It is important to begin to understand what we are at the core in order to have a proper perspective, and in order to be able to move down a path of actual change. More often than not, we begin by gaining an understanding of what we are not before our core nature becomes apparent. When I say "what we are not", I am speaking in the context of the core.
Let's examine this more closely. We may look down and discover that we have a body. As you consider this last phrase, you can begin already to see a key that unlocks a pathway to understanding our true nature. You will notice that I did not say "We are the body". I said that "we have a body". I am going to draw it closer so that perhaps it becomes more clear. I have a body. If I "have" a body, then the owner and the possession must be two distinct things at their core. This may seem like splitting hairs, but remember, we are only looking at one aspect of existence (i.e. the core). We will later examine the totality the connects all things. For now, we are trying to arrive at our deepest nature. So...I speak of my body as though it were a possession in the same way (though more deeply and intimately) as I would say "my toothbrush" or "my car". We speak of the body this way all of the time without thinking about it. We say "my stomach hurts" or "the doctor did surgery on 'my' brain". But we do not often consider the implications.
This eastern view expresses this in a different way and says "we are not the body". Often for us westerners, this is a difficult pill to swallow since it is through the body that we experience life. What life would their be without the body. I must be the body or there would be no perception to begin with, for it is with the body that I perceive. Besides this fact, we have the whole issue of the Resurrection to deal with. (I will address the Resurrection in another post - remind me if I forget.) But, we cannot escape the obvious fact that whomever the I is that perceives, must at its core be deeper than the body itself.
I wonder if the thought from the above might help us to find some common ground between the eastern and western views. There is a definite sense in which our bodies belong to us - not in the worldly legal sense, but in the sense that they pertain to us as individuals. And the individual is an actual entity, the denial of this fact seems to be at the core of all sin. We see the recognition of this in the laws which are enacted in every country throughout history, which laws defend a person's right to the sanctity of their own person. For example, I cannot walk up and assault or destroy another person's body without incurring the wrath of just laws.
Yet to spite the sanctity and respect with which we rightly respect our own and another's body, we are still brought back to the fact that the body is "ours" and that is what makes it sacred.
So...at the core...I am not the body, though it does pertain to "me". What am I then at the core if I am not the body?
I am going to leave it there for this blog post. Next time, I will go another layer deeper. :-)