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Two Types of Nondual Contemplation after I AM
+A and -A Emptiness

(Last Updated: 14th March 2009)

Article written by: Thusness/PasserBy

Wonder why but of late, the topic on anatta kept surfacing in forums. Perhaps 'yuan' (condition) has arisen. -:) I will just jot down some thoughts on my experiences of ‘no-self’. A casual sharing, nothing authoritative.

The 2 stanzas below are pivotal in leading me to the direct experience of no-self. Although they appear to convey the same stuff about anatta, meditating on these 2 stanzas can yield 2 very different experiential insights -- one on the emptiness aspect and the other, the non-dual luminosity aspect. The insights that arise from these experiences are very illuminating as they contradict so much our ordinary understanding of what awareness is.

  • There is thinking, no thinker
    There is hearing, no hearer
    There is seeing, no seer

  • In thinking, just thoughts
    In hearing, just sounds
    In seeing, just forms, shapes and colors.

  • Before proceeding any further, it is of absolute importance to know that there is no way the stanzas can be correctly understood by way of inference, logical deduction or induction. Not that there is something mystical or transcendental about the stanzas but simply the way of mental chattering is a 'wrong approach'. The right technique is through 'vipassana' or any more direct and attentive bare mode of observation that allows the seeing of things as they are. Just a casual note, such mode of knowing turns natural when non-dual insight matures, before that it can be quite 'efforting'.
    On the first stanza

    The two most obvious experiences from this initial glimpse of the first stanza is the lack of doer-ship and the direct insight of the absence of an agent. These 2 experiences are key for my phase 5 of the 7 phases of insights.

    1. The lack of doer-ship that links and co-ordinates experiences.
    Without the 'I' that links, phenomena (thoughts, sound, feelings and so on and so forth) appear bubble-like, floating and manifesting freely, spontaneously and boundlessly. With the absence of the doer-ship also comes a deep sense of freedom and transparency. Ironical as it may sound but it's true experientially. We will not have the right understanding when we hold too tightly 'inherent' view. It is amazing how 'inherent' view prevents us from seeing freedom as no-doership, interdependence and interconnectedness, luminosity and non-dual presence.

    2. The direct insight of the absence of an agent.
    In this case, there is a direct recognition that there is “no agent”. Just one thought then another thought. So it is always thought watching thought rather than a watcher watching thought. However the gist of this realization is skewed towards a spontaneous liberating experience and a vague glimpse of the empty nature of phenomena -- that is, the transient phenomena being bubble-like and ephemeral, nothing substantial or solid. At this phase we should not misunderstand that we have experienced thoroughly the ‘empty’ nature of phenomena and awareness, although there is this temptation to think we have. -:)

    Depending on the conditions of an individual, it may not be obvious that it is “always thought watching thought rather than a watcher watching thought.” or "the watcher is that thought." Because this is the key insight and a step that cannot afford to be wrong along the path of liberation, I cannot help but with some disrespectful tone say,

    For those masters that taught,
    “Let thoughts arise and subside,
    See the background mirror as perfect and be unaffected.”
    With all due respect, they have just “blah” something nice but deluded.


    See that there is no one behind thoughts.
    First, one thought then another thought.
    With deepening insight it will later be revealed,
    Always just this, One Thought!
    Non-arising, luminous yet empty!
    And this is the whole purpose of anatta. To thoroughly see through that this background does not exist in actuality. What exists is a stream, action or karma. There is no doer or anything being done, there is only doing; No meditator nor meditation, only meditating. From a letting go perspective, "a watcher watching thought" will create the impression that a watcher is allowing thoughts to arise and subside while itself being unaffected. This is an illusion; it is 'holding' in disguise as 'letting go'. When we realized that there is no background from start, reality will present itself as one whole letting go. With practice, ‘intention’ dwindles with the maturing of insight and ‘doing’ will be gradually experienced as mere spontaneous happening as if universe is doing the work. With the some pointers from 'dependent origination', we can then penetrate further to see this happening as a sheer expression of everything interacting with everything coming into being. In fact, if we do not reify ‘universe’, it is just that -- an expression of interdependent arising that is just right wherever and whenever is.

    Understanding this, practice is simply opening to whatever is.
    For this mere happening is just right wherever and whenever is.
    Though no place can be called home it is everywhere home.

    When experience matures in the practice of great ease,
    The experience is Maha! Great, miraculous and bliss.
    In mundane activities of seeing, eating and tasting,
    When expressed poetically is as if the entire universe meditating.

    Whatever said and expressed are really all different flavors,
    Of this everything of everything dependently originating,
    As this moment of vivid shimmering.
    By then it is clear that the transient phenomena is already happening in the perfect way; unwinding what must be unwinded, manifesting what must be manifested and subsides when it is time to go. There is no problem with this transient happening, the only problem is having an ‘extra mirror’, a reification due to the power of the mind to abstract. The mirror is not perfect; it is the happening that is perfect. The mirror appears to be perfect only to a dualistic and inherent view.

    Our deeply held inherent and dualistic view has very subtly and unknowingly personified the "luminous aspect" into the watcher and discarded the "emptiness aspect" as the transient phenomena. The key challenge of practice is then to clearly see that luminosity and emptiness are one and inseparable, they have never and can never be separated.

    On the second stanza

    For the second stanza, the focus is on the vivid, pristine-ness of transience phenomena. Thoughts, sounds and all transient are indistinguishable from Awareness. There is no-experiencer-experience split, only one seamless spontaneous experience arising as thinker/thoughts, hearer/sounds, feeler/feelings and so on. In hearing, hearer and sound are indistinguishably one. For anyone that is familiar with the “I AM” experience, that pure sense of existence, that powerful experience of presence that makes one feel so real, is unforgettable. When the background is gone, all foreground phenomena reveal themselves as Presence. It is like naturally 'vipassanic' throughout or simply put, naked in awareness. 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. -:)

    Division of subject and object is merely an assumption.
    Thus someone giving up and something to be given up is an illusion.
    When self becomes more and more transparent,
    Likewise phenomena become more and more luminous.
    In thorough transparency all happening are pristinely and vividly clear.
    Obviousness throughout, aliveness everywhere!
    It will be obvious by then that only the deeply held dualistic view is obscuring our insight into this experiential fact. In actual experience, there is just the crystal clarity of phenomena manifesting. Maturing this experience, the mind-body dissolves into mere non-dual luminosity and all phenomena are experientially understood as the manifestation of this non-dual luminous presence -- the key insight leading to the realization that "All is Mind".

    After this, not to be too overwhelmed or over-claimed what is more than necessary; rather investigate further. Does this non-dual luminosity exhibits any characteristic of self-nature that is independent, unchanging and permanent? A practitioner can still get stuck for quite sometimes solidifying non-dual presence unknowingly. This is leaving marks of the 'One mirror' as described in the stage 4 of the 7 phases of my insights. Although experience is non-dual, the insight of emptiness is still not there. Though the dualistic bond has loosened sufficiently, the 'inherent' view remains strong.

    When the 'subject' is gone, experience becomes non-dual but we forgotten about the 'object'. When object is further emptied, we see Dharmakaya.
    Do See clearly that for the case of a ‘subject’ that is first penetrated, it is a mere label collating the 5 aggregates but for the next level that is to be negated, it is the Presence that we are emptying -- not a label but the very presence itself that is non-dual in nature.

    For sincere Buddhist practitioners that have matured non-dual insight, they may prompt themselves why is there a need for Buddha to put so much emphasis on dependent origination if non-dual presence is final? The experience is still as Vedantic, more 'Brahman' than 'Sunyata'. This 'solidity of non-dual presence' must be broken with the help of dependent origination and emptiness. Knowing this a practitioner can then progress to understand the empty (dependently originated) nature of non-dual presence. It is a further refining of anatta experience according to the first stanza.

    As for those "I AMness" practitioners, it is very common for them after non-dual insight to stay in non-dual presence. They find delight in 'chop wood, carry water' and 'spring comes, grass grows by its own'. Nothing much can be stressed; the experience do appear to be final. Hopefully 'yuan' (condition) can arise for these practitioners to see this subtle mark that prevent the seeing.
    On Emptiness

    If we observe thought and ask where does thought arise, how does it arise, what is ‘thought’ like. 'Thought' will reveal its nature is empty -- vividly present yet completely un-locatable. It is very important not to infer, think or conceptualise but feel with our entire being this ‘ungraspability’ and 'unlocatability'. It seems to reside 'somewhere' but there is no way to locate it. It is just an impression of somewhere "there" but never "there". Similarly “here-ness” and “now-ness” are merely impressions formed by sensations, aggregates of causes and conditions, nothing inherently ‘there’; equally empty like ‘selfness’.

    This ungraspable and unlocatable empty nature is not only peculiar to ‘thought’. All experiences or sensations are like that -- vividly present yet insubstantial, un-graspable, spontaneous, un-locatable.

    If we were to observe a red flower that is so vivid, clear and right in front of us, the “redness” only appears to “belong” to the flower, it is in actuality not so. Vision of red does not arise in all animal species (dogs cannot perceive colours) nor is the “redness” an inherent attribute of the mind. If given a “quantum eyesight” to look into the atomic structure, there is similarly no attribute “redness” anywhere found, only almost complete space/void with no perceivable shapes and forms. Whatever appearances are dependently arisen, and hence is empty of any inherent existence or fixed attributes, shapes, form, or “redness” -- merely luminous yet empty, mere appearances without inherent/objective existence.

    Likewise when standing in front of a burning fire pit, the entire phenomena of ‘fire’, the burning heat, the whole sensation of ‘hotness’ that are so vividly present and seem so real but when examined they are also not inherently “there” -- merely dependently manifest whenever conditions are there. It is amazing how dualistic and inherent views have caged seamless experience in a who-where-when construct.

