Some thoughts on life and the Body

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Some thoughts on life and the Body

Post by Alex123 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 6:59 pm

Hello all,

I've done some cut outs from VsM and Suttas and written some of my thoughts on life. This topic is unfortunately not frequently discussed on the web sites.
Some may object to this way of considering life. But let us not forget that the Buddha's 1st Noble truth was the Truth of Dukkha, and its origin (2nd NT) is craving. The 3rd NT deals with cessation of suffering by ceasing of craving. Also as MN115 states, one cannot have right view if one doesn't believe that all is Dukkha.
It is impossible, that one come to right view should take any determination as pleasant. ... uka-e.html" onclick=";return false;
Craving for sense pleasures or becoming, is the default behaviour that we have. We don't need to see the beauty in life, Mara does a fine job at that.
VsM XVI, 35
Herein, bodily and mental painful feeling are called intrinsic suffering because of their individual essence, their name, and their painfulness. [Bodily and
mental] pleasant feeling are called suffering in change because they are a cause for the arising of pain when they change (M.i,303). Equanimous feeling and the
remaining formations of the three planes are called suffering due to formations because they are oppressed by rise and fall.

Such bodily and mental affliction as earache, toothache, fever born of lust, fever born of hate, etc., is called concealed suffering because it can
only be known by questioning and because the infliction is not openly evident; it is also called 'unevident suffering'. The affliction produced by the
thirty-two tortures,10 etc., is called exposed suffering because it can be known without questioning and because the infliction is openly evident; it is also
called 'evident suffering'.

VsM XVI, 37 Here the suffering classed as 'rooted in the descent into the womb', and so on, is this: When this being is born in the mother's womb, he is not born inside a blue or red or white lotus, etc., but on the contrary, like a worm in rotting fish, rotting dough, cess-pools, etc., he is born in the belly in a
position that is below the receptacle for undigested food (stomach), above the receptacle for digested food (rectum), between the bellylining and the backbone,
which is very cramped, quite dark, pervaded by very fetid draughts redolent of various smells of ordure, and exceptionally loathsome.11 And on being reborn
there, for ten months he undergoes excessive suffering, being cooked like a pudding in a bag by the heat produced in the mother's womb, and steamed like a
dumpling of dough, with no bending, stretching, and so on. So this, firstly, is the suffering rooted in the descent into the womb.

VsM XVI, 38. When the mother suddenly stumbles or moves or sits down or gets up or turns round, the extreme suffering he undergoes by being dragged back and forth and jolted up and down, like a kid fallen into the hands of a drunkard, or like a snake's young fallen into the hands of a snakecharmer, and also the
searing pain that he undergoes, as though he had reappeared in the cold hells, when his mother drinks cold water, and as though deluged by a rain of embers
when she swallows hot rice gruel, rice, etc., and as though undergoing the torture of the 'lye-pickling' (see M.i,87), when she swallows anything salty or
acidic, etc. This is the suffering rooted in gestation.

VsM XVI,39. When the mother has an abortion, the pain that arises in him through the cutting and rending in the place where the pain arises that is not fit to be seen even by friends and intimates and companions This is the suffering rooted in abortion.

VsM XVI,40. The pain that arises in him when the mother gives birth, through his being turned upside-down by the kamma-produced winds [forces] and flung into that most fearful passage from the womb, like an infernal chasm, and lugged out through the extremely narrow mouth of the womb, like an elephant through a keyhole, like a denizen of hell being pounded to pulp by colliding rocks This is the suffering rooted in parturition.

VsM XVI,41 The pain that arises in him after he is born, and his body, which is as delicate as a tender wound, is taken in the hands, bathed, washed, rubbed
with cloths, etc., and which pain is like being pricked with needle points and gashed with razor blades, etc. This is the suffering rooted in venturing outside
the mother's womb. [501]

VsM XVI,42. The pain that arises afterwards during the course of existence in one who punishes himself, in one who devotes himself to the practice of
mortification and austerity according to the vows of the naked ascetics, in one who starves through anger, and in one who hangs himself This is the suffering
rooted in self-violence.

VsM XVI,43. And that arising in one who undergoes flogging, imprisonment, etc., at the hands of others is the suffering rooted in others' violence. So this
birth is the basis for all this suffering.

This is one of the reasons that I like VsM, with the detail like the above.

