As a human self, we obviously have lots of preferences, and this is how it should be. It is essential for the survival of the species and for us as individuals.
As the “groundless ground” of formless awareness, we find ourselves as distinct from any characteristics. It is empty of any characteristics, yet that in which any and all characteristics arise. It is empty of preferences and of attachment and detachment, yet that in which all of those to arise in the present.
So on the one hand, there is a good deal of preferences. And on the other hand, there is an absence of preferences or no preferences, a detachment that goes beyond and includes the detachment and attachment of our human self.
If there is only the preferences of our human self, we are stuck and create a good deal of drama and suffering for ourselves. We are unable to let go of our preferences without a great deal of struggle, and holding on to them creates struggle as well – especially in the face of an always changing and unpredictable life.
If there is only the transcendent detachment from resting in/as the “groundless ground”, we are ineffective in the world of phenomena – and an emotionless cold fish to boot (apologies to the real fish who most likely do experience emotions…!). We may be tranquil, but it is a “dead” tranquility in many ways, on that is literally not brought fully into life.
With both, there is engagement and fluidity. There is engagement from the preferences of our human self, and there is fluidity from the detachment of the “ground” of formless awareness.
This detachment allows us to unstick, to have a lighter touch, to go with the changing inner and outer situations. We are not blindly attached anymore, but have more fluidity and freedom, including the freedom to more easily roll with the punches that life comes up with.
In my daily life, I experience this dynamic in many different ways. Typically, I have a preference, the situation turns out to have a life on its own (as it always does), there is a reaction (a disappointment and related responses), and – sometimes – I can find myself as this groundless ground and the effortless detachment which this infuses the situation with.
If I don’t find myself as the groundless ground right away, then the ensuing suffering (from still holding onto the preference) reminds me to come to it. It provides the faithful and gentle – and sometimes not so gentle – nudge to find myself also as this formless awareness, as the “ground” with a natural and effortless detachment.
And this allows me to be far more fluid in everyday life. Far less of a nuisance to others and myself.