In the last hundred years or so years, and especially in the last one hundred, mankind has made enormous progress, not least by the development of scientific thought and the industrialisation of production. But this progress has been at a price. All too often, that price has been a loss of balance and harmony brought about by the pursuit of a narrow, harsh and mechanistic view of the world. For we live today in a world where so much seems to be reduced to no more than the sum of its parts. There is, of course, increasing evidence of the dangers of such a dis-integrated approach. The fact that people are beginning to ask questions about this – their growing anxiety, for example, about the manipulation of Nature in the debate about genetically modified organisms, and the growing recognition of the disease brought about by the sense of a progressive loss of harmony with the flow and rhythm of the natural world around us – suggests to me deep down, and in each one of us, there is an intuitive understanding that all is not well in our increasingly secular and mechanistic civilisation.
For some years, it is this deeper concern going beyond only rational intellect, and this heartfelt desire for harmony and balance, that has driven my interest in Architecture, the Environment, Agriculture, Medicine and Education. It is the raison d'être for my new Foundation for the Built Environment. In each of these areas I have seen the same evidence of an attempt to impose an arrogant technology that seeks not to work with but to subdue Nature – what I think is best described as the Industrialisation of Life. And, as part of this, there is a growing a common and disheartening inability to understand both the continuing centrality of that which is sacred, and the timeless importance of the traditional forms of understanding of our place in the world.
For me, the work of Temenos could not be more important. Its commitment to fostering a wider awareness of the great spiritual traditions we have inherited from the past is not a distraction from the concerns of our everyday lives. The traditions which form the basis of mankind's most civilised values, those timeless principles which have been handed down to us over may centuries, are not just a part of our inner or religious life but have an intensely practical relevance to the creation of real beauty in the arts, to an architecture which brings harmony and inspiration into people's lives, and to the development within the individual of an awareness of a sense of balance which is, to my mind, the hallmark of a civilised person.
I am determined that the work of my Foundation should embrace wholeheartedly the principles of Temenos. For everything that I aim to do with my Foundation is linked to a search for harmony and balance; to the maintenance of a living tradition which understands the importance of our collective memory; to an emphasis on peace, not war, with Nature; and to the encouragement of those deeper principles of understanding by which we can experience a sense of belonging and meaning within a rapidly changing world, and which we have a responsibility to bequeath to future generations. The principles for which Temenos stands are rooted, in my mind, to the interests of our children and our children's children. That is not to deny progress. It rather represents a care to do what we can to ensure for them the survival of civilised existence and the maintenance of that vital thread of community that links the past and the future.
I am greatly encouraged to discover constantly others who pursue this same path, and to hear about their wonderful work. In the great spiritual traditions of the world it is understood that wisdom and compassion go hand in hand. But it is also understood that following this path requires courage and conviction, and I admire the courage and conviction of all those who are prepared to challenge the deadening Industrialisation of Life which carries no understanding of the timeless qualities which permeate a truly civilised and harmonious society. I pray that their wise and compassionate work will prevail and I can assure you that I myself will do all I can to help preserve and encourage the vital principles for which Temenos stands.