Drunk with the Body

Ajahn Liem

Drunk with the Body

Usually our mind likes to get carried away with having fun. If we find ourselves infatuated with amusement, take it as important and hold on to it, the Buddha recommends to ground ourselves in an attitude of alertness. Hilarity is a tie. It can drag us onto the path of foolishness. When we are infatuated and crazy about something, we can go wrong anywhere. Whether in the hidden or open, it’s all the same – it’s really like when one is drunk.

People get drunk with their bodies through the illusion that the body doesn’t have illnesses, afflictions, pains and fevers threatening it. They think they won’t die, won’t degenerate and wear out. They don’t consider the possibility, but it happens. Because in reality our material body (ru ̄pa-khandha) is a conditioned phenomenon, it always will follow the nature of its material constituents. Nevertheless we like to see the body as permanently powerful, tough and strong and not afflicted by disease and pain. We want to see it under this perspective, the way we are used to it, just as if the body was fit for all circumstances.

But the Buddha said, if there is light, there will be darkness. If there is hot, there will be cold. It has to be like this. So in this very way, any state of strength, agility or ease may degenerate in just a single day or just a single moment into a state of decline and ruin, becoming deteriorated and worn out, following its nature. But if we cultivate an attitude of seeing the disintegration of the body as natural, we won’t be upset by the decline. We won’t take the body as something important, keep holding on to it or attach feelings of self to it.

The Buddha called the illusions we create around the body sakka ̄yaditthi – the view that the body is self, that we and other people are our bodies, that the body is our possession. The Buddha reminds us to keep recollecting that whatever thing there may be – it is not ours, not our self. Nothing really belongs to us.

Through thinking like this we won’t start holding on to things.

This reflection by Luang Por Liem is from the talk, From the Darkness to the Light, (pdf) p. 3. (A slightly different version may be found in the book, The Ways of the Peaceful.)