Friday, July 26, 2013

Except, we are not zombies

Did I say we're zombies? That various microbes, hormones and instincts control our behavior? That we are not singular, we are aggregates who serve many masters?

OK. It's true, but also completely not true. There are many ways in which we are all of a piece.

What makes us whole? Skin is a great example of one of the ways we pull all the microbes, instincts, human cells and thought forms together to become far more than a sum of our parts.

Skin is incredible. It gives us shape, provides identity, is crucial to immunity, vitamin production, temperature regulation and - uh - sensation! Skin is the physical boundary that makes possible an almost eery internal homeostasis. It's eery because the external world is in constant flux. Thank god for skin! It protects and holds us. I honor my skin and take good care of it, which includes not wearing sunscreen unless I have to. Sunscreen is a chemical reaction that can not be good for us. I worry for those who slather on sunscreen every day. How do they make Vitamin D, I wonder?

I'm not suggesting sunburn is good. When your skin starts to burn, get out of the sun. Your skin is showing you how much sun is right for you. If you pay attention, you will not need much sunscreen. Too much exposure to Brother Sun, even with sunscreen, is exhausting. The same goes for too little exposure. Remember the Tao of Goldilocks, please. It's part of honoring your skin.

The spiritual skin is the soul. For those who are particularly uninterested in the life of the spirit, thinking of the soul as electromagnetism will suffice (though that is a stingy, unimaginative, one-dimensional way to think about it, if you ask me).

Gravity is the weak force. If it were stronger than the electromagnetism that holds the molecules of us together, we would be sucked down into the earth in a nanosecond. Electromagnetism and skin are the physical realities that bring us identity and cohesion. They keep us from being zombies, they do.

If you're willing to go a bit further into mystery, it's worth contemplating the soul in its fullness of possibility. We don't know exactly what it is or how it works, how it becomes entangled with the aggregates of cells, microbes, hormones and such that, when held together by skin and electromagnetism, are called individuals. Everybody who wonders about the soul has a theory. Me too, of course. But no one knows for sure. No one has ever known for sure.

At a soul level, we are definitely not zombies. Physically, yes, but spiritually we can be whole and aligned within and without. It's interesting to think about.

May your soul shine brightly today, illuminating, cleansing and aligning the bits of you currently in turmoil, whether the turmoil is emotional or physical, whether it involves interactions between the microbes and the human cells or if it's because of something going on external to your skin and electromagnetic field. May your light shine. Shalom.

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