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I am not the body


Vidanjali

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This discussion is for anyone for whom nonduality resonates. It is said that Truth is One, but is expressed in many forms, called by many names, and spoken of in many ways. That is what I believe. Please respect that and do use this thread as an opportunity to refute or invalidate anyone else's spiritual beliefs. 

 

As far as I can recall, I've always been a spiritual seeker & I've always been trans. I did not encounter nondual teachings (such as Vedanta) until about my mid-30s & I did not fully understand that I'm trans until about my mid-40s.

 

I sometimes wonder how much my relative understanding of nonduality and my transness intersect - in particular, regarding non-identification with the body. I do not see the former as necessarily the prime motivation for the latter, as I understand that plenty of people who aspire to enlightenment identify affirmatively as cisgender while embodied.

 

One distinction between the two (nondual spiritual beliefs and transness) would be non-identification with the body versus desire for a different body. I don't so much feel "trapped in the wrong body" as "trapped in a body", although I am curious about what my life would be like navigating it in a male body. This segues to my belief that I have been provided the optimal life circumstances for my spiritual evolution. But, one's life circumstances, which for me include being afab and trans, do not preclude the path of pursuing changing the body - indeed for some, medical transition, say, is part of their path to realizing greater peace, happiness and love in this life. Moreover, there are expressions of divinity and cases in Hindu scriptures and in the lives of spiritual masters which exemplify the fluidity of gender and its likewise fluid expression as a means to deeper divine insight. 

 

Does anyone think about this? 

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I'm not sure where this is going…

 

Before I realized I was transgender I had come to see "gender" as such as a spectrum.  I think very few people are completely at one end or the other (M or F).  It is possible that this even shifts during a lifetime.  IDK

 

I don't think we are our body, although we are kinda stuck with it.  Personally, I don't believe I have ever felt "trapped in the wrong body" as many trans folks say.  It's just where I am at this time.  "Gender" as I understand it is not a physical thing, but perhaps something in our mind - mind being different than the brain.   Some of us do attempt to alter our bodies to be more congruent with our gender as we perceive it.

 

It's like the brain is the hardware, and spirit (?) is the software running on it.  This results in the mind.  Of course the brain affects the software, but it's not the same thing.

 

This leads me to the question of whether the mind can exist without the body.  What about the spirit?  Do we even know what the spirit is?  Does it have gender?  Is it individualistic, or collective?  IDK

It doesn't seem like this "spirit" (if it exists) can be measured or detected by our physical science.  But fortunately we don't have to understand everything to live our lives.

 

I have lots of thoughts on this stuff.  But I still have to eat, sleep, and poop in my everyday life.

 

This little animal that I inhabit…

 

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5 hours ago, Vidanjali said:

Does anyone think about this? 

I don't read the literature but I often pondered the eternal nature of my spirit long before I became aware of my being transgender.  The idea of reincarnation resonates with me - I think my soul used to exist in the body of a nurse killed during the Vietnam war.  I get extremely emotional when I've watch documentaries on this war, yet I can watch other war documentaries without any emotional impact on me.  I've always been drawn toward medicine (nursing) but didn't follow that path because "nursing wasn't a career option for boys/men" was the story told by the careers advisor at my high school.  I've been considering a change of career (toward nursing) ever since I accepted that I am a trans-woman.

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Having spent years in Yoga with a student of Swami Satchidananda i have alwayscrelated to his teachings that "Paths Are Many,

Truth is One."

 

Hugs,

 

Charlize

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19 hours ago, Ivy said:

It's like the brain is the hardware, and spirit (?) is the software running on it.  This results in the mind.  Of course the brain affects the software, but it's not the same thing.

 

Vedantic scriptures refer to the Self (with a capital S) to mean the one imperishable, ineffable, indivisible divinity which is beyond names, forms, and distinctions. 

 

In Kathopanishad, which is part of the ancient Vedas, it is said, "Know that the Self is the rider, and the body the chariot; that the intellect is the charioteer, and the mind the reins. The senses, say the wise, are the horses; the roads they travel are the mazes of desire. The wise call the Self the enjoyer when it is united with the body, the senses, and the mind."

 

This simile is oft repeated throughout scripture. My Swami explains that the Self is the enjoyer, further, when the ego takes a backseat. 

 

19 hours ago, Ivy said:

This leads me to the question of whether the mind can exist without the body.

 

It is said that the mind is both the cause of and the remedy for suffering. An uncontrolled, indiscriminate mind is a tool of the ego. Practice of nonattachment to the self (lowercase s) by controlling the mind leads to intuitive knowledge of the Self and serenity of mind. Therefore, I believe the answer to this question is yes, but only when the illusion that the relative mind belongs to the individual self is removed. I believe there is Cosmic Mind from which the knowledge "I AM the Self" is discerned. That Mind exists without the body and is free of all illusion. 

 

19 hours ago, Ivy said:

What about the spirit?  Do we even know what the spirit is?  Does it have gender?  Is it individualistic, or collective?

 

Vedanta offers subtle distinctions of "states" of spirit with regard to levels of conscious awareness. "Self" is also called "Brahman". From the point of view of an embodied human, Brahman expresses as "jiva", an individual soul or spirit. Jiva is Brahman enmeshed, as it were, in illusion - in a state of ignorance experiencing an embodied life via senses, mind and intellect. I would venture to say that mind has gender, ego and body express gender, but jiva does neither. (Although we do refer to things such as a person having a "feminine or masculine spirit", I believe "spirit" in that sense is used poetically. "The soul of a poet" - I believe such phenomena are more a matter of karma.) Spirit is individual from a relative illusory point of view - jiva. When the mind is controlled and surpassed by intuitive knowledge of the Self, spirit is collective or rather indivisible and unified - Brahman. 

 

19 hours ago, Ivy said:

It doesn't seem like this "spirit" (if it exists) can be measured or detected by our physical science.

 

Indeed, Brahman is beyond the senses, mind & intellect. 

 

A common refutation of "God" (whatever name one prefers for That) offered by atheists is that God cannot be detected by scientific methods. While that is a true statement, it is no refutation; rather it is one way to describe what God is - by describing what God is not. This is actually one such Yogic path to knowledge called "neti neti" meaning "not this, not that". E.g. I am not this perishable body, I am not these limited senses, I am not my likes and dislikes, I am not this personality, there is nothing that belongs to me, etc. 

 

2 hours ago, Charlize said:

Having spent years in Yoga with a student of Swami Satchidananda i have alwayscrelated to his teachings that "Paths Are Many,

Truth is One."

 

Hugs,

 

Charlize

 

My beloved teacher, Swami Jyotirmayanda, is a disciple of the same lineage as Swami Satchidananda - both with Swami Sivananda as guru. ❤️🤗🙏

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