What is the body made of? If we look carefully, we can see it is made of only four elements: earth, air, fire and water.
Earth is the body’s bones, skin, teeth. Fire is the heat generated in all living bodies. Water is in our flowing blood and in every cell. The body is mostly water. And air is not only the exchange of oxygen necessary for the life of our cells, but also the vast space between molecules that is true of all physical matter. Earth, air, fire and water.
When you sit silently in nature, these four elements of the body become very clear. This body is not separate from the earth it sits on. Without this earth element, it could not exist. This body is not separate from the sun that shines on it. Without the sun, this body could not exist. This body cannot be separate from water or air. Without these the body also could not exist. If you removed even one of these elements, the body could not be here.
What Is This Thing Called A Body?
If you too can see this clearly, then answer me this. What is this thing you call “my body”? Is it a separate, independent thing, separate from the rest of life? How can it be? Without the earth, the sun, water and air, it cannot exist for even a single moment. So it is not separate and independent from these things. How about parents? Could this body exist if your parents had never met? And, you know, this chain of ancestors goes back a very long ways, even before the human species existed. Could this body exist without even a single one of those ancient ancestors meeting? So this body cannot really be separate and independent from any of them.
If you look carefully you cannot find any evidence at all that this body is separate and independent from anything else. Don’t take my word for it. Try it and see for yourself. Let me know if you find any evidence of this body’s separate and independent self-nature. I’m very interested in hearing what you discover.
This is all very clear, is it not? It’s quite obvious. Perhaps you have not looked at your body in this way before. You may perceive the body as separate, independent and unique. You may call it “my body” as if it really were separate from all the other bodies, from all your ancestors, from earth, air, heat and water. This experience of a separate, independent body is part of our conditioning. It is also why we feel that we are a separate, independent self separated from the rest of life. But, if we look carefully, we can see that there is no evidence for this. The evidence is, in fact, just the opposite. There is no separate, independent body, just as there is no separate, independent self.
The Fifth Element
There is a fifth element we haven’t mentioned yet. This element may not yet be so obvious. It is what animates the body, giving it what we call life. And it is also the substance of all life, including earth, air, fire and water. We have many names for this fifth element, which is not really an element at all. Some call it Spirit, Consciousness, God, the Formless, the Un-manifest, Emptiness, etc. But no name can really describe what this is. It cannot be seen and yet it is very much here. In deep silence, when you are really paying attention, when you are really listening, perhaps you can feel it. Nothing that exists is ever separate from this.
Oneness or non-duality are not really concepts at all. They are, instead, the end of concepts. They are simply freedom from the conditioned concepts of separation and independence. If you look carefully and pay attention, it is clear that separation and independence cannot exist – not in a body and not in a self. That we experience life as separate and independent is only the result of our conditioned thoughts. It is much like a sleeping dream. When we wake up, we realize this has never been true.
Peter Cutler says
It takes some time before this experience of a separate, independent identity falls away. It has been conditioned for so long. Everything in the human world seems to point to it as a reality. Our very perceptions point to it as true. And yet there is no woman sitting under an archway, separate from all of life, separate from you and me, separate from the ground the body sits on or the thin piece of cardboard. All are temporary appearances in the stream of life and none are separate from this stream.
When we truly experience the reality of this, then this body is neither fat nor thin. It is simply what it is in this moment, not separate from anything else. It has no separate identity. The words fat and thin only apply to separate identities. They have no place in reality. We are free to use them if they are useful, but no words hold any truth. The appearance and dynamic energy of bodies come and go in this great infinite stream, as does the appearance of a body that perceives them. Why make separation between this and that? Sink into this stream. There is nothing else needed. Not even this. 🙂
Thank you ?
Not an independent body.
But its the one ‘I ‘ am attached to, whether i like it or not.
Sometimes there is a desire for a body with less weight, less discomfort.
Sometimes there is noticing that this body now actually weighs a fair bit less than a few weeks ago.
There is a being drawn to nurturing of this body, easing its discomforts,
Discovering more of what seems to be going on in it,
At the same time, no less concern for other bodies I meet.
Seeing their interests as not separate from my own
The woman sitting scared on a piece of cardboard under the railway arch,
A wish to nurture and comfort her, let her know she is not alone and vulnerable
Soon absorbed again in the next thing, next people, next activities…