(5.64) If you do not find any essence there
Even when you search with such effort,
Why, mind, do you still grasp this body
With so much attachment?
(5.65) It is so impure, it is not even fit to eat,
Its blood is not fit to drink,
And its intestines are not fit to suck;
So what use is this body to you?
The point is this: if the body is empty, there is nothing there to be attached to. All delusions exaggerate and distort their observed object, just in different ways. Anger mentally constructs objects as somehow having the power to harm us. Attachment mentally constructs objects as external sources of true happiness. Ignorance mentally constructs something actually being there when nothing can be found. If our inner peace is disturbed, all we need do is ask ourselves, “how am I exaggerating?” If we stop exaggerating – in any way – then all of our delusions would simply disappear.
When it comes to bodies, our two main exaggerations are viewing them as being sources of happiness and viewing something as actually being there. But we might also exaggerate thinking “mine” when we see somebody else’s body, and then become jealous when they go off with somebody else.
It’s really worthwhile to go around the body and try identify what, exactly, are we so attached to. Here, Shantideva looks at the body from the perspective of being a good meal. Anybody for a nice juicy thigh? A rump steak? How about fried human breast? We love guava juices, why not blood? An entire culture is built around beer, how about that other similar looking liquid? Can we find even a single thing in the human body that we would be happy to eat or drink? No wonder women don’t like being looked at or thought of as a “piece of meat.” Until I read Shantideva, I never thought of sucking on an intestine. Apparently that is a thing – somewhere. What is in intestines again? What comes out of them?
If we still have attachment for our body at the time of our death, our death will be very difficult. When we die, if we are unable to let go of our body, our death will be painful. Our desperate grasping at our body will activate contaminated karma, throwing us once again into a samsaric rebirth. Instead, if we die free of any attachment to our body (indeed with a renunciation wishing to escape forever from such cages of filth), then death will be easy. We need to prepare for this moment. All of our Dharma trainings can correctly be viewed as preparation for the moment of death. If we allow our attachment to our body to remain throughout our life, it will be strong also at the time of death, making us feel like we are being ripped against our will from our body. Such misery will all but guarantee another samsaric rebirth, with all its troubles.