It’s popular to prescribe seeing oneself not as a human having a spiritual moment, but as a spirit having a human moment. While this is true, it’s not enough to say “human” without insisting on including sensation. To be incarnated as a human is to be entrusted not only with a brain and a heart, but also with a physical body. Of the many realities we experience, this may be the only physical reality. Is it our inexperience with the physical that so often leads to our mistrust and denial of our physicality? Ascetics deny it by declaring it “illusion” and by avoiding the sensations that affirm it. Many see it as a separation from spirit, yet spirit is fully here with us in our “human moment” whenever we choose to notice.
When we locate ourselves exclusively in the head and heart we forget how very wonderful it is to be in the physical, what a joy to be able to partake of the sensations of this world. Of course that includes sex , but there is so much more! The scent of the evening breeze, the soft prickle of grass, the shock then the gradual numbing of feet wading in a cold river, the shushing of the leaves as the wind dances through them – there is so very, very much to experience here, so much that can bring a wild joy to the heart.
Sensation is a very particular way of sidestepping the tyranny of the brain; that is why sex has been a sacrament and a path in so many religious traditions, and demonized in those that deny personal agency when connecting with the divine. Personal connection with the divine is unruly, uncontrollable. It encourages individuals to seek their own path instead of following rules and books of instruction. It is dangerous to established religions that seek a governing role in lives.
We like to pretend that connecting to the divine means being without appetite, being untouched by the physical. It’s a philosophy well suited to dividing the self against the self, to establishing a war within that can be mirrored in an external war against the ‘other,’ yet there is nothing so peaceful, so blissful as a human perfectly satisfied in her/his physicality.