It dawns on me now just how often I spoke and wrote about the concept that “I am not this body” [during the early 1990s] – following the lead of the vast, vast majority of Hare Krishna devotees I looked up to. Oddly, Vedic texts don’t exactly present this idea in so many words. They say ahaṁ brahmāsmi, but that means “I am brahman” / “I am consciousness” / “I am spirit.” This is a positive assertion, notably different from the negation, “I am not this body.” The Vedas certainly explain that consciousness is distinct from the body as its origin and foundation, as an eternal constant from which various bodies emerge as temporary projections. But I didn’t seem to get the part about how my body and soul were intrinsically related. All I seemed to grasp was that the body was not the essence of my true self, and I stretched that thin as taffy to mean “I’m not this body and that’s all there is to it.” It seems I wanted to believe that I had nothing to do with my body at all, as if it something I picked up by chance one day at a flea market.

But why? Why was I so eager to create a chasm between me and my body? There was nothing wrong with it. It wasn’t sick, or ugly, or handicapped.  I guess there was a psychological motive: If I had nothing to do with my body, it felt so much more reasonable to completely divorce myself from things related to it: like parents and family. It felt so much less scary to destroy everything that could protect its long term welfare: like my education, career, and so on.

– Excerpt from an early draft of
Train Wrecks and Transcendence:
A Collision of Hardcore and Hare Krishna
 
By Vraja Kishor [VrajaKishor.com]

2 thoughts on “I Am Not This Body (???)

  1. Couldn’t it be also be to, psychologically subvert the tendencies for instantaneous sensual gratification? Although I do see where you are coming from. We had one young man recently join an ashram in the states who after 3 days of meeting the devotees tried to renounce his name, family and girl-friend. So far he is doing pretty well in the association of devotees, but only time will tell if it was inspired by previous life bhakti sukriti or sub-conscious escapism.

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    1. Psychological subversion will always fail. “mama māyā dūratyayā.” Only a genuine taste of bhakti rāsa will work, and this does not require artificial renunciation. “Param dṛśtvā nirvartante.”

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