- by joeylott
I lived for years in a chronic state of terror of all the possible dangers in the world. My own experiences may seem a bit extreme, but I believe that we can probably all relate to the experience of being afraid of things completely out of our control. Muggers. Rapists. Murderers. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Tsunamis. Car accidents. Freezing to death when the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere in subzero temperatures. House fires. Carbon monoxide poisoning. And on and on.
My biggest fears were complete fabrications for the most part. I was terrified of being drugged without my consent or being poisoned. I was paranoid that UPS and FedEx carriers were applying poisons to packages they delivered. I was paranoid that every public bathroom that I entered was filled with drugs in the air. I was paranoid that every public building that I entered was in the process of being fumigated. And on and on.
So, you see, I had taken this fear of danger to a new level.
But had I really? Or are most people walking around in this sort of constant fear of danger? Will they judge me? Will they like me? Am I good enough? Am I too fat? Am I too ugly?
My fears were unconventional. To be sure. But perhaps the more general pattern isn’t all that uncommon.
And what I’ve noticed is that by and large our strategies for dealing with potential danger is to avoid it as best as possible. Or, if avoidance isn’t possible then to armor against it – physical tension, emotional offense.
But finally, what is all this about?
What is the real danger? That we might be found out? That we might be killed? That we might be destroyed?
And what happens if you offer up no resistance or defense to any of that?
What I discovered is that always there was the presupposition that there was a center that I thought of as me that I had to protect and defend and watch out for. But upon closer inspection, this “me” is merely a fabrication!
The “me” is implied, but it’s not there.
Take a look and see what you find. Look right now. Look to the center – the one that you imagine yourself to be. And see what you find,
We can invest a great deal of effort into trying to prop up or defend or protect or inflate someone that isn’t even there. Why? Because we assume there is someone there. The mere fact that thoughts arise does not mean that they are about anything or about anyone. Nor does the appearance of thoughts actually mean that they belong to anyone. Thoughts are uncaused. Take a look. See for yourself. The thoughts don’t reference anyone. They only seem to. But upon closer inspection it turns out to be a mirage.
Oh, and then there’s the other strategy that we often use. We try to improve the me. Perhaps at some point we realize that we cannot adequately protect this me. So instead, we devise a strategy to better the me. To strengthen the me. To make a super-me. This super-me doesn’t worry. This super-me doesn’t think paranoid thoughts. This super-me doesn’t get irritable or angry or moody or upset. This super-me is never weak. This super-me is perfect in every way. And this is the new defense.
But this doesn’t work either. At least it didn’t in my case.
And for this, I am grateful.
Because truly, discovering what is here as it is turns out to be liberating beyond belief.
When I go into public buildings I still have the thought that the place is probably being fumigated.
It doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t reference anything. It’s not about anything. It’s not my thought. It’s merely what is happening.
And there is only this. There is no other happening. There is no better happening. There is no worse happening. There is only this.
What a relief.
This is true freedom.