Like and love

There is a big difference between like and love, and perhaps also not such a difference.


With love, I can (a) develop or find love for anyone/thing, and (b) notice it’s already loved, it’s already love. The first may happen through prayer, tonglen, ho’o and other practices. The second may happen through any of the previous ones, and also inquiry. And I don’t really “develop” love, of course. I may invite in a feeling or state of love, which comes and goes as a guest as any other feelings and states, and that may be very helpful. It may even be helpful in noticing that I am and everyone/thing already is love. In my experience, beliefs is what stops me from noticing my love for everyone/thing, and noticing I and it all is already love. So inquiry is a good tool to invite beliefs to unravel, revealing all as already love. This is a love that’s not a feeling, not a state, although recognizing it can – in a sense – be called a state, a state of recognition.


In terms of liking, I may (a) initially like someone or not, (b) then like the person because I find love, and (c) still want or not want to spend time with that person, and like or not in that sense. Initially, I like someone, something or a situation, or not, and that may come (partly, mostly?) from personality and/or beliefs. Then, as I develop or find love for him/her/it, I like because of that love. And if it’s a person, I notice I still am free to be with that person or not, and like or not in that sense.


When I write someone/thing or he/she/it here, it’s because the “object” is just about anything in the world. It can be a person. An emotion, pain, memory, wound. A thought, including my images of the world, others, and myself. A situation. Taking a thought as true. Or anything else.


So I can be oblivious to my love for someone. I can develop love for that person, including through different practices. I can notice my love that’s already here, and that the person and I already are love.

I may initially like that person or not. I may then like the person because of finding my love for him or her. And I will still chose to spend time with that person, or not, and in that sense like him or her, or not.

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Likes and dislikes

There are many aspects to the likes & dislikes of this personality…

When there are beliefs around it, and we are identified with these likes & dislikes, there is often a sense of reactivity and compulsiveness around it. I either resist acting on them, or act on them compulsively. And it is generally quite unpleasant.

Free from beliefs, there is more clarity and also more kindness to myself and others. The kindness to myself includes taking the preferences of this personality more seriously. And this clarity and kindness to myself and others influences when I act and don’t act on these preferences, and how I do it.

When there is a baseline of clarity and kindness to myself and others, and a release of identification with the preferences of the personality, there is freedom to take these preferences seriously, to act on them when it seems appropriate, and to not act on them when that seems appropriate. It all depends on the situation, and is guided by whatever kindness, clarity and experience is available to us.

In this context, the preferences of this personality flavors the more impersonal clarity and kindness. It makes it personal, human, gives it a unique quality that only this human self can bring to it.

Said another way… the preferences of this personality flavors how Big Mind/Heart expresses and experiences itself in the world, whether awake to itself or not.

And that is one of the reasons why there is more than one of us 😉

As so many have said before, each human being, each living creature, every phenomenon, is the mask of God. It is God expressing and exploring itself as everything we see in the universe and the world, as everything we know from our selves.

And God never repeats itself. Each being and phenomenon is a unique expression, a unique flavor. One that has never been before, and will never be again, in that exact way.

So why not embrace who we are, this particular human self, with all its flaws and strangeness? It is one of the flavors of God. And the only way to taste the fullness of life.

Free to dislike

It is funny how clarity comes with a freedom to dislike, to take the preferences of this personality more seriously.

When there is a release from beliefs through inquiry, I relate to myself and others from more kindness and clarity. And being kind with myself includes taking the preferences of this personality seriously.

When in the grips of beliefs, there is often a sense of lack of freedom to act on likes and dislikes. It feels reactive, compulsive and unpleasant.

Free from beliefs, there is a freedom to act from personal preferences, but now from clarity and kindness to myself and others, instead of from reactivity and compulsiveness. And if I am unable to act from the likes and dislikes of this personality, or choose to not act on them (there are many reasons to not act on them), I am OK with that too.

This shift, taking the personal preferences of this personality more seriously when there is a freedom from beliefs, is one of the many (apparent) ironies of this process.

Moving at the three centers, and in life

When I do inquiry, I notice a relatively common pattern for myself…

As long as I hold onto a belief around something, my relationship with it in my daily life tends to be relatively stuck. Either that, or I relate to it from reactivity and a sense of compulsiveness.

But when things start moving, when my view is released from rigidity and I am able to see the validity of the turnarounds, when my heart opens, when reactivity shifts to a sense of nurturing fullness, my relationship to the topic of my initial belief tends to move as well.

It brings a sense of freedom into my relationship with it. I am not so stuck in habitual patterns around it.

So for instance, doing an inquiry around not enjoying the bus rides where I live not only helped me release the beliefs around it, but also gave me the freedom to find alternative ways to relate to it in my daily life. I find myself taking the bus less and using other modes of transportation more. And when I am on the bus, I feel more free to shut noise out through headphones and music, making the ride more pleasant for me.

In short, I am more kind to myself, and – maybe ironically – I take my personal preferences more seriously.

Being kind to myself also means taking my personal preferences seriously, but now from more clarity, and not from reactivity and compulsiveness.