Update: links updated, comments updated

Here is my attempt at summarising some of the points from a discussion with Thusness, as well as being a reply to someone's question in my forum.

Update: BTW, there's another very interesting discussion I had with a guy called 'AndrewPKYap' who is as of now at Stage 4 (Presence as Mirror Bright Clarity) according to Thusness's Six Stages of Experience. Here is the link: http://buddhism.sgforums.com/?action=thread_display&thread_id=291164&page=1

I believe the discussion with AndrewPKYap should make it very clear what is the difference between Stage 4 and 5, as well as to elaborate on the Emptiness nature of all phenomena.


http://buddhism.sgforums.com/forums/1728/topics/287232?page=5(some parts updated after corrections by Thusness)

...J. Krishnamurti said, In the gap between subject and object lies the entire misery of humankind.

The fundamental point here is that, without liberating from the basic dualistic assumption of subject-object, you will always be trapped in tanha (desire), and the 2nd noble truth states that tanha (desire) causes suffering (such as lack, fear, anxiety, and dissatisfaction, etc).

What kinds of desires? There are three kinds. Desire for sense pleasure (kama tanha), desire to become (bhava tanha) and desire to get rid of (vibhava tanha).

The problem is that when we desire something, lets say sense pleasure, the more we seek, the wider we split the subject and the object (and as you know there really is no subject apart from object), the more painful and dissatisfactory it is. We then become discontent with life as it is, we cannot see that what is arising now is already self-perfected as it is, we cannot see that all there is is simply conditioned arising -- and a perfect expression of our primordial nature, our Buddha Nature.

Similarly, if something unpleasurable arises, we try to widen the gap between subject and object, we try to shut off, manipulate, get rid of the undesired object from a phantom subject (you) which will not work because there is really no such thing as a subject-object split. And because it can never be done, the more you try to avert it, the more suffering and dissatisfaction you experience.

Comments by Thusness on the paragraphs above:
Yes, it is the split, the separation that causes suffering as well the arising of desire. Without the insight that there is no-split, the mind continues to divide. Desire is an inner deficiency of the mind created to bridge the gap of separation.
In reality, there only is the universe manifesting as it is in itself, conditioned arising, a mere happening that happens to no-one. Whatever arises at that moment, is as it is. If pain arises, it is not 'your pain' from 'your body'. The universe is pain and it is happening to no one because there is no self apart from manifestation.

And the problem of clinging to a desired object then becomes that it is ultimately impermanent, and there is no way that a 'subject' (which never existed) can grasp onto the 'object', since it is empty and ungraspable (utterly transient and ephemeral), being merely only conditioned arising, the aggregation of causes and conditions, and having no reality apart from it.

If you see a colourful flower and a dog and an insect too sees it, you and the dog and the ant are not going to see the same things. The dog is only going to see black and white. Why? Because the nature of the flower is Empty -- there is no graspable 'Essence of Flower' or the 'Flowerness of the Flower' -- Flower is empty of any inherent existence, being only conditioned arising, merely the aggregation of causes and conditions, and having no reality apart from it!

Comments by Thusness on the paragraph above:
This is refining the non-dual experience with the emptiness nature of our awareness from a Buddhist perspective. It will reduce the ‘grasping’ of self significantly if experienced intuitively. That said, we should also bear in mind that the purpose of expounding the emptiness nature of any arising is to realize that the ‘transients’ are really our very Buddha nature. Ultimately ‘emptiness’ is still a ‘raft’ that must be discarded. Practice must enable us to experience the ‘the most real of the appearances’ -- the full vivid aliveness yet empty at that moment. This is the luminous aspect of practice.

Just to illustrate a little on the example of 'flowerness':

There is no ‘the flowerness’ seen by a dog, an insect or us. ‘The flowerness’ is an illusion that does not stay even for a moment, merely an aggregate of causes and conditions. Analogous to the example of ‘flowerness’, there is no ‘selfness’ serving as a background witnessing either -- pristine awareness is not the witnessing background. Rather, the entire whole of the moment of manifestation is our pristine awareness; lucidly clear, yet empty of inherent existence. This the way of ‘seeing’ the one as many, the observer and the observed are one and the same. This is also the meaning of formlessness and attribute-less of our nature.

How does a dualistic mind see it?
A dualistic mind understands differently. A mind that is dualistic is quick to objectify ‘formlessness and atribute-less’ into an empty-invisible-v
oid entity observing transients manifestation. It ‘dualifies’ form from formlessness and attempts to separate from itself. This is not ‘I’, ‘I’ am the changeless and perfect stillness behind the transients appearances. Therefore ‘impersonality’ appears cold and lifeless. But this is not the case for a non-dual practitioner in Buddhism. For him/her, the ‘formlessness and attribute-less’ is vividly alive, full of colors and sounds. ‘Formlessness’ is not understood apart from ‘Forms’ – the ‘form of formlessness’, the texture and fabric of awareness. They are one and the same.
Whatever arises is the whole universe manifesting as that moment. Know that the universe is giving its very best for this moment to arise. All conditions and causes are just right for the birth a moment of manifestation. When this is understood, the 'conditioned arising' is really unconditioned, all spontaneously arise.

If we can understand the the nature of the object we are seeking is in essence empty of any inherent existence, being merely conditioned arising, and that the subject-object relationship is false, there will be complete resting and contentment in the moment of arising. You will not fall under the false dualistic relationship of a 'subject' trying to manipulate the 'external universe', trying to get away from or stop/manipulate what is presently arising, trying to get something better than what is here, trying to shut off yourself from the world, etc.

