Daniel M. Ingram recently wrote a good article:


It is very long and may be updated by Daniel later, so I will not post it here but you can read the article from the link above.

He wrote in http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4739435:

"Essay: My Experiments in Actualism
9/25/13 4:09 AM

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As I get asked about this so often, I finally wrote down a summary of the thing and then answered some questions about it afterwards based on two emails I received.

Perhaps something in this will help clarify something for someone.

My Experiments in Actualism and Responses to Questions"

Tommy McNally wrote some comments as well in Dharma Connection:

  • Tommy McNally The DhO is "not nice" to Actualism is rather far from the truth, the reason most people even know about AF in dharma circles is due to the DhO. You missed "The Great DhO Schism" when Tarin first introduced AF to the forum! I have more to add to this as I also claimed AF at one time but I'm replying on my phone. It's a complicated topic for loads of reasons but there are a few of us in this group with extensive experience of Actualism.
  • Tommy McNally I just finished reading Dan's piece about Actualism and it's probably the best, most honest and clearly written breakdown of the way things have gone for almost all of us who claimed "Actual Freedom" at one time or another. I haven't spoken to him for a while and haven't gone on the DhO for quite a while due to being busy with other projects, but his descriptions really hit the nail on the head in a lot of ways. There are slight differences in how it's played out so far for me, but his overview and his comments on the emotional aspects are spot on. A really well written piece on a subject that caused a lot of us so-called "hardcore dharma" practitioners to question what we were doing and then go deeper again. If anyone's interested in going down the same developmental axis, I think Soh and Thusness' blog is one of best resources available right now, outside of looking deeper into specific systems and specializing to a certain extent. I'll post more, gotta go out just now...
  • Tommy McNally If you break Actualism down to a basic set of techniques and cut away all the verbiage of the website, you’re left with bare attentiveness to immediate sensate experience. At its most fundamental level, and regardless of what the self-proclaimed progenitor says, the entire practice leading to “an actual freedom from the human condition” is based on paying attention to what’s happening in the sensate field right now, but with a focus on the aggregate of feeling.

    Through the application of the method which, to give credit where credit is due, Richard Parker developed - of asking “How Am I Experiencing This Moment Of Being Alive”, generally referred to as HAIETMOBA – the mind is inclined in a very specific way towards the way the body feels and how we, as an individual physical body, are experiencing the world at this very moment. It’s a powerful method when used correctly and the acronym makes it easy to remember, but it’s basically just a way of turning attention towards the sense doors.

    Another aspect of AF practice is the dismantling of belief systems and what’s referred to as the “social identity”. By exploring how certain sensate experiences give rise to certain emotional states, one begins to see how deeply held beliefs and assumptions about the nature of reality are often false and lead to negative emotional states. Through taking all emotional experiences to bits, you can see how each has the same basic ‘flavour’ and how certain perceptual processes ‘colour’ them to be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. It’s almost a sort of self-psychotherapy and can be very intense, but ultimately worthwhile.

    Something almost Tantric about AF is the emphasis on experiencing all sensate experience as pleasant, or focusing on the pleasant aspects of it so as to override the natural tendency of feeling to be positive, negative or neutral. Enjoying yourself is a large part of the basic method too and is actually very, very useful regardless of system. There’s also developing what’s referred to as “naivete”, which is basically a childlike wonder and sense of newness which occurs during the PCE and once this is established as the baseline. This is quite unique to AF as far as I know, but is a lot of fun to work with and does incline the mind towards experiencing in that way.

    As I think about this, which I haven’t done for quite some time, I’m laughing at how simple a system of techniques this is for how amazing the outcome is. But at the same time, I’m kinda sad that the refusal of its founder to accept how close his basic model is to the Dharma prevents many from seeing how close they are to discovering something really special. At root, Actualism is just another method of development but its view is wrong on so many levels that I can’t begin to list them. This is simply my opinion on the matter, having practiced it with utter sincerity for quite some time I can speak from experience but, to this day, I still can’t see how people haven’t figured out that Richard is batshit insane and that his entire model collapses under scrutiny. Not only that, if one continues to apply those same techniques once so-called Actual Freedom happens, the entire thread unravels and the very foundation of it is seen to be empty! It becomes impossible to posit the existence of a physical body beyond its imputation, so to continue to think that an “actual world”, existing “out there” and apart from the rest of experience is seen to be complete ballocks.

