top of page


Not your body


I don't think we can be reminded too often that as children we apparently needed to develop a strong, foundational sense of identification with our bodies as a response to our instinct for survival. While this perspective serves us well for everyday existence, it resulted in a narrow viewpoint of our lives. Unless these limits are understood, a greater recognition of our true self remains unexposed. Sages, seers and saints throughout the ages have encouraged people to reconsider their habitual identification with their bodies, in order one might directly know who or what they truly are. A common approach is to suggest a continuing inquiry into the statement "You are not your body" in order to challenge long-held beliefs. Spiritual teachings hope that pointing in new directions might encourage all of us to discover our true nature. 

Identification with our bodies and the pleasure/pain experienced through the body is usually interpreted to mean that you are that body, or that you need that body to survive (to be). In satsang we never ask that something to be accepted or believed, only we suggest that you might suspend disbelief or skepticism long enough to explore and consider alternative ideas to ones familiar and habitual perspective. Who is it that is attached to the body? To whom does the body appear? 
















My child, because you think you are the body, for a long time you have been bound. Know you are pure Awareness. With this knowledge as your sword cut through your chains. And be happy! 

~ Ashtavakra Gita 


Know then that the body is merely a garment. Go seek the wearer, not the cloak. 

~ Rumi 


There is a stage in the beginning, when you identify yourself with the body, when you are still having the body-consciousness. At that stage, you have the feeling you are different from the Reality or God, and then it is, you think of yourself as a devotee of God or as a servant or lover of God. This is the first stage. The second stage is when you think of yourself as a spark of the 'Divine Flame' or a ray from the 'Divine Sun'. Even then, there is still that sense of difference and the body-consciousness. The third stage will come when all such difference ceases to exist, and you realize that the Self alone exists. There is an 'I' which comes and goes, and another "I" which always exists and abides. So long as the first 'I' exists, the body-conscioiusness and the sense of diversity will persist. Only when that 'I' dies, the Reality will reveal Itself. 

~ Ramana Maharshi 


Am I my thoughts, the thoughts that I am thinking? No. Thoughts come and go; I am not my thoughts. Am I my body? They tell us that millions of cells in our body are changed or are renewed every minute, so that by the end of seven years we don't have a single living cell in our body that was there seven years before. Cells come and go. Cells arise and die. But "I" seems to persist. So am I my body? Evidently not. 

~ Anthony de Mello 


The world is spiritual, yet when you identify with the physical body the world becomes physical according to the concepts you hold. Yet all the while the world is spiritual. 

~ Jac O'Keeffe 


It's enough that you do away with all your concepts of body, mind and I. Everything will come by itself. Your job is to get rid of the concept of I. Your job is to get rid of the idea that you are a body, and that you are a mind, and that you are a doer. Always remember, what appears to be a body will do whatever it's supposed to do by itself, but it has nothing to do with you. If you can only see it like that for one day, you'll be amazed at what happens to you. 

~ Robert Adams 


Immortality is available to those whose belief : "I am this body" has died. 

~ Wu Hsin 


Every thought is about body identification. Every thought is about "I" - survival - comfort - pleasure. 

~ Byron Katie 

Don’t you see that all your problems are your body’s problems - food, clothing, shelter, family, friends, name, fame, security, survival, - all these lose their meaning the moment you realize that you are not a mere body.

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj


You are not your personality. You are not your mind. You are not your body. These are simply tools that are used in consciousness for the fun of expression. They have nothing to do with who you are - nothing. You cannot be reduced to concepts.

~ Jac O'Keeffe


You are not your body; you are the eye. When you see the spirit, you are free of the body. A human being is an eye – the rest is just flesh and bones. Whatever your eye sees, you are that.

~ Rumi


First there is a seeker, a body-mind, a false I. Then there is a finder, a witness, universal consciousness. Finally what is revealed is what you are before being either. 

~ Enza Vita 


In every moment you only have one real choice: to be aware of the Self or to identify with the body and the mind. 

