I’ve heard a few people comment lately, following a period of challenging illness, that in the end they discover they are not their bodies.
They are something more transcendental, more unfettered and free.
I always feel a visceral reaction to statements like this. Maybe it’s the Taurean archetype coming out…
While I get what they are saying – we are a soul that lasts beyond the mortal flesh and so forth – to me there is something fundamentally wrong with this attitude.
Think I’m being a materialist here? Maybe I am, just not in the way you are imagining it…
It’s in moments of illness and suffering that we get to feel completely alone.
And we mistakenly think that being ‘trapped’ in an individual body is the reason we are alone, because we really crave the connection, the sense of belonging, the feeling of oneness with a divine source that we know is the cure for any dis-ease.
I say ‘mistakenly think’ because this is a social training. It sneaks in as we are learning how to speak, and as we grow older it becomes more and more the way we think about ourselves – isolated entities, separated into our own individual bodies.
While this appears to be true on the surface (according to visual logic), it’s patently not true on any kind of fundamental level. Molecules, cells, the colonies of bacteria and parasites in our bellies and on our skin, all ensure we are always multiples, never singular.
Each of our cells is a tiny intelligent system, banding together with every other cell to create an “I”.
This apparently singular body is actually composed of trillions.
And do we end at the edges of our skin? It’s a big question, just the kind I like to get lost in.
But don’t worry – I’ll stick to the point.
Which, succinctly, is that when we blithely mouth the cliché ‘you are not your body’ we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater, exacerbating, even perpetuating the split between body and mind, body and spirit.
It’s a dangerous attitude. And sooo old school.
If you’re having a hate relationship with your body – stop!
If you think you have to control your body – stop!
In fact, you are your body, and your body is also so much more than what you think it is.
Your body is a vehicle for soul, sure. But it’s not like getting in your car & driving somewhere.
Our soul (and mind, for those who feel a little uncomfortable with soul stuff) completely permeates our body.
It lives in every cell & molecule. Yep, mind also lives in the body. It doesn’t depart until you die, when everything breaks down & recycles into new form.
When people say “I realise I am not my body” what they are really trying to say is:
‘I realise I am not the body that has been proscribed by medicine, and materialism, and prudish Christians…”.
And what they have actually realised is that they are not what is represented by the concept of ‘body’.
This is the difference between the representation (what we think it is: the concept of ‘body’), and the reality – what is real, what exists despite and outside of the understandings given to us by society, by medicine, or by spiritual systems.
So the problem is not our bodies, per se, the problem is what we think our bodies are…
Because whether we think that the body is the limits of the self, or whether we think that our bodies trap us in a world of matter and separate us from spirit, these are simply ideas we have about bodies.
This holds true whether we’re talking the ideas that science has about bodies, or what spiritual disciplines tell us about bodies.
When we say “I am not my body” we are really trying to escape the constrictions and limitations in our own thinking.
May as well say “I am not my mind”.
So, if you think your body is a dumb lump of flesh, that’s just a concept you learnt somewhere. It ain’t the truth.
We wouldn’t even be able to have a concept about a divine life, or a dull life, without our body.
Any inspiration, or pleasure, any intelligence of any kind comes through perception.
This is the ability of your brilliant physical form to pick up transmissions and translate them from the imperceptible to the tangible.
Beauty, joy, love, all are found in form. And only possible by living it.
The physical body does not make us separate from the great divine web of life – it is our ticket to this glorious event.
Don’t try to get out of your body – try to escape your narrow concept of self.
Your mind is actually your problem, not your body.