When awareness is identified with its content, it is inevitably caught up in it. Different inner and outer situations trigger habitual processes of the personality, and awareness either fuels or attempts to push away these. The chain of causality is maintained.
When awareness becomes aware of itself as distinct from its content, it allows for more spaciousness, overview, perspective and choice. Awareness is not necessarily caught up in the processes of the personality. When something comes at the self and triggers habitual patterns and responses, there is a space to allow these to unfold within awareness – and a choice in how to relate to it. The chain of causality can be diffused.
In both cases, inner and outer triggers – such as anger directed towards us – tend to bring up habitual emotional and congnitive responses.
In the first case, there is little choice but to engage in habitual reactiveness. The triggered inner processes are fuelled by identification with them, and either repressed or acted on. We react in a way that continues and enhances the cycle of reactiveness – within ourselves and between ourselves and others. We may see it, resist it, and try to do something else, but have little choice in the matter as long as awareness is identified with its content. Karma is continued.
In the second case, there is more awareness and conscious choice. We allow the experiences to unfold within spacious awareness, they leave few/no traces, and from a sense of overview there is a choice in how to respond to the situation. We respond in a way that can diffuse the cycle of reactiveness – within ourselves and in relationship with others. Karma is diffused.