I have been very amazed by the wisdom in the design, decoration, and
sacred images of Rosslyn
that sought to include all the vital religious
forces of the day and age in a manner which was inclusive and respectful
to the source of many wisdoms and religions of different nations and
And we are further interested in light of the historical recognition of
today, that given religious 'truths' have historically competed for
dominance into their being a supreme truth. The contrast is seeing
something constructed by combining the wisdom of the ages and cultures
into one universal structure with respect for all. Freedom of thought
and freedom of religion has been a fairly new human evolution of
understanding and conduct. Historically the competing forces of
religious thought striving for supremecy over others similarly striving
have brought much pain and hardship. This, in my view, is the
accomplishment in the attempt of the Sinclairs to make
unique and universal. Rosslyn
remains of historical and symbolic meaning
through the centuries as a monument with a message.
So imagine! Assume that
were to build
Rosslyn today. If
we took this same philosophy and attitude into today's world we would
have not just a chapel. We would see a monument to all religions, a
building that went from the origins of religious thought, to the modern
precepts of human spirituality. Every part of this edifice would support
the symbolic strivings for mankind from the Temple of Solomon to the
Sweat Lodges of the Indians.
Inside we would have the collected Sacred Books of Law and of knowledge
upon which humanity has built its many cornerstones. The Bible would be
beside the Koran and the other works of religious seekers around the
world. And students with incompleted notes and thesis would pose
questions to one another. There would be adorning the walls the artistic
art being the focus of many cultures, all exploring their approaches to
a greater wisdom. The paintings of the eagle would be there with the
images of the Buddah and the Christ. Sculptures would represent the
continents of the world. It would be designed in a fashion that needed
to be a construction that is inclusive, and universalistic, not
exclusive. No part of the chapel if built today would derogate from the
respect earned of anothers strivings for religious knowings.
may have a secret hidden because the designer had a simple
message that combined man's cultural searches for God in its different
The Christian may come to such a Chapel and leave seeing images of
the Stages of the Cross. The Norse having seen the Gods of his
ancestors, would leave knowing the centuries before him. The Mason
seeing the image of the square and compass that predated 1700, The
Jewish pilgrim the foundations of The Temple. The earth movement in
Green Man mythologies were universal and while ancient do
great the spring planting season in reverence.
But the Rosslyn
chapel was also combined in a harmony that could be
shared by walkers that came from different religions and experiences so
that they could see what their brothers and sisters from around the
world were seeking. For they were seeking the same thing in different
ways, using different expressions and appreciations in different
languages. In such an imaginary edifice they would see the
accomplishments, myths, and stories of the religious quests of their
brothers and sisters from around the world. The might see that they were
perhaps less than all knowing, but could share the wisdom of others.
Individuals invited to an imaginary
of today would be invited
inside to seek to uncover their own wisdoms in a way that added to the
experience of humanity. Invited individually and collectively to see and
learn with their own eyes.
has a message today which remains as
important to our generation as it was to their generation. Somethings
change, many of the important values that span the centuries do not. It
is that which we do not know, that outlines that which we feel as
'knowable'. It is what is unseen that moves the navigators compass.
I do not see only hidden messages in
as much as a sincere
practical attempt to combine the diverse and multitude of messages of
human kind into a unity. Now that is not to derogate from the many
myths, stories and legends each with their own mysteries that are
contained in Rosslyn.
To draw upon an analogy, if we focus on the
individual voices alone we may miss the chorus that combines their
individual voices into a greater choir. I do not perceive any hidden
design or singularity of message in so far as a difficulty or inability
viewer to stand far enough back to see that the entire
monument may well have been the message, not its parts alone.
The individual pieces and carvings of a
if constructed today
would collectively give their message to the harmony which is mankinds
striving for spiritual and religious understanding. Every carving, every
dimension would have a higher purpose to the invitee to combine their
experience into an experience that is the human journey. If
built today it would be a place for learning, and a site for seeking
wider understandings and knowledge. It would exist today as a place
where the parisioners could combine their sharing voices and
understandings in worship and fellowship for those forces which connect
them to one another. The connectivity of our human condition is far more
important than that which divides them from one another. A new paridigm
from an old one, new yet old.
William Sinclair and those that came before and after are to be honoured
for their lives and their times. But perhaps above all theirs is a
message silently enduring in stone that remains lasting. Their message
lies in the many stories carved in and in the foundations and throughout
combined in harmony that is simple and yet complex.
We perhaps can identify with the apprentice that looks down having
proved his knowledge and perhaps knowing more than the Master, but never
quite knowing it all. He carved a pillar of beauty. But why the pillar
was constructed may have been unknown to our apprentice. The importance
of the pillar lies inside the understandings of the great Architect. The
mystery continues in silent testament and winds around and up the
pillar(s) to something mysterious and yet beautiful, simple and complex,
but the value is in the meaning behind the pillar.
So it is with Rosslyn,
the whole edifice and entire complex that was.
Perhaps pointing to a hope for something to be appreciated by the
generations that followed, something mysterious and yet beautiful,
simple and complex which underlies the meaning of
if it were built today? What a hope for an transcultural understanding
and appreciation. The more that we are diverse the more we are all
From Niven Sinclair;
"The mystery, the mystique, the esoteric
It may be something that we all really know deep inside ourselves.
has always been there
but there is also something much deeper
which goes far beneath the foundations
of reason and experience."