(in memory of Patricia Danielson)
The great spaces that echoed as I walked and the symmetrically perfect walls kept my mind in a state of wonder at the architectural splendor before me. When I reached the center of this lotus-structure the energy of my body and my thoughts relaxed. I could smell the sandalwood incense burning and watched it making shapes in the air as it slowly filled the center of the lotus.
What was outside of me gradually disappeared and I found myself meditating. I sat in a section where I would not be seen or approached. As I sat I felt this energy of calming flowing over my body as the sun’s rays shot through the roof. The way it lit up the whole center core was amazing.
I was there to honor and dedicate my thoughts to my best friend who had died of a brain tumor the previous year. I went into my own world and reflected on the lotus temple which created a sacred space for myself in which I was able to remember significant moments with her and celebrate what her friendship meant to me. One of the many important lessons I have learnt in my friend Trish’s passing is that life is lived in moments, and that death’s arrival cannot be predicted. If you can become passionate about life, you can become a master of those moments and create the life you want.
Trish had an amazing way of staying present and being as grounded as a blade of grass blowing in the wind whenever life became chaotic. She had an amazing way of calming people and giving them strength. She was a courageous woman who always saw others as her equal, and who never showed competitiveness towards anyone. She had the power of grace and gave it to everyone she met. I knew in my heart she was there at the temple that day.
Attracting more than 2 million visitors like myself every year the Lotus temple was built in the heart of New Delhi, India. The new temple welcomes people of all races and religions, all cultures and classes. This extraordinary structure has been hailed as one of the most outstanding architectural achievements of this generation. The concept of the temple was to build it as a Lotus flower because this symbol shows the embodiment of India’s spiritual heritage. The lotus came to be born in the creation and design for the Bahai temple. The appearance of the lotus flower can be found in Zoroastrian, Christian and Islamic traditions.
The central auditorium seats twelve hundred people with the ability to fit an additional thousand. The structure functions as a series of skylights which allows light to enter the central hall, similar to the way light travels through the petals of a lotus flower. It symbolizes the oneness of God, religion, and humanity.
For the Bahai community the completed temple stands as a witness to the spirituality of all religions and the commitment to build a peaceful and united world. Thousands come everyday to visit either for prayer or meditation. The lotus represents the manifestation of God and it is also associated with worship. There is a deep universal reverence for the lotus.
The light and water play an important part of the structure as well. Light enters the hall the same way it would pass through the inner folds of the lotus temple. The center of the dome is a like a bud, which had twenty-seven petals, the light enters the inner folds and is then reflected throughout the hall. The central bud is held in place by nine open petals. Each of them function as a skylight. The main building is surrounded by nine pools of water; the shapes represent the floating leaves of the lotus.
India is a land rich in cultural heritage whose people are steeped in ancient and very diverse faiths. We can see this expression through Indian life, art, and in particular the architecture which is evident throughout India itself. These architectural symbols demonstrate the inner most spirit of human kind which unite humanity with its creator. The Bahai faith proclaims this unity, and sees it as one of their foundations of their religion. When you visit the Lotus Temple you feel the presence and the importance of a sacred healing place within that is reflected outwardly.