A contemplative tour through your family photo album

If you take a contemplative tour through your family album, you can appreciate the contrast between the body's ever-changing nature and your unchanging nature.

Take a look at photos of "yourself" (your body) when it was one year old or five years old. Then ask yourself: "Where is that body now?" Look at your child body and adolescent body among the photos, and ask yourself, "Where is that body now?" Where are all those bodies that were photographed so many years ago?

Now consider the following: There is not an atom in your body today that was present when those photos were taken. The eyes you see in the photograph are a different set of eyes than those you are seeing with: They are made of completely different material particles. The bodies in those photographs have long since disintegrated and merged into the earth, water, fire, and air, and have gone to make up other bodies—the bodies of various insects, plants, birds, animals, humans and so on.

Yet you are still you. You exist today. You also existed yesterday, last month, five years ago, ten years ago, 15 years ago, and so on. But that body you had one year ago, five years ago, 15 years ago, etc. does not exist today. You, the self, existed throughout all these changes of your body.

[For scientific evidence that you are not the body, click here]

Become aware of your body and its activities

Yogis have a meditation technique that helps them to realize that they are not the body. They say to themselves, “I am aware that I am doing such-and-such.” By doing this they experience a type of detachment from their body and its activities.

While a yogi is eating, for example, he’ll say to himself, “I am aware that I am eating … I am aware that I am tasting something sweet.” He doesn’t dive into the taste—rather, he is a little apart from it.

Through this technique, he gradually becomes detached from all the body’s activities, sensations, feelings, and so on. He is aware that things are happening, but he’s untouched by them. He’s free from the movement of the waves of sensations, thoughts, and so on that pass over him. He’s the calm center of the storm that rages all around him.

Such a yogi and a hedonist are exact opposites in consciousness. The yogi stands apart from the body and the hedonist dives into it—trying to savor every pleasant sensual tingle. And by diving into the sensual gratification, he is diving into the material senses—that is, he is becoming more deeply immersed in false bodily identification.