Also see: Quietening the Inner Chatter

Taken from a great blog

Who Am I?
Ten years ago, almost exactly to this date,  I was meditating about 4 hours a day, 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening.  I was at the height of my Buddhist meditation practice and I felt like I was really getting somewhere.  Then on the 1st Sept 2000 while doing my morning meditation my mind blew open like a bolt of lightening and suddenly there was no me, no mind, and just the sound of a bird calling to the morning sun.  It was a profound experience that changed my life.  It was like waking up from a dream and seeing life through new eyes and realising everything you'd ever known before and the way you'd be experiencing life was incorrect.

Over the years, as I meditated, I started to notice how the mind itself displays very similar characteristics to aspects of nature.  And over time I started to use metaphors to describe aspects of the mind to people to make it easy to understand.  For example, the mind itself displays very similar characteristics to the sky.  It is vast and expansive and no matter how far you go you never actually perceive any boundaries.  If you throw a ball through the sky it passes through unattached.  Clouds arise out of nowhere and disappear again as if they never existed - effortlessly, silently, and without resistance - much like the nature of thoughts in the mind.  The mind also reacts to the environment and displays symptoms of cause and effect - when we perceive something, thoughts or emotion arise with them in a dance of interaction. Ideas are born into the mind out of nowhere much like a new seedling is born and later it will die away like a fading flower.  This ability for the mind to display characteristics of nature always fascinated me.

While meditating yesterday a deep insight came over me ... the mind doesn't display these characteristics because it is similar to nature, the mind displays these characteristics because it is nature, it is all these things, it is everything. It was so simple. The mind is not made from some "other" component, it is not made from something that you can strive to understand or experience separate from everything else, the mind quite literally is This, is everything that you are experiencing now.  It behaves in the same way as the sky, as clouds, as the wind because it is bound by the same laws that bind everything else and it is made from the same stuff that everything else is made from.  There is no difference.

How to Apply This

Now those sound like really wise words and if you pick up any spiritual book you'll read lots of stuff like that.  But this doesn't really help you at all and me saying it doesn't really help you understand or make your life better. You can read a tonne of spiritual books that talk about this concept and you'll feel good reading it and it will inspire you to want to know more but its kind of useless if you doesn't lead you to experience this for yourself.

So what is "mind", what is this "stuff" that is everything?  Who are you?  Or maybe you should ask "What are you?"  There are many names for this and people call it many things - nature, spirit, God, Buddha, life, the universe.  What is difficult is most people talk endlessly about it but this doesn't help, in fact in makes things worse for most people because then they get caught on the concept of what you've talked about as if its another thing to gain or get or understand.

Yet all these words in bibles and books are all talking about one thing, and one thing only - the direct experiencing of awareness, of life.  There is nothing to understand in it, there is nothing to get - you just have to be aware consciously of experiencing life in this very moment. Now you can't describe what that experiencing is like but if you directly experience it then you understand fully in that moment what makes up everything, you understand what the mind is. I'll say it again, it is the direct experiencing of life in this moment.  That is all.  Now don't think about that, take a second, look around the room or space where you are now and experience everything going on right now.  That is what I mean by the direct experiencing of life.  There is nothing complex about it.  All meditation and spiritual books are attempting to do is to get you to directly experience this for yourself.  Right now. Again, so look around the room.  Feel yourself breathing, see what is being seen, hear what you are hearing now.  This is all that it is about.  This direct experiencing of life.  So simple!

Its like talking all day about an apple.  A thousand words won't allow you to get how an apple tastes.  You don't fully understand "apple" until you put it in your mouth and take a bite, until you directly experience it.  Life is the same.  Meditation is about taking a bite from life, "crunch" and then you taste "Ah, this is life".  So look around again now, be aware, be conscious, feel yourself breathing, hear the sounds, seen what is being seen ... "Ah this is life".

So "who am I?"  This question is really asking you to dive head first into the moment and just experience life fully as it is.  In that direct experiencing of the senses, the mind, the environment, what is being heard, the sensations in your body ask yourself "who am I"?  You must keep returning over and over again to the present moment with your direct experience right now.  That is all, over and over.  "Who am I?"  Stop again for a second, feel yourself breathing, look around, feel, hear.  Ah yes, this is me.  As you do this you begin to see bit by bit the nature of who you are, of what mind is, of what everything is.

In many traditions you'll see this idea being expressed.  In Buddhism they ask "What is your true nature?" or "What is your true name?".  You don't have to think about it.  Just stop again for a second, feel yourself breathing, look around, notice the sensations in your body.  Yes, this is your true nature.  Christ said "I am the way, the truth, and the life".  This is the same point.  Breath again for a second, relax and be aware ... this is truth ... seeing, hearing right now ... this is the life ... breathing, feeling, practising being mindful ... this is the way.  This direct experiencing in this moment is the way.  Who is God?  Return to the direct experiencing of life again, be aware, feel your breath ... This is God.  This is death.  This is the Tao.  This is eternity.  This is life. This is enlightenment.

So Buddhist meditation helps you understand this.  No correction, Buddhist meditation helps you experience this!  In the early stages of meditation you begin to understand in a traditional sense who you are, who you are as a person, what you like and don't like and you become happier and you function better in life.  This is about understanding your ego.  As you keep returning to the mindful moment eventually this sense of "I" starts to feel empty, as if its not real.  It becomes almost meaningless and things don't matter as much to you. While this is a challenging stage it is important because you start to see through the illusion that "we" are something tangible something real and more importantly you stop being pulled around by emotions, thoughts and the challenges of life.  You start to really feel free and unbound.  Then as you continue to be mindful there is deeper insight into this intangibility and the direct experiencing of emptiness, and with this the direct experiencing of the emptiness in all things.  There is a saying "See the emptiness of one thing deeply, and you'll see the emptiness of all things".  The boundary between all things is suddenly gone and all things are experienced as if they are one.  Therefore, there are no more things, no more separation, just One, just This.  And what is this One?  It is just the direct experiencing of life!  Pure consciousness, pure awareness.  Who, or more importantly, what is the "I" in the moment of experiencing?  Again, stop now, look around, be aware, breath, see, hear and take a quiet moment.  This is your answer!  Its so simple.

