KVE301/KVE401 Universal Human Values and Professional Ethics
Chapter 5: Understanding Human Being as Co-existence of Self and Body
Understanding Myself as Co-Existence of Self and Body
The human being is the co-existence of ‘I’ and the body, and there is exchange of information between the two. We can make this distinction between the self and the body in three ways in terms of the needs, activities, and the types of these two entities, as shown in the table below:
A. Understanding needs of the self and needs of the body
In the process of identifying the distinct characteristics of the self and the body, we will first focus on their distinct needs:
The needs of the body like food for nourishment clothes for protection, and instruments to ensure right utilization can be categorized as being ‘physical’ in nature, or also called ‘physical facilities’ (suvidha) whereas the need of I is essential to living in a state of continuous happiness (sukh). The needs of the body are physical in nature, whereas the needs of the self (‘I’) are not physical in nature – like trust, respect, happiness, etc.
In time, Needs are...
The needs of ‘I’ are continuous in time, unlike the need of the body, which is temporary in time. We want happiness continuously. We also want the feeling of respect continuously and so also acceptance in the relationship. We do not want to be unhappy even for a single moment or lose the feeling of respect for ourselves for a single moment.
In quantity, Needs are...
Physical facilities are needed for the body in a limited quantity. When we try and exceed these limits, it becomes troublesome for us after some time. Let’s take the example of eating. As far as, physical facilities (say Rasgulla) go, they are necessary in the beginning, but if we keep consuming, it becomes intolerable with the passage of time. This applies to every physical facility. We can only think of having unlimited physical facilities, but if we try and consume, or have too much of physical facilities, it only ends up becoming a problem for us. When we try to perpetuate physical facilities, the following pattern results. With time it successively changes from:
Necessary and tasteful
Unnecessary but tasty
Unnecessary and tasteless
Whereas the needs of ‘I’ are qualitative (they are not quantifiable), but we also want them continuously. Our feelings are qualitative. Either they are or they are not. Ex. Happiness is qualitative. Either we are feeling happy or we are not. Also if a feeling is not naturally acceptable; we do not want it even for a single moment. If acceptable, we want it continuously.
Needs are fulfilled by…
The need of the self (‘I’), for happiness (sukh), is ensured by right understanding and right feelings, while the need of the body, for physical facilities (suvidha), is ensured by appropriate Physico-chemical things.
The confusion we are in today
A common mistake today is that we mix these two sets of needs: happiness (sukh) for I and physical facilities (suvidha) for the body. We assume that
“All we need is physical facilities (suvidha) and that it will automatically ensure happiness (sukh)”
B. Understanding activities in the self and activities in the body
If we look at the variety of activities that we are engaged in commonly – we see that we can put them in three categories:
- Activities that are going on in the self
- Activities involving both the self and the body
- Activities in the body – but only with the consent of ‘I’
1. Activities that are going on in the self
Activities in self are:
|⇒ Thinking||⇒ Desiring|
|⇒ Believing||⇒ Dreaming|
|⇒ Speaking||⇒ Imagining|
|⇒ Feeling||⇒ Analyzing|
These activities are going on in us all the time, and we are usually unaware of them. If we start paying attention to them, we can become aware of them. We can also see that these activities take place irrespective of the state of the body. Our capacity to imagine does not change even when we are engaged in some other work physically.
2. Activities involving both the self and the body
There are some activities that we do, in which both ‘I’ and body are involved. The decisions and choices are made in ‘I’, and these are carried out via the body. These activities are:
|⇒ Walking||⇒ Seeing|
|⇒ Eating||⇒ Listening|
Take the example of eating. Here, I first decide which food to eat, then make the choice to take the food inside the body, use my hands to carry the food to the mouth, use the mouth to chew the food, and then swallow it. Thus, eating is an activity that involves both the self (‘I’), where the choice is been made, and the body, with which the activity is carried out.
Recognition of body is definite but our (self) recognition depends on our assumptions. There is no assuming at the level of the body.
3. Activities in the body – but only with the consent of ‘I’
The body is a set of ‘self-organized activities’ that are occurring with self (‘I’’s) consent but without my (‘I’’s) active participation. These are functions like:
|⇒ Digesting||⇒ Breathing|
|⇒ Blood Flow||⇒ Nourishment|
Knowing, assuming, recognizing, and fulfilling in ‘I’ and recognizing and fulfilling in body
1. Activities of recognizing and fulfilling in the body
All material entities interact with each other in a definite manner, in a well-defined manner – so we can say that all the material entities recognize and fulfill their relation with each other. We saw that Breathing, Heartbeat, Digestion, etc were activities in the body. The activities of the body can also be understood as recognition and fulfillment. In fact, the mutual interaction between any two material entities can be understood as recognition and fulfillment of their relationship. Any two material entities thus interact with each other in a definite way.
2. Activities of knowing, assuming, recognizing and fulfilling in the self (‘I’)
When it comes to self (Jivan or ‘I’), which is a sentient entity; a conscious entity; we will see that in addition to ‘recognizing and fulfilling’, there is also the activity of assuming and that of knowing. In fact, recognizing and fulfilling in the case of human beings will depend upon knowing and/or assuming. Let us write down about the activities in ‘I’:
- We assume – We all make assumptions. We say “I assumed this was true, but I was wrong”. Ex. If I see a snake and assumed it to be a rope, I shall respond differently to it (recognition and fulfillment), then if I take it to be a snake itself. We call this activity ‘assuming or mannana’.
- We recognize – We all recognize things today, we recognize a variety of things. Like, we recognize water, our parents, friends, etc. We call this activity ‘recognizing or pahchaanana’. The recognizing in ‘I’ depends on assuming.
- We fulfill – Once we recognize water, we take it, when we recognize a friend, we greet him/her, when we see a wounded dog, we try and help it. This response that follows recognition is called the activity of ‘fulfilling or nirvaha karna’. The fulfillment depends on the recognition.
Taken together we can write it as (in I):
- Knowing – There is another activity that exists in us (in ‘I’) that we are largely unaware of or have not explored properly. This activity is called ‘knowing’. Knowing means we have the right understanding – the understanding of harmony at all levels of our living. When we have the right understanding, when we have the knowledge of reality, it is definite, and then assuming becomes according to the knowing, and hence recognizing and fulfilling becomes definite, or according to knowing. Until then, it is subject to beliefs and assumptions, and this keeps changing.
When we list these down:
C. Understanding the self (‘I’) as the conscious entity, the body as the material body
Any entity that has the capacity of knowing, assuming, recognizing, and fulfilling can be called as conscious entity, or consciousness, or ‘I’ or Jivan. On the other hand, any entity that does not have the activity of knowing and assuming is not a conscious entity. Similarly, any entity that has the activity of recognizing and fulfilling only can be called a material body. According to the activities of self and body, we can say that while the self (‘I’) is the conscious entity, the body is a material entity or Physico-chemical in nature. The conscious entity (Jivan) desires, thinks, selects, studies. Thus we can write: