Carlos Cardoso Aveline
Carlos Cardoso Aveline

The Proverbs and the Temple

On the left, Solomon dedicates the temple of Jerusalem: partial view of a painting by James Tissot. On the right, Temple Mount today. [Source of photos, Wikipedia]
On the left, Solomon dedicates the temple of Jerusalem: partial view of a painting by James Tissot. On the right, Temple Mount today. [Source of photos, Wikipedia]

In every area of activity, the highest wisdom is necessary if people want to attain a lasting efficiency.

In Proverbs, universal knowledge is personified as a divine woman, who explains:

“Through me kings reign,
And rulers decree just laws;
Through me princes rule,
Great men and all the righteous judges.” (Prov. 8: 15-16)

Transcendent knowledge talks to all beings in every nation. A sacred consciousness is universally present in space and time. The only problem is that not everyone will listen to the subtle voice of wisdom. It seems more comfortable not to look at the truth, and often the large majority of people prefers to systematically postpone, as long as they can, the moment they will have to look at her.

Yet Solomon explains that sacredness has no bounds:

“It is Wisdom calling,
Understanding raising her voice.
She takes her stand at the topmost heights,
By the wayside, at the crossroads,
Near the gates at the city entrance.
At the entryways, she shouts,
O men, I call to you; My cry is to all mankind.” (Prov.8: 1-4)

Wisdom speaks to all but only a few listen to her because various qualifications are needed for us to get in syntony with the voice of the soul.

Divine consciousness says:

“I, Wisdom, live with Prudence;
I attain knowledge and foresight.
To fear the LORD is to hate evil;
I hate pride, arrogance, the evil way, and duplicity in speech.” (Prov. 8: 12-13)

That means you can’t choose wisdom if you don’t reject ignorance. You need discernment to tell the difference between right and wrong.

While prudence and a large horizon are necessary, ethical relativism and the use of deliberate ambiguity pave the way to disaster. “The lips of the righteous know what is pleasing”, says Solomon in Proverbs, 10: 32, but “the mouth of the wicked [knows] duplicity.”

Anyone who would like to seek for divine knowledge must start by being thoroughly truthful himself, in thought as well in his words. Truth and sincerity are at the heart of every religion. Access to divine knowledge is a matter of syntony, as Solomon’s Wisdom, or Sophia, explains:

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me will find me.” (Prov. 8: 17)

Wisdom is found through ethics, therefore:

“I walk on the way of righteousness,
On the paths of justice.
I endow those who love me with substance;
I will fill their treasures”. (Prov., 8: 20-21)

Such treasures, of course, are too important to be material and too sacred to belong to the Earth.

Helena Blavatsky wrote that the modern theosophical movement must aim at being like the temple of the Wisdom of Solomon, for, as we see in I Kings, vi, 7 – “there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building”. This suggests, says Helena, that such a temple “is made by no human hand, nor built in any locality on earth – but, verily, is raised only in the inner sanctuary of man’s heart wherein reigns alone the awakened soul.” [1]

External places of meditation and worship are necessary, but one’s main task in life is perhaps to silently build the temple in one’s own soul. Material sanctuaries are mirrors reflecting and stimulating the life of the inner individual temples. Are we prepared to face the challenge of building the temple and living as we ought to?

The complete sentence of I Kings quoted by Helena Blavatsky says that the reason for the silence during the building of the temple is that “only finished stones cut at the quarry were used”. Finished stones symbolize noble feelings and purified thoughts: with them the walls of the inner temple are built in peaceful silence and made to last.

Daily existence gives us the testing ground for our invisible temples or tabernacles. Everyone who has an elevated ideal knows first-hand how difficult it is to live up to real spiritual teachings.

Humbleness and a Firm Moderation

There is often a long distance between an abstract level of good intention and the balanced practice of right action in daily life. Humbleness and realism are necessary in order to persevere.

