We are told that body language is the key to what we are really thinking, that we should watch what people do with their hands, or the way they're standing, if we are to cut through the layers of ambiguity inherent in what is coming out of their mouths. Politicians are master manipulators of this and are often well aware of the ways in which they can use stance, posture and gestures to reinforce their agenda.
The face in particular is a crucial focal point, especially given that we tend to be drawn to facial reactions when we converse. The eyes are apparently the windows to the soul; and a simple bite of one's lip can give the impression that you are totally blown away by what you are hearing, in a way that words alone never could.
This site, on Vedic face reading, gives lucid examples of how interpreting someone's face might be beneficial in a social situation…
"You are in line at Starbucks and you meet an attractive person, you flirt with
them briefly, wondering, “is this someone I should ask out on a date?"
And leads into explanation of how the face is also a key point in identifying with the ethereal self…
"The basic idea behind Vedic face reading is that your gross physical body isRegardless of the fact that this suggests there might be more to us than cells, atoms and neurons, it also raises interesting questions about the continuity of the self; namely that our supposedly unambiguous body language gives licence to a dependable impression of the ‘you’ or ‘me’ underneath.
lying on your subtle body which has been in development for many lifetimes."
This works fine if there is indeed an immovable, indubitable self underneath. But what of the body via which this clear spring of language is transmitted? It is constantly changing. Your skin will be replaced something like seven times over in your life, your eyes change colour between birth and old age.
A materialist theory would have to suggest that the truth, or at least one’s perception of it, may not be so reliable given that the membrane through which it is diffused is in constant flux. As we can not submit to dualism, that the mind might be separate from the body or the flesh from the soul, we can relieve the self from its shell, if we are to believe in the self at all. Therefore a reliance on body language to give us a direct link to the truth of the self is a reliance on a set of parameters that are continually being modified and re-edited.
It might be more appropriate then to view the subject as a house. We drive past the house one day and we point it out. A few years later, we drive past again, but this time the outside walls have changed colour, the windows have been replaced and a new set of occupants have moved in!
It’s still the house though isn’t it? The number on the front door is still the same and spatially it occupies the same plot of land. But what if the former occupants were to return? Would they look around and say “Ah yes, this was our house. But this is not our home anymore.”?
This might apply similarly to people; you may look at an old photo of yourself and identify the subject as being you, albeit many years ago. You may have changed in appearance and you may have changed in outlook, but it’s still you right?
Maybe not. Maybe it’s time we stopped investing so much provenance in the idea of the immovable, indubitable, centred self. Maybe it would be more progressive to accept that dualism can not be the solution, that if the body changes over time, then so must the whole of what you are. Therefore the self has changed too; the ‘you’ of now can not be the same ‘you’ of before.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to abandon all sense of self, or aim to dissolve the self in the way eastern philosophies such as Buddhism often promote. It might mean, however, that we can take comfort in the fact that we are not tied to the past in the way we often think, that we are far more mercurial in our relation to time and space.
Most importantly though, if we are to successfully abandon dualism and accept that there is no mind, soul, spirit, subtle body or ethereal self separate to the body, then we must accept that change is total and all-encompassing. Of course, this brings up a whole set of questions about whether we should be held responsible for our actions in the past; but that is best left for another time.