Friday, February 11, 2005

The Temple of the Soul

The Temple of the Soul

I've been blogging everyday since coming back to KL. Work and Chinese New Year obligations have kept me home-bound for the past week. The weather has also been terribly hot lately--the kind that make people fall sick easily. It is important to be able to detect the early signs of sickness by listening to the body. That simple practice has helped me to be relatively free from illness over the past many years of my nomadic life.

Yogis and spiritual teachers often liken the body to a temple, where the soul resides. Like a temple, its sanctity must never be violated. A clean and healthy body is essential for the soul to flower to its full potential. It is our earthly obligation and our karmic duty to maintain purity of the body. The body is the soul's spiritual vehicle, which is why all spiritual practices advocate certain ritual cleansing, relaxation exercises and dietary restrictions.

Before we can learn to control our minds and elevate the soul to spiritual heights, we must learn to do proper housekeeping of the body. If we cannot even take good care of our physical body, how can we even hope to move on to the greater and more delicate task of mastering the mind and the spirit?

The practice of Hatha Yoga is very good because it helps the body to maintain balance and harmony. Agitation of the mind is often reflected on the body and vice-versa. People who find it difficult to calm the mind can start by relaxing their their physical body first. Once the muscles start obeying your mental commands, then your mind will follow suit. The body is a convenient door to the mind, and ultimately the soul.

The only thing bad about being too body-conscious is an unnatural attachment to it. The body is merely a temporary vehicle; and like any other biological form, it will eventually wither away and die. If we are too enamoured with the beauty of the physical body, especially our own, we are merely setting ourselves up for a massive fall later on.

We will all grow old, weak and wrinkled. Accept it as a condition of life and see it as a graceful process of biological transformation. The body will still decay no matter how much we try to prolong its youth and beauty; but the soul will always rise to greater heights, if we bother to cultivate it.

Some of the more advanced Buddhist meditations require the practitioner to meditate on the foulness of the human body. This is to counteract and neutralize our natural tendency to be attached to the beauty and pleasures of the flesh. This practice is not recommended for the amateur meditator as it can bring adverse effects to the untrained mind. It is sufficient for the layman to realize that the mind has "gravity", and it will always be attracted and attached to sensual pleasures and physical beauty; but one must not be too identified with it, or one will find the eventual separation from it very painful and traumatic.

Enjoy the beauty of the physical form; let your senses play with it and savour its transient pleasures for what they are. But work diligently to set your soul free from its stubborn bondage. For it is this bondage that cause us so much sorrow.

No comments: