Ma-tsu (709-788)

The Patriarch said to the assembly, “All of you should believe that your mind is Buddha, that this mind is identical with Buddha. The great master Bodhidharma came from India to China, and transmitted the One Mind teaching of Mahayana so that it can lead you all to awakening.  Fearing that you will be too confused and will not believe that this One Mind is inherent in all of you, he used the Lankavatara Sutra to seal the sentient beings’ mind-ground.  Therefore, in the Lankavatara Sutra, mind is the essence of all the Buddha’s teachings, no gate is the Dharma-gate.

“Those who seek the Dharma should not seek for anything.  Outside of mind there is no other Buddha, outside of Buddha there is no other mind.  Not attaching to good and not rejecting evil without reliance on either purity or defilement, one realizes that the nature of offence is empty: it cannot be found in each thought because it is without self-nature.  Therefore, the three realms are mind-only and ‘all phenomena in the universe are marked by a single Dharma.’  Whenever we see form, it is just seeing the mind. The mind does not exist by itself; its existence is due to form.

"Whatever you are saying, it is just a phenomenon which is identical with the principle.  They are all without obstruction and the fruit of the way to ‘bodhi’ is also like that.  Whatever arises in the mind is called form; when one knows all forms to be empty, then birth is identical with no-birth.  If one realizes this mind, then one can always wear one’s robes and eat one’s food.  Nourishing the womb of sagehood, one spontaneously passes one’s times: what else is there to do?  Having received my teaching, listen to my verse:

          The mind-ground is always spoken of,

                   Bodhi is also just peace.

              When phenonoma and the principle

                 Are all without obstruction,

              The very birth is identical with no birth.

A monk asked, “What is the cultivation of the Way?”

The Patriarch replied, “The Way does not belong to cultivation.  If one speaks of any attainment through cultivation, whatever is accomplished in that way is still subject to regress.”

The monk also asked, “What kind of understanding should one have in order to comprehend the Way?”

The Patriarch replied, “The self-nature is originally complete.  If one only does not get hindered by either good or evil things, then that is a person who cultivates the Way.  Grasping good and rejecting evil, contemplating sunyata and entering Samadhi-all of these belong to activity. If one seeks outside, one goes away from it.  Just put an end to all mental conceptions in the three realms.  If there is not a single thought, then one eliminates the root of birth and death and obtains the unexcelled treasury of the Dharma king.

“Since limitless kalpas, all worldly false thinking, such as flattery, dishonesty, self-esteem, and arrogance have formed one body.  That is why the sutra says, ‘It is only through the grouping of many dharmas that this body is formed.  When it arises, it is only dharmas arising; when it ceases, it is only dharmas ceasing.  When the dharmas arise, they do not say I arise; when they cease, they do not say, I cease.’

“The previous thought, the following thought, and the present thought, each thought does not wait for the others; each thought is calm and extinct.  This is called Ocean Seal Samadhi.  It contains all dharmas.  Like hundreds and thousands of different streams-when they return to the great ocean, they are all called water of the ocean.  The water of the ocean has one taste which contains all tastes.  In the great ocean all streams are mixed together; when one bathes in the ocean, he uses all waters.

“Some are awakened, and yet still ignorant; the ordinary people are ignorant about awakening.  Many do not know that originally the Holy Mind is without any position, without cause and effect, without stages, mental conceptions, and false thought.  By cultivating causes they attain the fruits and dwell in the Samadhi of emptiness from twenty to eighty thousand kalpas.  Though already awakened, their awakening is the same as ignorance.  All Bodhisattvas view this as suffering of the hells: falling into emptiness, abiding in extinction, unable to see the Buddha-nature.

“There might be someone of superior capacity who meets a virtuous friend and receives instructions from him.  If upon hearing the words he gains understanding, then without passing through the stages, suddenly he is awakened to the original nature.

 “It is in contrast to ignorance that one speaks of awakening.  Since originally there is no ignorance, awakening also need not be established.  All living beings have since limitless kalpas ago been abiding in the Samadhi of the Dharma-nature.  While in the Samadhi of  the Dharma-nature, they wear their clothes, eat their food, talk and respond to things.  Making use of the six senses, all activity is the Dharma-nature.  It is because of not knowing how to return to the source, that they follow names and seek forms, from which confusing emotions and falsehood arise, thereby creating various kinds of karma. When within a single thought one reflects and illuminates within, then everything is the Holy Mind.

“All of you should penetrate your own minds; do not record my words.  Even if principles as numerous as the sands of the Ganges are spoken of, the mind does not increase.  And if nothing is said, the mind does not decrease.  When there is speech, it is just your own mind.  Even if one could produce various transformation bodies, emit rays of light and manifest the eighteen transmutations, that is still not like becoming like dead ashes.

“If one is to speak about all expedient teachings of the tripitaka that the Tathagata has expounded, even after innumerable kalpas one still will not be able to finish them all.  It is like an endless chain.  But if one can awaken to the Holy Mind, then there is nothing else to do.  You have been standing long enough.  Take care!”

Ma-tsu (709-788)

From Sun-Face Buddha: The Teachings of Ma-Tsu and the Hung-Chou School of Ch'an-translated by Cheng Chien Bhikshu


Some pieces are overwhelming as we try to absorb the depth communicated.  Ma-tsu is delivering a sermon to monks who, just like us, have been practicing for various numbers of years.  Some are beginners; others have been meditating for years, but all are deeply impressed in the presence of such a master.

One key to hearing any teaching is to suspend that part of us that tries so hard to understand.  Just trust that you are receiving many levels of this message at once.  The implications of these ideas are far-reaching.  The discipline in any practice involves not only the commitment to meditation or physical prostrations involved in some practices, but also taking the teaching and staying with it long enough to allow it time to penetrate.

We so quickly feel we know what something means.  It is humbling to realize how superficial our understanding actually is.  This one sentence:

Whenever we see form, it is just seeing the mind. The mind does not exist by itself; its existence is due to form.

One could spend years with this as if it was a koan, which for some people, it truly can be.  Ma-tsu turns our light right back around in saying:

All of you should penetrate your own minds; do not record my words.

In any instant we can open; the key here is to stay awake for this journey.

With Enthusiasm,


I wrote this in Facebook in reply to a friend Din Robinson to whom Thusness wrote his "7 stages of experience" (originally 6) in 2006:

Din: "as soon as you take any action or any need for training, then you are perpetuating the myth of a "you" that exists in time and space, not that there's any wrong with that!"

My reply:

This is not true. This is as ridiculous as saying "as long as you take any action to keep fit, such as going to gym, then you are perpetuating the myth of a "you" that exists in time and space"


"as long as you take any action to pass your exams, such as studying hard, then you are perpetuating the myth of a "you" that exists in time and space"


"as long as you take any action to survive, such as eating and sleeping, then you are perpetuating the myth of a "you" that exists in time and space"


"as long as you take any action to cure your disease, such as seeing the doctor, then you are perpetuating the myth of a "you" that exists in time and space"

No-self/Anatta is not about denying thinking, action, carrying water and chopping wood... and this is the key difference between genuine anatta insight from dualistic conceptual understanding. The very notion that "action" and "intention" implies, or necessitates, an "actor", and therefore for non-action the intentions and actions must also cease, is precisely using dualistic thinking to understanding anatta...

Action never required a self (in fact there never was a self or a doer apart from action to begin with: only a delusion of one), and action does not need to perpetuate the myth of a self. The myth of a self is not exactly dependent on action or lack thereof. Sure, action that arises out of the dualistic sense of actor/act where there is an "I" trying to modify or achieve "that" is a form of action produced by ignorance. But not all actions necessarily arise out of an underlying sense of duality. If all actions arise out of a sense of duality, then after awakening one will just die as he cannot even feed himself.

When one is operating with a dualistic way of understanding, one thinks that action implies a self that is doing an act, and one thinks that non-action implies that the self ends with the action. But genuine insight into non-action is simply the realization that never was there a real actor behind action, so there is always in acting just that action - whole being is only the total exertion of action, and this is always already the case but not realized. That is true non-action - there is no subject (actor) performing an act (object).

Futhermore: The myth of a self is not dependent on practice and lack thereof. (Oh but, 'right practice' and 'contemplation' does a lot to deconstruct that myth!) The myth of a self is however dependent on ignorance, and only wisdom ends that ignorance, just like turning on the lights lead to the natural cessation of irrational fear and thinking of monster in the dark room by a child.