    All experiences are empty. They are like sky flowers, like painting on the surface of a pond. There is no way to point to a moment of experience and say this is ‘in’ and that is ‘out’. All ‘in’ are as ‘out’; to awareness seamless experience is all there is. It is not the mirror or pond that is important but that process of illusion-like phenomenon of the paint shimmering on the surface of the pond; like an illusion but not an illusion, like a dream but not a dream. This is the ground of all experiences.

    Yet this ‘ungraspability and unlocatabilty’ nature is not all there is; there is also this Maha, this great without boundaries feeling of 'interconnectedness'. When someone hits a bell, the person, the stick, the bell, the vibration of the air, the ears and then the magically appearance of sound -- ’Tongsss…re-sounding…’ is all a seamless one happening, one experience. When breathing, it is just this one whole entire breath; it is all causes and conditions coming together to give rise to this entire sensation of breath as if the whole of universe is doing this breathing. The significance of this Maha experience is not in words; in my opinion, without this experience, there is no true experience of 'interconnectedness' and non-dual presence is incomplete.

    The experience of our empty nature is a very different from that of non-dual oneness. ‘Distance’ for example is overcome in non-dual oneness by seeing through the illusory aspect of subject/object division and resulted in a one non-dual presence. It is seeing all as just ‘This’ but experiencing Emptiness breaks the boundary through its empty ungraspable and unlocatable nature.

    There is no need for a ‘where-place' or a ‘when-time' or a ‘who-I' when we penetrate deeply into this nature. When hearing sound, sound is neither ‘in here’ nor ‘out there’, it is where it is and gone! All centers and reference points dissolve with the wisdom that manifestation dependently originates and hence empty. The experience creates an "always right wherever and whenever is" sensation. A sensation of home everywhere though nowhere can be called home. Experiencing the emptiness nature of presence, a sincere practitioner becomes clear that indeed the non-dual presence is leaving a subtle mark; seeing its nature as empty, the last mark that solidifies experiences dissolves. It feels cool because presence is made more present and effortless. We then move from "vivid non-dual presence" into "though vividly and non-dually present, it is nothing real, empty!".
    On Maha and Ordinariness

    The experience of Maha may sound as if one is going after certain sort of experience and appears to be in contradiction with the 'ordinariness of enlightenment' promoted in Zen Buddhism. This is not true and in fact, without this experience, non-dual is incomplete. This section is not about Maha as a stage to achieve but to see that Sunyata is Maha in nature. In Maha, one does not feel self, one 'feels' universe; one does not feel 'Brahman' but feels 'interconnectedness'; one does not feel 'helplessness' due to 'dependence and interconnection' but feels great without boundary, spontaneous and marvelous. Now lets get back to 'ordinariness'.

    Ordinariness has always been Taoism’s forte. In Zen we also see the importance of this being depicted in those enlightenment models like Tozan’s 5 ranks and the The Ten Oxherding Pictures. But ordinariness must only be understood that non-dual and the Maha world of suchness is nothing beyond. There is no beyond realm to arrive at and never a separated state from our ordinary daily world; rather it is to bring this primordial, original and untainted experience of non-dual and Maha experience into the most mundane activities. If this experience is not found in most mundane and ordinary activities then practitioners have not matured their understandings and practices.

    Before Maha experience has always been rare occurrence in the natural state and was treated as a passing trend that comes and goes. Inducing the experience often involves concentration on repeatedly doing some task for a short period of time for example,

    If we were to breathe in and out, in and out…till there is simply this entire sensation of breath, just breath as all causes and conditions coming into this moment of manifestation.

    If we were to focus on the sensation of stepping, the sensation of hardness, just the sensation of the hardness, till there is simply this entire sensation ‘hardness’ when the feet touches the ground, just this ‘hardness’ as all causes and conditions coming into this moment of manifestation.

    If we were to focus on hearing someone hitting a bell, the stick, the bell, the vibration of the air, the ears all coming together for this sensation of sound to arise, we will have Maha experience.

    However ever since incorporating the teaching of dependent origination into non-dual presence, over the years it has become more ‘accessible’ but never has this been understood as a ground state. There seems to be a predictable relationship of seeing interdependent arising and emptiness on the experience of non-dual presence.

    A week ago, the clear experience of Maha dawned and became quite effortless and at the same time there is a direct realization that it is also a natural state. In Sunyata, Maha is natural and must be fully factored into the path of experiencing whatever arises. Nevertheless Maha as a ground state requires the maturing of non-dual experience; we cannot feel entirely as the interconnectedness of everything coming spontaneously into being as this moment of vivid manifestation with a divided mind.

    The universe is this arising thought.
    The universe is this arising sound.
    Just this magnificent arising!
    Is Tao.
    Homage to all arising.


    On Spontaneous Perfection

    Lastly, when these 2 experiences inter-permeate, what is really needed is simply to experience whatever arises openly and unreservedly. It may sound simple but do not underestimate this simple path; even aeon lives of practices cannot touch the depth of its profundity.

    In fact all the subsections -- “On Stanza One”, “On Stanza Two”, “On Emptiness”, there is already certain emphasis of the natural way. With regards to the natural way, I must say that spontaneous presence and experiencing whatever arises openly, unreservedly and fearlessly is not the 'path' of any tradition or religion -- Be it Zen, Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Advaita, Taoism or Buddhism. In fact the natural way is the 'path' of Tao but Taoism cannot claim monopoly over the 'path' simply because it has a longer history. My experience is that any sincere practitioner after maturing non-dual experiences will eventually come to this automatically and naturally. It is like in the blood, there is no other way than the natural way.

    That said, the natural and spontaneous way is often misrepresented. It should not be taken to mean that there is no need to do anything or practice is unnecessary. Rather it is the deepest insight of a practitioner that after cycles and cycles of refining his insights on the aspect of anatta, emptiness and dependent origination, he suddenly realized that anatta is a seal and non-dual luminosity and emptiness have always been ‘the ground’ of all experiences. Practice then shift from ‘concentrative’ to ‘effortless’ mode and for this it requires the complete pervading of non-dual and emptiness insights into our entire being like how “dualistic and inherent views” has invaded consciousness.

    In any case, care must be taken not to make our empty and luminous nature into a metaphysical essence. I will end with a comment I wrote in another blog Luminous Emptiness as it summarizes pretty well what I have written.

    The degree of “un-contrivance”,
    Is the degree of how unreserved and fearless we open to whatever is.
    For whatever arises is mind, always seen, heard, tasted and experienced.
    What that is not seen, not heard and not experienced,
    Is our conceptual idea of what mind is.

    Whenever we objectify the “brilliance, the pristine-ness” into an entity that is formless,
    It becomes an object of grasp that prevents the seeing of the “forms”,
    the texture and the fabric of awareness.
    The tendency to objectify is subtle,
    we let go of 'selfness' yet unknowingly grasped ‘nowness’ and ‘hereness’.
    Whatever arises merely dependently originates, needless of who, where and when.

    All experiences are equal, luminous yet empty of self-nature.
    Though empty it has not in anyway denied its vivid luminosity.

    Liberation is experiencing mind as it is.
    Self-Liberation is the thorough insight that this liberation is always and already is;
    Spontaneously present, naturally perfected!
    We should not treat the insight of emptiness as 'higher' than that of non-dual luminosity. It is just different insights dawning due to differing conditions. To some practitioners, the insight of our empty nature comes before non-dual luminosity.

    For a more detailed conceptual understanding of Emptiness, do read the article "Non-Dual Emptiness" by Dr. Greg Goode.


    Update 2020 by Soh:

    Here are some related quotes to this article.

    “To me anatta stanza is still the best trigger… lol.  It allows us to clearly see anatta is the natural state. Always is and effortlessly so. It shows "how ignorance" blinds and creates misconceptions of separation and substantiality of what we called "things and phenomena".


    And realising the view is all pointing to this truth of anatta from top to bottom of how the mind confuses and mistakens conventional existence as true and real.  Dependent origination and emptiness are the raft to balance and neutralize all mind-made conventionalities, so that the mind can rest in natural ease and balance, seeing all arising as spontaneously perfected.” - John Tan, 2019


    “Insight that 'anatta' is a seal and not a stage must arise to further progress into the 'effortless' mode. That is, anatta is the ground of all experiences and has always been so, no I. In seeing, always only seen, in hearing always only sound and in thinking, always only thoughts. No effort required and never was there an 'I'.” - John Tan, 2009


    You need to contemplate on anatta correctly as mentioned by (seeing anatta as dharma seal rather than merely a state of no mind)” – Soh, 2020

    Without thorough breakthrough of both stanzas of anatta 1 and 2, there is no thorough or clear realization of anatta proper in AtR definition. Although the 2nd was clearer to me in the beginning breakthrough in October 2010, the 1st stanza shortly became clearer in the following months and dissolving further grounding, including a very subtle grounding to a Here/Now as well as any subtle remaining referencing to Mind (although that is already largely dissolved, a very subtle unseen tendency was seen and dissolved later).” – Soh, 2020


    “TD Unmanifest

    3h ·

    I have found that in my practice that emptying the subject to be “easier” than emptying the object. So in AtR parlance, working on the first stanza vs. the second.

    Emptying of the aggregates and dhatus have been very helpful in deepening insight into the annata realization. Working to root out karmic propensities in the residual I, me, mine.

    However, I’m curious about practices that have helped in the same kind of penetration of the object, related to the second stanza and Presence, DO, and emptiness to total exertion.




    Soh Wei Yu

    badge icon

    Both stanzas of anatta are on anatta, not emptiness of aggregates



    TD Unmanifest

    Ah, I mistook this section related to the second stanza to be focused on the aggregates and objects:

    "When the 'subject' is gone, experience becomes non-dual but we forgotten about the 'object'. When object is further emptied, we see Dharmakaya. Do See clearly that for the case of a ‘subject’ that is first penetrated, it is a mere label collating the 5 aggregates but for the next level that is to be negated, it is the Presence that we are emptying -- not a label but the very presence itself that is non-dual in nature."

