The Temple Burn Experience

The Temple Burn Experience

Postby ecomain » Tue Sep 04, 2007 8:41 pm

I'm not sure if this has been covered in another thread...I couldn't find it by searching, so sorry if this is redundant...

Every Burning Man brings something unique, but it is common to expect a certain range of not so incredible events each year that will pale in comparison to the first time.

How refreshing it was after four burns to feel awe of a magnitude similar to the sum of that first event by experiencing something so new and etheral that words do not offer a just representation.

I write this to commune with the thousands of others who stayed the extra day for the temple burn. May we relive that experience.

The temple burn had started. I was near the front at 9:30 position. It was quiet. Some people were breaking the silence with what many would have felt were irritating quips. Then a man to my right yelled (you could tell with a smile), "Shut Up! You're ruining my spiritual experience!"

Short silence was followed by snickers. Then people started yelling as if to mock the mockery. Somehow a cycle started and the yell rose and fell in sequence around the massive circle, just like an audience might physically create a wave by standing up and siting down in a baseball stadium. But it was dark and all you could hear was the wave of yells and screams making its way around the fire perimeter, then it rolled into you like the crushing sound an ocean wave makes when you bite it while surfing. It sounded like death and life at the same time.

Coming around again, you'd yell, then stop, listening for several minutes after it made another round, enthusiasm waning each time until after five rounds it died out.

Many people near me, including myself whispered, "what a trip" as this phenomenon unfolded. I heard someone behind me comment that a crowds had tried this same feat in other places but it never quite worked.

It seemed like it happened by accident, but there was also something born from the collective that evening, something intentional. There was something in the way Burners are quick to experiment and build a collective experience. For a few minutes, I felt great love and kinship.

That kind of feeling that was more prevalent at earlier Burning Man events and has subsided each year as new people have come to look at the event more superficially, like spring break. I was left with great hope that no matter what the people attending turn it into, incredible, mind-expanding experiences are still possible and probable. I went to see the fire and came away with something far better and unimagined.

Thank you fellow Burners for restoring hope from your spontaneity.
Those that do not fight tyranny deserve it, for complacency grants license to the oppressors. -Aramis
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Postby playasnake » Tue Sep 04, 2007 8:47 pm

i too thought that was really cool. it put a smile on all our faces... which we needed after a challenging week.

lastly, not sure if you guys noticed, but that was David Best leading the group inside the circle running around chasing the wave... so if you are curious if the artist "approved"...

methinks he did.
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Postby CapSmashy » Tue Sep 04, 2007 8:56 pm

I viewed the rolling vocal wave as the release of what I brought to the Temple to bid farewell to.

All I could think of as I watched the Temple collapse in flames, in the mostly respectful silence, was how much Christy would have enjoyed being there to experience it. I had all this emotion welling up inside of me and the wave allowed me to release it in the most primal fashion of screaming it out to the heavens.

In true form, however, Mister Jellyfish of the exalted Labwerks collective kicked it up even higher by having us yell SCHPACE!!!!!!! on the last 2 rounds. Jelly, I didn't really realize until now, but that added touch really made that night for me. Thank you, you crazy bald headed monkey lover. :D

My only regret was not having the opportunity to meet David and thank him for his many incredible creations.
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Postby Lukky » Tue Sep 04, 2007 9:02 pm

Well, the temple burn started off pretty weird for me.

I was some where around noon-ish (a straight walk from the 3-o-clock keyhole to the temple)

A 10-15 man line holding lanterns and chanting came up behind me and inside that they had 6 guys with cool masks holding a cardboard coffin. As they got closer and closer, I realized that the masks they were wearing restricted their sight quite a bit.

As they passed the coffin forward to the ranger to put it in the temple before the burn, the first two got around me just fine. The guy behind them on the other hand had a bit of trouble. He got caught up on me and the front two kept going.

At that point the coffin slipped out of his hands and ended up right on the top of my noodle.

Needless to say, I felt like a dick.
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Postby krozall » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:14 pm

This was my 5th burn and what an amazing time it was, I enjoyed the awe inspiring poweful wave that took place, and chills was sent down my spine the first couple of times, so much energy and emotion, a diffrent experience.