~ Annamalai Swami 


Discover who the thinker is ... When you discover who the one is that has the mind and has the body and does the thinking, you discover the real you, ~ an infinite being. So look away from the body! look away from the mind! and look toward the beingness that you are and never stop until you fully discover that Thou Art That!"

~ Lester Levenson


Develop the habit of thinking of yourself as Consciousness, not as the body or a person. 

~ Mooji 


When you finally understand that you are not the body, or the mind, or the phenomena of the world, you are not the doer, you will awaken. 

~ Robert Adams 

If it is recognized that you are not inside a body, then it is very difficult to maintain a belief in a separate identity. The body is very much part of the identity of 'me'. But if you see that the body is simply an appearance happening right now, just as the chair is an appearance happening right now, it is only thought which claims the body as 'mine' or 'me'. 

~ Unmani 


Body and mind are both vehicles. You are not the vehicle, you are the master hidden behind these vehicles. But you have forgotten completely. And you have become the cart, you have become the vehicle. This is what Gurdjieff calls identification. This is what in India yogis have called tadatmya, becoming one with something which you are not. 

~ Osho 


The ego is first and foremost a body-ego, in the sense that the self-demarcations that form in our consciousness during infancy are based on our sensory experienceof our bodies as distinct from other objects. The delusion is taking these body-boundaries to define and limit our sense of who and what we are. On the physical level it is true that each of us has physical boundaries and that this body is separate from that body, but on the level of consciousness these boundaries are permeable. The edges of our bodies do not define where we end and others begin, although if we have this conviction it will feel that way. When we recognize that this experience is a delusion, we see that the ego boundaries we have used to define ourselves are only mental constructs. We realize that we have been holding onto an image of our bodies in order to define ourselves as entities. 

~ A H Almaas 


To those who have not realized the Self, as well as to those who have, the word 'I' refers to the body, but with this difference, that for those who have not realized, the 'I' is confined to the body whereas for those who have realized the Self within the body the 'I' shines as the limitless Self.

 ~ Ramana Maharshi 


On waking up, was it not the sense 'I am' that came first? The sense 'I am' is always with you, only you have attached all kinds of things to it -- body, feelings, thoughts, ideas, possessions, etc. All these self-identifications are misleading. Because of them you take yourself to be what you are not. The 'I am' is at the root of all appearance and the permanent link in the succession of events that we call life. Human beings die every second, the fear and the agony of dying hangs over the world like a cloud. No wonder you too are afraid. But once you know that the body alone dies and not the continuity of memory and the sense of 'I am' reflected in it, you are afraid no longer. 

~ Nisargadatta 


All suffering is caused by the ego, which is personal identification with the body, mind and conditioning. Realising this and consequently dropping the false identity, one is immediately and permanently freed from the wheel of all sorrows. 

~ Mooji 


You exist in time, but you belong to eternity. You are a penetration of eternity into the world of time. You are deathless, living in a body of death. Your consciousness knows no death, no birth. It is only your body that is born and dies. But you are not aware of your consciousness. You are not conscious of your consciousness, and that is the whole art of meditation; Becoming conscious of consciousness itself. 

~ Osho


Here we are, benevolent rooted space wearing a remarkably sensitive instrument called the body. Most sages report the body mind insists on being included and permeated by presence, so it too, can know and live its naturalness. The body is the five elements, already free with no history, though it has born witness to all. As compassion we will be instantly aware of any suffering and answer its call, as stillness we will be aware of remaining restlessness. To be with what is in the moment, this is our function and is at the heart of all longing.

~ Pamela Wilson


Since the human body is fundamentally nothing but a swirling emptiness, a concentration of dancing energy patterns in direct relationship with all other organized fields of rhythm, throughout the entire universe, it is an obvious absurdity to think that there can be any such thing as a separate personal identity or an autonomous entity of any kind.

