J. Randall Ory
07 - Our Body Center of Being
Updated: May 17, 2020
At this point, I realize that these discussions may actually be producing more questions than answers. So you know, that’s typical. The journey of personal transformation begins with revealing our need to change. It begins with unanswered questions. It's important to learn how to sit with these questions, and give the answers time to be revealed. In the west, when it comes to truth, we’ve come to expect, even demand a certain level of certainty. But, in the field of phycology, and especially spirituality, certainty is not the predominate focus. At least not mental certainty. In fact, a big part of the journey of getting in touch with the energy of self and the cosmos is realizing that we can know quite a lot without mental certainty. This is what some might call discernment, or just having a sense of things. What I’m saying is that there are more ways of knowing that something is true than just knowing facts in our brains. So, don’t look for certainty. Don’t always expect this journey to appeal to your need for the rational. A lot of this journey is experience based. It can be a felt truth more than a rational truth. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a place for the rational, but not for an overreliance on that. It’s often an overreliance on our mental capacity that renders us out of touch with our other Centers of Being and Knowing. We are much more than just a mind. I’ve heard some say that America, in particular, is a very disembodied culture. I don’t know how much of that is true, but I can certainly see what appears to be the result of that. One of the features of disembodiment is an over sexualized culture which objectifies people to extremes. The ability to use and mistreat people stems from seeing them as an object, resource, or end to a means, instead of an eternal soul which our souls can effect. Disembodiment is a part of the abuse, oppression, and mental health issues we see today. When we don’t know how to treat our own and others bodies, there are consequences to our whole being; mind, heart, body, soul, and spirit. Because of that, it’s important to understand our body center, it’s needs, and how to be healthy in it.
You might think your body center is the one you’re most in tune with. You might think there won’t be much in this post to learn. But, you might be wrong. So, hang with me. You just might learn something. I might too. I would say that your body is likely that part of you that you’re most aware of, and most live out of. By extension, the physical world is that which we are most engaged with. But don’t think that means you’re in tune with your body, or the physical world in the proper way. In some way’s familiarity produces laziness and misuse. We can be the most thoughtless towards the most familiar things. So, what does it mean to be in tune with your Body Center? Let’s start out by considering Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. His basic idea was that everyone, and I mean everyone, sees the world through a set of lenses or filters. We hardly ever see the world as it is. Some of the spiritual teachers I’ve learned from would call this being self-referential. One of the big goals of personal transformation is to identify and overcome these self-referential filters in order to see the world and ourselves as they really are. The first problem is that we automatically and mindlessly assume that we see the world correctly. We rarely assume we are looking through a set of filters. But we always are. Always. If we are to begin to get out of that, we must first assume, even against our better judgement, that we are not seeing things true. If we can get to that place, then we can take the next steps in order to begin to identify, readjust, or eliminate those wrong filters. If you won’t admit there’s a problem, you’ll never get to a solution. Transformation only comes as we see our need to change. That's at the heart of personal transformation. With the body, in particular, this means that what feels good and seems good may not be. It also means that being aware of your body doesn’t mean you’re well in tune with your Body Center. Your body is not the same as you’re Body Center.
Understanding your Body Center is understanding your groundedness in the physical universe, with the physical universe. It means cultivating an "other" mentality. This entails moving away from the distortion of self-centeredness. You are not the center of the universe. You are not even the center of your own life. You are not in control of your body. Giving up your attempt to be in control of your body is the beginning of moving towards inhabiting that body in a more healthy way. Your body, despite what you may think, works independent of you in so many ways. It is not here for you to use, in order to get what you want for yourself. It is here for you to inhabit, tend to, take care of, and direct for the good of all things, including but not exclusive to yourself. Understanding your physical self as a part of all things will help you to be more in tune with all things, and yourself as a part of that. You are an actor on a much larger stage. This is not your world, or your story. This is not even your body. This is the world, and the story of all life living and moving together. You are an organic part of a cosmic, living, physical organism called the universe. Your physical self came from this universe, and will go back to it. It is under your direction for a time, but it is not who you really are. It is the physical vessel you currently inhabit. Cultivating a more detached attitude towards your body helps you actually be more fully alive in it, and with it. Even on the molecular level, you are not causing your body to work, move, live, or be. Your body is doing most of its work completely apart from your conscious self. Learning how to work with your body as something separated but connected to you, will help you separate much of your skewed attachment and view of your physical body as being you. For most of us, we are too vested in a physical body identity. The irony is that we often only identify with our body surface as being “us.” Our body image is often based purely in the external. This describes how we can do many things to make our external body “attractive” while actually damaging and harming our body as a whole. It is because we over identify with everything about our body only from the skin out. Don’t believe me. Just observe your focus on others. It’s mostly about the particulars of their external appearance; their hair, eye color, skin tone, height, even physical ability. We tend to see the outside, and so over-identify with the outside. We are extreme in the dysfunction of how we view our bodies, and their importance as a Center of Being. But when we understand just how detached our being actually is from our physical bodies, then we can begin to be centered in our bodies in a more healthy way.
