• Taken from Dharma Connection

  • David Vardy
  • David Vardy Fluidity, Illusion-like spaciousness, follows the realization that only pure functioning is what's happening. Knowing this verbing without object or subject eliminates the tendency towards reification. Singular functioning without agent, when realized with absolute conviction, is literally mind blowing. There are no longer 'things' which last, no source, no background. The ground has literally dropped out along with any question of how this might be happening or not happening. The brilliance of suchness lies in the fact it doesn't last.
  • John Tan
  • John Tan Hi David,

    Not only that it does not last and is insubstantial but it is non-arisen.

    Anatta sees through the self (background) and with that freedom from the layer that obscures, everything becomes magnificently clear and real.

    However when we attempt to further deconstruct the foreground appearance, for example, looking clearly at a red flower, where is this "redness" of the flower?

    Outside? Inside? My consciousness or Soh's consciousness or dog's consciousness?

    So clear, vivid and undeniable yet was never truly there. How does what that was "never truly there" disappear?

    Likewise for sound. Hit a bell - Tingsss..non-dually clear and undeniable. Where is this crystal clear sound? Outside? Inside? Soh's consciousness, Albert's consciousness, dog's consciousness? No one sentient being hears the same "tingsss"...

    Look at everything around...so vivid and lurid...touch anything...so solid and undeniable...when seen with DO, every intrinsic characteristic can never be found despite being fully present!

    Same applies to sensations, colors, shapes, scent, sound, thoughts...all experiences r like that...empty and non-arising.

    So when background self is negated, foreground appearances become magnificently real, it does not become illusion-like.

    What is the actual taste of negating "A" from the "(inherent) existence" of A?

    Only when foreground appearances r negated of it's existence, then experience becomes illusion-like...it cannot be otherwise. For everything clearly appears but when seen with the eyes of dependent arising, it is never truly there...it is just illusion-like (not that it wants to b named that way) :P

    Seeing dependent arising is amazing!
    Whatever appears is non-arisen; indestructible by being not real and phenomena links without being "connected".
    Everything simply turns magic!

    Good night!
  • David Vardy
  • David Vardy Beautifully said John. Thank you.
  • Neony Karby
  • Neony Karby "phenomena links without being "connected"."
    Please elaborate a little on this John Tan , as 'disjointed' is a word often used and smells a little of what you say here.
    Great thread.
  • Lisa Kahale
  • Lisa Kahale So perfect. Thanks for re-posting this, Soh Wei Yu.
  • Soh Wei Yu
  • Soh Wei Yu Hi Neony Karby I had a related conversation with John Tan last month:

    John Tan

    12/3, 12:55am
    John Tan

    Is this current thought free from the previous thought? Does the previous thought meet the current thought? Is this present thought completely free or completely determined by previous thought? U can understand "conditionality" by observing this, the nature of thoughts and nature of experience. Conditionality is neither determinism nor free will...it is the middle path, the "cause and effect" of Buddhism.
    John Tan
    12/3, 12:59am
    John Tan

    So don't look elsewhere, look directly into ur experience.
    Soh Wei Yu
    12/3, 1:20am
    Soh Wei Yu

    What is cause and effect with inherency? --> u mean without
    John Tan
    12/3, 1:20am
    John Tan


    If we continue to look for the carrying medium between 2 moment of thoughts, profound insight of anatta will not arise and non-locality will not dawn. Our mode of perception will be obscured by the inherent way of understanding things.
    Soh Wei Yu
    12/3, 1:29am
    Soh Wei Yu


    its like listening to music... the previous note never 'caused' the current note... yet without the previous note the current note will not be played. its conditioned arising but without causal agent

    is that right?
    John Tan
    12/3, 1:38am
    John Tan

    Yes. Look into ur experience. It is directly pointing at the nature of experience.

