Thursday, 9 July 2015

Fleshy Tabernacles



In the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

 As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe someday I will be resurrected, "the reuniting of the spirit with the body in an immortal state, no longer subject to disease or death."

I can remember the first time I viewed my body as a separate entity from myself. I was probably 11 years old, sitting cross-legged on the floor at school. I looked down at my legs and thought "My thighs are fat."

Whether they were or not is unimportant; I had begun to look at my body with a critical eye and denigrate it.

But I grew up attending church, where I was taught time and time again that my body is sacred. It is a gift from God the Father, and I should love it, respect it, and treat it well.

In fact, the human body is quite literally a temple; a fleshy tabernacle. We Mormons take our temples seriously. They are built to the highest of standards, and decorated with the most intricate and beautiful of ornaments. They are portals to a heavenly realm, wherein we learn gospel truths and become closer to our Father in heaven. We perform sacred ordinances therein on behalf of those who have passed on to the next life without having the opportunity to learn about the gospel themselves. We mortals who still have the privilege of our bodies are able to do eternal work for those who cannot.

If our temple buildings are so precious - something built by man and subject to decay - how much more precious are our physical bodies - built by God, and once resurrected, will last into the eternities!

For many years, I have struggled to take that teaching truly to heart. Although I knew and believed that my physical body was important, special, and even divine, I couldn't fully drown out the noise from the Deceiver who whispered in my ear about how important it was to be beautiful, thin, tanned, hairless (apart from the long flowing perfect hair on my head, of course), adorned and painted upon. My self worth as a daughter of God was intertwined with how others perceived me, which was a recipe for disaster.

The only time of my life that I felt closely connected with my body and truly appreciated its divine attributes was during pregnancy. I was in awe of what my body was capable of doing, without influence or control from my conscious mind. Even so, I was subjected to much scrutiny from others, which was hard for me to cope with at times.

When I discovered Kundalini Yoga, my feelings toward my body slowly changed. The exercises and kriyas are all designed to align the spirit and the body together, in order to more fully receive divine inspiration. As I exercise daily, I feel more grounded into myself. After years of feeling like my body and spirit were separate entities, only to be united after my resurrection, I have come to feel them as they are- intertwined, and in need of each other.

There is a dusty, worn-out, supposedly jokey way of describing a so-called "ugly" woman: she has a sweet spirit. I have heard women say that their spirits are thin/beautiful/etc but it's just their bodies that are the problem. Through the power of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, I have come to truly understand that my spirit and body are BOTH who I am. I am not waiting for the resurrection for my pretty body to materialise. This body is me; it is mine, forever. It can do many physical things, and it can do many spiritual things. It can worship God through prayer, scripture study, fasting, meditation and yoga. It can attend the temple and perform ordinances. It is not taking me along for the ride; it is me!

When I die and am temporarily separated from my temple body, I will miss it terribly. I am only just beginning to understand how vital this body is to my existence. I praise God for this beautiful gift. It is precious to me.

Instead of saying my body, I will say my temple body. Or my sacred body. Instead of thinking about foods being unhealthy, I will remember that certain food-like substances will distance me from feeling the Spirit. They are unhealthy in a mortal sense, but they are even more unhealthy for my soul.

The human body is a sacred temple of God. Let us all treat our temple bodies as such!

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