Dharma for you-You Don’t Own Your Body
Dear Dharma seekers,
A few months ago, I gave an impromptu short Dharma talk to a few students. It was on the significance of treating our human body as a vehicle.
If you have ever thought about why you are unhappy, and what the formula to happiness is… this video will be interesting to you. Even if you have never asked yourself these type of questions before, I thought that it would be beneficial for everyone to listen to this short talk and to meditate on the logic behind it.
You Don’t Own Your Body
|You Don’t Own Your Body||
Transcribed by Sarah Yap
JJ is a part of you as much as you are a part of you, and that is false, because you are not a part of you as much as JJ is not a part of you. Because JJ’s body and your body are both borrowed.
They both don’t belong to you. Both the bodies do not belong to you. You are a temporary resident of that room. So if you are a temporary resident of that room, why would you put so much energy into something that doesn’t belong to you? And you won’t be able to keep because in the end it will just be discarded.
So if it doesn’t belong to you, why would you put so much energy towards it? And now you are getting this information on an intellectual level. If you think about it and meditate, everyday… you will disassociate. And when you disassociate, you will not abandon your body, you will not let it go, you will not neglect it, in fact you will care for it more. Why? Because you realize that it is not something you own, it’s a vehicle you can use to do better with.
In fact, your body becomes a vehicle, not a property. So when you meditate on this correctly and well, what happens? Your body becomes a vehicle, not a property. Instead of having to own a car, you just ride a bus, you don’t have to take care of the bus, someone else will.
So when we keep thinking “This is my body, I have to pleasure it, I am stuck, I am claustrophobic, I don’t want to do this, I want to do that, I’m not happy, you said this to me, you did that to me” and you always think like that. You start implanting in your mind, ownership of something you don’t own. And all the problems arise from that. You start creating ownership of something you don’t own. You own your body as much as you own the person next to you. If you look at it on an ultimate sense, it makes sense.
So if you don’t own the body next to you, left and right, in front of you and behind you, that’s why you are not so concerned about the next person, you also don’t own your body. You have ZERO control of your body. ZERO. Anytime your body can shut down on you and you’re gone. Anytime.
We may think, “Oh, but I’m young, I’m only 31, 32…” No, look at Justin, in front of our eyes, a very beautiful person had to leave, had to pass away. No signs a week ago before his passing, no signs a month ago, no signs a year ago, no signs a day ago, no signs even 1 hour ago. No signs even 1 minute before. It wasn’t like he was crawling and then he collapsed, he just collapsed. And then within 2 hours our Dharma brother passed away, in front of our eyes. Which he proved to us that he did not own his body. And what happened to our Dharma brother will happen to all of us in one way or another.
So if you don’t own the bodies next to you, and therefore you don’t have that much ownership or responsibility for, or attachment or you won’t work as hard for it, you should apply the same principles to yourself. That you also don’t own your own body.
And if we keep thinking, if we keep thinking we own our own body, if we keep thinking that, all of our sufferings, all of our disillusionment, all of our anger, all of our self-attachment, self fears, insecurities will keep coming up more and more and more, and you know what’s horrible? The insecurities, the fears, the attachments will increase with age. And even worse, with age you can’t fulfill all of your attachments. If you want to smoke 50 packs a day you can’t anymore because you’re going to wheeze. It’s not like when you’re 20. If you want to go out and you want to have a relationship with every pretty girl, you can’t, your body can’t take it anymore. If you want to go disco all night and take drugs all night, you can’t, you can’t even stay awake past 12 anymore. If you want to go clubbing anymore, they will say, “Hey Grandpa, what are you doing here? Time to go home. Take a Geritol and go to sleep.” So even if, and the sad thing is as you get older the attachment get stronger, they don’t get less. Do you know why? If you can’t break your habit of 1 year or 2 year, how can you break your habit of 30 years, 40 years? And in fact our habituations when we’re older we keep doing it is what creates trouble in the family, in ourselves, and in the people around us.
So when we think about it very carefully, all this arises from holding the “I” / “Nga” very strongly. “Me”, “I”, that doesn’t exist. And when we realize the “I” that’s associated with this body doesn’t exist, you know what happens? We start disassociating. Does it makes us cold? No.
In the interim, in between, ‘bardo’, in the interim, it makes us a little stand-off-ish, a little confused, because we’re trying to find our way. Because our whole life we have been trying to hold on to this body, suddenly we realize it doesn’t belong to us.
I give you an example that is a little crude, but it’s close. Suddenly you find out when you’re 20, you’re adopted. “Oh my god! You mean you’re not my parents? You mean you’re not my cousin, you’re not my mother, you’re not my sister, you’re not my aunt?” And everybody suddenly, immediately looks like strangers, outsiders – something not connected to you anymore. Suddenly you find out you’re adopted. Everything you believed is gone.
