"Now if one discards the wondrous, then even the very essence of the Buddha Way has no place to abide; since no though is left, no discriminative thinking takes place. Both the deluded mind and wisdom have forever expired, and perceptions and reflections are at an end - calm and without ado. This is called tai; it means the ultimate of the principle. And shang means 'without peer.' Hence it is called taishang, the ultimate. This is simply another designation for Buddha, the Tathagata."
This explanation is similar to Dzogchen and Mahamudra. At the end of the path, dharmins, dharmata, all phenomena, mind, and even rigpa/vidya (knowledge/wisdom) is exhausted. The exhaustion of all phenomena is said to be equivalent to Buddhahood and rainbow body, the ultimate.

Dzogchen teacher Arcaya Malcolm taught that many people have the wrong idea that Vidya/Rigpa is some eternal thing that just goes on forever, but it too is exhausted later along with all other phenomena.

It is so clear in the original texts -- be it Zen, Mahamudra or Dzogchen. (Theravada too has clear teachings of anatta)

Yet so many teachings and even authoritative teachers nowadays in each of these traditions, including Theravada, just don't get it. They reify wisdom, awareness, etc, as if they are real and eternal, falling into extremes no different from the Vedantins, etc.
Also, previously: 

Soh Wei Yu
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after self/Self is exhausted, phenomena also needs to be exhausted

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Soh Wei Yu
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“Dakpo Tashi Namgyal:


You have seen the essence of Nonmeditation if your realization of nonmeditation is free from an object of remembering or familiarization so that the savoring has dissolved. You have not seen the essence if you retain a sense of something that needs to be remembered or grown accustomed to.


You have perfected the strength of Nonmeditation if the subtlest dualistic perception has dissolved and you have brought all phenomena to the state of exhaustion, so you are always indivisible from original wakefulness. You have not perfected its strength if you experience even the slightest dualistic perception and you have not exhausted the phenomena of knowable objects.


Your thoughts have become meditation if every instance of all-ground consciousness, without being rejected, has dissolved into being dharmadhatu wisdom. They have not become meditation if you retain a subtle type of propensity for conceptual clinging and the subtle tarnish of savoring an experience.


The qualities have arisen if your body appears as the wisdom rupakaya of the rainbow body and your mind as the luminous dharmakaya. Thus the world is experienced as all-encompassing purity. The qualities have not arisen if you retain even the slightest impure perception regarding body and mind, the world and beings.


Comments by Soh: ‘Clarifying the Natural State by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal is a good book, highly recommended. You can get it for $2 at

[4:27 PM, 9/6/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Interesting
[4:27 PM, 9/6/2020] Soh Wei Yu: I reread this part in mahamudra book

[4:27 PM, 9/6/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Dakpo tashi also related stage of nonmeditation with exhaustion of all phenomena and rainbow body
[4:27 PM, 9/6/2020] Soh Wei Yu: So their explanation seems similar
[4:28 PM, 9/6/2020] John Tan: ?  Y is this interesting?
[4:28 PM, 9/6/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Dunno why i didnt notice that before.. maybe i forgot
[4:29 PM, 9/6/2020] John Tan: Appearances r not phenomena
[4:31 PM, 9/6/2020] John Tan: Exhaustion of phenomena means like the sense of observer being dissolved, the sense of object also dissapeared.
[4:38 PM, 9/6/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Yeah..
[4:38 PM, 9/6/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Malcolm also said exhaustion of phenomena doesnt mean no more appearance
[4:39 PM, 9/6/2020] John Tan: Yes
[4:39 PM, 9/6/2020] John Tan: U should not have that sense by now also
[4:45 PM, 9/6/2020] John Tan: A few years post anatta, I do not have sense of objects and physicality....objects r deconstructed by contemplating DO and total exertion.  Therefore there is no seer, no seeing and nothing seen.