There is always only action without a doer. No doer does not deny action, it denies agency, and realization of such leads to the direct, immediate, experience of total exertion/total action where doer/deed is refined till none in one whole movement. There is nothing passive about non-action. Non-action is simply action without self/Self. All actions performed without sense of self/Self is in fact non-action. Without the subjective pole (actor), the objective pole in contrast to the subject (being acted upon) is also automatically negated. Yet clearly, the total exertion - pure action... goes on.

Dogen calls this practice-enlightenment. You do not practice For enlightenment (as some future goal separated from you). Your very practice of actualizing insight of anatta itself is practice-enlightenment. Sitting down is practice is actualization is Buddha-nature is enlightenment. Shitting too can be practice/actualization and that very act is Buddha-nature is enlightenment. Your very practice/actualization/act of just sitting, hearing the wind blowing, sight of scenery, walking on the street, chop wood carry water (without any delusion of self/Self) - that itself is practice-actualization-enlightenment, that is the total exertion where entire being is just entire sound, entire scenery, entire action.. This is non-dual practice and non-dual action.

Robert Dominik posted something interesting on Hua Yen teachings in my Facebook group "Dharma Connection".
From Garma C.C. Chang's "The Buddhist Teaching of Totality. The Philosophy of Hwa Yen Buddhism.":

One day Empress Wu asked Fa Tsang the following question: Reverend Master, I understand that man's knowledge is acquired through two approaches: one is by experience, the direct approach, and the other by inference, the indirect approach. I also understand that the first five consciousnesses and the Alaya only take the direct approach; whereas, the mind, or the sixth consciousness, can take both. Therefore, the findings of the conscious mind are not always trustworthy. The superiority and reliability of direct experience over indirect inference is taught in many scriptures. You have explained the Hwa Yen Doctrine to me with great clarity and ingenuity; sometimes I can almost 'See the vast Dharmadhatu in my mind's eye, and touch a few spots here and there in the great Totality. But all this, I realize, is merely indirect conjecture or guesswork. One cannot really understand Totality in an immediate sense before reaching Enlightenment. With your genius, however, I wonder whether you can give me a demonstration that will reveal the mystery of the Dharmadhatu including such wonders as the "all in one" and the "one in all," the simultaneous arising of all realms, the interpenetration and containment of all dharmas, the Non-Obstruction of space and time, and the like? After taking thought for a while, Fa Tsang said, "I shall try, your Majesty. The demonstration will ·be prepared very soon."

A few days later Fa Tsang came to the Empress and said, "Your Majesty, I am now ready. Please come with me to a place where the demonstration will be given." He then led the Empress into a room lined with mirrors. On the ceiling and floor, on all four walls, and even in the four corners of the room were fixed huge mirrors-all facing one another. Then Fa Tsang produced an image of Buddha and ·placed it in the center of the room with a burning torch beside it. "Oh, how fantastic! How marvelous!" cried the Empress as she gazed at this awe-inspiring panorama of infinite interreflections. Slowly and calmly Fa Tsang addressed her: Your Majesty, this is a demonstration of Totality in the Dharmadhatu. In each and every mirror within this room you will find the reflections of all the other mirrors with the Buddha's image in them. And in each and every reflection of any mirror you will find all the reflections of all the other mirrors, together with the specific Buddha image in each, without omission or misplacement. The principle of interpenetration and containment is clearly shown by this demonstration. Right here we see an example of one in all and all in one-the mystery of realm embracing realm ad infinitum is thus revealed. The principle of the simultaneous arising -of different realms is so obvious here that no explanation is necessary. These infinite reflections of different realms now simultaneously arise without the slightest effort; they just naturally do so in a perfectly harmonious way. . . . As for the principle of the non-obstruction of space, it can be demonstrated in this manner . . . (saying which, he took a crystal ball from his sleeve and placed it in the palm of his hand) . Your Majesty, now we see all the mirrors and their reflections within this small crystal ball. Here we have an example of the small containing the large as well as of the large containing the small. This is a demonstration of the non-obstruction of "sizes," or space. As for the non-obstruction of times, the past entering the future and the future entering the past cannot be shown in this demonstration, because this is, after all, a static one, lacking the dynamic quality of the temporal elements. A demonstration of the non-obstruction of times, and of time and space, is indeed difficult to arrange by ordinary means. One must reach a different level to be capable of witnessing a "demonstration" such as that. But in any case, your Majesty, I hope this simple demonstration has served its purpose to your satisfaction.


Garma C.C. Chang's "The Buddhist Teaching of Totality. The Philosophy of Hwa Yen Buddhism.":

"(...)we have found that the Totality and Non-Obstruction of Buddhahood are expressed in these terms:

1. That a universe can be infinitely vast or small depending on the scale of measurement, or the position from which a measurement is made.

2. That the "larger" universes include the "smaller" ones as a solar system contains its planets, or a planet contains its atoms. This system of higher realms embracing the lower ones is pictured in a structure extending ad infinitum in both directions to the infinitely large or the infinitely small. This is called in the Hwa Yen vocabulary the view of realms-embracing-realms.

3. That a "small" universe, (such as an atom) not only contains the infinite "lesser" universes within itself, but also contains the infinite "larger" universes (such as the solar system), thus establishing the genuine Totality of Non-Obstruction.

4. That "time" has lost its meaning as merely a concept for measuring the flow of events in the past, present, and future. It has now become an element of Totality which actualizes the total interpenetration and containment of all the events of past, present, and future in the eternal present.

5. Upon the grand stage of the infinite Dharmadhatu, countless various dramas of religion are being enacted in numerous dimensions of space/time throughout eternity.



Thusness: Is your experience beingness or maha suchness? (comments: on the term 'maha suchness' see Then in the most ordinary and mundane activities, every action is fully exerted.

Me: Yes, it is like universe activity... not drop of water dissolved into static beingness but oceanic activity in which drop and ocean is seamlessly arising.

Thusness: No sense of beingness anymore... that is good. Rather it is this maha suchness of total exertion in this immediate moment... yet empty. Mature this experience. Feel this maha suchness... until it becomes as natural as breathing.

Now you know the difference? Tell me the difference between anatta and this experience and what is exactly obscuring the smooth progress to this insight and experience?

Me: The dualistic agent may be gone but maha requires the replacement of inherent view with D.O. so that when you see this, you see that... you see everything as entirely seamless self-arising activity. Not just this but how this arise without self, this is, that is.

Thusness: Well said. First you must be left with only manifestation. Solely that. Then into the general [principle of] D.O. Before that, there is this mini sense of activity but will not be thorough. But you must make this a continuous practice and keep integrating the view of general D.O. to replace dualistic and inherent framework. Till even this view is also forgotten.

p.s. Yesterday a dream of clarity arose in conjunction with Thusness's visions and meditative experiences (due to karmic links this is not the first time it happened) regarding a drop of water placed in an ocean, upon hearing this phrase in the dream there was an immediate shift where dream dawns as non-dual clear light (without the dream dissolving into formless clear light) which is free from subject/object duality, boundless/oceanic, vividly intense, blissful and exhilarating.

A conversation that took place in Facebook, "Dharma Connection". Thusness commented that Kyle's posts are very well thought, structured and clear.

Kyle Dixon: "When you rest your attention in naturalness without thinking anything whatsoever and maintain constant mindfulness in that state, you may experience a vacant and blank state of mind which is neutral and indifferent. If no vipashyana of decisive knowing is present, this is exactly what the masters call 'ignorance'. It is also called 'undecided' from the point of being unable to express any means of identification, such as 'It is like this!' or 'This is it!' Being unable to say what you are remaining in or thinking of, this state is labelled 'ordinary indifference'. But actually, it is just an ordinary and nonspecific abiding in the state of the all-ground [Skt. ālaya, Tib. kun gzhi].

Although nonconceptual wakefulness has to be developed through this method of resting meditation, to lack the wisdom that sees your own nature is not the main part of meditation practice. This is what the 'Aspiration of Samantabhadra' says:

'The vacant state of not thinking anything

Is itself the cause of ignorance and confusion.' ...."

- Mipham Rinpoche

10 hours ago · Edited · Unlike · 4

Kyle Dixon: There's a difference between non-thought (or the suspension of thought) and recognizing primordial wisdom. Discerning vidyā and sems is a vital aspect of the teaching, however it's important not to fall into a trap where sems is rejecting sems (thought is rejecting thought), all that accomplishes is sustaining distraction (meaning breathing life into the delusion that a point of reference [subject] stands apart from thoughts [objects] which sequence consecutively in a given span of time and can be either accepted and/or rejected).

