Why Do We Build Temples?

I am often in discussion with people who spend time, sometimes a lot of time, in large human created temples both ancient and new. In these temples they dedicate a lot of reverence to "closeness to nature" ... and this totally boggles me?

The building of big temples is something I have had a lifelong personal bug about.

I have also been an almost lifelong fan of finding and discovering ancient temple sites, so called sacred sites. I have been doing this for over 55 years now and my question I still live with is "why do we build temples?". I'm not looking for the answer, as I believe no answer offered is or could be the "right" one because a singular straight answer could not exist ... unless all temples are really all fake.

A side question, and much of my motivation with Bards In The Woods, is "why do and did humans replace the sacredness of nature through building human designed and created temples ... and then regard them as more sacred and more important than nature?".

Vast amounts of forest, seashore, and other landscapes have been cleared and even polluted to create these so called more sacred temples.

Some folks tell me they are built for "sanctuary", even in Ireland where its not much fun being in a wild wood on an icy, windy wet day. Beautiful outside then, yes, but we savour our return to the hearth, especially with hands full of food and hot beverage. With many countries we seek sanctuary from the wildlife, pollution and disease that may come upon us while exposed to the flow of outside nature.

I find it interesting that the churches, most temples, do not
have this hearth for sanctuary that calms us, often secures us.
It has been reduced to a glowing flame, a symbol.

Is it our quest for ego and expression through creativity that inspires us to build structures that we feel are more sacred, more useful and more aligning than the nature and earth that this all comes from?

We seek to find the connections between human made structures,
claiming that these structures are built on sacred points
that when connected will heal the earth and ourselves.
Is this to say the earth was ill before we humans arrived?
Is our purpose here to be Gaia's medical team?
I tend to think its the other way around myself.

Is it true that the bigger temple, the bigger cathedral etc. the more important it is and deserves more reverence than the smaller places?  Are the large statues such as the half man half animal statues a mockery of all of this?

Living within my question of "Why do we build temples", and after visiting 1000s of them, I still find my greatest reverence for nature is shared with the the woodlands, the trees, flowers, plants, and sometimes harvests, especially when I think I have grown some things myself and my ego glows.

Its coming up to Lughnasa now, imagine your preferred spelling for that,
a time of first harvest. Some folks do share a sample of their first harvest with the land, with nature, at a local high elevation. Others will display ultra clean samples of their crops, even compete their ultra clean and perceived perfect shaped crops at fairs

Is this cleaning of what the earth provides a symbolic action of relieving ourselves of our inner demons of anxiety, concern or or even guilt.

... or are we embarrassed by discovering our bones and flesh
are all made from the earth and they survive from what is
born and harvested from the earth.

Do we believe that our spirits are worthy of being transported
into something much cleaner, more organised and less conflicting?
Is this what we build temples for?
Or do we build them and attend them because someone else told us to,
or even scared us into doing.

What if we listened to the trees instead ... what would we do,
what would be revered?

Bards In The Woods is an opportunity to explore that question ...
... without the anxiety and demands of needing to find answers.

To me, that is sanctuary.

A note - the pic above is from an interesting article about a temple complex,
click to read


  1. It seems that we have this struggle with our ego when it comes to our place, particularly in nature. The inspiration and creation process is a beauty that goes deep within all of us. In my opinion, the problem arises with the attachment to the process, and the insatiable desire to control and manipulate the outcome. In creating this "heaven" on earth we have done the opposite, but yet we learn the process if we are looking through the transformed eyes of the renewed spirit that flows through all. It becomes a mystical expression that becomes like a spider web that we run into without noticing. Why did we not notice what we were doing? It wasn't until be run into it that the teaching is there. Maybe the next time we will learn to see it and respect it for what it is until we come crashing again. Some run into the web and never notice, others run into it and really get it. Now, all those who have got it have to release it before it entangles with egotistic insanity. Sanitized areas become insane and the truly sacred becomes profane to those who are insane.
    And the quest goes on. And for the keepers like you John, it becomes deeper in the recognition of the web. So, as I have not made any sense here, then I will leave you with a smile and a big thank you for this bit of introspection.


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