After years of yoga, we tend to come to that conclusion. The body is the vessel. As Ani DiFranco said, “My body is borrowed. Yeah, I got it on loan. For the time in between my mom and some maggots.”
It’s harder to accept that we’re also not our thoughts, prejudice, preference, personality or actions. All of that lumps into the “conditioned self.” We’re influenced by our surroundings, experience and the chemical make-up of our brains. The purity of the soul can’t exist in the physical world. (Except, I would argue, in non-human animals.)
All this relates to a popular podcast I heard a few months ago in which the guest said that women are more social than men going way back to hunter/gatherer days. The women, as a unit, held down homebase, cooked, talked and took care of children. The men walked quietly as they stalked prey or sat quietly waiting for an animal to pass. They bonded without words.
I observe this phenomenon everyday. My husband will tell me that his best friend totaled his car. Immediately I ask, “How? Where? What were the circumstances?” My husband can’t answer any of those details because they don’t talk in details. When I ask him to elaborate on most things, he says, “I can’t. I’m a dude. You’re asking me to be a chick.”
These differences between men and women fall into the phenomenon of the “conditioned self.” If we are reincarnated upon death, we could easily take on the body of another gender, race or species. That means all the differences between us are an illusion.