From the age of five all the way up until college, I went to LDS church every Sunday, and every Sunday I “partook in the sacrament” by eating a piece of Wonderbread and taking a shot of water in remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
I liked the ritual of it, but I was always more interested in what the Catholics were up to. For starters, they got to have wine instead of water, but more importantly, they believed they were actually eating the body and drinking the blood of Jesus Christ. And I thought that was pretty cool. But today, as a Tantrika, I practice something even cooler. I partake in the ambrosial body of the highest divinity all day, every day, in all I do. (And through doing so, I feed her too, for She is me.) (Technically, we all do this, but the juicy magic lies in doing in consciously.)
Who is this highest divinity of which I speak? It’s less a question of who and more of what. According to nondual Shaiva Tantra, “God/dess” is awareness itself, endowed with the powers of willing, knowing, and acting. And -- here’s the “nondual” part -- each of us is not just a vantage point within this infinite (and infinitely powerful) field of awareness, we are also the entire field itself, and all that vibrates within it.
According to the Shiva Sutras, “Awareness is the Self” (SS 1.1) and “All that is perceived is the body” (SS 1.14).
For the past week or so, I’ve been contemplating these two sutras, given to me by my teacher, Hareesh Wallis. Awareness is the Self. And all that is perceived is the body. The second one is the one I’m playing with now, and I’m really enjoying the inquiry.
This sutra, “All that is perceived is the body [of the Goddess],” has brought me back to my bread and water sacrament days (and my first taste of ritual worship, though much drier than what I practice now). It’s also had me thinking we’re all a bunch of cannibals, constantly ingesting and digesting the body that is us -- not just when we eat or drink, but also whenever we see something, hear something, touch something, dream something, or otherwise engage the senses. But my favorite outcome, so far, of contemplating this sutra, has been seeing the whole world as if from one of the human body episodes of The Magic School Bus.
It hit me when I was ringing in the Fourth of July at Ecstatic Dance in Oakland, and looking down at the dancers from the mezzanine rail above. I suddenly saw everyone as cells moving around together in the body of the Goddess -- breathing, interacting, and exchanging information with one another as cells do. And I haven’t been able to stop seeing and imagining people, trees, buildings, thoughts -- everything, really -- as cells in a vast, ever-evolving body since.
When I was young, I used to imagine there was a grand puppeteer controlling everyone and everything in the world, but this new paradigm rings so much truer for me. As cells of the divine body, each infused with the same powers of awareness as the whole, we co-create our reality, just like dancers do on the ecstatic dance floor.
If you want a more interesting week, I encourage you to join me in the practice of seeing the universe as a giant body that you’re but a cell in (especially if you’re in the habit of seeing yourself as separate and alone and/or all-important). Be sure to let me know about your experience if you do. I'm personally just getting started.
PS Biology was always my worst subject, so if someone could support me in building out my universe-as-body metaphor for future reference, I'd really really appreciate it!