July 30, 2013

Love and the Body

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you..." 1 Corinthians:1-19
"We are like little mirrors in which God contemplates Himself."
St. John Vianney

When the Body Speaks
Depeche Mode

To the soul's desires
The body listens
What the flesh requires
Keeps the heart imprisoned

What the spirit seeks
The mind will follow
When the body speaks
All else is hollow...

In matters of the body, there are some who see no body-soul connection, instead they see the body only. The physical, tangible body is their reality. There is nothing intrinsically evil or immoral in things, natural in creation. The Creator has seen to that, writes Thomas Merton. In his effort to express what he sees as the good, the beautiful, the holy, Merton addresses certain issues of the human body.

While all things, natural, created by the One cannot be in any way an impediment to realizing our own true divinity, the obstacles when and where they do exist take the form of "self." It is the tenacious need to maintain a separate egotistic, willfulness that alienates one from the Creator by means of an outwardly 'false self.'
By necessity and by function, this falseness
demands an equally false environment in which to operate; the false self subsumes the real; in service to the imaginary, false self we use things for the betterment of this self to the detriment of the One, true, created self, the 'original face' as some call it. Engaged in corruption, evil easily enters as we use many illusions to increase our dependence and attachment to the false self.
The maintenance of such falseness tends to turn one into a fanatic, ever on the look-out for what is not whole or unified. Those who divide themselves, distract themselves in this pursuit to maintain a exterior identity and a second, hidden identity. We all know others whom we may have referred to as 'two-faced' and this is what Merton wishes to address.

The true joy of the world is escape from this little island of false self; instead of entering into union with the One who creates, we encounter much sadness; the grief we sometimes discover is due to the demands of our desire that there be more than there is: he who does not expect, then, has all things.
In any event, the false self is not to be 
"identified with the body. The body is neither evil nor unreal. It has a reality given it by God and this reality is therefore holy... The body is the temple of god, meaning that his reality, his truths are enshrined there... let no one then dare to hate or despise the body that has been entrusted to him by god, and let no one dare to mis-use this body... Soul and body exist together,"
writes Merton

There are many [persons] in the world, decent and moral, and also who recognize no other reality in life besides their body and its relationship to the environment, or a physical containment within its surroundings. While they may admittedly reduce themselves to their five, discrete senses--taste, touch, sound, smell and sight, their lives are based on their senses and nothing else.
Consequently, they easily fall into illusion-- but do not find fault in the body itself; rather it is the person them self who consents, finding a sort of security in the simplest senses. They will not answer to the secret, still voice of the One, the Creator, who calls them to take a risk, to come out of themselves, making visible all glory of the Created One. This risking, says Merton, is a task for a spiritually engaged person.

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