    John Tan
    12/3, 10:45am
    John Tan

    When listening to music, the beautiful music is form from the flowing notes but each note when hit is already gone. How is the music heard? It is said that "music" is a convention designated in dependence on it parts -- the flowing notes. The "music" is empty and non-arising. The notes never really "meet" each other, nvr caused each other yet the current note depends on the previous to be played. So "conditionality" but not a causal agent having the inherent power to effect. What is this telling u abt designation, emptiness, conditionality and dependent arising? They r telling u the nature of experience, the nature of mind.
  • John Tan
  • John Tan Hi Neony,

    It is a practice that I do to integrate dependent arising (conceptual) and non-dual appearance (non-conceptual) to deepen my understanding of the nature of mind/experience. Just a casual blah out of a spur of interest.

    There is something special about seeing dependent arising and applying it to subject, object, action or connection between them…when analyzed, the object of investigation always disappear like a mystical cloud. A sense of wonder never fail to arise whenever what that is so intimately felt to exist when sought cannot be found.

    If we examine “the link” whether conventionally, conceptually or non-conceptually, it always turn fuzzy and blur….

    Like looking at the relationship of a father and son…no physical connection found but the bond is tight and “real”…

    Like long and short…light and darkness…linked but where exactly is the connection…

    Like previous thought and current thought…like sound that is heard by hitting a bell…

    If we examine layer by layer from non-conceptual hearing of a sound and its causal dependencies to the conventional relationship of a father and son…it is always like that…no true concrete solid connection can be established or found yet it is undeniably “linked”.

    We may think what has the mystical arising of sound and its causal dependencies or “tableness” dependent on its parts got to do with the relationship of a father and son…but if we look closely...it is actually the same taste.

    We go through again and again until the taste of dependent arising pervades one’s entire experience much like how dualistic and inherent mode of cognition invaded our mind stream. Eventually one begins to intuit the cause of grasping, contrivance and all artificialities is directly related to the seeing of essence in a very subtle way. Purge of seeing essence in subject, object, actions and connections, mind releases itself and experience turns magic, spontaneous and natural.

    Just a casual sharing. Thanks!
Thusness told me, "Very good video...should put in our website...so many things to learn from what he said."

"I like this video a lot.  This is the attitude you should have..."I don't want to mislead anyone in the world"... so don't bullshit and over claim anything.." "...You cannot think into knowing because u need to go deeply into your body... You need to feel your body in a different way.  Then you can experience differently with your Anatta insights... ...You cannot talk about (demarcating) this is health, this is spiritual. For a spiritual person it is all integrated."

Also see: Color, Sound, Lights and Rays
Rainbow Body and Thusness's Advice to Me
Clarifications on Dharmakaya and Basis by Loppön Namdrol/Malcolm
Clarifications on the Term "Rigpa"
Turiya vs Dzogchen
Jax's (Jackson Peterson) Message (on the aspect of Luminosity)  

Kyle Dixon wrote in Dharma Connection:

"I put together a brief overview, composed of some entries I've written before that are tethered together with new writing. It is a lot, but hopefully it sort of paints a picture of the differences between these two views:

In Dzogchen we are working wi
th our own mind, and our mind is personal, it is our own as opposed to someone else's. My mind is not your mind, and vice versa. And each of our mind's has its own noetic capacity, or "awareness", which are distinct and separate. This model is quite different from Advaita Vedanta, for example, which proposes a single transpersonal awareness. So whereas the awareness of Vedanta is a global and all-encompassing, ontological principle, the species of awareness proposed by Dzogchen (and other Buddhist tenet systems in general) is relegated to an individuated mind-continuum.

And this is the major difference. Advaita is saying there is a single, ontological continuum that subsumes all minds, collectively, and all phenomena. This is like saying that all fires have the very same continuum of heat, akin to a singular field of heat that alone exists and extends through every instance of fire. That is why their model is "transpersonal", because their ultimate is not expressed in distinct minds, but rather every instance of allegedly personal consciousness is actually part of a single overarching continuum.

However that is not the Buddhist view works. In Buddhism, each mind has its own nature. Each and every nature is the same in that they share the same generic characteristic, but those natures are not the "same" as in a single, all-encompassing, ontological field. They are simply identical in that they all share the same characteristic. Just two candles are not actually sharing the same heat that extends through space between them. The candle flames simply share a characteristic of "heat", yet each instance of heat is distinct and separate, belonging to the specific flame in question. This is the same for the nature of our mind.

