History and exact science he must learn by laborious reading. Colleges, in like manner, have their indispensable office -- to teach elements. But they can only searve us when they aim not to drill but to create; when they gather from far every ray of various genius to their hospitable halls, and, by the concentrated fires, set the hearts of their youth on flame.
The material body can be likened to a computer/machine. Each person operates his own private computer/machine, and when he is finished using his machine, it no longer has any value because no one else can operate it. When the operator is present, the value of the computer certainly exceeds the net worth of its ingredients. Without an operator, however, a computer has no useful function, and is worth no more than the scrap value a junk dealer will pay for its component bits of plastic and metal.
What is your essence? Is it matter - a mere collection of material atoms and molecules? Or is it something else?
The body is yours - but it is not you. The body is a garment that you are wearing, a machine that you are using, a vehicle that you are driving. The body is your possession. Just as a person does not identify himself as being the shirt he is wearing, he also should not identify himself with the body that he is wearing.
Name, race, age, sex, religion, nationality, occupation, height, weight, and so on—all these are bodily labels. Therefore if you consider your body to be yourself, you automatically identify yourself with such labels. If your body is fat and ugly, you think, “Woe is me! I am fat and ugly.” If your body is 60 years old and female, you think, ”I am a 60-year-old female.” If your body is black and beautiful, you think, “I am black and beautiful.”
But is the body really the self? Are you really your body?
If you erroneously identify yourself with your body, you will conclude that your existence will end with the destruction of your body. But if you know that you are the eternal self within the body, you know that your existence will not end when your body dies.
Each body has a multitude of different labels and characteristics. This in itself isn’t bad; just like it is not bad for people to wear different-colored clothes. What is bad is that due to identifying the body as the self, we wrongly consider the person to be the labels that are on his body.
Many Chinese and Japanese acupuncturists (possibly out of a desire to “prove” the existence of chi to skeptical Westerners) have invented all sorts of electrical technological gadgetry to monitor the flow of chi through the meridians and to precisely locate the acupuncture points. So although chi cannot be perceived directly, its presence can be detected by a meter that monitors electrical activity.
Nor is sense gratification considered “bad.” Sense gratification comes and goes as a natural occurrence of the senses. For example, one cannot eat without tasting. The point is that a life that is centered around sense enjoyment, that makes sense enjoyment the goal, is a wasted life. Economic development is necessary for the maintenance of the body; so therefore it cannot be neglected. But to seek economic development simply for the sake of endlessly increasing sensual pleasure is foolish. No amount of sensual pleasure will ever really satisfy a person, so no amount of economic development will ever be considered “enough.” This is why people in modern Western societies are still not satisfied, even though they are so economically advanced and thus have so much facility for sense enjoyment. They always want more.
(On the other hand,) for a person who cultivates wisdom or true knowledge, the results are inner peace, satisfaction, patience, respect for others, freedom from duplicity, compassion, joyfulness, remembrance of his spiritual identity, freedom from the fear of death, freedom from anxiety and depression, and so on.
The body is yours — but it is not you. The body is a garment that you are wearing, a machine that you are using, a vehicle that you are driving. The body is your possession. Just as a person does not identify himself as being the shirt he is wearing, he also should not identify himself with the body that he is wearing.