You live within an amazing transformative machine. It’s called the body. It has two very different functions. I would guess that 99 percent of people use it only for the first, which is to eat, sleep, excrete, reproduce, have a variety of pleasant, painful, and interesting experiences, and die. The second function usually remains as a hidden potential, not secreted away by any particular rule of law, but put out of sight through culture, time, and humanity’s intense predilection for fixating on the external phantasmagoria that fills our stumbling consciousness. Side by side with the intricate machinery of sinews, molecular reactions, nerve transmission, miles of circulatory tubing, and cellular biochemistry, lies an alternative, even more complex system of bioenergy.
Like the creatures great and small that share this planet, our form is primarily designed for the first function, mundane living. Then our extremely busy and full lives take pretty much every ounce of the biological and bioenergetics forces that we manufacture day to day. Every spiritual path has techniques to generate, condense, gather, and store energy within the body-mind. But that is a story for another day. Here we will first observe the mountainous landscape of life force wasted on purposeless or meaningless activity.
It is safe to say that the average person never relaxes their body fully, completely. It is an art that must be cultivated. We won’t acquire it by modeling parents, teachers, celebrities, or even athletes. You may see it in skilled martial artists or long-time meditators or experienced body-workers, dancers, or actors, who have made it part of their craft. There is a fluidity, balance, yet economy of movement in such individuals, who are “cat-like” in their grace.
Just stop what you are doing at any point in the day and observe how tight various areas of “resting” muscles are. Or watch almost anyone walking or jogging.
It is a tough contest between who is the greatest energy and time waster in our lives. In terms of the body and voice, it is a close race. Of the 10 traditional negative actions of Buddhist philosophy, four are attributed to speech. So while we are busy with the karma that arises from slander, lying, idle talk, and harsh words, we are also looking at energy inadvertently spilling out of the storage tanks. Excess and dysfunctional use of the voice apparatus siphons off valuable resources that can be used for spiritual breath work, mantras, and the demanding internal sequence of light body transformation.
Naturally, the mind is at the center of energy conservation. We must decide to use speech wisely and to break the cycle of body tension and to apportion our limited energy. Even before that, we have to accept the reality of our situation. And while we said that energy maintenance was the first major problem, there is yet an additional obstacle that we face. Automatic light bodies, automatic ascension, and automatic enlightenment are not new ideas as humans have been looking for salvation from above for a very long time. Order persists and there is nothing in nature or in our daily experience that mirrors this wishful thinking.
We are social animals, more or less. Being with compatible others can be uplifting, educational, fun, nourishing, and relaxing. We can be much more precise and proactive if we act in line with our understanding of energetics. Will this situation demand a lot of my (limited) energy? Will it leave me exhausted for the day? Simply, is it worth it to be here and with these people for what I wish to give and what they may wish to share? It is a dance to be sure, especially for those in the helping profession, or with family or friends who need our assistance in a variety of ways. Keeping energy in mind, and the fact that emotions are energy, will give us better tools to work with.
Guarding the core
We have touched on some key ways that we lose or waste energy, priceless energy that we need for inner transformation. But we have not said much about the solutions to these thorny issues. The transformation process is not mandatory, not a given, and is, in fact, the rare—the very rare—exception. Our lives are driven by careers, family, hopes and dreams, ambitions and fears. For most, the inner call is a very distant one, an echo heard in silence. Our internal transformational system is also hidden in the recesses of normal body function, a potential waiting to be realized. And so it is only appropriate that our practice be kept in a safe place.