Shantideva, seventh-century Indian adept, © Robert Beer
Shantideva, seventh-century Indian adept, © Robert Beer

What we call the body is not feet or shins,
The body, likewise, is not thighs or loins.
It’s not the belly nor indeed the back,
And from the chest and arms the body is not formed.

The body is not ribs or hands,
Armpits, shoulders, bowels, or entrails;
It is not the head or throat:
From none of these is “body” constituted.

If “body,” step by step,
Pervades and spreads itself throughout its members,
Its parts indeed are present in the parts,
But where does the “body,” in itself, abide!

If “body,” single and entire,
Is present in the hand and other members,
However many parts there are, the hand and all the rest,
You’ll find an equal quantity of “bodies.”

If “body” is not outside or within its parts,
How is it, then, residing in its members?
And since it has no basis other than its parts,
How can it be said to be at all?

Liberate this article!

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