31 Oct 2012
October 31, 2012

The Paradox of the Body

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A funny thing about me is that I never get to talking about the body. I write beautiful notes on it, but I never talk about it because I don’t believe anything I say. I’ve said these things before but I’m going to keep saying them until I can hear them. Here’s my predicament: I know damn well that as you age your body becomes more fragile in a lot of different ways. It becomes more vulnerable and it starts decaying, corroding, rusting, holding on, etc. I think one of the most horrendous parts about these physical aspects of aging are people’s reactions to them. See, the reasonable thing would be to hear about all of those conditions and then temper your behavior to say, “Well, I may not have spent much time worrying about my body because I was so in my mind and in my heart up until now. But now I have to realign my forces to spend more time dealing with my body because otherwise that’s going to be the first thing that goes in the system, and then I may have a clear mind but no body left. Or it’ll be a drag, or I’ll have to deal with my intestines, and if I don’t want to have to deal with that give years down the line, maybe I should consider changing my diet now. See, this all seems so reasonable! But that isn’t the way I do it.

I think senility takes place a lot in the mind, and is affected by the way you use your mind. I guess what I’m saying is that I would like to be different than I am, but I’m not yet – because if I don’t eat something I really love because somebody tells me it’s not good for me, I end up hating them and myself – and that can’t be good for my health.

I mean, my father and mother went to Europe in 1933 – the first rush of their success in life they took a trip to Europe on the Queen Mary. And dad came home with all these cases of French wines, which was an important thing that an upwardly mobile person would collect. So then he built a wine cellar in the basement of our very small house, with little wine racks where you store the wine horizontally. And so as I was growing up, on Sundays or on holidays we would have a bottle of wine. And my father, one of his favorite things to do was to go down and enjoy his wine cellar. And he’d walk in there and he’d turn the bottles… but it turns out that just being horizontal and getting turned isn’t sufficient, and more and more of the bottles started to taste like vinegar as we opened them. And I see that as a metaphor, just lying horizontally and turning over now and then isn’t going to do it.

A conscious person maintains the temple in which they want to do their emotional and intellectual work. That’s true, that’s wise, and it’s up to you and me as to how we do it and when we do it. All I can say is the sooner you do it, the better, for the long run, if you’re working for quality of life. Even though what you do now will affect you later, I don’t think anyone should make themselves miserable over it.

 

~Ram Dass, October 1995

 

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  • Cynthia Jones

    Leonard Cohen says, “It’s not death I don’t look forward to. It’s the preliminaries.”

  • http://none Rob K

    Thanks : )

  • Ana Franklin

    Dear Ram Dass, It is all one, so what you do to your body helps the mind and vice versa. Care for the body, and the mind will be helped. The body is like the foundation for the mind. We have responsibility to keep the body well, because it is the temple, as you well know, and must be kept clean and strong to support the living Spirit within.

  • Ginny Schubert

    Love the wine bottle analogy!

  • http://readthisdocumentonFacebook blair rymal

    hay ram, great little story on the bod.

    i am a 69 year old guy that can relate (i took LSD with u and tim many years back..i was one of the group in la guna beach, ca that was using it for spiritual searching. u and tim came down there and a hand full of us took the experience together) @ any rate i am trying to eat in a balanced way in an effort to push back the aging process a bit. i feel better so i think it does help to find a reasonable middle road.
    i found muktananda’s teachings in 93′ when i met gurumayi…changed my life drastically. saw ur movie “fierce grace” when it came out and i cried so hard…….saw it again a couple weeks ago and it melted me again…
    love, blair

  • Sujata

    Ram Dass, ”turning the bottles now and again” analogy is so accurate for my spiritual experiments. I love the spiritual messages, teachings, readings, thinking about it… all of it. But I can’t do puja regularly or yoga and pranayam. That really gets me down. It is bliss when I can do the practice with discipline.

    But somehow, every time I am worried about it, I get a message like this from you. Lots of love

  • Cynthia Jones

    continuing to think about this, I wonder if we don’t get on psychic overload in the course of a lifetime, much like a computer pushed past its capability, and this causes our bodies to break down. I know we are here in bodies for a limited time, but why does our leaving them have to be painful?

  • Becci

    Cynthia, I has this question this week as well… I wonder why our bodies (and every thing alive) has to decay and fall apart unless it dies young.

  • Mary Lu Thurmond

    My sister had a life altering illness in Jan 2012 wherein she became septic from the likes of an old replaced hip and nearly died. She is on the mend now but still has to use a chair lift in the house, ramps outside, and a cane. I thought that her loss of independence and her ability to go go go and be in charge all the time would be her major complaint. It is not! She complains about the reactions from others when they see her with her cane, slowed down, thinner, more deliberate, (“old lady”.) I reminded her that the reactions from others are reflections of fears we have about growing old. I suggested that she just smile and keep her big heart open– sweeten it up for herself and everyone around. There is nothing like a beautiful old woman making her way!!
    Love to you,
    Mary Lu

  • http://www.peggyvreeland.c0m Peggy

    What a wonderful way to reflect on the body…what would you say to someone who focused PRIMARILY on the body (and mind) for her entire life (almost 50 years) and is now attempting to find the balance, allow the spiritual to take the stage?

  • http://Website PMR

    Funny u should mention all this. We spend half our life getting our head on straight and then the body goes to pot….he he he. Maybe I’ll try some of this medical marijuana coming to our town. LOL.