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Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Body

Attachment to the Body

So you need to come to an understanding of your relationship to your body, how you identify with your body and your attachment to your body as a result of that identification. You think your body is you, and you hold on to it for dear life, so you’re never relaxed. This level includes all the attachments to all the bodily pleasures, and the negative attachments to all the physical pains. It includes sexual pleasure, physical contact pleasure, movement pleasure, stillness pleasure, all the realms of bodily attachment to pleasure and lack of it. Attachment to the body then is not just attachment to the physical body, but also to what the physical body means to you, all the pleasures and the comforts and the safety you believe it gives you. There is nothing wrong with these things, it’s the attachment to them that creates the misunderstanding that is experienced as frustration and hell. I’m not saying you shouldn’t want all these pleasures, that’s not the point. The point is, the attachments to them will inevitably cause suffering.

Being is the Very Nature of the Body

Usually the action of the personality separates our mind from our Being, and then we want to figure out what to do and what not to do. So we are not allowing our Being to actually act. Yet it is acting all the time. The majority of our actions are done by Being. If you allow your identity to be the Being, you’ll see that Being is not separate from the body, or even from the mind, instead it is the very nature of the body, the very nature of the mind, even the very nature of the personality. In Being there is no boundary and no separation. That means the action is coming from the ground, the source, Being, so it is real doing and involves all levels at once, from the bottom up. It’s as if the Being radiates from the bottom of a lake and creates a wave that radiates throughout the whole thing. Everything is involved —mind, body, spirit, emotion—and is happening in one direction. And that direction, when Being is focused in one place, is what we call essential identity, the essential self. The true identity arises when there is a need for an essential action. When there is no need for a response, there is no essential identity, there is just Being in repose: no activity, no mind, no body, no nothing, just stillness. When a tiger is not acting, just lying there, it doesn’t know anything, it doesn’t think of itself as tiger. It is just Being. When it acts, it becomes one-pointed, and that one-pointedness is at that moment the identity of the tiger.

Experience of the Body in Self-Realization

When our awareness of the body is completely free from any image, conscious or unconscious, experience moves to a different dimension. We realize that our experience is no longer centered within the body, but in a boundless expanse of consciousness, which feels more like clear spaciousness than anything corporeal. (See The Void [Almaas, 1986] for further discussion and case material.) This is not an experience of the mind that is part of the body, as Lowen might assume, because this clear spacious awareness is seen to contain the body and mind. This is not what is commonly called an out-of-body experience, because the body is more vividly and pleasurably sensed than is ordinarily possible. Although this experience of the body occurs in deeper spiritual dimensions when we experience ourselves free from any body image, it is not the deepest, and hence not the most objective, perception of the body. Awareness of the body completely without mental representation is profoundly surprising. It moves to dimensions beyond those encountered in bioenergetics analysis, or in any body-centered therapy. In full self-realization we experience the body as a transparent, diaphanous form of presence. The form is seen to be more superficial than the ontological reality of presence, which is beyond any form. This experience of the body is not easy to access; it involves a leap of consciousness that generally requires a great deal of inner work, such as decades of intense meditation practice. Many reports from spiritual traditions describe the experience of the body as an open, transparent form of presence.

False Will is a Contraction in the Body

The usual use of will is actually a contraction in the body. It is a hard place in us, which we use as a stepping stone for action. When people say they have their will, they are referring to a certain hardness in the body, from which they feel they can act; they can spring out and feel supported in their action; or they feel they have something under their feet, and that they won’t fall. But if you look closely at that hardness, that stepping stone, you can identify it as a tension in the body. You might feel that you can’t live your life without that tension; you have learned to contract certain parts of you, near your heart, to make a little hardness, and from that little hardness you feel you can act. You feel if the hardness is not there, you will be completely empty, and will just fall, unable to do anything. But what the contraction actually does, ultimately, is close your heart. It closes the love, the joy, and the satisfaction. Using false will always goes against the heart.

Knowing Yourself without Reference to Your Body

When you know your essence, you can allow yourself to experience merging love with another person; you don’t feel the need for barriers between you and the other. When you feel your beingness and the beingness of the other, it is okay for them to become one beingness. When there is no issue of me and you, of boundaries and separation, then there is no issue of us as One. Merging love creates a state with no barriers. There are no barriers then between you and anyone or anything, between you and your body, your surroundings, your car, the whole universe. You feel you are sharing in everything, you are part of everything, melted with everything. Your heart is open and melting like butter. This is a deeper aspect of who you are, a deeper realization of yourself. You begin to know yourself without reference to your body, your feelings or your environment. You are a depth. You look into the distance and you don’t feel you are looking at the distance; you are the distance. You look up into the sky, into the clouds and you don’t feel you are looking into the clouds. There is no distance between you and the clouds. You are the clouds. You are here and everywhere. Your boundaries are gone and the belief in boundaries is gone. They have melted away. This kind of love is one of the most difficult for people to experience in love relationships even though it is exactly what they say they want.

