5. Meeting god
SACRED or holy places are found in different cultures, past and present, all over the world. Such places are frequently marked or embellished by architectural structures and art.
In most cases, it can be shown that the sacredness of a place is linked in some way to natural objects and features such trees, stones, water, mountains, caves, and forms in the landscape. It can further be shown that these natural objects and forms lie at the root of the forms and shapes employed to mark or embellish a sacred site.  For example, throughout India, hundreds of thousands of ancient trees are focal points for worshipping community deities, or gramadevatas. These shrines are usually places of quiet calm and reflection, providing refuge from the noisy demands of life. Shrines may be several trees together, or a single tree with a large platform built around it, marked with flags and banners or with its trunk dressed like a Goddess. Hindus consider many species of trees as sacred. By far the most common are two varieties of ficus trees: Banyan trees, known locally as vata, and Peepul trees, known as bodhi.
These same sacred forms and shapes derived from natural objects and features become symbolic or emblematic of the sacred or divine. When they are articulated in art and architecture, they become not only the 'abode' of the divine, but also serve as a means to entice the divine either to continue to reside at a given place or to take up residence at a new site.
Although the sacred places are often rich in aesthetic experience, sacredness often resides in the origins, meaning and function of the sacred objects, forms, symbols, and shapes that compose the art and architecture of a sacred place. It is through the art and architecture that the sacred or the divine is manifest or represented. The philosopher Plotinus (205-270 CE) explained it this way [Enneads, IV, 3. 11]:
"Those ancient sages who saught to secure the presence of divine beings by the erection of shrines and statues, showed insight into the nature of the All; they perceived that, though the Soul is everywhere traceable, its presence will be secured all the more readily when an appropriate receptacle is elaborated, a place especially capable of receiving some portion or phase of it, something reproducing it, or representing it and serving like a mirror to catch an image of it".