The Dhamma: a rebellion against the body

  • A good slave doesn’t know he’s a slave, and a deceitful master tricks the slave into thinking it’s the master. The body tricks you into thinking you’re it, by being too near sighted you can’t see it.
  • By tricking you into thinking you’re the master, the body makes you chase pleasures to feed it, working for it, countlessly catering for it
  • You work to feed the body, to clothe, and house the body.
  • A master manipulates a slave with pleasure and pain, just like the body punishes you with pain and rewards you with pleasure
  • A master acts as a gate keeper, and limits what the slaves can know. All you know is through the body, sights, sounds, tastes, touches, all you know comes from the body.
  • To delight in pleasure is to assume you’re the body, but you’re not the body, otherwise you wouldn’t choose disease and suffering.
  • To rebel against the body is to only give it its basics and nothing more: a simple robe, shaved head, simple food, a lowly bed, homeless, no more becoming a slave to its whims.
  • To attain jhana is to gradually turn away from the body, no more caring about the senses, and the bodies craving for them.
  • Liberation from the body is to no longer cling to it, to abandon it. To attain cessation at will. No longer bound to it.
  • One who ends bhava, no longer identifies with their body, never again will they return to the body.
  • Not through the body can you escape the body, not through pleasure nor pain, can you free yourself, but by knowing the body within the body, one can mindfully turn away and escape.

The Body: nothing but a source of suffering

It’s only suffering that comes to be,
Suffering that stands and falls away.
Nothing but suffering comes to be,
Nothing but suffering ceases.

  • Vajira sutta

That would apply to all conditioned dhammas, not just the body.

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Incorrect. The body is not a source of dukkha, according to the four noble truths.

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Thank you for sharing, though I think the body is less central, less of a problem. It seems to be more the craving in regard to the body, the body is just the body. See for example SN12.62. It says that even an ordinary worldling can be freed from the body.

“Mendicants, when it comes to this body made up of the four primary elements, an unlearned ordinary person might become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed.”

What about the mind, though?

To get to the mind, you have to go through the body. That’s why it’s called Mindfulness of Breathing (Anapanasati) or Mindfulness of Body (Kayagatasati), and not Mindfulness of Mind, because before you can see Mind within Mind you need to see Body within Body first

In this way, monks, he fares along contemplating the body in the body internally, or he fares along contemplating the body in the body externally, or he fares along contemplating the body in the body internally and externally; or he fares along contemplating origination-things in the body, or he fares along contemplating dissolution-things in the body, or he fares along contemplating origination-and-dissolution things in the body; or, thinking, ‘There is the body,’ his mindfulness is established precisely to the extent necessary just for knowledge, just for remembrance, and he fares along independently of and not grasping anything in the world.

In other words if you’re going to misperceive the body, you’re going to misperceive the mind down the line.

Of course, one needs proper attention (yoniso manasikara) first and foremost to even make sense of any of this, otherwise they will misinterpret the suttas and dhamma.

If one has proper attention then just knowing “There is a body” is enough to maintain their mindfulness and prevent them falling into the hindrances.

'There is the body,’ his mindfulness is established precisely to the extent necessary just for knowledge, just for remembrance

Proper Attention means understanding that all you can know is through the body, and what the body lets you know (you only taste sweetness because of your tongue, not because there is sweetness in the world). It’s becoming aware of the prison that was invisible to you because it was too close to your face and you weren’t near sighted enough to see it. Like looking through prison bars to see the world, you forget you’re looking through bars (the body). So improper attention is the delusion that you are experiencing external objects without the body in the middle, and that you like/dislike external objects, and thus the divide of “self” arises, and one erroneously assumes the body to be self.

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Just my opinion:

First, I don’t think the word “rebellion” is appropriate here. It implies “fighting” and also drifts toward the tendency of the extreme ascetics practice that the Buddha told us not to fall into. I understand what you meant when I read the content of your post, but the wording is not appropriate.

Second, the Dhamma is not only about the “rebellion against the body”, the Dhamma is much more than that, at least it must start with the Four Noble Truths.

The content of your post clarified what you meant, the content is valuable but the title is somewhat controversial :sweat_smile:. Well, at least, it drew attention?

