Soh wrote: Hi, i think this will interest you on the various stages of awakening and depths of nondual awareness and its nature :
5:11 PM

Soh wrote: On how it relates to christian mysticism, i just wrote today:

Hi Mr S

In anatta there is a feeling of divinity, of being the one intelligence, god, mind, life, awareness etc but not as a background but purely as all ongoing appearances. As Rongzom Pandita said, all appearances are divine. If there is a feeling of eternity it is not of an unchanging background but of infinite interpenetration of time and space and as if past present future are inseparable from this moment.

If no background and no entity is not clear, this feeling of all pervading divinity easily gets reified into either a universal mind or solipsist thinking. Or an ultimate background behind everything. Which is all forms of inherency and subtle duality thinking.

All is the one life one intelligence one clarity flow. Hence with anatta insight, naturally one eats god, taste god, see god, smell god, sleep god. Liberate god - for god has no face of its own, only infinite faces. To be restricted in anyway, such as grasping at an image of awareness as a formless background, is to impose artificial limitations and separation on awareness and miss out the vibrant textures and forms of awareness. In truth there is no one face of god but ten thousand faces.

As I wrote in 2012, “Every moment is an encounter of my thousand faces. The sound of thunder, every drop of rain, every heart beat, every breath, every thought. Experience, experience, experience, experience!”

Anatta will open the effortless gateway to the taste and actualization of everything as god or divinity, so it will certainly complement well your practice of christian mysticism or islamic sufism:

“Well, its not really new... it is just clear now how there is an imputation we put on Awareness as being "separate' from experience, as some sort of "stand alone" awareness". I have always experienced awareness as experience inseparably so, but didn't notice the subtle imputation that gives still a separate implication of being a remainder, when all things are absent. Being wouldn't know itself outside of experience. If being did know itself in total voidness, that very "knowing" would itself be an experience, hence the void would not be void. God cannot be separated from creation, because the potential for creation is already Known.” - Mr. J, 2012

“What is presence now? Everything... Taste saliva, smell, think, what is that? Snap of a finger, sing. All ordinary activity, zero effort therefore nothing attained. Yet is full accomplishment. In esoteric terms, eat God, taste God, see God, hear That is the first thing I told Mr. J few years back when he first messaged me 😂 If a mirror is there, this is not possible. If clarity isn't empty, this isn't possible. Not even slightest effort is needed. Do you feel it? Grabbing of my legs as if I am grabbing presence! Do you have this experience already? When there is no mirror, then entire existence is just lights-sounds-sensations as single presence. Presence is grabbing presence. The movement to grab legs is Presence.. the sensation of grabbing legs is Presence.. For me even typing or blinking my eyes. For fear that it is misunderstood, don't talk about it. Right understanding is no presence, for every single sense of knowingness is different. Otherwise Mr. J will say nonsense... lol. When there is a mirror, this is not possible. Think I wrote to longchen (Sim Pern Chong) about 10 years ago.” - John Tan

“It is such a blessing after 15 years of "I Am" to come to this point . Beware that the habitual tendencies will try its very best to take back what it has lost. Get use to doing nothing. Eat God, taste God, see God and touch God.

Congrats.” – John Tan to Sim Pern Chong after his initial breakthrough from I AM to no-self in 2006,

“An interesting comment Mr. J. After realization… Just eat God, breathe God, smell God and see God… Lastly be fully unestablished and liberate God.” - John Tan, 2012

xabir Snoovatar

Redditor A: Hi, what led you to send this to me?

Quite impressive timing, it felt like an answer to a tendency I was having to look for that "background" (kind of interwoven, really) awareness, probably as a reaction to stress in my life recently.

Soh replied: I saw some of your postings and video on formless consciousness. Thought you had the I AM awakening.

I'm Soh, and Thusness (John Tan) is my mentor... I've been through similar stages in my journey. Both of us are co authors of the blog

regarding "background", John Tan wrote in 2009,

“The Absolute as separated from the transience is what I have indicated as the 'Background' in my 2 posts to theprisonergreco.

84. RE: Is there an absolute reality? [Skarda 4 of 4]
Mar 27 2009, 9:15 AM EDT | Post edited: Mar 27 2009, 9:15 AM EDT
Hi theprisonergreco,

First is what exactly is the ‘background’? Actually it doesn’t exist. It is only an image of a ‘non-dual’ experience that is already gone. The dualistic mind fabricates a ‘background’ due to the poverty of its dualistic and inherent thinking mechanism. It ‘cannot’ understand or function without something to hold on to. That experience of the ‘I’ is a complete, non-dual foreground experience.

