ONE OF MY favorite authors, Eknath Easwaran, the wise Buddhist teacher who is long dead but whose writings live on, claims that we are not our bodies, and we are not our minds. We are something else. Call it the soul or the spirit, it’s our essence. He insists that we simply inhabit these bodies which allow us to move around in the world —sort of like cars. We are at the mercy of our minds, which can make or break any situation. Our life’s work is to master these unruly “things” we are gifted (or saddled) with at birth. We can all agree, it’s no easy task.
This morning my body, which is not me, has thus far pestered whatever is me with the following, and I’ve only been awake for an hour: A headache, an odd itchiness on my right cheek, a throbbing pain in my left breast, and uncontrollable sneezing—so far there have been about 15 quite violent ones—along with a runny nose. One can only guess how it will terrorize me during the rest of the day.
As for my mind, it’s busy with the aforementioned activities of my body, leaving little time for any productive thinking. Supposedly this is where meditation comes in. I need to wrestle my mind to the ground and get it to stop thinking about the sneezes and the itching and instead focus on a spiritual passage that will soothe the savage beast, meaning my body.
If only I could figure out how to contact “my essence,” things might be a lot better. So far I’ve looked everywhere, but it’s like trying to find my cat when he’s hiding. I look in every closet and under every bed, behind the dryer, down in the basement, inside kitchen cabinets and behind the couch, but to no avail. I give up, and that’s when Lurch saunters in and sits down in front of me as if he’s been there all along. Maybe that will happen with my soul. Maybe I should stop looking and let it show up when it’s good and ready. (Is it right there in front of me now?)
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.