Tend to your body temple

If you seek spiritual growth, you need to first tend to your physical health. After all, it's where the soul lives

Man meditating on the beachHappiness and good health go together, don’t they?” a Wise One said. “We need to pay attention to our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing, if we wish to be happy. We cannot take good health for granted. It has rightly been said: health is wealth; health is happiness. A sound mind in a sound body is a requisite for health. Wouldn’t you agree?”

I nodded in agreement. Life, as I have said repeatedly, is God’s greatest gift to man. It should be a wonderful, joyous pilgrimage—not an anxious, harried, disturbed existence, which it has become for millions of people today.

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In Russia they say, people’s health is the nation’s wealth. Our ancient scriptures take physical wellbeing well beyond the idea of wealth—Shariram Brahma Mandiram [The body is the temple of the Lord] is what we are urged to remember. It is foolish to dismiss the body and its physical wellbeing as unimportant and unnecessary in the spiritual scheme of life. I always urge my friends not to identify with the body—but that is only as a prelude to remind them that the body is the temple of the immortal soul that resides within! Will you live in a dilapidated, ruined, crumbling, unsafe building? Why then should you condemn your soul to dwell in a neglected, unhealthy, unfit body during its earth-sojourn?

“The value of the human birth lies in this,” said the Wise One, “that dwelling here on the earth plane, we are given the opportunity to build good karma and live a meaningful, healthy, happy, harmonious life. The body is the instrument, which makes this possible—and therefore, we must do all we can to keep the body healthy and fit.

“People have described the body as a ‘miracle machine’. But like all machines, it is subject to wear and tear. It must be taken good care of. The body needs good food, healthy exercise, fresh air, clean water and sufficient rest, to function at optimum efficiency. Good health is something we cannot take for granted.

“Our great sages have taught us that man is a total being—not a mere physical organism. Within each of us is a vast spiritual shakti, which we use to a greater or a lesser extent, adapting ourselves to our worldly conditions and circumstances. It is our mental and physical wellbeing that makes this channelisation possible. I firmly believe in the holistic concept of health and harmony—the wellbeing of mind and body must go hand-in-hand with the power of our spiritual shakti.

“Our physical wellbeing is closely allied with our mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing,” the Wise One resumed. “Remember, we are born on this earth as physical beings— and it is foolish to ignore our bodies. Spiritual health cannot be achieved at the expense of physical health.

“Take care of what God has given you. Have you seen an unweeded, overgrown, neglected garden? Or, to use a more modern metaphor, have you seen a car that is covered in dust and filth, filled with junk and rubbish on its seats?”

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Then the Wise One told us a story…A young man was once asked to drive such a car; he refused. “Don’t be taken in by the looks,” they said to him. “It’s ok, it will start.”

“I don’t think I would like to drive a car like this,” he said firmly. “It makes me feel unkempt, shabby and dirty.” “I don’t blame the young man,” said the Wise one, “do you?”

I thought of some of my friends. I know many busy men, executives, professionals and business people who take a few minutes to clean and wash their own car, before they drive out to work every day. I know busy housewives and working women who never go to bed before they wiped or washed their kitchen surfaces clean.

If people can be so particular about their cars and kitchens, how much more concerned ought we to be about our good health?

“I have said repeatedly that you are responsible, you are accountable for your own happiness,” the Wise One continued. “There is no use pointing a finger at others, and blaming them for your problems. So begin by assuming responsibility for your life—and your health. Don’t make excuses; don’t offer justifications and explanations. Take responsibility for the choices and decisions you make.”

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