9 hours ago · Unlike · 3

Din Robinson: so how does the idea of present moment awareness fit in to this, since it's your nature as awareness itself that is present and still that notices all ideas and perceptions for what they are

9 hours ago · Like

Kyle Dixon: If awareness is held to be the 'stillness' which abides prior to (or behind) the 'movement' of thoughts, ideas, perceptions etc., then this is still upholding duality. Stillness and movement must be recognized to be non-dual, meaning awareness is only ever precisely the forms, thoughts, etc.

There's no thoughts/forms that are the same nor different than awareness, and no awareness that is the same nor different from thoughts/forms.

9 hours ago · Edited · Unlike · 4

Din Robinson: so how does the process (idea) of withdrawing identification with thoughts fit into this?

btw, the withdrawal of identification with thoughts is the same as withdrawal of identification with form, for me

9 hours ago · Like

Din Robinson: Kyle wrote:

"If awareness is held to be the 'stillness' which abides prior to (or behind) the 'movement' of thoughts, ideas, perceptions etc., then this is still upholding duality."

if awareness is held to be anything other than "what is" then there may be some IDEA or PERCEPTION of what awareness is, and then there is identification with ideas about what awareness is and this movement in tandem with thought, is identification with thought, it is making the content of thought (the meaning of thought) reality, instead of what already simply "is"

9 hours ago · Like

Kyle Dixon: It's a preliminary and tentative practice that aids in curbing habitual tendency. So practices like śamatha [shiné] help the individual to withdraw or 'step out' of the habit of identifying, grasping, clinging at thought. 99.999% of people are very caught up in thought and habits of grasping, so the withdrawal helps the individual to see that there is a wakefulness which is present whether the thought is there or not. It helps to begin the scrutinization of experience, evaluating the processes, cultivating discernment and discrimination.

However the point isn't to cling to the wakefulness either, so after that wakefulness has been identified, it's important to evaluate and scrutinize that wakefulness too. The wakefulness (or awareness) is 'stillness' which appears to abide apart from the forms and thought which move before it. The thoughts and forms are the 'movement'.

Once both stillness and movement have been successfully identified, it's then time to discover how stillness and movement are non-dual, by seeing how stillness and movement are imputations. If that is done correctly then the background substratum (stillness) is recognized to have been always empty, and the luminous forms of experience (movement) are also found to be empty. There is no duality, no dichotomy (apart from conventionality). Everything becomes the total exertion of the immediacy appearing to itself (not that there is an 'itself' the empty display is appearing to, 'appearing to itself' is just a way to designate the general state of affairs from the standpoint of that wisdom).

9 hours ago · Unlike · 4

Piotr Ludwiński: "IDEA or PERCEPTION of what awareness is" and that is preciesly the case in way you reify stillness to be inherent awareness. "since it's your nature as awareness itself that is present and still that notices all ideas and perceptions for what they are". Reifying non-conceptual thought aka "crystal clear stillness" as "Awareness" is still ignorance from buddhist point of view.

9 hours ago · Edited · Unlike · 1

Piotr Ludwiński: Unfortunately these golden chains... I mean that imputation and reification of non-dual experience of stillness in thought realm into nonumenon/subject/static mirror makes one unable to truly realize "three marks of existence"; impermanence, selflessness, unsatisfactoriness. Why it makes one unable to realize them? Since as soon as imputation of "awareness" is projected upon crystal clear stillness it serves as condition for golden chains; clinging to it as self, permanent, satisfactory. This is just exchanging one bondage for another. That non-dual experience of thoughtlessness is mistakenly clung to as "stillness" due to dualistic framework. Conceiving reality in polarities (stillness vs movement) we reifiy it as unmoving point of reference for all experience... Due to inherent and dualistic framework it is reified into Divine Presence/God, unmoving witness/mirror etc... Whiile that experience of stillness is like flow of a river... Unsatisfactory... Selfless... Impermanent. // "Ananda, you should know that this state of clarity is not real. It is like rapidly flowing water that appears to be still on the surface. Because of its rapid speed, you cannot perceive the flow, but that does not mean it is not flowing. If this were not the source of thinking, then how could one be subject to false habits?"

8 hours ago · Unlike · 1

Piotr Ludwiński: To sum it up: what is entirely conditioned and what is ignorance, imputation, an arrow in heart, cancer, bondage... is mistaken as unconditioned freedom. Sad situation; we are happy because we managed to exchange our rusty chains for golden ones! Identification/disidentification with thoughts is still in realm of dissociation and dualism, conceiving an agent, a being, self that is to identify or disidentify. Thoughts themselves must be embraced by vipassana and seen for what they are; substanceless self-aware activities without any observer, subject, agent, doer behind them. "Crystal clear stillness" too must be recognized as mere interdependently originated self-aware activity. In this way there is no more holding to stillness vs movement; "stillness" and "movement" are forgotten into naked non-dual experience without referencing to mirror /subject/source

8 hours ago · Unlike · 1

Piotr Ludwiński: We were lost in delusion of "movement" for so long that as soon as non-dual experience of non-conceptual thought takes place we instantly grasp this delusion of "stillness" as purest state and "true nature". From one deluded polarity to another deluded polarity. That is the "freedom" of abiding as imputed mirror. From bondage of person/emotions/thought/little self to bondage of "the presence"/dissociation/non-thought/Self. I wouldn't call this false liberation "our true nature".

8 hours ago · Edited · Unlike · 2

Din Robinson: yes, I see what you're saying Piotr, what our true nature is, is all of it, without any need to focus in on any particular aspect of it, nor needing not to, also!

8 hours ago · Like

Din Robinson: Kyle wrote:

"Once both stillness and movement have been successfully identified, it's then time to discover how stillness and movement are non-dual, by seeing how stillness and movement are imputations. If that is done correctly then the background substratum (stillness) is recognized to have been always empty, and the luminous forms of experience (movement) are also found to be empty..."

I tend to describe things from my own experience using as few concepts as possible, so would you agree that i am saying the same thing when i say that seeing all my "imputations" or thoughts for what they are, that is bringing all previously unconscious beliefs/perceptions into the clear light of present moment conscious awareness, is their "release" and all that's left is "what is" without any definition or interpretations clouding the "view"

or do you mean something different when you use the word "empty", because "empty" to me, just means "with no true reality to begin with"

8 hours ago · Like

Jackson Peterson: It's important to realize as these Dzogchen masters point out: that the thinking process is itself ignorance. Realizing this breaks the back of reliance upon thought. As Norbu and Dudjum Rinpoche both point out, between thoughts, the Dharmakaya as rigpa is shining nakedly. Tulku Urgyen teaches the exact same as Choki Nyima in the OP. Samsara is thinking or conceptualizing. If there is thinking the split between subject and object are always split. In absence of conceptualizing all that remains is non-dual awareness. What is not understood is that all experience is pure awareness. Experience is empty. The essential nature of emptiness is pure awareness. Emptiness is pure awareness and awareness is luminous emptiness. Thinking is also empty, recognizing the empty nature of thinking, is pure awareness. There is only pure awareness appearing, hence all experience being known.

7 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1

Jackson Peterson: Kyle Dixon:, no one is recommended a "blank state". Chokyi Nyima is not advocating that at all. He is just pointing out the cause of samsara. Actually samsara is itself the thinking process. Outside of the thinking process there is no suffering or samsara. Samsara is a day dream, that's all.

7 hours ago · Edited · Like

Din Robinson: Jackson wrote:

" In absence of conceptualizing all that remains is non-dual awareness."

all that remains before and after is "what is"

let's not put any other label on it other than that

otherwise the mind (thought process) may come in and want to attach some other meaning on it

7 hours ago · Like

Din Robinson: trying to nail this down feels like a dog chasing it's own tail

7 hours ago · Like

Jackson Peterson: From the relative side as created by thought, we wake from the dream of thinking. From the absolute side there is nothing the matter, but then dualism has already vanished. The absolute is self-manifesting as the relative, and this is done via the thought process. The Buddha plays in the relative via thought. Without thought the samsara vanishes.

7 hours ago · Like

Kyle Dixon: One's condition becomes afflicted with latent traces, karmic propensities and habitual tendencies which result from grasping and clinging. Imputation is indeed the third ignorance which forms the ālaya, however it takes the full force of authentic recognition to dispel that ignorance. Thought is only a support and driving force.

7 hours ago · Unlike · 3

Kyle Dixon: The dharmakāya being the 'space between thoughts' is only a preliminary pointer which serves the sole purpose of engendering confidence in the practitioner that wisdom will not be found elsewhere. That being said, it's true the dharmakāya can be found there, but the illusion of space between thoughts is still the ālaya. That is why ignorance cannot be dispelled simply by suspending thought.

Thinking and conceptualization are driving forces behind delusion, however it is much more subtle than samsara simply being 'thinking and conceptualization'.

