One of my Zen teachers once talked about the mind as a self-guided missile, seeking out things to protect against even in situations that are the way our personality wants it to be. Yesterday, I went to have my teeth cleaned and my blood pressure (which they always check) was 91 over 60, which she said was very good. Not being very familiar with the blood pressure range, I looked it up after coming home, and found that it was at the very low end of the “normal” range. And, that a low blood pressure could mean all sorts of medical problems. So naturally, from feeling good about it, all sorts of concerns crept in for a few seconds, until I saw the humor in it.
Our mind, when functioning from a sense of separate I, does indeed function as a self-guided missile, seeking out not only things to protect against, but also things to acquire. There is a separate I here, placed on this human self, a small vulnerable animal in a much larger and unpredictable world. So it goes into survival mode, looking for dangers and resources to keep this vulnerable animal alive, well fed, safe, healthy, reproducing, happy.
There is a clear survival advantage here (evolutionary for the species, and developmentally for the individual), but if there is a blind identification with the separate self, if this vulnerable animal is taken as (the only) I, if there is a belief in all the stories we tell ourselves, then there is also stress and sometimes misery.
And the stress is an invitation and a reminder to take a look at what is going on.
What stories is there a belief in? Can I know they are true? What happens when I take them as real? What would happen if there wasn’t a belief in the stories? What are the grain of truth in the turnarounds (the reverse stories)? (The Work.)
What do I need to let go of to find peace with this situation?
What identities is there an identification with here? If there is a fear for disease, is it because there is an identification as someone who is healthy and wants to stay healthy? All of these identifications limits how we can experience ourselves and life.
And going beyond this, is there really a separate I here? There is some sort of an I here, but what exactly is it? Is this vulnerable animal all that this I is? Is it only this one segment of the content of experience? A part of this world of form that is always changing, everything coming and going? Or is it awareness itself? This timeless awakeness? If so, where is the boundary between this awakeness and form, the seeing and seen? Is form any different from awakeness itself?