Let me begin with two facts. The first is that recently a wooden piece of furniture which I had bought and assembled suffered some minor, but easily reparable, damage. The second fact is that I greeted the discovery of the damage with a mixture of annoyance and concern. Now those two facts do not at first glance seem to be very promising material for a script. Yet when I began to think about my instinctive reaction to the situation, the more I realised there was something there that would stand investigation.
Now annoyance is just a milder form of anger, but anger it is nonetheless. Concern is, in like manner, a milder form of worry, and both emotions are instinctive, negative reactions which originate in the unconscious mind. As I probed more deeply I began to realise that the origins of these emotions was fear, which at first seemed to be a rather preposterous idea. Yet fear is a natural condition of life. It is an instinct we have inherited from our forbears, and further back from other members of the animal kingdom. At earlier periods in our far distant past we were beset by all sorts of dangers against which we had to be constantly on our guard. Danger to life and limb was ever-present, and the consequences of putting oneself in a situation where one was vulnerable and powerless could be dire indeed.
In modern times, at least for most of us perhaps, physical danger is much less in evidence. Yet the instincts remain. Coupled with the fear comes the emotions that will spur us to action if that task becomes necessary; hence the feeling of anger. Now anger usually rises quickly, but then subsides, whilst, on the other hand, worry exists at a relatively low level but is more persistent. Such would be the natural reaction to the fear of attack on one's person by someone close by. Even in modern society, a killer or abuser is first sought among the family of a victim before extending the search to those further afield.
In the recent situation concerning the article of furniture, it would appear that my sense of "I-ness" had momentarily identified with the furniture, and inwardly recorded the incident as an attack on my self. An old instinct had been inappropriately turned inwards and directed against my ego, and that had in turn triggered an equally inappropriate reaction.
"But so what?" one might ask. "The situation was trivial, and the damage fixed. Get on with life!" Yet if I am truly seeking after truth, to be followed perhaps by wisdom and understanding, I cannot ignore this incident. The truth is that for those few moments I was clearly living in a long-distant past, in a state of illusion. And I have to ask myself how much this activity goes on. The answer is that it goes on all the time. In a world where the past is an illusion, and the present doesn't really exist, except as a meaningless concept, what meaning can I possible attribute to anything I think or have ever thought, feel or have ever felt, or sense or have ever experienced? These three attributes of the ego are, in the end, intrinsically meaningless.
Recently I have wondered about the possibility that I am passing through a "dark night". Now I do think that in some way I am travelling a journey that is going deeper than I have been before. The high excitement of a relatively noisy spiritual life may be giving way to a gentler, more profound experience.