Thought divides knowing into a knower and the known, loving into a lover and the beloved, and perceiving into a perceiver and the perceived. As such, it is thought alone that abstracts a subject and an object from the seamless, unnamable intimacy of pure Knowing or Experiencing.

Embodiment vs. Transcending the Body

Would you say that there is a inherent danger in embodiment practices like yoga, qigong etc. (or even worse: working out at the gym) in the way that they strengthen our identification with our body instead of loosening or even transcending it?

Dear Rupert,

Some contemporary spiritual teachings stress modern man’s lack of embodiment, his disconnectedness from his own body and go as far as to establish a correlation between present human disembodiment and the ecological situation of the larger body of the planet. There might be some truth in this.

But if I look at people who seem to be fairly embodied i.e. many of the mainstream yoga teachers, I also realise that they are quite identified with, or even attached to their bodies.

On the other hand famous advaitins like Ramana or Nisargadatta give the impression to be completely unconcerned of, or maybe even disconnected from their bodies. After all ‘We Are Not the Body’ and this is what we have to realize, haven’t we?

Would you say that there is a inherent danger in embodiment practices like yoga, qigong etc. (or even worse: working out at the gym) in the way that they strengthen our identification with our body instead of loosening or even transcending it?

Thanks for your reply.

Max

 

Dear Max,

The short answer is ‘no,’ there is no inherent danger in such practices. Such practices are neutral and may, depending on the attitude with which they are undertaken, strengthen or weaken the sense of a separate self.

If such practices are undertaken with a view to alleviating the sense of lack that is inherent in the entity we imagine ourselves to be or to aggrandising it with achievements of a physical or psychological nature, such activities will validate or strengthen the sense of separation and the unhappiness that is inherent within it.

However, if the very same activities are undertaken as an offering of the body to the open, loving, transparent presence of Awareness in which they appear or indeed to express, share and celebrate its effortless, inherently free nature, they will not strengthen identification.

However, in your question I sense an agenda with the body and hence the belief in the need to loosen identification with or transcend it.

Neither are necessary. Awareness already transcends the body. It is inherently free and independent of it. Seeing that clearly, rather than trying to make that happen, places one in the right relation to the body and relieves one of any agenda with it, either of manipulating it to fulfil the needs of an imaginary entity or denying it, which is an inverted form of the same thing.

Instead the body may be experienced as open, empty and transparent and, as such, becomes the theatre in which the divine nature of Awareness honoured, expressed and shared.

In other words, Awareness is already transcendent. However, it is also immanent. That is, it not only transcends the body but also pervades it.

In fact, all we know of the body are sensations and perceptions or, it would be more accurate to say, we know only sensing and perceiving. Whatever it is that knows sensing and perceiving is utterly, intimately one with them.

There is no other substance present there other than knowing and the only substance present in knowing is Awareness.

From this understanding, which is a higher point of view than the first one I mentioned, there is no body as such to be transcended or disassociated from.

There is only Awareness.

To know yourself as the transcendent witness of the body is the first step and is known as wisdom. To know yourself as the substance of all seeming things, rather than just a few seeming things, is known as love. Allow the former to slowly give way to the latter in your disinterested and loving contemplation of experience.

In other words, both the idea of transcendence and embodiment rely on the belief in the reality of the body as such. Explore the body and you will find only Awareness there. That is, it finds only itself there.

With love,

Rupert