You are here
Brockwood Park - 16th Entry - 30th September 1973
It was a long yellowish snake crossing the road under a banyan tree. He had been for a long walk and was coming back when he saw the snake. He followed it, quite closely, up a mound; it peered into every hole; it was totally unaware of him, though he was almost on top of it. It was quite fat; there was a large bulge in the middle of its length. The villagers on their way home had stopped talking and watched; one of them told him that it was a cobra and that he had better be careful. The cobra disappeared into a hole and he resumed his walk. Intent on seeing the cobra again at the same spot, he returned the next day. There was no snake there but the villagers had put a shallow pot of milk, some marigolds and a large stone with some ashes on it and some other flowers. That place had become sacred and every day there would be fresh flowers; the villagers all around knew that that place had become sacred. He returned several months later to that place; there was fresh milk, fresh flowers and the stone was newly decorated. And the banyan was a little older.
The temple overlooked the blue Mediterranean; it was in ruins and only the marble columns remained. In a war it was destroyed but it was still a sacred sanctuary. One evening, with the golden sun on the marble, you felt the holy atmosphere; you were alone, with no visitors about and their endless chatter. The columns were becoming pure gold and the sea far below was intensely blue. A statue of the goddess was there, preserved and locked up; you could only see her at certain hours and she was losing the beauty of sacredness. The blue sea remained.
It was a nice cottage in the country with a lawn that had been rolled, mown and weeded for many a year. The whole place was well looked after, prosperous and joyful; behind the house was a small vegetable garden; it was a lovely place with a gentle stream running beside, making hardly a sound. The door opened and it was held back by a statue of the Buddha, kicked into place. The owner was totally unaware of what he was doing; to him it was a door-stop. You wondered if he would do the same with a statue he revered, for he was a Christian. You deny the sacred things of another but you keep your own; the beliefs of another are superstitions but your own are reasonable and real. What is sacred?
He had picked it up, he said, on a beach; it was a piece of sea-washed wood in the shape of a human head. It was made of hard wood, shaped by the waters of the sea, cleansed by many seasons. He had brought it home and put it on the mantelpiece; he looked at it from time to time and admired what he had done. One day, he put some flowers round it and then it happened every day; he felt uncomfortable if there were not fresh flowers every day and gradually that piece of shaped wood became very important in his life. He would allow no one to touch it except himself; they might desecrate it; he washed his hands before he touched it. It had become holy, sacred, and he alone was the high priest of it; he represented it; it told him of things he could never know by himself. His life was filled with it and he was, he said, unspeakably happy.
What is sacred? Not the things made by the mind or hand or by the sea. The symbol is never the real; the word grass is not the grass of the field; the word god is not god. The word never contains the whole, however cunning the description. The word sacred has no meaning by itself; it becomes sacred only in its relationship to something, illusory or real. What is real is not the words of the mind; reality, truth, cannot be touched by thought. Where the perceiver is, truth is not. The thinker and his thought must come to an end for truth to be. Then that which is, is sacred that ancient marble with the golden sun on it, that snake and the villager. Where there's no love there is nothing sacred. Love is whole and in it there's no fragmentation.