Differences like this used to confuse me and I didn't really understand how Dzogchen could eventually get to a free and liberating place while founding its praxis on what appeared to be a limited view of individual minds and so on. But interestingly enough it does in fact allow for that apparent separation to collapse or fall away, it just does it in a different manner than Advaita does.

One of the most vital principles to understand in this respect is one that is a prominent tenet of Mahayana, and that is the "two-truths", which are (i) relative truth (and also conventional truth), and (ii) ultimate truth. These ideas that are found in Madhyamaka and so on will be important to understand when approaching Dzogchen. Why are they important? Because in Buddhism and Dzogpachenpo minds are not held to be real, they are merely conventional, and this is very important to understand, because this conventional status is what allows for one's mind to be unique and distinct, while at the same time ultimately being devoid of subtantiality.

Conventional truth is essentially going to be the world of plain old everyday things. We can say that "conventions" in the context we are concerned with here is the working idea of a person, place, thing, etc. Other examples of conventions that Greg Goode has pointed out before are "Gestures, customs, ethics, esthetic tastes, norms and standards, rules, laws, fashion, language as a whole. Teachings and traditions, etc." But in general a conventional "truth" is going to be defined as "something can be tacitly accepted as long as it is not critically investigated, that is characterized by arising and decay, and that has causal effectivity." Or at least that is how an Indian scholar named Śāntarakṣita defines "conventional truth". I find it to be an apt definition.

So in that way conventional truth is going to be something (even everyday things) that appear to function smoothly, but if closely investigated will be revealed as false (and Buddhism does say that everything is ultimately false, so to speak).

Conventional truth is then contrasted with "ultimate truth", which is the emptiness of a given convention. So a car is a convention, and the emptiness of the car is the ultimate truth of the car. The cat is a convention, and the emptiness of the cat is the ultimate truth of the cat.

Conventional truth is also a subdivision of what is called "relative truth", and relative truth is the way things appear to a mind that confuses things to be real. When we perceive a person, place or thing and mistake those things to be truly real, having originated (birth) at a certain point in time, and susceptible to decay or destruction (death), this is relative truth.

Now, you may have heard that Dzogchen does not employ the two-truths model, and it is true Dzogchen does not. But a general understanding of relative and ultimate truth is important because in Dzogchen, relative truth becomes what is called "ma rig pa" or "ignorance", and ultimate truth becomes what is called "rig pa" or "knowledge".
Why are rigpa and marigpa important? This dichotomy is really carries the entire view of Dzogchen, and this goes back to the idea of relative and ultimate truths. As noted above, we have our own mind, and we take our mind to be truly established and real, we believe our mind to belong to us, an existent entity, and therefore we also believe that our mind exists as well (which means it can cease to exist).

In Dzogchen and Buddhism in general, this notion that our mind is truly substantial and conditioned (capable of existing and not-existing) is called "ignorance" or "marigpa". The perception of a real and enduring entity that abides in time and exists separately from an objective universe that is truly established is held to be delusion. And because it is delusion, Dzogchen states that this is not the way things really are. The true nature of our mind is that it is unborn, primordial, free from the extremes of existence and non-existence, unsullied and perfect. However we do not recognize this, and because we don't recognize this we mistake our minds to be a subjective cognitive capacity that is the foundation for a conditioned entity that was born and will eventually die, and this is the root of suffering.

That misconception of a conditioned mind that acts as the foundation for a truly existent, individual entity is "marigpa", and the point of Dzogchen, is to recognize the true nature of that mind. When we recognize the nature of our mind, then we are no longer ignorant of the way things really are, and instead we have a direct, experiential knowledge of "the way things really are". That knowledge is called "rig pa".

As a general term in Tibetan, rig pa means "knowing", "intelligence" etc.

However in the context of Dzogchen, rig pa is the opposite of "ma rig pa" which is "ignorance", specifically an ignorance of our nature. So as the opposite of "ignorance", rig pa means something like knowledge, a knowledge of your nature. However it is not an intellectual or conceptual knowledge, but rather an experiential knowledge.

