Posted by Michael Finkelstein | January 5th, 2019
What Do You Desire?
As a physician, I am used to questions about health. My formal training was to treat the subject in the most concrete and materialistic way, focusing on the physical aspects of the body, almost exclusively. (Indeed, modern culture might be defined by that word…. materialism.) Of course, my “professional” entry into this world began in the 1980’s, and it must be said that in the intervening 40 years or so there has been considerable progress in the integration of other factors, namely how our thoughts and feelings affect us. Still, the emphasis has been on the body, i.e. how our thoughts and feelings affect our body.
As we embark on the new year, I’d like to push us all to take the next step in the journey and propose a radically different paradigm, the subject of which is the health of our soul. And, I’d like you to consider how essential that actually is, and invite you to entertain, if not adopt, the idea that it’s what underlies all other desires. The previous emphasis on our bodies, then, might better be understood to have been an interesting diversion — seen now as something akin to growing pains, though particularly seductive in how it calls attention to itself and how opportunistic capitalism arose to take advantage of our physical and emotional pain and our sensual cravings.
With proper examination, however, it’s compelling to ask whether or not our body serves a purpose far greater than its own survival, or the simple relief of physical pain, or the ephemeral pleasures of the senses. Both its highs and lows, viewed from the most holistic perspective, offer us something beyond — indeed, to thrive and survive a lot longer (and better) than we are conventionally taught.
What is the opportunity to which I speak? Put another way, what more might be achieved? Here’s the point: as reasonable as it sounds, is it really good enough to live a long life free of disease? Or, could there be something even better. We all dream of immortality. Could it be real?
It’s interesting to think how much time and energy we place on avoiding disease and on longevity itself; as if blowing out 100 candles is more important than, let’s say, the quality of the relationships you have with the other people sitting at the table with you at the time. Surely quality of one’s life has to be considered along with quantity. Yet, this is no small feat. In fact, it might take a completely different approach to achieve them both — a balance between physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. But I’m not referring to the “conventional” mind-body-spirit argument. I’m actually suggesting here that it’s the spiritual goal that is primary. And, both the mind and body serve IT.
The clue to the truth of this lies in our consciousness, the ability to entertain this idea in the first place. Perhaps our musings and daydreams are not a waste of time. They might actually reflect the undercurrent of awareness that is trying to gain our attention and steer us in the right direction. Considered in this way, perhaps our tendency to focus on the material is limiting. We might very well benefit from learning to guide our attention to this expanded view and rework our plan accordingly.
Let me make this appeal through an exercise of reason. It begins with a question I posed several moons ago. Who is reading this? ….. “Me,” you say?
But, really … who are you? Who is thinking inside your head? Who is aware that you are reading? Who is aware that you have a headache from my challenge to stretch your mind? And, who wants to be healthy?
That’s what I’d like you to focus on. What does “who” want? And, in so doing, consider what would be required to create the most beautiful and purposeful life YOU could imagine; perhaps not free from mortal wounds, but more importantly, on a path to an even more significant future. What do you need to know, to do, in order to achieve that?
To begin, you must free yourself from the body. The fact is, You are already separate. You are the witness of your body, but you are not your body. That said, you can learn from what the body teaches — the futility of holding on to the physical reality…and, at the same time, the value of using the body to achieve the alignment between thought, intention and action. Indeed, when your sights are set at the highest level, your soul will grow and reach its full potential. That’s what you desires — endless peace and love. That’s what’s in the bucket waiting for YOU at the end of the rainbow. I’ll meet you there. Better yet, I’ll go with you.
May YOU and may We all,have a Happy and Healthy New Year!