(Last Updated: 3 May 2009)

Recently I participated in a discussion forum in Dharma Overground, never been so chatty in a forum before. It is such a joy sharing one's understanding openly among sincere and experienced practitioners. :-) The discussions are also quite related to some of the mails I received regarding 'Emptiness' and non-dual practices. Originally my intent was to make this post as a simple documentation and summary for my discussions in Dharma Overground, but after some thoughts I see it also appropriate to talk about the experiential insight of the twofold emptiness and how the insights of the twofold Emptiness lead to the full embracement of the transience.

Here is an excerpt from a Buddhist glossary site on the definition of twofold Emptiness:

Two emptinesses (二空) include (1) emptiness of self, the ātman, the soul, in a person composed of the five aggregates, constantly changing with causes and conditions; and (2) emptiness of selves in all dharmas—each of the five aggregates, each of the twelve fields, and each of the eighteen spheres, as well as everything else with no independent existence. No-self in any dharma implies no-self in a person, but the latter is separated out in the first category. Realization of the emptiness of self in a person will lead to attainment of Arhatship or Pratyekabuddhahood. Bodhisattvas who have realized both emptinesses ascend to the First Ground on their Way to Buddhahood.
Let's start from the viewless view aspect of Emptiness.

"In other words, right view is the beginning of the noble path. It is
certainly the case that dependent origination is "correct view"; when one analyzes a bit deeper, one discovers that in the case "view" means being free from views. The teaching of dependent origination is what permits this freedom from views."
I like the comment by Namdrol. He brings out the "viewless" aspect of Dependent Origination. Like Namdrol, I see Dependent Origination as a viewless view that neutralizes all our misconceptions that arise out of the deeply rooted tendency of seeing things 'inherently and dualistically' and eventually gets itself dissolved in the end process. However it must also be understood that "freeing from views" by realizing dependent origination is no ordinary way of negation and is different from the Advaita Vedanta way of negation -- "neti neti". It is not a mere act of rejection but involves a deep realization that 'true freedom' lies in thoroughly seeing through the “non-dual and non-inherent” aspect of whatever arises. It does not deny the conventional; contrary there is the full acknowledgement and total embracement of the conventional. This is very difficult to express. Experientially when one truly sees dependent origination, one sees the essence-less, attribute-less, trait-less, center-less and connectedness and at the same time, sees the full vividness and luminous presence of appearances. In other words, “Emptiness” is 'the wisdom' to see the Absolute in the Relative without the need to 'abstract' the Absolute from the Relative and seeing Reality as one seamless functioning. In fact any attempt to separate is due to our lack of understanding of dependent origination. This is the explicit message I wish to convey through my post to Gozen.

Nevertheless Gozen's intention to impart the feeling expressed by the Buddha in the Mahasihananda Sutta [The Greater Discourse of the Lion's Roar] stanza 30, which concludes with his statement that: "...I abide in safety, fearlessness, and intrepidity" is equally important. What I am proposing is first go center-less, fully embrace the transience and not taint with any marks, the 'Vajra' sensation will naturally arise.

24. RE: The mind and the watcher
Apr 7 2009, 5:46 PM EDT | Post edited: Apr 7 2009, 5:57 PM EDT
"I AM: Paradoxically, one feels at the same time that one is both essentially untouched by all phenomena and yet intimately at one with them. As the Upanishad says "Thou are That."

1.a. Body and Mind as Constructs: Another way to look at this is to observe that all compound things -- including one's own body and mind -- are **objects to awareness.** That is to say, from the "fundamental" point of view of primordial awareness, or True Self, even body and mind are **not self.**"

Ha Gozen, I re-read the post and saw **not self**, I supposed u r referring to anatta then I have to disagree...:-). However I agree with what that u said from the Vedanta (True Self) standpoint. But going into it can make it appears unnecessary complex.

As a summary, I see anatta as understanding the **transience** as Awareness by realizing that there is no observer apart from the observed. Effectively it is referring to the experience of in seeing, only scenery, no seer. In hearing, only sound, no hearer. The experience is quite similar to “Thou are That” except that there is no sinking back to a Source as it is deemed unnecessary. Full comfort is found in resting completely as the transience without even the slightest need to refer back to a source. For the source has always been the manifestation due to its emptiness nature.

