I hesitated for a long time before deciding on 'Temple' as being the most appropriate name for the first section of this Web site. 'Temple' tends to be closely associated with 'Religion', and many of the people I hope to reach find religion repellent — probably because it has since time immemorial been a powerful and widespread cause of dissent, disaffection, and conflict among human beings. As my object in these pages is to promote assent, affection, and concord, I feel I should try to justify my decision.
'Religion' is derived from the Latin religare which means 'to bind back'. We humans want to understand where we come from. I feel this accounts for the current interest in the speculations of Cosmology — even if they end up in nothing more satisfying than a 'big bang'. Such speculation seems to me to be more religious than scientific. After all is said and done, we can hardly fit the entire Cosmos into our laboratories and conduct controlled experiments on it, and the mere fact that cosmology makes use of scientific and mathematical tools does not make it a science. It only demonstrates that scientists and mathematicians are also interested in religion.
It is my opinion that some sort of 'religious' impulse is deeply embedded in the human psyche. It is something we all have in common and is capable of arousing our most intense emotions. It should therefore be one of the most powerful forces for loving-kindness to one another in recognition of our common humanity. Why, therefore, has it paradoxically given rise to so much mutual antagonism, cruelty, and inhumanity?
It seems to me that the ultimate reason is reluctance on the part of the individual adult person to accept total responsibility for the conduct of his or her own life. The great majority of people apparently prefer to follow the herd rather than think for themselves: and the herd often follows its leaders in inappropriate directions.
To disentangle this enigma, we must distinguish between the religious impulse as a common characteristic of human beings and formal 'Religions' with a capital 'R'. Specific Religions seem to originate with an unusually intense realisation of the common religious impulse by individual persons who have a particular gift for religious expression. As a result, they become widely admired for their charismatic qualities and attract devotees who, while being less conscious of their own spirituality, nevertheless wish to emulate their mentor's way of life. This works well enough for small numbers and while the original source of inspiration is still around to provide leadership by example. But a problem arises with increasing numbers and geographical dispersion, and especially when the religious genius passes on. The disciples still look for leadership, and two things tend to happen.
First, attempts are made to codify the ideals of the 'Founder' in a set of dogmas which, lacking the animating genius of the Founder, tend to degenerate into mere 'rules' whose spiritual value diminishes with time as they are perceived to be inappropriate to changing circumstances.
Second, other people come forward or are called to fill the leadership vacuum and lay claim to the Founder's mantle. There may be several candidates who compete for the leadership. We need not here impugn their motives. What is important for us is that even the most dedicated follower is unlikely to have the religious gift to the same degree as the Founder, and the original inspiration becomes progressively diluted with the passage of time. Furthermore, ordinary administrative skills are increasingly required as the 'membership' grows; and the Dogma needs to be reinterpreted, amended, and expanded as prevailing circumstances render earlier drafts unworkable. Thus it need not take long before the organisation develops into something that the Founder would hardly be able to recognise as the creation which is attributed to him or her. At that point, the Religion is ripe to be taken over by the power-hungry politician.
Several such 'Religions', old and new, are extant in the world today. Their very existence leads us to emphasise their differences if only in order that we may distinguish between them. A principal aim of the Ardue Temple is to rise above superficial differences of dogma and emphasise instead the qualities which I believe all 'Religions' have in common and which individual persons should be encouraged to seek, celebrate, and express freely in accordance with their personal and cultural traits. Recognition of our common humanity makes religious toleration a moral imperative.
However, it is not my intention to focus exclusively, or even mainly, on religion. I hope these pages will contain something that will appeal to all people, whether they consider themselves to be religious, non-religious, or even anti-religious. My aim is to encourage you, the reader, to accept total responsibility for the conduct of your own life, to suspend both dogma and disbelief, and to honestly explore your own personality in search of fundamental truths about your own nature.
So please treat this Temple as a mental structure composed of a small number of hypotheses about the implications of being alive, and test these hypotheses and the strength of the structure in the Light of your own experience. If you diligently seek your personal truth, you will find it. And the truth will set you free to worship your own idea of God as you think appropriate and to live accordingly.