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.
Racism is the identification of a person/self according to the race of the body that self is in. This is like identifying people with their shirts. If you walk along the street, you will see many different-colored shirts. If one of those shirts is purple, you don’t see the person wearing that shirt as a purple person; you see him as someone who merely is wearing a purple shirt. Racism is based on the inability to see that different-colored bodies are just like different-colored shirts.
We may think we are attracted to the beautiful body of a woman, but actually it is the spark of life which attracts us. When Marilyn Monroe “died”, when the life force left the material body, the body was no longer attractive. All that was left was a lump of unattractive matter that was thrown in the dirt. So is it logical to think that material energy is all-attractive? No. Life force or spirit is the attractive element.
(On the other hand,) the positive results of a society populated mostly by people who are serious about cultivating wisdom and spiritual understanding should be clear. If the citizens are peaceful, satisfied, respectful of others, compassionate, selfless, and so on, then society will be progressive both materially and spiritually.
THE SEARCH FOR WISDOM
The search for wisdom is a great challenge; to act on wisdom is an even greater challenge.
In this world, people are always fighting over property. They want to stake their claims of ownership on both the living and the nonliving. According to the Sri Ishopanishad, these people are like thieves fighting over stolen loot. If we look at the question from the relatively short-term view, we may find it hard to accept that no one is really an owner of anything. But if we adopt the point of view of the Sri Ishopanishad—which sees the universe not in terms of decades, centuries, or even thousands of years, but in terms of many millions of years—then we can understand this point.
“Most people are not concerned about the problems we are creating on earth. Our whole attitude towards this planet is that it is disposable. Everyone thinks that they can take anything they want...
“Who am I?” Maybe you’ve never even asked yourself this question. You might think you already know who you are. Unfortunately, however, it’s likely that you don’t know who you are at all. And if you don’t know your real identity, you’re in trouble. You’ll spend your life in a kind of dream state—you’ll falsely identify yourself as something or someone you aren’t. Then, on the basis of this false identification, you’ll determine the goals of your life and the purpose of your existence. You use these goals to gauge whether you are making “progress” in life, whether you are a “success.” And you are aided and abetted in this delusion by a complex network of relationships with other dreamers. Of course, at death (and sometimes before), the whole thing turns into a nightmare.
So knowing who you are is a very practical necessity. The question “Who am I?” is not a philosophical football meant to be kicked around coffeehouses by pseudo-intellectuals. It’s a real-life question. Nothing is more important and more relevant than to know who you are.
What are you worth? Your physical body made of various chemicals is not really worth very much. It may be worth $5 or $10, but is that all you are worth? Is that all your wife or your child, or your friend, or your mother, or your father are worth?
Let me ask you a few simple questions: Do you exist at this moment? Did you exist five years ago? Are you your body?
Most people would answer "yes" to all three questions. But if you identify your body as yourself, and simultaneously accept that you exist now and also existed five years ago, then you have a problem: The body you had five years ago does not exist today. There is a dynamic turnover of atoms and molecules which make up your body. There isn't a single particle of matter — not one atom — present in your body today that was present five years ago. The body you have today is not the same body you had five years ago. It's not that the body you had still exists but has now changed somewhat. No. The body you had is gone. That collection of atoms appearing as flesh, bone, blood, hair, and so on no longer exists. Yet you still exist.