Many people have asked me what happens to the body after awakening. There is a lot of confusion. This is natural as the mind cannot understand Truth and will always become attached to words and miss what the words are pointing to.
So let’s see if we can clear some of this confusion up.
1. Does the body disappear upon awakening?
No. It does not. Although identification with the body and as the body does disappear. Awakening means that illusions dissolve leaving clear seeing. So the body is still here, but you no longer identify with this body or as this body. It is just a body. And you have no idea what this body is. As clear as I can be, you will still misunderstand until you experience this for yourself. If you identify with your body right now, then you will not be able to understand what it is like to not identify with it until you no longer do.
2. If you no longer identify with the body and as the body, will you stop taking care of it?
That has not been my experience nor from what I can see the experience of other awakened beings. In my case, it may be the opposite. I continue to exercise, hike, run, do yoga, tai chi, go to the gym, lift weights, eat healthy food, drink plenty of water, fast periodically, get lots of sun and fresh air and avoid all chemicals. In fact at 67 years old, I would say that in terms of strength, flexibility, speed and stamina, I am healthier now than I was as a twenty year old athlete and body builder and weigh pretty much the same.
The difference is I no longer do it for me. Life has use for this body. Otherwise it would not be here. There are no accidents in this perfect world. Because life has use for it for a certain amount of time, it also wants it in as good condition as it needs to be until that purpose is done. After which, I suppose it will quickly die.
3. Life encourages the maintenance of this body.
The encouragement that life gives to take good care of this body, much as you would maintain a car or any other tool to keep it in working condition so it serves its purpose, is that it feels really good to do so. This is always life’s encouragement and motivation and guidance that you are going in the right direction. It feels really good to be in alignment with life. And if you are not in alignment with life, it feels really bad. It’s very simple. Suffering and disease are simply life telling us we are not in alignment with life. It is a message. If we know how to listen, we take responsibility and find out how we are out of alignment and make the necessary corrections so that life flows well again.
So taking good care of the body feels really, really good. And this way I know it is in alignment with life.
4. If you are already taking good care of your body, this should make you happy. You already know that it makes you feel good. If you are not taking care of your body, you are probably experiencing some symptoms that don’t feel so good. These will only get worse until you come back into alignment with life.
5. The illusion of the body.
As long as you identify with your body or even believe you understand what this body is, you are greatly limiting what it can do. This is where the illusion of the body comes in. The best medical and scientific knowledge have absolutely no idea what this body is. You don’t either. Neither do I. Those who have stopped their identification with the body and belief in the body’s limitations experience a very different body from those who are still under this illusion. This is the main reason why at 67 years old this body can lift almost twice the weight it could as a twenty year old athlete. It can run faster and longer. It is more flexible. Without identifying with it or believing in the conditioned limitations, it is amazing what it can do. Many of us have heard stories of yogis and taoist masters who could perform miraculous feats with their bodies that defy all logic and science. This is why. The body is not what we think it is. Compared to our True Infinite Self, it is limited. It is subject to time, to birth and death. But it is far, far less limited than our scientific knowledge will tell you.
6. If you like try a little experiment as I used to do.
Go to a chin-up bar (or if you are not ready for that use weights in a gym). Do as many chin-ups (or lift as heavy a weight as you can) with the idea that this is your body. You know what it can do and cannot do. You are this body and this body is you. Rest for a little while. Then see if you can free yourself from these thoughts. Realize that you do not really know what this body is or what it is capable of. Imagine you have never experienced this body before this very moment. Imagine you are a scientist simply observing something you have never seen before. Now do the chin-ups again (or lift the weights).
When I did this years ago, I would double the amount of chin-ups I could do and double the amount of weight simply from this one simple change of attitude. Now I never exercise with the idea that I know what this body can or cannot do. I never imagine that I know what this body is or is capable of. It remains a complete mystery to me, like all of life. I always experience that I am encountering it for the very first time in every moment. I wouldn’t know how to do otherwise any longer. But if you have never done this before and feel capable of releasing these conditioned thoughts just for a moment, just for the time it takes to do this little experiment, you will see this for yourself.
7. The body is not what you think it is.
Nothing is what you think it is. As long as you think you know what the body is, you only know an illusion. Even your idea and understanding of what an illusion is is not true. The best we can do is admit that we don’t know. Admit that we don’t know anything. Start from this beginners mind, a mind that is open, a mind that is clear like space. Then you will experience the body in an entirely different way. You will experience an incredible miracle that is here to be experienced in every moment as something completely new. And it will teach you things that no medical or scientific text book ever could.
When you can see it like this, with an open and clear mind, then the body is no longer an illusion. It is Truth. Everything is Truth. And it will teach you more than I or any spiritual teacher ever could.