When the background subject is understood as an illusion, all transience phenomena reveal themselves as Presence. It is like naturally 'vipassanic' throughout. From the hissing sound of PC, to the vibration of the moving MRT train, to the sensation when the feet touches the ground, all these experiences are crystal clear, no less “I AM” than “I AM”. The Presence is still fully present, nothing is denied. -:) So the “I AM” is just like any other experiences when the subject-object split is gone. No different from an arising sound. It only becomes a static background as an afterthought when our dualistic and inherent tendencies are in action.

The first 'I-ness' stage of experiencing awareness face to face is like a point on a sphere which you called it the center. You marked it.

Then later you realized that when you marked other points on the surface of a sphere, they have the same characteristics. This is the initial experience of non-dual. Once the insight of No-Self is stabilized, you just freely point to any point on the surface of the sphere -- all points are a center, hence there is no 'the' center. 'The' center does not exist: all points are a center.

After then practice move from 'concentrative' to 'effortlessness'. That said, after this initial non-dual insight, 'background' will still surface occasionally for another few years due to latent tendencies...

86. RE: Is there an absolute reality? [Skarda 4 of 4]
To be more exact, the so called 'background' consciousness is that pristine happening. There is no a 'background' and a 'pristine happening'. During the initial phase of non-dual, there is still habitual attempt to 'fix' this imaginary split that does not exist. It matures when we realized that anatta is a seal, not a stage; in hearing, always only sounds; in seeing always only colors, shapes and forms; in thinking, always only thoughts. Always and already so. -:)

Many non-dualists after the intuitive insight of the Absolute hold tightly to the Absolute. This is like attaching to a point on the surface of a sphere and calling it 'the one and only center'. Even for those Advaitins that have clear experiential insight of no-self (no object-subject split), an experience similar to that of anatta (First emptying of subject) are not spared from these tendencies. They continue to sink back to a Source.

It is natural to reference back to the Source when we have not sufficiently dissolved the latent disposition but it must be correctly understood for what it is. Is this necessary and how could we rest in the Source when we cannot even locate its whereabout? Where is that resting place? Why sink back? Isn't that another illusion of the mind? The 'Background' is just a thought moment to recall or an attempt to reconfirm the Source. How is this necessary? Can we even be a thought moment apart? The tendency to grasp, to solidify experience into a 'center' is a habitual tendency of the mind at work. It is just a karmic tendency. Realize It! This is what I meant to Adam the difference between One-Mind and No-Mind.” - John Tan, 2009, excerpt from Emptiness as Viewless View and Embracing the Transience