Thinking does cause the subject-object dichotomy to arise, however in the absence of conceptualization that latent proclivity to grasp is still present. So even though 'non-dual awareness' is indeed one's basic condition, and therefore it's presence is implied in the absence of conceptualization, unless recognition of one's nature has occurred the 'underlying non-dual' condition is not fully apparent. Only prajñā can reverse or undo that affliction, without that wisdom, the mind's nature remains buried under subtle habits of perception and clinging even in the absence of thinking and conceptualization.

7 hours ago · Edited · Unlike · 4

Din Robinson: Kyle, I just saw this comment on another thread and think it fits perfectly here with your idea of imputation being the third ignorance:

"It's so interesting how meditators spend so much time thinking about thought. I've heard that Gautam Buddha up in heaven wishes he had never brought it up. Everyone wants to transcend and somehow having no thoughts is a popular goal. If you ever really touch the Emptiness, then you'll see what the Buddha really meant, and it has nothing to do with what you thought. It's more akin to fairies and comedians than to the holy seriousness a lot of people have. Rodney Dangerfield is spying on you!"

~John Levin

7 hours ago · Like · 1

Din Robinson: great comment Kyle

you wrote:

"Thinking does cause the subject-object dichotomy to arise, however in the absence of conceptualization that latent proclivity to grasp is still present."

yes, the need to grasp or grasping itself needs to leave the shadows of the unconscious and be seen in the clear light of conscious awareness, this is how prajna arises

is it not?

7 hours ago · Like

Kyle Dixon: Jackson, I wrote this before in a different thread on here in response to this same conversation:

That assumes that thoughts sequence consecutively in a linear fashion and that they arise and fall. The gap isn't Dharmakāya. Dharmakāya is recognizing the non-arising of thoughts and gaps.

Achieving a stable śamatha is important to sever (or decrease) the compulsory habit of conceptualization, but simply increasing that space between thoughts is nothing more than a stable śamatha. Yes you marry the śamatha with vipaśyanā but whether it is wisdom or ignorance makes all the difference. The true vipaśyanā is resting in vidyā (as you know because I've seen you mention it).

Thoughts sequencing consecutively with gaps in between is still a subtle structuring of ignorance. The illusion of a space abiding between apparent occurrences is partly responsible for the idea of an entity (or capacity) which exists in time and is subject to experiences in the first place. When mentation is recognized to be the immediate and disjoint clarity itself, then it's suddenly realized there was never a space between thoughts (beyond conventionality) and the foundation for the chain of conceptualization and cyclic existence is undone. Only then does the primordially non-arisen display of wisdom become fully apparent.

"Were that which is apprehended through the intoxicated conceptual-constructions of sentient beings factually true, then they would be on a par with the liberated Arhats who conceive not of this 'Existence.' Since, however, they are tormented by suffering and slain by time, it is obvious that they are [caught up] in something false."

- Mañjuśrīmitra

7 hours ago · Unlike · 3

Kyle Dixon: Din, I agree with that John Levin quote, although I would say it does have to do with what we think, it's just that what we think isn't the entire crux of the issue. It gets subtler, but addressing thinking and conceptualization is important.

7 hours ago · Like · 1

Din Robinson: the way i see it Kyle, is that if we never touched another thought, we could laugh our way into eternity

7 hours ago · Like

Kyle Dixon: Right but what is it that would never touch another thought? This whole issue comes about because thought is objectifying thought, so if we say never touching another thought would resolve the problem, this still assumes there is something that can accept or reject thought. The idea is to see that 'thought objectifying thought' is the culprit, along with the various implications, tendencies, proclivities, habits, propensities etc., which arise as a direct result of that error.

7 hours ago · Like · 4

Jackson Peterson: Kyle thought is the manifestation of karma,and karma is the result of thought, its a loop. Thinking is the software language of samsara. Without thinking, the software can't function. Rigpa or the Original Mind is the operating system.

7 hours ago · Edited · Like

Din Robinson: Kyle, I really like your last post, it shows that my personal experience is still just a "story" being told, and that "what is" is totally free whether i realize it or not

7 hours ago · Edited · Like

Din Robinson: no matter how hard i try, i still feel better not doing anything at all, it just feels right!

7 hours ago · Like

Kyle Dixon: The underlying substratum that seems to abide apart from thought is actually an illusion created by the supposition that thoughts are relating to each other in time. So thought B is supposing that it follows thought A etc., and then thought B will even suppose it can refer to thought A, but by the time that's occurring it's thought C. None of them ever touch, no two thoughts are ever present together in the immediacy, so a thought isn't referencing anything, it's an illusion. Even the idea that there is more than one thought! That very idea creates the notion that there is a space between them etc. Only ever the immediacy, the thought phenomena is the full exertion of clarity in the moment and is never located anywhere.

6 hours ago · Unlike · 1

Din Robinson: "This whole issue comes about because thought is objectifying thought, so if we say never touching another thought would resolve the problem, this still assumes there is something that can accept or reject thought. The idea is to see that 'thought objectifying thought' is the culprit, along with the various implications, tendencies, proclivities, habits, propensities etc., which arise as a direct result of that error"

is this your own experience Kyle?

6 hours ago · Like

Din Robinson: btw, i really like this:

"The idea is to see that 'thought objectifying thought' is the culprit, along with the various implications, tendencies, proclivities, habits, propensities etc., which arise as a direct result of that error"

6 hours ago · Like

Kyle Dixon: Din, it's everyone's experience, it just isn't apparent. The line of reasoning behind that is what I just wrote above though, with the thought A, B, C, and how they are creating the illusion of time and an enduring substratum etc. Time itself is one of the thoughts, but more so than an imputing thought (i.e. concept), 'time' is an illusion supported by the phenomena we'd refer to as 'memory' as well. So our notion of time also depends on memory, or thought-images, (I'd say mental images but there's truly no psyche or mind that these are belonging to, they themselves create the illusion of psyche and mind).

6 hours ago · Edited · Unlike · 2

Jackson Peterson: What is being ignored in your model Kyle as described is brain function and how thoughts connect through various neural pathways in the brain and how these pathways become patterns of thought and behavior. Every thought has a corollary in brain activity. Our actions originate in subconscious processes that "reveal" the intention in consciousness along with the soft-ware program that makes the surface consciousness believe it is "originating" or "thinking" these thoughts and intentions itself. No one is choosing thoughts or actions to do or not do. Its all just happening without a "controller", based on conditioning and sensory perception being driven by the overall urge to survive and reproduce. There is actually a very complex "mind" in place that operates through many hierarchies of programming. Its called the human brain.

6 hours ago · Edited · Like

Kyle Dixon: Din, These types of subtle evaluative gymnastics are actually what brought about one of my more intense peak experiences which revealed anatta. That is why (in addition to being a proponent of non-analytical meditations) I'm a big proponent of analytical investigations, because they too can bring about cessation. And the thing is that dzogchen is as well, if you read some of the main texts that are implemented such as the Yeshe Lama etc., attempting to pinpoint the place of arising, abiding and ceasing of a thought is one of the practices taught to induce recognition of the mind's nature.

I myself actually followed what Greg Goode, had suggested with evaluating thought. His line of reasoning went like so: if there can only ever be one thought at any given moment, then there cannot be two. If there cannot be two thoughts in any given moment, then how can there even be one? I grokked that deeply and in addition to understanding that there was no thinker of thoughts, no feeler of feelings etc. And by the good graces of other merit I had been accumulating through regular practices at the dzogchen center I go to, and regular śamatha along with the blessings of my guru Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche and guidance of my mentor Rangjung Rigdzin, plus Greg for that investigative practice... I was fortunately able to bring that recognition about.

6 hours ago · Unlike · 5

Kyle Dixon: Jackson, I don't put too much weight in the whole 'brain' and neural pathway model, it's a little too materialist for me, but if it works for you then that's wonderful!

6 hours ago · Like

Jackson Peterson: Your brain did it Kyle... with a little help from your friends...

6 hours ago · Like

Jackson Peterson: We can't ignore the brain model when we see how certain drugs can completely effect our thought processes, moods, actions or brain injuries or tumors.

6 hours ago · Like

Jackson Peterson: The real practice of becoming free of thinking is simply seeing the emptiness of thoughts as they arise, that emptiness is itself the Nature of Mind.

6 hours ago · Like

Joel Agee: Kyle: "I myself actually followed what Greg Goode had suggested with evaluating thought. His line of reasoning went like so: if there can only ever be one thought at any given moment, then there cannot be two. If there cannot be two thoughts in any given moment, then how can there even be one? I grokked that deeply . . ." -- I don't get this. Can you help me understand it?

