What's good for the body—and what's not

Fashion. Exercise. Diet. What's a body to do? Why not start seeing yourself from a spiritual perspective?

The practical fact is, nothing is better for the body than knowing what it really is—and what it's not. In short, what's best for the body is to divest ourselves of misunderstandings about it. Is the body simply an entity carrying our name through our decades on earth? We may think it's us, our true identity. But that, from a spiritual point of view, is a mistake.

The body is not the self. Our real self is the image, the reflection, of God; this selfhood has no physical attributes since God has none. As God's man, our essential identity and individuality embodies only nonphysical characteristics. Not everyone would agree, of course. Those standing in a movie line with us might, if asked, describe the body as a parcel of organs, a blend of mind and matter, a package or a vehicle for the soul. But such opinions and their like are not on the right track. The universality of these views doesn't validate them.

A false concept of the body has negative byproducts. Living a life dominated by health concerns and anxieties, for one case, is no way to live. Dosing the body, reshaping it, overexercising it, vitaminizing it, are not fundamentally what's best for it. They're treatments of what is actually a false mental picture, manipulations of a deluded sense of identity. They're bad for our higher concept of the body because they distract us from it, and delay our correct judgment of it. Whether human knowledge would call a physique healthy or unwell, young or old, damaged or sound, over- or undersized, it's better not to focus our attention on corporeality. For more normal conditions, look away from it to something more perfect and enduring.

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

March 16, 1998

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.