Magazine article UNESCO Courier

The Body and the Self

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

The Body and the Self

Article excerpt

In the normal way of things most healthy adults hardly think twice about their bodies until some kind of accident, breakdown or illness suddenly reminds them that they have one. Then they send in the artillery - doctors, analysts, medication - with orders to put things right. When the machine has been patched up, they forget about it again.

Yet when they really think about it, they realize that life and body are inseparable, bound together in a singular partnership. The body is inhabited by consciousness, but this consciousness does not exist outside its physical envelope. Life is a marriage, for better or for worse, between the two. Divorce is out of the question.

People who know that this is so and yet continue to pay no attention to their body or treat it badly, undermine the body's integrity and in so doing disturb the subtle rhythms and necessary harmonies between mind and body. They are the victims of a self-inflicted wound. How can people achieve a creative unity based on harmonious relations between body and consciousness, matter and mind? These questions have intrigued philosophers and theologians for thousands of years and are of growing concern for doctors, psychologists and psychotherapists today.

This issue of the UNESCO Courier attempts to give some idea of the variety and complexity of the answers that have been offered, particularly highlighting their strong cultural philosophical and religious overtones. Differences in approach arise largely from what is meant by the notion of consciousness in different traditions of thought. …

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