It is seen that all there is is conditioned arising -- that what you are is simply the scenery, sound of bird chirping, sound of keyboard typing, words appearing on the screen.. there is no observer apart from the observed. As Buddha said, in seeing, only the seen, no seer. In hearing, only the heard, no hearer. (this goes for all other six senses including thinking) And the seen, the heard, the felt, the thought, the taste, all are simply conditioned arising that is empty of any fixed forms, shapes, attributes, etc. Emptiness that has a luminous heart giving rise to infinite potentiality. And that is your nature.

So Buddha Nature is not one! There is no 'The Absolute' but all moments are a reality/'absolute' in itself! (just like there is no 'Essence of Flower', only conditioned manifestation according to causes and conditions) Because Buddha Nature really is the manifold -- the whole universe, everything, as conditioned arising that is empty and never fixed, everchanging. Yet it is not many either! Because all that is inseparable in One Taste, being all the manifestation of our pristine awareness, and being an inseparable wholeness, also known as One Reality or One Mind but really it does not have a single nor multiple realities because its nature is empty. (See the recent topic, the last few posts, A nightmare)

There are lots of various descriptions of our Buddha Nature -- all pervading, brighter than a thousand suns, mirror-like, indestructible. And all conditioned arising is an expression of the unconditioned Buddha Nature. All that is arising is the Buddha. They are all your pristine awareness at that moment with its nature empty -- never the same and never remain (having no existence and reality apart from conditioned arising), nothing apart from the crystal clear manifestation of appearances. Completely and fully real and gone.

A bird is chirping happily outside... just that sound. The whole universe is just that sound. Completely real, but never staying... gone as it arises. Merely a conditioned manifestation that is empty.

Comments by Thusness on the paragraph above:
An extra point:

Here the highlight must not only be the empty nature of ‘sound’ alone, that luminosity as ‘sound’ must similarly be emphasized. When we stripped-off the symbolic representation of ‘bird’, ‘chirping’, ‘outside’, ‘eyes-organ’, ‘ears-organs’, ‘senate reality’ and merely experience in bare, this is the meditative state of intuitively knowing that quality of being luminous in oneness. Oneness as there is nothing to divide when devoid of these symbolic layering. The depth of the crystal clarity of that pure experience – ‘chirping’ is not what language can convey. The point here is not to bring about a scientific study on the topic of qualia but to have a direct feel of the full absorption in the delight of that clear-luminosity of ‘sound’. It is the ‘depth and degree’ of absorptive-clarit
y yet non-staying that is most important; not the symbolic understand of meanings.

It may be a good prompt at this juncture to ask "Is remaining ‘in the mode that is free of symbols’ the only way to experience non-duality?"
Just like patterns of clouds appearing in the sky -- they are all conditioned arising.

...We call it weather, but what is it really? Wind. Rain. Clouds slowly parting. Not the words spoken about it, but just this darkening, blowing, pounding and wetting, and then lightening up, blue sky appearing amid darkness, and sunshine sparkling on wet grasses and leaves. In a little while there'll be frost, snow and ice covers. And then warming again, melting, oozing water everywhere. On an early spring day the dirt road sparkles with streams of wet silver. So—what is weather other than this incessant change of earthly conditions and all the human thoughts, feelings and undertakings influenced by it? Like and dislike. Depression and elation. Creation and destruction. An ongoing, ever-changing stream of happenings abiding nowhere. No real entity weather exists anywhere except in thinking and talking about it....

...Now, is there such an entity as me or I? Or is it just like the weather—an ongoing, ever-changing stream of ideas, images, memories, projections, likes and dislikes, creation and destruction, that thought keeps calling I, me, Toni, and thereby solidifying what is evanescent?...

...How are we to come upon the truth if separateness is taken so much for granted, feels so commonsense?
The difficulty is not insurmountable. Wholeness, our true being, is here all the time, like the sun behind the clouds. Light is here in spite of cloud cover.
What makes up the clouds?...
(see Emptiness and No-Self)

All gain and loss is also simply that -- conditioned arising. The sense of a 'controller' is let go of, no 'self' is in control. This does not mean we will no longer work hard to get good exam results (we can still work for the best), it just means that gain and loss must be seen as conditioned arising. Furthermore, all actions become effortless.

Comments by Thusness on the paragraph above:
Once the sense of self is dissolved, there is totality of action and practice is about this totality in action. There is no question of effort; the only effort comes from the sense of ‘self’. When ‘non-dual and empty’ is fully experienced in our cells and flow in our blood like how dualistic-propensities have so deeply tainted the 5 aggregates, action becomes effortless.
More comments by Thusness on the paragraph above:
The understanding 'of arising as yuan' (yuan = conditions) must be factored to all aspects of our lives. Applying this insight to the six stages of my experiences, you must see them not as indications of stages at all. There are no higher or lower stages, all merely serves as conditions for ‘new insight’ to arise. A practitioner may start from training himself to ‘witness’ the empty nature of phenomena (stage 6) yet still having a clear distinction of observer and observed being dual; but the gradual loosening of ‘solidity’ of all internal or external phenomena having no inherent existence will slowly leads to the non-dual experience.
Practice is about losing oneself and all merely happens as if 'you' never existed. One must eventually undergo a complete psychological death, and be completely dead in the living. As the saying goes -- die before you die. At that moment, deep dreamless sleep where the self completely subsides, is no longer different from conscious state. There is no more attachment, no more unwillingness to completely relinquish the 'self', no more grasping to the need to 'exist' consciously. One requires fearlessness to dissolve this habit of 'self-preservation'... and when that is done, samatha and insight becomes one.
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