Edited by Marco Ferrini
From the Book: Freedom from Loneliness and Suffering
The destiny of the body, with all its psychic and chemical aggregates, does not have the same nature, history and result of the destiny of the spiritual being. The spiritual being can also profit from living in a physical body, but he must be deeply aware of his superior nature (atman) to avoid distortions and improper identifications, which bring illusions, delusions and disillusionments.
The Western world has greatly misunderstood the ancient philosophical system of Yoga as well as the system of Ayurveda, that are often studied and applied only in their most external practices such as diet, massage, gymnastics. Even if such practices are useful for bodily health, they represent a very limited type of application because Yoga and Ayurveda, as sciences of the living entity and of life, are aimed at a much higher purpose: bliss, a sentiment that totally transcends the artificial imitations of happiness and well being that are found in the space and time dimension.
The fundamental point is understanding who we are, and not only from the intellectual point of view that is an understanding called nama, a knowledge that simply remains on a superficial level. When we know something by name only we miss the real contact with the object we are trying to understand, therefore we cannot develop a proper sentiment and taste relationship (rasa) with it.
The ancient science of bhakti, or divine love, observes reality from the special angle of deep affection due to the special taste of love for the Supreme, that naturally reflects on the creatures and on the entire creation. Because this highly elevated love implies a connection with the beloved, a connection called yoga, the method and process through which it is developed and nurtured is called bhakti-yoga.
An individual is an aggregate of three bodies: physical, mental and spiritual. The purpose of life consists in the realization of the self, what Jung calls “process of individuation”, or separating the self from the ego. The ego is limited and produces a restricted consciousness, a vision of the individual as separated from the universe in which he is immersed, while the self is able to transcend the individuality and all the barriers imposed by conditionings. Thus the self represents the noble and elevated nature of the individual, while the identification with the ego generates brutishness, limitations, separation, and the distorted concept of death which appears as something extraordinarily real and final, although it does not concern the self but only the physical body. The senses perceive the body as solid and static, although it is actually “flowing”. As Heraclitus said, one can never take bath twice in the same river water because it keeps flowing. Similarly when we speak of our stomach, for example, we need to know that the mucose cells that line its inner walls are completely replaced every ten days, the liver cells every six weeks, and the components of the bones every year. So, which body will we talk about? It is moving and changing like a swarm of bees that arrives on a blossoming meadow and then goes away: like these bees, the atoms that may become parts of my body used to be parts of your body, and then they will become part of something else.
What is the force maintaining the form of this structure that constantly replaces its atoms? The level of consciousness. These bodies are aggregates that we have consciously composed and that we can also consciously reconstitute and make healthy. With a deep awareness we can work on those intelligence patterns that are now blocked and create pathologies, knowing that what happens at the level of impressions is more important than what happens at a physical level, because the bodies are the crystallization of a flow of thoughts, desires, images that we have entertained while observing the world.