Body Ghosts

Image result for foamWhat is a ghost anyway? A disembodied spirit; a vague, shadowy or evanescent form. Once in a while we might say, “He’s a ghost of his former self,” meaning the resemblance remains, but the body seems to be thinning out.

In The Foam Sutta, the Buddha says, “Form is like a glob of foam.” What??? Is my body no more substantive than dishwater or a bubble bath?

Let’s consider the body. It begins as sperm and egg. And, incidentally, neither one of these was “you.” Imagine the growth of an embryo. Food (that was not you) nourished your mother (also not you), and embryo cells kept multiplying.

“Your” DNA is actually your parents DNA (and their parents before them, etc). If you are a second or third child, you have some of your older siblings’ DNA too.

The outermost layer of skin, is a dead wrapper enclosing living tissue. That sounds rather protoplasmic, doesn’t it? Over a lifetime a human being sheds more than 100 pounds of dead skin—that’s more than a pound a year—onto our clothes, the sheets we sleep between, the floor, and the earth,

The Earth element flows like a river through your body. Solids in; solid waste out. And one-third of that solid waste is bacteria. Is that you?

The body is in a constant state of self-replacement. You lose 100 hairs every day. Think of nail clippings, nose pickings. Fascinating that a minute ago, you thought they were you, and now they’re not.

And how about those who have had hip replacements or knee replacements? Are those joints “you”?

All these solid things are the Earth element, just passing through. Like foam, whose bubbles pop and re-emerge, our tiny body parts such as cells and bacteria die, are sloughed off, and a copy of that cell is then reborn, looking similar, but not quite the same, as the original cell.

Maybe the body does begin to sound more like a glob of foam.



This entry was posted in DHARMA REFLECTIONS on by .

About cherylwilfong

Cheryl Wilfong teaches mindfulness meditation at Vermont Insight Meditation Center when she isn’t rearranging one of her 28 flower beds or tending her out-of-control vegetable garden. Master Gardener and mistress of metaphor, she delivers the Dharma into daily life in the garden.

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