"One of Ajaan Mun's favorite topics for a Dhamma talk was the theme of practicing the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma — in other words, in accordance with what the Dhamma demands, not in accordance with what our likes and dislikes demand. As the Dhamma comes to the West this is probably one of the hardest things for Westerners to appreciate. Everywhere you look, the Dhamma is being remade, recast, so that people will like it. Things that people don't like are quietly cut away; and if things that people like are missing, they're added on. And so the creature that comes out is like the old cartoon of a committee designing a bird: The bird looks pretty good to begin with, but then after the committee's done with it, it looks like an ostrich with no legs. It can't walk and it can't fly, but it sells. In this country of ours, where democracy and the marketplace are all-powerful, the question of what sells determines what's Dhamma, even if it can't walk or fly. And who loses out? We lose out. The Dhamma doesn't lose out; it's always what it is. But we like to add a little here, take away a little there, and as a result we end up with nothing but things we already like and already dislike." ... tml#beyond" onclick=";return false;

Reality is what it is and it is not what it is not ( it is not ultimately beautiful, constant, self).

Life itself doesn't start nice and clean. The baby is located in a disgusting, filthy, smelly receptacle surround by excrement, urine, digested and undigested food. It doesn't get much better later, either and at the end it goes to the worms, the empires crumble to dust and memories long forgotten. In some cases some people finish as they have started... The babies soil themselves and so do some sick elderly dying patients who are unable to clean after themselves. Nothing desirable here! Life affirming is not always "pleasure affirming". The life has a dark side most of us choose to ignore and avoid looking at. I don't want this to sound like pessimism, this is just taking a peak at the other side of the coin. Too much optimism isn't always good. If people were more cautious about "great expectations" then many stock market bubbles, real estate bubbles (hey, the value is always going to go up!), and so on, would not happen. Billions would not be lost to Bernie Madoff shark. Disgraced money managers who were caught in his scheme would not suffer the consequences and money of greedy optimistic people would not be flushed down the toilet.

The varied sensual pleasures that one can be exposed to, often feel better than subsequent pleasures of the same degree. For example: going from 0$ to a million$ in your bank account feels much better than earning 2 million in a 100 million bank account. But losing 100 millions is more than losing 1 million... The more money one has, the more one will eventually most determinately lose. Also the more money one has, the more relatives appear to take them off you and the more people try to sue you. It is just a matter of time. Like recreational drugs for which the organism develops tolerance and have to be taken in larger and larger quantities just to feel the same high, the same with sensual pleasures. They are addictive and one develops more and more tolerance as one gets them more and more. So one has to constantly get more and more of them for the same feel. Like a salty water that one drinks to relieve the feeling of thirst, causes on to thirst more, the same is with sensual pleasures. But the more sensual desires one follows, the more drawbacks and more potential sufferings are there while the gratification diminishes as the tolerance grows.

If life/existence was only good and pleasant, then nobody would ever have serious suicidal ideations, euthanasia would not exist, and people would not commit suicide! But because life can be brutal and unbearable at times (for most beings), (and most of the time it is just dull and boring), people can commit suicide or hurt others.

Is existence by itself exciting by default? Do this thought experiment. Suppose you were locked in a totally bland, sound insulated white room (a sensory deprivation tank) with no windows and no way out. You are fed bland food & water, just enough to maintain life but not to excite the taste buds.

Very quickly you are going to get bored, and maybe depressed as well. Existence will not be exciting, it will be dull and boring. This shows that ordinary people need events (even slightly negative ones) and sensory things happening to feel 'well' . If life, existence, was good all by itself, then why would it need to be 'spiced up' (so to avoid bone crunching boredom)?

Another experiment. Try to lie on the bed for as much as possible in a sitting session. After enough time (it could be 12 or more hours) you will feel discomfort, even from resting! You will be in discomfort and will have to move to relieve the discomfort. Similiar, but on a shorter scale is the experiment about sitting without moving in a chair. Very quickly you will be in discomfort and will have to move to relieve the discomfort. How long can you sit without moving? These things show us that we constantly have to change some sense stimuli or to change the posture or to change something in order to avoid pain and discomfort.

The pain is built into the fabric of existence and ordinary people try to relieve it through change of the body, pleasant feelings and extra stimulation. Is existence so desirable if it has to be so spiced & propped up with sense pleasures so as to keep it from being dull, boring and in some cases outright unbearable?

Let us look at the Body.

What is body's natural state? Is it all rosy and desirable? At a superficial glance, that girl may look very pretty, maybe even the Playboy material. But imagine if she removes all the makeup and all the scents, stops shaving, stops conditioning the hair, stops cutting nails and brushing teeth, stops washing and wiping herself, stops following a proper diet. Very quickly any body will look ugly smelly and so on. This is a state which we try to avoid. We artificially "take care" of the body because otherwise it would become repulsive and not that pretty. Furthermore, while we may eat together, the act of evacuation & urinination is done in private and its sights, smells and sounds are concealed and wiped off.

