I just had a conversation with someone. Let's call him JX.


I see now what you are saying... 😁

Possibly the best article I have ever read regarding Buddhism, Zen and Advaita.  Many, I believe confuse the message of Advaita with that of Dzogchen.  Dzogchen supports the view as Dogen presents, while often describing the “Base” (Zhi) much like the Self of Advaita.  This can create a bias towards emptiness over form, instead of seeing their non-dual identity.

Advaita fundamentally rejects form as being maya, or delusion, a false superimposition over the empty and attributeless Self of Brahma.

Dzogchen rather, sees form as the perfect and pure appearance of emptiness.

Dogen sees each moment of consciousness as a presentation of Buddha Nature appearing, while yet being empty.

We can discuss the article to clarify what’s being shared...


Me (Soh):

i like David Loy. his 2nd edition of the book Nonduality is coming out next year
Actually even nondual is not yet emptiness. It can be like Kashmir Shaivism and nondual teachers in Advaita advocating an inherently existing source and substratum being “inseparable” from changing phenomena. In this case the view of an independent changeless inherent existence is still strong even if subject object division may be dissolved in experience


I sense he influenced much of your languaging..

Me (Soh):

Emptiness means empty of fixed entity or true existence so awareness is seen like river flowing. Rather than a static ocean underlying waves

Yes, its adding attributes unique to the empty side instead of seeing all attributes as form, with no attributes hidden in reserve only to itself as emptiness.
What opened this up was David’s describing the fan and the wind koan. The master fanning, is the wind blowing as the master fanning.

Me (Soh):
Yes as “master” is merely labelled on the whole dynamic flow of activities just like “weather”, it is not a truly existing agent behind. The agent and action are dependently designated. There is no agent besides action. Any way of capturing that as something “behind them all” is simply mistaking convention to be real existence.

Even if senses dissolve and a mere formless Presence is experienced, it is always a foreground experience. There is nothing “background” at all besides a label mistaken as reality due to ignorance
Therefore Presence when freed from the constructs of self, duality, real existence, producer and produced, becomes dynamic, effortless and liberating. In all it is tasted and no traces remain
Then you will see how many masters even those well known ones have unfortunately mistaken a state of bondage, clarity reified into a background, as liberation. It is truly tragic and Buddhism has really deteriorated over the years
A major refutation in MMK is refuting an unmoved mover. An unmoved mover is a complete contradiction and impossibility like “triangular square”. There is no such thing as a runner that does not run.. the whole notion of agent and action, seer-seeing-seen, Presence/Awareness and appearance, is also to be seen in similar light. When insight dawns with clarity of view Presence becomes completely effortless and even begin to persists effortlessly into sleep at some point

Well, I would say rather, that sleep is how Presence is appearing. There is no persistence of Presence other than sleep itself persisting.

Me (Soh):
you can say so but what I mean is that even sleep becomes a blissful, nondual, fearless experience of Clear Light.. be it contentless or dream
any subject/object dissolves even in sleep as well

But isn’t that favoring a state of Clear Light over an equally empty moment of distraction? Both are equally Buddha Nature presenting as uji?

Me (Soh):
there is no need for favouring at all, in fact favouring ceases naturally once wisdom becomes actualized effortlessly. its not about favouring but about how deep wisdom is.. and how deep wisdom is, is naturally coincident with how much cognitive and emotional obscurations are released. when wisdom is very clear, when notions of self, duality, existence and non-existence, producer and production, arising and cessation are completely seen through, there is very little obscurations and so the liberating and nondual experience of clear light of empty-clarity becomes quite natural and effortless on its own. no amount of favouring can bring this about, its all a matter of deepening of insight and everything naturally falls into place on its own
if on the other hand, even the basic insight of anatta hasn't arisen and one mistakes awareness to be a background, how can there be anything besides effort and contrivance to maintain a fabricated state of "background awareness" in disguise of effortlessness?

