When we approach a Temple, or other spiritual structure, “to behold” both the building and its contents naturally arises as the appropriate attitude. The place, the grounds, the objects of veneration within, the statues or stained glass windows depicting a narrative, the spot on which a special event took place, and the stories we’ve heard that precede our encounter— all these elements persuade us to adopt a posture of reverence and respect.
Spiritual forces have come to be invested in such places, whether we call them blessings, or power, or spirit, and they put our mind into a state that contrasts with our usual pattern of thinking of the outer world largely in context of what we can or can’t get, if it does or doesn’t threaten.
“To behold” expresses that state. We “thoroughly hold” in view or with regard the sacred environment before us. To enter a posture of “beholding” offers us a great pleasure. We find our minds resting at ease while we regard an unusually moving statue, or painting, or shrine hall, that feels radiant with peace and compassion and possibility. We can meet the power or blessing present there; in fact the more we “behold”, the more appreciation we feel.
We express the reverence or humility we find within through tears, or prayer, in silence or with an offering. In this state we may find that a spiritually endowed location also points us toward the possibility “to behold” our own mind and thoughts and emotions. When we sit quietly in a temple, whose atmosphere arouses in us our spiritual nature, how close that is to meditation, where we sit still and observe our mind. What great pleasure lies ahead, too, in beholding our thoughts and emotions and challenging states of mind, and in treating them with reverence and respect.
Temples and spiritual focal points offer us more than a passing opportunity for stillness in an otherwise busy or worldly life. They enrich our understanding of an attitude that brings about insight and peace within.