- About Us
- Mindfulness Plus Programs
"This Body Will Be A Corpse" --- Please Remind Me
Submitted by Patrick Groneman on Wed, 10/20/2010, 10:26am
"Get Away" -- Icelandair
"Cash In on your Ride In" -- Chase Bank
"This Poster Will Make You Happier Than Any Other on the Train" - The School of Practical Philosophy
"Strikingly Long Lashes Like Never Before" - Beautenizer Mascara
These are the messages of four ads I encountered on a single subway ride in manhattan yesterday.
Our culture is full of these kinds of messages. The kind that promise a future experience more fulfilling than the present one. There is a perpetually elusive meadow of flowers and happiness just over the next horizon, or off the next subway stop. We are constantly being promised full, eternal completion through longer eyelashes, a new bank account or a trip to Iceland.
As a meditator and practitioner of mindfulness I have been doing my best to support a lifestyle that is rooted in the present moment. I've learned through my own experience that holding out for something better in the future, or holding on to a pleasant memory from the past doesn't seem to do myself or anyone else much good.
Practicing mindfulness in every moment is a very difficult thing to do. I'm constantly forgetting the be present. In sitting meditation, I practice coming back to the feeling of my body breathing as a way to strengthen my mindfulness "muscles". I've also set up little visual reminders in my house -- an inspiring quote near my bed reminding me to "be grateful", an image of the buddha, an inner and outer role model, near my meditation cushion, and a poster in my living room that reads "Arte Para Todos" (Art for everyone) to remind me that my creative pursuits are not for the sake of ego gratification. Knowing that I am a product of my environment as much as I am a steward of it, these reminders are a way for me come back to the present and relate with reality as it is currently unfolding.
A few months ago friend, teacher and IDP Founder Ethan Nichtern mentioned to me an idea he had for a shirt that would simply say "This Body Will Be A Corpse" across the front. In dealing with misleading advertisements everyday, and seeing the ways that our culture often runs on the fuel of false promises, this t-shirt seemed a refreshing change to me -- something I could really support.
Within Buddhist Philosophy there a teaching called the "Four Reminders", which students are encouraged to contemplate on a daily or weekly basis to remain centered in the basic truths of reality. "This Body Will Be A Corpse" is a version of the reminder of impermanence -- that all phenomena, including our own bodies are subject to change.
If we are serious about taking on the work of creating a compassionate and mindful culture, we need to consider the environment that makes it up. What are we saying with our body language everyday? What kind of dynamic is created by a shirt that says Everyone is Out to Get You on it? Beyond chuckles and gimmicks there is a real communication taking place in every aspect of our lives -- right down to the way our shoes are tied.
We have the opportunity to create the culture to support our awakening. We also have the opportunity to indulge in our fantasies about a perpetual youth or a future that will never arrive. There are no guarantees in life, we cannot be saved by being beautiful, young, famous or rich. I need your help to remind me of this -- because I get stuck.
Wearing a "This Body Will Be a Corpse" shirts is one way to bring a reminder of reality into our lives, but the means of doing so are unlimited.
What are some of the other creative ways we can put an end to our delusional cultural habits?
Vote for this article to appear in the Recommended list.