Old Jerusalem is a Meeting Place of Different
Philosophies, Religions and Fields of Knowledge
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
A view of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem
What about the future of the Temple Mount?  Many talk or argue about the past and the present of the Mount. One should investigate when after all it will become a source of peace instead of strife, and determine whose task this is.
The founders of the Meeting Place Association in Jerusalem are Russian-born Israelis. With different views and backgrounds, they share a common love for the Land of Israel and for the Temple Mount, which they consider the spiritual heart of the country.
Meeting Place promotes a respectful dialogue among people of different opinions, from secular to ultraorthodox. It is open to a friendly cooperation with non-Jews of any country. In 2015, it published the 76 pp. book “Arise and Ascend: a Guide to the Temple Mount”.[1] Rabbi Yehudah Glick wrote of the future of the Mount in the Afterword to that volume:
“People all over the world aspire to visit the place where ultimately, according to the prophecy of Isaiah, all nations will flow to seek the word of the Lord.” [2]
Of course, words are limited instruments and modern theosophy says that the personification of divinity creates deep misunderstanding.
By personalizing deities many a religion, church and sect ends up reducing divine intelligences to its own image and narrow-mindedness. The next step is trying to manipulate everyone else into believing that this is the one and only true deity among all. Although Judaism is largely free from this danger, the issue must be handled with care.
According to esoteric philosophy, the universe is guided by an impersonal, intrinsic Law of Dynamic Equilibrium, and by an infinite number of divine intelligences, all of them following the One Law. The substance of some of them is hinted, for instance, in the ten Sephiroth of the Jewish theosophy and philosophy.
The diversity of divine universal intelligences and the living contrast among them suggest the need for an intercultural view of things down on Earth. The sky and the earth are more connected than many would suspect. The mystery of unity in diversity or harmony in contrast is well-expressed in the conflicts and hopes that surround Israel, and the Temple Mount.
For thousands of years the Jewish people, the nations of the Middle East and humanity as a whole have lived both the blessing and disgrace of religious diversity. Time enough has passed: by now any situation in space or chronology can be the right occasion to acknowledge the inner unity beneath outward contrast and promote a transcending cooperation which is stronger than ignorance or ill-will.
In the last days of June, 2016, the Meeting Place association published in Russian and English the document entitled “Temple Mount, Jewish People and Peoples of the World”.[3]
“Views expressed in the text reflect solely our personal opinion”, say authors Anya Antopolsky and Meir Antopolsky:
“In no way do these views reflect any opinion of any group of people, be it the Meeting Place Association or of the people ascending regularly the Temple Mount. Nor do we claim to express some kind of opinion of all the Jews in general. However, with the scope of our activities involving regular ascends of the Temple Mount (…), we thought it fit to state openly our opinion on the matter.”
The article explains that according to tradition –
“… There is a whole range of events connected to the Temple Mount, including the creation of the world, the end of the Flood and, finally, the Binding of Isaac by Abraham. Historical evidence suggests that its significance rose with the Jewish conquest of Jerusalem approximately in 11-10th centuries BCE, when King David installed the Altar atop of it, and his son Shlomo (Solomon, Suleiman) built the Temple. The Temple was meant to be a spiritual center for Jewish people and also a place for any person in the world to meet with his or her Creator. King Shlomo prayed: ‘As for the foreigner who does not belong to Your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of Your name, or they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm – when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, Your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name’. (1Kings 8:41-43)”
The document states that such a universalistic vision is shared by the Prophets of the Bible –
“…Including Isaiah who, reasoning about the issue of admittance to the Temple for people that are not Jews but seek to worship God, said: ‘Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples’. (Isaiah 56:7)”
Theosophy and Judaism agree in many essential points.
In the Pirke Avoth it is said that “the world stands on three things: on Torah, Divine worship and acts of loving-kindness”. [4]
Eastern doctrines say similar things. In the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali, it is taught that – “For the sake of the soul alone, the Universe exists.” [5]
The right relationship between the individual soul and the universe includes balance. The concept of justice corresponds to the idea of “Tao”, taught by Lao-tzu.  Besides Taoism, such a tenet is supreme in Confucius and Theosophy: it is also called “the Law of Karma”.  And the Talmudic wisdom says that – “By three things does the world endure:  by truth, justice and peace”. [6]
In order for the Temple Mount to be a center of peace, one basic fact must be understood: there has to be fairness and balance in the way the various religions relate to it. And this goal has not been attained yet: the present rules of access to the Mount are unfair.
The document of the Meeting Place association sums up the situation on the ground:
“Today, the site, albeit under Israel sovereignty, is actually under Muslim Waqf rule restricting free admission to it for all non-Muslims, especially Jews. Non-Muslims are never permitted to pray there and to worship the God. Moreover, Muslim extremists continually threaten to use terror against Jews who dare ascend the Mount with the aim of praying there. Such state of affairs is a gross desecration to the spirit of the site.”
Religious liberty is a key point in modern democracy. It sounds like an absurdity that, in the capital city of the State of Israel, Jews can have no free access to their holiest religious place. The fact also expresses the extreme self-restraint of the Jewish State regarding Islamic intolerance and ill-will, even to the point of being unfair to its own people.
