So, it was with interest I came across an article"The Body in Buddhism" by Anam Thubten Rinpoche. Here are some of his insights. They can help bring some balance to our dysfunctional views about our bodies.
1. The body can be viewed positively. In his book Walking Words, the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano (1940–2015) understood this problem clearly and summarized it in a poem that pointed out these unnatural and unhealthy attitudes toward the body that are prevalent in both religious and secular society:The church says: the body is sin.
Science says: the body is a machine.
Advertising says: the body is business.
The body says: I am a fiesta. (This is the positive view)
2. Self-mortification of the body is promoted by religion. This is a sad fact. "There is a deep-seated misunderstanding that our body is mundane and impure, while our soul is pure and the essence of who we are, trapped in a prison of flesh and bone. Many spiritual traditions have introduced ascetic practices that appear to abuse the body. Even today, there are ascetics in India who engage in observances that neglect the body as meaningless, transitory, or unimportant."
3. The Buddha presented a middle way. Not too thin, not to obese. Enjoy some activities which bring pleasure to the body. "The Buddha himself tried extreme asceticism in the beginning of his search for the truth of existence. Later, he concluded that such practices are ultimately futile, and instead taught the Middle Way—a lifestyle free from the excesses of both sensual indulgence and asceticism."
4. Treat your body as a mandala. "Many wise people from the past understood this misconception and came up with more enlightened and informed outlooks toward the human body. Tantric Buddhists observe commitments or vows that include not abusing one’s own body, which is considered one of the 14 root downfalls. They also hold the attitude of understanding that the body is a mandala, a holy temple, and naturally sacred. When they eat, they often consecrate the food as a ganachakra or sacred feast. Eating itself becomes a ceremony of offering the feast to one’s body as the divine abode. This practice is described in a verse from one of Patrul Rinpoche’s (1808–1887) dohas:
When the great meditators consume,
Bless the food and drinks as a ganachakra,
One’s body is an assembly of peaceful and wrathful deities.
Consume while not being distracted away from the nature of mind.