All along there is no dust alighting on the Mirror; the dust has always been the Mirror. We fail to recognize the dust as the Mirror when we are attached to a particular speck of dust and call it the ”Mirror”; When a particular speck of dust becomes special, then all other pristine happening that are self-mirroring suddenly appears dusty.

Anything further, we will have to take it private again. :-)

That said, in order to have a complete experience of Awareness as the arising and passing transience, we must have direct knowledge of the twofold Emptiness. We must also be aware of the subtle influences of the tendencies that make experiences appear dualistic and inherent. Without being aware of how deeply we are being affect, it will be difficult for us to appreciate how the twofold Emptiness can serve as the antidote for these tendencies.

Just how strong and subtle are these imprints and why are these tendencies called 'imprints'? They are called 'imprints' because they seemed quite beyond the power of the conscious mind to do anything and despite years of practices, practitioners can still feel pretty helpless unless there is a break-through in the form of insights. They are like magical spells that shape experiences and distort understandings without practitioners even noticing them as what I have shared in my following 3 posts to garyrh.

152. RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Tuesday, 10:04 AM EDT | Post edited: Tuesday, 10:04 AM EDT

If we ask “Who am I”, does the question already condition the experience from beginning? If we look for a 'who' and enters into the realm of pure, it naturally becomes a pure subject. Is the subject that important in the realm of pure? Similarly when we say 'here and now', has the mind already pre-assumed the existence of space and time?

If for a moment we are able to free ourselves from of all sort of definitions and labellings, feel the bare sensations without words, feel 'aliveness', feel 'existence' then search with our entire being its 'location'. Have the same sort of 'awakeness' for 'location' as we have for “I AM”. Is impermanence a movement from here to there?

If we penetrate deeply, it will reveal that there is nothing here, nothing now, nothing self, yet, there is vivid appearance. There is only always vivid appearance which is the very living presence that dependently originates whenever condition is. And what that dependently originates does not arise, does not cease, does not come, does not go.

We may then have an intuitive glimpse that direct path and vipassana are intimately related. :-)

226. RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Thursday, 12:46 AM EDT | Post edited: Thursday, 12:46 AM EDT
"Just clarifying the "inmost of our consciousness" is not Awareness? Is this correct?"Hi Gary,

Yes, it is not that luminous cognizance, knowing (not knower),

That 'awakening' to the 'knowingness' is most important but after that it is immediately distorted by our understanding of it. There is a difference and must be correctly discern. To completely dissolve all subtle influences from these traces in one go is almost impossible.

What you have experienced and awake to is most precious, you touch the most real and pristine. It is preventing the distortion of that 'awakenness' that is the challenge, more tricky that we can imagine. I can only say the dualistic absolute-relative dichotomy is not able to effectively understand the non-dual, non-local nature of Awareness. Try to understand dependent origination in a non-dual and non-local context. You will appreciate it later and find delights in expressing that way.

Hope that helps. :-)

228. RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Thursday, 12:59 AM EDT | Post edited: Thursday, 1:15 AM EDT
"Oh Wow got it! The system itself causes the separation and in moving out of the system we see our true nature."

Yes! It is very subtle, like a magical spell. Infact 'ignorance' is also a form of knowing; a very very deep and conditioned form of relative knowing. The subject-object way of seeing things is not the only way, it is just a convenient way but has since then become ultimate. When we are not completely out of the subtle influences, it is advisable to have firm establishment of the right view of dependent origination (a non-dual and non-local view) and practice with this new 'awaken eye of immediacy'. When the non-dual and non-local direct experience dawn, the emptiness view will dissolve itself. It too is a raft. :)

Happy Journey.
Never underestimate the subtlety of these tendencies. They are so strong and subtle that even the antidote introduced can turn around and becomes the virus! This is exactly what happened to some practitioners. To them "Emptiness" or “Dependent Origination” are treated as a teaching to disassociate the Absolute from the transience phenomena in order to have clear glimpse of the formless Absolute. This happens when we see Absolute as distinctly separated from the relative. Very often we see practitioners holding such view shunting from the transience and attempt to rest in the Absolute. This is obviously a mistaken view; it will be quite illogical for Buddhism to place such emphasis on Dependent Origination if the sole purpose is simply to ‘disassociate’ the mind from the arising and passing phenomena. For those that have some experiences and realization of the Absolute, I strongly recommend the article on Nondual Emptiness Teachings by Dr Greg Goode, a very enlightened practitioner who after the realization of the Non-Dual Absolute and clear experience of no-self, is still able to humble himself and further penetrates the profundity of ‘Emptiness’. (Recently he updated his articles to include another section on The Experience of Emptiness, do visit!)

