emerging into this world of light and sound
joy of skin touching skin, mouth on breath, body sliding into/out of body
separateness of playmates teasing, mommy scolding, dog growling, knife cutting
loneliness of being encased in envelope of skin, thoughts and emotions a mystery to others
confinement to body as a constantly changing piece of luggage, always a surprise to look down and it has sprout hair or breasts, become fat, wrinkled, thin, peeling, saggy
becoming afraid that this will end.
frustration of mind-never-still standing square in the way of Mind
wonder of using mind-that-can-grow-quiet to encounter Mind, body-that-can-sit to realize Body
interpenetration of what I call me and what I call paper just now as I read, interpenetration of what I call me and what I call carpet felt, walls seen, air breathed, trees outside, continuously creating each other, mutual verification, no distance at all. Worm bodies, cloud bodies, toothpaste tube bodies, grass leaf bodies, carpet fiber bodies, Sitka spruce bodies, lumber stack bodies, woman’s body birthing slippery baby body.
struggling through body of gristle, skin, sinew, synapse, eyelash, sweat, breast, penis; struggling through mind of scheming, dreaming, steaming, jealous, rageful, loving, doubting, antsy; struggling through body of zafu, left-foot-on-right-thigh, thumbs touching, breathing counting, seed syllable, moon disk turning; through mind watching Mind watching mind as it opens to no eye ear nose tongue body mind.
Sometimes I think our em-bodies are like clay shaped on a potter’s wheel. Each body is different in form and function, just as pitcher is for pouring, pot for holding, lid for closing. There are man bodies, woman bodies, car, butterfly, radiator, and earthworm bodies. No matter how they are coat, pink slimy, shiny metal, skin, fur, feathers, bark, stone—all are of the same substance. In this universal potter’s studio everything is made of clay: the floor, the walls, potter’s wheel. Nothing enters and nothing leaves. Being born, clay is formed. Living clay bodies chip and gradually or suddenly! break down. Dying, they disintegrate into clay particles again, are gathered, kneaded, and made into new bodies. In the potter’s studio are millions of vessel-bodies, continuously being formed, functioning according to their purpose, breaking down, being remade as something new. Nothing enters and nothing leaves.
After hundreds of thousands of millions of years, every particle of clay has passed through every kind of vessel. Every body has particles that have “belonged” to every other body. The vessel-bodies are so tightly packed that there is no distance between them, one shape curving into the next, a valley in one is a hill in another. So close that molecules interpenetrate. What is the clay? Who is the potter?
From Being Bodies, edited by Lenore Friedman and Susan Moon. © 2007 by Lenore Friedman and Susan Moon. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications.
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.