Preferences & Not

Another look at how something appears from different views…

Big Mind

When we awaken to ourselves as space & awareness (the Witness, formles unborn, function of experiencing), we discover that it is distinct from the world of phenomena. No characteristics seem to apply.

And from here, we can awaken in various degrees to Big Mind, that which embraces the Absolute and Relative, the space & awareness and the phenomena arising within it. Here, there are no preferences. Everything is seen as Existence, God, Buddha Mind manifesting in always new ways.

It is a neutral/impartial view in some sense, and one that gives a tremendous freedom in allowing it all to appear as it is. The Big Mind view is free from resisting, but it does contain resistance as it contains all phenomena.

Big Heart

Big Heart does have a preference: to alleviate suffering, and to bring all beings to awakening. And it can do this in any number of ways, depending on what seems most appropriate in the present. It can be gentle, listening and holding, or it can be a kick in the butt.

Small Self

The small self definitely have preferences, as it should have. It is its nature, and vital for its existence and continued survival. It has a preference to staying alive, for not stepping out in front of the bus, for anything that is pleasant and supports life. These preferences are formed partly by biology (biological preferences for survival in many forms), partly by culture (somewhat more arbitrary), and partly by family and personal experience.


If we look at our holarchy of being, from the Relative through to the Absolute, from the small self through to the nature of mind, we see that there can be a number of combinations.

At the level of the Absolute, it is all OK no matter what. At the level of Big Heart, there is a preference for alleviating suffering and for helping to insight into the nature of mind. At the level of the small self, there are any number of preferences – some of which may even appear conflicting.

This means that it can be OK, good and good. OK, good and awful. OK, not good and awful.

In the first case, there is a growing insight into the nature of mind, and a situation aligned with the preferences of the small self. In the second case, there is a growing insight into the nature of mind but a situation not aligned with the preferences of the small self (difficulties which we are able to learn from). In the third case, there is not much (immediate, obvious) learning, and a situation not aligned with the preferences of the small self.

And most of us will experience all three situations throughout the life of the small self. One or another will be more in the foreground during different periods of our life, and they may all occur during the course of a single day as well.

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