WHICH TEMPLE SHALL GOD BE IN
From the book by Vladimir Megre "The Family Book"
(translated by Marian Schwartz)
The people in one of the many settlements on Earth were living happily. There were ninety-nine families in this settlement. Each of the families had a beautiful house decorated with fanciful carving. The garden around the house bore fruit every year. It raised the vegetables and berries itself. People greeted the spring joyfully and took pleasure in the summer. The sequence of cheerful, friendly holidays gave birth to songs and dances. In winter, people rested from the daily rejoicing, and contemplating the heavens, they tried to decide whether the stars and moon could be woven into better patterns than they now had.Once every three years, in July, these people gathered together in a glade at the edge of their settlement. Once every three years, God answered their questions in an ordinary voice. Invisible to the gaze of ordinary eyes, God was tangible to each and every person. Together with each resident of the settlement, he would decide how best to arrange life for the days to come. The conversation between the people and God was philosophical, but sometimes quite simple and jocular.
For example, a middle-aged man said to God, “What were you doing, God, at our holiday this summer, when we all gathered at dawn and you started soaking everyone with rain? The rain poured until dinnertime like a heavenly waterfall, and the sun began to shine only at dinnertime. What were you doing before dinnertime, sleeping?”
“Not sleeping,” God replied. “Since dawn I had been thinking how best to act so that the holiday would come out wonderfully well. I saw how some of you, going to the holiday, were too lazy to wash with pure water. What should I do? They would spoil the holiday with their look. So I decided first to wash everyone and then scatter the clouds and let the sun’s rays caress your bodies.”
“Well, all right, if that’s how it was,” the man agreed, stealthily brushing a crumb of food from his whiskers and wiping the cherry stain from around his son’s mouth.
“Tell me, God,” a man, an elderly, thoughtful philosopher, asked God. “There are many stars above us in the sky. What does their fanciful pattern mean? Can I, if I choose a star that pleases my soul, when I grow weary of earthly life, settle there with my family?”
“The drawing of the heavenly bodies flickering in the dark tell us about the life of the entire Universe. A relaxed and collected soul will allow you to read the book of the sky. The book of the sky does not open up to idleness or mere curiosity but only to pure and significant intentions. And you can settle on a star. Each can choose a heavenly planet for himself. You must observe just one condition. You must become capable of creating better creations on the star you choose than on Earth.”
A quite young girl jumped up from the grass, tossed her dark blond braid over her shoulder, raised her little face with its little snub nose, set her hands impudently on her hips, and suddenly told God, “I have a complaint for you, God. For two years I waited impatiently to express my complaint. Now I will. There is something wrong, something abnormal happening on Earth. All the people live like people, fall in love, get married, and make merry. So what am I guilty of? As soon as spring comes, freckles come out on my cheeks. There’s nothing to wash them away with or color them. Did you think them up for your amusement, God? I’m demanding that in the new spring I not have a single freckle again.”
“Oh, my daughter! There will be no freckles, no flecks on your beautiful little face in the spring. But I will call them what you want me to. If you consider freckles such an inconvenience for yourself, I will take them away next spring,” God replied to the little girl.
But right then, at the other end of the glade, a well-built youth stood up, and with downcast eyes said quietly, addressing God, “We will have many things to accomplish in the spring. God, you will try to take part in each matter. Why should you waste your attention on freckles. Especially since they are so beautiful, I cannot imagine an image more beautiful than a young freckled girl.”
“So what should I do?” God said thoughtfully. “The maiden asked, and I promised her.”
“What do you mean, ‘What should I do?’” the maiden intervened once again in the conversation. “The people say, ‘you should busy yourself with more important matters than freckles.’ But if we are talking about flecks, then I say you can add two, like this, for symmetry, here on my right cheek.”
God smiled. This could be seen from the fact that the people smiled. Everyone knew that soon a new and beautiful family would be born in their settlement.
Thus the people lived with God in their amazing settlement. One day one hundred wise men came to see them. The joyful residents always greeted visitors with all kinds of food. The wise men tasted wonderful fruits and admired their unusual taste.
Then one of them said, “Oh, people, your life knows its measure and is beautiful. There is plenty and comfort in each house, but no culture in your communication with God. There is no glorification or worship of the Divinity.”
“But why?” the alarmed residents attempted to object. “We communicate with God as we do to each other. We communicate once every three years. But every day He rises as the Sun. In the garden, He bustles around each house from spring on as the bee. In winter, He covers the earth as snow. His affairs are clear to us, and we are glad each time.”
“The way you have set this up is wrong,” the wise men said. “We have come to teach you how to communicate with God. All over the world, palaces and temples have been built for him. In them, people can communicate with God every day, and we are going to teach you.”
For three years, the residents of the settlement listened to the wise men. Each of the hundred defended his own theory as to how best to build a temple for God and what to do in the temple each day. Each of the wise men had his own theory. The residents of the settlement did not know which of the hundred wise teachings to choose. In addition, how were they to do this and not insult the wise men? So they decided, listening to them all, to build all the temples. One per family. But there were ninety-nine families in that village, and there were one hundred wise men. Hearing the decision of all the residents, the wise men became upset. This meant someone would not get a temple and someone would not receive offerings. They began to argue among themselves as to which of the theories for worshiping God was the most effective and to draw the settlement’s residents into their debate. The debate heated up, and for the first time in many years the residents of the village forgot about their time for communicating with God. They did not gather in the glade as before on their appointed day.
Another three years passed. Around the settlement stood ninety-nine magnificent temples, and only the huts no longer shone like new. Some of the vegetables went unharvested, and worms began eating the fruits in the orchard.
“All this is because you do not have a complete faith,” the wise men proclaimed in the different temples. “Bring more gifts to the temple, and worship God more diligently and more often.”
Only one wise man, the one left without a temple, on the sly told one and then another, “You have done everything wrong, people. All the temples you have built are of the wrong construction, and you are worshiping in the temples incorrectly, uttering the wrong words in your prayers. I alone can teach you how you can communicate with God every day.”
As soon as he was able to convince someone, a new temple rose up, while one of the existing ones immediately fell into decay. Once again, the one wise man who was left without offerings secretly tried to defame the others before the people. Quite a few years passed. One day, the people remembered their former gatherings on the glade where they heard God’s voice. Once again they gathered in the glade and began asking questions in the hope that God would hear them and answer as before.
“Answer us. Why has it happened that our orchards yield wormy fruits? Why don’t vegetables grow in our gardens every year? Why do people quarrel among themselves, fight, and argue, but cannot choose the best faith for all? Tell us, in which of the temples built for you do you live?”
God did not answer their questions for a long time. When His voice was heard in the dimension, it was weary, not cheerful. God replied to those gathered, “My sons and my daughters. In your houses, surrounded by gardens, there is today desolation because there was too much for me to do alone. Everything was conceived of initially by the dream that only together with you could I create what was beautiful, but you turned away in part from your own garden and house. I cannot create alone, the creation must be joint. I also want to tell you all that love and the freedom of choice are in you yourselves, and I am prepared to follow your wishes with the dream. But you must answer me, my dear sons and daughters, which of the temples should I take up residence in? You are all equal before me, so where should I be so as not to hurt anyone? When you decide the question of which of the temples I should reside in, I will follow your collective will.”
Thus God answered them all and then fell silent. The people of the settlement, which was once beautiful, have continued their debate to this day. There is desolation and decay in their houses. Around them, the temples rise higher and higher, and the debate grows ever sharper.
From the book by Vladimir Megre "The Family Book" (translated by Marian Schwartz)