The body reacts mechanically – don’t take its reactions personally

Suppose we had a machine that was programmed to behave in a particular way, to respond to certain stimuli with certain actions. If we didn’t want that action, we would consciously decide to reject that programmed reaction and choose differently.

We need to do something similar with our body. The Bhagavad-gita (05.08-09) offers us this mechanized vision of the body when declaring that all bodily actions, that is, interactions of the senses with the sense objects, are just default actions that we needn’t get involved emotionally in or take personally. For example, on seeing or smelling some delicious food item, our tongue might water. But suppose we were fasting on that day from that item, then despite the tongue watering, we would still abstain from eating it. The tongue’s watering is a mechanical reaction that doesn’t’ or at least shouldn’t change our intention.

Gita wisdom illumines our inner world into three levels: body, mind and consciousness. Thus, we can perceive a three-level progression in the actualization of action, namely, the physical reaction to an external stimulus, the emotional activation of the desire for that stimulus, and the conscious intention to indulge in that object. If we learn to differentiate between these three, then we won’t let the physical reaction grow into a conscious intention as an unthinking, unstoppable progression.

We see them as just programmed physical or psychological reactions that we don’t need to accept. Thus, we can distance ourselves from our physical reactions and even from the emotional activations that may thereby occur. Spiritual practices enable us to become more self-aware, thereby making the distancing easier, for we go closer to our own spiritual essence and the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna.

By thus seeing the body’s actions mechanically, we can avoid taking its reactions personally.

Think it over:

  • How are the body’s reactions mechanical?
  • What are the three levels of progression in the actualization of action?
  • How can we distance ourselves from the body’s reactions?

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