57 minutes ago · Like

Kyle Dixon: Joel, for me it had to do with examining the immediate moment very thoroughly and keeping a steady focus on the immediate now, now, now, and what constitutes the immediacy. So the direct experience of the moment is only ever precisely what is immediately apparent. The notion that anything did (or didn't) come prior is only ever a thought in the direct immediacy. Likewise the notion that anything does (or doesn't) come after is only ever a thought directly occurring. The thought which is directly occurring never points outside of itself, it may appear to suggest any number of things, but in truth the thought is precisely what is occurring now and the now is not different than the thought.

So if the thought is only what is occurring now, and now is only the thought, the immediate thought has no access to any other thoughts, because there are none, nothing is occurring except for what is presently occurring and since the present is only exactly what is occurring, it cannot get outside of itself. In order for a thought to be a thought (a singular entity) it would need a reference point to gauge it against and it would need multiple manifestations or versions of itself for it to be established in anyway. But that is impossible due to the fact that the full exertion of the direct immediacy is only the immediately apparent thought. The immediate thought may point to (or suggest) the existence (or non-existence) of other thoughts, but in truth, because no two thoughts ever meet in the immediacy, the present thought which suggests the existence of another thought, points nowhere and to nothing, not even itself.

If there can't be two thoughts in the immediacy, because of the fact that thought never sequences in a consecutive line of thoughts, the immediate exertion can tentatively be treated as the only occurrence, nothing has ever come prior, nothing ever comes after, there is no history, there is a thought that is simply primordial exertion, there is primordial exertion that is simply a thought. For there to be one, there must be more (or less) than one, but there is no reference point. For the syllables which even create the idea of 'one' meaning 'one' or 'thought' meaning 'thought' another thought must be referenced, but the 'other' thought which is referenced is nowhere because it is precisely the immediate exertion.

So the phenomena which is thought then says nothing, the sound is a series of syllables, they signify nothing, they point to nothing, no more meaningful than any other sound, if the thought speaks, the car door shutting speaks, if the thought communicates, the white noise of the fan in the background communicates. Where is 'one'? Where is 'two'? The totality of the timeless immediacy never reaches outside itself, and within it's unborn exertion nothing ever occurs.

There's a book by Mark Twain called the Mysterious Stranger, which explores the experience of Satan. And there is a quote by Satan that is very fitting to this:

"Life itself is only a vision, a dream. Nothing exists except empty space and you, and you, are but a thought."
May 12 at 2:15pm via mobile · Edited · Unlike · 7
Joel Rosenblum: I remember having the realization, while attempting to find the beginning to samsara, that the beginning was thought. And thought was like a an explosive virus. However, Buddha was right to admonish against such investigations, because it did drive me temporarily insane.
May 12 at 3:06pm · Like · 1
Joel Rosenblum: Kyle, I never had a class in logic and if I had I probably would have failed it, but the very fact that I don't have the working memory space to understand what you are saying seems to disprove your point that only one thought can exist in consciousness at a time. Psychology has proven that we can hold an average of 3-4 thoughts in consciousness simultaneously. If you could only hold one thought at a time you would not be very functional. But perhaps I misread you.
May 12 at 3:46pm via mobile · Like
Serge Sönam Zaludkowski: @Joel, "Psychology has proven that we can hold an average of 3-4 thoughts in consciousness simultaneously"
That's not what Abhidharma says. I would be curious to have a short explanation about the way to hold more than one thought at the same instant? There is only one continuum.
May 12 at 4:09pm · Like
Jackson Peterson: The Dalai Lama commented recently that "Brain science has proven that the descriptions in the Abhidharma are wrong. We have to be open to what science teaches as the Buddha would recommend."
May 12 at 5:36pm · Like
Jackson Peterson: During a thought, there is always something present beyond the thought itself. The total exertion is not just the thought being presented, but rather an open or empty cognitive aspect from which the exertion is itself just a representation. Missing the depth of that cognitive aspect is to assume there are just "thoughts happening in emptiness" which is a nihilistic view. When that open emptiness is fully explored it is known to be the Ground of Being that can't be reified beyond our "current thought" which is itself empty.
May 12 at 5:42pm · Like
Kyle Dixon: What aspect of brain science is proving what aspect of abhidharma wrong? That begs the question though of what suppositions or paradigms may be influencing that notion? Brain science as a science does nothing to explain how consciousness functions, if anything brain science is restricted to the confines of the brains functioning as it's interpreted within the mechanical paradigm that dominates science this day in age. Abhidharma in and of itself has never claimed to be an exact concrete science, it's merely a methodology which has been formulated around the efficacy of the dharma and it's goal of liberating beings. I don't see how the two could even begin to conflict. And further, since the dharma is constructed to self-implode it leaves no residue other than liberation, emptiness is empty, nothing's left to hold onto. If you lay that aside and decide modern western science is going to somehow compensate for that (or improve upon it) you are most likely selling yourself short in my opinion. Science is a great supplement, but can't be a replacement.
May 12 at 5:49pm via mobile · Like · 5
Kyle Dixon: Jackson, if that's the interpretation you came away with after reading that explanation; (thoughts happening in emptiness at the expense of cognizance), then you've completely misunderstood.
May 12 at 5:58pm via mobile · Like
Greg Goode: Joel writes, "Psychology has proven that we can hold an average of 3-4 thoughts in consciousness simultaneously."

Joel, you also mention logic, and yes, what Kyle is talking about here is the process of a few logical grokkings. It is powerful for those with affinities to this approach. But it certainly isn't everyone's cup of tea. Isn't it good that there are many other ways to come to peace?

Anyway, in psychology, the mental activity is divided into several supposedly simultaneous thoughts based on the supposed simultaneous presence of different objects of thought.

For example, it seems like you can see something, hear something and smell something at the same time. It seems like the objects are all out there, sending signals, and the data is streaming in over 3 or 4 different channels into the central receiver at one time.

I have some pretty detailed experiments about this in my book called The Direct Path, including what happens when you are sitting down drinking coffee while watching a fireworks display. In direct experience, what is really happening?

That exercise takes place in the book after it is already deeply understood that there are no "external" objects whatsoever directly experienced to exist apart from awareness. And there are no sense organs to serve as conduits of transmission either, since they are merely additional physical objects.

When that is the case, then it makes no sense to individuate thoughts by the external objects they supposedly have. In the direct path, a thought is never experienced to have a true object. (a thought may claim that there are objects, but separate objects are never experienced.) It's quite radical - the very idea that vision sees something external such as a color is itself merely a thought. But in direct experience, it is not that way. You never have independent access to any color apart from seeing. And yet you would need independent access in order to certify that vision is actually "seeing" the object. Otherwise, how can you be sure that vision, and the object, are matching up the way we think? We never have more than a thought that says so. We can't stand between vision and colors and prove the link.

So then the question becomes,

Is it four simultaneous thoughts?


One thought claiming "four simultaneous objects"?
May 12 at 6:09pm · Like · 5
Serge Sönam Zaludkowski: Impression of simultaneity is not simultaneity. If you (are able to) isolate "instant", only one thought take place in it ... but instant after instant may let the impression of simultaneity.
@Jax, dont throw the water with the baby, SSDL did'nt say precisely to do so.
May 12 at 7:35pm · Edited · Like
Jackson Peterson: Kyle Dixon:, HHDL didn't expound further...
May 12 at 7:32pm · Like
Jackson Peterson: I think for balance, it is good to not be too focused on just the phenomena of thought as being THE hot topic regarding liberation and insight etc. The nature of the cognitive presence ever-present is really most important, don't you think?
May 12 at 7:35pm · Like
Serge Sönam Zaludkowski: it happens so ...
May 12 at 7:36pm · Like
Jackson Peterson: Kyle Dixon:, you are creating an unnecessary dichotomy between the mind and the brain. Slight changes in brain chemistry or through magnetic resonance, can inhibit the ability to think, to think clearly or to be inundated with overwhelmingly strange thoughts and hallucinations. We also know through MRI that there are approx. nine typical centers in the brain that simultaneously become active and inter-communicate during the sense of "egoistic selfing". Interrupting that pattern effects the degree of sense of self present. So the brain is involved with all cognitive processes. We need to realize that the Dharmakaya expresses what we are through the dependently arisen electro-chemical changes in the brain. However there is an even higher functioning brain within the brain. I call it the quantum brain. It is this mind that interfaces between the classically functioning brain and the spiritual dimension as concretely experienced as ESP: telepathy, clairvoyance and radical moments of synchronicity on the macro level. The quantum brain most likely is embedded in the brain tissue, within cell structures within each neuron known as micro-tubules. Each brain cell has over a million of these. Research is showing that "quantum" processes are involved in how certain processes like information sharing required during mitosis occur. Further, cells throughout the body may be co-communicating via this quantum signaling completely outside of neural pathways. Japanese researchers have found that certain hair-like cilia in lung tissue may actually be acting as antennae for sending and receiving these quantum signals. These quantum antennae may even receive quantum signals from other organisms.

