Disconnecting from the Preferences of the Small Self

Writing the previous post reminded me of when the “surrender” of personal preferences first became crystal clear to me.

It was one of my first weeklong sesshins at Kanzeon Zen Center (while I was a resident there), and I experienced excruciating pain from sitting cross legged for hours each day. At some point, I could not help but let go of my resistance to this pain – it became so overwhelming and I (as the small self) was so tired that I had to let go. At that moment, the pain surged through me and became just another phenomenon arising in the present. And it even ceased being something I could easily label “pain”. It felt more as cleansing and allowing me to rest as clear space.

It also became very clear how it is this self’s habitual pattern to resist pain, that both the pain and this self’s resistance to it arises within me as space, and that I have a clear choice whether to respond to the situation bringing about pain or not, and how to respond.

If it seems that it could cause long term damage to the body, I can choose to change the position or get a chair. It is seems that there is no or little chance of long term damage, I can just be space for the pain – allowing it to surge through me and being a support in finding myself as crystal clear space and whatever arises in the present.

I see how these habitual patterns and preferences of the self are all conditioned, all parts of the habitual patterns of the world of phenomena (a.ka. “natural laws”). And I find a great appreciation for these patterns, as I see that the world of phenomena would not exist without them, and that humanity and the self would not exist either if it were not for these habitual patterns formed by biology, culture and personal experiences. On a species and individual level, they are essential for survival and propagation (and as “drop” Big Mind, there would be no vehicles for me to be engaged as/in the world of phenomena without these patterns).

At the same time, I am space for these patterns of personal preference – as I am for anything else arising in the present. They become one small piece of the full tapestry arising in the present, which informs if and how I choose to relate to and engage with the situation arising in the present.

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