Thursday, June 12, 2014
From within, part IV: the elements of heaven
The body has power; and anyone who wishes to understand this better can handle a dog, or any other animal, just to appreciate the enormous physical presence and power of bodies. Animals have a much better, fully intact connection with their bodies, which the sheer vigor of their musculature expresses. We ought to have nearly the same qualities, yet they're lacking; humans have nowhere near the proportional strength of even very small creatures.
Human beings become very attached to the body without understanding its nature, except through the coarse nature of its sensuality... its sexuality... its cravings. I'm identified with the body; powerfully so, and this identification is to some extent inescapable during the course of ordinary life. Even when I speak of the soul, I speak of it through the body, and interpret it (as illogical as it is) through the body. So naturally when I say "yoga," I think of yoga of the body, and I practice yoga of the body. It fits well with what I am and who we are, both as individuals and as cultures.
This addiction to physicality is ubiquitous. In failing to be connected with the body, the mind fails to understand it; and even when the mind and the body develop quite well over the course of a lifetime, they do so without the mutual understanding and relationship they ought to have. They are like a boy and girl, next door neighbors, who cordially grow up together, mature, get jobs, and become effective in life without ever becoming engaged, marrying, and having children. The attraction, the intimacy, the romance are lacking; they don't even suspect that such things are possible. It is almost as though the mind and the body never reach inner puberty; a quality it is difficult to describe, but that relates to the experience of a finer energy in the body and its fundamentally procreative nature. No matter how clever the mind gets, and no matter how adept movement becomes, they remain, in this esoteric sense, rather sterile. Both are hence accustomed to a form of inner masturbation which is—unlike the outer form— legitimately unhealthy, because it prevents a right relationship that allows the seed of sacred feeling-qualities to enter a human being.
I do very much need the body; it's the fundamental vehicle for expression of Being on this level. Yet it is made of coarse materials, and the finer materials it can encounter, ingest, and deposit in itself for the edification of the soul are too subtle to affect it under casual circumstances.
The body is the foundation of Being; yet because it makes the doors and windows possible, I mistake it for the house. In doing this; I don't honor it properly; and the loving, intimate investment I ought to make in it doesn't mature. The structure I erect on it is flimsy, really. Unless I encounter, cultivate, and pay attention to the finer energies of Being—the inward flow—I'm always disconnected from the true potential of my body, which lays down its life for me like a brother or a sister in order to help my soul grow.
This sacrifice is a great one; and I ought to have the deepest respect for it, because the body always pays the ultimate price, whether the soul grows or not. At the end of life it struggles enormously because of its inherently sacrificial nature. Yesterday (June 6) I was at my father's bedside as he died—actually I have spent the last three days at his bedside in a deathbed vigil—and this fact came home to me in a way it never can, unless one holds the hand of a dying person, looks into their eyes, shares their struggle, and feels their pulse as it slips away.
I remember my teacher Betty Brown explaining some small part of this to me in the last year or two of her life; she clearly saw this need to support and help the body as it came to terms with its mortality in the end of years. Yet the way we need to pay respect is long before the final moments; and we pay it by seeking, then cultivating, this relationship with the finer energies we are here to discover: these elements of heaven which penetrate being, as we become receptive. We don't truly anticipate the manner in which only the angelic elements of Being are carried into heaven; and so we don't honor the right inner work of the body in our lifetimes, which is so important to helping it fulfill its function.