A sage trains his body for war,
even in times of peace.
Skill waxes during periods of inactivity,
but dedication and commitment
allow essence to grow continuously.
Body and soul become fused,
but one's breath allows flexibility
and hardness to co-exist.
A sage's body is armored;
he appears impervious to death.
inspired by Deng Ming-Dao
picture taken from http://bipblog.com/archives/3808294.html
The sages speak of three treasures contained in the body: essence, breath, and spirit.
Essence is a biochemical aspect of the body, nourished through the food eaten and regulated by the body's hormones. If one imparts any lesson from this fact, it should be that food is meant for sustenence, not merely for enjoyment. Thus, eat only those foods which are packed with necessary vitamins, minerals, and essential calories. Do not fill yourself with hollow calories or you will be devoid of health and energy. Eat food as close to the source as possible. If you are religious, pray before each meal, but if not, simply give thanks for the essential elements of survival. Do not consider yourself exempt if you are vegetarian; even plants must give their lives for us to live. You must consume to continue existence, but realize, when your time is up, your body will become food for another. Decay and growth are inexorably linked.
To build upon your breath, work hard and exercise diligently. Stamina is built by discipline, not bestowed by genetics. You will gain great flexibility, hardened bones, and toughened flesh. You will remain graceful despite possessing great strength. A lifetime of calcification bestows immunity to minor physical trauma, and a strict diet and exercise regime provide a safeguard to illness. Our immune system is linked with our mood, outlook, and cognition; do not become overly weary of life or the curtain may fall too early.
The ultimate form of training involves the spirit, and begins with the question of death. The highest sages have seen beyond death. They know they will die as well, but they realize nothing is lost from one's passing, for no one owns the body, or the mind. Those who are true followers of Tao safeguard themselves from death, and live a spiritual life fully appreciating the finite time we all have on this earth. Death is not an end point to be feared, unless one's life has ceased to possess meaning.
Focus on your breath,
concentrate your essence
and fortify your spirit;
armor composed of one's character
cannot be punctured;
strife and suffering mean nothing
when one's mind is pure.