You and yours

by | 30 Jan, 2020 | General

Somewhat cryptically, I wrote yesterday that “We have a mind, we have a body. They are not us.”
Let’s unpack this a little.
First of all, in linguistic or existential terms, if we talk about “my mind” or “my body”, much as we would also say “my phone” or “my shoes”, who or what is it that they belong to? Who or what is the mysterious possessor of both these tools?
This suggests an essential self, an abstract entity that is actually distinct from both those possessions. A thing cannot belong to itself, right? My shoe can have laces, but it cannot have a shoe.
(Hope your eyes aren’t beginning to glaze over or cross at this point).
In yogic thought, both your body and your mind are seen as “accumulations”.
Basically you’re born as a tiny tot, and you accumulate and grow your body by eating food. Whatever you ingest, from jelly beans to potatoes and from bananas to ice cream, the miracle that is your body has the knowledge and memory to turn it into more human body, whereas a cow could eat the same things and become more of a cow, not more of a human. Your body, far from being the essential you, is in fact just a heap of gathered food.
In similar vein, your mind is essentially an accumulation of memories, impressions, perceptions, inherited ideas, and the like. It starts off pretty unpopulated, but then you keep adding bits and pieces you pick up over the years, like a palimpsest, until it becomes an incredibly detailed map of your past, rather than of the future. It is 100% made up of your own experience, your own reading, your own learning. Once again, it’s just a heap of input.
So now you have two heaps: a heap of food and a heap of input. They are yours, but they are not you. The you is the part that is able to look from a distance at the pair of them.
Once you begin to perceive that simple but fundamental distinction, the idea of working with these two tools becomes a whole lot clearer.