The Hsin Shin Ming: “1. The Great Way is not difficult. It is to have no preference.”
This first scripture that expresses the core of Buddhism and enlightenment is critical enough to be said to represent the whole contents of this book, the Hsin Shin Ming. An ancient master would say that the first scripture is the core of this book and the rest are details to rephrase this first scripture.
‘The Great Way’ means enlightenment or the true-Self. ‘The Great Way is not difficult’ means that enlightenment is not difficult to attain or that the true-Self is not difficult to see. This scripture means that enlightenment is not difficult to attain, because it is just to have no preference.
According to this scripture, having no preference is attaining enlightenment, that is, we can attain enlightenment or see the true-Self if we have no preference. How can we have no preference then? Is it possible to maintain our life without having preference?
What would you do, for example, if you are asked to respond without preference to the question ‘which do you like better, beer or urine?’? Would you say that either one is fine because making a choice of beer is having preference? Would you say that you would make no choice in order to have no preference? To stick to having no preference is not true ‘having no preference’ but another ‘having preference’, because you prefer ‘having no preference’ over ‘having preference’.
To have no preference, we, above all, should be able to see things as they are and realise that everything is empty in essence. When everything is empty, everything is equal and non-dual as emptiness, however different things may look. When realising the truth, we become aware that there is neither superiority nor inferiority because ‘big’ and ‘small’ and ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are all equal with each other when everything is empty. Furthermore, even preference and non-preference are not different from each other because they are also empty. Besides, when everything is empty, not only the object to prefer but the subject that prefers the object is also empty. Realising that everything including object and subject is non-dual as emptiness is attaining enlightenment, and seeing everything as empty is seeing the true-Self.
Once you have realised that everything is empty, having a great preference for one thing over the other never matters because you know that not only one thing and the other, but also our preference and the result of it are empty.
Therefore, having no preference in this scripture doesn’t mean having no preference at all in our reality but rather being free to have preference without being caught or deluded by illusions, through realising that everything is empty. Then, whatever preference you may have, you are not more worried than necessary about whether your preference is right or wrong, and have no frustration about your preference especially even if it leads to an unexpected result that falls short of your anticipation because you know that everything is empty and equal in essence.
Student: “How can I have no preference?”
Master: “You don’t have to try to have no preference once you realise that it is empty.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway http://ow.ly/i/A7so9