~ Ramesh Balsekar

You are total freedom right now, total liberation, complete awareness. Yet, you do not believe me. You still feel inclined to be a body, a doer. Think of the experiences you went through today, and see if you do not believe that you're a doer. How many times did you become angry today? How many times did you feel slighted today? How many times did you feel fear, or something is wrong somewhere, or you're not in your right place?This shows you that you believe that you are a body. And as long as you believe that you are a body, why not just let go and stop fretting and worrying about your body.This is the first step, to have total faith and total trust in the infinite, the one. You may call this God, if you want to. It is within you. It is without you. It is everywhere. All you have to do is to surrender to it. Surrender all of your doubts, your frustrations, your fears, everything that has besieged you for so long.Give it all up. It doesn't belong to you. Be free of it.When you're able to do this, you can go further, and understand that there never was a body to begin with. The world, as it appears, does not exist. The universe, as it appears does not exist. Yet you are, and you will always be. What are you and what will you always be? Silence. There is no answer for that, for the mind can never comprehend the unknown, the transcendental, the Self. The mind can never know these things. The mind only knows itself as a body, as a doer. Therefore you have to transcend the mind, transcend the thoughts, transcend the world, transcend the universe, and enter the silence,where there is total bliss, and peace and harmony.

~ Robert Adams

By identifying with a particular name that belongs to a particular body and mind, the self begins the process of creating a separate identity. Add in a complex jumble of ideas, beliefs, and opinions, along with some selective and often painful memories with which to create a past to identify with, as well as the raw emotional energy to hold it all together, and before you know it, you’ve got a very convincing—though divided—self.

~ Adyashanti

Our nervous system and brain are geared to assure the survival of this body. This survival impulse often times gets coupled with our sense of I and so, mistakingly ,with our sense of safety, our ability to function in the world and with money. Uncoupling of that response brings us greater discrimination between past and Present and it enables us to find Peace in issues related to fear, and survival.”

~ Neelam

Every story we tell is about body-identification. Without a story, there's no body. When you believe that you are this body, you stay limited. That way you get to be small, apparently encapsulated as a body, as one separate form. So every thought has to be about your survival or your comfort or your pleasure, because if you let up for a moment, there would be no body-identification.

Every thought has to be about "I"; that's how you survive. And then, as soon as your little house, your little car, your little piece of turf, your thoughts turn to the story of how you need to be healthy and comfortable. You put stuff in the shopping cart, you put stuff in the house, and as soon as you are comfortable, your thoughts turn to pleasure. This is full scale body-identification: there's no thought that isn't about the body. So you go to pleasure when you have your little ducks in order. And all pleasure is pain. (A Thousand Names for Joy")

~ Byron Katie


When you no longer confuse yourself with your particular temporary body, but identify with the entire process of nature and the whole cosmos… When death comes, what a funny thing that will happen. Death comes, and will find no one to kill.

~ Alan Watts


There are so many thoughts in the mind.

Thought after thought after thought.

But there is one thought that is continuous,

though it is mostly sub-conscious: 'I am the body'.

This is the string on which all other thoughts are threaded.

Once we identify ourselves with the body by thinking this thought,

maya (illusion) follows.

It also follows that if we cease to identify with the body,

maya will not affect us anymore.

~ Annamalai Swami


The seeker is he who is in search of himself.

Soon he discovers that his own body he cannot be.

Once the conviction: ' I am not the body' becomes so well grounded

that he can no longer feel, think and act for and on behalf of the body,

he will easily discover that he is the universal being, knowing, acting,

that in him and through him

the entire universe is real, conscious and active.

~ Nisargadatta


If I could give you only one advice, I would say: Don’t identify with anything. Be completely empty – no one. Be no-body and see if you lose anything but delusion.

~ Mooji


This Body is Not Me
This body is not me; I am not limited by this body,
I am life without boundaries.
I have never been born and I have never died.
Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars, manifestations from my wondrous true mind.
Since before time, I have been free.
Birth and death are only doors through which we pass, sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a game of hide- and seek.
So laugh with me; hold my hand,
let us say good-bye; say good-bye, to meet again soon.
We meet today.
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh


bottom of page