The Temple of Consciousness

The temple that you are building is a vessel for your consciousness, tend to this vessel with care, because it is sacred.

I’ve been thinking about temples and churches a lot lately.

There’s a few verses in Paul’s letters that mention the concept of a person or a community of people being a temple or a church. Christ is referred to as “the head” and the church is is “body”. Elsewhere, Paul tells us that our bodies are temples, and that god lives within it.

So, how on earth would this be relevant to an atheist?

Mab-Libbing the Bible

Answer: Mad-Libs.

Mad-Libs is a phrasal template word game where one prompts another for a list of words to substitute for blanks in a story. Sometimes I do this with the bible to turn it into a humanist text. Basically, you strip out any word that refers to god or christian iconography, and then you fill in the blanks with words like: mankind, enlightenment, quest, consciousness, trial and error, etc. Once you do this, the bible is no longer is a Christian text, but a text about seeking enlightenment. You’ll see that it doesn’t always fit perfectly, but it does produce some rather interesting results. Let’s go through some examples together.

Colossians 1:15-23

Original: 

“And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.”

Redacted Mad Lib: 

“And [__1__] is the head of the body, [__2__]; [__1__] is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything [__1__] might have the supremacy. For [__3__] was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [__1__], and through [__1__] to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through [__4__].

“Once [__2__] were alienated from [__3__] and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now [__3__] has reconciled you by [__1__] … to present you [__5__]— if you continue in your [__6__], established and firm, and do not move from [__7__].”

Completed Mad-Lib:

“And consciousness is the head of the body, all mankind; consciousness is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything consciousness might have the supremacy. For enlightenment was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in consciousness, and through consciousness to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through trial and error.

“Once, all mankind was alienated from enlightenment and were enemies in our minds because of our evil behavior.  But now enlightenment has reconciled you by consciousness … to present you as enlightened— if you continue in your quest, established and firm, and do not move from critical thinking.”

My Interpretation:

Consciousness is what gives our bodies value. Consciousness is one of the defining characteristics that separates us from other animals—it’s basically the birth of “humanity”. Our consciousness has given mankind the gift of enlightenment. Our consciousness allows us to make peace with things on earth or in heaven through a process of trial and error.

There was a time in the evolutionary process that we did not have enlightenment. With our consciousness, we have used critical thinking to continue in our quest for enlightenment.

1 Corinthians 3:10-17

Original: 

“I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”

Redacted Mad Lib:

“[__1__] laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is [__1__]. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are [__2__] temple and that [__3__] dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys [__2__] temple, [__2__] will destroy that person; for [__2__] temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”

Completed Mad-Lib:

“Critical thinking laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is critical thinking. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are Consciousness’ temple and that the spirit of enlightenment dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys Consciousness’ temple, conscience will destroy that person; for Consciousness’ temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”

My Interpretation:

Use only critical thinking as your foundation, not shifting foundations like emotion or faith. Build with care, using your good reasoning skills and only the best source material. If you use bad reasoning, or bad data, your conclusions will fall like a poorly made house. The temple that you are building is a vessel for your consciousness, tend to this vessel with care, because it is sacred. If it is destroyed, you destroy your enlightenment.

Try it yourself with a few other passages:

  • Colossians 1:28-29
  • 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
  • Ephesians 2:19-22

So What?

“Ok, well that’s an interesting observation,” you might say “—So what?”

When we mad-lib parts of the bible, we see that it is instructing us to treat our body like a temple because this is where the spirit of enlightenment lives. A healthy temple will add sound knowledge to mankind’s body of work, but an unhealthy one will not be able to contribute anything worthwhile (except perhaps a cautionary tale).

And this really got me thinking. Am I treating my body like a temple for enlightenment? I regrettably admit, “No.” Without getting too personal, I feel like I could do a better job of self-discipline. I don’t really have a healthy diet, I abhor exercise, and most importantly I tend to overindulge in my vices. I do a fairly good job of self-reflection and study, but what good are either of those in an unhealthy temple? In order to make the most of my life and my mind, I need to tend to my body as well.

Building a healthy temple starts today. Would you like to join me?

Also, what other interesting mad-libs can you find in the bible or any other religious texts? What humanist teachings can you glean?

Image Source: MikeBirdy

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