The Absolute as separated from the transience is what I have indicated as the 'Background' in my 2 posts to theprisonergreco.

84. RE: Is there an absolute reality? [Skarda 4 of 4]
Mar 27 2009, 9:15 AM EDT | Post edited: Mar 27 2009, 9:15 AM EDT
Hi theprisonergreco,

First is what exactly is the ‘background’? Actually it doesn’t exist. It is only an image of a ‘non-dual’ experience that is already gone. The dualistic mind fabricates a ‘background’ due to the poverty of its dualistic and inherent thinking mechanism. It ‘cannot’ understand or function without something to hold on to. That experience of the ‘I’ is a complete, non-dual foreground experience.

When the background subject is understood as an illusion, all transience phenomena reveal themselves as Presence. It is like naturally 'vipassanic' throughout. From the hissing sound of PC, to the vibration of the moving MRT train, to the sensation when the feet touches the ground, all these experiences are crystal clear, no less “I AM” than “I AM”. The Presence is still fully present, nothing is denied. -:) So the “I AM” is just like any other experiences when the subject-object split is gone. No different from an arising sound. It only becomes a static background as an after thought when our dualistic and inherent tendencies are in action.

The first 'I-ness' stage of experiencing awareness face to face is like a point on a sphere which you called it the center. You marked it.

Then later you realized that when you marked other points on the surface of a sphere, they have the same characteristics. This is the initial experience of non-dual. Once the insight of No-Self is stabilized, you just freely point to any point on the surface of the sphere -- all points are a center, hence there is no 'the' center. 'The' center does not exist: all points are a center.

After then practice move from 'concentrative' to 'effortlessness'. That said, after this initial non-dual insight, 'background' will still surface occasionally for another few years due to latent tendencies...

86. RE: Is there an absolute reality? [Skarda 4 of 4]
Mar 27 2009, 11:59 AM EDT | Post edited: Mar 27 2009, 11:59 AM EDT
To be more exact, the so called 'background' consciousness is that pristine happening. There is no a 'background' and a 'pristine happening'. During the initial phase of non-dual, there is still habitual attempt to 'fix' this imaginary split that does not exist. It matures when we realized that anatta is a seal, not a stage; in hearing, always only sounds; in seeing always only colors, shapes and forms; in thinking, always only thoughts. Always and already so. -:)
Many non-dualists after the intuitive insight of the Absolute hold tightly to the Absolute. This is like attaching to a point on the surface of a sphere and calling it 'the one and only center'. Even for those Advaitins that have clear experiential insight of no-self (no object-subject split), an experience similar to that of anatta (First emptying of subject) are not spared from these tendencies. They continue to sink back to a Source.

It is natural to reference back to the Source when we have not sufficiently dissolved the latent disposition but it must be correctly understood for what it is. Is this necessary and how could we rest in the Source when we cannot even locate its whereabout? Where is that resting place? Why sink back? Isn't that another illusion of the mind? The 'Background' is just a thought moment to recall or an attempt to reconfirm the Source. How is this necessary? Can we even be a thought moment apart? The tendency to grasp, to solidify experience into a 'center' is a habitual tendency of the mind at work. It is just a karmic tendency. Realize It! This is what I meant to Adam the difference between One-Mind and No-Mind.

284. RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Saturday, 2:20 AM EDT | Post edited: Saturday, 2:20 AM EDT
"Bypasser, that's it my brother! Very nice description indeed! :-) Note I also stated phenomena or appearance is not caused by or separate from essence per se - they are fundamentally inseparable. And yet, clearly, it is false to say that because appearance is dependently arising and yet one in essence, that it follows Dharmakaya is also dependently arise, right?

In kind regards,

Adam."Hi Adam,

Yes. I agree with you on this.

Just a casual point I want to make. In practice, there is also a difference between staying in "One Mind" and "No Mind". I see it this way. Since the source is without any traits, essence, attributes, any attempt to grasp or hold is not IT. What grasped is always only an image, a snapshot, a trace of IT. However when there is no grasping and holding, whatever arises is IT. Whether at rest or in movement, manifest or unmanifested, All is IT.

Thanks for sharing!

286. RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Saturday, 3:30 AM EDT | Post edited: Saturday, 3:30 AM EDT
@ ByPasser: "Just a casual point I want to make. In practice, there is also a difference between staying in "One Mind" and "No Mind". I see it this way. Since the source is without any traits, essence, attributes, any attempt to grasp or hold is not IT. What grasped is always only an image, a snapshot, a trace of IT. However when there is no grasping and holding, whatever arises is IT. Whether at rest or in movement, manifest or unmanifested, All is IT."

Hey mate,

Yep, I could not agree more - absolutely love it. It is for that exact reason that I am inclined to Shikantaza - just sitting-no-mind. This is the underlying assumption implicit to my thread on Shikantaza, as I see it. If you haven't read it, I'd be interested in hearing what you think.

In kind regards,

Yet we find it so hard not to 'hold and grasp'. We must be deeply aware of how the tendency of the mind plays tricks on us. How it managed to fool us into believing that dissociation is 'letting go' which in actual case is really another subtle form of 'grasping'.

It is here that I find delight in the teaching of Dependent Origination. It points out the problem and solve it from the root. With Dependent Origination, we are able to identify the many faces of the 'tendency that solidifies' and dissolve the 'dualistic and inherent' knot of perception. In my opinion, we cannot understand Dependent Origination from a 'dualistic and local' standpoint. I never understand it that way. Perhaps due to my “I AM” and Anatta experience and most importantly my faith in Buddha's teaching, there is an immediate recognition that this teaching of Dependent Origination is pointing towards a non-dual and non-local aspect of our pristine nature. In fact it is more descriptive than hypothetical -- a description of the workings of the actual experiential reality right at this instantaneous mind moment. Once the view, the non-dual experience and the tendencies that cause the solidifying and splitting of experiences are clearly seen through, practitioners will be able to progress smoothly to "No Mind".

In "No Mind", one is clear that the entire idea of “I” and “mine” is learnt; even 'here and now' is learnt; there is nothing 'essence', nothing 'substantial', nothing 'here'. 'Self', 'Now' or 'Here' is no more special than an arising scent, a passing thought, a resounding bell. Empty yet vividly clear and present. The transience is fully embraced in Zen as "No Mind".

Similarly in Theravada mind is being de-constructed and not experienced as an entity but as mind moments. The transience is also fully embraced when we clearly see that mind as an arising moment is itself non-dual, non-local and complete. Mind moment does not arise or cease anywhere in particular. This is what I tried to bring out in Dharma Overground. Unfortunately, the conditions aren't there and I am unable to convey this message across clearly. :-)

An interesting point worth mentioning is about the maps and techniques detailed in Daniel's MCTB (Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha). It is a very systematic way of leading one step by step towards the full integration of the transience. It is also the state of "No Mind" in Zen. Paraphrasing from Kenneth, "once we are familiar with the vocabulary, we are effectively talking the same stuff". That said, I think what lacks in the approach of MCTB is an effective way to allow practitioners to have adequate experience of the vividness, realness and presence of Awareness and the full experience of these qualities in the transience. Without which it will not be easy to realize that "the arising and passing sensations are the very awareness itself." A balance is therefore needed, otherwise practitioners may experience equanimity but skew towards dispassion and lack realization.

Lastly, if full integration of the source and transience is completely realized and spontaneously perfected, then all words are futile and it becomes quite pointless muddling over views as I have indicated in the post below to Kenneth and xsurf. But before undergoing the twofold Emptiness purification of the tendencies, it is advisable not to dispel the teaching of 'Emptiness' as irrelevant too quickly. :-)

78. RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Apr 18 2009, 9:41 AM EDT | Post edited: Apr 18 2009, 9:41 AM EDT
@Kenneth: “As I've pointed out before, the very fact that enlightened people speak about their experiences in such diverse ways puts the lie to any facile theory of one enlightenment for all.”

Therefore the enlightened penetrates beyond forms, situations, conditions, all arbitrary opinions and communicates directly. :-) The simplest thing that is indivisibly whole, is no difference from this breathe, this sound. A thousands years ago, a thousand years later and now, still, this breathe, this sound. Neither the same nor different, always so primordial.

283. RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Saturday, 2:04 AM EDT | Post edited: Saturday, 2:04 AM EDT
"Hi ByPasser,

You teacher will not want you to engage in too much thoughts. Rather touched directly the essence.

In hearing, Tao is.
Seeing forms, Mind is.
No mind, Zen is.
In movement is where your practice is. :)
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