I m now compiling the different nuance of total exertion in taoism, zen and yoga...🤣
[5:05 PM, 9/6/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Oic.. yeah i dont have sense of solid phenomena
[5:06 PM, 9/6/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Wow nice.. looking forward to reading 😂”
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Mr. AA
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I've read that Buddhas have no perception from their own side, that rupakayas appear only from the perspective of beings to be "tamed". That would imply a total lack of appearances, all the while not falling into non-existence or a deep sleep type of state.
I like the idea that "no phenomena" does not mean "no appearance". Yet, that's not what the texts seem to be pointing to.

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Soh Wei Yu
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Mr. AA
Malcolm said that appearances do not cease even at the final stage/exhaustion of phenomena in the retreat. It is very clear from his teaching that ultimate Buddhahood is about apperceiving appearances as wisdom.
Someone asked: Does "appearance" here mean the same thing it normally does? I am a little perplexed if so. How can a Buddha be said to perceive appearances? Don't appearances end when non-dual wisdom is completely realized? I thought that appearance implies a duality from wisdom itself and that Buddhas have eliminated that.
Malcolm replied:
A Buddhas appearances are wisdom.
Sure. But I thought appearances have ended for Buddhas, no?
No. What has ended for a Buddha are impure appearances.
I thought that "appearance" implies a duality between the wisdom itself and the appearance of that wisdom.
That is true only below the 13th bhumi. The difference between a buddha on the thirteenth bhumi and the eleventh and twelfth bhumi is that buddhas on the thirteenth bhumi experience appearances as their own wisdom, whereas the lower two stages of buddhahood experience wisdom and the appearances as distinct.
Malcolm wrote:
[Quoting gad rgyangs: in the yeshe sangthal you dissolve all appearances into the "vast dimension of emptiness", out of which "instant presence" arises. This is cosmological as well as personal, since the two scales are nondual.]
'The way that great transference body arises:
when all appearances have gradually been exhausted,
when one focuses one’s awareness on the appearances strewn about
on the luminous maṇḍala of the five fingers of one’s hand,
the environment and inhabitants of the universe
returning from that appearance are perceived as like moon in the water.
One’s body is just a reflection,
self-apparent as the illusory body of wisdom;
one obtains a vajra-like body.
One sees one’s body as transparent inside and out.
The impure eyes of others cannot see one’s body as transparent,
but only the body as it was before...'
Shabkar, Key to One Hundred Doors of Samadhi
Outer appearances do not disappear even when great transference body is attained. What disappears are the inner visions, that is what is exhausted, not the outer universe with its planets, stars, galaxies, mountains, oceans, cliffs, houses, people and sentient beings.
gad rgyangs wrote:
When all appearances cease, what are you left with?
Malcolm wrote:
They never cease....
Samayasattva/Jnanasattva - Page 2 - Dharma Wheel
Samayasattva/Jnanasattva - Page 2 - Dharma Wheel
Samayasattva/Jnanasattva - Page 2 - Dharma Wheel

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Soh Wei Yu
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Also John Tan just wrote:
I dunno abt buddhahood. To me appearances r ceaseless and the energetic display continues endlessly becoz it's just one's natural radiance.
I was chatting with Tyler just the other day that although my breakthrough in experiential insights is mainly to due buddhism, my understanding is still very much taoist/ I Ching oriented. The universe is an ongoing interplay.

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Soh Wei Yu
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I resonate and concur with both their explanations
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5 Responses
  1. Thanks for posting! I have a question, for the sake of clarification: After a mature realization of Anatta (and Shunyata), how can there be such a thing as "one's natural radiance"? Presumably it isn't a radiance that belongs to a self, since at that point there's neither a sense of self nor of ownership, so what exactly does it refer to...?

