Monday, July 13, 2009

Beyond The Physical


I have to admit that I care a great deal about my physical health. How I feel and how I look is so important that like most people, I will do almost anything to take good care of my body. I exercise at least five times a week, I eat healthy, I get plenty of rest and I take other necessary precautions to avoid disease and illness. The physical body has significance to me also because I work in the health and fitness industry helping others take care of their physical. We only get one body in our lifetime so it makes sense to take care of it so that we can be functionally feeling good.

While many of us are spending much time on our physical looks by working out, eating right, getting facials and sometimes even reconstructive surgery we often overlook what it takes to make a healthy mind and soul. We hear so much about the connection between body, mind and soul yet most people don’t spend nearly as much time building their mind or soul as they do on their body. Thinking about it, I am one who probably does not put much effort to grow my inner being. For some reason I seem to get caught up in the happenings of the physical world. While I do believe that a healthy physical can lead to a healthier mind and soul I am also trying to take a more active approach in cultivating my inner being. Below is a short story I read a while ago that made me think more about the soul. I share it with you in hopes it will do the same for you. Enjoy.

”Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul.” – Mark Twain

There was a rich merchant who had 4 wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to delicacies. He took great care of her and gave her nothing but the best. He also loved the 3rd wife very much. He's very proud of her and always wanted to show her off to his friends. However, the merchant is always in great fear that she might run away with some other men. He too, loved his 2nd wife. She is a very considerate person, always patient and in fact is the merchant's confidante. Whenever the merchant faced some problems, he always turned to his 2nd wife and she would always help him out and tide him through difficult times. Now, the merchant's 1st wife is a very loyal partner and has made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and business as well as taking care of the household. However, the merchant did not love the first wife and although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her.

One day, the merchant fell ill. Before long, he knew that he was going to die soon. He thought of his luxurious life and told himself, "I have 4 wives with me. But when I die, I'll be alone. How lonely I'll be!" Thus, he asked the 4th wife, "I loved you most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No way!" replied the 4th wife and she walked away without another word.

The answer cut like a sharp knife right into the merchant's heart. The sad merchant then asked the 3rd wife, "I have loved you so much for all my life. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No!" replied the 3rd wife. "Life is so good over here! I'm going to remarry when you die!" The merchant's heart sank and turned cold.

He then asked the 2nd wife, "I always turned to you for help and you've always helped me out. Now I need your help again. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?" "I'm sorry, I can't help you out this time!" replied the 2nd wife. "At the very most, I can only go as far as your grave." The answer came like a bolt of thunder and the merchant was devastated.

Then a voice called out: "I'll leave with you. I'll follow you no matter where you go." The merchant looked up and there was his first wife. She was so skinny, almost like she suffered from malnutrition. Greatly grieved, the merchant said, "I should have taken much better care of you while I could have!"

For many of us, our lives are not that different than that of the merchants. We tend to neglect the one who will go with us no matter where it is we go even when we die. In this story, the 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it'll leave us when we die. The 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, they all go to others. The 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how close they had been there for us when we're alive, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave. The 1st wife is in fact our soul, often neglected in our pursuit of material, wealth and sensual pleasure. And it is the only thing that follows us wherever we go. Perhaps it's a good idea to cultivate and strengthen it now rather than to wait until we're on our deathbed to lament.

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