When Master Hsuan Hua was explaining the Lotus Sutra (also called The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra), he explained how your body is not who you really are, but more like a material house that we live in:
Your body is not who you really are
The view of a body means that one is always attached to one’s body. From morning until night one works on its behalf, buying it a little candy or sprinkling it with a little perfume, giving it some nice clothes and a nice place to live. That is called being attached to the body.
One thinks “My body is just me!” Actually, that is wrong.
How is it wrong?
The body can only be said to belong to you.
- You can say, “It is mine.”
- But you cannot say, “It is me.”
The body is like a house. When you are living in a house you cannot tell people “My house is me.” You can just say, “It is mine.”
Ultimately, you are not your body. Do not mistake the real owner. If you are attached to the body as yourself, you are wrong.
I always say, if you look from the tip of the head to the soles of your feet, your head is called your head, your eyes are called eyes, your ears are called ears, your hair is called hair, your nose is called nose, the mouth is called mouth, the skin is called the skin, the hands are called hands, the feet are called feet. Everything has its name. Which one of them is called “me”? You can look all over your entire body, and you would not find a “me”. It is not you. It belongs to you, that’s all.
Similarly, we can look all over the material composition of a house – the timber framing, the wood, the bricks, the bedrooms, the kitchen, the bathroom, the roof – but we will not find the owner of the house in those materials.
Don’t be a slave to your body
Now it’s important to take good care of your house – but don’t become a slave to your own house. Similarly, don’t become a slave to your own body.
If you calculate on its behalf all the time, when, as the poet T’ao Yuan-ming said in his poem “The Return,” your mind is acting as your body’s slave.
So who are you really? What is your True Self?
Master Hsuan Hua explains:
Your mind is your true self, the real owner in charge.
They body is just like a house. The owner lives in the body.
Here we are talking about the eternally dwelling real mind, the bright substance of the pure nature. That is really you, really me.
- It is also called the Thus Come One’s Storehouse.
- It is also called the Buddha nature.
So do not mistakenly think that the body is you. It is yours; it is not you.
The real you is not produced and not destroyed, not defiled and not pure, not increasing and not decreasing. That is the real you.
- Instead of recognizing that real you,
- You recognize the false self and think that superficial thing, the body, is really you.
If it is really you, then when the body dies, will you disappear too? If you disappear, that is really meaningless. That is just a view of annihilation…