Jean Klein’s seminars used to consist of two parts, the bodywork and dialogues. He said the ‘bodywork’ was for us to come to know that we are not the body, and the dialogues were for us to discover that we are not the mind.
Recently, the understanding ‘I am not the body’ was expanded to the realization that in fact there is no such thing as ‘body.’ The idea of ‘body’ is just an image that we hold in memory. But if we look carefully, we can see that that memory does not correspond to reality. It is more like ‘bodying.’ It is not a fixed entity.
Intellectually it is easy to understand that there is no independent separate entity called body. If we look from the viewpoint of biologists, we see that there are many organized systems. There are viruses, bacteria, cells, etc., and probably from their standpoint, they would tell you that ‘they’ are independent entities and would not know what you were talking about when you said ‘my body.’ If we look from the viewpoint of physicists, we see that there are atoms, neutrons, electrons, and whatever else they have named, and these objects are found in space. Around and between these particles exists vast amounts of nothingness.
But aside from intellectually, if we look with our own experiencing, we can see that what we refer to as ‘body’ is an ever-changing collection of processes which is not in any way separate from existence. It is sunlight being transformed into energy, elements being absorbed by cells and transformed into physiology. It is oxygen being inhaled and carbon dioxide being expelled.
What we have done with the mind, is drawn a false border around a bunch of processes in a moment in time. This image is then held in memory and then we refer to that image as ‘body.’ Of course there is sensing but that is certainly not stagnant. It is constantly changing, and when I investigate, I am unable to find any border that delineates what we call body from the rest of existence except for that which is in memory. When I look with my own experiencing, not relying on hearsay, I simply cannot find the division of body.
And it is through meditation that we find exactly the same situation concerning that which we refer to as our ‘mind.’ Again, with careful examination we find there is simply thinking but not any ‘thing’ as mind. It is simply the activity of thoughts passing by our consciousness that we call the ‘mind.’
The understanding that first we are not the ‘body-mind,’ and even more profoundly that there is no such thing as body-mind leaves us free to be that which we are, pure subjectivity, consciousness without an object.
This post is from a collection of essays, stories, insights and poems that have occurred to me along the Way titled From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva.