Contrary to what the egoic mind may like to believe, liberation from the suffering of pain and loss associated with physical form comes not by escaping the body, but by being fully present in the body.
When illness, an accident, or the decline of the body with age show up, the vast majority of people are lost in the story of “poor me.” With personal ownership of physical form (“my body”), and with the psychological forms inevitably wrapped around this primary identity (“my pain,” “my sick- ness,” “my imperfection,” “my ugliness,” “my weakness,” “my loss,” and so on), a story gets created called “my suffering.” This fixation on form paradoxically indicates a lack of presence in the body or, rather, in the deeper energy field of the body.
Unlike most people, animals are fully present in their bodies and yet do not suffer. It’s obvious that they do experience discomfort and pain, but it’s unlikely that they experience psychological suffering. If you have ever lived with a cat, spent time with a dog, or watched the pigeons in the park, you’re likely to have sensed how even if they are sick, maimed, or exhausted, there is no drama of “poor me.”
Of course, we cannot absolutely know what they are experiencing, but we can know that without the capacity for self-reflection — that is, without an ego — there cannot be a separate “me” that identifies with physical form, and there can be no personal ownership of the experience. Without a story of suffering, there is simply and innocently a seamless and fluctuating, unnamed and unowned energy experience. If you are quietly present with any animal in pain or dying (unless there is severe injury that causes the nervous system to react with convulsions), you’ll sense the stillness and silence within which this animal is resting. In other words, it is simply being.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t mend a broken bone, sew up a wound, tend to our bruises, or even rub nourishing oils into our skin. All of this, and more, has its place in the care and maintenance of physical life-forms. But without diving deeper into the ocean of beingness, we remain swimming on the surface, trying to catch and perfect each wave according to our image of how it should be, and there is no lasting fulfillment or real healing in this.
It’s the willingness to turn within, to be unequivocally present with every sensation and every feeling, that allows the body to become a gateway to liberation and the source of true wholeness. It’s the willingness to be intimate with the raw energetic experience of each wave as it appears — before it has been named as headache, toothache, life-threatening pain, or incurable illness — that transforms the darkness of “my suffering” into the illumination of being.
By being deeply intimate with all manifestations, it’s as if the boundaries of subject (you) and object (the manifestation) merge into a unified field of energy. This is more than metaphorical: there’s a very real sense of disappearance into an inner dimension of light. It’s not the light you see with your eyes, but a felt sense of lightness and peace.
It is this light that animates you.