When we hit our mid-forties, our bodies stop fooling around and become serious about disintegrating! It can seem at times as if we age 20 years in the span of one or two years, which can be quite a shock if we have been so caught up with life that we haven’t noticed the subtle, almost invisible changes going on!
At a certain age, we might begin questioning life as we never have questioned life before. In our youth, life goes on forever, but as we hit our mid-forties, we begin to realize that we are no different from our parents, and that we will go down a similar, if not the same road regarding our aging. If and when we do begin questioning life, we need go no further than our bodies. We don’t have to worry about the universe or transcendent truths; we only need to take a good, hard look at our bodies. Everything we do, all our aspirations, even the aspiration to continue on somewhere after the body is gone, is based on our bodies.
Our bodies are made up of . . . Cheerios, Big Macs, Pizza, health foods, or whatever else we eat. That’s it. We are the things of the earth; things that have grown from the earth or that have walked the earth. The elements and organs of our bodies are no different from any other organic substances, created by a sperm and an egg, or photosynthesis, or whatever cause and effect results in new life. It’s causal and predictable, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing miraculous.
The body is susceptible to diseases, accidents, and is quite fragile when you consider that the body is made up of only soft tissue and bones. It is predisposed to initially growing, then maturing, and then deteriorating like everything else in the universe, including the mighty galaxies and perhaps the universe itself. The question is; is the body, itself, all that we are? If it is, we could be in deep trouble when we look at these things from the down-hill vantage point of middle age. It could cause us to become depressed – or look for a religion or philosophy that will make us feel better.
If we believe that the body is everything, then it is almost impossible to become indifferent about our bodies, even though we can’t get around the fact that they are slowly destructing. We might put on a good face, literally or figuratively, but that hardly impedes the march toward oblivion. And as the years go by, time speeds up, everything blurs, and every day is suddenly Friday with the other days no longer existing in-between.
If a person has enough courage to see these things in a clear light, and understands and accepts them, then there is a possibility of becoming dispassionate toward the body. He or she then sees that clinging to the body is a losing battle. The body arises from conditions, and then fades back into those original conditions – ashes to ashes. All the feelings, opinions, hopes, and dreams of the body disintegrate along with the body, all subject to wearing out, dying away, coming to an end.
Ignoring these facts by deflecting our attention to much loftier ideals, other than just our plain old bodies, works only for so long. In order to protect our fragile ego, we might psychologically transfer our body into a soul or to a savior, but it’s still the body with the psychology being made up in the brain, which is the body, and will disintegrate along with the body as well. So even though we have eased our minds with a little religion or psychology, the fact remains that the body is destined to be no more. Let’s face it; we have to abandon a body which is what we have come to believe is us.
What are we without bodies and minds? We would be as nothing.
And this is the key. Right here is the key to happiness in our mid-forties: – nothingness – and this is where there is real hope. When we no longer have anything to support, nothing to worry about, then the nothingness becomes peace of mind. Not that we abuse our bodies or commit suicide. If we did that, we would simply bounce back into another body with the same pressures or worse. No, what we do is learn to live in the world responsibly, but unattached to our bodies and minds, and unattached to the bodies and minds of others. When we can do this, something quite incredible happens – all of our bickering stops. All of our political and religious concrete opinions become less intense, less important, and life takes on inconceivable new meanings.
This nothingness goes far beyond all self-help or personal development theories, beyond even religion and spirituality, because theories and practices all have to do with the body and what happens to the body. This nothingness goes to the heart of the matter, to the truth of the matter, which you deserve. It goes to that place in your heart that you have always known somehow, but have never understood. Nor will you ever understand; you will only feel.
And that is why it is the everything, just beyond the nothingness where the builder of being is ended.
Author Bio: E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-nine years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com
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