If only I could be like my cells...
by Deepak Chopra
. . . Appeared originally in the Times of India, Sat Jan 25, 2003 . . . 

In our fragmentation and confusion, we have been ignoring the very model of a perfect spiritual life inside ourselves, says Deepak Chopra

What does it mean to live a spiritual life? Who can teach me the core principles of spirituality? Strangely enough, my own body can teach me everything I need to know. The cells of my body are already doing what I want to learn. My body does everything better than me. The cells in my body have no problem fully participating in life.

A hundred thousand billion of them signed on to the same silent agreement, which can be described through qualities that the most spiritual person would envy but, at the same time, the most practical person would envy them too. These shared qualities speak eloquently for what a cell agrees not to do as much as for what it does.

Higher purpose: A cell agrees to work for the welfare of the whole body first and its individual welfare second. If necessary, it will die to protect the body. Skin cells perish by the thousands every hour, as do immune cells fighting off invading microbes. Selfishness is not an option, even when it comes down to a cell's survival.

Communion: A cell keeps in touch with every other cell. Messenger molecules race everywhere to notify the farthest outposts of any desire or intention, however slight. Withdrawing or refusing to communicate is not an option.

Awareness: Cells adapt from moment to moment. They remain flexible in order to respond to immediate situations. Getting caught up in rigid habits is not an option.

Acceptance: Cells recognise each other as equally important. Every function in the body is interdependent on every other. Doing it alone is not an option.

Creativity: Although every cell has a set of unique functions, these combine in creative ways. A person can digest food never eaten before, think thoughts never thought before, dance in a way never seen before. Clinging to old behaviour is not an option.

Being: Cells obey the universal cycle of rest and activity. Although this cycle expresses itself in many ways, such as fluctuating hormone levels, blood pressure and digestive rhythms, the most obvious expression is sleep. Why we need to sleep remains a medical mystery, yet complete dysfunction develops if we don't. In the silence of inactivity, the future of the body is incubating. Being obsessively active is not an option.

Efficiency: Cells function with the least expenditure of energy. Typically, a cell only stores three seconds of food and oxygen inside the cell wall. It trusts totally on being provided for. Excessive consumption of food, air, or water is not an option.

Bonding: Due to their common genetic inheritance, cells know that they are fundamentally the same. The fact that liver cells are different from heart cells, and muscle cells different from brain cells does not negate their common identity, which is unchanging. In the laboratory, a muscle cell can be genetically transformed into a heart cell by going back to their common source. Cells remain tied to their source no matter how many times they divide. Being an outcast is not an option.

Giving: The primary activity of cells is giving, which maintains the integrity of all other cells. Total commitment to giving makes receiving automatic it is the other half of a natural cycle. Hoarding is not an option.

Immortality: Cells reproduce in order to pass on knowledge, experience, and talents, withholding nothing from their offspring. This is a kind of practical immortality, submitting to death on the physical plane, but defeating it on the non-physical. A generation gap is not an option.

We are selfish and greedy. As they evolved, cells learned what really works for survival. Your body can't afford to pay lip service to leading a spiritual life unless it wants to throw away aeons of wisdom. Yet, the vast majority of suffering in our personal lives comes about because we consciously choose to behave contrary to the soul bargain that keeps our bodies alive.

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