"My practice isn't esoteric but direct, simple empty clarity and compassion.

My entire experience is currently free and liberating... and fills with joyous reverence and compassion. Very happy.

An open expanse of brilliance clarity beyond description... without dual and solidity.

My entire being is filled with/embraced will this clean, pure boundless insubstantial radiance freedom... energy dancing joyously and like gonna burst.

I just want this empty clarity to be as natural as possible with this reverence and compassionate taste.

Once your empty clarity becomes clear, powerfully present and naturally non-dual without concern of maintaining... the 3 states (waking, dreaming and deep sleep) will have a single taste.

Deep Sleep and waking will share a single taste of bliss as if it is a perfection seamless continuum ... There is no concern.

The strong presence will guide you...

The greater the strength of this insubstantial brilliance clarity, the lesser the concern

Only when our presence is weak there is the problem with distractions

It is like when a bodhisattva filled with compassion is not distracted with own suffering at all."

~ Thusness, 2014
8 Responses
  1. Wanderer Says:

    Hi John Tan,

    Would you clarify the essence of the practice of 'WHO AM I' questioning ?

    Obviously it's not (just) an intellectual inquiry,otherwise any answer coming will be purely mental.

    And is it correct to say that a true,genuine realization took place in such a deep level beyond the mind/intellect,that its 'Energetic' ? And if so,how to practice so an energetic realization ,beyond the intellect,occurs ?


  2. Soh Says:

    Self Inquiry must be practiced in a non-intellectual way. If you look at people like Ramana Maharshi, Eckhart Tolle, Thusness, or myself, we just genuinely ask ourselves "Who am I" with a desire to find out the truth of our being beyond thought, and that is the most direct method to realize, no need to go through other practices. Just self-inquiry. In fact approaches that focus on 'experience' is more gradual, self-inquiry will lead to the Eureka realization. Experience is not the same as realization as stated here - http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2009/09/realization-and-experience-and-non-dual.html

    Even without a thought, what are you? Just keep questioning.

    Refer to my e-book as there is a chapter on self-inquiry:

    16th June 2010
    I answered someone's questions by e-mail regarding Self Inquiry practice.
    Qn: Thanks!
    Could you summarize your method for practice? As you know, I am very interested in obtaining I AM state. I am interested in any method except Vipassana.
    The I AM is already fully present right now, so much so that it is like asking 'how do I obtain my eyes?'. You cannot obtain your eye, you are already seeing with your eyes. It will be silly to go looking/searching outward (with your eyes) for your eyes. Similarly, it will be silly to go looking outward (through your Self) for your Self. You just have to notice that all along, you are the seeing! You are the non objective Seer, so to go looking for your Self outside is to look into the wrong direction. So know that there is no need to look for Awareness and Presence. It is simply a matter of pointing out, noticing, realizing that Awareness is already present and is what you are. It is a simple statement/description of fact, and not a prescription to go out and search for it. You will realize that You Are, and that is an ever-present fact that always has been so. When you realize, you realize you gained nothing new from it: you do not enter a new state, you simply realize something you overlooked all along.
    Nevertheless, the method is indeed important to give rise to realization. Any method that leads to realization must be direct - means it must be a means that makes a practitioner bypass all the mind's conceptualizations and inference processes which are all indirect and secondary (which is not a direct realization and experience of your true essence and hence leaves doubts), so that you can touch directly and with certainty the essence of your Being without intermediary. On hindsight there was a period when I first started practicing self-inquiry where I was still intellectualizing about this, like how should I practice self inquiry, what does asking 'Before birth Who am I' mean and leads to, etc, which are all sidetracks and distractions because it is still using the mind and indirect inference and hence not a 'direct' approach to realize the essence of Being.

