What is “body”? We speak about bodies as though we know what we are referring to, but we really don’t know what they are. In contemporary Western culture the concept of the “naturalized” body, the body seen as a physical, bounded, individual animal organism, is the underlying concept that shapes ideas about what bodies are and do. This outlook is based on a medical and scientific view of body—that which can be observed in diagnostic tests. This is a materialistic view, meaning that the body is understood as measurable and reducible to its component parts or materials.
This perspective also appears to correspond to a religious division of body and soul—that body is material and belongs to the earth (dust to dust) but soul is of divine origin and not material. But the very science that seems to support this separation can also be used to develop a very different concept of body—that body is integral to the experience of the sacred.
Read the full article in issue 85 SUFI
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Artwork © Cameron Gray