At times over the last 10 or so years I've had periods where I haven't been as regular with my meditation practice as I'd like to be and I've wondered why.  While I knew deep down during those lapses that I should, and deep down I knew all the reasons why I should, and deep down I wanted to, something resisted.  I just couldn't put my finger on why there was this mild resistance to dive fully into regular practice like I had at other times.  In the last week I've been waking in earnest at 5am every morning to meditate for 45 minutes before work.  I've been contemplating this issue and its cause and what I've realised surprised me for the simplicity of it and because I'd failed to acknowledge the far-reaching enormity of the truth I'd seen through my meditations.  That is, I do not exist!  There is no "I" separate to the very moment being experienced now.  In this moment right now "Who am I?"  While the insight was clear and life changing, I'd been struggling to understand the place of "me" in relation to the truth and wisdom revealed through it and this new life view.  I was struggling to understand "Who am I?" and how did "I" fit into this picture.  And in a lot of ways "I" wanted to still do what I wanted to do and to be honest I still wanted to "be".  While the experience clearly showed there was no me, I'd persisted with the idea that "there was a me" that existed still separate from this insight.  The insight was clear but the wisdom had taken time to come full circle.  That is, that "I" is a false notion. There is no "me" to understand in relation to this insight because the insight has long gone.  In this moment, seeing hearing and typing right now, where am I?  Its like a cloud trying to understand and grasp the difference between the air and the sky.  While you call them different names there is no difference and you cannot separate them, in fact they are the same thing.  The cloud is air and sky and it doesn't attempt to call itself these things.  This week as I returned to meditation practice I've been returning to this moment, to this direct experiencing of life.  While the insight from 10 years ago is just a distant thought now, as I sit here and type and be aware in this moment there is no "I".  So, who am I?

Looking around, breathing, experiencing, being aware ... ah yes, this is Me!

But this is not the "me" I use to know, this is not the "me" we colloquially or conceptually know, this is not the small "me".  This is the "no me", the big Me that is everything.  The "I" as I knew it before is just a drop in an ocean, why call itself any different?  With this view a profound peace pervades Me, why struggle or resist the meditation practice?  How can I deny it at all?  This is like denying truth, this is like denying the way It is.  I must meditated because this is the way it is, this is truth, this is also is what I am, what I am made of, what My nature is.  This is Me!
Also see: Who Am I? 

Taken from a great blog

Quietening the Inner Chatter - Part 1

The inner chatter in our minds is something we are all familiar with.  While we may have good and sometimes bad experiences in our lives that may move us to ponder life's deeper meanings or to seek out answers it is this inner chatter, more-so out of it's insistent and consistent barrage on our minds, that we are finally driven to seek out someway to quieten it down.  It gets so unrelenting and so persistent that once we have decided that we have had enough of it and we want to quieten it down, there doesn't appear to be any way to stop it.  We can't even go to sleep because the mind just keeps going and going!!  It's like torture "Okay, I'm over this noise in my head now.  I think you should stop now.  Okay, stop.  No no, I mean stop .... now!  Shhh!  I really mean it.  Come on now, stop!!! STOP!!!"

We quickly realise as much as we want it to stop it just seems to keep going.  We try frantically to find ways to quieten the mind but none of it seems to make the slightest bit of difference. We'll typically at this point turn to all kinds of external means to find some peace and we'll drown it out with social activities, making ourselves busy, through entertainment media like TV, radio, music, x-box or even alcohol and drugs.  These only serves as a means of distracting us from the noise.  As soon as we remove the distraction the noise and inner chatter is back as loud as ever.  Actually over time doing these distraction techniques just make the inner chatter worse by perpetuating the cycle.  So how do we stop it?  Well really the secret is not to stop it, I'll explain more as we go.

If we are lucky, in our search for a solution, we may eventually stumble across meditation.  The common problem is people try it and think that meditation is about stopping the thoughts.  It's a very common misconception and unfortunately leads a lot of people to try it and then walk away thinking it didn't yield any results.  This is why I'm writing this article, to help bring some understanding to what is happening here. People often read a few blogs, a website or two, a book maybe or chat to someone about the basics of meditation and then sit down to try meditation only find it doesn't work.  Or so they think!

In talking to people about meditation I find lots of people have tried it. This is really heartening to see. You can see they too are seeking some peace and along the way have tried meditation as a means of finding this peace.  One of the main recurring themes I hear is that people say "Oh I tried meditation but it didn't work" or "I couldn't do it".  My immediate response is usually "This is like water saying, I just don't know how to be wet".  It's impossible for meditation not to work!!  It has to work because it is by it's very fabric the nature of all things, including ourselves, our minds and consciousness.  I'll explain this below as we go.

It is important to take a step back and ask ourselves first "What has lead me to have this mind and all this inner chatter?" and to really evaluate what is going on.  It is through wanting, conceptualising, grasping, categorising, judging, pushing away, and thinking about everything we experience in life that our minds become busy.  In our day to day we have a thought arise about every thing little, every teeny tiny thing and what we think about it, how we feel about it, what it means to us and how we can get more of it or get away from it. Through this there is a perpetuating cycle of mind busyness which over times results in a momentum all of it's own. It's like a freight train that's been gathering more carriages along its journey.  The heavier it gets the harder it is to stop.  After a while it has so much momentum that even when the train driver sticks on the brakes the train will just keeping on skidding and take a long time to come to a stop!!!  Our minds are just like this.  We stick on the brakes expecting it to stop and, "Holy crap! It's still going!"

