WE were repulsed by a report of a terrorist beheading. David Brooks wrote about it in a NY Times Opinion, “The Body and the Spirit” in which he concludes that “the body has a spiritual essence.”
“The human head and body don’t just live and pass along genes,” Brooks writes: “They paint, make ethical judgments, savor the beauty of a sunset and experience the transcendent.”
Sounding more like a student of Theosophy than a cultural and political commentator Brooks adds: “The body is material but surpasses the material. It’s spiritualized matter.”
This is very close to what H. P. Blavatsky declared in The Secret Doctrine: “Spirit is the first differentiation from That, the causeless cause of both Spirit and Matter. It is, as taught in the esoteric catechism, neither limitless void, nor conditioned fulness, but both. It was and ever will be. . . .
“It is not matter as we know it, but the spiritual essence of matter.”
“Most of us, religious or secular,” Brooks wrote: “have some instinctive sense that there is a ghost infused in the machine. And because the human body is a transcendent temple it is worthy of respect. It is offensive to treat it the way you would treat an inanimate object.”
Even after a person is dead, the body still carries the residue of this presence and deserves dignified handling.
Similarly, H. P. Blavatsky quoted Thomas Carlyle: “‘we touch heaven when we lay our hand on a human body!'” … “How does our physical body come to the state of perfection it is found in now?,” she asks, and answers: “Through millions of years of evolution, of course, yet never through, or from, animals, as taught by materialism.”
Further quoting Carlyle: — ‘The essence of our being, the mystery in us that calls itself ‘I,’ — what words have we for such things? — it is a breath of Heaven, the highest Being reveals himself in man. This body, these faculties, this life of ours, is it not all as a vesture for the unnamed?'”
Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus
“The breath of heaven, or rather the breath of life is, as Novalis said, and no one since has said it better, as repeated by Carlyle: —
There is but one temple in the universe, and that is the body of man. Nothing is holier than that high form . . . . We touch heaven when we lay our hand on a human body!
‘If well meditated it will turn out to be a scientific fact — the expression of the actual truth of the thing. We are the miracle of miracles — the great inscrutable Mystery.’
(Blavatsky adds): “The breath of heaven, or rather the breath of life, called in the bible Nephesh, is in every animal, in every animate speck as in every mineral atom.”
(The Secret Doctrine 1:211-12)
Quoting Thomas Carlyle:
“But none of these has, like man, the consciousness of the nature of that highest Being, as none has that divine harmony in its form which man possesses. There is but one temple in the universe, says the devout Novalis, and that is the body of man. Nothing is holier than that high form.”
We touch heaven when we lay our hand on a human body! This sounds like a mere flourish of rhetoric but it is not so.
“If well meditated it will turn out to be a scientific fact; the expression in such words as can be had, of the actual truth of the thing. We are the miracle of miracles,— the great inscrutable Mystery of God. We cannot understand it, we know not how to speak of it; but we may feel and know, if we like, that it is verily so.”
(Thomas Carlyle, Ch. 1, Hero as Divinity)