"The great tragedy of Western religion is that it elevates disembodied love over embodied love, leading us to believe that it is better to be out of our bodies than in them. Even in the dictionary, the definition for carnal, which simply means 'of the flesh,' is charged with the added connotation: 'usually stresses the absence of intellectual or moral influence.'
"It's not specifically a Roman Catholic upbringing such as mine that will create this division from the body, for this mentality has pervaded our cultures and religious traditions for thousands of years. Cultural anthropologists tell us that there was a time when humankind honored its oneness with the natural world and lived in peaceful, full-bodied harmony with nature. But as broader social organization developed, as religion became codified in language and hierarchy, and as the intellectual became dominant over the physical, we began to separate our souls from our bodies. We forgot we were sparks from the same flame, waves of the same sea, that as much as the Divine is around us, the Divine is within us, experiencing itself through every sense in our bodies. The journey of our lives is a journey of remembering and reconnecting. It is a journey of joy and discovery, a chance to feel and reveal the radiance within. The spiritual path leads inward, for the beloved dwells there in every cell, like the oak in the acorn, the jewel in the mine. The great secret within us is waiting to be told through the living of our lives, waiting to be shared through the pleasures of our senses.
"We need to climb back into our bodies and honor them as instruments of our souls. They are the means through which the Divine takes shape in this world, crucibles in which the raging blaze of spirit is transformed into luminous thought, radiant creations, enlightened action. We are the word made flesh, and through our bodies, we are continuing the creation of the universe, physically and metaphysically. It is not happening to us, but through us and the meaning we are seeking, the deep joy and passion we're after, the enlightenment we long for, all this arrives as we begin to re-pair what cultures and creeds have torn asunder.
"In the process of divining our bodies, we embody the Divine as the mystics did. We feel the beloved in every cell, sense the sacred one in every heartbeat, every touch, every image our eyes encounter, every sound our ears behold. Transcending duality, we shift from a sense of 'self' and 'other' to a sense of self in other. When we embrace the Divine within ourselves, it becomes natural to find and love the Divine in others. It is our nature to do this. If we love ourselves tenderly, that feeling of compassion and kindness will seep out of us and transform every relationship in our lives.
"This book is an attempt to undo the damage we've sustained living in a culture that thrives on our self-hatred. It is a sanctification of our human bodies, a consecration of ourselves as hosts to the Great Beloved. It is a journey of awe and reverence through the sacred terrain of foot and hand, back and breast, heart and brain. The path to peace is the pathway through ourselves, starting with the inward step, the brave, gentle step toward the Divine within. Godspeed to us all."