What is Meditation About?

So we have to be very clear, meditation is not about stopping thoughts.
 We cannot approach meditation with another "want", but often this is exactly what we do.  "I want to do meditation to find some peace" or "I want to do meditation to be happy" or "I want to do meditation to stop this inner chatter in my mind".  Again however this is the same cycle we just stated above.  In doing so we've just approached meditation in the same way we've approached everything else in our lives, and in trying it like this we continue to perpetuate the cycle of inner chatter.  So of course we walk away thinking "Well that stinks, it doesn't work".  Meditation is not about getting what you want, meditation is about letting go.  As you do this thoughts stop by themselves!

Ajahn Chah's has a little book of quotes called No Ajahn Chah: Reflections in which he says:
Remember you don’t meditate to "get" anything, but to get "rid" of things. We do it not with desire but with letting go. If you "want" anything, you won’t find it.
By this he doesn't mean to get rid of something we don't want or we remove something that we want to get away from. He's not saying to get rid of the inner chatter or noise.

I'll explain exactly how that works in Part 2 and then in Part 3 what we can do to quieten the inner chatter, the common trap and how to apply this.  Check back tomorrow for Part 2.

Quietening the Inner Chatter - Part 2

Continuing on from yesterday's article Quietening the Inner Chatter - Part 1, we were saying that meditation is not about getting what we want but out letting go of what it is that is supporting the existence of the inner chatter. This is a very important point.

The Builder and the House

There is good metaphor which will help explain this. Our minds are like little construction workers, always building building building. We build ideas and thoughts about everything, over time we construct this big house called "me". At some point we start to not like the house we are in so we think "Okay, I'm not enjoying this any more, I want out of this house!!". So we immediately get to work on building another house in hope that moving into it will somehow make us happier.  "I can't stand this house any more, I want a new house"  or we think "If I can just change this thing room here, add this modification on there, then I'll be happy". We mistakenly think happiness will be bought about by changing something external to us. So we get busy, thinking, building, analysing the past, thinking about our future, complaining about what we don't like about our current house, thinking about how we want life to be, trying to think our way out of our current situation and how we can get the house to be just like we want it to be.  Then we focus desperately on how we can get into the new house.  So eventually we think we've found the answer, we abandon the current house, move in and for a few days or weeks we think it's perfect.  Then looking around we realise we moved all our crap into this house too and it's full of the same junk we had in the last house!!  It just moved with us!  Then after a while we begin looking at the new house and start thinking "You know, this house really could do with ...." and it all starts again.

This clearly isn't the answer but interestingly we'll repeat this process in all areas of our life for many, many, many years in hope that it will eventually yield some results.  Holding onto hope keeps us stuck, we hold out hope that eventually it will work, in this way we stay stuck. We are like a car stuck in the mud, with our foot constantly on the accelerator spinning our wheels getting more and more bogged.

So when approaching meditation we do the same "I want to stop these thoughts that are driving me nuts", so we sit down but we can't get the thoughts to stop.  Why is this?  It's because life does not work like this.  Just look at the clouds, can more wind make the clouds go away?  No, its just makes more clouds.  This isn't a metaphor, I'm talking directly and literally about the very nature that drives the existence of things like wind and clouds and rain are the same forces that drive our minds and thoughts and pain. To break through the clouds the sun has to come out. Why is this? Let us go back to the house building metaphor for the answer.

The Laws behind Inner Chatter

Going back to our house building metaphor the answer isn't to move into another house, the answer is to deconstruct the current house we live in .... completely. We need to stop building and let the current house get old and collapse.  If we stop building and improving on a house what happens?  It slowly cracks, the wood rots, it gets weathered, things fall off and eventually it falls down. So, asking again, why is this?  This is very important and the heart of this entire article.  It is because the conditions that support the survival of the house are removed, so eventually it dies.  All things in life are exactly like this.

Clouds require a certain condition. Certain moisture content in the air and certain temperature creates the conditions for them to exist. When the sun comes out the conditions that supports the existence of the clouds passes and so too do the clouds. When a flower doesn't get enough water, or gets too much sun, or gets uprooted from the soil it too dies. It's conditions cease, so it ceases. If our body doesn't get food or water eventually it will die. Look around you, everything, absolutely everything you can see or experience or think are exactly like this and all exist due to the dependent conditions that support their existence. There is not a single thing in the universe that does not obey this law. Not one! I'm not asking you to believe me, investigate yourself, look around. Is there anything you can find that doesn't obey this law?

Your mind and thoughts are exactly the same.  They require a certain conditions to exist and certain conditions to keep them going.  The cycle of inner chatter requires certain conditions too.  Through repeating the same process we just perpetuate their existence and in fact make them stronger.  This is why when we approach meditation and want to stop the inner chatter it doesn't work. We don't realise, by approaching it in this way, that we are just running the same old patterns that creates and supports the very existence of the inner chatter. 

Slowing Down Takes Time

The other thing to consider, like the momentum of the heavy freight train, is that it is going to take time to stop. If you’re 20, 30, 40 or 50 years old, then you’ve been supporting and building a world of inner chatter over all those years. You can’t just sit down to try meditation and expect it to stop right away. Again, life just doesn’t work like this. For example, think of the flower again. If we stop watering a flower it doesn’t die straight away, it will take a week or two. All things are like this, they take time to cease.  We are the same with our inner chatter.

