by Harry Palmer
The more evolved a being becomes the less it identifies with stuff. The path upward goes from identifying with a body, to identifying with mental concepts, to being an undefined presence (the state of Avatar). Each of these stages of being faces different challenges in its own domain. Bodies are concerned with efforts, minds are concerned with beliefs and thinking; and undefined presence—pure being—is concerned with the powers of will.
Bodies are a product of the physical plane of reality and are subject to physical laws. Also, to a lesser extent, they are subject to mental phenomena and the powers of will. But mainly bodies respond to physical universe energies. If a large rock falls on your body, it is going to hurt. It doesn't really matter what you believe or what you are intending, it is going to hurt. And it is going to continue to hurt until you become accustomed to the rock or remove it.
The body exists in an environment of change, subject to causes outside of its control: rocks, thorns, viruses, etc. There are certain actions that can enhance or endanger a body. Therefore, and this is where the mind becomes involved, survival depends upon identifying the efforts that sustain and protect the body—all those things you should have learned about in high school: good hygiene, nutritious foods, protective clothing, physical fitness, etc.
The mind is an obsessive problem solver. If it doesn't have a threat to survival to work on, it will broaden its concern until it can imagine one.
When self is identified with mind, it is trapped in a maze of beliefs, thoughts, and dreams; some of which it is aware and some of which it is not. The mind will offer many avenues of escape, but most, when examined without prejudice will be revealed as nothing more than new dreams of mind.
The critical challenge of any spiritual practice is achieving control of the mind. Hundreds, if not thousands, of techniques have this as their ultimate goal. There are passive methods (meditation), active methods (disciplines), and combinations of methods (technologies). Some are safer and more effective than others.
Repeatedly achieving control of mind, even for short periods of time, results in a natural awakening of a Watcher of Mind. This Watcher, considered through the fog of mind, is variously described as aware will, spirit, higher self, I am, soul, atman, etc., but in truth, it really has no description. It cannot be understood. It cannot be harmed. It can only be experienced. That is the gift of the Avatar training.