It is through the quantum brain the brain signals are converted into what we call conscious thoughts and come into "consciousness" through the main quantum brain system: our chakra system and Light Channels. By enhancing and activating the chakras and "inner lamps", we completely transform our consciousness into the non-local quantum state and likewise download quantum signals downward into the physical brain hence modifying its operating system. When we die the quantum system detaches from the physical brain and we enter the non-local quantum dimension that some call the bardo. You know the rest of the story. Do understand the role of the brain, its hugely involved in all conscious and subconscious processes.
May 12 at 10:36pm via mobile · Like
Joel Rosenblum: I just want to know Kyle how you can explain that only one thought can be attended to or "known to exist" at one time and yet explain working memory. I think you are looking at the attentive process in a limited way. True, you can do vipassana and notice the "mind moment waves" one at a time, but here we are producing the effect by our will. Just as in the dual nature of light, so too are all things both discrete and continuous depending on how we choose to perceive them. When you perceive each mind moment individually, disjoint from all other mind moments, you gain dispassion for identifying with the mind stream's moments. But you aren't very functional within duality unless you can also see the mind moments as fluid and grouped.
Monday at 9:42am via mobile · Edited · Like
Greg Goode: Joel, you ask how Kyle (or anyone?) can explain functional memory if it's only one thought at a time. Or how a person can function... Kyle's model comes from the direct path. These things aren't explanations or theories according to the direct path. They are a matter of direct experience, which is global awareness itself. In fact, when ex platoons and persons have been seen through and experienced for what they really are, then explanations are no longer needed, and no longer possible either. Functioning is better than ever before. I was able to learn to ride a brake less bike in the city, and rollerblade with no brakes also - after these deep insights. And this is saying way too much, because this sounds like an explanation and it's not.

In fact, one of the most powerful realizations in the direct path is that memory is absolutely unverifiable.

But this deep realization does not prevent one from going along with psychological theories in the collegial sense. Just like Sri Atmananda had no belief in events or people or laws, but he functioned in law enforcement by say and taught the direct path in the evenings.

There is no necessary problem unless a thought says so.... And even then, it's just the claim of a thought....
Monday at 11:01am via mobile · Like
Greg Goode: iPhone autocorrect. - not ex platoons, but explanations!
Monday at 11:02am via mobile · Like · 1
Joel Rosenblum: Greg, your post itself is interesting because you talk about how great your functioning is now that you are awake and yet you fail to directly address the question that you at first seemed to be attempting to address. So although you may be more functional in some ways, the way I see it, you are not fully integrated. And of course what I say may sound equally absurd to you. But since you and Kyle are both trying to awaken others, and to teach awakening, it may be useful for you to consider how what you say is perceived by those you are trying to teach. I understand that reality is infinite paradox. Adyashanti says that one can gauge one's level of awakening by the degree of comfort they have with paradox. Perhaps my role here in this convo was simply to offer the other side of things, the dualistic side, to remind you that dualism is just as real as non-dualism. Can you dig that or does it make you uncomfortable?
Monday at 11:55am via mobile · Like
Greg Goode: I can dig it, and love paradox. I would be the last to try to privilege one way or view over another. If it comes across that way, I apologize! Can you ask your question again in a different way?
Monday at 11:58am · Like
Joel Rosenblum: Well, honestly when I re-read my question it almost sounds like I am just trying to pick a fight. Perhaps it is I who needs to let go here. I don't like to read what I consider nonsense (ie we can ONLY hold one thought at a time), but then again, this isn't about me. If you believe you we can only hold one thought at a time, why should I argue? Probably I am making you and Kyle into straw men, anyway. This is all so tangential. Sorry.
Monday at 12:12pm via mobile · Like
Greg Goode: You know, there is one interesting thing about this "one-thought" idea that I find a bit remarkable. Advaita and Buddhism when they get into their psychology and stuff actually agree about one-at-a-time. In the midst of disagreeing about so much else!

But then they go deeper into their inquiries, and neither path really maintains a serious commitment to thought. It is sort of left behind by their realizations. Thought is seen through as anything that happens in an objective, truly real way. So their teachings about thought functioned at a stage of explication only.

Other teachings have other things to say about thought.

These days, more Buddhists and a few Advaitins seem to be talking to psychologists and brain scientists. People seem open to learning from each other. I like this, and if folks don't end up in agreement and there seems to be incommensurability and paradox, that is OK too. I find a sort of pluralistic joy in that diversity.....
Monday at 1:25pm · Edited · Like · 6
Kyle Dixon: Joel, I can dig it too, I enjoy the skeptic approach and I enjoy my point of view being challenged, evaluated, taken apart etc., so kudos to you. And see it's hard for me to grasp how there could be more than one thought at a time so I find the proposition intriguing.

The last thing I want is for someone to agree with me though, I value the diversity in views. And there's so many great ways to approach these topics how can we ever insist one way is the 'truth'? The teachings need to be flexible to work with the individual. Formulating a rigid structure and insisting that's the only way is a death sentence for these teachings. Not everyone is the same. If clothing or shoe companies only made one size for everyone they would fail, it's the same with these practices and teachings, the route needs to match the capacity, interest, passion of the individual otherwise the passion will die and the interest will be lost.
Monday at 1:06pm via mobile · Edited · Like · 4
Joel Rosenblum: Amen, Kyle and Greg. I bow to you.
Monday at 2:03pm · Like · 1
Ville Räisänen: Good thread! isn't this one-thought-at-time a matter of concentration? I remember that in my zen days (that might not be over) I used to count breaths and watch the other thoufhts same time? And I didn't loose the count. Then I asked about this for the teacher and there was no real understanding. So if you concentrate to have only one thought, you can find it. Where it leads? To one-pointed samadhi. Otherwise there actually can happen simultaneous thoughts that can be regocnized like "brain acts like different windows in your computer screen".
Monday at 10:10pm · Like
Ville Räisänen: Not brain. maybe say consciousness or awareness that regocnizes.
Monday at 10:11pm · Like
Jackson Peterson: When we realize the empty nature of thoughts we realize no single thought or multiple thoughts have ever arisen. The single thought is beyond thought and contains the totality of experience. The luminous nature has no edge or border, and cannot be divided up in any way anymore than we can divide the sky or space into this single space and that multiple space.
Monday at 11:00pm via mobile · Like · 1
Ville Räisänen: What is the single thought beyond thought? makes no sense to me at all
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Tuesday at 7:29am · Like · 2 · Remove Preview
Jackson Peterson: This "single thought" is symbolic of all appearance.
Tuesday at 9:15pm · Like · 1
Viorica Doina Neacsu: Great thread! Thank you
Tuesday at 11:15pm · Like · 1
Joel Agee: Kyle, thanks a lot for your very clear explanation regarding Greg’s “never-more-than-one-thought” experiment. I contemplated it in a sustained way during a long flight from L.A. to NY, and have done it again in shorter sessions several times since. I can see how keeping it going would result in a profound release of the habit of “thought reifying thought.”

You ended your post with the words of Mark Twain’s Satan: “Life itself is only a vision, a dream. Nothing exists except empty space and you, and you are but a thought.” Maybe I’m missing something, but to me, the exercise reveals life as a constant flashing-forth of vital unforeseen instants, disjoint in their particularity, yet miraculously coherent and ordered. If the last were not the case, Greg wouldn’t be able to sail through New York City traffic on brakeless rollerblades -- as a body, not just a thought -- and you would not be able to write such a lucid series of sentences.
17 hours ago · Like
Greg Goode: Who says that Greg or Kyle are really doing that stuff?? What is "really" going on - that's precisely part of the point... How can any description or object be taken wholly literally, even for things with high degrees of "reality effect" such as streets and rollerblades? The "thought" discourse is self-deconstructing, it's a teaching device which doesn't make the final cut....
17 hours ago · Edited · Like · 1
Joel Agee: I understand that Greg and Kyle aren't doing that stuff. I'm just saying that that stuff is not adequately described by "empty space and an I-thought." Again, am I missing the point? Sorry I'm so dense!
16 hours ago · Like · 1
Greg Goode: Well Joel Agee:, there are a few steps in between ! The lvicabulary of space and thought doesn't have the purpose of adequately describing the actives of everyday life. For that kind of adequate description, we have the vocabulary of ... everyday life!