So typically we approach meditation with the same incorrect assumption we hold about life, that things will just stop instantly.  We want instant results and so we expect life to be the way we want it to be.  In doing this we ignore and don’t respect these laws that all things are bound by, and in doing so we create conditions that support the perpetuation of inner noise. The process is so obvious, so inherent in our nature, that we simply just don’t notice it. In reality you could say it is so obvious that in growing up with it since a baby we don’t notice the obviousness of it any more. However, all it requires is for us to look around and observe the way everything works.  You can see this truth right there in everything around you.So in Part 1 I explained how inner chatter is a problem and what the effects are like.  In Part 2 we talked how that problem functions and in Part 3 I’ll discuss what we can do to quieten the inner chatter, how that healing process works, a common trap to look our for and how to apply this.  Check back tomorrow for Part 3.

In Quietening the Inner Chatter - Part 1, we were saying that meditation is not about getting what we want but about letting go of what it is that is supporting the existence of the inner chatter. This is a very important point.

Continuing on from yesterday's article Quietening the Inner Chatter - Part 2, we were saying that the inner chatter is reliant on certain conditions that support it's existence and that it, like everything else, obeys natural laws that all things abide by.

So How Does Meditation Work?

This is why I said earlier that meditation has to work, because it inherently obeys and works on these same rules of nature that everything else works on.  When we sit and do meditation practice we focus the mind on an object, typically the breath.  In doing this we remove the conditions that support the perpetuation of inner chatter.  It's like the flower suddenly not getting water any more, over time it slowly dies.  Our inner chatter is the same.  Don't think thought that just because you've removed the conditions through meditation that the chatter will cease straight away.  If we stop drinking water it takes a few days before we really start to feel it, and a week or two before we die.  Our inner chatter is the same.  In sitting meditation we aren't stopping thought, we are removing certain conditions that support the existence of problems in our lives.  In doing this things naturally quieten down on their own and our life naturally feels more alive, more radiant and vibrant.  So it's a constant process of letting go whatever house or structure you have around you at that point in time and letting it naturally pass. Peace, happiness and silence therefore aren't things we acquire, this is why we can't go out and seek after them and acquire them, they are the natural properties of our existence when the noise of our lives quietens down.

So if you want peace of mind, don't focus on getting peace. If you want happiness, don't focus on getting happiness. You have to focus on meditating diligently and letting go of the house you've build up around you. As the house decays and dies and collapses peace and happiness is revealed.

One Step Further Down the Rabbit Hole

While the above focuses on how meditation breaks down the structure, as we meditate we start to notice something interesting.  
The letting go happens all by itself.  If we try to let go, it doesn't seem to happen.  "Okay, let go now.  No no, I mean, I'm over this, you can let go!"  It doesn't work.Why is this? Letting go isn't something we do, it's something that occurs when there is mindful awareness.  As soon as there is awareness, letting go occurs because we start to see clearly the very nature of things.  In this awareness we see them for what they are, in doing so they freed from the condition that kept it perpetuating and that kept us bound to it.  Examine any regular life example you've had in which you later let go of what bothered you and you'll discover this was the process.  This is because awareness itself is condition-less, is empty and has no enduring substance. It is the true nature of existence. Going back to the above we said that in doing meditation we remove the conditions that supports the existence of the inner chatter. This is because awareness itself is condition-less and in meditating and being aware the things in our lives (like inner chatter) cease to have anything to interact with, that is, their conditions for existence are removed.

The awareness itself is like pulling the rug out from underneath everything.  So all we need to do to reveal peace and happiness is return as often as possible to this mindful awareness.  In doing that our life transforms all by itself.  Simply by placing awareness on anything it is eventually seen for what it truly is and it passes.  It quite remarkable really.  Another way to say this is, in seeing anything clearly it ceases to exist, it is let go, and to see things clearly you need to be aware.

The Common Fear

In reading this the common fear that immediately arises is "This sounds like I have to destroy or sacrifice who I am to find peace!", and fear arises in us. We unnaturally feel that in approaching meditation we lose that sense of who we are.  While the process does require us to learn to let go of the things in our lives that are unfruitful it doesn't mean we have to become zombies to find peace, and it also doesn't mean we have to be completely boring either.  We must remind ourselves it is actually the unfruitful things in our lives that creates our pains, it is these things that obscure our life and stop us from actually understanding who we are.  It is these conditions that support the unfruitful results in our lives that we seek to heal.  Admittedly doing meditation can be a tough process at times but through it we actually open ourselves up to a greater sense of who we are, who we are without a big smelly dung heap piled on top.  So we uncover a new "me". This next section contains a metaphor that explains why.

The Common Trap

Now typically after reading the above we'll go "Okay so if I do X then I'll get Y" and we'll race out and do  meditation with vigour in the hope that doing it will result in the peace of mind we seek.  Again, this is a problem because we are just approaching meditation with a mutated desire - "In doing this, I'll get that". The builder in us jumps out and wants to try and build another house.  It's the same problem that supports the conditions of inner chatter.  This is not good, not bad, it's just where you are at now.  It is better at least that you are doing meditation because as I've described above in simply returning to this awareness our lives change. Just be aware in yourself and know that eventually you are going to have to let go of this desire towards meditation, you'll have to let go of this attachment to meditation being a tool to bring about change. Keep meditating and keeping letting go, when the time is right you'll come to see it's time to let go.  It therefore requires you to acknowledge what the current structure you've built up that you call "me", and it requires the willingness to let go of it.  This takes courage and honesty.