  3. Soh Says:


    So do beware of intellectualizing these things, because it will not lead to Self-Realization - only the direct approach to investigate and look (a non-conceptual exploration) into the essence of Self leads to realization.
    As you may have seen, my method of practice is self-inquiry. Self-Inquiry is the method that leads to direct experience and realization of your own essence, presence-awareness, so that no doubts can arise any more, because that is clearly seen as a self-
    evident, solid, undeniable fact of your being. One thing to note: having glimpses and recognitions of the I AM experience is not the same as having the realization – the latter is more important. Something I think is quite important, which Thusness wrote to me last year when I have had glimpses and recognitions/experiences of the Witness, but not experienced the Realization, a.k.a. 'Certainty of Being' (also see the post I made on 14 May 2010, on the conversation I had with Thusness about the different phases of I AM in February 2009): Realization and Experience and Non-Dual Experience from Different Perspectives (see the first part)
    As for the method of self inquiry, I wrote this on my forum about two weeks ago, highlighted in red:
    Begin by investigating this sense of existence, this sense of being. What is it? Who am I? This is not meant to be verbally or mentally recited (as Self-Inquiry teacher Zen/Ch'an Master Hsu Yun says, if you want to chant, chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha wholeheartedly will be more meritorious than chanting Who am I? or Who is chanting Buddha?), nor should it be an intellectual inquiry by engaging the mind in concepts to figure things out. No. Rather it is a non-conceptual and non-verbal exploration, investigation, examination of this sense of Presence, what is this Self, what is true, beyond all thoughts and conceptualizations and images we have about who I am. Your conceptualizing mind needs to calm down for true insight to arise (but calmness alone does not result in insight - inquiry does).
    The inquiry 'Who am I' is a tool to turn the attention inward, to turn the light around and investigate our essential being so that direct realization of this 'I', Beingness, AMness can occur.
    Keep inquiring in that manner until unshakeable conviction arises through a sudden illumination: the undoubtable sense that I AM, which is beyond all thoughts and concepts - this undeniable, undoubtable sense of presence and existence that is at the same time aware and knows itself and aware of everything. It is both present, and aware. As I wrote: You Are That Knowing which is certain that You Are! The distinction between knower, knowing, and known dissolve into That. You Are That!
    After this realization, your understanding of spirituality will not remain intellectual/conceptual.
    However this is just the beginning, as Thusness said before inRealization and Experience and Non-Dual Experience from Different Perspectives: this realization is not an end by itself, it is the beginning. If we are truthful and not over exaggerate and get carried away by this initial glimpse, we will realize that we do not gain liberation from this realization; contrary we suffer more after this realization. However it is a powerful condition that motivates a practitioner to embark on a spiritual journey in search of true freedom.
    For me, I was asked by Thusness to contemplate on the koan "Before birth, Who am I?"
    This was the koan that led both I and him to the realization of I AMness.
    Essentially what you have to ask is 'Who am I?' Trace the radiance to its source. You are aware and present, this is undoubtable and undeniable. So Who/What is Aware? Trace the radiance to the source.

  4. Soh Says:


    You hear sounds of bird chirping, so Who/What is Hearing? Turn the light around, trace the radiance to the source, listen to the listener, investigate 'What Listens', until you can say with absolute certainty and conviction that you realized your true nature. (btw, this is Guan Yin's method of practice - 反闻闻自性)

