Intuitively we all know this truth, there are little examples that you can focus on and concentrate on to give you this understanding.
Our material bodies will become old – you can’t avoid this. The only way to avoid getting old is to die young. If you die young, you don’t get old. If you stay in your body, it will get old. So here you are: you have been in your body for 70 years, but you don’t feel 70 years old, you feel exactly the same as you did when you were a youth. When you look out, you are the same young person looking out. But when people look at you, they see an old man, which is a real experience. If you are in an older body, you know it; you know what I am talking about. Your body might feel old, aches and pains or whatever, but you don’t.
I remember one time I was getting off an airplane and the stewardess was by the door as they always are, “Thank you very much.” I walked up and she said, “Thank you very much, sir.” I looked around to see who she was talking to, nobody was there and then I realized she was talking to me. Oh, gee, I never think of myself as sir, I’m that young guy. But the reality is the body has taken on a new nomenclature… sir.
Here is another little example. Let’s say a person is lost at sea, the boat sinks and he is lost at sea. Let’s just say it is winter, so not only he is lost at sea, but the sea is cold and there are storms, and everything. They begin to search for this man: they fly airplanes, all kinds of other ships come and they are looking for survivors. Let’s say there are 10 people on the boat. After a certain time (3 days, 4 days, whatever) they call off the search. Why? Because they know that no one could not survive any longer than this, they would just be dead, no need to look for a dead body. As long as there’s a possibility that there will be a live body, they will do anything. But as soon as it’s concluded, “No, they will all be dead,” then they don’t spend any more money to look for the body. The value is in the person not the body, we all know that. When someone you love dies, the body is still there. You are feeling very sorry, you are crying, you feel the great loss of the loved one, but the body is right there. “No, but they are gone.” The one you loved is gone, the body is still here.
Let’s say a person is sick in the hospital, he got cancer or whatever. They spend all kinds of money to save this person, they don’t worry about how much it costs, it doesn’t matter. When the person dies, they have the body and now they have got to dispose of it. They don’t keep the body around. According to the different beliefs people have, immediately they bury it the same day or 2 or 3 days later, or a week later – there are different beliefs that people have, different customs that they follow. The point is: they bury the body, they cremate the body, it’s gone.
The body is only valuable when there is a person inside. I don’t know what the figures are at this time, but I can remember many years ago we learned that the body itself was worth $12. That is the value of the chemicals or whatever that they can get from it: unless you have gold teeth, then it is more valuable.
Actually we know all this intuitively, but we don’t live like this. Here is another example. We have just learned that every 5 years we have a different body, a completely different body. If we are the body… let’s say there is a person who murdered someone. They don’t catch him for 15 years, but then he is caught. He is charged with murder and he goes to court. In court his lawyer could argue, “No, no, he is not guilty. 15 years ago he didn’t exist, that was another person, right? 15 years later he’s had 3 other bodies, but that was 3 people ago. Someone else killed the guy, not my client.” You could argue that, but the judge will not accept it. Scientifically it is true: if you are the body, the body that is being charged for murder now didn’t exist 15 years ago. Therefore, he is not guilty. Of course, no one would even bring up such an argument because intuitively we understand we are not the body.
At the same time we live completely as if we are the body. All our time and all our energy is spent taking care of our 2 bodies. Think about your life as it is today, right now. You have 24 hours in every day, and what do we do with those 24 hours? Somehow we are involved in taking care of or manipulating, or acting through the body and the mind: we eat, we sleep, we work, we have our recreation, watch our television, play computer games, watch movies, read books and/or newspapers – all about the body and the mind. We dress the body, wash the body and take care of it – everything. It’s nothing but that in our life. We are trying to find pleasure and avoid the pain of the body and the mind. So our life is built on this illusion ‘I am the body.’