At every stage in life what you are experiencing is supported by a set of conditions. Even this one right now!  Even this very consciousness and experience you are having as you read this.  Once you've let go of one set of conditions, another more subtle set becomes apparent through mindfulness.  It is therefore a constant process of letting go, of seeing more clearly. You must constantly remind yourself "This too shall pass" and sit and watch the next structure pass away.  As you do peace and happiness reveal themselves on their own, kind of like the sun revealing itself from behind the clouds.  It's not that the sun went away, it was just obscured by clouds.  Our lives are exactly like this.  Meditation in this way is about revealing the true nature of what we are and becoming the same as this very nature.

How to Apply This

While all the above helps understand how we create the inner chatter, what supports it and how to break it down, when it comes to our time on the meditation mat, how do we apply this? After all this dialogue this isn't going to be a long discourse because it's really quite simple. Go back to basics. When you sit meditation just focus on your breath and be aware, and keep returning over and over to being mindfully aware. That is all.

If you notice a desire for something then acknowledge it and know it has a supporting set of conditions to it's existence. Don't act out the desire, just simply notice it and return to the focus of the meditation. In doing this, without consciously knowing it at first, we remove the underlying conditions of the desire itself. Over time the desire passes. We say "time heals" but really it's the awareness that heals, time just ticks over as the problem itself dissipates because it's conditions for survival are removed.

If you are meditating and have inner chatter then notice the inner chatter and acknowledge that there is a supporting set of conditions to it's existence. Don't engage in the chatter no matter how convincing it seems, just simply notice it and return to the meditation. Again, in doing this we remove the underlying conditions of the chatter itself. Over time the chatter quietens down.

This same process applies from the first day we sit on the meditation mat through to the advance stages, and finally through to complete enlightenment. We aren't gaining anything, we are letting go of the conditions that support a false way of experiencing the world and we are ultimately returning to this very awareness that is condition-less.  The meditation technique itself therefore is incredibly simple - be aware, that is all -  however it is all the false structures we've build up and the chatter about this process of letting go that is our challenge. This is what makes up the path we travel through to eventual realisation and enlightenment.

I hope this article has helped to clarify why we have inner chatter and helped to bring some understanding to the process of quietening it down and how meditation helps.

If you have any comments or questions please feel free to add them below.

Also see: The Buddha on Non-Duality (do also read PasserBy — Thusness/John Tan’s comments in the comments section)

Also see: Bahiya Sutta must be understood from Realization

Also see: A Zen Exploration of the Bahiya Sutta

Also see: The Sutta about Bahiya

Note: You can also see my complete journal of self-discoveries at

Originally posted by simpo_:
Hi Beautiful951,
Firstly, I will like to state that I am still learning so can only share from my own opinion. Please read with a pint of salt.
Emptiness is not a belief but an insight that can be borne from experience. It is better to experience it for oneself as before and after the insight, it can still be 'unbelievable' for the mind. Emptiness is quite hard to experience and usually the realisation of no-self comes before emptiness.
As mentioned, no-self will be easier to realise. I will describe the insight of  no-self/egolessness generally here. When doing insight meditation one may realise that the sensory experiences (including mental formation/thinking) are arising and passing away independently of one another. That is, seeing is seeing, hearing is hearing, thinking is thinking and they are all flowing independently. With that observation, one will realise that there is no self holding all these sensory experiences together.  Self that we originally assumed, is just these sensory experiences arising and passing away and the attention focusing on them.
As for emptiness, it requires a deeper penetration into consciousness. Emptiness reveals that everything is not physical and solid at all... but are 'holographically united'. There is no way to accurately describe it as it is not the way a mind unaware to it will think. Like the first insight of no-self, emptiness is a paradigm shift... towards ever clearer seeing of the truth of Reality.
Please understand that seeing emptiness is not end of story. At least, not for my case. I am currently working on the remaining defilements. This doesn't meant that i will need to forcefully remove them. Forceful willing will only result in suppression. Rather, the 'method' is to be aware of and be equanimous to whatever that is arising in order for them to pass away naturally. This 'aware of' is not as easy as it sounds.
Thanks for the sharing...

I was reminded of Bahiya Sutta while you said 'seeing is seeing'...

In the seen, there is only the seen,
in the heard, there is only the heard,
in the sensed, there is only the sensed,
in the cognized, there is only the cognized.
Thus you should see that
indeed there is no thing here;
this, Bahiya, is how you should train yourself.
Since, Bahiya, there is for you
in the seen, only the seen,
in the heard, only the heard,
in the sensed, only the sensed,
in the cognized, only the cognized,
and you see that there is no thing here,
you will therefore see that
indeed there is no thing there.
As you see that there is no thing there,
you will see that
you are therefore located neither in the world of this,
nor in the world of that,
nor in any place
betwixt the two.
This alone is the end of suffering.” (ud. 1.10)


My own comments:

Non-duality is very simple and obvious and direct... and yet always missed! Due to a very fundamental flaw in our ordinary dualistic framework of things... and our deep rooted belief in duality.

In the seen, there is just the seen! It is completely non-dual... there is no 'the seen + a perceiver here seeing the seen'.... The seen is precisely the seeing! There is not two or three things: seer, seeing, and the seen. That split is entirely conceptual (though taken to be reality)... it is a conclusion due to a referencing back of a direct experience (like a sight or a sound) to a centerpoint. This centerpoint could be a vague identification and contraction to one's mind and body (and this 'center of identification within the body' could be like two inches behind your eyes or on the lower body or elsewhere), or the centerpoint could be an identification with a previous nondual recognition or authentication like the I AM or Eternal Witness experience/realization. It could even be that one has gained sufficient stability to simply rest in the state of formless Beingness throughout all experiences, but if they cling to their formless samadhi or a 'purest state of Presence', they will miss the fact that they are not just the formless pure existence but that they are/existence is also all the stuff of the universe arising moment to moment... And when one identifies oneself as this entity that is behind and separated from the seen, this prevents the direct experience of what manifestation and no-self is.