    It has progressed very well in deepening annata, but I was contemplating from the perspective of objects vs subject. So self/Self continues to be nowhere to be found, and always already so. Objects of awareness can seem "real" where self clearly isn't, only aggregates, etc.


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         · 1h


    Soh Wei Yu

    That is a reminder to apply the insight of no-self to all phenomena.

    The two stanzas target the illusion of self/Self. But it must later be applied to all phenomena to realise twofold emptiness. Like the insight of no wind besides blowing ( ) must then apply to all phenomena, including movement, etc.

    In 2011:

    “I am telling the first and second stanza must go hand in hand to have real insight of anatta even for a start. You must have these 2 aspects of insight in anatta. So what is anatta? Means when you penetrate no-agent, you are effectively developing your direct insight. That is not reifying anything extra. That is direct insight into suchness. So that when you see 'Self', there is nothing but aggregates. When you see 'weather', there is nothing but the changing clouds, rain… when you see 'body', you see changing sensation. When you hear sound, you see the DO [dependent origination], then you see how the 2 fold emptiness are simply one insight and why that leads to 一合相 (yi4 he2 xiang4; one totality/composite of appearance). If there is no insight but cling to words then you missed the essence. That is, the gaining of insight on the 2 stanzas is not to think only of 'Self'” - John Tan, 2011


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         · 6m


    Soh Wei Yu

    badge icon

    [10:03 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: To me subject-action-object is just a structure to help articulate and make sense of the world. I do not see it that way. I see it as total exertion of appearance-conditions, not appearance and conditions.

    [10:10 PM, 7/27/2020] Soh Wei Yu: You are referring to td unmanifest?

    [10:47 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Yes

    [10:49 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: If you see object separated from subject or see phenomena apart from mind, no matter how you deconstruct, it is just knowledge. you won't have direct taste of anything.

    [10:52 PM, 7/27/2020] Soh Wei Yu: But not all conditions are appearing right, some are simply intuited or inferred even when unseen.. so they are merely conventional

    [10:53 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Of course, there is no way to know all conditions involved.

    [10:54 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: It is simply to say appearance do not just manifest.

    [10:56 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: There is also the experience of spaciousness when you go through the process of deconstructing both subject and object...the experience is like mind body drop.

    [11:04 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: When you say, the car is empty but you are sitting inside it...what do you mean?

    [11:05 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: It is same as no wind is blowing...

    [11:05 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Or lightning flashing

    [11:07 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Or spring goes, summer comes...

    [11:09 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Means you apply the same insight to everything

    [11:09 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Not only the self...

    [11:10 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Even movement

    [11:13 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: So your mind is perpetually seeing through constructs, so what happens?

    [11:16 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Tell me when you say car is empty yet you are sitting on it. you see through the construct, then what happened?

    [11:16 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: When you see through the wind that is blowing...what happened?

    [11:16 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: When you see through summer or weather? What happened?

    [11:17 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Or I say lightning is flashing, when you really see through that lightning...

    [11:19 PM, 7/27/2020] Soh Wei Yu: is just the mere appearance.. no reifications

    [11:19 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Don't think, experience it...

    [11:19 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: you are force into non-conceptuality

    [11:21 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Like PCE fact very mindful and watchful when you begin ... you begin to feel the blowing...correct...

    [11:21 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: When i say no lightning flashing...u look at the flashing

    [11:24 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Correct? Have you actually practice or pay attention, not just blah out a sentence...

    [11:25 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: When you say no summer, you are experiencing the heat, humidity...etc

    [11:26 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Means you see through the construct but you cannot just think

    [11:27 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: When I say there is no car, I touch the car... what is it... ....the color...the leather, the wheels...

    [11:28 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: If you constantly and perpetually into that ...what happened?

    [11:34 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: You are talking about deconstruction of object and phenomena and I am telling you if you see through, what happens...if you only think, you would not understand...

    [11:38 PM, 7/27/2020] Soh Wei Yu: everything is just vibrant spontaneous presence but no subject or object

    [11:39 PM, 7/27/2020] Soh Wei Yu: like i dont see solid objects, but just shimmering vibrant colors as vivid empty presence

    [11:39 PM, 7/27/2020] Soh Wei Yu: and sounds, sensations, etc

    [11:41 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Yes

    [11:42 PM, 7/27/2020] John Tan: Then it depends on the depth of experiencing the sensation or appearances themselves


    TD Unmanifest

    This is very helpful, thank you. I've just returned from a walk, and used these pointers to feel into what is being pointed to. I was too focused on the deconstruction of objects vs feeling / seeing the direct vibrancy. Many thanks Soh

    , and please pass on my thanks to John Tan.


     · Reply

     · 3m”

    The svabhāva is like the core entity which possesses characteristics. Like a telephone pole possesses the characteristic of being tall, cylindrical, made of wood, brown in color and so on. Perceiving svabhāva is perceiving the telephone pole to be an entity, something that owns these characteristics.

    Realizing emptiness is the experiential recognition that there is no entity that possesses these characteristics, there is only the characteristics, and without the entity at the core, those characteristics cease to be characteristics. There is no entity there, no object which sits at a distance or in a location.

    Emptiness is indeed the non-existence of svabhāva, but it is not a true non-existence like that mentioned as the second position in the catuskoti tetralemma. It is the realization that there has never at any point been an entity from the very beginning.

    Is it non-existence? Sort of, as there is no existent entity to be found, and the entity was always a fallacy. But how can something that never arose in the first place actually lack existence? This is how the freedom from extremes is established." - Kyle Dixon, 2022


    There is only sound

    Geovani Geo wrote:

    We hear a sound. The immediate deeply inbuilt conditioning says, "hearing ". But there is a fallacy there. There is only sound. Ultimately, no hearer and no hearing. The same with all other senses. A centralized, or expanded, or zero-dimensional inherent perceiver or aware-er is an illusion.

    Thusness/John Tan:

    Very good.

    Means both stanza is clear.
    In hearing, no hearer.
    In hearing, only sound.  No hearing.
    Labels: , 0 comments | |



    John Tan wrote in 2022,


    The weight of thoughts -- Part 1

    When contemplating, do not just let our contemplation remain as a mental reasoning exercise.  For example: 

    What appears is neither "internal" nor "external". For the notion of "internality" is dependent on the notion of "externality", without either, the sense of neither can arise.  Therefore both notions r merely conventional, they originates dependently.

    Do not just let our contemplation remain at this level. If we do that, at most the freedom will simply remain at the mental level -- merely a pellucid, pure and clean state.  It is no different from practicing raw attention although insight on how conceptualities proliferate the mind may arise. 

    But go further to relate directly to our sensations, thoughts, smells, colors, tastes, sounds and ask: 

    "What do we mean by thoughts are neither inside nor outside our head?" 

    Seeing through this will be much more penetrating.  It will bring a deep sense of illusoriness and mystical awe as a real-time lived-experience.


    The weight of thoughts -- Part 2

    How heavy are thoughts?

    Where are their roots? 

    It is not uncommon to hear in the spiritual circle phrases like "the 'I' is just a thought" or "thought is empty and spacious, there is no weight or root to it". 

    While the rootlessness and the space-like nature of "thoughts" should be pointed out, one must not be misled into thinking they have seen through "anything" much less up-rooted the deeply seated conceptual notions of "I/mine", "body/mind", "space/time"...etc. 

    So emphasis must also be placed on the other side of the coin. "Thoughts" are astonishingly heavy like a black-hole (size of a pinhole, weight of a star); the roots of conceptual notions" they carry permeate our entire being and everywhere. 

    The "roots" of thoughts are no where to be found also means they can be found anywhere and everywhere, spreaded across the 3 times and 10 directions -- in modern context, over different time-lines across the multiverse.  In other words, "this arises, that arises".


    In anatta, we see through self as a mental construct and one is set on a de-constructive journey to free oneself from all mental constructs, from self to all phenomena and the relationships among them.

    However when we see dependent arising, nothing is eliminated.

    Conceptualization remains, parts remain, cause-effect remains, self remains, others remains...Everything remains, only the mistaken view of "essence" is relinquished.

    Instead of seeing them to exist essentially, it is now understood that they originates dependently and whatever originates in dependence is free from the four pairs of extremes (aka 8 negations of Nagarjuna).

    Without understanding dependent arising and emptiness, spontaneous perfection free from all elaborations will be distorted.”

    Also see: (note: there are two aspects to emptiness expressed inside. Can you tell what are they?)

    For further exploration on Emptiness after reading this article, I highly recommend reading and contemplating on all the contents within this link and also reading all the other articles linked within: Compilation of Post Anatta Advise


    Update, 2024 by Soh:


    Important message for everyone.  

    The two stanzas of anatta are linked to this:

    [8:40 PM, 6/9/2021] John Tan: 1. Dzogchen has a phrase "spontaneous presence". I do not know it's exact meaning in dzogchen however the phrase is intimately related to the 2 experiences of the 2 stanzas:

    1. No doership = spontaneous

    2. Mere appearances as Presence

    You'll see that I wrote about both aspects in

    Without realizing of the second stanza of anatta in , it is not considered genuine anatman (no-self) realisation in AtR. Related: , , ,

    I have also remarked that 99% of the time, people who said they realised no-self merely experienced the non-doership aspect and not the genuine nondual anatman realisation. Also see:

    Based on my experiences from discussions with thousands of individuals, I've observed that claims of recognizing nonduality—where there's no differentiation between the internal and external, or an absence of self—do not necessarily indicate a true realization of anatman or an authentic nondual experience or insight. Often, there is a chance that the person is simply adopting specific jargon or imitating others, under the impression that they have reached a similar level of understanding. However, in reality, their experience may only encompass a sense of impersonality and non-doership, rather than a genuine nondual experience or insight.

    I (Soh) have once asked John Tan if he thinks a certain teacher has realised anatta, to which John replied, “There is no authentication of one's radiance, no recognition of appearances as one's radiance and no clear pointing of how conventional constructs (Soh: are seen through and released).  So what led you to that conclusion?” 

