“You are not your body”—and other contradictions.
❡I usually laugh when I hear the assertion “You are not your body”,
but lately such talk has driven me to sadness. I wonder how little
one must think of himself to declare such a thing. How can one look in the mirror and see a reflection of himself and say: “That is not my
If I was to conclude that I am not my body, I would also be saying that every experience I’ve had was a lie—including the experiences leading me
to the conclusion that I am not my body. To see, hear, feel, think, decide, remember, conclude, and to express that I am not my body, I need to be a
body. In any case, the moment I say I am not my body, I am gravely contradicting myself, as only through my body and as a body can I ever hope to
As a thought experiment, I imagine reverse engineering my body, taking it apart piece by piece until I find out what’s left of myself at the end. I
imagine removing my eyes, and with it, everything I’ve ever seen. I remove my ears and every sound I’ve been privy to becomes silent. The lungs
are removed; the draw of breath has ended. My brain confiscated, and with it every thought and memory and imagination. This goes on and on until at
last I’m at my heart, which then, without the rest to pump blood to, dries and withers into dust, along with every living moment of my existence.
What remains? Is there a soul to be found here? A spirit? A ghost in the shell? Where? To say that we are something that cannot be found, is like
saying I know where my keys are when I cannot yet find them.
Usually they claim “out-of-body experiences” or “near-death experiences” as proof that we are not our bodies, that somehow something without
eyes, a brain, a nervous system, or any particular physical quality, can look down and experience the the physical world from another vantage point.
But then again, we have out of body experiences every time we dream, as we imagine ourselves somewhere other than where our body lies in sleep. Could
it be that out-of-body experiences are just dreams? Such an answer would be too simple, however rational it may sound.
Intellectually, it seems easier to imagine that we are indeed our bodies, rather than force ourselves to imagine that we are spirits dressed in
corpses. When a man dies his body remains for a short while as a corpse. Is it a corpse because that which cannot be seen, heard, or felt, has left
him? Or is it that he has simply ceased to function?
Nonetheless, it is always bodies telling me I am not my body. Luckily, in thought and speech we can make such contradictions; but in practice, the
exact opposite is always the case.
edit on 29-9-2013 by NiNjABackflip because: (no reason given)