    Chinul: Do you hear the sounds of that crow cawing and that magpie calling?
    Student: Yes.
    Chinul: Trace them back and listen to your hearing‐nature. Do you hear any sounds?
    Student: At that place, sounds and discriminations do not obtain.
    Chinul: Marvelous! Marvelous! This is Avalokitesvara's method for entering the noumenon.16 Let me ask you again. You said that sounds and discriminations do not obtain at that place. But since they do not obtain, isn't the hearing‐nature just empty space at such a time?
    Student: Originally it is not empty. It is always bright and never obscured.
    Chinul: What is this essence which is not empty?
    Student: As it has no former shape, words cannot describe it.
    When walking, you can notice that the body in itself is inert like a log, after the life force has left the body after death the body becomes a corpse. But right now, your body is alive and functioning well, so next time when you are walking or jogging on the street you can inquire on 'Who is dragging this corpse along?' Certainly the corpse cannot walk or move by itself without the power of the Source/Consciousness/Life. What is this core/source of aliveness? Who is it?
    So you can do self inquiry in all kinds of situations: hearing a bird chirping (or experiencing anything else), walking on the street, or simply sitting meditation (just ask Before birth, Who am I?), etc. A popular koan nowadays is "Who is chanting Buddha?" but I don't ask this because I seldom chant in the first place, so it may not be as powerful/appropriate for my situation. But whatever it is, it still comes down to this... keep turning the light around and investigate Who am I? I do not want to give people too much to anticipate or expect, but based on my own experience and Thusness's, and observations of others practicing self inquiry, that practice should lead to realization in a few years of practice. It could even be a few months of diligent practice... it depends. You must be very interested to know the truth of your being, to resolve the matter of Who You Are. I believe this is what Zen means by 'great doubt
    leads to great realization'. The initial realization should not take too long, though there is a long process of deepening/unfolding of further insights.
    p.s. For Self-Inquiry taught in Ch'an/Zen, check out Ch'an Master Hsu Yun's teachings.
    For Self-Inquiry taught in Advaita, Ramana Maharshi comes to mind.
    But there is no essential difference in method taught as far as self inquiry is concerned as taught between these two teachers, as far as I know.
    Qn: BTW, does you or Thusness have the power to help out people like me?

  5. Soh Says:

    Excerpt from
    "Nisargadatta Maharaj told me the only way you can help anyone is to take them beyond the need for further help and he did that by showing me what I was not....this body and mind. - He did not and could not show me or explain to me what is the Truth or actual Reality of all things. because That cannot be put into words or seen as an object. - I had to do my own inner work and see the Truth for myself. - See and acknowledge this present awareness that you cannot negate or grasp and you too will be beyond the need for further help. - No guru, new age spiritual master, or outer teacher can do it for you, you have to see it for yourself............."
    I don't know what Thusness could do to help you, he will be away in Australia until 20th, and I'll be meeting up with him probably on the 24th, so if you have anything for me to ask him I can relay your question to him.
    What he has always done is to observe the person's conditions before giving them appropriate practice advice. However I believe self inquiry is quite safe for me to advice you.

  6. Soh Says:

    Refer to my e-book for more on self-inquiry: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/12/my-e-booke-journal.html

  7. Wanderer Says:

    Regarding realization vs experience , (i know im still trying to intellectually analyzing this, can't help it :-) ),does that mean realization somehow 'stick' and does not go away,as compare to experiences which can come,intensifiy,faded and gone? In other words,when a realization occurs,it never goes away?

    I would love to think so,yes , it never leaves.

    I think it was Ramana Maharshi who said that once his initial death experience happened,his sense of absorption in the Self never faded.In his own life,one can see how powerful such realization had in changing his outer life.He no longer interested in anything externally,became a reclusive and meditated full time(in the mountains).If his realization is simply a matter of some peak experiences,it may not had such an impact.(but again, we may argue that he renunciate simply to prolong his experience of samadhi,but personally,i would think it was a real,genuine realization and not some peak state ,so it shook him to the core of being,and therefore overturn all his priorities in life immediately)

    Is it true true realization never goes away?

  8. Soh Says:

    Yes, Self-Realization is permanent and unwavering, for me as well.

    Not all self-realized people will renounce worldly life, however, Thusness did want to renounce at the age of 17 after his realization of I AMness. His parents objected. That said, there are many Self-Realized people who continued their normal lives. There is no rules as to how Self-Realized persons will behave after realization.

    Also as I wrote recently,

    "There is doubtless certainty of the aspect of Presence-Awareness, and one no longer feels that it can ever be lost (I no longer felt that I could lose Awareness/Presence/Witness from that point on, and it was no longer a maintenance thing that required access to a state of no-thought). However at the I AM phase, it is only realizing the luminous essence of one sense door (the Mind aspect), and it has not extended to other senses (as in nondual and anatta)"