For example, if you have tasted chocolate then you have a direct knowledge of its experiential nature, the flavor of sweetness or bitterness etc., you know that taste and would be able to identify it again even if you were blindfolded and it was placed in your mouth, you have a knowledge of that taste.

So rig pa is an experiential knowledge like that, it is a direct knowledge of the nature of your mind.
Rig pa is synonymous with "shes rab" which in Sanskrit is prajñā.
Why is recognition of the nature of mind important? And why does it not entail the recognition of an ontological and unconditioned absolute like Advaita Vedanta?

This sort of gets into the whole "cause and condition" side of this equation, where the p
erception of real entities (persons, places, things, etc.) is caused by a certain type of ignorance. And that being the case, the very cognition of real entities (or what is called "conditioned phenomena" such as an internal, personal self, or external, impersonal objects) quite literally arises because of that ignorance and is therefore fundamentally no different than that ignorance. And in this sense, when one realizes that said apparently real entities are actually empty of inherency, that realization or epiphany is really just a cessation of cause [ignorance] for the arising of the perception of those entities. Meaning; it is simply a cessation of ignorance.

In that way there is either the presence of ignorance, and the results of ignorance, or the cessation of ignorance and the results of that cessation, but an underlying, substantial nature (like we would find in Vedanta) is not part of that process.

So in Dzogchen for example, it is said that there is one basis [which is essentially the emptiness of phenomena] and two paths: (i) ignorance [marigpa] of that emptiness, and (ii) knowledge [rigpa] of that emptiness.

Those two paths lead in opposite directions, one (marigpa) leading to suffering and samsara, and the second (rigpa) leads to liberation and nirvana. And both are based on either the recognition, or non-recognition that phenomena are empty and lack substantiality.

The "nature" of phenomena, as in their "ultimate" nature is simply that they are non-arisen and thus unconditioned. This means that so-called "ultimate truth" is nothing more than a name that is attributed to the cessation of cause for the arising of the misconception of conditioned entities. It is not some "thing" or "principle" that is "of itself" or "indivisible" like in Advaita Vedanta. This is why the Mahāyāna goes to great lengths to show how emptiness is also empty, and this is why emptiness and dependent origination are called "profound". Emptiness is empty, because if the conditioned was not established to begin with, then the so-called unconditioned is simply a designation that is implemented conventionally from the standpoint of the relative to demonstrate that the conditioned is actually a misconception. Entities that are misconceptions have never actually arisen, as they are merely figments of ignorance. And so when ignorance ceases, the misperception of conditioned entities also ceases, and thus one recognizes that those so-called conditioned entities were unreal from the very beginning. That realization of non-arising is precisely a recognition of the ultimate nature of those alleged entities that are cognized from the standpoint of the relative. Since those conditioned entities are not established, their "unconditioned" nature is simply pointing to the potentiality to recognize that they are unreal, and in this way, the so-called "ultimate" is nothing more than the cessation of the misconception of conditioned, relative entities. This means that said ultimate is not something real in-and-of-itself.

For example: if we were to see a mirage in the desert that looked like water and were ignorant of the fact that the appearance (of water) is merely a mirage, we may mistakenly think that water to be real. Someone who knows it is a mirage may say, "no, the ultimate nature of that water is that it is an illusion, it is a mirage and isn't real." And so we would then know (at least inferentially) that the water is merely an insubstantial appearance. When we directly discover that "ultimate mirage nature" then we too will directly and experientially know that the water is "essenceless". But initially, for the sake of communicating that essenceless nature, one may state that there is an "essential nature" which is not being recognized so that others know not to take the appearance at face value, as something real.

The Vedantin view is different in that it says the mirage would have an actual essence, that is truly established, and that said essence is all-encompassing, and your true identity. It is a vastly different view.

This means the assumptions behind phenomena not being different than their unconditioned nature in Advaita is that all phenomena are actually in truth, perversions of an established unconditioned existent, and that essence is truly substantiated, real, and singular. Not to mention that it is transpersonal. This is directly in conflict with Dzogchen and other Buddhist systems.