in 2007, John Tan said to me

(11:29 PM) Thusness: when we say there is a background that does not change, we are falling into this trap.
(11:29 PM) AEN: oic..
(11:29 PM) Thusness: so when there is stress, u cannot say that something behind is always not stressed.
(11:29 PM) Thusness: this is an illusion
(11:30 PM) Thusness: u cannot say that u have insight into the unchanging
(11:30 PM) Thusness: instead, u must 'c' the condition for the arising of stress.
(11:30 PM) Thusness: otherwise where is the solution?
(11:31 PM) Thusness: when u practice, u practice to c.
(11:31 PM) Thusness: that is the clarity of buddha's nature.
(11:31 PM) Thusness: that is, it is pain.
(11:31 PM) Thusness: clearly so.
(11:31 PM) AEN: icic
(11:31 PM) Thusness: it must be as clear as it can be.
(11:31 PM) Thusness: arises and ceases
(11:31 PM) Thusness: get it?
(11:32 PM) AEN: ya
(11:32 PM) Thusness: now the clarity is never affected
(11:32 PM) Thusness: why?
(11:32 PM) Thusness: because there is pain
(11:32 PM) Thusness: otherwise it becomes dull.
(11:32 PM) Thusness: something is wrong
(11:33 PM) Thusness: or it becomes a stone
(11:33 PM) Thusness: that is why mindfulness leads to enlightenment
(11:34 PM) Thusness: now when we c this, we do not have image
(11:34 PM) Thusness: we cannot have
(11:34 PM) Thusness: because it is not anything at all
(11:34 PM) Thusness: there is no way to know
(11:35 PM) Thusness: but if u say all those attributes, it becomes predictable
(11:35 PM) Thusness: it becomes something
(11:35 PM) Thusness: it has an image
(11:35 PM) Thusness: it is a background
(11:35 PM) AEN: oic
(11:36 PM) Thusness: when one experience something like the background, it is a form of samadhi
(11:36 PM) Thusness: it is a merge with the image
(11:37 PM) Thusness: but if one arises and ceases without background, then that is insight
(11:37 PM) AEN: oic
(11:37 PM) AEN: u mean stage 1 and 2 is samadhi?
(11:37 PM) AEN: but u said theres difference rite
(11:37 PM) AEN: between samadhi and stage 1
(11:37 PM) Thusness: yeah
(11:38 PM) Thusness: what is important is to have insight, the directness until u reaches non-dual
(11:38 PM) Thusness: then when non-dual is peak, there is self-liberation.
(11:38 PM) Thusness: however self liberation has 2 very important characteristics
(11:38 PM) Thusness: one is completely non-attached
(11:38 PM) Thusness: the other is fearlessness
(11:38 PM) AEN: icic
(11:39 PM) AEN: fearlessness means if u look down from a tall building u also not scared? :P
(11:39 PM) Thusness: no lah
(11:39 PM) Thusness: means no fear
(11:39 PM) Thusness: even the entire body is gone
(11:39 PM) AEN: oic then isnt wat i said true
(11:39 PM) Thusness: everything is gone
(11:39 PM) AEN: lol
(11:39 PM) AEN: icic
(11:40 PM) Thusness: it is very important
(11:40 PM) Thusness: and non-attachment
(11:40 PM) Thusness: then u can experience the highest form of non-dual
(11:40 PM) Thusness: that is self-liberation in all moments
(11:40 PM) AEN: oic
(11:41 PM) Thusness: tat is why one must continue to practice second door
(11:41 PM) Thusness: the passing away
(11:41 PM) Thusness: that is the reason i posted in the steven case.
(11:41 PM) AEN: icic
(11:42 PM) AEN: btw u said if theres background its samadhi
(11:43 PM) AEN: but u also said samadhi is different from stage 1 and 2 rite
(11:43 PM) AEN: cos theres no clarity or something
(11:43 PM) Thusness: the most is samadhi
(11:43 PM) AEN: huh
(11:43 PM) Thusness: but u must also understand that, the presence experience is not a background hor
(11:43 PM) Thusness: it is only misunderstood as a background
(11:43 PM) AEN: oic
(11:44 PM) Thusness: the actual experience is not a form of background
(11:44 PM) AEN: so a person when they enter samadhi, they may not experience presence
(11:44 PM) AEN: but a stage 1 and 2 experience presence and mistakes it as background
(11:44 PM) Thusness: only when we attempt to understand, we misinterpret it.
(11:44 PM) AEN: oic
(11:44 PM) Thusness: so when it becomes a background, u can only get it as a merge with that image thought has created from the experience of presence.
(11:45 PM) AEN: icic
(11:45 PM) Thusness: in this case there is the experience of it, but there is no prajna wisdom.
(11:45 PM) AEN: oic
(11:45 PM) Thusness: there is no wisdom because ignorance is taking place and is strong.
(11:45 PM) AEN: icic
(11:46 PM) Thusness: therefore there is no insight, but there is experience.

i practiced self enquiry between 2008 to feb 2010, then I realized I AM, and in the following months i progressed in terms of the four aspects of i am, entered nondual in august 2010, then realized anatta in oct 2010

in my AtR community or the atr group (a facebook group), more than 50+ people realised anatta, and most of them went through the same phases of insights as myself and john

my progress from I AM to anatta is pretty fast, within a year. for most people they get stuck at I AM for years and decades and many with no breakthroughs from there even until death. but with the right pointers and contemplation, one can break through much faster, hence I always try my best to share my 2 cents with the right people.

usually for those that realized I AM i will tell them to focus on the four aspects of I AM, two stanzas of anatta, the two nondual contemplations and bahiya sutta

do see:

"i practiced self enquiry between 2008 to feb 2010, then I realized I AM, and in the following months i progressed in terms of the four aspects of i am, entered nondual in august 2010, then realized anatta in oct 2010"

my breakthrough to anatta was from contemplating bahiya sutta which i wrote in

after I AM, it is important to go into nondual and anatta and then progress into twofold emptiness. twofold emptiness for me is in following years after anatta.

