Body as an object for meditation

The Body as an Object for Meditation

If you but seek’st enlightenment;
first it’s opposite must comprehend.
But what is the opposite of spirit?
Tis matter whose coarseness is most vivid.

But what is matter?, we might ask.
Everything, that you can grasp.
Anything, that you can see, can touch, can hear,
or smell, belongs indeed to matters spell.
Anything solid, liquid, fiery, or moving,
is matter in its forms you spooking.

But he who all these knows, indeed he knows,
what to enlightenment is opposed.

Yet, if you know them to their border,
and in your mind can put in order;
their spell will cease to reach you then,
their trouble for you will come to ‘ts end.

Without any understanding of the body, with its sensory organs and internal processes, it will not be possible to gain a comprehensive understanding of the mind. Without a comprehensive understanding of the mind, it will not be possible to understand Kamma, virtue and vice, and ultimately, Samsara and Nibbāna. Hence we should not underestimate the importance of understanding our body, as an aspect of what we usually intuitively believe to be ourselves.

In order to make a start contemplating our body, here are a few aspects of it, in the form of a modernised version of certain Abhidhamma teachings.

Four kinds of matter

All of the body’s organs, most of its fluids, some of its internal winds, as well as many of its internal forms of heat, such as body heat or to some degree the digestive heat, in Abhidhamma terms, are matter born of kamma. All forms of matter that are entirely foreign to the body, as matter which is either not yet assimilated in the body or such as is ready to be excreted, are materially arisen-or caloric matter. Caloric matter, when broken down and assimilated by the bodies organs, supporting these, becomes matter born from nutriment. And finally, matter that arises in conjunction with mental impulses, is called mind-born matter.

The body’s digestive apparatus transforms food into readily absorbable nutriment or energy. This spreads throughout the body via an intricate network of blood vessels, feeding the various internal organs. The heart being the pump of the body, is the organ which pumps this nutriment-rich blood to the numerous places in the body. The numerous organs being fed by that energy thus come to life and begin to fulfill their respective functions. Thus, when the heart pumps blood to the lungs, the lungs begin to breath, when it pumps blood to the arm, the arm can be seen to move, and so on.

Then, the body being for the most part born of kamma, is an expression or manifestation of a persons kamma. Thus, receiving new nutriment, the body can make manifest a greater amount of a person’s kamma. This will first manifest through the arising of mind-born particles (which is the equivalent term to the modern word hormones).

Various organs produce mind-born matter related to various states of mind. Thus will the genitals produce mind-born matter related to mental states of lust. Liver and heart will produce mind-born matter related to mind-states of anger or joy, and so on. Those then will equally spread throughout the body, being pumped by the heart to various places. Hence it now can be seen, that an arm moved by the heart through its pumping actions, being fed by mind-born matter related to states of anger, will manifest an angry action, the facial muscles being moved by the the pumping action of the heart, containing blood conditioned by mind-states of joy, will manifest a smile or some joyful face expression. And a similar thing applies to any other mind-state. Thus, slowly an outer world is getting conditioned by those various bodily functions within.

On the reverse side, the world within is also continuously getting conditioned by the world without. Wherever some form is coming into contact with the eye, wherever sounds come into contact with the ear, wherever odours come into contact with the nose, flavours into contact with the tongue, or tangible objects into contact with the body, an impression is formed on the matter of these senses and conveyed to the mind via an intricate network of nerves, converging in the brain, the organ, which, for beings in the sense-sphere world‡ is the centre for the arising of consciousness.

That brain then, as it makes manifest, so to say the kamma of the brain, becomes gradually capable of wielding a certain amount of control over those processes below it. Its “arm of action” therein is the spine, the organ, we might call it, in which all the various nerves are rooted and along the extension of which they are lined up.

Thus the brain learns to control both sense-perception, as well as what other types of things manifest within the body, and what types of things are not allowed to manifest. So will it through introspection and control mechanisms gradually learn to master both the life without (the life perceived with the senses) and within. And as the brain becomes thus skillful in mastering what manifests without and within, that body’s internals will more and more acquire a condition of pliancy, smoothness, and freedom from obstruction.

Thus, that consciousness arising in the brain, attuning by use of the spine and the nerves more often to the whole of the body, will function equally with ever greater ease.

Caloric Matter / Temperature born matter

Mind-born matter

Body and Emotions

The Senses

A Meditators nervous system

Meditators brain

Functions of the brain

A Meditators body condition

These then will allow the mind to experience realities, which are more subtle in nature than mere physical phenomena…

Luminous Body

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