It seems you are seeing a progression from a certain unsatisfactory state to a better one. This entails a self to reject one and to attempt to move things in the direction of the other. The dynamic of craving remains. Anatta is the self-arising prajna that is how each moment of consciousness presents itself. It’s always just “this flash of consciousness” followed by the next “flash of consciousness”, followed by this “moment of consciousness”, all equally empty, unique , and being all equally 100% Buddha Nature; empty/form/awareness; with no duration of any of it and no separation into subjects and objects.
Me (Soh):

its not about rejecting or accepting anything but clearly seeing an illusion to be an illusion. do you need to reject the monster in the closet? no, it's just seen as an illusion

an awareness existing as a background is such an illusion

What is seeing more clearly? You describe two parts; a seer of delusion or a believer of delusion, and a delusion believed in. Then there would be a “seer” but now free of delusion. Then your postulated “seer” sees or knows it’s nature as being Clear Light. That is the essential dualism of karmic mind. It’s seems the emptying out of the subject side hasn’t happened yet. Otherwise you couldn’t present such a story narrative. 😉
Me (Soh):

nope.. all conventions are completely okay here. seeing the emptiness of seer-seeing-seen does not mean i stop using convention or i no longer can use conventions like "buses", "car" and so on

all these conventions "buses" and "cars" are still completely valid on the conventional level but they do not actually coagulate into real entities in my perception

likewise it is completely ok to speak of realization and insights and delusion although none of these actually appear as real entities in actualization

Of course, no separate awareness lurks in the background. Appearances are awareness, Buddha Nature appearing AS appearances, with no parts as subjects and objects and nothing left over.

Me (Soh):

ok... but its not that buddha nature is a constant background thing which is then appearing "AS" appearances. like an unmoved mover that sometimes moves and sometimes doesn't move or a truly existing runner that sometimes runs and sometimes doesn't run

a runner that doesn't run is by definition not a runner... its completely dependently designated with no inherent existence or a 'runner' or a 'running' existing on its own side

likewise buddha nature does not truly exist as something on its own side that could manifest and remain unmanifest

its empty clarity and appearance inseparable but not like Shiva and Shakti, unmoved mover

You say “does not mean “I” stop using conventions” : your mind is still postulating an “I” that can or not use conventions. That “I” is an imaginary middle man that claims responsibility for a mere modulation or dynamic action of the Whole. It doesn’t exist more than Santa delivers the presents.

Me (Soh):

nope, there is no postulation of anything here at all, yet I am completely capable of using the conventions "I" just like I am completely capable of using the conventions "cars" and "buses". In fact "cars" and "buses" are as much empty and conventional like "I", there is no need to single out "I" and when one sees the dependent designation and emptiness of everything where "I", "awareness", "agent and action", "producer and production" are all included.. then all conventions can be used freely and yet no longer coagulate into real entities in experience

and likewise "awareness". the word "I" is not any more indicative of the delusion of substantiality than the word "awareness".

both labels can be mistaken as true existence under the influence of ignorance, or both are no longer seen as real and one is still free to use whatever conventions one wishes for communication purposes

the thing is when one sees all selves and phenomena and ways of framing reality, producer and production, existence and non-existence, this covers ALL phenomena and not just "I"... all ways of describing reality in terms of self and phenomena are completely conventional, valid on that level but not ultimately or inherently

even "action" or even "Whole" is likewise conventionally designated and not inherently existing

there is no inherently existing Oneness either

It’s not really about a grammatical “I” being used or not, but rather a sense of “causative functioning” such as “one is still free to use...”, implies an agent who is free to use or not use. It’s the selfing activity that prevents this being seen as when the selfing is absent. Then nothing is seen, because no one exists as someone with a capacity to see. Mental phenomena appear, but no one is experiencing anything.
Me (Soh):

it's completely ok to say "one is still free to use..." even though there is no truly existing agent besides action, as that statement is completely valid in denoting the sense of potentiality in conventional parlance even if the threefold structure of agent-action-act has collapsed

valid on the conventional level

im happy to use the threefold structure in conversation even though it is not how its experienced

the threefold structure has collapsed for 8 years and has stayed that way for 8 years. this has not changed for 8 years and is not a maintenance state... it just never arose again

just like santa claus when seen clearly to be a delusion never arose again

and this is why even in sleep, dream, contentless, this threefold structure collapses naturally into bliss, clarity and fearless nondual presence. its not that i was practicing anything before sleep. its just natural


That argument really is without merit. That conventional language should drop away, as shadows disappear in full noon sun. Your writing is full of agency implied or expressed. It’s sensed that “your” realization is profound but only intellectual. The selfing is more subtle but still generating these allusions of agency, and an agent having experiences.

Me (Soh):

your writing is also full of agency pretending to be free from the language of agency. you said "Your writing", LOL

buddha himself said he was always using "i me mine" parlance

he clearly didnt have any problems with it, and i gladly report to be the same

Greg Goode: "The Lucknow Disease Linguistic malady befalling seekers at neo-advaita satsangs, from a manner of speech first observed in Lucknow, India in the early 1990's. It is characterized by never using the word "I." Avoidance of the "I-word" is to demonstrate to one's self but mostly to others that there is no longer any ego or sense of self here. Instead of using the word "I" in sentences, Lucknow Disease sufferers say things like "This form is going to the bathroom." The irony of the Lucknow Disease is that it only strikes when the person's sense of self is present and poorly integrated. It has never been observed in those whose sense of self is well-integrated - or absent."


