Thursday, November 13, 2008

the body

How does one take care of one's own body? I put together a list of six common items for responsible self-care. Can you think of others that should be included here?
1. Eat well balanced meals.
2. Exercise on a regular basis.
3. Get enough sleep.
4. Live in a warm and sheltered place.
5. Practice good hygiene.
6. Have access to health care services.
I addressed this question as part of an inquiry into how the body affects the mind and what the mind's relationship to the body really is. Is the role of the mind solely as a servant to the body? In other words: Does the body use the mind, or does the mind use the body? Perhaps this is a misleading question. Linji Yixuan (d. 866) had a few thoughts about the mind/body relationship. He is recorded to have said "Over a lump of reddish flesh there sits a pure man who... comes in and out of your sense organs all the time." Linji was concerned more with the mind than the body. There is a very obvious reason to be concerned with the mind (though this one may not have been shared by Linji). Even if the mind is only a servant, it must function at its best to ensure it's continued survival. Higher brain functions are a luxury that can be sacrificed to maintain survival of the body under conditions of extreme stress or injury. Keep the body happy or the mind will have no peace. But will merely keeping the body happy provide the mind with peace? That is an an unexamined assumption held by many people that I intend to test.

Citations: A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 445

It is interesting to note that this sounds very similar to Epicurianism, which is a form of hedonism and a materialist philosophy. Modern adherents have included many recognizable names including Thomas Jefferson and Christopher Hitchens. The famous statement Carpe Diem ("Seize the Day") was by Horace, a follower of the teachings of Epicurus.

E2S2H2 is an abbriviation for the items listed above: Eat, Exercise, Sleep, Shelter, Hygiene, and Health Care. These seem so intuitively simple, but I think they are really far more abstract. How is each accomplished, but through a litany of many smaller and diverse actions and a variety of methods.

- last edited 19 November 2008

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