The Control of the Body
April 30th, 1926
I am going to speak on the physical in connection with spiritual development. Many think that the physical has so little to do with the spiritual. They think, why not cast the idea of the physical aside in order to be entirely spiritual? If the purpose of life was to be accomplished without the physical aspect of our being, the soul would not have taken the physical body, and the spirit would not have produced the physical world. A Hindustani poet says, “If the purpose of creation could have been sufficient, could have been fulfilled by the angels, who are entirely spiritual, God would not have created man.” And that shows that there is a great purpose that is to be accomplished by what is called the physical body. If the light of God could have shone directly, there would not have been a manifestation such as that of Christ. It was necessary, in other words, that God should walk on the earth in the physical body. And that conception that the physical body is made of sin, and that this is the lowest aspect of being, very often will prove to be mistaken, for it is through this physical body that the highest and the greatest purpose of life is to be achieved. It is when a person is ignorant of it that he calls it a physical body, and once knowledge has come to him, he begins to look upon it as the sacred temple of God.
And now we come to the five aspects of our experience of life through the physical body. The first aspect is health, the presence of which is heaven, and the absence of which is hell. No matter what we have in life–wealth, name or fame, power or position, comfort or convenience–without health it is all nothing. When a person is healthy, he does not think about it, he does not value it. He cares about things he has not got. He tries to sacrifice his health for pleasures, his health for the material wealth; he is ready to sacrifice his health for his intellectual fancies, for gaiety, for merriment, for a cheerful time, for an ambition he wants to accomplish. Very often before the ambition and the desire are accomplished, the collapse comes. Then he begins to realize what health means. Nothing can buy it; nothing can be compared with it. If you gather together all the blessings that can be received in life, and weight them on the scale, you will find health will weigh heavier. No other blessing can be compared to it. It is health that enables man to be material as well as to be spiritual. The lack of it robs him of materiality as well as of spirituality. It robs him of materiality because his condition is not in order; it robs him of spirituality because it is the completeness of health that enables man to experience spiritual life fully. I do not mean that it is a sin to be ill and it is a virtue to be well, but I mean health is a virtue, and illness is a sin.
Another aspect of the physical existence is balance. It is balance that gives control of the body. It is by balance that man is able to stand, and that man is able to walk, and man is able to move. Every action, every physical movement is sustained by balance. And the lack of balance always will show some lack in the character of man, and at the same time some lack in the condition of his life. In whatever form the lack of balance manifests, it always means something lacking in the personality. You can study the walking of a person, the moving of a person, the way of looking of a person, in everything one does, wherever balance is lacking, something behind is lacking which you have not known, but which you will find out in time. For instance, a wobbling person. Do not think for one moment that it is only an outer defect. It has something to do with that man’s character. As he is wobbling in walking, so he is wobbling in his determination, wobbling in his belief. Just as the physician sees the internal condition in the eyes and on the tongue of the patient, so the wise see all that is pertaining to man in his every movement, and especially by watching the balance.
Many Western readers of Oriental philosophy have talked with me on this question. They asked me, “Why is it that your adepts in the East practice acrobatics, sitting in a certain posture, standing on one or the other leg, standing on their heads, sitting cross-legged in one posture and one pose for a long time, and many other strange things that one could not think of a spiritual person doing? What spirituality is there to be attained by it? For what we know about these things is the acrobatics and the athletics.” And I have answered that, “All such things as sports and athletic practices and acrobatics, which others do for a pastime, they abuse energy, time and work. Such people do not get the full benefit out of it. The adepts use it toward the higher purpose.” And in addition I have told them that, “There is not one thing in this world, if properly practiced, which will not prove to be beneficial in the spiritual attainment.” Therefore, do not think that going to the church or temple and making an offering of prayer, and sitting in silence with closed eyes is the only means of spiritual attainment. But all things in our everyday life, if we turn them to a spiritual goal, will help us in our spiritual attainment. Besides, it is doing very little spiritual work if we go once in a week to the church. Even it is very little spiritual work done if we say our prayer every day before going to bed, because every moment of the day we live in the illusion, and everything we do has the effect of covering our spiritual vision. Do you think that going to church once in a week or saying a prayer once at night is sufficient? Never. Every moment of the day we must have a concentration. And how can we do it if we have business, industry, profession, if we have a thousand things to do in everyday life? The answer is that we must turn all things that we do into a prayer. Then, whatever be our profession, our work, our occupation in daily life, it all will help us to spiritual attainment. Then our every action will become a prayer. Every move we make toward south, north, west or east will point to the spiritual goal. Everyone does not think to what extent he is lacking a balance in his life. And among a hundred persons you can hardly find one really balanced. There is a spiritual balance also, but this spiritual balance also is attained by first balancing the physical body, its movements.
(to be continued)