But in direct experience it is simply not like that: there is nothing like subject-object duality in direct experience.... only This - seen, heard, sensed, cognized. Prior to self-referencing, this is what exists in its primordial purity.

So, in the seen, there's just That! Scenery, trees, road, etc... but when I label these as such, instead of putting a more subjective term such as 'experiencing'.... they tend to conjure images of an objective world that is 'out there' made of multiple different objects existing in time and space separated by distances.

But no, the Buddha says: in the seen, just the seen! There is no thing 'here' (apart from the seen).... nor something 'there' (as if the seen is an objective reality out there). From the perspective of the logical framework of things, the world is made of distance, depth, entities, objects, time, space, and so on, but if you take away the reference point of a self... there is simply Pure Consciousness of What Is (whatever manifests) without distance or fragmentation. You need at least two reference points to measure distance... but all reference points (be it of an apparent subjective self or an apparent external object) are entirely illusory and conceptual. If there is no 'self' here, and that you are equally everything... what distance is there? Without a self, there is no 'out there'...

The seen is neither subjective nor objective.... it just IS....

There is pure seeing, pure hearing, everything arising without an external reference other than the scenery being the seeing without seer, the sound being the hearing without hearer (and vice versa: the hearing being just the sound, the manifestation).

But even the word 'hearing', 'seeing', 'awareness' can conjure an image of what Awareness is.... As if there is really an entity called 'hearing' or 'seeing' or 'awareness' that remains and stays constant and unchanged.

But.... if you contemplate on "How am I experiencing the moment of being alive?", or, "How am I experiencing the moment of hearing?", or "How am I experiencing the moment of seeing?" or "How am I experiencing the moment of being aware?"

All the bullshit concepts, constructs and images of an 'aliveness', a 'hearing', a 'seeing', an 'awareness' simply dissolves in the direct experiencing of whatever arises... just 'seeing is seeing, hearing is hearing, thinking is thinking and they are all flowing independently', with 'no self holding all these sensory experiences together'.

If readers find my explanation a bit too hard to grasp, please read Ajahn Amaro's link because he explains it much better than me.

Also see: The Buddha on Non-Duality (do also read PasserBy — Thusness/John Tan’s comments in the comments section)

Also see: Bahiya Sutta must be understood from Realization

Also see: A Zen Exploration of the Bahiya Sutta

Also see: The Sutta about Bahiya
Note: You can also see my complete journal of self-discoveries at

In the gap between two thoughts, turning the light of knowing within, we touch our innermost essence, the pure sense of presence-existence-knowing. It is certain, still, complete, non-dual, formless. There is no doubts about it. It's utterly still in that direct authentication... this gives rise to an impression of being the Eternal Witness beyond and observing transient thoughts and phenomena. It becomes a pure identity, a center and core behind all experiences.

But further contemplation will lead to the seeing that all forms and transient phenomena and manifestation are equally certain, still, complete, non-dual. It is just as intimately 'you' as the pure sense of existence and being, and yet there is no 'you' there at all - just the mountains, the scenery, the wind, the sky, the bird chirping. In the absence of an identity, you are whatever arises. In place of the absence of a separate self is the presence of the entire world standing/shining on its own (without a separate perceiver) in its brilliant luminosity, purity, magical-ness, aliveness, blissfullness, centrelessness, infinitude and borderlessness and stillness (not a dead stillness but stillness of the transience).

We realize that all phenomena and experiences have the same taste as the initial glimpse of pure awareness as pure presence-existence or I AM. That experience, it's certainty, non-duality, completeness and perfection, etc... are all equal characteristics of all experience, manifestation and forms. All forms and formless states are of one taste.

Prior to this deeper seeing, there is the tendency to cling to a center, a formless background observer, a space-like awareness that is behind and contains all passing thoughts, feelings, sensations. There is a tendency to cling to that formless I AM as our purest identity. Why? When all thoughts subside, we experience the formless pure sense of presence, and with its certainty, completeness, intimacy/non-duality, it is easy to take that as our purest identity. Its non-duality implies there is no separation between 'you' and 'that'. There is absolutely no distance, only pure intimacy. But later, we see that this applies not only to Presence experienced in the formless state, but as all manifestations. Yes, there is just the sun, the mountain, the river, all are without distance because there is no 'you' at the center separate from 'that'... The framework of a subject operating in an objective world of space and time collapses into a pure intimacy and nakedness of experiencing.

This seeing leads to lessening the tendency to cling to a 'purest state of presence' or a formless background. There is also no more tendency to dissociate yourself from manifestation, for whatever manifest is pure consciousness itself.

Well... almost. As the tendencies are deep, they will resurface - the fear and tendency to cling to and re-confirm a 'familiar state of presence', the fear of letting go a previous experience of pure consciousness (which leads to overlooking This arising non-dual experience), the fear of letting go of the self/Self and simply let hearing be hearing without hearer, let seeing be seeing without seer, let the universe reveal itself freshly in each moment as a complete pure consciousness 'event' of itself. And if all manifestation is equally pure, pristine and complete, why the need to cling to a purest identity?

You are not just the formless presence/knower/consciousness... you are all forms, you are the universe univers-ing, you are whatever is arising moment to moment as a complete non-dual experience in itself... There is no background awareness and foreground phenomena happening in awareness... there is simply foreground pure consciousness always, be it the pure existence experienced in a formless mode (e.g. I AM, aka the 'thought realm' as Thusness puts it), or in all forms... the making of a non-dual experience into a background is simply trying to capture and reify a moment of pure consciousness.
by Jeff Foster

What do you think about, when you think about death? Your own absence? The end of you? The falling-away of your world? The world without you? What would that look like – the world without you?

