Just A Vessel

We can apply investigation of the body (kāyagatāsati) in order to develop the feeling of seclusion (vivēka) – seclusion through the experience of not assuming that we have ownership over the body. We try to see the body simply as a manifestation of the elements and aggregates (khandhā) that exist in line with nature.

What we are – male or female or anything at all – is differentiated and characterized by the names and conventions of society, but in essence, people’s experiences are the same. The suffering people experience is the same. The happiness or unhappiness, the feeling of satisfaction or disappointment is the same. This is where we need to focus.

If we realize that our own body and the bodies of other people are essentially the same, we can experience a state of mind that is conducive to the stilling of desire and craving. In the end there aren’t any differences between people. We will start seeing other people in an unprejudiced way.

The feeling that somebody is superior, inferior or on the same level as someone else won’t arise. We don’t assume we are any better or worse than others, or equal to them either. Through maintaining this attitude towards ourselves we cultivate an awareness that is not blocked by the conceit and bias of self-importance.

This is the way we practice kāyagatāsati. If we attain to seclusion, we can call it kāyavivēka, seclusion of the body.

Having a body is like a material object we can use, like the almsbowl for example. The almsbowl is merely a container to receive food for our use at mealtime. It is just a vessel. Similarly, our body is just a vessel for inquiry, for giving rise to an understanding of reality.

— Ajahn Liem, Just A Vessel

Leave a Comment