Any one of us have excrement and urine. These things are not beautiful in and of themselves and a person needs to hide before one can expel these things.
Just see how much beauty there will be if even a drop of your own bodily contents falls on the food you are about to eat... If your own excrement & urine is disgusting, then nothing to say about someone elses.

There is nothing inherently pleasurable about someone's kidneys, skin or flesh. Is there much attraction to slabs of meat in the store? That meat is in all of us covered by skin, and life affirming delusions and stories about how the body is a beautiful thing...

The body has to be constantly beautified and kept clean... It contains many things that we try our best to overlook and ignore: "'In this body there are head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, gorge, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine.'"

These things are not beautiful in and of themselves!
"The body is so near, yet like an unexplored continent. Large areas in it are a blank. While this is so, greed, lust and craving dwell safely in the jungles of ignorance."

"" one who searches earnestly throughout the whole of this fathom-long carcass, starting from the soles of the feet upwards, starting from the top of the hair downwards, and starting from the skin all round, ever sees even the minutest atom of pureness in it such as a pearl or a crystal or a beryl or aloes or sandalwood or saffron or camphor or talcum powder, etc; on the contrary, he sees nothing but various very malodorous offensive drab-looking sorts of impurity consisting of head-hair, body-hairs, and the rest." — M.R., iii, 4, trans. Ven. Nanamoli

"Now this body that has material form consists of the four great elements, it is procreated by a mother and father, and built up out of boiled rice and bread, it has the nature of impermanence, of being worn and rubbed away, of dissolution and disintegration.

It must be regarded — as impermanent — as (liable to) suffering, as a disease — as a cancer, as a dart — as a calamity, as an affliction — as alien, as a falling to pieces — as void, as without a self.

"When a man regards it thus, he abandons his desire for the body, affection for the body, and his habit of treating the body as a basis for his inferences."1
— M. 74, trans. Ven. Nanamoli

Some may say that this is going to far here. However, considering how much we were brainwashed by the media to view the body as "beautiful", that a very strong antidote is needed. Before one can set up equanimity and total inner peace, lust needs to be removed - not simply 'masked'. The stronger the lust, the stronger the careful unbeauty practice is required. During a period of successful meditations it is very easy to overestimate one's progress and think that lust was pacified. Often it just lies latent, ready to spring up with first good opportunity - so a strong reflection on repulsiveness is required.

-Exciting things/events almost always happen only in the movies. The evil that actors do is trying to convince us that life can be exciting and fantastic. But the dull and dreary day to day reality of is no movie for most of us, and for most of the time. There is laundry to do and dishes to clean, and not to mention the disgusting excrements to wipe off oneself in secrecy where nobody can witness the humiliation and shame we all have to endure as living human
beings wonderfully designed to be full of excrement and urine after we eat and before we excrete.

Even if you are some good looking celebrity, even then the day to day reality is not always all that nice and just like us, the excrement has to be wiped. Even the most famous, successful and beautiful people have troubles that come with life. why did many highly successful people end up overdosing on drugs and dying? Why do many celebrities of today so unhappy despite "having it all"? Maybe because even the stardom is not all the exciting. If life was so good as they say, why do even highly successful (in worldly) sense people are so miserable and in some case even commit suicide? If life is "so good" why do we keep trying to forget the real world when watching the movies, doing drugs, drinking, whatever?

Love is just a beautiful word for lustfool hormones and body's natural impulses to procreate its genes. We all love ourselves, and when we say "I love you" it is simply the love of the pleasant feeling that others give to us. The beautiful body of ours and them are not that good either. Body is impermanent subject to aging, sickness and death. Every second it is one step closer to the inevitable of being a lunch for the worms or cremated to ashes. Even the great empires crumble to ashes and dust, nothing to say about this little and insignificant body and whatever belongs to it.

Any one of us have excrement and urine. These things are not beautiful in and of themselves and a person needs to hide before one can expell these things. Just see how much beauty there will be if even a drop of your own bodily contents falls on the food you are about to eat... If your own excrement & urine is disgusting, then nothing to say about someone else's. There is nothing inherently pleasurable about someone's kidneys, skin or flesh. Is there much attraction to slabs of meat in the store? That meat is in all of us covered by skin, and life affirming delusions and stories about how the body is a beautiful thing...

