You are not the body in the sense that “you” existed before the body and you will exist after the body. Your being-ness is not dependent on the body. Its being-ness is dependent on yours, however. When you move on, it loses its energy and fades away.
You are the body in the sense that it is a very personal expression of who you are, and that no matter where you are in the universe—no matter which plane you happen to be on—you will always have some kind of form that identifies your identity and makes visible your presence. You will never be bodiless in the sense that you have nothing which identifies your presence. You will always have some kind of form. Your body is simply the visible portion of who you specifically are, your identification tag, so to speak. It’s not the totality of who you are. Form, therefore, or “body,” or identification tag, is not something to rise above or transcend. It’s something to experience and understand for what it is.
Here, the way your body is is a product of your thought processes and it displays perfectly all your beliefs, opinions, fears, feelings and attitudes. It gets sick when you are depressed and it glows when you are happy. The primary understanding, therefore, is that you and I are spiritual beings. Your body, in a sense, is simply the vehicle you need in order to be here on earth, just like you need scuba gear to go deep-sea diving or a space suit to go to the moon. You are spirit and the body is you made flesh, like a living garment.
While you are here on earth, therefore, you should understand that you are the body and you are not the body—both—at the same time. If you identify who you are with the body only, and base your conclusions about life on the data you’re receiving from the five physical senses only, you will probably come to the conclusion that life after death, for example, is impossible and that death is real. Because that is what you’re seeing. That is what the universe looks like when you are looking at it from the body-identification stance. Which means you won’t experience the relaxation that comes with the knowledge of your true identity and the realization that death is not real. But if you think of yourself as a spiritual being only, and judge the body as being unreal or temporary or illusory, then you will never feel fully alive here in the flesh. You’ll never feel really here because you’ve never quite allowed yourself to really be here. And you will therefore feel separate from your deep biological nature. Neither one of these extremes feels right or good.
Therefore, think of yourself as a non-physical spiritual being temporarily being physical and human, who will always have a form of one sort or another identifying your identity. Know that when your time here is up you will go on to new adventures and learnings, and that you will be just as alive then as you are now. Know also that you came here to be here in order to learn from the experiences that are possible in this particular environment. You came for the prize of experience: wisdom.
About Erich Schiffmann
Erich Schiffmann is one of the most respected mentors and yoga teachers in America. Having studied first-hand with Jiddu Krishnamurti, BKS Iyengar, TKV Desikachar, Dona Holleman, Vanda Scaravelli, Joel Kramer, Rajpur and others, he has gleaned the best of all of their teachings during his almost fifty years of practice and distilled them within his own experience of yoga. From that he arrived upon a path that has proven to have great resonance with those seeking a deeper sense of stillness, peace and being.
Feathered Pipe has been privileged beyond words to share space with him summer after summer at the Ranch. His teachings and his spirit inspire and enrich all. His wisdom continually validates that there are deep treasures to discovered in the search, and that to seek with curiosity, joy and sincerity is to find.
Learn more about Erich: erichschiffmann.com