Another great article by Joan Tollifson. Thusness says, "All these recent articles are very well written. Joan is clear in her expressions. She expressed the luminous aspect, yet not forgetting about the empty aspect as we can see from the writings. She is trying to put this into her writings."

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5 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    If teaching are not needed why did the autho write this. It is very dangerous to compare enlightenment of the Buddhas to the paths of adviata vedenta, taoism,oneness etc. As these paths (adviata vedenta, taoism, oneness) reduce enlightenment to monism and hence lead beings to formless realms beings and let them believe that this is enlightenment. This is the reason why she also claims that there is no need for temples, teacher,sutras etc. This is nonsence as temples, teachers, sutras are also empty. As Nagarjuna said "emptiness is empty".

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Advaita Vedenta,taoism,oneness teach that emptiness is the cause or un-cause and hence reduce enlightenment to monism.

    As Nagarjuna said "Emptiness is empty".

    Buddhism is a very different path to the paths of the monism movement.

  3. Soh Says:

    Hi Brendan,

    Thanks for dropping the comment. I agree with you that we should not be mistaken that Buddhism and other systems like Advaita or monism are the same, for there clearly are differences in paradigm. Whereas other religions talk about Awareness as a monistic substance that is the substance/ground/source of all beings, Buddhism talk about the insubstantiality, groundlessness and dependent origination of Awareness. That is, Buddhism does not deny the Presence of Awareness, it does not deny that everything manifests as vivid presence, but that even this Awareness/Presence is empty, insubstantial, and dependently originated.

    However Joan Tollifson is different from other Advaita writers because she is penetrating into Anatta deeply recently. In other words she has quite deep insights on the Thusness Stage 5 of Enlightenment. She clearly sees the insubstantiality of phenomena including any form of so called super awareness. Her insights are very Buddhist, perhaps due to her Zen background, where she had learnt from several Zen teachers in the past.

    There is no real danger for her of attaching to formless realms because of her deep insights into non-duality and anatta. Her insights are clearly not about the formless 'I AMness' and she had warned against attaching to a formless identity, when all sensations are itself empty-awareness. However though Joan is very clear about Buddhist Anatta, and has moved beyond the Atman-Brahman of Hinduism, she still can gain clarity on the aspect of Dependent Origination and emptiness. Hopefully in her later writings she can bring in the new understanding of 'how' Awareness dependently originates.

    I also do not think she said nor implied that teachers and teachings are not necessary. And I have to agree with you that a teacher is important - an experienced and enlightened teacher who can impart the Right View. This is to help us 'see' how a non-dual non-conceptual direct meditative experience is being reified into a metaphysical essence without even us noticing it. Ignorance goes far deeper than a non-dual, non-conceptual meditative state. Hence, a teacher is necessary to point out the right view, otherwise we will reify our meditative experience and get stuck on the monist view that you mentioned.

  4. Soh Says:

    Anyway there is a passage by Joan from the above article that is relevant to what you said:

    "Boundlessness, Oneness, or Non-duality does not mean that a bunch of separate pieces are now joined together. It doesn't mean that everything is made of one primal substance. It means that everything is equally insubstantial, that there are no separate "things" to be joined, that there is no substance to get hold of anywhere. And yet, that doesn't mean there is nothing. Emptiness does not mean voidness or formless nothingness. There is an old Zen story where a Master asks a student to grab emptiness. The student makes a gesture of grabbing a handful of empty space. The Master says, "That's nice, but there's an even better way to grab emptiness." He takes hold of the student's nose and twists it. Everything is emptiness! The sensations of nose twisting are emptiness. Your nose is emptiness. And emptiness is nothing other than your nose. Emptiness means everything (including your nose) is empty of solidity and permanence and separation. Form and emptiness cannot be teased apart except in thought. Truth is not something mysterious you need to search for. It is just this -- the computer screen, the shapes of these words, the roar of traffic, the gurgling stomach, the barking dog, your nose -- just this. No-thing at all!"

    - Just a note, we must be careful not to imply or equate Emptiness with Awareness. Emptiness is solely the aspect of Dependent Origination. With the arising insight of anatta, it helps us to see the truth of our empty nature. It dependently originates.

    Also see:


  5. Anonymous Says:

    @an eternal now, i hope this finds u well. Thanks for replying.your site is enjoyable. Sorry for my poor spelling and pronunciation in my comments. It would be good if the theists and the monism movement could could cognize Interdependent Origination, this place and the next would be fun hey.