Monday, September 12, 2005

The Spirit and the Flesh

The Spirit and the Flesh

Seeker: Teach me the way to liberation
Zen Master: Who binds you?
Seeker: No one binds me
Zen Master: Then why seek liberation?
In all spiritual endeavours, the greatest enemy is ourself. It is not the environment or the circumstances of our lives that we need to conquer, it is the our own mind, our own thinking that we need to overcome.

Like what the Zen Master was trying to tell the seeker, it is we ourselves who stand in the way to enlightenment or liberation. We think that it is something "out there" to be sought, like how we chase after worldly success; when in fact perfection is already there within us. Spiritual liberation is not a process of "accumulation" but one of "shedding" or "uncovering".

You see, deep down inside, the soul is perfect. We fail to see our own perfection because we are drowned in noise--the noise in our mind, the noise of our desires and the noise of the external senses that seek to pull us into a thousand and one different directions. We never bother to listen to the Sound of Silence that emanates from inside.

It is ironic that the greatest spiritual challenge that we face is not one that requires great external exertion but instead it demands us to "let go". It is a process of letting go of our attachment to the world of the senses, and allowing the soul to return to its source.

My my, the week is just beginning, I really shouldn't be indulging in so much mystical mumbo jumbo!

But then again, this seems to be my natural tendency these days--to view everything from a spiritual perspective. While I'm deeply mired everyday in worldly pursuits, I'm always conscious of my true quest within, which is spiritual in nature.

It is not an easy task balancing the material with the spiritual. To completely ignore the spiritual is to put oneself under enormous risk. We could so easily lose our bearings if we are not careful.

Ideally, it is the spirit within that guides our actions, the body merely executes. The body is of no less importance because it is the divine temple which houses the soul and the vehicle that allows the soul to interact with the world. Without it, the soul cannot dissolve the residual karma that binds it to the world. So take care of the body, like how we would take care of our house or car.

Which is also why I need to finish this posting now--my body needs rest! I'll have to wake up very early tomorrow to drive to the city for a conference. Have a good week ahead, everyone. Let's all nourish the spirit and learn to command the flesh!

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