Thursday, April 22, 2010


How does one practice so as to not to have preferences? I am caught in the world of preferences.


  1. Learning to skillfully make preferences; letting go of the traps of language and not being blinded by the "mystical" zen-language.

    Remember the classical definition of Right Effort?

    Even in right concentration, with purity of mindfulness and equanimity, we are making preferences. Eventually we see this is also a construction. It is then that we let go and we are no longer preoccupied by preferences and rejections.

    But if you want a "more zen" answer: Whatever you do will not do: what do you do?

    Good luck and gassho

  2. Dear Myochi,

    Thank you for raising this important topic.

    Serious consideration of this question has never failed to inspire my own pursuit on the Zen path of practice-enlightenment. Eihei Dogen is one Zen master that has offered many encouraging words for me on this issue. For instance:

    Whenever there is a person of unsurpassed enlightenment, we call such a one ‘a Buddha’. When the unsurpassed enlightenment of a Buddha arises, we call this state ‘unsurpassed enlightenment’. Those who do not recognize how someone looks at the time of his or her being in such a state must surely be befuddled. This so-called ‘look’ is that of being untainted. ‘Being untainted’ does not mean being deliberately devoid of any purpose or refusing to make choices, nor is it being compulsively preoccupied with trying to be aimless or glossing over everything. How could there possibly be an untainted state in which someone is devoid of any purpose and refuses to make choices! For instance, upon meeting someone, the untainted person does not bring to mind judgmental thoughts concerning just how that other person looks. And with both flowers and the moon, such a one does not think of adding anything to their present brightness and color. Such a one does not attempt to evade the feelings that a spring day is spring just as it is, or that the beauty or dreariness of an autumn day is autumn just as it is, and he or she will be aware that this is not to be taken as being separate from himself, or even as being part and parcel of himself. But such a one may reflect upon the sounds of spring and autumn as being part of himself or as being separate from himself. And there is nothing that such a one is adding to himself nor does he have any thought that even now he still has a self. This means that such a one will not see the four elements and the five skandhas of the present as himself, nor will he trace them back to someone else. Hence, we should not treat the images in the mind which are evoked by flowers and moon as being ourself, though we are prone to do so. If we consider that which is not ourself to be our self, well then, we do so, but when we illumine the condition where there is no color that repels us nor any that attracts us, then our everyday behavior as monks who have realized the Way conceals nothing, for this is what our original Buddha Nature is.
    Shobogenzo, Yui Butsu Yo Butsu, Hubert Nearman

    I hope this proves helpful.

    [If you are interested in more on Master Dogen's teachings on preferring, choosing, and deciding, paste this "url" (from the "Flatbed Sutra Zen Blog") in your browser:
    At the

    Thanks again!

    Ted Biringer

  3. It seems to me that the only way not to have preferences is to observe the preferences, and not react to them. To accept as perfect that we have preferences.