  2. Soh Says:

    Only conventionally so. For example, Buddhism does not posit a 'universal consciousness'. Radiance is just a description of the vivid knowingness alive quality that all ongoing appearances exhibit without any duality between mind and phenomena. When hearing the sound, since there is no duality between hearer and sound, conventionally it is as if you are the sound. Ultimately, there is no hearer, no hearing and no sound, yet this is not a nothingness void -- there is the vivid display of sound-emptiness, vision-emptiness, and so on, but without inherently existing subject, action and object. However, the vision you see, the sound you hear, is conventionally the display of 'your mind' because obviously I do not see or hear the same thing as you, so, only in that conventional sense can you say it is 'one's natural radiance' (it is not the natural radiance of some uber overarching universal mind).

    Since this radiance only pertains each conventional person's mindstream, it is not some overarching universal consciousness 'shared' by all beings. We do not share the same mindstream. But even the word 'mindstream' is just another name imputed upon a rosary string of momentary experiences, it is not the case that 'mindstream' refers to some truly existing/inherently existing entity or self. Much like the word 'mala' or 'rosary' is merely imputed on many beads, the word 'army' is merely named after a collection of soldiers, etc. No real entity called 'army' can be found when examined. Likewise no real 'person' or 'mindstream' can be found when examined. Only conventionally do we say 'army', 'mind', 'you', 'me', 'Peter', 'John' and so on.

    It is important to understand that conventional selves and phenomena are not the target of refutation, it is the notion of truly existent self and phenomena, and the paradigm of inherent existence, which is the target of refutation.

    “Buddha never used the term "self" to refer to an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity. He also never asserted that there was no conventional "self," the subject of transactional discourse. So, it is very clear in the sutras that the Buddha negated an ultimate self and did not negate a conventional self.” – Arcaya Malcolm Smith, 2020

    “Anatman is the negation of an unconditioned, permanent, ultimate entity that moves from one temporary body to another. It is not the negation of "Sam," "Fred," or "Jane" used as a conventional designation for a collection of aggregates. Since the Buddha clearly states in many Mahāyāna sūtras, "all phenomena" are not self, and since everything is included there, including buddhahood, therefore, there are no phenomena that can be called a self, and since there are nothing outside of all phenomena, a "self," other than an arbitrary designation, does not exist.”

    - Arcaya Malcolm Smith

  3. Soh Says:

    Some conversations with John back in 2012 are quite illuminating on this subject:

    John: To me is just is "Soh" an eternal being...that's all. No denial of Soh as a conventional self. All is just him is an inference too. There is no other is also an assumption.

    Soh: That's what I said, lol. He didn't see it.

    John: But other mindstreams is a more valid assumption. Don't you think so? And verifiable.

    Soh: Yeah.

    John: Whatever in conventional reality still remain, only that reification is seen through. Get it? The centre is seen through be it "subject" or "object", they are imputed mental constructs. Only the additional "ghostly something" is seen through. Not construing and reifying. Nothing that "subject" does not exist. This seeing through itself led to implicit non-dual experience.

    Soh: "Nothing that "subject" does not exist." - what you mean?

    John: Not "subject" or "object" does not exist. Or dissolving object into subject or subject into object… etc. That "extra" imputation is seen through. Conventional reality still remain as it is. By the way, focus more on practice in releasing any holdings.... do not keep engaging on all these.

    Soh: I see.. Conventional reality are just names imposed on non-inherent aggregates, right.

    John: Yes. That led to releasing of the mind from subsuming of anything. What you wrote is unclear. Do you get what I mean? Doesn't mean Soh does not exist… lol. Or I am you or you are me. Just not construing and reifying.

    Soh: I see. Nondual is collapsing objects to self, thus I am you. Anatta simply sees through reification, but conventionally I am I, you are you.

    John: Or collapsing subject into object. You are still unclear about this and mixed up. Seeing through the reification of "subject", "object", "self", "now", "here". Get it? Seeing through "self" led to implicit non-dual experience. Because experience turns direct without reification. In seeing, just scenery. Like you see through the word "weather". That weather-Ness. Be it subject/object/weather/...etc. That is mind free of seeing "things" existing inherently. Experience turns vivid direct and releasing. But I don't want you to keep participating idle talk and neglect practice… always over emphasizing unnecessarily. What happens to experience?