Similarly, you will have period of, an interim period of you don’t know what’s going on, confusion, little stand-off-ish, maybe some tears, maybe a little bit of movement, but then you will come to terms and say, “Wait a minute, how many years have I wasted with this body?” And in the end, it’s exactly like the body next to me that I don’t own.
So what happens is that your body doesn’t become a property, it becomes a vehicle. What’s the difference when you view your body as a vehicle? Then you use it for the greater good of others. What’s the difference when you see your body as property? Then you keep self-indulging. See the difference?
If we keep our body and keep thinking that it is property, we will continue to self-indulge until we cannot, until we get bored, until we become lonely, or until we self-indulge so much that we sacrificed everything that had meaning for self-indulgence to the point of it has no more meaning anymore.
There are people who sacrifice things with meaning for self-indulgence, until the self-indulgence itself becomes a bore. And then loneliness, bitterness, unhappiness settles in. Why does it settle in? Because it is a natural way for a cognizing mind, a perceiving intelligent mind to say, “What was that all about?” And when the mind finds out what we have been doing has no meaning, of course you feel like you’ve wasted your time.
If you spend millions and millions of dollars on something and no one uses it and there is no use, what will you feel? You’re going to feel you’ve wasted your money. Any normal person will feel, who will say, “Oh it’s okay, the money will come, no problem lets waste more”. So any self-cognizing person with any sort of intelligence will feel, “Whatever I have done with my body is such a waste. Such a waste”. And that’s how we’ll feel. So when we think about it carefully, everything I’m telling you should not be used for criticism, or pointing fingers, or right or wrong. But it should be used as self-discovery, truth.
If we use it as self-discovery, you know what will happen? So, we might be afraid, “Oh, when I start realizing this about my body, I might become cold and disassociate from my pets, from my partners, from my kids, from my parents, from my friends”. Oh, on the contrary, when you disassociate yourself from property to vehicle, you have opened up the greatest vista to love, cherish and take care of everyone around you with no agenda. You start to love with no agenda.
Why? Because it’s a vehicle now, it’s not an ownership. Does everybody understand? How do we create effortless love, how do we create love without agenda, how can we create the attitude of bending ourselves backwards for others effortlessly, tirelessly, continuously – how? By viewing our body as a vehicle. A vehicle to a greater end, a vehicle to something better, a vehicle to something higher. When we view our body as ownership, depression, unhappiness, selfishness, all that becomes reinforced. There is a difference when you view your body as ownership or vehicle. Ownership means you own it, you take care of it, you focus all of your energy on “me, me, me, me, me”. Cause I own it, me, mine, me. So that “me me me me me” get’s reinforced.
Whereas if you see your body as ownership, when you see as ownership, all the unhappiness will increase with time. Cause everything you like to do you can’t do anymore, but the attachment will still be there. The body will become your traitor. But whereas if you see your body as a vehicle, you won’t over indulge, you won’t self indulge. Why? Why work so hard for something you don’t own? So therefore if you see your body as a vehicle, vehicle means to take you from point A to B. From point A (me) to point B (others) – happiness, growth.
So by meditating on these precious teachings, by meditating on these precious teachings, what happens? Our bad habits become easier to let go of, our feeling of restlessness to go do something becomes less, doing work for others becomes pleasurable, and as you age you become gracious, light, inspiration, a guide, beautiful, mature, looked up to, and a person people fold their hands and go, “That’s a wonderful person”, as you age. As opposed to when you treat your body as something you own, as you age, “Oh! Still like that ah? So old still like that ah? So old still think like that ah?” Yes.
So today’s explanation is not about becoming a colder, uncaring, irresponsible person. In fact, you become the opposite. Examples of people who are selfless, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, maybe even Aung San Suu Kyi. Instead of becoming bitter, and unhappy, and lonely and abandoned, the minute we hear Nelson Mandela is not well, we all light some incense to hope he will get well very quick. I’m concerned when he was ill recently. The whole world is concerned because this person cared about the whole world. So, the whole world will care back.
Now, what about the other hundreds of thousands of people in South Africa who are still ill that we know nothing about. Well with respect to them, they cared about no one I think, so no one cares about them. And that’s how we need to think.
So when we disassociate our mind from our body we don’t become colder, we don’t become cruel, uncaring or narrow. In fact, we open the doorways to become bigger. All our fears and insecurities will go down. Why? Fear and insecurity can only hide in the dark, and exist in the dark. Where there is light, they cannot exist. Darkness is selfishness, light is giving and love, and care for others. So where there is light there cannot be darkness, where there is no darkness the things that abide or live in the dark must die, must exit, must go away. Selfishness live in the dark, and darkness is me. And when we let go of that we live in the light, when we live in the light, insecurity and all that goes away. Why does it goes away? Because when there is light insecurity and fear and selfishness cannot live.