One thing many didn't notice, but right as the Temple was lit on fire there was a shooting star directly above above. This added to an already intense and emotional event.
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Temple Burn

Postby PurpleCricket » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:36 pm

Previous to the Temple Burn I had visited the structure for about an hour, and I had read some of the words from other Burners which were written upon the wood. I felt the tremendous sorrow and hope held within everyone, and sat to meditate upon them. It's an indescribable feeling to know that we are all so linked in life to one another.

Watching the Temple Burn was one of the highlights of my experience at my first Burn!

I believe the Temple Burn was a much more balanced Burn which reflected the engineering qualities of David Best.

There was this amazing surge of spiritual energy coming from all directions of the Playa. One could almost touch the emotion being created as the smoke rose into the atmosphere with 50,000 peoples dreams and prayers!

That circular wave of screams and yells was mind blowing! I've never heard such a synchronized random event involving that amount of people!

Someone started flying a kite near 2'oclock (where I was sitting), and it was pretty bizarre looking up seeing a glow in the dark Mini Burning Man kite waving his arms frantically towards the Temple as it Burned.

A group of about ten people sitting around me started to "OM", and I swear a few of them were holding the note for minutes at a time!!

It was mesmerizing and beautifully spontaneous!

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Postby ZeeKitten » Thu Sep 06, 2007 5:07 am

This was my first Burn and I thought that this part of it was a wonderful gumbo of exquisite spirituality/ritual and wry humor.

I was viewing the temple burn just to the left of the Trash Teahouse Temple and it not only had its chimes and bells gently sounding, but a group of people were playing Tibetan Crystal Singing bowls inside it - which created a wonderful sacred space for the burn and an aural tingle running up and down my chakras.

Then, as some asshat was wandering by with a bullhorn looking for "Monica" - from over at around 7-8:00 on the circle, we had the voice asking people to "Shut up, you're ruining my special experience!" This brought a warm levity that wasn't out of place and seemed perfectly fitting even within the solemnity of the event.

Lastly, the meteor that whizzed over, the kite flying in the warm, smoky breeze and the vocal wave that accompanied the burning temple contributed to making this such a deeply memorable and special way to end my virgin burn.

Thank you all for being there and helping create that for me.
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Postby The Hosh » Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:12 am


Who are those people dressed in white who walked around the circle before the burn? Are they a specific theme camp?
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Temple Burn...Assholes and/or Heroes

Postby DrPeffer » Thu Sep 06, 2007 1:45 pm

This was my second burn. Somehow, I had totally missed the significance of the temple and its burn last year, though I was on the playa for it.

The contrast between the Man burning on Saturday and the temple burn was remarkable.

Funny, though...I was going to write to complain about some of the selfishness I saw/heard there...I, too, heard that dude loudly looking for Monica, over and over, while a girl behind me heaved and wept, watching the burn. And shortly after that, some guy used his bullhorn to tell all of us that "your mother sucks donkey dicks in hell".

Thing is, a few people snickered at that one. And I was among them. Hard to tell just what state of mind that guy was in to yell that out, so I can't say whether it was brilliant or shameful. But that's just it: I'm back home now, in clean clothes, freshly-showered, and was about to write to say "dude, whoever you are, you were a real dickhead for yelling that". But I'm thinking that's 'cause I'm already starting to get a little comfortable in my 'real life', starting to ascribe an imprint of the temple burn as this "beautiful, peaceful, spiritual part of Burning Man, only marred by some assholes here and there". Until I remembered snickering at it at the time, too. There IS a limit to which we can take ourselves so seriously. We can hope, pray, visualize, whatever...And we should. It's a hugely-important part of what makes us human. But ultimately, we have to accept that total control is out of our hands. Our fondest hopes and prayers will either be realized or not, irrespective of the noise going on around us from others on their own journeys. And their journeys are just as worthy as our own. So long as nobody is causing physical harm to someone, we have to allow it.

So I'm left thinking that of the thousands of us who stood reverently, impressively-sliently, to watch the burn, the fact that we had just a tiny bit of cynicism forced upon us is a good thing.

But dude, that was a pretty ballsy way to do it. I'll at least give ya THAT.

