Teaching Strategies: Appreciation vs. Dismissing

Having been exposed to a few teachings and teaching strategies, I see that one way to group them is into the way of appreciation and the way of dismissing.

One approach, which I find for instance in Zen, is to appreciate what arises. It is all the play of the Buddha Mind, and anything arising internal and external to the small self is OK when I find myself as space for it. When I find myself as Big Mind, it is all the play of Big Mind. Here, I find deep appreciation for my life as a small self, and – to the extent I find myself as space for it – for anything arising in the present.

The other approach is that of dismissing and putting down anything that has to do with the small self, and this is done to help us disidentify with the small self. Of course, any teaching approach is appropriate in certain circumstances and there is different medicine for different people and different circumstances. At the same time, if this view is not balanced with that of appreciation, it can set up some pretty unhealthy dynamics, and reinforce a dualistic view as well.

Of course, a fully transdual approach would emphasize both, as many Buddhist traditions and teachers do. They emphasize appreciation of what is, as arising within me as space and perfect expressions of Buddha Mind. And they emphasize the suffering inherent in being only identified with the small self. Both are accurate. Why not emphasize both?

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