Small Self
When awareness is exclusively identified with the small self, it functions in a dualistic way. It sees a strong difference between inner and outer, me and you, we and them, mind and matter, and so on. It tends to differentiate very well, but not to perceive the seamless whole of Existence. It learns how to effectively engage with and in the world, but it also causes a tremendous amount of suffering in different ways.

When awareness awakens to its nondual nature, it is freed from all of the struggle. It recognizes the Absolute as the nature of all phenomena. It is all beyond existence and nonexistence, beyond all dualities.

It is possible to here overemphasize the Absolute (the spacious/clear nature of all phenomena) and deemphasize the Relative (all phenomena). In this case, all phenomena appear as illusions. It would say “I am not this personality, not this body, not of this world”. It is oneness, but not sufficient differentiation. In the extreme, it is a form of blissful idiocy. And there is also suffering, because it is not possible to interact with other human beings in any meaningful or connected way from this view. All is indeed perceived as one, but awareness functions in a way that sets it apart from just about everyone. It cannot connect with the small self view that most operate from.

Big Mind
In the Big Mind view, awareness embraces both the Absolute nature of all phenomena and all phenomena. It functions in a transdual way.

There is One Taste, and clear differentiation. Awareness can function effectively through the small self, making choices and distinctions in everyday life – in the contect of the Absolute, knowing that it is all manifstations of Existence. In this view, it can indeed connect with other small selves, because it does not exclude the small self or phenomena.

As it deepens in the Big Mind view, it becomes rehumanized. More and more human and ordinary, although now within the Big Mind view.

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