That brings up the question, "OK, so how does one come to experience (what some people call) rollerblading as nothing other than awareness?

That's what the direct path is so good at doing. One proceeds openly, sincerely, via direct experience. One looks at a set of rollerblades, or a teacup, or the hard, asphalt street, and comes to experience deeply that there is no street present apart from an exapnse of color and a feeling of hardness or whatever sensations seem to represent a street. Apart from the sensations, there is no street directly experienced.

Here is a radical realization: because there is no getting between the sensation and the street to see that one points to the other, one realizes that there is no sense in which one is sensing the street. That street-object is simply not present in direct experience.

Similarly for the texture, hardness and color. They are not experienced directly apart from the modalities of touch and vision. So there is no experienced separate object that vision SEES. Vision isn't directly experienced as having an object.

Then for vision itself. Vision is never experienced independently from witnessing awareness. There is no other access to vision. So it isn't directly experienced that we witness vision. Vision IS witnessing awareness.

One does this for each sense in turn, then for supposed combinations of senses, then for movement, then for different objects, then for other "body"-type physical objects, then one's "own" body.

After this is thoroughly investigated, there is no more independent physicality. No more material with which to separate or partition bubbles of awareness.

Then one begins to look at the mind and the subtle worlds...

You see where this is going - to awareness, the sum and substance of all experience.

This becomes one's living experience. This is why it isn't so simple to conclude that One is rollerblading!
15 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3
Kyle Dixon: Joel, and the other half of that investigation would be what Greg is discussing here. You would turn to the rest of experience and evaluate it the same way you did thought. And in addressing experience you may take each sensory experience gradually, for example; object-to-sensory modality, the sensory modality-to-awareness. Or you may not it just depends. You may be able to intuit how the display is the full exertion in the immediacy.

In evaluating phenomena, see that objects are merely shape, color etc., as Greg mentioned, and that those shapes and colors do not actually create anything apart from appearance. Coupling that with the insight you gain from the thought-investigation, you'll see that there is no object which endures through time, simply an empty display which is only ever the exertion of the immediacy. We conventionally attribute origination and substance to the display as objects etc., but upon scrutiny they are unfounded. So full exertion, nothing coming nor going, in being disjoint; spatiality, distance, movement etc., are simply translating fluctuation in pattern etc., nothing underlies the sheer appearance.

Greg has said that the direct path does allow awareness to self-destruct after one has reached that point, allowing for a total collapse. But whether it collapses via it's own accord or you take a different route it must be addressed in one way or another. If an alternate route is implemented, it is important to be sure that awareness is approached the same way as thought and other phenomena. Recognize that it cannot be found or located apart from the empty display of the immediacy's exertion. It's important to allow for a freedom from extremes, so no remainder should be left over. No awareness is established within or beyond the display.

And so therein lies the metaphor in that quote. In the absence of extremes and reference points, when the entirety of the moments timeless display is unable to reach beyond itself. There is an ungraspability, no way to cling or pin anything down. In the absence of extremes there is no coming nor going, here nor there, up nor down, and then the emptiness of even those extremes just mentioned. Just like space. So there is empty space and you, and 'you', 'I', 'me' etc., is just a thought, so not even that applies beyond conventionality.
14 hours ago via mobile · Edited · Unlike · 2
Greg Goode: One more thing - the direct path works best if it is done in order, from the gross to the subtle. People love to begin with thought ane feeling. But if one enters there before investigating the body, then it will be felt as though thoughts are arising in the body. This will place a stumbling block in the way of realizing the higher witness and later nondual awareness, since it will seem as though awareness is limited to this body only. That is where you get lots of the psychology-sounding nondual teachings. The insight and discourse is stuck at the "mind" level and has no way of transcending that implicit, unacknowledged, separative and dualistic structure.

So in all my years of helping people with the direct path, I've found the investigation into thought to be much easier and straightforward for people than the investigation into physicality and the body. It's only the body or something very like it that could serve as an imagined container or separator for awareness. Even the mind is usually understood in subtle physical and spatial terms most of the time. One must get past this in the inquiry. So even if one deconstructs thought into awareness but hasn't deconstructed physicality, then one doesn't really transcend solipsism. And that can be a very frightening and nihilistic place. I'm afraid that a lot of awareness-style nondual teachings end up there.....
13 hours ago · Edited · Like · 5
Jackson Peterson: I really like that Greg Goode:, what a great summary! I am going to share that! However, I fear what Kyle added may be misunderstood that only a "thought" of a "me" is what defines what "you" actually are, that appears in empty space. We can come to a "non-being" as actually an imputation stemming from "no self" insights, especially intellectually. This is a type of "nihilism" which in itself is an "extreme".
Rather I have found that, that "space" is itself "Being", the Being of Non-Being. Being and Non-Being are always one reality. When the exertion of Non-Being moves in the bias of "Being" it can easily evolve into "being a something". If right at this point the "exertion" self-releases its materializing dynamic, a relaxing back into the bliss of Non-Being occurs and the transparent unity of Being as Non-Being comes into balance energetically. This release of the materializing dynamic exertion, is the result of the awareness present as Being, self-recognizes its "empty nature" as Non-Being. To get to this level of very subtle practice one first passes through the lower harmonic of realizing "no-self" and the unity of self and no-self as both being empty. A huge and vast openning can occur at this point that reveals the higher harmonic of Being in Non- Being. But the error can occur where the aspect of "Non-Being" can be latched unto. In such a case one feels the only possible "beingness" would be simply a thought of "identity" as a "me" or an "I" appearing in the empty space of Non-Being. When seen fully we see that "awareness" is itself the Light of Being/Non-Being, not something that can be further deconstructed.
6 hours ago · Edited · Like
Kyle Dixon: I clearly said a freedom from extremes, and you therefore misinterpreted what I wrote. As for the rest, you're substantiating and clinging to awareness as usual and your argument doesn't make sense.
6 hours ago · Edited · Like · 1
Jackson Peterson: Kyle Dixon:, my argument doesn't make sense to you because its not yet seen that the primal Clear Light state is a condition of Being/Non-Being in total transparency and that the vividness of experience is itself awareness self-shining as the experience. This is the dynamic exertion of Being/Non-Being as Clear Light Awareness and is what is "Knowing". That ever present "Knowing Awareness" is the "Being" side of emptiness and is irreducible as basic Luminosity Clarity. You can't deconstruct it! That very effort at deconstruction is the action of "Knowing Awareness" itself. Not knowing this you miss the whole point of the Third Turning of the Wheel and reduce Dzogchen to a hinayana attachment to a nihilistic "no self" view.
6 hours ago · Like
Kyle Dixon: It actually doesn't make sense because it's just word salad about 'being' and 'non-being'.
6 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
Kyle Dixon: Emptiness isn't a capacity, or a something which 'knows' or has 'a being side'. Knowing and 'having a being side' are empty, and emptiness is empty.
6 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
Jackson Peterson: Yes, indeed Kyle Dixon:, it is just "word salad" until "Seen" and that "Seeing" only is served after the salad and main course, as the dessert. It seems you are still nibbling on "word salad" instead of seeing that what you think is just the salad, is actually already the "dessert"!
6 hours ago · Like
Kyle Dixon: Your argument is simply reifying awareness and then sticking an 'unestablished being/non-being' label on the package in hopes that people will buy it.
6 hours ago via mobile · Edited · Like · 1

Piotr Ludwiński (a 19 year old Polish who frequents my Facebook group, Dharma Connection) described one month ago his realization of anatta and mind-body drop-off.


Jackson, what was meant in my post by "we simply don't find any basis"? It meant that no "nothing", no "space", no "thing", no "it", no "who", no "spiritual beingness", no "Self", no "The Awareness", no "Source", no "Mirror", no "non-dual Knower" is found apart from ignorance

"Nibbana is, but not the man that enters it,"
~ Visuddhimagga XIX

That aware space you mention so much, Jackson, I have recognized (I've pursued direct path of self-enquiry). I've reached direct realization of "what is your original face" as shapeless, self-cognizing radiance. Self-knowing space-like presence.

That realization of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss when there is no distance between "me" and Existence-Consciousness-Bliss took place. When one realizes there is no "ME and Existence-Consciousness Bliss", but only self-knowing Existence-Consciousness-Bliss it is effortless, unfabricated, non-conceptual and immediate experience. That intimacy and taste of existence cannot be forgotten. It is like "kiss from beloved" u have mentioned but not exactly; I speak about situation in which there is no more "ME" and "Beloved" but only Beloved remains. Kiss so powerful that "me" dissolved and I noticed that "Kisser and kissed" is one.