Much love to all the good playa people.
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Postby blyslv » Thu Sep 06, 2007 1:56 pm

I like my spirituality neatly packaged and in bite sized chunks, thank you very much.
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Postby ecomain » Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:39 pm

I had forgotten about the guy with the bullhorn looking for Monica and the other asshat. Yeah, those were really bad vibes. There's a fine line between drunken, hostile spring-break show offishness and happier, well-meaning quips. I don't think I've EVER heard anything out of a bullhorn at Burning Man that sounded good. Much as I despise rules, perhaps bullhorns should be least from the temple burn.

However, I'd also like to bring up last year's temple Burn. That one was very serious, sad and quiet throughout. It was too much of a downer. I've lost people just like everyone else and felt much better about it all this last time. The levity seemed to help cancel out the sadness and tell loss to screw itself in a copacetic way.
Those that do not fight tyranny deserve it, for complacency grants license to the oppressors. -Aramis
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Postby fierysage » Fri Sep 07, 2007 4:10 pm

beauty-filled temple burn indeed

enjoyed the "wave" of "woo" around the circle through tears and laughter and smiles
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Fri Sep 07, 2007 4:31 pm

The Hosh wrote:Image

Who is that woman? And would she possibly have any interest in a 40-ish lawyer from Denver? That's all I want to know about the Temple Burn. :lol:

I swear, I honestly fell in love every fifteen minutes out there. I was on the front row for the Man Burn when a young lady barged her way to the front. She was accosted by a well-meaning Ranger who pointed out that she was intruding on people's space who had camped out there for quite a while. She looked at me with the most angelic face I have ever seen and asked "Is it okay if I sit here with you?" How could I respond but melt in my place and sputter, "sure"?
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Postby P-funk » Fri Sep 07, 2007 6:16 pm

ecomain, I could not agree more with your sentiments. I guess we were sitting in the same area cause I heard the same comment ("shut up, you're ruining my spiritual experience").

I thought a long time about the temple burn. I was sitting right next to a guy who seemed like he was on drugs - every five minutes he said "hehehehehe.... WOOOOOO!" Nearby were a couple of guys standing up who decided to recite some of their poetry right before the burn. Somewhere behind was a woman who shouted some kind of spiritual quip after the temple came down. All of these people were contributing something in their own way - yet none of their contributions moved me more than the peaceful silence we all created. I was jolted every time it was shattered.

The air was electric during these prolonged silences. A week's worth of pent-up emotions swelled up inside of me. All around me, people were weeping. I felt my eyes moisten as the flames grew higher. And when the fellow made the joke and everyone laughed - it broke the spell, all the tension and emotion was released, and the wave went around. Somehow that was the end of the ceremony. It was cathartic.

What made it so memorable was the feeling of shared experience I felt with everyone around me. I know that, despite our vastly different experiences throughout the week, somehow that night we all went on the same ride. I will never forget it as long as I live.
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Postby ecomain » Fri Sep 07, 2007 7:52 pm

P-Funk...I think your words captured it better than I. Moving. Very well done. Thank you.
Those that do not fight tyranny deserve it, for complacency grants license to the oppressors. -Aramis
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Postby gaminwench » Sat Sep 08, 2007 11:55 am

The coffin procession is an annual ritual of release by Monkey Puzzle, the mini-man kite is courtesy of TimE of DOTA- Dept. of Tethered Aviation, the Woo wave brought to us by ALL of the residents of BRC - my first time in 8 years experiencing the entire population participating spontaneously - what an awesome rush!!!! Thank you ALL!!!!!
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Postby Wrath7sins » Sat Sep 08, 2007 2:02 pm

That's definately one thing I could do without: Asshats with bullhorns. Ya can't understand half these mic-swallowing braggarts anyway, and the stuff that does come out clearly is rarely nice or welcome. My friend Fenris said it best... "Bullhorns are essential to being obnoxious". Too bad so many desire to be obnoxious.
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Postby amethyst8971 » Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:12 am

The jerks with bullhorns were pretty much behind me, and if not for the fact that I was an emotional wreck I think I would have gone over and kicked them.