Anxiety makes many unexperienced pilgrims choose the way of the hypocrite, or come to the conclusion that “the path is too hard for me”.  The Socratic realization that we know nothing – or very little – shows us the way to learn the science of life inch by inch.

Our limitations are great. Each small portion of the sacred teaching must be processed not only on a mental or intellectual level, but as something that is emotional. It needs to be connected to the physical aspects of reality.

He who does not observe his own emotions and his intentions during the study of esoteric philosophy cannot take even the first step towards wisdom, but will keep walking around the narrow door of simplicity that leads to the Way, without daring to actually go through it.

The Proverbs of Solomon say:

“My son, heed my words;
And store up my commandments with you.
Keep my commandments and live
My teaching, as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
Write them on the table of your mind.
Say to Wisdom, ‘You are my sister’,
And call Understanding a kinswoman.
She will guard you from a forbidden woman.” (Proverbs, 7: 1-5)

The forbidden woman is, of course, falsity, as Wisdom and Understanding are members of the pilgrim’s inner family.

“He who loves discipline loves knowledge”, says Solomon; but “he who spurns reproof is a brutish man.” (Proverbs, 12: 1)

The secret of victory is the same for an individual, a group, or community:

“A city is built up by the blessing of the upright,
But it is torn down by the speech of the wicked.
He who speaks contemptuously of his fellowman is devoid of sense;
A prudent man keeps his peace.
A base fellow gives away secrets,
But a trustworthy soul keeps a confidence.
For want of strategy an army falls,
But victory comes with much planning.” (Proverbs, 11: 11-14) [2]

Such a teaching is universal, and the Dhammapada sums it up:

“Do not what is evil. Do what is good. Keep your mind pure. This is the teaching of Buddha.” [3]

These principles are simple in words, but difficult to enshrine in one’s daily life: let us see an example among many. No matter how hard you try to avoid misunderstandings with other persons, there is one thing you must be prepared for.

Living With Human Follies

A moderate attitude is often seen as a sign of weakness, and people may conclude that the moderate man does not need to be taken seriously. However, as soon as the calm man gets firm and emphatic enough to be heard, some people will feel offended and call him “a senseless arrogant”.

In the intervals between one extreme and another, one can always remember Proverbs, chapter 15, 1-4. There King Solomon explains:

“A gentle response allays wrath;
A harsh word provokes anger.
The tongue of the wise produces much knowledge,
But the mouth of dullards pours out folly.
The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
Observing the bad and the good.
A healing tongue is a tree of life,
But a devious one makes for a broken spirit.”

Ups and downs are inevitable, yet they cannot destroy the small inner temple.

A sense of humor and a degree of “internal distance” help one to live in relative peace with human follies and mistakes, including his own.
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NOTES:

[1] From the article “Is Theosophy a Religion?”, in the “Collected Writings” of H. P. Blavatsky, TPH, USA, Volume X, pp. 162-163.

[2] The various quotations from Proverbs in the present article follow the volume “The Jewish Bible, Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures”, The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia – Jerusalem, copyright 1985, 1624 pages. The Proverbs start at page 1285.

[3] “The Dhammapada”, Penguin Classics, Penguin Books, UK, translated from the Pali by Juan Mascaró, copyright 1973, 93 pp., chapter 14, paragraph 183, p. 62.
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Read more:

* Einstein’s Theory of Happiness.

* A Report on Jung and Theosophy.

* China and the Implosion of the West.

About the Author
Born in Brazil in 1952, Carlos Cardoso Aveline is a journalist by profession and author of the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”. He has other works published on esoteric philosophy and ecology. The editor of “The Aquarian Theosophist”, Cardoso Aveline thinks Judaism, Jewish philosophy and Israel have important roles to play in the ethical rebirth the world needs in the present century. He lives in Portugal and directs the Library and Research Center of the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose associated websites include www.TheosophyOnline.com and www.HelenaBlavatsky.Org .
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