We try to imagine ‘the world without me’, and we run into a huge, cosmic problem.

You see, your world (your past, your future, your memories, your concepts, your opinions, your judgements, your philosophies, your religious and spiritual beliefs,  your regrets, your guilt, your fears, your seeking, your achievements, your successes, your failures… basically everything that you know, everything that you think is true, everything that you think might be true, everything you don’t know but suspect might be true, every hunch, every hope, every doubt, every certainty….)  is all you have ever known. Your world is all you know, and all you have ever known.

Your world – which is the world, to you – is you.

Your world – the world – is all of the above, and also the absence of the above (because negation is also part of your world).

As all the authentic spiritual teachers throughout the ages have been reminding us, the world cannot exist without you. The world arises and falls away with the ‘I’. No ‘I’, no world.

The world without you? Not a possibility.

Every night in deep dreamless sleep, where is the world? And where is the one who experiences a world? These reflections are obliterated. As Ramana Maharshi once said, that which does not exist in deep dreamless sleep is not real.

In deep dreamless sleep, there is not even anyone there who can experience the absence of the world. Nobody ‘experiences’ deep dreamless sleep. The one who experiences, the experiencer, is not there. There is not even anybody there who can experience ‘nothing’. In deep dreamless sleep, there is not even ‘nothing’ as separate from ‘something’. These mind-made opposites are not there either.

Deep dreamless sleep is death. Every night we die.  And every morning we wake up and we say ‘I was asleep’. No you weren’t. You weren’t there! But we love the idea of continuity. We love the idea of being an entity that exists continuously. We love the idea that we are, in some way, constant, unchangeable, solid, Absolute. Ingeniously, it dampens our fear of death. We love our ideas and beliefs in eternal souls, constant unchanging presence, of an Absolute Reality that exists even when we aren’t there to know it’s there.

But if there is an unchangeable presence, you have no way of knowing it, and therefore no way of experiencing it. It is the very experiencing structure which is obliterated when you are obliterated. So there is nobody there to report the existence of “eternally self-shining presence-awareness” during deep dreamless sleep, or to know that “the real Self remains constant” throughout deep dreamless sleep. All of these are simply more concepts – concepts that are obliterated too.

If you know that there is “eternally self-shining presence-awareness” during deep dreamless sleep, or that “the real Self remains constant” throughout deep dreamless sleep, you know way too much. These are concepts that arise with the experiencer. Without the experiencer, there would be no way of knowing this constant awareness, and certainly no way of reporting it. No way of speaking it, no way of teaching it.

Undoubtedly, during deep dreamless sleep, life goes on. But ‘you’ have no way of knowing that, and no way of experiencing it. This is a crucial point that often gets missed out in Advaita / Nondual teachings. For many people Nonduality / Advaita is just an excuse to swap their belief in God for a belief in ‘unchanging, eternal, everlasting, presence-awareness’ which exists even after the individual has disappeared. Same belief, different words. I'm not saying that life doesn't go on. I'm saying you cannot know it or experience it. And so you certainly cannot formulate it into a Truth about existence. That is why there cannot be any teachers of this (including me!)...


Death seems to be the falling-away of the dream, which is the falling-away of the experiencer. And who is going to experience the absence of the experiencer?

You cannot experience your own absence. This is why death can never be an experience for you. You can only experience what you know, and with death, all knowledge is rendered irrelevant, because the absence of the knower cannot be known. No knowledge is necessary or relevant then. All knowledge burns up. All conditioning, all beliefs. It is total extinction.

In other words, in order to know what you are experiencing, on some level there must be a narrative, a story running about someone experiencing something. Even if the experience is ‘the absence of the self’, there is already somebody there (a self) who knows that and who attributes those qualities to their experience. Without the story, there is no way of knowing what you are experiencing. Without the story, there is no way of separating one thing (an experiencer) from another thing (their experience). Without the story there cannot be two things. Where there are two things, you will always find a story. The story is duality. Even to say “there is only present awareness after death” is already another story. That story too falls away upon death. And what is left, you have no way of knowing for yourself, and therefore no way of experiencing.


Death is nothing. Which is to say, death is not an event. Any event is in the story of time, which is the story of a world, which is the story of you. The falling away of the story of you does not happen in time. It is the falling-away of time. Death is the death of the experience of time and space. How can there be anything left after that? How can there be any residue whatsoever? ‘Eternal presence awareness’ (or at least, the knowing of it) would be residue…

And so, who dies? Only a time-bound story could die. Because ‘death’ is simply another time-bound concept. The mind splits ‘life’ from ‘death’ – one is loved and one is feared. Or perhaps both are loved, or both feared. But either way, without the story, can there be life as separate from death? Right now, how do you know you are alive? On some level, in order to experience ‘being alive’ (and not being dead) you have to tell yourself that you are alive and not dead. You have to tell yourself that you were born and that one day you will die. What you believe is what you experience.

But to whom do all these stories arise? In who or what does the story “I am a separate person who was born and who will die one day” arise?

What you are is already free from all of these stories. It is that in which the whole world comes and goes. And yet, it is not separate from that which comes and goes, either. It is not ‘not duality’. That would be dualistic. It is radically all-inclusive. If it is non-duality, it is also duality. Then it is neither non-duality or duality. It is unspeakable, ultimately. Because it is not an ‘it’ at all.


Some people believe that everything is impermanent except Awareness. Or that only Consciousness is eternal. That the Presence that you are exists even after death. They take these as unshakeable facts, as inarguable Truths about existence.

