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October 2016 – “The Body” from The Notebooks, Volume 4, Part 2

The information in these pages is a broad collection that brings together teachings of the East and the West on how to treat the body so that it serves the quester well and efficiently. PB invokes the present-day understanding of the connection between mind and body and asserts that both are mental in essence; in other words, he presents a philosophic understanding of Body. He has compiled his research into 9 sections ranging from a 19-page Prefatory to 8 sections on The Body, Diet, Fasting, Exercise, Breathing Exercises, Sex and Gender, Kundalini, and Postures for Prayer. He writes, “This thing, this fleshly body, which ascetics have hated and saints have despised, is a holy temple. The divine Life-force is always latently present in it and, aroused, can sweep through every cell, making it sacred.” (page 2 of section titled “The Body”)

The necessity of discipline is emphasized in the Prefatory. “On this Quest it is needful to calculate strength of will.” (p.12)

“The body is to be his servant, a willing and obedient servant. But it can carry out his bidding properly only if it is trained to do so, and easily only if it is strong and healthy.” (Ibid.)

“All through history, spiritual guides and religious prophets, ethical teachers and enrapt mystics have told humanity to elevate ideals, conduct, thought; to discipline self, passion, emotion; but they have seldom told humanity what practical procedure to adopt to make such drastic changes possible.” (Ibid.)

“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.” (p. 12)

“Anyone who takes philosophy seriously enough will have to take to its discipline. This will assault his formed habits just as much as its psychology will assault his self-conceit. His way of living—his diet, sleep, and rest, for instance—will have to be examined and when necessary reformed.” (Ibid.)

“The Quester who is not hard with himself and not willing to reform his habits will not go so far or so quickly as the one who is both. Great yearnings for a better state are not enough; he must do something to gain it.” (p.13.)

“No ascetic discipline need be carried to an unnecessary extreme, nor further than its proper intention – which is to give physical self-control… If he is called upon for any of these abstentions in Philosophy, it is because they give strength to his will, protection to his meditations, purity and fitness to his body.” (p. 16-17)

“Modern existence is too often cluttered with too many material possessions. These demand care and attention, time and energy, thought and feeling, which the average Quester is rarely able to find enough of to provide for study, reflection, and meditation anyway. Somewhere he will probably have to sacrifice something if he is to gain them for his spiritual need. A time usually comes when he finds it desirable to reorganize his way of life so as not to be encumbered by so many things.” (p.17)