    Soh: you mean after anatta? Direct, luminous, but no ground of abiding (like some inherent awareness).

    John: And what do you mean by that?

    Soh: Means there are only transient six sense streams experience, in seen just seen, etc. Nothing extra.

    John: Six stream experiences is just a convenient raft. Nothing ultimate. Not only must you see that there is no Seer + seeing + seen… you must see the immense connectedness. Implicit Non-dual in experience in anatta to you means what?” - Soh, 2014

  4. Soh Says:

    More on the teaching of conventional self:


    Underlying the whole of Dōgen’s presentation is his own experience of no longer being attached to any sense of a personal self that exists independent of time and of other beings, an experience which is part and parcel of his ‘dropping off of body and mind’. From this perspective of his, anything having existence—which includes every thought and thing—is inextricably bound to time, indeed, can be said to ‘be time’, for there is no thought or thing that exists independent of time. Time and being are but two aspects of the same thing, which is the interrelationship of anicca, ‘the ever-changing flow of time’ and anatta, ‘the absence of any permanent self existing within or independent of this flow of time’. Dōgen has already voiced this perspective in Discourse 1: A Discourse on Doing One’s Utmost in Practicing the Way of the Buddhas (Bendōwa), and in Discourse 3: On the Spiritual Question as It Manifests Before Your Very Eyes (Genjō Kōan), where he discussed the Shrenikan view of an ‘eternal self ’ and the Buddhist perception of ‘no permanent self ’.

    In the present discourse, Dōgen uses as his central text a poem by Great Master Yakusan Igen, the Ninth Chinese Ancestor in the Sōtō Zen lineage. In the Chinese version, each line of this poem begins with the word uji, which functions to introduce a set of couplets describing temporary conditions that appear to be contrastive, but which, in reality, do not stand against each other. These conditions comprise what might be referred to as ‘an I at some moment of time’; this is a use of the word ‘I’ that does not refer to some ‘permanent self ’, abiding unchanged over time (as the Shrenikans maintained) but to a particular set of transient conditions at a particular time. In other words, there is no permanent, unchanging ‘Yakusan’, only a series of ever-changing conditions, one segment of which is perceived as ‘a sentient being’, which is, for convenience, conventionally referred to as ‘Yakusan’. Both Yakusan and Dōgen understand uji (in its sense of ‘that which exists at some time’) as a useful way of expressing the condition of anatta, and in this sense it is used to refer to a state of ‘being’ that is neither a ‘permanent self ’ nor something separate from ‘other’; it is the ‘I’ referred to in one description of a kenshō experience (that is, the experiencing of one’s Buddha Nature) as ‘the whole universe becoming I’. Hence, when the false notion of ‘having a permanent self ’ is abandoned, then what remains is just uji, ‘the time when some form of being persists’.

    After presenting Yakusan’s poem, Dōgen focuses on that aspect of the poem that does not deal with metaphors, images, symbols, etc., and which is the one element in the poem that readers are most likely to pay small heed to: the phrase uji itself. His opening statement encapsulates the whole of what he is talking about in this text, namely: “The phrase ‘for the time being’ implies that time in its totality is what existence is, and that existence in all its occurrences is what time is.”

    “Why do you believe there’s such a thing as a ‘sentient being’?
    Māra, is this your theory?
    This is just a pile of conditions,
    you won’t find a sentient being here.
    When the parts are assembled
    we use the word ‘chariot’.
    So too, when the aggregates are present
    ‘sentient being’ is the convention we use.
    But it’s only suffering that comes to be,
    lasts a while, then disappears.
    Naught but suffering comes to be,
    naught but suffering ceases.” - Vajira Sutta

  5. I should have known it was merely conventional language. Thank you for taking the time to respond to me at such length.