Spirituality in Sensuality
Sitting down at the dinner table last night, half an hour before the start of a spiritual group that meets weekly in my home, I dipped my fork into a one-pan concoction of sautéed jalapenos, quinoa, eggs and sharp cheddar cheese – all mixed together, fried crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.
Just after that first, scrumptious bite, I opened The Radiance Sutras, by Lorin Roche, a translation of the sacred Hindu text, Vijnana Bhairava Tantra – a text we’re using as a guide for our gathering this winter/spring. I opened to a random spot near the middle of the book. On the pages facing me I found these two Sutras:
Tasting dark chocolate,
A ripe apricot,
A luscious elixir –
Savor the expanding joy in your body.
Nature is offering herself to you.
To realize this world can taste so good.
When sipping some ambrosia,
Raise your glass,
Close your eyes,
Toast the universe.
The Sun and Moon and Earth
To bring you this delight.
Receive the nectar on your tongue
As a kiss of the divine.
All around you, in every moment,
The world is offering a feast for your senses.
Songs are playing,
Tasty food is on the table,
Fragrances are in the air,
Colors fill the eyes with light.
You who long for union,
Attend this banquet with loving focus.
The outer and inner worlds
Open to each other.
Oneness of vision, oneness of heart.
Right here, in the midst of it all,
Mount that elation, ascend with it,
With the ecstatic essence
Embracing both worlds.
What a powerful invitation to return to my senses – to slow down, to savor this meal, to feel the warmth radiating from my fireplace, to let the chant playing on my sound system replace the noise of busy thoughts.
I was raised in a religious tradition that mistrusted the body and frowned on sensuality – a masculine approach to spirituality that favored the abstract/intellectual and instructed the mind to dominate and disregard the body.
I now see how sensuality and sensual awareness ground us in Presence. This grounding connects us, opens us to the flow of life and leads us to the divine - within us and around us.
Mary Oliver, a wonderful poet who was keenly connected to the natural world, died today. She wrote one of my favorite lines in all of poetry: “let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
The Sutras and Mary’s passing invite me to listen deeply to my body, to enjoy its sensual nature, to honor its wisdom and to trust it as one pathway to Allness.