    There is value in the basic techniques and mental postures, undoubtedly, but the bullshit and general weirdness of its spectacularly bearded founder ruins it. I could go into all the reasons why I consider this to be so, but it serves no practical value and diminishes the positives that could be gained from skilful application of the techniques with Right View.

    I don’t know if there’s anything else I can add here, I’m doing my usual and going off on tangents so I’ll sign off for the moment and add more if I think of anything useful.
    September 21 at 7:55am · Edited · Unlike · 12

    • Tommy McNally I think Soh's done a lot more work on analyzing AF in comparison to realization within the Dharma and has put it far more clearly than I can. I always found it funny that Richard claimed that the material of Awakening to Reality wasn't Buddhist and that he refused to say whether or not what Thusness described was what he called AF. I don't believe that AF, or even the PCE itself, is related to recognizing rigpa as the whole of AF's view is that, with the dissolution of subjectivity, one experiences the word from the side of the object; there's still a very obvious reification of the physical form as being independent from consciousness and the other aggregates. If a person didn't have any insight into anatta prior to hitting a PCE, the experience could suggest that one is experiencing things 'as' the object of consciousness which is partly where I think a lot of the confusion comes in. If one has realized Anatta, the PCE has quite a different level of impact in comparison to when it's experienced prior to this. It's still amazing, don't get me wrong, but it's different in lots of very subtle ways which require close scrutiny of the PCE itself to really 'get'. I also don't think that AF or the achievement of it, whatever that actually is, is related to Stream Entry or can really be aligned with any of the Buddhism models due to there being way too many disparities at way too many levels. There are characteristics of it which could feasibly be correlated with certain attainments within Buddhism, but due to the continued belief that there is an objectively existing "actual world" it sort of cancels itself out. As Soh says, there are similarities with the taste of Anatta but, in my experience, it's not the same development trajectory.
    • Tommy McNally To clarify on what Lindsay's referred to as "PCE focus", I think it's worth mentioning that it's not actually the PCE itself which is the focus. It's more about focusing on the characteristics of of the PCE, using previous experiences of it to recognize that those characteristics are always there as an integrated part of the field of experience itself. Using previous experience of the PCE to fuel practice is referred to in Actualism as "pure intent", wherein one continually inclines towards experiencing the world in that way and with the intent to be "happy and harmless". By aiming for PCE's as a conscious goal, it short-circuits the attempt to incline the mind towards apperception by setting up a desire for things to be clearer or better than they are, which one then ends up inclining towards. It's like a loop of desire; you know how amazing the PCE is but your own desire to recreate that experience is just a mental fabrication. It's not possible to "imagine" a PCE because it occurs at a stage in the perceptual process prior to the formation of concepts, so any effort to recreate or fabricate it will ultimately fail. The memory of a PCE is a tool, but to aim for what you think a PCE is will lead in the opposite direction from where you want to be as it inclines the mind more towards the internal experience.

Prior to today's latest article, One Thought Traveler seemed to be skewing towards a substantialist view of the material universe (in particular: he talked about the material world as having a fundamental substance that is not ceasing and truly existent, implying that it endures eternally with endless transformation - i.e. energy does not cease but simply transforms and changes its shape, such as physical body disintegrating at death from its original form but survives to be ashes). Thusness also said, "This latest article seems clear. The rest always had the tendency to skew towards AF [Actual Freedom, another teaching with similarly substantialist views about the material universe]".

In reference to his previous blog post, I wrote to him something about emptiness and disjointness. He seemed to have penetrated it with deep insight and wrote a new article reflecting his current new understanding.

This is my 9th translation of this author's articles.



Buddhism "Theory of Evolution"

(2013-09-23 14:25:20)

Some people think, humans are evolved from primates, snakes are evolved from lizards, birds are evolved from reptiles. How does Buddhism see the theory of evolution?

佛教没有进化论,只有变化论。 所谓变化,亦非变化,是名变化。要谈论事物的进化须有两个条件:一、事物是有自性的;二、时间是一种实法。只有某种事物是有自性的存在,才能谈论得上进 化;时间必须被认为是一种真实存在,才可能说这种事物沿时间的变化。佛教首先不认为事物是有自性的,其次不认为时间是一种实法,所以佛教不说进化论。随世 人们的认识,它只说变化论。变化论即是缘起法。

Buddhism does not have a theory of evolution, we only have a theory of change. What is known as change, is also not change, it is [merely] named as change. If we want to discuss about the evolution of things, there are two conditions: 1) things must have self-nature, 2) time is a truly existing thing. Only then can we talk about things transforming through the passage of time. First of all, Buddhism does not hold the position of things as having self-nature, furthermore it does not hold the position of time as a kind of really existing dharma. Therefore, Buddhism does not talk about the theory of evolution. It only talks about the theory of change based on men's understanding. The theory of change is the dharma of dependent arising.