When there is body then there can be problems with the body. Body can get raped, tortured, mutilated, and sick, it can experience a lot of diverse pain, misery and suffering and be beaten like a punching bag from all sides. It can catch many different kinds of viruses,
plagues and so on that could leave a lot of really miserable and painful feelings to the moment of death. Modern viruses are getting more and more hellish. One can get sick with a flesh eating virus, and other scary diseases. Having these miserable and dreadful possibilities possible, is this all that pleasant and happy? It is far better to never be born at all, then to be born. And if one is born, it is better that one dies as soon as possible and never
re-arise anywhere for life/existence is a necessary condition for possible misery, hurt, pain, torture, humiliation, dispair and so on. No life = no possibility for misery, no hurt, no pain, no torture, no humiliation, no dispair and so on

To be fair, there most certainly are pleasant feelings, but any high has two lows, one on each sides. Any high wave has two troughs. It is structurally impossible to have high without the low. These are two sides of the same miserable coin, miserable because it is impossible to fully control feelings. One cannot will
"let me experience ONLY the pleasant feelings and never experience the painful feelings. Let my body always be healthy, beautiful, and stay young forever and ever."
These things cannot be controlled and the terrible part is that often we have no say "let me experience only a little bit of pain and lots of pleasure". Very often we suffer, suffer badly, due to natural cause & effect laws. One may have a good party on a friday night after a long hard week at forced labour camp called "work", only to end up with a hangover on saturday morning which one spends at the toilet vomiting the booze from last night's
party. Are you like Wilt Chamberlain or Don Juan with the ladies? You better be prepared for the possibility of getting AIDS, syphylis or some other nasty STD. At the very least you will have someone's filthy stinking urine or excrement on your bald headed warrior and a much lighter wallet. Keep a close eye on it and you better have your hand in you wallet.

I don't need sex, the existence screws [to use a polite word] and "rapes" me every day! It surely stuffs enough this filthy bag of bones, sinews, flesh and skin with urine and excrement.

Shame on life that is so unsatisfactory, or as Buddha has said: "Shame on life here in this world!" ... .irel.html" onclick=";return false;
[Magandiya offers his daughter to the Buddha, who replies:]
On seeing [the daughters of Mara] — Discontent, Craving, & Passion — there wasn't even the desire for sex. So what would I want with this, filled with urine & excrement? I wouldn't want to touch it even with my foot. ... .than.html" onclick=";return false;
In Girimananda Sutta the Buddha didn't teach candles & crystals 21st century new age teachings. He taught the DHAMMA with meditations like
[3] "And what is the perception of unattractiveness? There is the case where a monk ponders this very body — from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down, surrounded by skin, filled with all sorts of unclean things: 'There is in this body: hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin, muscle, tendons, bones, bone marrow, spleen, heart, liver, membranes, kidneys, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, gorge, feces, gall, phlegm, lymph, blood, sweat, fat, tears, oil, saliva, mucus, oil in the joints, urine.'

[4] "And what is the perception of drawbacks? There is the case where a monk —having gone to the wilderness, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty dwelling —reflects thus: 'This body has many pains, many drawbacks. In this body many
kinds of disease arise, such as: seeing-diseases, hearing-diseases,nose-diseases, tongue-diseases, body-diseases, head-diseases, ear-diseases,mouth-diseases, teeth-diseases, cough, asthma, catarrh, fever, aging,stomach-ache, fainting, dysentery, grippe, cholera, leprosy, boils,
ringworm, tuberculosis, epilepsy, skin-disease, itch, scab, psoriasis, scabies, jaundice,diabetes, hemorrhoids, fistulas, ulcers; diseases arising from bile, from phlegm, from the wind-property, from combinations of bodily humors, from changes in the weather, from uneven care of the body, from attacks, from the result of kamma; cold, heat, hunger, thirst, defecation, urination.' ... .than.html" onclick=";return false;

We are like convicts on a death row, we will be executed no matter what happens. It is just the matter of time when the executioner called "Time" will execute us. What we can do is to make sure that this execution is final (Arhatship).

"Execution" by the executioner called Impermanence & Death, only one more time, please! No more. The Buddha's teaching is the final and total Euthanasia of all suffering that we can believe in. Yes we can make all the suffering cease by cessation, relinquishment and extinction of all craving and the will to be/not-to-be. I believe that the essence of the way is the cessation of craving, and one of the requirements is to see exactly why craving is bad and to really go against the grain of craving by analyzing our reality.

With best wishes,

"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Some thoughts on life and the Body

Post by DNS » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:35 pm

Wow! It looks like you are an expert at the 32 body contemplations!

What a bummer! But true. :tongue:


There was a comic I saw once that had the above two happy and sad actor pictures and the caption read:

"Sorry, but they come as a pair, you can't just purchase the happy one."

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