About this statement, “It is important to accommodate all persons and circumstances [CH13 of Bhagavad Gita]. It is also foolish to like or dislike any person or circumstance (in a binding or invested way).”
Surely we can still have PREFERENCES with respect to persons and circumstances, right?
So my question is, what is the difference between likes-dislikes and a PREFERENCE?
I also heard that likes-dislikes can be of two types, (a) binding, and (b) non-binding.
(a) Binding likes-dislikes (vasanas) is being emotionally invested or tied-up in their sustenance for sake of our well-being.
EG: Person likes a TV show so much; they absolutely need to see it on a daily bases, otherwise cranky and agitated.
(b) Non-binding likes-dislikes (vasanas) is a PREFERENCE.
EG: I really don’t like asparagus. But circumstances dictate I should eat it anyway (perhaps someone made it for me and I don’t want to hurt their feelings). I can eat it, and the fact I don’t happen to like it, is not a problem. Whereas if I had a binding dislike for asparagus, I'd absolutely refuse it, NO MATTER WHAT.
Comment on these distinctions.
When we say “likes-dislikes (raga-dvesha in Sanskrit)”, they have 2 functions…
FUNCTION 1: Jiva (liberated or not) will always have likes and dislikes due to fact that subtle body (sukshma-sharira) is basically a package of vasanas/samskaras – which are rigid habits in the unconscious mind or impressions from past experiences.
This category of likes-dislikes forms our entire personality. Dislike for asparagus. Like for palak paneer (Indian dish). How we speak. What we say. When we say it. Our hobbies. Our tempers. Our thinking style.
FUNCTION 2: The mechanism of likes-dislikes provide us with capacity to discern between…
- Morally right (dharma) / wrong (adharma).
- Appropriate / inappropriate.
- Actions that are in harmony with the physical, psychological, and moral laws of the universe — and those that run counter to it.
For example we'll say, “I LIKE to care for my dear one”. Or “I DISLIKE lying because it makes me feel guilty”.
Metaphorically, function-2 is like a GATE through which function-1 (personality) is always flowing.
Meaning all our likes-dislikes are inspected by the universal order of dharma. Anything that opposes dharma is adharma.
For example, when our dislike for asparagus flows through the function-2 GATE — the voice of universal-dharma says…
“It's appropriate to eat the friend's asparagus who cooked it with love and care. Don't hurt their feelings because you wouldn't want your guest rejecting your well-prepared dish”.
If we eat the asparagus and able to relatively enjoy it in company of our friend — that's called a non-binding vasana. Or simple a PREFERENCE.
If you reject the asparagus (by making it about your so-called standards), and consequently hurt the friend's feelings — that's certainly a binding vasana.
A binding vasana is insensitive to the environment. Thus able to override the voice of function-2.
In summary: As long as you don’t feel the object of your desire (like-dislike) is essential to your well-being, then the preference has no power to cause suffering.
Thus, you can have a million non-binding desires (PREFERENCES) and be free — whereas have only one binding like-dislike and remain bound.
A wise person is without binding samskaras.
Here's a diagram of above explanation…