The Body as an Instrument of the Absolute

In realizing the freedom vehicle, we realize that each of us is an objective, precise instrument for the absolute. We exist as its eyes, its mouths, its ears, its arms, its legs, its genitals, its brains, its nervous systems, its mind, its intellect, its heart, and so forth. The complete and natural function of any of these organs, and hence of our bodies and souls, is to be an instrument of the absolute, allowing the absolute to behold and experience its own creation, its own display of its hidden treasures. To be fully ourselves is to faithfully serve the absolute, to purely and selflessly do its bidding. In serving it, in surrendering our wills completely to its dynamic will, we find our happiness and fulfillment. We cannot be happy by trying to fulfill our separate and self-centered wishes and desires, if they conflict with the natural outflow of the logos of true nature. Recognizing our selfishness and egotism and understanding how these positions dissociate us from our true nature, allows us to align our wishes with the natural flow of Reality. First we need to align our identity with the absolute ipseity; but deeper still, we need to align our will with the will of the ipseity.

The Physical Body is One way that Our Individual Consciousness Appears in the World

The physical body is one way that our individual consciousness appears in the world. Each body and form is unique and beautiful as the expression of the one consciousness appearing as many. The ocean of consciousness can express itself as currents of uniqueness that can feel the pull toward one another with a fullness, velocity, intensity, and energy. Rather than a hunger spawned by a sense of missing something, it is a wanting to give and a wanting to receive at the same time. The desire to unite is the expression of the ocean that knows itself as the unity arising as currents within it and that feels a charge, an attraction between those currents. The currents—particular individuals, each a unique consciousness expressing the ocean of our nature—sense this energy and desire between them since they are fundamentally not separate from one another.

The Soul Doesn’t Have a Body, like a Possession

For example, to believe that I’m not a body but I have a body is very useful at some point when I begin to recognize and deal with my body image. As I begin to realize that I am identified with a body image, it is possible for me to recognize that I am a consciousness or spaciousness that has a body. This insight may manifest as truth at some point, which then transforms my experience. But this truth is not final. A year or two later, I might start having certain issues that I recognize are there because I make a separation between my body and my soul. I think I am a soul that has a body or a body that has a soul. At the time, it was useful for me to recognize that I am a soul that has a body, but a year later that truth becomes a falsehood because I recognize then that the body is nothing but a manifestation of the soul. There is no body separate from the soul. The soul doesn’t have a body, like a possession; the body is as much a part of the soul as my feelings are a part of the soul.

True Nature Compared to the Body

This points to something important about our True Nature, our natural condition: True Nature is indivisible. True Nature cannot be divided; it doesn't have separate parts. It is not like a machine that has many parts, and it’s not even like the body, which has many differentiated organs. Everything implicit in True Nature exists everywhere within it. It is not as though True Nature had love, for example, and this love is sitting in the gall bladder; it doesn't have a gall bladder. Love is everywhere in True Nature and so is awareness and so is strength. All of True Nature is one unified presence, and the same is true of awareness. True Nature and awareness are inseparable, and that fact can serve as guidance for our practice.

We Generally Cannot Separate the Body from Our Sense of Self, of Identity

When thinking in terms of the self, when we have a self-centered point of view, we are dominated by what the spiritual traditions call the animal soul or the carnal self—the part of us based on, and oriented toward, physical reality. Its aim is to satisfy instinctual needs, such as survival, security, pleasure, and social comfort. To satisfy the self, basically, is to satisfy those needs. But even when those needs arise, they are inseparable from the belief in a self that is separate from the rest of reality, that needs to be supported in order to survive. We generally cannot separate the body from our sense of self, of identity. If we look at it from the perspective of nonconceptual reality, we see that the self is really a concept in the mind—an idea that we have believed for a long time. We have believed it for so long that we are convinced that it is absolute reality. This idea is based on seeing that the body is separate from other physical objects, and concluding, “I exist as a self, as an individual with instinctual needs.” We find that many of our needs, if not directly instinctual, are just modifications or elaborations of, or reactions to, those basic needs. Those needs are real, but if they are what you live for, then as Christ says, you will lose your life. You will not have a true life. But if you lose your life for his sake, for the sake of truth, you will regain it.

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