life after anatta is truly amazing after anatta.. especially when it stabilizes and deepens. truly wondrous. i wrote a bit about it in

xabir Snoovatar

the christian mystic bernadette roberts is close but unfortunately she didnt emphasize on anatta as a seal, that would have been more crucial.

here's an interview with her, you may be able to find some correlates with the john tan's 7 stages ( ) above

bernadette's interview:


"The truth of the body, then, is the revelation that Christ is all that is manifest of God or all that is manifest of the unmanifest Father. Self or consciousness does not reveal this and cannot know it. In the "smile" there was no knower or one who smiles, nor was there anyone or anything to smile at or to know; there was simply the smile, the "knowing" that is beyond knower and known. The wrong interpretation of the absence of knower and known is that in that in the Godhead knower and known are identical. But the identity of knower and known is only true of consciousness, which is self knowing itself. But the Godhead transcends this identity -- it is void of knower or known. The "knowing" that remains beyond self or consciousness cannot be accounted for in any terms of knower and known. The truest thing that could be said is that the "body knows."" (see Resurrection, page 185, What Is Self?)


"Christ is not the self, but that which remains when there is no self.
He is the form (the vessel) that is identical with the substance, and he
is not multiple forms, but one Eternal form. Christ is the act, the
manifestation and extension of God that is no separate from God. We
cannot comprehend 'that' which acts or 'that' which smiles, but we all
know the act-- the smile that is Christ himself. Thus Christ turns out
to be all that is knowable about God, because without his acts, God
could not be known. Act itself is God's revelation and this revelation
is not separate from God, but Is God himself. This I believe is what
Christ would have us see; this is his completed message to man. But who
can understand it?

the breakthrough into anatta must come from realizing it as a seal, as always already so, a truth about the nature of consciousness and reality which is always so.. rather than a state or a stage

"Soh wrote in 2007 based on what John Tan wrote:

First I do not see Anatta as merely a freeing from personality sort of experience as you mentioned; I see it as that a self/agent, a doer, a thinker, a watcher, etc, cannot be found apart from the moment to moment flow of manifestation or as its commonly expressed as ‘the observer is the observed’; there is no self apart from arising and passing. A very important point here is that Anatta/No-Self is a Dharma Seal, it is the nature of Reality all the time -- and not merely as a state free from personality, ego or the ‘small self’ or a stage to attain. This means that it does not depend on the level of achievement of a practitioner to experience anatta but Reality has always been Anatta and what is important here is the intuitive insight into it as the nature, characteristic, of phenomenon (dharma seal).

To put further emphasis on the importance of this point, I would like to borrow from the Bahiya Sutta ( that ‘in the seeing, there is just the seen, no seer’, ‘in the hearing, there is just the heard, no hearer’ as an illustration. When a person says that I have gone beyond the experiences from ‘I hear sound’ to a stage of ‘becoming sound’, he is mistaken. When it is taken to be a stage, it is illusory. For in actual case, there is and always is only sound when hearing; never was there a hearer to begin with. Nothing attained for it is always so. This is the seal of no-self. Therefore to a non dualist, the practice is in understanding the illusionary views of the sense of self and the split. Before the awakening of prajna wisdom, there will always be an unknowing attempt to maintain a purest state of 'presence'. This purest presence is the 'how' of a dualistic mind -- its dualistic attempt to provide a solution due to its lack of clarity of the spontaneous nature of the unconditioned. It is critical to note here that both the doubts/confusions/searches and the solutions that are created for these doubts/confusions/searches actually derive from the same cause -- our karmic propensities of ever seeing things dualistically.

John Tan adds: "This is the seal of no-self and can be realized and experienced in all moments; not just a mere concept.""

It is very rare unfortunately to realise anatta. Not because its very hard to breakthrough but v few teachers that are guiding are clear about it, so i consider myself very fortunate to meet with the pointers and my mentor, who also said,

"Though buddha nature is plainness and most direct, these are still the steps. If one does not know the process and said ‘yes this is it’… then it is extremely misleading. For 99 percent [of ‘realized’/’enlightened’ persons] what one is talking about is "I AMness", and has not gone beyond permanence, still thinking [of] permanence, formless… ...all and almost all will think of it along the line of "I AMness", all are like the grandchildren of "AMness", and that is the root cause of duality.” - John Tan, 2007  
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