There are three different ways (or more of less depending on how you slice it) of relating to any experience. Relating to any sensation, emotion or thought, or conglomerates of sensations, emotions and thoughts.
Fuel & Push Away
When awareness is exclusively identified with the small self, there are only two options. We can fuel it or or push it away.
Fuelling it means to give it energy, nurture it, identify with it. We allow it to grow stronger, and eventually lead to particular action.
Pushing them away means to avoid it in different ways, to put them aside, to repress them, or to deny they are there.
In this phase, the fueling/pushing away tends to come from habitual patterns. There is little awareness, choice, or sense of overview or perspective. At the best, we can see what is going on, but not know how to change it or stop it – even if we know it may leads to undesirable consequences.
When awareness softens its exclusive identification with the small self, and awakens somewhat to its own nature (the Absolute), it finds another way to relate to experiences. It discovers that any experience can unfold within the spacious awareness, with no need for fueling it or pushing it away.
Here, awareness has three ways to relate to experiences: Fueling them, setting them aside, or allowing them to just unfold within spacious awareness – without needing to trigger habitual responses.
As awareness becomes more familiar with its spacious and clear nature, it begins to function in a third way. It realizes that it is the experience. The experience unfolds within spacious awareness, and yet there is no separation. It just is. There is nothing to fuel, nothing to push away.
At the same time, awareness is free to fuel whatever comes up – when appropriate. When and in the way it wants to use the small self as a vehicle to engage in the world. Where it earlier was blindly caught up in the fueling, it now fuels the experience – leading to a particular exploration or action – within spacious awareness. It is not tied to blind habitual responses.
Each new phase includes each of the previous ones. There is more inclusiveness and choice, not just one approach exchanged for another.
When awareness deepens its experience of its absolute nature, it has all the approaches available to it. It can relate to the world with more choice, overview, perspective, richness, freedom and responsiveness.