The following is written partly as a comment on Dr. John Welwood's article Reflection and Presence: The Dialectic of Awakening, by Thusness/PasserBy.(Source: http://buddhism.sgforums.com/forums/1728/topics/336357)
....It is difficult to have someone that is so-trained academically and scientifically to provide us such deep insight in the spiritual discipline. The article is very clear, well structured and organized. We should learn how to treasure good stuff. :)
I will just jot down some of my thoughts after reading it.
Although much is mentioned in the article about divided consciousness, the ‘strength’ of making a practitioner sink back to a divided consciousness is overlooked. We should never underestimate the power of this bond. That is, given 1000 practitioners that has sufficient glimpses of the pristine-ness or even awaken to the non-dual nature of Awareness, the tendency for these practitioners to fall back to ’divided consciousness’ remains surprisingly strong. Why despite all the blissful experiences, the tendency to fall back to a divided state continues to be powerfully strong? In transpersonal psychology, holotropic breathwork is one technique that deals with the deeply held bond of the subconscious and unconscious mind. Unleashing these deeply held bonds can cause transpersonal experiences that include communication with mythic deties, recalling past life memories, OBEs and memories of perinatal events. Regardless of whether these experiences are delusional or hallucinatory, we must not overlook the vast impact of ‘bonds’ on consciousness.
Next, I will just touch a little on the importance of the relationship between the view, path and fruition as I think to experience the therapeutic effect from a particular form of practice, “sync-ing” the view, path and fruition is crucial. The significance of the relationship surfaced while I was reading this article and was triggered by your question 2 days back about whether Genpo Roshi is talking about anatta in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0LiCh9eZEo.
While Dr. John Welwood outlined the different path of practices from pre-reflective identification, to the practice of conceptual reflection, to pure witnessing, to transformation and self-liberation, his focus is mainly on the aspect of how direct and effective each method is in narrowing the gap of subject-object duality. To me it is more important to have clarity on the exact experiential fruition that can be derived from adopting a particular view and path of practice.
For example if someone were to ask will dissolving ‘personality’ results in a non-dual experience? We need to know what the experience of “impersonality” is like and what methods of practice that will lead to the experience of “impersonality” and the role “impersonality” plays in non-dual presence.
To illustrate, let’s take the question you asked about Genpo Roshi. There is no doubt that Genpo Roshi is speaking about anatta -- “there is witnessing, there is no witness”. However the ‘path’ he uses is clearly a ‘desync’ from his ‘views’ of anatta. He uses a ‘stepping back witnessing method’ which is essentially a reflective process; frankly using the “stepping back technique” to experience anatta is quite contradicting and can be counter-productive. I must say it is not an effective way to bring about an experiential non-dual insight of anatta.
In Zen tradition, different koan were meant for different purposes. For example the experience derived from the koan “before birth who are you?” is not the same as the Hakuin’s koan of “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” The five categories of koan in Zen ranges from hosshin that give practitioner the first glimpse of ultimate reality to five-ranks that aims to awaken practitioner the spontaneous unity of relative and absolute.
Similarly different techniques can also be devised to allow a practitioner to experience the different qualities of Awareness. The experience of “impersonality” is not the same as the experience of the “pristineness” of our nature; the experience of “oneness” is also not the same experience as spontaneity; the experience of non-dual without a subject and object split does not necessary result in the thorough insight of anatta; the experience of anatta is also not the same experience when a practitioner thoroughly sees the emptiness nature of phenomena. Thus, the master that prescribes the medicine must have deep clarity and wisdom of the view, path, fruition and conditions of the students. It is not a one for all sort of medicine.
Lastly no one religion has monopoly over Truth much less a tradition. The techniques of spontaneous perfection in Mahamudra and self-liberation in Dzogchen that are described by Dr. John Welwood will naturally be realized by a Zen practitioner that passes the five-rank koan. Even in the basic teachings of Buddha, as long as we have complete and thorough insight of anatta and the principle of Dependent Origination, practitioners will also naturally enters the pathless path of self-liberation. :)