Just Don't Pick and Choose


We have likes and dislikes. Things that we like we want to hold onto. And we do, we hold onto them. It’s not so much that we’re attached to them. They take root in us. Can you just feel it, sinking its roots in, taking over? You see these things you really want, these things you really like. Then there are things we don’t like. And we get kind of a reverse attachment to that. We’re attached to not wanting it. So where do these likes and dislikes come from? What can we do about them? The earliest Zen poem that we have, by the third patriarch Tseng San, begins “The Great Way is not difficult. Just don’t pick and choose. Cut off all likes and dislikes and it is clear like space.” Cut off all likes and dislikes… But how can we do that? That’s how attachment starts. You can say: that’s just human nature. You like things that taste good, that feel good. People who are nice to you, you like. People who are not nice to you, you don’t like… So if you really look at the likes and dislikes you have—I’m not saying they’re good or bad—but if you really look at the likes and dislikes, then attachment diminishes. In fact, if you really look at anything at all, it’s a way of letting go of it. It ceases to control you when you really see it for what it is.