    Additionally, commenting on a certain teacher’s writings, John Tan wrote,

    “When we say "Mind is the great earth", the first step is to understand and taste what is mind before we go a step further.

    If the teaching doesn't teach and taste what mind is, then it is just beautiful talks and grandious speech.

    Next one has to point out what is "great earth"?  Where is this "great earth"?  The soil, the ground, the flower, the air or buildings or the conventional world?

    Then talk about what is total exertion they have been talking?

    Then the integration of the mind and total exertion and that is +A.”

    However it does not mean the second stanza of anatta is more important than the first stanza. In fact, after awakening the second stanza of anatta, the pellucid radiance as all appearances beyond the paradigm of subject-action-object, it is vital to penetrate deeply into the first stanza.

    Everything self-arises without doer or agent, as natural as breathing and heart beating. Thoroughly penetrating this, be completely spontaneous and effortless and releasing. Natural radiance is completely effortless, 0 effort required at all. Let deep insight into anatman and emptiness carry you into self-liberation and spontaneous perfection and dissolve the disease of effort and subtle overfocusing or clinging to radiance. As John Tan also said before, it is important not to over emphasize on the radiance (lest it causes the unpleasant effects of energy imbalance), and that it must be complemented with the first stanza of non-doership. He added that after non-dual, one's practice must be relaxed and open, insubstantial and free -- be natural and open, light, relaxed and effortless, then contemplate on effortlessness. The openness and relaxation should build up into a momentum in one's practice. Additionally, as John Tan said, we have to understand the relationship between non-doership and total exertion -- allowing the totality of the situations to exert itself. Seen from one side of the coin, it is complete "effortlessness" of radiance, and seen from another side, it is the exertion of the totality of conditions.

    Satsang Nathan videos are a good expression of the non-doership aspect of anatta. See: Satsang Nathan Videos

    To emphasize: building up the momentum mentioned above in practice is crucial. To paraphrase John Tan, "You must engage in regular practice and refrain from pretentious wisdom until a certain momentum builds. Only then can you hope to overcome challenges associated with x’s issues. I am sincere in my advice; you have not yet experienced these issues firsthand, but when you do, you will understand the importance of mastering this art.

    If you practice meditation consistently, both in opening up and in your daily life, a momentum will eventually develop. Even when challenges arise, if you can manage to stay calm and allow this momentum to guide you, you will find yourself capable of overcoming them.

    It resembles the art of letting go, although it's quite challenging to articulate effectively. Our natural tendency leans towards attachment, regardless of how much we try to convince ourselves otherwise. This is why consistent practice is essential.

    You may spend all day discussing the concept of freedom from all elaborations, the natural state, and sounds, and you might even gain some insights. However, when you are confronted with these issues for various reasons, all your attachments will come to the forefront.

    Fears about death, health, and personal anomalies will emerge. Your mind will struggle to release these attachments.”

    John Tan also told X before, “You got good karma...just relax and understand that essencelessness also implies effortlessness, don't focus, don't concentrate.  Simply refine the view and understanding after anatta insight that appearances are one's radiance.”

    John also wrote to X, a friend of ours, “Can be overcomed. I used to have very intense energy disruptions of energy imbalance post I AM due to over focusing. 

    Currently I think it is better to let the body and mind calm down first through distractions, shifting attentions...the body and mind at the very subtle level is very sensitive, the hidden fear will just sway ur entire balance.

    Medicines do help and I think you should.

    We must be very careful, there is relaxation of mind that lead to more alertness and there is the relaxation that calms the mind into peace via overcoming afflictions (eg fear).

    When we are in a state of later, then we can rest and response to conditions in balance.”

    John also wrote to me before, “ Focus on "effortlessness" first, then later you release you can let go of ur thoughts and let what happen happens as happening...but you may later feel you are unable to concentrate, it's ok...slowly and gently recall that appearances are one's own radiance, then radiance is by nature beyond effort...get use to it first.

    Whatever appears by nature self liberates.”

    If insight and practice is not mature in this aspect and radiance becomes strong, and one subtly overfocuses on the radiance, one runs the risk of encountering painful energy imbalances leading to stuck energy in the brow chakra, serious tension, headaches, insomnia (literally 0 sleep at night, super consciousness throughout night which some mistakes as accomplishment), waves of energy that feels like panic attacks (I said feels like because it was more of a bodily than a mental fear, it was a very tense and “nervous” bodily sensation running through the body), and worse symptoms than that. I've had such unpleasant encounters in 2019 for seven days, as detailed in This leads to what is known as 'zen sickness' which doctors will not be able to cure, and I have dedicated a whole chapter to this topic in the original AtR guide. I've been fortunate to have not re-trigger such episodes through a shift in practice but have seen others experience something similar. So, it is my heartfelt wish that people don't go in the wrong direction in practice. Please take care and practice well.

    Perhaps if you are interested in Dzogchen, receive transmission and teachings from  Dzogchen teacher Acarya Malcolm Smith (who also likewise stressed on this crucial aspect of non-doership and effortlessness of radiance appearances in anatta, and the integration of the 2 stanzas of anatta -- it is not in his public writings but in his online teachings to subscribers which I attended) and get the book 'The Supreme Source' which elucidates clearly the total effortlessness of spontaneously perfect and self-arising nature of total presence. But please do not DIY Dzogchen as that will be extremely misleading, but rather find good teachers (e.g. Acarya Malcolm) in that tradition. You can watch this YouTube video (highly recommended) for an introduction to Acarya Malcolm’s Dzogchen teachings that was recommended by Sim Pern Chong on the AtR group: . Also, some of Malcolm’s writings can be found here . To practice that book "The Supreme Source", empowerment, direct introduction and guidance from a qualified Dzogchen teacher is necessary, and it is certainly not to be mistaken as lazing around without practice nor the nihilism of neo-Advaita. Case in point:

    Here’s a good video shared by John Tan:

    Mind, attention, energy, focus, are one.

    When you practice, especially awareness practitioners, who practice in a focused way will lead to an energy imbalance where energy get stuck in the brow chakra. It is very common for awareness practitioners. Either brow or sometimes heart chakra blockages.

    However the insights of anatman by itself is very safe, in fact in full actualization of anatman, there cannot be energy imbalances. Energy imbalances are all tied to subtle selfing. This is why complete maturation and actualization of both stanzas of anatta (without skewing to the 2nd) will resolve energy imbalance.

    So your practice should bring and base your mind on the Dantien. The energy should flow and not be stuck in the head. Being somatic helps with overcoming energy imbalances. 

    See Vase Breathing:

    [11:46 AM, 9/5/2020] John Tan: I like his descriptions, quite good but may result in energy imbalances.  Best is to practice breathing exercises and learn to regulate the energy into calmness...

    Comments by Soh:

    One good way to regulate energy through breathing exercise is to practice the vase breathing.

    Here is an excerpt from “Open Mind, Open Heart” by Tsoknyi Rinpoche:

    “Vase Breathing

    One of the methods that helped this woman and countless others cope with emotions is a practice that helps us draw lung back to its center, or “home.” For this, we use a special breathing technique as a tool, because breath is a physical correlation to the subtle wind energy of lung.

    This technique is called vase breathing, and it involves breathing even more deeply than the type of deep diaphragmatic breathing often taught in many yoga and other types of classes with which people may be familiar.

    The technique itself is rather simple. First, exhale slowly and completely, collapsing the abdominal muscles as close to the spine as possible. As you slowly breathe in, imagine that you’re drawing your breath down to an area about four finger widths below your navel, just above your pubic bone. This area is shaped a bit like a vase, which is why the technique is called vase breathing. Of course, you’re not really drawing your breath down to that region, but by turning your attention there, you will find yourself inhaling a bit more deeply than usual and will experience a bit more of an expansion in the vase region.

    As you continue to draw your breath in and your attention down, your lung will gradually begin to travel down there and begin to rest there. Hold your breath down in the vase region just for a few seconds - don’t wait until the need to exhale becomes urgent - then slowly breathe out again.

    Just breathe slowly this way three or four times, exhaling completely and inhaling down into the vase area. After the third or fourth inhalation, try holding a little bit of your breath - maybe 10 percent - in the vase area at the end of the exhalation, focusing very lightly and gently on maintaining a bit of lung in its home place.

    Try it now.

    Exhale completely and then breathe slowly and gently down to the vase area three or four times, and on the last exhalation, hold a little bit of breath in the vase area. Keep this up for about ten minutes.

    How did that feel?

    Maybe it was a little uncomfortable. Some people have said that directing their breath in this way is difficult. Others have said that doing so gave them a sense of calmness and centeredness they’d never felt before.

    Vase breathing, if practiced ten or even twenty minutes every day, can become a direct means of developing awareness of our feelings and learning how to work with them even while we’re engaged in our daily activities. When our lung is centered in its home place, our bodies, or feelings, and our thoughts gradually find a healthy balance. The horse and rider work together in a very loose and easy way, neither trying to seize control or drive the other crazy. In the process, we find that subtle body patterns associated with fear, pain, anxiety, anger, restlessness, and so on gradually loosen up, that there’s a little bit of space between the mind and the feelings.

    Ultimately the goal is to be able to maintain that small bit of breath in the vase area throughout the day, during all our activities - walking, talking, eating, drinking, driving. For some people, this ability becomes automatic after only a short while of practice. For others, it may require a bit more time.

    I have to admit that, even after years of practicing, I still find that I sometimes lose my connection to my home base, especially when meeting with people who are very speedy. I’m a bit of a speedy person myself, and meeting other speedy people acts as a kind of subtle body stimulus. I get caught up in their restless and displaced energy and consequently become a bit restless, nervous, and sometimes even anxious. So I take what I call a reminder breath: exhaling completely, breathing down into the vase area, and then exhaling again leaving a little bit of breath in the lung’s home.”