Would an arahant say "I" or "mine"?

Other devas had more sophisticated queries. One deva, for example, asked the Buddha if an arahant could use words that refer to a self:

"Consummate with taints destroyed,
One who bears his final body,
Would he still say 'I speak'?
And would he say 'They speak to me'?"

This deva realized that arahantship means the end of rebirth and suffering by uprooting mental defilements; he knew that arahants have no belief in any self or soul. But he was puzzled to hear monks reputed to be arahants continuing to use such self-referential expressions.

The Buddha replied that an arahant might say "I" always aware of the merely pragmatic value of common terms:

"Skillful, knowing the world's parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions."

The deva, trying to grasp the Buddha's meaning, asked whether an arahant would use such expressions because he is still prone to conceit. The Buddha made it clear that the arahant has no delusions about his true nature. He has uprooted all notions of self and removed all traces of pride and conceit:

"No knots exist for one with conceit cast off;
For him all knots of conceit are consumed.
When the wise one has transcended the conceived
He might still say 'I speak,'
And he might say 'They speak to me.'
Skillful, knowing the world's parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions." (KS I, 21-22; SN 1:25)


the lucknow disease is really ego trying to act smart and enlightened by using so called "more enlightened/holier than thou" language rather than just using the language of everyday parlance

i can gladly report that no amount of using conventional parlance or words that assume agency has ever established any sense of agency here for the past 8 years or sense of duality. once that collapses, its just gone for good.

anyway pointless continuing this conversation, you either believe what i report to be true or you don't, doesn't matter to me anyway. i don't have a guru agenda
4 Responses
  1. Unknown Says:

    Very enjoyable conversation. Thank you for sharing.

    All there is the foreground, the manifestation/appearances. "The pulse and throb of life" as UG Krishnamurti would passionately put it. There is no substance underlying appearance.

    A substance never emerged from the appearances. A self never emerged from the aggregates. A house-reality/substance never arose from the collection of bricks, wood, glass, shapes etc. Weather never emerged from wind, cloud, sunlight, raindrop. Interesting. The substance is imagined on the parts, but it never arose.

    There is no ultimate point. No centre. No ground. No reality. No beginning. No middle. No end. No growth. No decay. No shapes. Just empty appearance, which is full, real, everything, true, yet empty, nowhere yet vibrant, shiny, bright, alive, explosive.

    In my current experience, Buddha Nature is also an appearance, a label, a perspective, nothing substantial, nothing ultimate.
    What are your thoughts on that Soh?

  2. Soh Says:

    Quite good.

    Care to share how you landed on these insights?

  3. Unknown Says:

    I encountered Emptiness teachings online approximately 3 years ago. I was practicing "Awareness-based" nondual teachings prior to that - trying to be aware of awareness etc. Though I had some encouraging experiences sometimes (strong sense of being/presence), it didn't last, and I felt somewhat restricted - the conventional world seemed unreal/insignificant/less.

    The Emptiness teachings seemed interesting because it refuted an ultimate truth/centre/core/ground, and gave the conventional a lot of meaning. I intuitively felt that true freedom was about being free from all reference points, conventional or ultimate.

    My practice currently consists of cultivating an open heart, calming the mind (anapanasati), allowing appearances to show up (sensate experience), then probing to see whether a substance can exist behind the appearances, or whether any substance can emerge from a collection of parts that is not it. I usually begin by contemplating the self, then I expand this to other appearances such as my body or mind. If the looking is done correctly it is usually seen that nothing is happening, just empty appearance - no core/substance/nature behind it, just the appearance. Just the ache, the itch, the flow of experiences, with no centre. Even the mind is empty - i.e mere name - so there is no ultimate state of mind to cultivate. Nothing special to concentrate on. No state to be in. Just vivid sensate experiences, one after the other, nothing out of place.

    The insight isn't always fresh though. Currently, unless I practice daily, the view of inherency is still present. But recently I've been noticing progress :). My heart is breaking open as all shapes. Your site and insights (aswell as Thusness among others) has been really useful for my practice.
    Thanks alot!

  4. Soh Says:

    Very good, thanks for sharing! :)