Someone wrote:

Most practitioners think experiences are appearing TO their consciousness instead of seeing experiences are how their consciousness is appearing.

I wrote back:

Most practitioners think experiences are appearing TO or even WITHIN their consciousness instead of seeing consciousness is JUST the appearing.
5 Responses
  1. flávio Says:

    Hi Soh,

    Is the consciousness(reflexive awareness) for you a conventional phenomenon or is just a concept that does not even exist conventionally?

    "If any consciousness to which the object of that consciousness appears were also its own object, that consciousness would appear as a representation." ~ Tsong khapa

  2. Soh Says:

    How do you define reflexive awareness?

    Consciousness to me is simply the self-illuminating quality of all phenomena - vividly clear, alive, 'aware' where they are.

    Sonam Thakchoe:

    So, as far as Tsong khapa is concerned, there is no contradiction in
    claiming that, from the empirical standpoint, on the one hand, non-dual
    wisdom constitutes the subjective pole of consciousnesses with ultimate truth
    as its objective counterpart;
    from the ultimate vantage point, on the other
    hand, non-dual wisdom and ultimate truth, "are free from the duality of act
    (bya ba)
    and object acted upon

    In the non-dual state, even the
    cognitive interplay between subject and object appears, from the meditator's
    point of view, completely to cease. This is because, as Tsong khapa points
    out, "duality of act and object acted upon is posited strictly from the
    perspective of empirical cognition".
    Although the dual appearances of
    subject and object completely dissolve from the perspective of non-dual
    wisdom, and thus the meditator does not experience the mutual interaction
    between distinct and separate elements—between the seer and the seen—the
    meditator nonetheless engages in an act of 'mere seeing'. As the Buddha
    explains to Bahiya:
    In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the
    heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In
    reference to the cognised, only the cognised. That is how you should
    train yourself [Ud I. 10]... then Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that.
    When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there
    is no you there, you are neither here not yonder nor between the two.
    This, just this, is the end of stress [Ud I. 101.
    The experience of 'mere seeing' in a non-dual form is valid only when it is
    empirically grounded and when there is cognitive activity occurring between
    non-dual wisdom and non-dual ultimate truth. Tsong lchapa maintains, in
    fact, that the activity between subject and object is inevitable in any
    acquisition of valid knowledge. It is thus consistent to argue that non-dual
    wisdom involves a knowing subject and ultimate truth involves a known
    In any case, for Tsong khapa, the main purpose in attaining non-dual
    knowledge is not to eschew the subject-object dichotomy, but rather to purify
    deluded cognitive states, to destroy ego-tainted emotions and to transcend
    false constructions of duality. The Buddha, for instance, explains what
    transcendence means as follows: "owing to the fading of ignorance and the
    arising of clear knowing (thoughts)—'I am', 'I am this', 'I shall be', 'I shall not
    be', 'I shall be possessed of form', 'I shall be formless', 'I shall be percipient', 'I
    shall be non-percipient', 'I shall be neither percipient nor non-percipient'---do
    not occur to him"
    [Samanupassana Sutta
    SN XXII.47].
    Perhaps even more
    importantly, the Buddha makes a direct connection between the
    understanding of phenomena as dependently arisen and the abolition of

  3. Soh Says:

    When a disciple of the noble ones has seen well with right discernment
    this dependent co-arising and these dependently co-arisen phenomena
    as they are actually present, it is not possible that he would run after
    the past, thinking, 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I
    in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in
    the past?' or that he would run after the future, thinking, 'Shall I be in
    the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future?
    How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the
    future?' or that he would be inwardly perplexed about the immediate
    present, thinking, 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has
    this being come from? Where is it bound?' Such a thing is not possible.
    Why is that? Because the disciple of the noble ones has seen well with
    right discernment this dependent co-arising and these dependently co-
    arisen phenomena as they are actually present
    [Paccaya Sutta,

    We can thus summarise our discussion of non-duality as follows. Tsong
    khapa's account of non-dual knowledge rests heavily on the unity of the two
    truths and therefore of emptiness and dependent arising. He argues that the
    validity of non-dual knowledge depends on preserving the unity between the
    understanding of the two truths, and therefore, between the understanding of
    emptiness and of dependent arising.

