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The Prefatory to “The Body,” Volume 4, Category 5 of the Notebooks is well worth studying for every seeker after truth. The following are quotes from this 16 page essay:

It is reasonable to suggest that we ought to understand something of the nature of the world in order to live in it more successfully and more harmoniously. The part of the world that is closest to us and most important for us is the body through which we experience it. To neglect that body or to ignore its needs is not necessarily a spiritual attitude. If it were, then there must have been an error in the Divine Creation! It has its own value, place, and purpose in the Divine World-Idea…. Through it the soul, sent by the World-Mind to gain experience and obtain growth, lives and functions in this world. Without it, how could the soul get the necessary range of experience to bring into manifestation its potential powers of thought, imagination, understanding and decision at the lower level, and of ultimate consciousness at the higher level? (Page 7.) 

On this plane the body is indeed the only medium of our existence and is not to be disconnected from our higher aspirations. A complete and competent spiritual instruction ought not to be so foolish as to neglect or overlook the physical frame of the disciple being instructed, but should see it with its several organs and higher senses as it truly is; that is, as an expression of Infinite Intelligence through which one can gather the experience needed to become fully aware of his relation to that Intelligence. There is another and usually much less considered point of view to this matter: the body contains countless little lives which look to us as their protector and leader and guide, which need and should get from us kindly attention. Knowledge of the laws which govern its sustenance, health, and functioning and which affect those lives is, therefore, a necessary step on the Quest and a necessary human duty. (Page 8.)

It was easy in earlier days to set up an opposition between body and soul when so little was known about the mind-body relationship. But in these days, when the influence and moral character of malfunctioning organs, nerve plexuses, and endocrine glands is scientifically better known, when psychosomatic medicine is tracing a connection between negative thoughts and physical sicknesses, the place of the flesh in the life of spiritual aspiration is better understood – although hardly better than it has been understood by the developed adepts of the ancient East and by a few seers of the modern West. This understanding reveals how susceptible the mind-force is, how the millions of tiny microorganisms which work together in a single community are the body. It is in truth and fact the Temple of the Spirit, a holy dwelling place wherein we are slowly learning lesson after lesson in the art of unfolding characteristics and awareness which bring us closer to our Godlike Goal. How could philosophy fail to respect it? (Page 8.)

If a man is told to be good, he is given counsel that may yet be worthless to him. If he is taught the Law of Recompense and told why it will profit him to be good, the counsel may appeal (should he be a reasonable man) but he may still lack the strength of will to implement it; he needs to be taught how to be good. The purification of the body is the first step in this direction. Anyone who takes philosophy seriously enough will have to take to its discipline. This will assault his self-conceit. His way of living – his diet, sleep, and rest, for instance – will have to be examined and where necessary reformed. A real Truth-seeker is not only willing to search for and try out new ways but is actually eager to do so. The story of his regime is one of the dynamic reaching for the new, the untried. (Page 12.)

To read the complete essay on the PBPF website see:  /notebooks/5/1