The practice of the second body is one way we take care of each other in the Sangha. This practice is not just for monks and nuns, but for all of us. Each member of the Sangha needs a second body. The second body doesn't need to be younger; the second body can be older. When you go to sitting meditation, you invite your second body. If your second body is sick, you must know that your second body is sick, and look for a doctor or someone to help. The second person also has his or her second body, that third person also has a second body, and so forth.
We have to be responsible for the mindful manners and the practice of our second body. If the second body's manners and mindfulness are not very good, you are responsible, and you have to remind him or her. If you feel that you cannot, then you should ask a Dharma brother or sister to help you.
When each member takes care of his or her second body, the whole Sangha is taken care of. When your second body is happy, you share that happiness. If your second body has difficulties, you need to understand these difficulties. And if alone you cannot help your second body, you need to ask for help from somebody else. You don't need to be better than your second body, you just need to help your second body.
Practicing like this, you will see a miraculous result. When you take care of your second body, your third, fourth, and fifth bodies are also taken care of. Taking care of your second body, you take care of everybody else.
The method of getting a second body is this: Everybody in turn says the name of a person they want to be their second body. At first, there are many people to choose from, but as we go along, perhaps there is only one person left, and we have to choose that person. We may feel that this person is very difficult to look after, but we should know that this is a wonderful opportunity. The person who we think would be difficult can bring us a great deal of benefit and joy in our practice. Some fruits have thorns that are hard, but when we break them open, they taste very good. There are people who on the outside are not very sweet, but if we know how to open them up, the fruit is wonderful. Don't be deceived by the outside. Don't think that the second body is difficult to look after. Bring all of your ability to look after that person and he or she will become a sweet spring of water.
The Second Body practice is a wonderful Dharma door. With sincere practice, we will have a direct experience of the benefits of the practice.
Thay, Friends on the Path,s.296
Our first body is our self. Our second body is another person in the Sangha, whom we look after as an extension of ourselves. If you are my "second body" then I am your "caring friend." Everyone chooses one person to be his or her second body and that person chooses someone else; so we create a complete circle with each person linked to the next. We should feel very connected to our second body, as if he or she is a part of ourselves that we want to pay attention to and care for. So if our second body is not well, we find out how we can assist him or her. If we notice that our second body is less than happy, by asking and observing, we may see a way that we can help. If you need to miss a Sangha gathering, let your caring friend know. By taking care of your second body you take care of the whole Sangha body.
Jack Lawlor Sangha Practice, s. 25