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I think a good sutta that illustrates this implication which is often overlooked is the simile of the six animals

“Suppose, bhikkhus, a man would catch six animals—with different domains and different feeding grounds—and tie them by a strong rope. He would catch a snake, a crocodile, a bird, a dog, a jackal, and a monkey, and tie each by a strong rope. Having done so, he would tie the ropes together with a knot in the middle and release them. Then those six animals with different domains and different feeding grounds would each pull in the direction of its own feeding ground and domain. The snake would pull one way, thinking, ‘Let me enter an anthill.’ The crocodile would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me enter the water.’ The bird would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me fly up into the sky.’ The dog would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me enter a village.’ The jackal would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me enter a charnel ground.’ The monkey would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me enter a forest.’

The six animals are a metaphor for the 6 senses (the body). It’s not you who chases sensual objects, it’s the body pulling you along for the ride, and you are not the body, but the body tricks you into thinking you’re the body, due to its nature of being too close. Thus, the only thing you are doing wrong is being ignorant, and assuming it’s you who desires sense objects. Once you create distance between yourself and the body, so that it’s no longer too close and you become near sighted, you will no longer assume that it’s the self that desires external objects, but the body. Therefore to indulge in the senses is to forget you’re not the body, i.e. not being mindful.

Regarding Anapanasati, it is better to follow closely SN 54.1 (and its corresponding SA 803):

Pages 225-7 from The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism Choong Mun-keat 2000.pdf (210.4 KB)

It wasn’t to draw attention (even if it did so) and yes the dhamma is a rebellion against the body.

How would you feel if you were forced to sit in a car with a drunk driver who will smash the car into a wall, and you will experience that pain. You would rebel would you not?

If you properly understood the body in that matter, you would be extremely scared of food or any sensual desire. Eating too much food or unhealthy food will result in pain, yet your body does it anyway, like being stuck in a car with a drunk driver. Like in the metaphor with the two strong men dragging a man into a burning coal pit, the man will wiggle and try to pull away from that pit. The body does the same thing, it drags you towards sensuality that must result in pain, and pressures you into it.

So to avoid this situation, one must first realize that the body is acting heedlessly (like a drunken man), and to rebel against it by never forgetting that you are not the body. The first step to rebellion is to no longer implicitly trust something, to disassociate, and no longer take it for granted.

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I’ve also found it interesting and instructive that the six animals are only tied to one another, not to a central, fixed object. There isn’t any central governing object.


Yes, in SN 35.247 it is the non-restraint that is in common to the six sense base. That is the factor that permits the pulling in all directions, ultimately resulting in one animal dominating the others. As with the aggregates, it is the desire-and-lust that is the upadana.

Exactly! and another disturbing fact is that the body (sense organs) is invisible, so you don’t actually see these organs, since the eye can’t see itself. So you’re being dragged along by something you can’t see, which makes you think it’s you who is chasing these objects.

Basically anything that you perceive cannot be a sense organ (body), and must be a sense object, so “your” thoughts (sense object) have only arisen because the mind made contact with ideas. So all these objects of experience keep arising and ceasing and the average person is completely clueless and led astray as to why this is happening, it’s like being strapped to a rollercoaster without being aware of it.

Yes but desire and lust is hidden behind the mind organ which you can’t see directly. You can only know how well the mind is behaving from the content of objects that have arisen, but you have no direct say on the type of content that has arisen, you can only remind yourself that you are not the mind which over a period of time will restrain the mind and one day result in wholesome content. It’s like the metaphor of the adze handle, you can only see the change by looking at how worn away the handle has become.

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I found this expression very insightful.

To attain jhana is to gradually turn away from the body, no more caring about the senses, and the bodies craving for them.

Jhana is difficult to attain, but once we get a taste, it becomes sort of self perpetuating, with time. Addressing the citta and the defilements, turning our attention away from the body is even harder.

I think your assessment here, though some have raised valid questions as to some of the wording, is pretty much spot on.


Agreed. My point was more just emphasize that the various common denominators are centralized around unwholesome action taken on account of desire, on account of craving, delight, on account of non-virtue, and non-restraint.


Right, and perhaps the fundamental non-understanding that doesn’t see the danger in the attraction (gratification), and possibility of escape.

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Okay. But then, who am I? If I am not the body, who am I? If my identity is not the body, what is my real identity?
What does the Theravada say? And the Mahayana?

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For an answer from the Pali canon, consider reading the second sutta from the Middle Length Discourses, ‘All the Taints’, and the ‘Anattalakkhana Sutta’ found in the Connected Discourses.

Absolutely. And really illustrates why virtue is necessary. Without the withholding of certain action there is no space to reveal that the pressure to act is coming from the senses, and the preference from the mind (citta).

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Basically the answer is “don’t think about it, it’s just opinions”?