I've also experienced sinking into nothingness like Nisargadatta Maharaj points out as attempt to integrate the fact that there are perdiods where not even Existence-Consciousness-Bliss is experienced.

I've misinterpreted Dzogchen, Mahamudra and Buddhism in overall. Remaining in "natural state" seemed me to just remain in nirvikalpa samadhi, absorbed into non-conceptual thought. When I write "non-conceptual thought" I mean I AM/Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. This is "stage 1" in Thusness' ladder of "seven stages".

Then I came across Thusness' and Soh's blog. It showed me that Existence-Consciousness-Bliss is golden chains. Further contemplation resulted in fluctuation between experience of "One Mind" and "No Mind"; fluctuating between substantial and insubstantial non-duality.

Jackson, you generally speak a lot about what is called by Thusness' and Soh as "One Mind" => for example quote of one of recent posts of yours "The Knower and the seeing and hearing are non-dual, yet not the same. The clouds in the sky are non-dual, yet not the same. The reflections in a mirror are non-dual regarding the mirror, yet are not the same.". I have experienced this substantial non-duality directly. This is stage 4 in above mentioned ladder.

Problem behind "substantial non-duality" is that there is powerful attachment to thought realm. "One Mind" I mentioned above is last resort to hold to this framework.

"The world is illusory;
Brahman alone is real;
Brahman is the world."

You need to directly discern and understand why realization that is expressed by this stanza is from the very beginning based on attachment to certain cognitive mistake. Otherwise there is absolutely no possibility of understanding Buddhadharma. Countless yogic practices were developed to enhance intensity of experiential realization of this stanza. I've realized directly first two sentences which is Self-Realization and then experienced directly meaning of third sentence. It is "One Mind"/stage 4 in Thusness' ladder. I've directly experienced that Mind/Presence is mirror that is non-dual with phenomena but yet independent of them. So I directly realized the meaning behind this pointer.

But I have also experienced no-mind and realized the difference directly. In "No Mind" there is no more "mirror" that is "non-dual with senses".

That mirror is recognized to be just one of the senses; particular manifestation in thought realm; non-conceptual thought. So that above statement about brahman is just based on delusion and attachment to this non-conceptual thought and reifying as "mirror", "Self", "non-dual Knower", "Mind", "Awareness" etc.

"In actuality, that non-conceptual thought is not any more special than a passing sight, a passing scent!"

But anatta isn't experience of "no mind" in which self/Self/"awareness"/"mind" is forgotten and only non-dual senses remain without center or reference point. Realization/insight isn't peak experience.

So what is anatta and how does anatta apply to non-conceptual thought/I AM/Existence-Consciousness-Bliss/Brahman?

Through contemplation on right view and anatta it was recognized that "Divine Being" too, as it was discerned directly, is simply self-luminous activity without any trace of agent, doer behind it. In other words, non-dual shapeless presence is just non-dual experience in thought realm.

It is not "more important" than non-dual sound, non-dual scenery, non-dual thoughts, non-dual tastes, non-dual odours, non-dual sensations.

It is not "mirror" that is "non-dual" with senses; it itself is just experience in one of the senses.

I recognized that it is "always so". There is no agent, no linking basis, no source, no "The awareness", no "self" no "Self", no "the Intelligence" that is BEHIND self-knowing phenomena. "Existence-Consciousness-Bliss" is included in phenomena, for it's position of mirror and non-dual knower is just because of wrong view and framework that is based on cognitive mistake and assumption.

I understood why Soh used word like "phenomena-ing" instead of "phenomena".

If someone would like to grasp "nothingness" as last resort to be able to conceive "I", "me", "Source" and "The Awareness". Well, formless samadhis are also just self-luminous activity without any agent, source, self, Self, Intelligence behind it whatsoever. Only lack of realization and insight into anatta results in reification like Nisargadatta did.

There is neither "the awareness" nor "Spiritual Intelligence" behind non-dual self-luminous activities (non-conceptual thought that is reified as Brahman/Self I also include in this). "Awareness" and "Spiritual Intelligence" are just labels on these self-luminous activities without agent. "Mind" is just label for this self-luminous arising and passing. Just like "weather" is label for various activities without doer behind them.

Two stanzas about Anatta by Thusness' are leading to two equally important aspects of anatta;

"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."

Realization of just one without the other is incomplete. Anatta is only understood and realized when there is discernment and recognition of what both of these point to.

""He perceives Unbinding as Unbinding.[7] Perceiving Unbinding as Unbinding, he conceives things about Unbinding, he conceives things in Unbinding, he conceives things coming out of Unbinding, he conceives Unbinding as 'mine,' he delights in Unbinding. Why is that? Because he has not comprehended it, I tell you."

So using this quotation as example “He has not comprehended it" can take place when one realizes second stanza but doesn't realize what is exact meaning behind first one...


"He directly knows Unbinding as Unbinding. Directly knowing Unbinding as Unbinding, he does not conceive things about Unbinding, does not conceive things in Unbinding, does not conceive things coming out of Unbinding, does not conceive Unbinding as 'mine,' does not delight in Unbinding. Why is that? Because, with the ending of delusion, he is devoid of delusion, I tell you."

In realization of meaning of both of above Thusness' stanzas on anatta, there is no more place for "Source", reified "Spiritual Intelligence". There is no place for any phenomenon or noumenon behind self-luminous non-dual activity.
First-fold emptiness simply means that there is nothing behind non-dual phenomena-ing. All views that are contained in above statements by Buddha are simply recognized for what they are; delusions that have lack of the insight into anatta as their cause.

Moreover, posing a question in a way you do, was directly refuted by Buddha; this Jax.

Buddha isn't stressing this simply because of his whim, but simply in realization of anatta it is clearly seen why exactly these questions are flawed from the very beginning.

No god, no Brahma, may be called,
The maker of this wheel of life,
Empty phenomena roll on,
Dependent on conditions all."

Visuddhimagga XIX.

"Infinite Consciousness", "Infinite Space", "Nothingness", "Neither perception nor non-perception" are included in "empty phenomena roll on".

Speaking about "Non-dual Knower" show lack of true understanding and realization into anatta. Why? Because it is still disease of conceiving. Attachment to see reality based on subject, object, agent, doer, source, manifestation, self, Self.

In other words, by speaking that there is no agent behind self-luminous activity I also include experience of self-cognizing Existence-Consciousness-Bliss (which is called "I AM" in Thusness "seven stages", due to my former conditioning I use similar terminology).

But what exactly is realization of anatta? Using two stanzas by Thusness' realization is direct insight that it is "always already so". To apply this to my own spiritual search it means that from the very beginning of my journey there was no agent, no linking basis, no source, no "the awareness" no reified "non-dual knower" or imagined "spiritual intelligence" behind this. It applies to my delusion of personhood, to my delusion of reifications of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, to my delusions of sinking into nothingness, to my delusions of substantial non-duality ("One-Mind/stage 4 in Thusness "seven stages").

That is why anatta is one of "three marks of existence". It isn't stage or experience. It is always already so.

AN 10.60 Girimānanda Sutta:

"Now what, Ānanda, is the recognition of selflessness? Here, Ānanda, a monk, gone to the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or to an empty place, discriminates thus: ‘The eye is not-self, forms are not-self; the ear is not-self, sounds are not-self; the nose is not-self, odors are not-self; the tongue is not-self, flavors are not-self; the body is not-self, tactual objects are not-self; the mind is not-self, phenomena are not-self.’ Thus he abides contemplating selflessness with regard to the six internal and external sensory spheres. This, Ānanda, is called the recognition of selflessness."

Thus, we came back to Bahiya Sutta:

‘The seen will be merely the seen, the heard will be merely the heard, the sensed will be merely the sensed, the known will be merely the known.’ This is how you should train, Bāhiya.

When, Bāhiya, for you the seen will be merely the seen, the heard will be merely the heard, the sensed will be merely the sensed, the known will be merely the known, then Bāhiya, you will not be that. When, Bāhiya, you are not that, then Bāhiya, you will not be there. When, Bāhiya, you are not there, then Bāhiya, you will be neither here nor beyond nor between-the-two. Just this is the end of unsatisfactoriness."


(One day later)

Yesterday some heat penetrated the body and had experience of something like, "dissolution of body". But can't describe this clearly, since I mean sensations of body; I see that "body" is imputation like weather on sensations. If we use "mind" for I AM, thoughts, emotions, memories, that "mind" too is like weather. That weather analogy is really helpful. If six consciousnesses are seen as imputation, then basically no "body" and "mind" remains at all. Especially if we don't imagine some super consciousness behind skandhas. So "sentient beings" is too like "weather".