    John Tan also said,

    “Energy imbalance are very related to what we conventionally termed as "physical".  Energies in spirituality are the "physical" aspects in our modern conventional usage, it is just lingo difference.  So do exercises and learn the art of openness and effortlessness, open our body, be pragmatic and sincere.  

    Vase breathing exercises are all good but need discipline, persistency and perseverance, not some 三分钟热度.  (Soh: three minutes of enthusiasm) When practiced with diligence with no magical or fairy tales mentality [it] will sure have benefits.”

    “[10:16 AM, 6/29/2020] John Tan: Frank is very experiential, no need to be too theoretical into emptiness, non-arisen of phenomena for now. 

    Rather it is to allow him to move the energy and radiance to his body...entire body...although the background is gone, you may think that all six senses are in equal radiance but it is far from truth in real time and causes all the energy imbalances.

    Relax into the natural state and feel the energetic radiance over the entire body.  Not by way of thinking.  Touch anything, touch the toes, they legs, feel them.  It is your you understand that?

    [10:23 AM, 6/29/2020] John Tan: The mountain is mind, the grasses are mind, everything is mind.  That is through the vision and mental, feel the body, toes fingers, touch them. They are mind.  So do you understand that in real time?

    As for sleep don't worry too much, it will happen and use less thoughts, let whole body be a sense of touch not by thinking, but feel and touch it.  So don't think that when insight of all is mind anatta arise, means you are already into all is mind.  If you can't embrace and feel all as mind, how are you to eliminate the common denominator called mind and into no mind which is the natural state of anatta.”

    Labels: Anatta, Energy | 


    Note: Serious energy imbalances related to depression and anxiety and traumas should be treated with the expert help of psychiatrists and psychologists, possibly with the medications as support. If you exhibit symptoms that may be related to these, you should be checked out by professionals.

    In Soh's case of 7 days of energy imbalances in 2019, it was not related to mental issues as there was no depression, sad mood, or mental anxiety (aside from bodily sensations of tensions), nor was it related to traumas, but instead it was due to extreme intensity of luminosity - an intensity that persists throughout the day and into sleep, and an energy pattern of overfocusing and tenseness that was difficult to dissolve. That said, if you are unsure, it's better to get checked out. Additionally, you can also check out books by Judith Blackstone, which goes deeply into trauma release and relates it with nondual practice (although not exactly based on anatta practice, still it is worth reading).

    John Tan also said, “There is a big difference between depressions caused by work or physical appearances or lack of family support...etc and issues for example related to "I AM". All those anxieties that relate to physical appearances or work load or studies etc will gradually release if the respective issues are solved. But there are issues that are like "I AM" that is your first immediate thought, so close and so immediate that are not easy to "rid".”

    “Some (energy imbalances) may relate to opening of certain energy gates when body is not ready also.”


    44 Responses
    1. Simple brilliance~thank you for this insightful sharing that is mirrored innerly since an NDE and makes sense of what is seen/felt. Not many managed to explain Life in these terms. Shine on!

    2. Jax Says:

      Excellent dissertation, profoundly useful!

    3. Anonymous Says:

      Is spontenous perfection the end of the path? And what happens to this awareness after dissolution of body?once total no self been realized,does awareness absorbed into Awareness,with no more birth into phenomenal world anymore?

    4. Anonymous Says:

      As the Buddha said,birrh,aging,sickness and death is suffering;no of this suffering will happen if awareness doesn't 'trapped' in a body.hope to get clarification on this point.

    5. Anonymous Says:

      This can be more accurately described thus: what will happen to this awareness residing in this particular body mind once death comes? Release into larges ,true absolute Awareness,with no more birth into phenomena?

    6. Soh Says:

      Hi Anonymous,

      Do I know you?

      Phenomena and awareness exists in separation only due to a misconception. I do not see separation nor an end to anything. It is an ongoing process.

      Next... According to the author of this article Thusness, spontaneous perfection simply refers to the three tastes of his practice that he mentioned that are spontaneously perfected. It is just effortless and ongoing expression from there on. Practice simply takes another form as he has stated in the article - practice-enlightenment.

      It is true that when no-self is actualized and when the body is deconstructed, a practitioner naturally experiences the mind-body drop. This means any sense or image of a body and a mind completely dissolves along with any senses of 'entrapment' or 'boundaries' at all.

      But do note that this is not a stage of meditative achievement. It is the result of wisdom-insight into the delusional constructions the conceives of a substantial body and a mind. In other words it is a form of self-view and view of a physical body (身见,我见) being dissolved via prajna wisdom. Our notion of a solid body with fixed shape, boundaries, and substance deconstructs when we examine it and see that there is only flickering sensations without a center or boundary.

      After which, mind-body drop becomes natural and effortless, not a stage to be attained in meditation and lost outside meditation.

      And because this is so, *mind body drop is an experience in daily life*. It is not separated from your mind, body, and daily life. It does not mean your body and mind ceases - it is your deluded image of an inherently existing self, body and mind is being released, so your daily life is experienced in a liberated manner.

      Therefore it is erroneous to think of "mind-body drop" as a stage of achievement separated from this very experience of body-mind-world. It is only that this body-mind-world is seen as empty of anything graspable, transparent, and boundless. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

      More importantly, by that stage, you realize that "Awareness" itself is an imputation on the entire flow of manifestation - "Awareness" itself does not exist separately apart from each momentary mind moment, whether it is a sense of formless presence in deep sleep, or the shapes and forms of each waking moment. In other words, Awareness is also empty of being an independent, separate self.

      Since this is the case, it is seen at this stage that the very notion of "true absolute Awareness" vs "phenomena" is a false, dualistic paradigm in the first place. There is only the one suchness of form and essence (性相一如) - in so far as each experience, each form, is both luminous clarity (Awareness) in essence and empty of self in nature. This is the nature of mind. This article is good at explaining this mind and body, nature and form being one suchness (身心一如、性相不二), it has a Chinese translation below:

      I know trying to explain so many things in one post can be very confusing so please feel free to ask further if anything is left unsure.

    7. Soh Says:

      As for 'no more birth', that is only possible if one has completely eradicated all fetters and afflictions (primarily: craving, aggression/anger, delusion). In the Hinayana/Theravada path, this happens at the 4th stage of Arhanatship. If you are talking about Mahayana path, there are 2 levels of birth and death. The afflictive birth and death (‘fragmentary (life and) death’ (分段生死)) in samsara can only be eliminated at the 8th bhumi for Mahayana or 4th stage Arahant for Hinayana, as the 8th bhumi bodhisattva has eliminated passion, aggression and delusion (贪嗔痴) - the three poisons that results in samsaric birth. The bodhisattva of the 1st stage is only able to eradicate the confusion of views (见惑) by realizing the twofold emptiness of person and phenomena (人法二空), but not the confusion of thoughts and desires (思惑) - the afflictive three poisons. The Bodhisattva of the 2nd stage attenuates (reduces) the passions of 思惑 but only at the 8th stage does it become purified.

      To elaborate: There are ‘two kinds of death’ (二死). The first is called ‘fragmentary (life and) death’ (分段生死), which applies to ordinary (unenlightened) beings, who are karmically forced to repeatedly relinquish their bodies to take on new forms after death in the rounds of rebirth. Their lifespans are karmically limited, interrupted and divided by time (分) at moments of death, which makes continual and steady learning and practice of the Dharma difficult due to the existential ‘confusion’ mentioned. Their forms are karmically differentiated, limited and divided by space (段) from life to life too. Next is the opposite, the second kind of death – called ‘transformational (life and) death’ (变易生死), which refers to Arhats (Sravakas), Pratyekabuddhas and greater Bodhisattvas, whom, despite being liberated from the rounds of ‘fragmentary life and death’, are yet to be fully enlightened like the Buddhas. Yet, out of compassion (based on Bodhicitta: the aspiration to guide all to Buddhahood), they are able to manifest births in the rounds of rebirth to guide beings to liberation. Their forms are not constrained by time and space like ours, although the Buddhas are the ones who are truly unlimited in manifestations. (

      These appearances of great bodhisattvas are also known as "emanations".

      References: 真如在因地名为阿赖耶识、异熟识(庵摩罗识),仍然还有种子生灭轮回,所以菩萨明心见性以后,如果还没有进入阿罗汉位或菩萨第八地,仍然还有分段生死,必须断尽一念无明以后进入第八地或阿罗汉位才没有分段生死。即使已经离开分段生死,仍然还有变异生死,仍未到佛地,不名真如。


      From another source:






      贪瞋痴慢疑属于思惑。 教理说无明分见惑、思惑、尘沙惑与无明惑。 由粗而细、微细至极微细。 见惑乃迷失无生无我等之真理而起之妄惑也,属于理边,故名理惑。 它分身、边、邪、取、戒五种,均属不正的知见。 比如执着在神通上,而不问自己有没有明心见性,这是修道人普遍存在的不正知见。 见惑容易除,我们修法开悟见了本性,端正了知见,见惑就尽除了;但思惑不易一下子除掉,须于开悟断见惑后更见性修习真理,才能渐断此惑。 以思惑为思维世间虚妄之物而起之事惑,其性钝昧,有贪、瞋、痴、慢、疑五惑之分,故不易顿除。 见惑、思惑不除,生死轮回不能了。 所以要消除这身、边、邪、取、戒与贪、瞋、痴、慢、疑十惑,先要明白本性,开大悟。 深知事物皆幻,都不可得,彻见这一念断处,了了分明的灵知之性,就是我人的本性。 在境界上时时保护锻炼它,把多生执着的习气都磨光,贪瞋痴慢疑才能销殒。 教下说这四惑在欲界、色界、无色界中有九地八十八品之多。 要一步一步慢慢除去,不是一下子除得了的。 故须具一片长远深心,在境界上精勤地奋斗始得。

    8. Soh Says:

      On your question "whether spontaneous perfection is the end of the path", check out

      Stage 7: Presence is Spontaneously Perfected

      After cycles and cycles of refining our practice and insights, we will come to this realization:

      Anatta is a seal, not a stage.
      Awareness has always been non-dual.
      Appearances have always been Non-arising.
      All phenomena are ‘interconnected’ and by nature Maha.

