Body, Ego and Soul
Up to a point and depending on the criteria in fashion at any given moment, we are safe in our liberal communities. From fearing life in a gulag as a political dissident, to suffering electric shock treatment for being a homosexual, to being excommunicated as easily for being a homosexual as for being a divorcee, to being ostracised as a teenage mom, to being profiled as a one of an undesirable race, to being bullied for not satisfying a person’s expectations, safety in our communities has become synonymous with being free to express our selves, in any which way we choose, but in the most inane of manners.
Allegedly, making ourselves happy by being ourselves is essential. Since, these days, should we care to do so, most of us would be able to do this in a fairly unrestrained manner, it would then stand to reason that permissive societies, such as most in the developed world, would be populated by happy, contented citizens. Yet, in June 2012, astudy published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that some 6 million adolescents met the criteria for the diagnosis of Intermittent Explosive Disorder. IED is a syndrome characterized by persistent and uncontrollable bouts of anger attacks not accounted for by other mental disorders. It is a severe, chronic, disorder commonly occurring among adolescents.
The rate of suicide, too, particularly by people under the age of twenty-five, keeps creeping upwards. And yet, ‘Who are you to tell me what to do? I want to be free to express myself,’ has been the catch cry of the past couple of generations in particular – from children and adults alike. This cry comes from our undisciplined ego which, understandably, knowing human nature as we do, demands to be appreciated, respected, accepted… in its untrained form.
Statistics show, too, that chronic depression is sky-rocketing along with the number of heart-related diseases and endemic obesity in the developed world, the parts of the world that enjoy the most freedom to act as they choose. Surely such deep-set societal illness of mind and body cannot be linked to happy, carefree lifestyles framed around personal indulgence.
Having arrived at whichever point in our life, even if as law-abiding citizens who give to charity and have done our best by our children, our parents and our friends, the crux of the matter is to admit, if only to our self, that we simply have no idea WHO our true self really is.
Some 2400 years ago, Hypocrates, the ‘Father of Medicine’, believed in the holistic healing of the body, of the soul and of the spirit. He stated that there was never an illness that did not have a natural cause. What if he meant that neither body, soul or spirit could be healthy while either one was in a state of imbalance? What if he really meant that ill-ness and dis-ease stemmed from the nature of Man, that the ‘natural cause’ of any illness was manifested by an ego that has lost all sense of a genuine connection to Soul?
A glance at Hippocrates’ oath, the original Hippocratic Oath,does confirm the Ancient physician’s commitment to a balance between professional, moral and spiritual ethics:
I swear by Apollo the Physician, by Aesculapius, by Hygeia, by Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out according to my ability and judgement, this oath and this indenture.
>To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture; [… ]
> I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgement, but never with a view to injury and wrongdoing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. [… ]
>I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art.
>Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrongdoing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free.
>And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets.
Now if I carry out this oath, and break it not, may I gain for ever reputation among all men for my life and for my art; but if I transgress it and forswear myself, may the opposite befall me.
Serious questions:if, just as the sun’s light is reflected on the surface of the moon, our true self, our soulful nature, were reflected in the mirror that is our ego, how differently would we behave when faced with perceived adversity – or when faced with unexpected good fortune? For example, how many of us systematically share unconditionally and in real-time, if not with ‘the poor’, then, at least with our loved ones, 10% of any karmic’windfall,’ good luck or good fortune – should we be so lucky?
What would happen to our persona-lity if we deviated from the basic cultural patterns that have bombarded our vision, our brain, our psyche, since birth through the ministrations of parents and grandparents who were also conditioned by centuries of, perhaps, flawed, socio-cultural mores?
After all, history and archaeology confirm that there was never an era when socio-cultural mores were generated by people other than those whose main preoccupations, regardless of time and place, were always Power and Money in a bid to find Love (heartfelt acceptance) while cursed with an endemic pre-disposition to fail at keeping that love alive.
PS. It is only through a connection to Soul, cosmic/divine energy that is always pure and constant that, I believe, we can attempt to edit some of the karma that is ours to amend in this lifetime. It is through a genuine connection to our soul that we can soften the rub of our ordinary, daily life. For religious folks, an evolving connection to Soul would complement the relationship they already have with their god, but matters of the soul can stand alone, free of any rituals, religious or otherwise.