This was my first burn and it almost didn;t happen. 3 weeks before leaving to go my best friend died unexpectedly. Thankfully the sweet man that I date and who I came with mentioned the Temple burn at the meorial service, and I came after all. I was unable to have my boyfriend with me for the burn as he is a ranger and was working the burn. Thankfully I also came to the playa with a group of amazing women. Their strength carried me through what was one of the most emotional, haunting, and beautiful experiences I have ever encountered. Being able to place things i the Temple and then with so many others, many who also were grieving, to watch it burn was incredible. it was also fitting as my friend loved fire. What better way to remember him by then a nice big bonfire.

To all of you who were out there, thank you. Even though we never spoke, knowing so many shared in this experience was breathtaking and will never be forgotten.
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Postby dogbone » Sun Sep 16, 2007 12:07 am

That was David Best's last temple for Burning Man, and his parent's ashes were in there. It would have been nice for the clowns with the bullhorns and the stupid comments to have a little respect for the people who were mourning. What a gift David has provided to so many people over so many years.
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Postby ecomain » Sun Sep 16, 2007 5:43 pm

Didn't know that about Best. The Temple Burns have emerged to be as special as the Burning of the Man itself for many people. Are they going to keep building temples without Best?
Those that do not fight tyranny deserve it, for complacency grants license to the oppressors. -Aramis
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Postby Kinetik V » Sun Sep 16, 2007 6:59 pm

David Best's attitude leaves much to be desired so if this was his last temple, that also means the event gets to deal with a reduced sense of entitlement and burnier than thou attitude which will be nice. It also gives the opportunity for others who were inspired by his work to step forward with their own intrepretations, one can only hope that the ORG will be as generous with the funding for those individuals as they have been to David.

As for the temple, this year it helped strengthen a relationship. It also let both of us find a way to let out some deep hurt over losing Jasmine Amiya. And it let me keep my ongoing promise to my best friend Tallinn....who died 6 years ago Tuesday. To say the temple is special is an understatement.

Also I bet the aluminum bracelets got melted, but I wonder how the two diamond rings I put in there faired? Whomever is cleaning up the ashes of the temple may have an interesting find if they look closely.
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Postby Wrath7sins » Sun Sep 16, 2007 7:09 pm

I believe they will continue to build temples at bm. They've become an integral part of the event, and Mr. Best has taken some years off before. As I understand it, there have been a couple temples David was not involved in. Not clear on which years though.

I myself have contemplated building or being involved with a temple. When the inspiration takes me, I'll know then more details. For now, I have only fuzzy mental images of parts of it.
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Postby dogbone » Thu Sep 20, 2007 10:34 pm

David Best's temples somehow connect the earth and the stars, and they will never be topped on the Playa. He just seems to get it! There are just too many spectators for us to build a great temple together.
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Postby transgirl » Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:57 pm

I respect people’s right to have what they believe is a genuine spiritual experience.
I’m usually creeped out though by spirituality in general. It usually strikes me as a low grade insanity, and it’s uncomfortable to be around. That said the spontaneous yelling wave was AWESOME. Since I tense up around spiritual activities it lightened the mood for me.

There seemed to be a lot of put-on, pretentious, phony spirituality and calculated, showboat seriousness. But regardless it was pretty neat. The temple was beautiful and it was kind of cool when the fire was sucking air and the dust with it to the center. That combined with no noise/lights made a nifty vibe and orange glow.

And that kite flying over the fire was really great! Does someone fly that every year? I wonder how big it was. It must have been huge to look like that from so high up.
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Postby transgirl » Tue Oct 02, 2007 7:12 pm

[quote="dogbone"]David Best's temples somehow connect the earth and the stars, and they will never be topped on the Playa. He just seems to get it! There are just too many spectators for us to build a great temple together.[/quote]

So funny you say that. You mean he intentionally works with star positions?

One night I looked across the playa and a beautiful moon was positioned right above it as if resting on it. Pretty wicked!
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Postby gaminwench » Wed Oct 03, 2007 10:47 am

TG...the kites that fly over the burns are courtesy of DOTA - Department of Tethered Aviation - they bring some new, fabulous kites they've created each year, usually designed specifically with fire reflection in mind...don't know the specs for this one, but yes, they are BIG!!!!
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