Why does understanding the body matter?

This post follows on from my previous 2 posts relating to the body:

  1. Do you know for certain that you are the body?
  2. Are you or are you not the body?

Why does this matter?

It is the belief that ‘I am the body’ (or ‘I am the body-mind’) that gives rise to all this suffering. More specifically it is the belief that I am a separate entity, the doer, that thinks thoughts and instigates actions, that is the root cause of suffering.

This belief in ‘I am the body’ or I am the separate doer-entity goes by many names. It can be called ignorance (avidya  in Sanskrit), samsara, the ego (ahamkara), original sin, conceit, hell, etc…

It is the root cause of suffering.

Uprooting this belief is the primary purpose of all wisdom traditions and wisdom teachings, and each tradition and teaching provides us with a unique methodology for doing this.

One of the simplest ways of seeing this truth of no-doer is simply by calming the mind (samatha in Pali) and looking and seeing there is no evidence for a doer-entity (vipassana). The Buddha referred to this as no-self (anatta) or emptiness of self (sunyata)*.

To be continued in my next post: Why seeing/understanding alone may not be enough

*in the original Buddhist writings (the Pali suttas) the word sunyata (meaning emptiness), was used to refer solely to emptiness of self, which is another way of saying no-self or no separate-self. A few hundred years later the Mahayana sutras were written in Sanskrit and expanded the idea of emptiness to include emptiness of all things, or more specifically, all things being empty of intrinsic-self or instrinsic-existence.

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