  4. Soh Says:


    "Both Tsong khapa and Go rampa describe non-dual knowledge as being
    like a process of mixing water. They argue that the fusion between
    subjectivity and objectivity, from the meditator's point of view, reaches its
    climax in their non-dual state in a way that is like mixing clean water from
    two different jars by pouring it all into one jar. Tsong khapa for example
    argues: "from the vantage point of the wisdom that directly realises ultimate
    reality, there is not even the slightest duality between object and the object-
    possessing consciousness. Like mixing water with water, [yogi] dwells in the
    meditative equipoise".' Tsong lchapa insists, however, that this metaphor
    should not be taken too far or too literally. It refers only to the cognitive
    process that occurs in total dissolution, and to the experience associated with
    that process, and must not be taken to represent the achivement of a
    metaphysical unity."

  5. Soh Says:


    "Tsongkhapa regards the nondual realization of ultimate truth as an epistemic event. In his understanding nondual realization is possible, yet the apprehending consciousness - transcendent wisdom - retains its ontologi8cal distinctness as subject, and the cognitive sphere - ultimate reality -likewise retains its ontological distinctness as object. Gorampa contends that nondual realization forms a single metaphysical reality - a total integration of subject and object. Only such a complete integration, according to him, resolves the problem of duality. Thus Tsongkhapa and Gorampa agree that, from the standpoint of nondual wisdom, the meditator experiences a total dissolution of even the subtle duality between subject and object, but they disagree on the implications of this nondual experience. Tsongkhapa does not hold the achievement of nondual wisdom as equivalent to the cessation of cognitive activity, whereas for Gorampa it means exactly that.

    Tsongkhapa's description of the way the meditator arrives at nondual understanding is as follows. The cognitive agent experiences a fusion of subjectivity and its object, which refer here not to self and outside world but rather to elements within the meditator's own psychophysical aggregates. The meditator remains introspective, not engaging the outside world, but the outside world as such does not disappear. What occurs is instead a total cessation of the dualities between subject I and object mine, between thinker and thought, between feeler and feelings, between mind and body, between seeing and seen, and so forth. Initially a meditator perceives, for instance, that in each act of seeing, two factors are always present: the object seen and the act of seeing it. While each single act of seeing involves dissolution, the object seen and the act of seeing actually consist of numerous physical and mental processes that are seen to dissolve serially and successively. Eventually, the meditator also notices the dissolution of the dissolution itself. In other words, the meditator first realizes the fluctuating and transitory character of the five aggregates, which is then followed by further realization of the aggregates as empty and selfless, and finally by the realization of the emptiness of even the empty and selfless phenomena. Nondual knowledge is thus arrived at, in Tsongkhapa's view, through the direct experience of seeing the truths within one's own aggregates, rather than being convinced of the truth of certain abstractions through rational argument or persuasion. Since the process here is a cognitive experience that operates entirely within the domain of one's psychophysical aggregates, it is therefore an epistemic but not a metaphysical nonduality.

    This is how, according to Tsongkhapa, an arya has direct nonconceptual and nondual access to the transcendent nature of his own five psychophysical aggregates during meditative equipoise. In the wake of meditative equipoise, an arya engages with dualistic worldly activities, such as taking part in philosophical discourse, practicing different social conventions, and so on. The arya will thus make use of socio-linguistic conventions, but since the arya has eradicated all reifying tendencies, even these worldly dualistic engagements will be seen as consistent with nondual wisdom. Both non-dual and dual wisdoms, especially in the case of a buddha, Tsongkhapa argues, are fully commensurate."