedi Master said, “Let’s have a cup of tea.”