It all hinges on our understanding of the word “exists”. Once it is seen that ‘existence’ is simply another word for ‘existence in the story’ (in other words, in time) then it is seen that even the idea of Self-Shining Awareness that exists after death must also burn up. Even that is another concept held by the seeker – the seeker is always looking for something permanent. Whether you believe in the eternal soul, or eternal self-shining awareness, it is essentially the same belief.

Even awareness, consciousness and presence are seen to be concepts in the end.

Undeniably, life goes on. Millions of dinosaurs are born and die. Humans emerge. Fish, plants, trees, elephants come and go. A cat dies, rots, and maggots feed on its flesh. A human dies and their body is burnt – their ashes fertilise the soil. In this way, and in this way only, Life goes on. Everything else must be a projection of the individual. Why? Because it is in time. All talk of the time and the timeless – that is the ‘me’ talking.

How do I know? Well, in deep dreamless sleep, where are your concepts about life and death? In deep dreamless sleep, it is all obliterated. And then in the morning, the person reappears (this is the true resurrection, the true reincarnation!) with all their ideas about life and death, about past lives and reincarnation, about eternal presence and eternal souls and continuous existence. The person reincarnates, and reports on deep dreamless sleep. But it is a report, and it is not deep dreamless sleep. The report is the story.

Eternal souls? Eternal presence? Reincarnation? Rebirth? It is all as real as ‘you’ are.

I'm not saying your ideas are wrong, and mine are right.
I'm saying these ideas are as real as you are.

Discover how real 'you' are first...


Death? Where is death right now? Surely right now, all you can find is aliveness, life, the present appearance of everything right here and right now. Where is death? Death is always a projection, a story about something that will ‘happen’ in the future. But that story only ever happens right now.

Death is your story of death, and it happens now. Even a moment before what we call physical death (when the body ceases to function), there is only this – this aliveness, this presence. And upon what we call death, what falls away is the story, the story about someone who is dying, the story about someone who could die at all. What falls away upon death is death itself. And what is left? You have no way of knowing. ‘You’ have no way of knowing. ‘I’ have no way of knowing. Why? Because there is nothing to know. Death is nothing.

What may happen of course, is fear of death. What may happen, of course, moments before death, is pain. Let’s not deny the realities of this bodily existence. But fear and physical pain are simply expressions of life. There may be fear of death, but there is no death. There may be pain leading up to death, but there is no death.

Upon death, the one who fears, and the one who is in pain – where do they go? They don’t 'go' anywhere, because they never existed. There is nowhere to 'go' for a non-existent entity!

The one who is dying – where does he or she go upon death? They don’t ‘go’ anywhere – death is not a destination. Death is a thought.

They don’t ‘go’ anywhere, because there is only here, there is only now, and there was never anybody here separate from life.

Imagine a wave, 'moving through' the ocean. It approaches the shore (its apparent destination) and crashes onto it. The wave doesn't appear to be there any more. But has the wave 'gone' anywhere? Has the wave 'disappeared'? No, there was never a separate wave to begin with. It was never 'born' so it cannot really 'disappear'. There was only the ocean, appearing temporarily as a wave. The wave actually went... nowhere. There was no destination in the end, except the absence of the one who would 'reach' it. A non-existent wave cannot die...


So nobody dies. Nobody experiences death. What we experience is what we know. We experience what we know about death. But that which is beyond personal experience does not experience death. Discover what that is, and death becomes meaningless. Because all that’s left is this present livingness, with no concept of ‘that which is beyond life’. ‘That which beyond life’ is simply a concept appearing in life. As is ‘life’, by the way…

It will never be understood – and does not need to be. Why do you bother with death and reincarnation? Isn’t this present life enough for you? Why do you fear death? Why do you hope for reincarnation? Do you think the ‘next life’ will be better than this one? What if all of that is part of your seeking dream? What if it’s all just an excuse to ignore the gift of this present existence?

We are so busy fearing death and hoping for reincarnation, that we miss what is here. And here is the miracle to end all miracles. Here is the true death - death of the seeker, death of two. It is unconditional love, beyond the knowledge of it. It is not an event. It is intimacy, beyond time. It is there in the very foundations of your present experience. Outside of that, where is death?

And the strange thing is: when this – what is here – is seen for what it is, what is seen is that this – what is here – will be present upon death. And so death will not change anything, fundamentally. The body will cease to function, yes. But after that, there is nothing to know. What a relief. All that’s left – is to live. To really live this life. Because it’s all there is. And that's the miracle.

Death is the seeing-through of the story, which happens now. All that reincarnates is a story, which also happens now. Death and reincarnation are essentially part of the same movement – a movement of thought. Beyond thought, there cannot be any death or reincarnation.


That which is present upon death, is present right now.
Discover that, and there is no death.

How do I know?

I don’t.

That’s why it is known.

More clearly than anything....

And so I make a cup of tea, dunk in a biscuit, and beyond death or lack of it, all that's left is this Mystery... and cosmic gratitude for all of it.

I die as 'someone drinking a cup of tea' and reincarnate as 'someone drinking a cup of tea'. What difference?

Where I came from, where I will go back to, I have no way of knowing for myself, and therefore no way of experiencing. Beyond all belief, and beyond lack of belief, there is this Mystery, appearing as total simplicity. There is enough grace in the experience of this cup of tea to last a thousand imaginary lifetimes.

Death? Reincarnation? Duality? Nonduality? Sweet, innocent fairy tales, nothing more. And the arms of the beloved embrace all such tales, in the end.

And all of the above is just a very long-winded way of saying something very, very simple indeed:

Can death just be a mystery?


"I am not afraid of death,

I just don't want to be there when it happens."

- Woody Allen