Sooner or later a balanced solution for the Temple Mount will be found. What do some of the members of the Meeting Place Association want to have in the near future?
The authors of document say:
“We believe that the most important thing to achieve in the near future is to have free access to the site for every person without any discrimination on account of religion, race, nationality or ethnic origin. Needless to say, authorities have to take care of all security arrangements, that can include, e.g., entrance check for weapons. Also, Muslims have to be able to continue praying daily and engage in their other religious activities without any restrictions in the way they do it now and all last centuries.”
The whole Mount must be open to visitors, with exceptions:
“We think that all time other than time of mosque prayer all the territory of the Mountain has to be open for everybody who wants to come there, including tourists, pilgrims, Jews, Christians or any other people of any other religious faiths. No restriction on use of religious literature or symbolic, or control of visitors’ talk content can be accepted. Neither is verbal or physical violence against any ethnic or religious group.”
This should be achieved sooner than later.  As to medium-term goals, the text admits a difficulty to foresee events:
“The farther we try to foresee the future, the more difficult is our task and the more obscure the picture we can imagine. However, we believe to have a rough outline of the Temple Mount transformed into a place where people of every religious faith and spiritual movement stemming from ethical monotheism of Jewish Bible and from Abraham’s, Moses’, David’s and Solomon’s wisdom will be able to contemplate, pray and worship with songs, or in silence, or in any other appropriate way.”
The document highlights the importance of granting everyone’s freedom of religion and personal liberties, and adds:
“It is also vital not to undermine the role of the Sacred Place as a center of monotheism and worship of God and Creator who is the One and Only. How can this balance be maintained? It seems obvious that not every manner of worship would be appropriate here. For example, the use of religious images is, probably, not. What is important is to execute any regulation ceremony in a peaceful and lawful way.”
Authoritarianism is a sign of weakness, while the acceptance of diversity shows inner strength. The rights of atheists and non-religious people should therefore be respected:
“It is self-evident that intrinsic rights of all and any atheists or nonreligious persons to freely visit the sacred place has to be respected as well. The only authority in the Middle East that can enforce such religious freedoms is the State of Israel. Therefore, it is an imperative necessity and the issue of historical justice for the State of Israel to maintain its full sovereignty over the Temple Mount.”
What of the long-term future? The article refers to the belief in a Third Temple to be built:
“The (…) prophetic visions foretell that at the End of Days the Third Temple is going to be rebuilt, and it will become a place from which the Word of Wisdom and Peace will be disseminated throughout the entire world. (…) The only course that will culminate in raising up the Third Temple is education, empathy, love and shared faith. The road of war, hatred and animosity will lead us nowhere. It is also certain that everyone who comes with love and prayer to our Father in the Heaven will have a place and a role to play in that Temple.”
From a theosophical perspective, it is easy to see that the Temple Mount is indeed a karmic meeting place of different philosophies, religions and fields of knowledge, including History, Archeology and Art. It constitutes a chakra or key point in the inner vitality of our planetary civilization. It must cease to be a source of hatred and start to produce good will among nations and religions. Then such a chakra will be able to quickly help the healing of humanity.
Whose task is this? And how long will it take to be accomplished?  One of the aphorisms of the Pirke Avoth answers these questions with other ones:
*If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
*And if I am only for myself, what am I?
*And if not now, when? [7]
Chronological time is seen as Maya, or illusion, in Eastern tradition.
Any present instant is an inseparable fragment of eternity. The whole unlimited Duration is contained in the fraction of a second. The boundless essence of the Universe is secretly present in each humble point of its unfathomable space-time.
It is a good idea to act at all moments in the best way we can and leave it to the unfailing Law to ripen the fruits of our endeavours as It finds best.
[1] Arise and Ascend: a Guide to the Temple Mount” was published by The Meeting Place Association and Temple Mount Heritage Foundation.  
[2] On page 75.
[3] The article “Temple Mount, Jewish People and Peoples of the World” cautiously addressed complex issues. It is certainly uncomfortable for some.
[4] “Ethics from Sinai”, by Irving M. Bunim: Philipp Feldheim, Inc., New York, three volumes, 1964, see volume I, Perek I, Mishnah 2, p. 38.
[5] “The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali”, William Q. Judge, book II, aphorism 21, Theosophy Co. edition, Mumbai, 74 pp., 1965/1984, see p. 26.
[6] “Ethics from Sinai”, by Irving M. Bunim: Philipp Feldheim, Inc., 1964, see volume I, Perek I, Mishnah 18, p. 106.
[7] “Ethics from Sinai”, by Irving M. Bunim: Philipp Feldheim, Inc., 1964, see volume I, Perek I, Mishnah 14, p. 91.
The above article was first published in our theosophical blog at “The Times of Israel”.  Its note [3] above was updated in February 2017  for the  present publication in our associated websites.
See in our associated websites the article “The Universality of Temple Mount”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
In September 2016, after a careful analysis of the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to form the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose priorities include the building of a better future in the different dimensions of life.