What a body! What a body of thoughts!
be really medieval one should have no body. To be really modern one
should have no soul. To be really Greek one should have no clothes.' -
Oscar Wilde, from Complete Works of Oscar Wilde.
Life is like a game of chess. To win we have to make a move; but
knowing which move to make comes with insight, knowledge, and by
learning the lessons along the way. Thus, we are no more than like pawns
on a chessboard - piece within the game called life. No matter whether
we believe in luck or chance, desires and dreams drive our urges. The
greatest urge of humanity is inner peace; and the first peace, which is
the most important to us humans, is that which comes from within the
hearts of people when they realize their relationship to all else -
their oneness with the universe and all life.
When they realize that the universe is all, that its apresence is
everywhere, they will also realize that it is within each of us. Yet,
even if they realize it, humans are so hypocritical that they find the
most important things as truth are the hardest things to say and accept.
For instance, when a man sees a beautiful fountain of blood in the shape
of a woman, she pumps up his adrenalin; but ask and he will deny. Even
when his body betrays him, his mind will deny, and say, I am not my
Now that raises the question: what is him or her, or I for that
matter? Are we embodied spirits or inspirited bodies; or else embodied
minds or minded bodies? I suppose most will say my body is I, while a
few might say my mind is what I am. None will think of saying: I think,
therefore I essentially am; I create myself to be, I am my own making.
Nevertheless, this question cannot be that easily resolved because our
alleged duality is hard to understand. Many are tempted to resolve the
difficulty by belittling the significance of one or the other aspect,
declaring instead that either our minds or our bodies are the seats of
our "real" identities.
In a very basic sense though, I think we are nothing more than mere
creatures with lofty longings who are, burdened by being bound to our
flesh. Yet, Plato in his Symposium invites us to wonder whether one of
our deepest longings - desire - is a bodily thing. St. Augustine, on the
other hand, in an excerpt from his autobiographical Confessions,
attempts to renounce the desires of his body in the name of celibacy and
piety. One American poet, Delmore Schwartz in The Heavy Bear, expresses
the anguish of a soul who longs to be free of his bodily desires and its
Thus, we see a confusing array of thoughts and longings about the
body and the mind that makes us wonder whether a body and its separate
parts are one-and-same. However, due to temptation of the body and mind,
we humans have made laws and principles that dictate and govern social
These laws and principles are, however, not for the times when there
is no temptation: they are for such moments as when body and soul rise
in mutiny against their rigour. Naturally, all of us, at our
convenience, break them. After all, if you like a person, you like the
person, not their genitals.
Social norms and stuff, what good are they really. I think all they
do is project a limited and harmful image of people. It thus impedes a
broader social acceptance of what someone, or a group of people, might
actually be like. I may be considered weird for saying such things; but
so what? Everybody is weird. Religions, most of them anyway, say: the
body is a sin. Science says, the body is a machine. Advertising says,
the body is a business. The body says it is a fiesta and not a temple.
Thus, the body, if anything, is akin to an amusement park: enjoy the
ride, while it lasts.
Setting aside for the moment the body and the body of thoughts on
body, mind, and desires; let us, for a moment, look at what this body
Most of us believe that the human body is the best work of art and a
fit, healthy body is the best fashion statement we can make to impress
other bodies. Yet, do you realize that, you carry a zoo on your skin,
and in your body? For instance, you may think you are sitting alone but
still be completely outnumbered because your body is home to trillions
upon trillions of tiny passengers - bacteria. Human body is, made up of
around ten trillion cells; but harbours hundred trillion bacteria. For
every gene in your genome, there are 100 bacterial ones. This, your
body, is your 'micro-biome': the home of microorganisms. Do you know
that these trillions of unknown, unfelt visitors who have made their
home in and on your body have a huge impact on your health, your ability
to digest food, and on many more matters? You also, in turn, affect
Everything from the food you eat to the way you are born; influences
the species of bacteria that take up residence in our bodies. You
inherited your microbiomes from your mother, picking up billions of them
as you slide from her largely bacteria-free womb through her
To the passenger bacteria, the human body must seem like an entire
planet, full of different ecosystems. This is especially true for those
that live on your skin. At the microscopic scale, the hairy, moist
surface of your armpits is as different from the smooth, dry skin of
your forearms as a rainforest is to a desert. In a thorough survey of
our skin microbiome, scientists have identified species from at least
205 different genera. Thus, you are not alone: 205 other species live
Your forearm has the richest community with an average of 44 species,
while your nostril, ears, and inguinal crease - that part between leg
and groin - are the most stable habitats. Despite its diversity, the
skin microbiome is a tiny country village compared to the bustling
metropolis inside your bowels. The dark corridors of your intestine
house more bacteria than any other part of your body and each of your
bowels carries at least 160 bacterial species. Together, your collective
guts have just under, 3.3 million bacterial genes, more than 150 times
as many as reside in your own genomes. What is more, you rely on these
microscopic passengers more than you realize.
They harvest energy from your food, provide you with nutrients that
would otherwise be, denied to you; prevent the growth of harmful
The bacteria of your microbiome are mostly your allies; but they can
also turn against you, they can also go rogue, and cause untold troubles
to you. Your microscopic allies can turn into unwitting collaborators
for dangerous infections.
Our history, as well as the story of human evolution, is in our
bowels: be they the bowels of mercy or the churning bowels.
The teeming masses of the microbiome that you carry also contain a
record of your evolutionary past because bacteria trade genes as easily
as humans trade gifts. Hence, we could reconstruct the evolution of the
humans by simply comparing the bacteria in their bowels.
Thus, if you wish to know the background of your wife's, or girl
friend's evolution, simply study the bowels. We are each a unified
alliance between the genes of several different species, only one of
which is human. Thus, I wonder: What a body! What a body of thoughts!
Praise unto the bowels of the universe that offers us such variety in
body, mind, and desires.
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