(This is an excerpt from the book THIS MYSTICAL LIFE OF OURS by Ralf Waldo Trine, first published in the 1907 and is now in the public domain.)
From what has been said let it not be inferred that the body, the physical, material life is to be despised or looked down upon. This, rather let it be said, is one of the crying errors of the times, and prolific of a vast amount of error, suffering, and shame. On the contrary, it should be thought all the more highly of: it should be loved and developed to its highest perfections, beauties, and powers. God gave us the body not in vain. It is just as holy and beautiful as the spirit itself. It is merely the outward material manifestation of the individualized spirit; and we by our hourly thoughts and emotions are building it, are determining its conditions, its structure, and appearance.
Every part, every organ, every function of the body is just as clean, just as beautiful, just as sweet, and just as holy as every other part; and it is only by virtue of man’s perverted ways of looking at some that they become otherwise, and the moment they so become, abuses, ill uses, suffering, and shame creep in.
Not repression, but elevation. Would that this could be repeated a thousand times over! Not repression, but elevation. Every part, every organ, every function of the body is given for use, but not for misuse or abuse; and the moment the latter takes place in connection with any function it loses its higher powers of use, and there goes with this the higher powers of true enjoyment.
No, a knowledge of the spiritual realities of life prohibits asceticism, repression, the same as it prohibits license and perverted use. To err on the one side is just as contrary to the ideal life as to err on the other. All things are for a purpose, all should be used and enjoyed; but all should be rightly used, that they may be fully enjoyed.
It is the threefold life and development that is wanted, — physical, mental, spiritual. This gives the rounded life, and he or she who fails in any one comes short of the perfect whole. The physical has its uses just the same and is just as important as the others. The great secret of the highly successful life is, however, to infuse the mental and the physical with the spiritual; in other words, to spiritualize all, and so raise all to the highest possibilities and powers.
It is the all-around, fully developed we want, — not the ethereal, pale-blooded man and woman, but the man and woman of flesh and blood, for action and service here and now, — the man and woman strong and powerful, with all the faculties and functions fully unfolded and used, all in a royal and bounding condition, but all rightly subordinated. The man and the woman of this kind, with the imperial hand of mastery upon all, — standing, moving thus like a king, nay, like a very God, — such is the man and such is the woman of power. Such is the ideal life: anything else is one-sided, and falls short of it.