      All are always and already so. Only dualistic and inherent views are obscuring these experiential facts and therefore what is really needed is simply to experience whatever arises openly and unreservedly (See section "On Spontaneous Perfection"). However this does not denote the end of practice; practice simply moves to become dynamic and conditions-manifestation based. The ground and the path of practice become indistinguishable.


      The entire article of On Anatta (No-Self), Emptiness, Maha and Ordinariness, and Spontaneous Perfection can be seen as the different approaches toward the eventual realization of this already perfect and uncontrived nature of awareness.

    9. Anonymous Says:

      I just feel total eradication of craving and aversion seems impossible ..from ur explanation i conclude that the path from witness to no self to spontaneanity is (viewed with total deathless/no more rebirth)not the end path?

    10. Anonymous Says:

      I e with the goal of total perfection(no more rebirth)

    11. Soh Says:

      Hi Anonymous,

      Once you realize emptiness of self and become a stream entrant, Nirvana or no more rebirth is guaranteed within 7 lifetimes.

      If you want to achieve that in this life, that is possible also, but you have to practise hard to release your defilements.

    12. Soh Says:

      Also a stream entrant is no longer able to be reborn in the 3 lower realms. He/she can only be reborn in human or deva/celestial realm.

    13. Anonymous Says:

      I know the teaching of sotapanna ,not born in lowerrealm,no more than 7 births etc..are in the suttas,but i just feel they are much more intelectual than can be verified by ones own experience.

      Thusness description of his stages,i can more reasonated with....

      I thought there is such thing as an a ha! Realization(sudden and FULL) where one knows without slightest doubt,there is no more birth,awareness has been totally unbound,grow cold and will no more entangled in any manifestation(birth)anymore.but think i m being too unrealistic...

    14. Anonymous Says:

      That means many zen teachings of a ha! Satori is not the end path?

    15. Soh Says:

      No, those satoris are not the end of the path, not the end of rebirth.

      And no, Thusness has not achieved 8th bhumi or Arahantship.

    16. Soh Says:

      Satoris (realization) are merely the beginning.

      Mind-body drop off is also the beginning in a sense.

      Mind-body drop-off does not mean the elimination of subtler attachments, it does however lead to the sense of boundless release and free from entrapment to body-mind.

    17. Anonymous Says:

      I still cannot get off the view of awareness in a limited body/mind.what really separated my (experience) from yours if our awareness are not separated in the sense of mine(awareness)can only have experience through my particular body mind,and certainly your bodily(pain etc)experience ,emotions etc is different from mine.?

    18. Anonymous Says:

      As i read what thusness write abt emptiness,maha etc...i interpret it to mean we have to 'practice ' (eg bahiya sutta)or any practice of letting go until awareness becoming more and more detach from bidy mind,the knots being loosen,the koshas(sheath) also becoming more evaporated,until ones awareness are so free from 'connected' to thus phenomenal world.

      Think ive not understood what he s trying to convey,until experienced it first hand

      I know u may laugh at this view of mine,but thats how i see it.

    19. Soh Says:

      Hi, you are still having a dualistic and inherent understanding about Awareness. This causes you to think that liberation comes from dissociation from the phenomenal world. That would certainly be the way of practice for one who is still having a dualistic framework, and those who are at the Witness phase are also practicing in this way.

      But this act of dissociation is in fact the cause of suffering... it is an impossible effort to maintain some state of presence deemed as the purest or as one's dearest identity, plus an aversion to what is manifesting and a seeking after something that one delusionally thought is changeless/independent/beyond all else. In reality it is just a 'line' dictated by the mind. By reifying Awareness as something formless and changeless, it prevents us from seeing the 'forms' and 'textures' of Awareness. It causes us to seek after and grasp after the formless. How can this be liberation? It is a subtler form of identification, attachment, bondange/entrapment.

      Non-dual and anatta insights allow you to see that Awareness IS those transience stuff itself, the transience itself is the radiance. The transience itself turns out to be itself free and liberating, and any effort to dissociate/detach/seek is itself suffering!

      Mind-body drop is something very different from dissociating, not to be misunderstood. There is complete release of entrapment to body-mind by non-dual penetration of the construct of mind and body. Then there is a natural release into boundlessness - a universe of sensations and perceptions without center or boundaries.

      As my friend Simpo once wrote, "For one who realises non-duality (no subject-object split) there is no division of body and spirit. At non-duality realisation, body is not seen as entity but as perceptions and sensations that are 'not separated from environment'. In fact perception and sensation is the 'environment'."

      When insight deepens you also realize that the notion of a 'universal awareness underlying everything' is also erroneous. The notion of a background source is also seen through.

      But since you are talking about this Awareness, why not first have a direct realization of what this Awareness is? Self-inquiry is a direct path to that I AM realization. My e-book has some articles that may be of help to this end.

    20. Soh Says:

      By the way not only is your current thought unable to know other's thoughts, it is also unable to know the next thought! The next thought simply appears on its own accord due to conditions. We think we are the thinker or controller or knower of thoughts... but further looking challenges this presumption.

    21. Soh Says:

      This entry in my e-book may be also be relevant:

      "24th May 2010
      Originally posted by An Eternal Now:
      Your mirror-like awareness has no limitations, has no boundaries and edges. It does not belong to any object that appears on it. It does not belong to the body-mind object that you identify as 'yourself'. It does not belong to anything. But everything arise from that…
      …Impersonal/Universal Awareness is animating or ‘powering’ the body and the personality like electricity is powering the TV to show the images on screen. Whatever happens on screen is ‘run’ only by the ‘power’ of the One Mind. Everything and everyone is the spontaneous functioning of One Mind, there is no individual doers/actors/selves."

      Just had a conversation with Thusness about this.

      He told me that there is a problem of saying more than what is necessary, and that it comes from a clinging mind. That is, stripping of 'individuality' and 'personality' becoming a 'Universal Mind' is an extrapolation, a deduction. It is not direct experience like "in thinking just thoughts", "in perceptions just perceptions", "in seeing just the seen" - just 'what is'.

      Similarly when I experienced 'impersonality', it is just 'impersonality', but it becomes a 'Universal Mind' due to clinging which prevents seeing. And if I further reinforce this idea, it becomes a made belief and appears true and real.

      Therefore when I said 'impersonality', I am not being blinded as I am merely describing what I have experienced. This Mind is still an individual mindstream, and though impersonality leads one to have the sort of 'Universal Mind' kind of sensation, one must correctly understand it.

      Buddhism never denies this mind stream, it simply denies the self-view. It denies separation, it denies an observer, a thinker. It denies a perfect controller, an independent agent. This is what 'Self' means, otherwise why is it a 'Self'? An individual mindstream remains as an individual mindstream, but it is nothing related to a Self.

      Hence it is important to understand liberation from the right understanding, otherwise one gets confused. There is the experience of non-duality, Anatta, 'Tada' (, Stainlessness (, but these have nothing to do with Self. Hence if one wants to understand Presence, then one must clearly and correctly understand Presence.

      It is important to refine the understanding of Presence through the four aspects: impersonality, degree of luminosity, dissolving the need to re-confirm and understanding why it is unnecessary, and effortlessness.
      These have no extrapolation and are what I am experiencing currently, and these requires improvement so that one can progress from "I AM".

    22. Soh Says:

      There is the experience of impersonality. It is the stripping off of the personality aspect, and it causes one to link to a higher force, as if a cosmic life is functioning within me, like what Casino_King (a forummer who posted many years ago in both the Christian and Buddhist forums) experienced and described - the impersonal life force, which he called Holy Spirit.

      It is as if it is all the functioning of a higher power, that life is itself taking the functioning, so dissolving 'personality' somehow allows me to get 'connected'.

      I agreed with Thusness and told him that just yesterday I remembered a Christian quote that is very apt in describing this aspect: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

      Thusness agrees and told me that it is about surrendering to this greater power, that it is not you, but the life in you that is doing the work. It is the key of getting 'connected' to a higher power, to a divine life, to a sacred power - and one wants to lose oneself for this divinity to work through us. And this is what Thusness meant by Thusness Stage 3 experience, the 'I' is the block, because of 'holding' one is unable to 'surrender' completely. When one completely surrenders, the divine will will become your 'will'.
      This is not the non-dual sort of experience, nor is it about I AM or the Certainty of Being, nor is it about Anatta.

      For example, "I AM" allows you to directly experience 'your' very own existence, the beingness, the inner most essence of 'You'.

      A true and genuine practitioner must give rise to all these insights, and understand the causes and conditions that give rise to the experiences and not get mixed up. Many people get mixed up over different 'types' of 'no self'.
      For example, no-self of non-dual, no-self of anatta, non-inherent existence and impersonality, are all not refering to the same experience - but rather they are different results of dissolving certain aspect of the tendencies.
      Hence a practitioner must be sincere in his practice to clearly see, and not pretend that one knows. Otherwise practice is simply more mix-up, confusion, and nonsense. It is not that it cannot be known, it is just that the mind isn't clear enough to see the causes and conditions of arising.


      p.s. for further discussions you might want to come to my facebook group 'dharma connection'

    23. Anonymous Says:

      Hi aen, how do i practice vipassana,can u give precise describtion,in daily life of distractions?when theres no slowing down of pace of activities due to demands of work?

      Ah,the useless distractions of almost everything,physical fatigue,pain,work demands,resentment,worry,etc...

      One own desires and aversion,mood etc...causing attention to be so distracted.

    24. Soh Says:

      Unless your insights are very mature and actualized in daily life, spending time in quiet contemplation and meditation is still necessary and very helpful to spiritual progress.

