Lately, my own practice is moving more and more into the monastic world. As I teach out of that nourishment, I find people hungry for the traditional, solid forms of the Dharma. I see people’s lives changing when they engage in these forms. Certainly, as I deepen my own Sutta study, I find the traditional ideas so helpful it encourages me to delve further.
So, tonight, we’re continuing our conversation about the body and I thought you’d like to know a favorite definition that comes from my beloved husband. He says, “A helicopter is nothing more than an assembly of parts flying in lose formation.” So, you could say the same thing for the body, right? The body is nothing more than an assembly of parts, 32 or more, depending on how you count, flying in lose formation. So as you recite that list, you could think about that.
___, in a little bit more serious note, says, “Be strong, then enter into your own body. There, you have a solid place for your feet. Think about it carefully. Don’t go off somewhere else.” ___ says this, “Just throw away all thoughts of imaginary thinks and stand firm in that which you are.”
So often, when I teach, I talk about the mysteriousness of being and I like to think about the evolution of all things from that strange and distant, and really, in many ways, unknown moment that we call the Big Bang, and the unfolding of all things. The unfolding and development of galaxies and stars, and planets, and then at least on this planet, life’s emerging. Probably on other planets as well. And then in that life, as it develops some form of consciousness and more recently, amongst conscious beings, pretty late in the game actually. All of us, as human beings, and of course, that means you and me. You know, we don’t know what comes next. You know, I used to think that we were the pinnacle of evolution. Now, I sometimes think maybe we’re an evolutionary mistake and once they get rid of us, things will get much better, but we don’t know.
So we’re here at this particular point in the evolution of everything, and here we are in this thing. This assemblage of parts that calls itself a body. And there are many, many, many parts. I’m just trying to think that when I went online, to try to see if I could find the list of all the body parts. You know, I don’t know how small you’d have to get, but you can imagine, you know, there might be, I don’t know, hundreds of things on that list if you got really ___. Maybe Bob could write us a new chant of the 273 body parts or something like that.
And we’ve talked in here a few times about how this practice, taking the time to be with each item on the list had hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, ___, bone, bone marrow, kidney, such as far have we’ve gotten today. Really being with each of those parts, reflecting on them, inhabiting them as we talk about them. We’re being intimate with our own bodies, which is something we don’t so often do. You know, it’s a little easy, I think, to get going at high speed and to forget that the body is actually what’s holding us up.
So tonight, in this talk, what the things I’m going to talk about quite a lot, actually, is my own body. It’s really the only one that I know intimately enough to discuss from the inside-out, and conveniently perhaps, it’s been having some interesting experiences lately. So, I can talk about those with you. And certainly, one of the things we see and I’m sure you’re all thinking about already and we’ve heard it some, and some of the questions, is that there’s intimacy with the body isn’t so always easy. Sometimes, it’s tough.
So here’s the beginning part of at least some of the story, which is my eyes. Maybe some of you notice that I put on one pair of glasses, and then I put another pair of glasses, and then I took the glasses off, which basically means I can kind of sort of see the notes, but I can’t very much see those of you who are out there. And my eyes are complicated, actually. I’ve had two cataract surgeries, one on each eye. And I have glaucoma, which I’m working on, and I’ve had a macular hole in the left eye, and then a second macular hole in the right eye. And I woke up recently on the first of July at the end of the surgery with my retinal surgeon kind of looking me in the face and telling me that, in fact, I had a retina that was attempting to detach and so, he had treated them. And what it effectively means right now, the treatment means I have no vision in my right eye. So, this is kind of interesting. We hope it’s temporary, but it’s definitely a challenge. So, you might be thinking already, I know I did, just like, “Oh, eyes. Wait a minute. That was 32 parts, there was none in the eyes.” How can that be? You know, the eyes can be a pretty big deal.
So here’s a definition for the eye: The eye is a complex optical system, which collects light from the surrounding environment, regulates its intensity through a diaphragm, focuses it through in an adjustable assembly of lenses to form an image, converts this image into a set of electrical signals and transmits these signals to the brain through complex neuro-pathways that connects the eye via the optic nerve to the visual cortex and other areas of the brain.
Like, wow, who would know? You know, you were just looking at me, right? You didn’t know that all of these things are happening in my eye while you were just looking. It’s just really amazing. I mean, eyes are astounding. They’re the source of so much information. We had that really great question. I love it, when we had that question this morning about, should I say with my eyes open, or should I say with my eyes closed? Then, you know, if it’s open, there’s a lot of stimulations.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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