Some people say that men are evolved from primates. From the eyes of Buddha, men do not have self-nature, primates also do not have self-nature, there does not exist a transformation from primates to man. Even that topic of discussion is absent. Men are just like all dharmas in the world, it does not come from somewhere, it does not go somewhere, it is fundamentally without coming and without going. Dharmas are not arising nor ceasing, dharmas are without coming nor going, dharmas do not meet each other, therefore primates do not transform to become man, lizards do not transform to become snakes, reptiles do not transform to become birds. Not only do the seemingly two different dharmas do not meet, even the seemingly similar dharma's future moment and past moment do not meet.
事物是寂静不动的。我们看到的 只是相的改变,相续、相似。相续、相似,分明而言,续的是相,似的也是相。佛菩萨看到事物是不生不灭的,世间科学家或有智者也看到事物是不生不灭的,虽然 似乎他们都看到了“不生不灭”,但却大相径庭。科学家或世间有智者看到的不生不灭,是有自性的不生不灭——如物质不生不灭;而佛菩萨看到的不生不灭是无自 性的不生不灭。科学家或有智者看到的不生不灭,是基于“相似、相续”的直觉所见,而这是错觉的。佛菩萨经如实观察,发现事物是不存在相似相续的——相似相 续是个错觉,相似相续是自性的看法,诸法是寂静不动的,本性涅槃的。

All events and phenomena are quiescent and motionless. What we see are only the appearances' change, continuation, and similarities. Continuation, similarities, to put it clearly, continuation is an appearance, similarity is also an appearance. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas view events and phenomena as not arising and not ceasing. The world's scientists or the ones with worldly wisdom also see events and phenomena as not arising and not ceasing, even though both of them seemingly perceives "not arising and not ceasing", nonetheless they actually hold diametrically opposed views. The "not arising and not ceasing" that the scientists or the ones with worldly wisdom sees, is the "not arising and not ceasing" pertaining to the view of self-nature -- such as matter not having birth or cessation. However, the "not arising and not ceasing" that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas perceive is the "not arising and not ceasing" of the lack of self-nature. The "not arising and not ceasing" that scientists and those with worldly wisdom perceive is conceived based on the intuition of "continuation, similarities", but this is an illusion. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas through observing things as they are, discover that there does not exist "continuation" or "similarities" in events and phenomena -- similarities and continuation are simply false impressions/illusions, similarities and continuation are the perspective of self-nature, [whereas] all dharmas are quiescent and unmoving, its fundamental nature is Nirvana.

在佛菩萨眼里,世界是如此的奇 妙:山岳崩塌而不动,江河流注而未走,尘埃飞扬而寂寂,日月转动而无行;电流通而无流,万法移而不动,事物不会衰,生命不会老,从无有事物灭去;火永远也 烧不到万物,人不可能死,一个物永远也变不成另一个物。何以故?法无来去故,法性寂灭故,法法不相到故!法法宛然有而毕竟空,毕竟空而宛然有,这是怎样的 一个妙法的世界,除非你亲眼目睹,否则,怎能理解世尊微笑着对人们所说的“不可说,不可说”之句呢!

From the eyes of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the world is so wonderful: mountains crumble without motion, rivers flow without going, dusts rise up but is quiescent, the sun and moon rotate without action; electricity circulates without flowing, the ten thousand dharmas change but without movement, events and phenomena do not wane, life will not get old, there never was the cessation of events and phenomena; fire will never burn the ten thousand phenomena, men will not die, even an eternal thing is unable to transform to another thing. Why is this so? It is because dharmas are without coming nor going, it is because the nature of dharma is quiescent cessation, it is because all dharmas do not meet each other! All dharmas are as though existing yet are actually empty, actually empty but seemingly existing, this is a world of wondrous dharma, unless you witness it with your own eyes, otherwise, how can you understand the words spoken by The World Honoured One (Buddha) with a smile, "it cannot be spoken, cannot be spoken"!