      For Vipassana advise see:

      However if you are inclined towards understanding the luminous clarity aspect of Awareness I can suggest practicing self-inquiry.

      Elsewhere I wrote:

      Indeed, the realization of Awareness is important... reminds me of a reply by Thusness to someone two years ago

      "What you described is fine and it can be considered vipassana meditation too but you must be clear what is the main objective of practicing that way. Ironically, the real purpose only becomes obvious after the arising insight of anatta. What I gathered so far from your descriptions are not so much about anatta or empty nature of phenomena but are rather drawn towards Awareness practice. So it will be good to start from understanding what Awareness truly is. All the method of practices that u mentioned will lead to a quality of experience that is non-conceptual. You can have non-conceptual experience of sound, taste...etc...but more importantly in my opinion, u should start from having a direct, non-conceptual experience of Awareness (first glimpse of our luminous essence). Once you have a ‘taste’ of what Awareness is, u can then think of ‘expanding’ this bare awareness and gradually understand what does ‘heightening and expanding’ mean from the perspective of Awareness.

      Next, although you hear and see ‘non-dual, anatta and dependent origination’ all over the place in An Eternal Now’s forum (the recent Toni Packer’s books you bought are about non-dual and anatta), there is nothing wrong being ‘dualistic’ for a start. Even after direct non-conceptual experience of Awareness, our view will still continue to be dualistic; so do not have the idea that being dualistic is bad although it prevents thorough experience of liberation.

      The comment given by Dharma Dan is very insightful but of late, I realized that it is important to have a first glimpse of our luminous essence directly before proceeding into such understanding. Some times understanding something too early will deny oneself from actual realization as it becomes conceptual. Once the conceptual understanding is formed, even qualified masters will find it difficult to lead the practitioner to the actual ‘realization’ as a practitioner mistakes conceptual understanding for realization."


      "Vipassana is about being bare in attention, noting and mindful of the 3 characteristic of phenomena whereas “Experiencing whatever arises fearlessly and unreservedly” is not vipassana, it is simply the way I see how practice
      should be after the arising insight of anatta and realizing the empty nature of phenomena.

      You can take this “Experiencing whatever arises fearlessly and unreservedly” as your path of practice and at the same time contemplate whether a mind that sees things dualistically and inherently is able to experience phenomena ‘fearlessly, completely and reservedly’. Practice with this question in mind will also help you penetrate into non-conceptuality and non-duality."

      "Anatta" and "emptiness" is also not to be seen as a "higher stage" than "realization of Awareness"... it clarifies the nature of "Awareness" but should not be seen in terms of hierarchy.

      As Thusness also said in the correspondence,

      "Not to take the 7 phases of insights and experiences as ‘stages’. It is merely a narration of the journey I have gone through. Phase 6 insight is not necessarily a higher state of insight than phase 1 insight. I think all these 7 phases of insights and experiences are of equal importance, they complement each other. Some might have experiential insight of Emptiness first with intensity of luminous essence coming later."

    25. Anonymous Says:

      I feel that the practice i should is vipassanic,or bare awareness.perhaps awareness may not be aporopriate word,i prefer to say,bare experiencing,but with full nawareness.advice?

    26. Soh Says:

      Hi Anonymous, that would very much depend on your personal inclinations. Personally I sought to realize what that very Awareness is first before proceeding into non-dual and empty insights, therefore I started with self-inquiry. For some they may enter through the path of Vipassana from the beginning.

      As Thusness also wrote before,

      (Posts by Thusness/PasserBy in 2009 DhO 1.0)

      “Hi Gary,

      It appears that there are two groups of practitioners in this forum, one adopting the gradual approach and the other, the direct path. I am quite new here so I may be wrong.

      My take is that you are adopting a gradual approach yet you are experiencing something very significant in the direct path, that is, the ‘Watcher’. As what Kenneth said, “You're onto something very big here, Gary. This practice will set you free.” But what Kenneth said would require you to be awaken to this ‘I’. It requires you to have the ‘eureka!’ sort of realization. Awaken to this ‘I’, the path of spirituality becomes clear; it is simply the unfolding of this ‘I’.

      On the other hand, what that is described by Yabaxoule is a gradual approach and therefore there is downplaying of the ‘I AM’. You have to gauge your own conditions, if you choose the direct path, you cannot downplay this ‘I’; contrary, you must fully and completely experience the whole of ‘YOU’ as ‘Existence’. Emptiness nature of our pristine nature will step in for the direct path practitioners when they come face to face to the ‘traceless’, ‘centerless’ and ‘effortless’ nature of non-dual awareness.

      Perhaps a little on where the two approaches meet will be of help to you.

      Awakening to the ‘Watcher’ will at the same time ‘open’ the ‘eye of immediacy’; that is, it is the capacity to immediately penetrate discursive thoughts and sense, feel, perceive without intermediary the perceived. It is a kind of direct knowing. You must be deeply aware of this “direct without intermediary” sort of perception -- too direct to have subject-object gap, too short to have time, too simple to have thoughts. It is the ‘eye’ that can see the whole of ‘sound’ by being ‘sound’. It is the same ‘eye’ that is required when doing vipassana, that is, being ‘bare’. Be it non-dual or vipassana, both require the opening of this 'eye of immediacy'”

    27. Soh Says:


      “Hi Gozen,

      I fully agree with what you said. It is just a casual sharing with Gary as he seems to be experiencing some aspects of the direct path.

      To me both gradual and direct path will eventually lead us to the same destination. It is rather the degree of understanding we have on a particular teaching. If we practice wholeheartedly, whatever traditions will lead us to the same goal.

      Frankly without re-looking at the basic teachings of Buddhism about the dharma seals and dependent origination, I will be leaving traces in the Absolute. In vipassana, there is the ‘bare attention’ and there is the mindful reminding of impermanence, no self and suffering of the transience. It is a very balanced and safe approach.

      Like in Zen tradition, different koans were meant for different purposes. 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 are meant to prevent leaving traces. (You should be more familiar than me ) My point is when we simply see the Absolute and neglect the relative, that ‘Absolute’ becomes dead and very quickly another ‘dead Absolute construct’ is being created. In whatever case, we can only have a sincere mind, practice diligently and let the mind figure the rest out.

      The mind does not know how to liberate itself.
      By going beyond its own limits it experiences unwinding.
      From deep confusion it drops knowing.
      From intense suffering comes releasing.
      From complete exhaustion comes resting.
      All these go in cycle perpetually repeating,
      Till one realizes everything is indeed already liberated,
      As spontaneous happening from before beginning.”

    28. Anonymous Says:


      Q: how do i intensify my search frantically until some miracle happens?due to my karma(including bodily),my ignorance are very 'thick'.im not searching hard enough,or else something might happened.

      And the delight of finding the 'bull's footprint'- seeing the eye of dhamma,for then one knows the path to follow.

    29. Soh Says:

      What is needed is a desire to know the truth of one's being, what is the essence of one Self?

      Who am I?

      As long as there is just that curiosity, that desire to know that truth of one's being, one is on his/her way. Just keep questioning, "Who am I?"

      Soon it becomes a momentum, it becomes a growing ball of doubt. And that is important.

      Great Faith, Great Doubt
      On the pull between faith and doubt that can spark awakening - by a Zen teacher
      Most of the work in Zen practice takes place while sitting zazen because, in reality, there’s nothing anyone can give us. There’s nothing that we lack; each one of us is perfect and complete.
      That’s why it is said that there are no Zen teachers and nothing to teach.
      But this truth must be realized by each one of us.
      Great faith, great doubt, and great determination are three essentials for that realization. Great faith is the boundless faith in oneself and in one's ability to realize oneself and make oneself free; great doubt is the deep and penetrating doubt that asks:
      Who am I? What is life? What is truth?
      What is God? What is reality?
      Great faith and great doubt are in dynamic tension with each other; they work to provide the real cutting edge of koan practice.
      When great faith and great doubt are also accompanied by great determination -- the determination of “seven times knocked down, eight times up” -- we have at our disposal the power necessary to break through our delusive way of thinking and realize the full potential of our lives.

    30. Anonymous Says:

      Hi aen,i feel that the ego,self is tied strongly to afflictions (mental struggle,despair,resentment,one's reaction to bodily pain etc),and there's no (impossiblly hard)way buddha nature can be seen through when afflictions havent been dealt sufficiently with.

    31. Soh Says:

      Hi Anonymous, afflictions and sense of self are tied, but afflictions are the result of sense of self, and the effect of realizing no-self and liberating that sense of self by insight is that afflictive emotions will actually start to disappear in your life. I am speaking from experience although I cannot say I am fully liberated from all the fetters but you will see changes and reduction to afflictions in life and they will be largely missing in your life in time to come. This can happen even in sleep - being in self-less non-dual awareness in sleep, dream, or sleep paralysis in my experience has the effect of liberating emotions and fear even in sleeping conditions.

      When you have not realized no-self, you will think that emotions are to be dissociated. But this is a wrong practice and it leads to strengthening the sense of self instead of dissolving it. The only way to liberate is to realize no-self and emptiness, then when there is no one behind, and the emotion shows itself as mere vivid and empty clarity, everything self-liberates without effort.

      So just focus on the cause, the insight, and don't worry too much about the effect (liberation). The liberation of afflictive emotions will take care of itself when insight manifest and deepens, clinging will naturally dissolve when there is too much wisdom around.

