Something I wrote in Dharma Connection:

The sense of the Observer remains very strong even after direct realization of Awareness, in fact, it first becomes the Eternal Witness, then it collapses into a substantial nondualism where Awareness is the source, substratum and substance of all phenomena, in which while experience is non-dual, the view remains dualistic and 'inherent'. That has been the case for me after the I AM realization then the collapse into a single field.

For me, my breakthrough into the realization of Anatta consisted in challenging and investigating the notion that 'observer', 'awareness', or 'observing' had any reality besides pure perception -- sounds, colours, sensations, etc. Not to look for the observer but to challenge any sense of there being one. Then with the pointers of Bahiya Sutta, I realized that there is no 'awareness' besides manifestation, as in the seeing there's only the seen, and seeing IS the seen, in hearing there's only sound, hearing IS sound... consciousness is manifestation without background. After this, the non-duality of viewer and viewed had persisted effortlessly and no longer remains as some sort of temporary peak experience.
Then through Madhyamika investigation, we further realize how reified conventions are invalid from top to bottom in terms of cause and effect, origination and cessation. This realization is not about the direct intuitive experience of clarity or phenomena as in the case of the I AM realization and then the realization of non-dual and anatta, however, by realizing dependent designation and emptiness, no mistaken view or understanding will arise from the intuitive insight of Suchness either from direct pointing or gradual practices. Even the realization of anatta leading to direct experience of six entries without background, and the realization of the emptiness via dependent designation are different realizations.

But those who only go through Madhyamika investigation without directly realizing Clarity (the initial realization of Mind, aka the 'I AM realization') and then the breakthrough of anatta leading to the direct experience of Suchness in all six entries (as described in Bahiya Sutta, Kalaka Sutta, etc) will also be missing something. For that, a Koan, or self-inquiry will help lead to the direct taste of Spirit/Presence/Existence, or a sutta like Bahiya Sutta will lead to the direct realization of Clarity as phenomena free from the illusion of self/Self.

If we reify and cling to Clarity like the Vedantins, we fall into the extremes of eternalism, and we fail to realize what exactly Clarity is. By clinging to a Mirror, we fail to realize that there is no Mirror besides self-illuminating reflection which is completely alive without a background or reflector or Agent, the wholeness of sound when in hearing sound, the wholeness of scenery when in seeing. That 'I AM' is only one face of Presence or Awareness, the subtlest formless aspect of Mind, falsely reified into something absolute, changeless or into a background, and that same taste of Presence or Clarity is found in all senses and manifestation after anatta. But if we reify and cling to Phenomena, we too distant clarity from its empty nature. Therefore the different phases of insights are crucial and must be pointed out clearly.
1 Response
  1. I understand the concern with clinging to extremes......that this may be seen as a kind of "error".....though that is probably not the best word to describe the natural flow between yin and yang....but my question.....not a criticism but a genuine puzzle for me, is to know who is it that is clinging to extremes?