How Important Is The Body?
Self-sacrificing mothers and hard-working fathers often say to me: “But, Master, I have practically no time for myself.” This attitude shows very poor organization and utilization of time.
I am not advocating neglect of one’s duties; that, of course, would be contrary to the laws of spiritual development. I am entreating my students, in whatever walk of life, to devote some portion of each day to personal physical improvement. This will speed one’s spiritual unfoldment. Nothing is gained by physical neglect; in fact, it retards spiritual evolution.
Life itself is God-given and our physical vehicle comes from the same source. How, then, can we in good conscience abuse or neglect that which is lent us for our earthly sojourn?
The care we give ourselves enables us to render greater service to mankind. While we cannot force salvation upon another, we can do our best to set an example of overall well-being. Bodily health is a magnet that draws others to us.
Whether we are blessed with it at birth or acquire it, good health is a symbol of spiritual progress. Sometime, somewhere we have worked for it. If we are suffering now, then health is a treasure we have lost, and its absence points to an important lesson we came here to learn.
“In all things, moderation”
We are told: “In all things, moderation.” This admonition applies to health in its various aspects: work, eating, rest, and recreation. Most of us over-do, at least in one direction.
Practically all of us overeat. Few, indeed, ever leave the table feeling only partially full, yet that is one of the chief secrets of maintaining a healthy body, and getting real benefits from our food.
Others have so great an appetite for their work that all else is subservient, and health suffers as a consequence. For the over-conscientious worker, frequent periods of complete relaxation are recommended, and also some form of amusement. Without “respites” that take the mind completely off work, one’s perspective narrows and the sponge of energy is squeezed dry.
Then there are those in whom the play spirit is hyper-developed. Though it is good to indulge in some form of amusement, that, too, taxes our time and energy if done too often.
Everything we eat, think, and do affects bodily health. Periodically, we need to take inventory and ask ourselves: What we are aiming toward? How are we progressing toward that goal? Is it at the expense of our health?
Cultivate personal attractiveness
Contrary to the views of many teachers, we do not advocate developing the spiritual at the expense of personal attractiveness. Even though your work may involve serving humanity, you nonetheless must make the most of your personal appearance.
Beauty in all its myriad forms is part of the divine plan. We see evidence of that everywhere: in the flowers and trees, in the birds and sky, in music and the creative arts, in the face of a child, in a voice. Why, then, if God has seen fit to recognize its worth should we try to eradicate it from our lives in the name of spiritual attainment?
The old idea of a long-faced missionary, moving among his fellow beings clad in ugly, drab costumes, is not an image we wish to implant in the hearts of students. Nothing is gained by disregarding that which will enhance your personal appearance, tempered always, of course, with good taste.
If you are a homely woman, then adopt all the reasonable beauty-parlor tricks to make yourself attractive. Better still, decorate your soul with the rich ornaments of sincerity, a magnetic personality, intoxicating smiles, and all-round serviceability.
Recapture your lost health
If you have been ailing physically, there is no more legitimate ambition, nor one that will pay greater dividends, than making the attainment of your health your one great aim.
By doing so, you will begin to “clean up your own little back yard” of the accumulated debris that each soul comes into this life to overcome. On the physical level, it will pay you dividends beyond your fondest dreams; from the spiritual standpoint, you will have overcome a delinquency similar to selfishness, cruelty, and dishonesty.
Visualize the physical perfection you would like to attain. Refuse to become discouraged at apparent slow progress, for natural healing is not necessarily a rapid “cure.
Be persistent. Demand and determine to rebuild your abused physical vehicle. The earnestness with which you apply yourself will determine the degree of success. In your daily period of meditation, remember to ask God for the help needed to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. Then, just as when we post a letter, forget about it and go about your other business, trusting in God’s power to answer your prayer.
Nature unaided fails
Remember, the body is the link between our higher and lower natures, the cart which carries within it the essence of all we shall eventually be. Why not speed up the transition?
Resolve to heal yourself, whatever the difficulty. Supplant wrong habits with good, and adhere to them with all the power of will that you can muster.
There is a maxim: “Nature unaided fails.” You must give attention and loving care to whatever you possess, whether talents or health, else they will languish and wither. Particularly is this true of health.
Excerpted from the Praecepta Lessons, 1934-1938
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