古代的猿和现代的猴非一非异, 古代的猴和现代的人非一非异,乃至古现代的猿猴和古现代的蛇、鸟、狮子、老虎等都非一非异。一切有情无情非一非异,众生国土同一法性故。猿是猿,类人猿是 类人猿,人是人,一切诸法是一切诸法,没有所谓的过渡。猫是猫,鹰是鹰,猫头鹰是猫头鹰,法不流转,法不相到,法性寂灭,万法变而不去,化而不来,一切诸 法当体是空,自性涅槃。时间不是实法,万法没有自性,因而宇宙间无有进化,只有幻化。诸法从相看方生方灭,从体看不生不灭。如是而知!

The ancient primates and modern apes are neither one nor different, the ancient primates and modern men are neither one nor different, even the ancient and modern primates and the ancient and modern snakes, birds, lions, tigers etc are all neither one nor different. All sentient and inanimate are neither one nor different, because the homelands of sentient beings are of a single dharma nature. Primates are primates, hominidaes are hominidaes, man is man, all dharmas are all dharmas, there is no such thing as transition. Cats are cats, eagles are eagles, owls are owls, dharmas do not move, dharmas do not meet, dharma's nature is quiescent cessation, ten thousand dharmas change without going, manifest without coming, the nature of all dharmas is empty, its own nature is Nirvana. Time is not real dharma, the ten thousand dharmas are devoid of self-nature, and because of this the universe does not have evolution, only change. From the appearances of dharmas it seemingly arises and ceases, from its nature one perceives its non arising and non cessation. Know it as such!
Thusness's Early Conversations (2004-2007) Part 1 to 6 in One PDF Document
Thusness's Conversation Between 2004 to 2012
A casual comment about Dependent Origination
Leaving traces or Attainment?
Emptiness as Viewless View and Embracing the Transience
Bringing Non-Dual to Foreground (Thusness wrote this to me after I was having nondual experiences after I AM but before anatta realization)
Putting aside Presence, Penetrate Deeply into Two Fold Emptiness (Thusness wrote this to me after I was having a deeper insight into anatta after an initial realization of anatta)
Reply to Yacine
Direct Seal of Great Bliss 
The Unbounded Field of Awareness 
Comments section of The Buddha on Non-Duality 
Why the Special Interest in Mirror? 
What is an Authentic Buddhist Teaching? 
The Path of Anatta
The Key Towards Pure Knowingness
The place where there is no earth, fire, wind, space, water

(above: artwork by Longchen/Simpo in 2004)

Here are some early forum postings by Thusness back in 2004 and 2005. (note: longchen = simpo, another friend from Singapore)



Besides the Jhanas, have you experience pure empty Presence in a state of no thought? That is the true state of a Being. It is beyond the mind, beyond concepts.

This pure Presence is all pervading, yet void at the same time. In my experience, the Jhanas are different. Jhana's are like 'looking outward' in a meditation, pure Presence is 'looking inwards'. I can't describe it very well.

Pure presence can best be felt when a person is at the moment free from desires. Pure presence is like the ray that emits its properties into the mind. The properties of the pure presence form your personality.

Hi Sangha,

I am in no position to say whether Pure presence is nibbana. I can only write from my own experience and understanding.

This pure presence is called Rigpa in Tibetan Buddhism. I am not a Buddhist in this life, but I was a Tibetan Monk of Nyingma school several lifetimes ago. That is why I still have a lot of interest in Buddhism.

About Rigpa, when we experience it. It is formless and empty and at the same time infinite and all pervading. It is NOT BLISS. Bliss is a samadhi state but it is not the true nature yet, it is still a state in the mind. I have bliss experiences also, in fact i have then now quite often outside of meditation also.

Rigpa is a presence of 'yourself' that is connect to everything in the universe. That is probably why the Buddha say that there is 'no self'. All is connect to all in the Dharmakaya. Rigpa is a part of the Dharmakaya. When in the state, there is no separation into you or me... We are all one thing which cannot be described.

However, I must say that even now, while reading this, we are already the rigpa. We do not realise this is because we THINK we are just the mind/personality. The mind/personality is a REFLECTION from rigpa. It is not the true self. If you understand what I am write, you may get a sudden awakening/realisation. And if the realisation is deep enough, your viewpoint or way of seeing the world will change.

