The gates of paradise are the portals of my body. I shall not transcend my flesh, but journey through it to the stars. There are angel worlds in every atom; at the center of a proton, the boundless Christ. I need not be washed in the blood of the Lamb. I was washed in the blood of my mother's womb. That was my salvation.
The sacred practices of all great wisdom traditions are techniques of incarnation. They do not erase the human body, they glorify it. The bread of the Christian Eucharist is the body of Christ. The tribal shaman draws divine energy from plants, animals, stones. Chi flows not down from heaven, but up through the soles of the Qi Gong master's feet. The whirling of the Sufi is a body-prayer. Our chakras blossom on the Tree of Life, which is the spine. And the breath of the Buddha is here, in the Hara, just below the belly.
A lantern's light spreads beyond the lantern, yet the candle is its source. Without the candle, there is no center from which radiation can flow. The body is our wick, the mind is the flame, the Spirit is the luminous aura that expands beyond this brief candle.
Don't snuff out the wick of your body, light it! Breathe the halo of your flesh into the galaxies. Revel in this secret of divine humanity: The journey up is a journey down. The journey beyond is a journey in: to the heart, the groin, the sacred dust beneath your feet. That dust contains the stars.
Your human form is the axis of creation, connecting earth to sky, water to fire, Shakti to Shiva, Mary to Christ, the smallest pebble to the Creator. Your body is the nexus of North, South, East, West, the holy cross on which God crucifies hers Self for the sake of love. In that love act, One becomes many, so that each may know the pain and beauty of return.
Your body is the temple where angels meet their animal familiars, celestial gandharvas learn plant songs, and Holy Spirit gleams through the wish-granting jewel of matter. Therefor, let your body have its way, and become God.
The eye is holy. The nose is holy. The lips and tongue are holy. Holy the skin and belly and buttocks. Holy the clitoris, the sole of your foot. And because your body is holy, the "I" who effervesces out of your body is holy too. The "I" is as much a part of your sacred body as a finger or a nose. And you no more need to destroy it than you need to annihilate your big toe. Anyone who tells you to get rid of your "I" is a lonesome fool, posing as a wise man. Don't get rid of your "I": hug your "I" with the whole cosmos.
For "I" am a vehicle to express the body's radiance, and negotiate its relationship to other forms. "I" direct and coordinate the flow of divine energy through the senses. "I" am the body's antenna. A human becomes truly happy, intimate, and selfless not through denying the "I", but through cherishing the "I" in each moment. For in truth, we have thousands of "I's" every day, arising and dissolving like bubbles on the ocean of conscious. Each perception, each sensation, each inhalation is realized and savored as an "I," and the real purpose of this"I" is to say "thank you."
Cherishing the "I" of this body, in this moment, means embracing limitations. Embracing my own impermanence, this "I" can cherish the "I" of another, with all her impermanence too. Have we not both taken embodiment here, now, just to savor the Formless in perishing lovely forms?
Yes, "I" may be flawed and fallen, but because of this, "I" can feel what others feel, breathe the sigh of a stranger, resonate your rhythms of pain and joy. Because "I" am a wave in the ocean of awareness, "I" can dance.
It is through the "I" that we enjoy the charm of creation, and allow the Creator to become personal. Because my body has an "I," the "I" of God takes shape as my reflection in the mirror of consciousness. Then "I" enjoy the ecstasy of devotion to my Beloved in every finite perception. The One Transcendent Absolute Being is glorified by the "I-Thou" relation beating in its very heart and core.
Engraving: The Sun at his Eastern Gate by William Blake