The Tempe Working Explained (Part Three)

DUNCAN: The third working was my favourite. This was the one in which Tempe presented us each with three images or aspects of ourselves. Later, we carried out what we regarded at the time as an unrelated magical exercise with the tarot, to examine our karma. It was only later we realised that Tempe had predicted exactly the cards that appeared in our tarot spreads. So in his usual way, he had again underscored the significance of an apparently unrelated event with a huge whack of synchronistic meaning.

ALAN: When I asked him if the six images he'd given us were a symbol of our temple, he replied with the Greek letter Gamma and the Latin word 'Felix'. Gamma is the third letter of the Greek alphabet – he gave us three images each, remember. Gamma is also used to denote a variable in mathematical equations. 'Felix' means 'happy' or 'lucky'. So what Tempe seems to be saying is: 'here are three variables related to the happiness of the baptists'. In other words, he's making it clear from the outset that this is about our respective karma. We didn't know it at the time, but he was showing us what we'd have to deal with post-enlightenment.

DUNCAN: It's as if this time he was determined to keep us on track, and was making it very clear from the outset that he was talking about us and our development. But there was also that puzzling series of images where he showed us the Tao with the Yin and Yang curled together like foetuses, and the line formed where their bodies met forming the profile of an old man, the Holy Guardian Angel. And then the rune PERDHRO.

ALAN: The rune is thought to represent mystery or something hidden. I think now that it was pointing to the discovery of the hidden aspect of the self that is revealed during enlightenment. As for the rest of it, I can think of two interpretations: firstly, that the Tao is the Absolute, expressed through the interplay of youth and age or the life-span of the human being; or secondly, that the foetuses are the past or the beginning, the Tao is the present, and the HGA is the future or end-point of human development. Perhaps this is also a general schema representing the three-part depiction of our karma delivered both by Tempe and the tarot exercise.

DUNCAN: That's quite nice. That makes a lot more sense now.

ALAN: The most important aspect of the communication, however, is of course Tempe's prediction of the bad time we would have after enlightenment, dealing with the habits, perspectives and behaviours based on the separate sense of self that had built up in us over a lifetime. In other words, the way that we would both be forced to deal with our unique karma.

DUNCAN: Yes. In both our cases it was exactly as predicted both by Tempe and the tarot.

ALAN: With the separate self-sense gone and replaced by enlightenment, the conceit of karma becomes blindingly obvious; and yet alongside that, for every second of every day, the newly enlightened human being must endure the seemingly endless cycling of their frustrated and pointless beliefs and actions.

DUNCAN: For me, it was mostly about doubt and my clinging to the idea that I was still searching for something. Even though it was evident to me that all of that was truly over, at the same time the habit of questioning and seeking continued to arise obsessively. At the time, I joked about how, if I weren't enlightened, then enlightenment would be a pain in the arse. But I think there's a lot of truth in that joke! Tempe's depiction of my karma certainly helped me understand and deal with what was happening.

ALAN: Given time, of course, this discomfort subsides, as enlightenment slowly but surely has its effect on the personality, allowing old habits to die eventually and new ones – based on wholeness – to take their place.

DUNCAN: The analogy I'd suggest is of a stick of incense: the experience of emptiness is the saltpetre that keeps the stick burning; enlightenment is the fire; and karma is the stick of incense itself, that slowly gets reduced to ash.