Shambhala Sun | July 2013
What Is Your Body?
It’s less than we think.
It’s far more than we know. It’s who we are but it’s not.
Contemplate the deeper reality of the body with Buddhist
teacher NORMAN FISCHER.
We think about our bodies all the time. How do they look?
What is their state of health? Are they aging? Are they sufficiently strong,
attractive, impressive? These questions churn out an almost endless stream of
thinking, feeling, and spending. Consider all the clothing, beauty products,
food products, accessories, books, equipment, therapists, health products, body
workers, and so on that make up such a huge portion of our economy.
Everything depends on the body. Without it, we are literally
nothing. Transcendent concepts such as consciousness, soul, higher self,
buddhanature—are these meaningful realities or merely hopeful words? And
whatever they are, how could they exist independent of a body?
The body matters. Yet what is it?
We take the body completely for granted, just as we do the
sky and the Earth. Yet the body, like them, is much more than we know. What we
think of as our body—what we feel, imagine, and dream about it, what we
unthinkingly assume it to be—isn’t really what the body is.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer is a Zen teacher in the lineage of
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and founder of the Everyday Zen Foundation.
His new book is Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the
Practice of Lojong.
Photo: Henry Busby