Without being body-conscious, I’ve been thinking about my body and what being an embodied soul really means. It’s a marvelous thought really, considering my Body separate from Me. Most of the time (always!) my body is me. I am this white freckled short girl-woman. But yesterday as I was in kirtan with Vish, Jai Uttal, and Gaura, I thought about how my body is really my house. Wherever I go, my inner being is sheltered by this physical form. This thought was prompted by the fact that I didn’t know where we were sleeping that night. It’s usually somewhere nice or decent, but I don’t always know where it’s gonna be. That’s how it is on the road, a different bed every few nights. This can drive you a little crazy after a while. The thing that really hit me though was that my upbringing set me up for and really prepared me for this traveling lifestyle.
I grew up as a temple-kid, which in my case meant that we never had a house. My mother and I lived in different places throughout the temple property, a room here and there, never our own kitchen or bathroom. My mom’s least favorite living situation was this yellow wood trailer/cabin thingy that was planted in the middle of the cow pasture. We had no electricity or water and had to walk down to another building to shower. In the summers the electric fence kept the cows inside the pasture and got my mom electrocuted quite a few times. I personally never understood the austerity of our situation until about 20 years later when I compare it to the comforts of my life now, our own bathroom, A/C, beautiful furniture and plush pillows.
Still, if I look at my life in terms of lessons I’m meant to learn, I feel like a major one is this: not to be attached to my surroundings (because I am!), not to depend on external markers of safety for security (because I do!), not to wrap my identity into my belongings. Really, even my body is a belonging that won’t always be with me. Somewhere inside my body is this eternal being that is going to continue living, loving, and learning always. And I feel a new gratitude towards the body that I have now, the unique body I live in for this life. If we believe in karma and the inner workings of the laws that make the world go round, then we must begin to see how the bodies we have are designed just for us, to serve our life and our life-purpose. In the ultimate sense, the body is our host in our journey through lifetimes. Far out idea.
Seeing the body as a house gives me a little glimpse into how the mystics and self-realized sages of India would happily sleep anywhere, under a tree, outside, on the ground. It struck me as an extreme form of renunciation, and I can’t say I ever related to it before. Now I sort-off get it. If you see your body as your house, then an actual house made of wood, bricks, or glass would be superfluous.
Well now this white girl body is going to stop philosophizing and give her soul a rest by sleeping on a new bed which happens to be very soft and inviting 🙂