Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Body is a Temple

Imagine our physical body is a house:

body is a temple

Let’s pretend we do not love this home. In fact, we believe we do not even own it. We only rent it from some nameless, faceless landlord that never comes around.

We neglect the home, we abuse it, and we hate being there. Because we hate being here, we have no problem inviting strangers in to pass the time. Since we do not care, we allow these strangers to make a mess. They notice that we do not care about the house so they neglect and abuse it too.

Before long we realize that we have taken up residence in a body that we no longer recognize and can’t bare to look at in the mirror. We have allowed a sacred space to become tarnished and overgrown with the weeds of addiction, despair, rage and loneliness. At this point, we put any poison into our body that happens along; anything to dull the reality of the situation. Drugs, alcohol and destructive relationships become welcome distractions from the true underlying problems going on. 

Now let’s look at the flip side of this image. We love our home. We own it, outright. It is all ours. Because it is all ours, we take care of it. We keep it clean and free from destructive forces. Because this home is important to us, we protect it. We do not allow anything to enter that will harm the peaceful, calm environment.

Strangers are met at the door and welcomed in only after we remind them they are entering a temple; a place to be respected and loved. We are people who are very careful about what and whom we allow access to our temple. We no longer view ourselves as a cheap rental to be abused and disregarded.

We are a palace. A holy place. We bring light and joy wherever we go, like a traveling temple. This is a key point and one that may be meditated upon often. Though the physical body may be attacked and damaged, our spirit always remains intact - provided we guard it like a temple. A sacred place. 

Once we learn how to protect and nurture our internal sacred space, other people’s actions become irrelevant to our own. We become the masters of ourselves.

The Five Elements are a tool. Knowledge of them, helps us to be masters of ourselves. They help us to recognize and stifle destructive habits and tendencies before they grow out of control. Only then, once we have weeded and tended our garden can we help others create their own gardens.

If someone sees our garden and nothing grows in it, will they want to learn from us? The proof of a good gardener is in their garden. The proof of a good martial artist is in their self-expression. The proof of a poet is in the depth of his words. The proof of a great teacher is in the quality of their students.

The Five Elements are an ancient way Chinese sages saw the world. It is a way in which the Universe interacts with itself. It is a relationship between different kinds of energy or QI and how those energies transform into each other and relate to one another.

This system of viewing these interactions has been adopted most notably by Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, military strategists, musicians and martial artists. The Five Elements can be used to better understand our world and our places within it.

Human beings are a natural resource. We are products of nature and we share the same energies as nature. In fact…we are nature! The principles that govern nature also govern human beings.

By understanding our natural tendencies and maximizing those tendencies is paramount in running a successful team, company, family, country, school or self. Round pegs do not fit into square holes. Try as we may, it will never work. Often we are forced into roles we cannot assume. Or even worse, we force others into roles they cannot assume. Instead of maximizing our natural gifts, we sometimes adopt a “one way fits all” philosophy. This is a catastrophic error.

People are not machines. We are not analytical robots running a rigid program. On the contrary, we are organic, flexible and ever-changing. The Five Elements teach us how to grow a garden, not how to build a machine. The Elements teach us how to cultivate a productive, vibrant, healthy and happy self.

Working harmoniously with others is a gift. It is also an art that can be cultivated and learned so well that is becomes intrinsic. Especially in a company or team setting, if an executive cannot co-exist, thrive and inspire his people, what good is that executive? Intelligence, cleverness, shrewdness, handsomeness, all fall to the wayside. If we cannot work in a balanced harmony with ourselves and with others, then we cannot make music, we make only noise.

Each person’s unique note needs to be organized in such a way that music and harmony abound. Not just noise and chaos. Life is relationships. Without human interaction, we have nothing. But first we have to love our own company. We are only lonely when we don’t like the company of ourselves. No thing and no one can live in a vacuum. To know a person, we must know the environment in which that person exists. To understand a footstep we must understand first what the ground is and its natural relationship to the myriad things that are placed upon it. All things are a combination of other things. This provides the texture of our reality.

We are not separate from anything. We are part of a glorious oneness that seeps into every nook and cranny of our existence. When one of us is strong, we are all strong. When one of us weeps, we all weep. When one of us laughs, we all laugh.

There is nothing worse than believing the lie that we are alone. We have never been alone, and never will be.

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