And when we do this kind of meditation every single day, at the time of death we don’t need a Lama to do Powa for us, consciousness transference, we can do Powa ourselves. We can think about Lama Tsongkhapa, we can think about Manjushri, we can think about Vajrayogini, we can think about our Gurus, anything that reminds us of virtuous activity. Anything. We can think about the Ladrang, we can think about Gaden, we can think about a Tsoksha, we can think about monks, we can think about nuns, anything that relates to our virtuous activities, as we are dying when we focus, we think about this. It will open up the good karma that we’ve accumulated, and from here, our consciousness, tsheg bar will leave. And when our consciousness leave from here (the crown of our head) we take a very good rebirth. And when we take a good rebirth, where we have left off in this life’s journey, we continue. So if we left off at 4, next life we continue at 5. Whereas normal people leave off at 1, they return back to 1. Then they die, they will die again at 1, they go start again at 1. Then they die again, and some start off at zero cause they can take a lower rebirth. Now, do lower rebirths such as spirits and ghosts exist? Do they exist Vinnie?
Well, if lower existence such as ghosts and spirits exist why can’t we go there? Why can’t we die and reincarnate as them? And when our body actually, physically, karmically starts to disassociates with our mind that’s called death, then whatever we have done will catch up. All the good stuff will catch up, all the bad stuff will catch up. Good and bad is deciphered by me and them. All the activities you did for them, is good. All the activities you did for me, reinforces the “me”, so next life you start at 1 again. So, this good and bad is not like the Christian Judeo sense of punishment, hell or heaven, it’s more of the reaffirmation of the self selfish mind that you come back living that selfish life again and again and again and again. And in one blunt clear simple sentence: selfishness hurts. It hurts us and it hurts others.
Selfishness hurts. Who in this room have experienced the pain of other people’s selfishness? Please raise your hand (Rinpoche raises hand). Who in this room has given pain to others due to our own selfishness? (Rinpoche raises hand) Me too. Was giving selfishness pleasant? Now that we retrospect that? Not really. Was getting the pain of someone’s selfishness, the result of selfishness, did it feel good to you? No. So selfishness we can see logically is not good, we just decided. The council here decided.
So what have we decided? Is selfishness a pleasurable feeling or dis-pleasurable?
Okay, if selfishness is dis-pleasurable, not pleasurable, then the causes of selfishness is positive or negative?
If the causes of selfishness is negative, then we must remove the causes, correct? If we remove the causes we don’t create the pain. That’s it, the council has decided. We didn’t need the Buddha to come here and tell us, we didn’t need Trijang Rinpoche to come and tell us, we didn’t need Palden Lhamo to come and tell us, we used our own intelligent human minds to say, “Hey, I’ve experienced other people who have very selfish, thought about themselves and they didn’t care about me, they didn’t care about the repercussions of their actions. They didn’t care about how they hurt us, they didn’t care about how they disappointed us and it hurts. It hurts! Wow I felt that. And then when I retrospected back some of the things I did, I myself did and it really hurt people when I found out. I feel, I’m embarrassed, it’s hard to look at that person in the face.”
So, the selfishness I’ve given to people hurts them and me, the selfishness they’ve given to me hurts me and them. So therefore the council here can conclude, selfishness is negative. How logical Buddhism is, how logical it all is. This is what Lama Tsongkhapa have been talking about in the Lam Rim. This is what Shantideva keeps talking about in Bodhisattva Charyavatara. This is what Shantarakshita keeps taking about in The Wheel of Sharp Weapons. This is what all these masters been talking about. And here you know what, most of us here have not read the works of these masters but, we have decided that selfishness is not good and it’s painful and that’s the logic of it.
So the next time we are in the state of confusion, disarray, don’t know what to do – sit back and meditate. Find refuge in yourself, find refuge in your truth, find refuge in your contemplation, find refuge in your knowledge. The knowledge I give you now when obstacles arises don’t let it become intellectual and say, “I know that but I can’t do it”. Then you deserve all the pain you’re going to get.
It’s like people who saym “Hey I’m going to traffic drugs in Malaysia”, and they get to jail, and then their parents are upset, their friends are upset, their girlfriend’s upset, their boyfriend’s upset and they are crying, they’re begging the judge. But look, you knew, you were told and you said, “Never mind”. So when you’re in jail on death row, why should anybody fight for you? Why should you be sad or scared? You knew. So therefore it is very important.
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