You Are Any Body: A Response to Secularizing Buddhist Ethics, with Caroline Savery – Parts 1 and 2

Part 1

Part 2

Koo koo ka choo!

Great stuff. I agree that “you are not your body” can be a problematic teaching for westerners. I’ve often felt a clanging dischord with that statement as well, in terms of what it means to live this life, even apart from the especially for us in the light of environmental destruction and the violence that is coming from the old centres of power wishing to hold onto the status quo. Our bodies are where the violence is perpetrated. The body of the earth is where the violence is perpetrated.

I was involved in the Christian tradition from the age of 22 to about 38 or so. I still hold to whatever is true to the core of that, but I never got on board with the institution. The times I did go to church services I was always dismayed at the husks who sat on the seats there, too scared to enter into their own experience lest they contravene. Waiting for the next world so unconcerned about this one. Fuck that.

A “you are not your body” is dangerous territory after the Cartesian split. It makes a sinkhole giant enough for our whole selves to fall thrtough. It makes us think that maybe we can sit home and help to bring about the birthing of the new story simply through our minds connecting on the net. And that’s a really amazing part of the story (and for some of us with shitty health maybe that is all we can do) but it’s not the entirety of the story. Mistaking our minds for the whole is maybe partly what’s helped bring about the earth catastrophe in the first place. Some weird delusional thinking that within our own minds it feels like the earth doesn’t exist and our bodies don’t exist.

(Which on a deep enough level they don’t, of course. But that’s another story. And before our bodies and matter and the earth don’t exist, they do.)

@care_save, I’d love to hear your further thoughts about the concept of all beings, even without nervous systems, being somehow … what was the word you used? Conscious? That really got me excited because goddammit, I think everything is so damn … alive in some way that it would scare the shit out of some people who historically like their matter dead somthat they can stick pins in it without worry :slight_smile:

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“Our ancestors crossed deserts, mountains, and oceans without even a whisper of what anyone today might consider modern technology. Those feats of endurance now seem impossible in an age where we take comfort for granted. But what if we could regain some of our lost evolutionary strength by simulating the environmental conditions of our forebears?” -Scott Carney

My response to your excellent conversation is to add this video to the mix. As the return of the archaic is happening, the neo-shamanic revival continues to develop, and these two masters of bioenergetics, push the limits of what a human body could possibly be. There is perhaps more in heaven and earth than what our cognition has access to.


Thanks @sue! There are two more episodes in this series, so please keep listening as they come out :slight_smile:

I concur with your thoughts about the dangers of the “you are not the body” preaching. While I do grasp and sympathize with the teaching from the Eastern lens, I also think stripping Buddhist/Eastern thought of some of its fantastical metaphysics will make the very practical teachings of the Way more accessible on a secular basis (cuz the rational mind won’t have ground to say “Oh that piece is hogwash, guess the whole of it is just :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: religion! :tired_face:”) As I say, I went from atheism to Buddhism, and don’t feel the two are contradictory necessarily; however, to really “go deep” with Buddhist teachings you at least have to probe the experience of directly tapping into intelligence “beyond you” in the sense that: you are one little manifestation self-experiencing as a particular body, when actually your moment-to-moment existence is entirely dependent upon and called forth by a web of all other life across all time. Nothing mystical about that–it’s just true! So, given that, what does exploring that reality feel like internally?

Well, given how much my ancestors have destroyed the Earth and decimated countless life forms in the name of their hubris… yeah, it’s gonna HURT a bit to turn towards that, but it’s also the route to healing, healing our relationships and beginning to treat all other life as a sacred component of our own. Like an immune system: a reckoning is also often a healing. It’s turning to face the problem, instead of trying to hide in an ever-deeper hole.

To expand on the idea that “the process of living is a process of cognition” here’s a short article about the Santiago School theory of cognition written by Fritjof Capra. It’s not so much about consciousness from a brain/nervous system standpoint (of the experience of an “I”–that tends to occur only in rather sentient lifeforms), but more that the process of living is a process of “digesting” information into the organism’s body (genes and epigenetics). Thus the body is more than the vessel for our mind–the body (i.e. body-mind) is the whole of our sources of wisdom, through its feature of direct connection with the environment (i.e. all other beings and the history of the Earth).

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Nice :slight_smile: And then today I read that bacteria in a host will begin sharing the food with the other bacteria in the host . They take it in turns to have a feed. How do these single-celled organisms know to do that? It’s super trippy.

So yeah, makes it even weirder that our recent ancestors have been so blinded in their treatment of the earth. Even bloody bacteria get he connection.

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