In Dzogchen, dharmas or conditioned entities are byproducts of afflicted action, primarily the action of grasping which is predicated upon ignorance. This means that conditioned entities are byproducts of delusion, and their apparent existence is maintained by clinging and habitual karmic tendencies.

When that ignorance is severed, and karmic propensities are exhausted, the individual simply recognizes that phenomena have never arisen in the first place. But, this means that the so-called "unconditioned" nature of that phenomena is not real, because this would mean that figments of ignorance somehow possess a substantial essence. This is impossible, because something that has never been real to begin with cannot possess a real essence or unconditioned nature. So this means that realization in Dzogchen and in Buddhism is simply a cessation, and specifically a cessation of cause for the arising of affliction.

The delusion of conditioned entities arises with ignorance, and the cessation of ignorance means that one recognzes that conditioned entities never arose in the first place, which for the sake of communication is described as recognizing that the "conditioned" is in fact "unconditioned". But that "unconditioned" nature is only valid in relation to the initial ignorance that mistook appearances to be "conditioned", it is not something that exists by itself like it does in Advaita.

This is why adepts such as Nāgārjuna state:

"Since arising, abiding and perishing are not established,
the conditioned is not established;
since the conditioned is never established,
how can the unconditioned be established?"

To add, the Mahāprajñāpāramitā-śāstra states:

"Outside of the saṃskṛtas [conditioned dharmas], there are no asaṃskṛta [unconditioned dharmas], and the true nature [bhūtalakṣaṇa] of the saṃskṛta is exactly asaṃskṛta. The saṃskṛtas being empty, etc. the asaṃskṛtas themselves are also empty, for the two things are not different. Besides, some people, hearing about the defects of the saṃskṛtadharmas, become attached [abhiniveśante] to the asaṃskṛtadharmas and, as a result of this attachment, develop fetters."

Going on to say that the person who rejects the saṃskṛtas is attached to the asaṃskṛtas by attributing to them the characteristics of non-production [anutpāda], and by the very fact of this attachment those asaṃskṛtas are immediately transformed into saṃskṛtas. Which, as I have pointed out before; is equivalent to the act of turning dharmatā (the unconditioned nature of phenomena) into a dharmin (a conditioned phenomenon) by considering it to be a separate, existent, unconditioned, free-standing nature. It should instead be understood that the very non-arising of conditioned dharmas [saṃskṛtadharmas] is the unconditioned [saṃskṛta] dharmatā. It is an epistemic realization which dispels ignorance by severing the causes and conditions for invalid cognition... not an ontological essence that exists on its own (that is what Vedanta teaches).

Thusness commented:

Kyle wrote quite well, you better save it again. The conventional truth however can be explained with more vivid examples as in how it provides functional validity in daily usage but when those referents referred by the conventions when investigated with ultimate analysis are realized to be empty.

The problem is the mind is so hypnotized that even if you read a thousand times about how conventions when sought and investigated are empty, the mind just can't understand and is unable to break-through.

Next one must differentiate correctly the difference between realizing the NATURE of mind and phenomena as empty and non-arising and having direct experiential taste of phenomena itself.  It is not just a direct non-dual and non-conceptual experience of mind and phenomena. The former is about realizing whatever (phenomenon) that appears to arise has never truly arisen other than a confused mind ascribing true existence to an appearing mirage and trapping itself in the extremes of samsaric existence. As for the latter, you will almost end up having a substantial view that all phenomena originate from Awareness and is Awareness. Awareness is primordial and non-dual.

Lastly, in my opinion, over-emphasis of the nature of mind/phenomena can still lead one to err towards the ultimate. To understand emptiness and non-arising, we must understand from the view of dependent arising. That is, emphasis should not be just about the nature of mind and phenomena as empty and non-arising but rather in realizing whatever dependently originates (dependent arising) is empty and non-arising (does not originate, abide and cease but only mistaken to be so) then we will not neglect causes and conditions and the conventional.