[Clan Sinclair]
[Rosslyn Chapel]
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If Built

Rosslyn if Built today

From: "Neil Sinclair/Peggy Rintoul" <>
Date: Tue, 2 May 2000 14:29:52 -0400


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 cultures.

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 Rosslyn unique and universal. Rosslyn remains of historical and symbolic meaning through the centuries as a monument with a message.

So imagine! Assume that William Sinclair were to build [Rosslyn Chapel] 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.

Rosslyn may have a secret hidden because the designer had a simple message that combined man's cultural searches for God in its different forms. 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 knowing the Green Man 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 Rosslyn 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. Rosslyn 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 Rosslyn 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 of the Rosslyn 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 Rosslyn 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 Rosslyn was 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 Rosslyn. But imagine 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 connected. From Niven Sinclair;

"The mystery, the mystique, the esoteric
    has always been there
but there is also something much deeper
    which goes far beneath the foundations
    of reason and experience."
It may be something that we all really know deep inside ourselves.

Respectfully submitted
Neil Sinclair

Last changed: 00/05/02 21:48:48 [Clan Sinclair]