You are not your body, you are in your body

sage

Reading this post makes me curious: why do you think the tool we have to discover follow our spiritual path, the self, as you argue here, is so flawed? At least for me, to find and follow a real spiritual path takes a LOT of work and time – sifting through all the stuff that gets in the way – with constant attention and discipline. Why was our tool created to be so messy? Particularly for those who aren’t willing to do the work, will they never find a spiritual path?

KP submitted this comment on last week’s blog. I love it because is a perfect entrée into some of the deeper philosophical teachings of yoga. This comment touches on some really big questions about why we are here, why we suffer, and what do we do about it.

The yoga sūtras lay out the philosophical underpinnings to a yogic perspective. This perspective is one that can help us to begin to see ourselves and the world around more clearly so that we suffer less. There’s a lot to the text and I’ve only begun to dip my toe in, but as I study with my teacher and consider the ideas and practices in the yoga sūtras, I’m amazed at how relevant and how useful it all is.

So here’s a little reflection on the first part of KP’s comment. I’m thinking about the other parts of the comment for upcoming posts. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Reading this post makes me curious: why do you think the tool we have to discover follow our spiritual path, the self, as you argue here, is so flawed?

We have a body (mind, spirit, emotions, personality/material aspect) and we have something else. Something that observes. Something that dwells within this material, changing aspect of ourselves. Because we perceive and do everything with and through the body, we can confuse it with the observer. The body is not who we really are.

But here’s the crux… It’s through the body, more specifically the mind, that we can start to perceive the difference between the changing aspects of our self and the thing that doesn’t change. Yoga gives us a way to improve our attention so we can tune in to this should we choose. But why would we choose to look at stuff that’s unpleasant and hard?  When everything is going along swimmingly, we probably aren’t as motivated to look at ourselves, our patterns, unmet needs, and a whole host of other difficult questions.  Most of us just keep swimming along because, Hey,  it’s working fine. It’s when some suffering arises, in the myriad of ways that it tends to do, that we start to look for a solution. That we develop the attention so that we can pay attention. When things really suck, we have a special motivation to observe and change our perspective (or at least how we operate) to a way that is less painful.

The tool (body, mind, etc.) is the way we perceive the suffering, and what motivates us to have less of it.  It’s by working with this tool, refining it, that we can develop a change in perspective so we have more peace.

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