In this way it is actually very helpful to listen to our soul and spirit in order to live better in our bodies. Remember, the messaging from the body is all about limitation and lack. The body is our most limited part, and sees the world very compartmentalized. To the body, I am in this space and in this place. To the body I am very disconnected, fragile, and perishing. Fear can easily dominate the body experience, and translate into all kinds of self-defensive behaviors, ideas, and identity. But the soul sees things a little more enlightened. The soul understands that there is a permanence beyond the life and span of the body. Through thoughts and actions, we can actually invest ourselves in places and times apart from our physical presence. We can leave part of ourselves in the world, and make a mark that lasts long after we are gone. Our love can outlast our lives. Our ideas, and truth can impact people who have never even met us. The soul knows, better than the body, that we are more than our physical self. But the spirit center knows this best. The spirit knows that we outlive our bodies, and even our lingering effect in the physical world. The spirit knows that we are, in fact, eternal, and cannot die. So, it is important, when the body speaks of our impermanence, that the soul and the spirit speak to it of our permanence. When we understand the reality of our immortality, we will live an entirely different way on this earth, even through our bodies. But we cannot know this, or live in this frame if we are too invested in our body self, which can actually lose itself by trying to hold onto itself to tightly. Ironically, it is by letting go that we are actually better able to take hold of our body, and live with it as we are intended. This is what Jesus meant by losing your life to find it. Those who try to hold onto it will lose it, he said, and those who willingly let it go will actually find it. This is a great spiritual paradox, and very hard for those so invested in the body to grasp. If you only see yourself as a body, with a mind and heart, you will live out of that frame, and it will warp everything you see and do in the world. You will literally live as if you were dying. You will live a kind of life that is already dead. All your choices in life will be centered around the false idea that you must protect and preserve yourself at all costs, even at the cost of hurting or hindering others. You cannot truly live life well this way. You will live in the shadow of death; always afraid, always running, always hiding and fighting to push away what you know you never can. But it is not true, and your soul and spirit know this. You, the real you, will never die. If you understand this, you will also treat the body better. When life is fleeting, we end up trying to grab everything we can on the way out. We live reckless and selfish. We try to get all we can for ourselves while we can. We are desperate and afraid, and that fear drives us away from what would bring us life. Life is found, not in taking, but in giving. When you understand that you are a being with an inexhaustible source of all that really matters, you will be freed up to give it all away. All that makes life good is found in love, and love can never be taken. It can only be given away.
The body cannot understand anything but the economy of self-preservation. Therefore, it is wrapped up mostly by taking, by meeting it’s needs and it's own survival. The body dominated identify will never move much at all away from selfishness and towards the kind of selflessness that makes life good. The degree to which we are able to reverse this message, and give ourselves to others, is the degree to which we will know love. That is how we find meaning, contentment, peace, joy, and fulfillment; all the things that truly make life worth living. When we are in tune with our whole self – body, soul, and spirit – then we can begin to manage the messaging coming to us from all these sources. So, when the body or the physical world speaks to us of limitation and lack, the soul and spirit can answer with a message of transcendent permeance. The soul and spirit have the ability to assure the body that even it will not die, but simply return to the place from where it came, and that the truest part of who we are will still live on. The soul and spirit can remind the body that it is truly not ourselves, and then even the body can learn to act accordingly. It does not have to be so shaken and afraid by the apparent impermanence of its life. It is just a vessel, a temporary house for our soul and spirit. In this way we can come to terms with the bodies limitations while living, and it’s inevitable passing once dead. Even the illusion of death itself can begin to lose its oppressive grip on us. Then we can understand it not as an end, but a transition out of the temporal and back to a more eternal state. When we come to terms with the life and limitations of the body, we can see it as it is, for what it is, and learn to let it be what it is. We can let it go, and then actually be centered in it as we should. And we can give so much less importance to the body, and the part of our identity and being that it inhabits. When we put the body in its proper place, we will treat our body, others bodies, and the body of the universe all with much more respect, dignity, and grace. Then we will be better centered in our Body Center of Being.
I realize that these ideas may run counter to some of what you believe about being and personhood. You may not believe in the spirit at all. I understand that. Even if you do, you still many not be that grounded in your Body Center. It’s hard to do, especially when the physical world dominates so much of how we live and interact in the world as a whole. It is a journey. It takes time. I hope you can stay with me and keep learning with me. Maybe some of this will begin to make more sense as we go along, and as you allow your experience to affirm or disprove what I’m saying. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you believe me or not. I’m not here to try and prove the truth or importance of “my beliefs.” I’m here to help you learn how to live more fully, and more alive. My interest is not my ego, but your thriving. All I can really say is that these are the truths I’ve discovered, so far in my journey, and they have helped me heal and thrive in so many ways. They have helped me to live less anxious, and more at peace with myself and the world around me. I hope they can do that for you too. And I hope you take something helpful away from all this, even if you don’t take much of what I say to be true. All truth, that is good, usually takes time to prove itself. Like seeds in the ground, sometimes we do not see the fullest growth for a very long time. I pray only that you give these seeds a chance to grow, to see what they can produce in your life. And I hope you’ll keep walking and learning with me as we all seek to grow.