A poem by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

Body Intelligence

Your intelligence is always with you,

overseeing your body, even though

you may not be aware of its work.

If you start doing something against your health,

your intelligence will eventually scold you.

If it hadn’t been so lovingly close by,

and so constantly monitoring,

how could it rebuke?

You and your intelligence

are like the beauty and the precision

of an astrolabe.

Together, you calculate how near

existence is to the sun!

Your intelligence is marvelously intimate.

It’s not in front of you or behind,

or to the left or the right.

Now try, my friend, to describe how near

is  the creator of your intellect!

Intellectual searching will not find

the way to that king!

The movement of your finger

is not separate from your finger.

You go to sleep, or you die,

and there’s no intelligent motion.

Then you wake,

and your fingers fill with meanings.

Now consider the jewel-lights

in your eyes. How do they work?

This visible universe has many weathers

and variations.

But uncle, O uncle,

the universe of the creation-word,

the divine command to Be, that universe

of qualities is beyond any pointing to.

More intelligent than intellect,

and more spiritual than spirit.

No being is unconnected

to that reality, and that connection

cannot be said. There, there’s

no separation and no return.

There are guides who can show you the way.

Use them. But they will not satisfy your longing.

Keep wanting that connection

with all your pulsing energy.

The throbbing vein

will take you further

than any thinking.

Muhammad said, “Don’t theorize

about essence!” All speculations

are just more layers of covering.

Human beings love coverings!

They think the designs on the curtains

are what’s being concealed.

Observe the wonders as they occur around you.

Don’t claim them. Feel the artistry

moving through, and be silent.

Or say, “I cannot praise You

as You should be praised.

Such words are infinitely beyond my understanding.”

I am most fascinated by how humans behave and operate both as personal beings and as containers of God, and how these roles coexist, clash, and exert opposing needs on each of us as a person. How can the strain of those opposing callings express itself in our body, our musculature, our nervous system?

I am curious about how to live a life that honors both the needs of the personal and the universal, the body and the soul. Of course no such division exists. We live as a whole in a state of dynamic tension, with many opposites coexisting simultaneously.  Our resistance to this can manifest as pain on many fronts–physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.

Our bodies provide a simple way to check in with where we are. Our bodies seldom lie as easily as our minds and faces. We feel the inner strains that our smiling face may never admit. Our body can serve as our conscience.

When we live in our body as a vehicle of consciousness, we open ourselves to many things we would rather leave behind. The need to breathe deeply and stay present within ourselves.. The need to endure a few moments of discomfort in order to experience a renewed sense of physical freedom and clarity. Our resources arise as they are called upon. The trick is remembering to call.