      Here's something from Thusness and Charlotte Joko Beck:

      "When you are angry, it is a (dualistic/subject-object) split. When you realized its anatta nature, there is just vivid clarity of all the bodily sensations - even when there is an arising thought of something bad, it dissolves with no involvement in the content. To be angry, a 'someone' must come into the content. When there is no involvement of the extra agent, there is only recoiling and self liberations. One should differentiate arising thought from the active involvement of the content. A practitioner that realizes anatta is only involved fully in the vivid presence of the action, phenomena but not getting lost in content." (Thusness, 2009)

      " seems that lots of effort need to be put in -- which is really not the case. The entire practice turns out to an undoing process. It is a process of gradually understanding the workings of our nature that is from beginning liberated but clouded by this sense of ‘self’ that is always trying to preserve, protect and ever attached. The entire sense of self is a ‘doing’. Whatever we do, positive or negative, is still doing. Ultimately there is not-even a letting go or let be, as there is already continuous dissolving and arising and this ever dissolving and arising turns out to be self-liberating. Without this ‘self’ or ‘Self’, there is no ‘doing’, there is only spontaneous arising. :)"

      "...When one is unable to see the truth of our nature, all letting go is nothing more than another from of holding in disguise. Therefore without the 'insight', there is no releasing.... it is a gradual process of deeper seeing. when it is seen, the letting go is natural. You cannot force urself into giving up the self... purification to me is always these insights... non-dual and emptiness nature...." - Thusness (2007)

      Charlotte Joko Beck:

      And to substitute one conditioning for another is to miss the point of practice. The point is not that a positive emotion is better than a negative one, but that all thoughts and emotions are impermanent, changing, or (in Buddhist terms) empty. They have no reality whatsoever. Our only freedom is in knowing, from years of observation and experiencing, that all personally centered thoughts and emotions (and the actions born of them) are empty. They are empty; but if they are not seen as empty they can be harmful. When we realize this we can abandon them. When we do, very naturally we enter the space of wonder.

      This space of wonder - entering into heaven - opens when we are no longer caught up in ourselves: when no longer "It is I," but "It is Thou." I am all things when there is no barrier."

    32. Sam Says:

      Thusness says that in actuality there is no "background" in which phenomena arise and subside. But isn't there "the now" which is still or "eternal"? Is this also a reification of mind? I would appreciate your reply. Thanks.

    33. Soh Says:

      The sense of a substantially existing ground of Here/Now is still an illusion. As I wrote in :

      A few months later, even though it has been seen that ‘seeing is always the sights, sounds, colours and shapes, never a seer’, I began to notice this subtle remaining tendency to cling to a Here and Now. Somehow, I still want to return to a Here, a Now, like 'The actual world right here and now', which I can 'ground myself in', like I needed to ground in something truly existing, like I needed to return to being actual, here, now, whatever you want to call it. At that point when I detected this subtle movement I instantly recognised it to be illusory and dropped it, however I still could not find a natural resolution to that.
      Until, shortly maybe two weeks later, a deeper insight arose and I saw how Here/Now or something I can ground myself in doesn't apply when the "brilliant, self-luminous, vivid, alive, wonderful textures and forms and shapes and colours and details of the universe", all sense perceptions and thoughts, are in reality insubstantial, groundless, disjoint, unsupported and spontaneous, there was a deeper freedom and effortlessness. It is this insight into all as insubstantial, ephemeral, bubble-like, disjoint manifestations that allows this overcoming of a subtle view of something inherent. There is no observer observing something changing: simply that the "sensate world" is simply these disjoint manifestations without anything linking each sensation to another, without some inherent ground that could link manifestations, so manifestations are 'scattered', disconnected, self-releasing and traceless. Somewhere around this time, Thusness wrote me a post in our blog:

      Prior to this insight, there wasn't the insight into phenomena as being 'scattered' without a linking basis (well there already was but it was not strong enough to remove the subtle view or construct of an inherent ground that remained)... the moment you say there is an ‘Actual World Here/Now’, or a Mind, or an Awareness, or a Presence that is constant throughout all experiences, that pervades and arise as all appearances, you have failed to see the 'no-linking', 'disjointed', 'unsupported' nature of manifestation – an insight which breaks a subtle clinging to an inherent ground, resulting in greater freedom.
      So in reality, Presence is empty and non-local. It cannot be located, it cannot be found, it cannot be pinpointed even as 'here' or 'now'. It cannot be grasped in any way, because there is no core or essence to Awareness. There is always only dependently originated appearances, that alone is Presence which is unlocatable, ungraspable, unfindable in any way whatsoever. Therefore we must not only dissolve the construct of "Who", even the more subtle construct of a "Where" and "When" must be dissolved for true liberation. When this is seen, the subtle tendency to seek an inherent source/awareness/presence is then allowed to be dropped, and in place of that seeking tendency is the effortless and natural spontaneous manifestation of interdepedent origination.
      The luminosity and the emptiness are inseparable. They are both essential aspects of our experiential reality and must be seen in its seamlessness and unity. Realizing this, there is just disjoint thoughts and phenomena arising without support and liberating on its own accord. There is nothing solid acting as the basis of these experiences and linking them... there is just spontaneous and unsupported manifestations and self liberating experiences.

    34. Soh Says:


      Therefore, this ‘insubstantial, disjoint, unsupported, bubble-like, non-solid, spontaneous, self-releasing’ nature of activities was revealed as a further progression from the initial insight into Anatta which was still skewed towards non-dual luminosity and being grounded in the ‘Here/Now’."

    35. Sam Says:

      So, if there isn't such "now" or "background" or "awareness" or "stillness", and if there are just the transient discrete phenomena (the "foreground"), then my question is: are there separate and discrete numerous "now" or separate "awareness" one after another that make up the stream of transience?

    36. Soh Says:

      Like Malcolm (Loppon Namdrol) said:

      "What continues is the stream of aggregates, consciousness being the chief of them. Consciousness is defined as a (partless) moment of clarity. These moments are serial and independent from the serial moments of the consciousness of others."

      I.e. each moment of consciousness/experience are disjoint manifestation without any linking ground/agent/self/etc.

      However eventually they are also resolved as non-arising.

      As Thusness wrote in :

      For those masters that taught,
      “Let thoughts arise and subside,
      See the background mirror as perfect and be unaffected.”
      With all due respect, they have just “blah” something nice but deluded.


      See that there is no one behind thoughts.
      First, one thought then another thought.
      With deepening insight it will later be revealed,
      Always just this, One Thought!
      Non-arising, luminous yet empty!

    37. Otter-Space Says:

      I've been meditating for a while now and I've realized no-self. However, I still don't see how form is same as emptiness. It seems like the Buddha was talking about all the forms and not just the self. For example, in direct immediate experience things(forms) arise and subside. When I try to see where they come from it's clear that from no where and they go nowhere as well. Also that the observation is the same as the thing that arises. For example observation of sound = sound and hearing a sound = sound. But it's obvious that they arise because they are so vivid. Anyway, wouldn't emptiness of forms imply that they don't arise?

      I ask this because after realizing non-duality I've been cycling. 1 month state of relief and 1 month state where some aspect gets made into a self and needs to be looked at. There are few resources online and I come from direct pointing background as well. Thanks.

    38. Soh Says:

      Hi Otter-Space,

      Yes there are twofold emptiness. Emptiness of a subjective self allows us to see through the agent, the background, the Self behind perception, sensation, vision, and so on. Everything becomes implicitly non-dual and luminously clear, and there is a sense of release.

      Then there is the secondfold emptiness in which 'phenomena' is seen to be empty and non-arising. This is as described in and

      Something that is vivid does not imply that something has arisen. For example a movie image, a mirage, a mirror reflection, a reflected moon on the lake.

      For example, due to dependent origination there is a reflection of moon on the water. But is anything 'real' being created inside the water? A real moon in the water? Of course not. If you move along the riverside, the reflection 'moves' along with you. It was never created inside the lake. Nothing is created, nothing has arisen, merely an appearance. An appearance does not imply something has truly 'arisen' that could truly 'abide' and then truly 'cease'. An appearance which dependently originates never amounts to anything other than birthless/deathless, illusory, magical appearance. This is the empty nature of 'presence', that 'hearing which is sound' or 'seeing that is scenery' or a thought.

    39. Soh Says:

      After an initial realization of anatta, one will go through a peak-experience of intense samadhi and bliss and deep presence/clarity in all senses for about 60-90 days, and then latent tendencies will come back. Deeper insights and right view will eventually dissolve these tendencies and experience eventually becomes effortless and intense, clear and vivid, bounnless and oceanic.

    40. flávio Says:

      Hi Soh,

      The following text sounds very misleading!
      Is this because is a temporary stage?

      “always thought watching thought rather than a watcher watching thought.” or "the watcher is that thought."

      A thought is not able to watch another thought:

      In just the same way, he has said,
      The sword’s edge cannot cut the sword.
      “But,” you say, “it’s like the flame
      That perfectly illuminates itself.”

      The flame, in fact, can never light itself.
      And why? Because the darkness never dims it!
      “The blueness of a thing by nature blue,” you say,
      “Depends, unlike a crystal, upon nothing else.

      “But if,” you ask, “the mind is not self-knowing,
      How does it remember what it knew?”
      We say that, like the poison of the water rat,
      It’s through the link with things experienced that memory occurs.

      ~Shantideva Way of Bodhisattva.

    41. Soh Says:

      Thoughts do not watch another thought. Thought watching thought is another of just saying that thought is 'known' through itself and not through any other separate knower.

      A thought is self-illuminating -- there is no knower besides what's known, knowing occurs at and is none other than the appearances shining forth.

      In truth, knower, knowing and known are merely imputed, there is no self-existence of a knower, a knowing, or a known.

    42. Soh Says:

      There is no mind entity besides cognition, the manifestation is what's conventionally called 'mind'.

    43. Consius Says:

      I was in bliss for 3 days, seeing that I became the television screen, my dad and the walking and brushing of the teeth. I was the sound. I pivoted back to being a confused something. Not sure if I am a person or a doer or not. confusion. So be it. I feel like dropping my seeking for no subject object division and to realize that there is no objective reality. I read it all. It is perhpas time to let go and rest in surrender or non doing, let it spontaneously recognize itself. I don't htink you can force the realisation of anatta or the melting away of awareness into objects.

    44. Soh Says:

      Anatta is not realised through forcing, nor is it realised through surrendering.

      It is the result of a series of insights and contemplation building upon each other.