Just my 2 cents...


Hi LongChen,

Even the "inner" and "outer" are production of the analytical mind. Only the mind requires such division, concepts and thoughts. The Presence has no room for all these. It works through naturalness and directness. Too short to have time and too simple to have thought.

However even when one experiences this pure sense of existence, due to latent karmic tendencies, the mind will still attempt to create a formless-transparent-like entity ('I') experiencing "things". In reality there is no 'I'.

The 'Blueness' of the blue sky isn't 'I'.
Remain Silence and in Presence, all things are in their entirety.
No 'I' is required.
This itself is sufficient.

Happy Journey.


Hi Thusness,

Thank you for your profound explanation.

May I ask ... how do one remain in Presence all the time. Does it require the clearing of all karmic tendencies (samcaras/samskara).

I understand that the Presence is there all the time. Is it possible to be in presence even when engaged in say a conversation with another person?

Currently, switching to witness state is only possible when I am not engaged in any conversation.



Hi Long Chen,

Yes it is possible. But as much as I would not like to say, there is no what, where, when, why and how. Sounds senseless but it is true. These are what Naturalness is not.

Nevertheless, the mind will be stubbornly attached to this current mode of knowing because to the mind, it is all there is. It seems to be a destined journey that a sincere seeker has to continue penetrating its own depth, till it completely exhausts itself and meet its own DEATH. The death of the 'I'.

The giving up and full understanding of the poverty of the entire thinking and analytical mechanism will allow the mind to rest itself upon nothing. Here karmic tendency arises and ceases as it is, no effort to struggle is made.
This is the time effortless knowing arises. A complete clarity of ISness manifesting as pure Presence.

Seek deep into the depths of our own self, there is always this Will, Effort..etc. This Unwillingness to let go, to be.
Simply put, it is this that separates.

Lastly try not to find a sit in the body. The true nature fills all space. Creating a boundary for What that is neither within nor without will eventually prove futile. Presence finds itself in Otherness. The body has created the illusion of 'inward' and divides. We have engaged ourselves in too much analysis and lost our intuitiveness and directness. Since you have experienced the pure Presence, sense the 'I' that holds and let go immediately.
Presence always IS.

Nice Chat Smile


Hi Thusness,

Got it.

You are indeed enlightened.



Search for it, loses it and cycle within the mind
Let things be.... rest in presence.


When things are "be"? What is it? Cool


Time doesn't exist

Thusness:This topic is so much to my liking that I have to say something.
"Time" does it exist first of all? Science has viewed time as a dimension that can be manipulated if "we are able to travel faster than the speed of light." According to Einstein, a photon traveling at the speed of light does not experience time, because time halt at the speed of light!
So where is "Time" according to Science? It is another "space" far from
"here" and can be reached if we are able to travel faster than light.

The moment ceases as it arises, what the mind grasped is but an image
of the ever changing Present. It catches the "Form", the "Entity", the "I"
which is illusionary and misses the Essence. In reality there is no changing "thing", there is merely change.

Right at this moment is the display of the three Dharma Seals: impermanence, non-self, and nirvana, the emptiness nature all existence.
This is the basis that every authentic teaching of Buddhism must bear.

It is here that even the greatest mystic must take bow to Buddha. Such penetrating insight amid all kinds of lightning-fast changes to differentiate "I AM" from "Thusness".

The ever Presence of all cannot be something secondhand, it cannot
be the object of observation. It remains original, new, clear and ungraspable.
To enter into the profoundest source of our true nature, -to "know" Now.....Got to work NOW...Smile


All there is is Presence


All there is are actually the all-pervading Presence. Our sense of self (ego) is actually attentions focused (very rapidly) on many layers of thoughts and sensations. This is the matrix.

The layers are as follows:

Physical layer- attention/belief put to physical sensations(thought)

Mental layer- attention to mental thoughts

Emotional layer- cause by judging the mental thoughts

In addition, there is a storehouse where all images/belief of oneself is stored.

For example: we may have this image:

'I am smart.'

If the external world validates that this is true, the person feels happy.
If the external world appears to show that he is not, then he will not be happy and thus suffer.

Actually in the 'external world' nothing real happens, the response is totally within the person's mind.

Beyond the encasement of all these layers of thoughts and sensation is just Pure consciousness/Presence. Actually everything is the Pure consciousness. It is just that many rapid attentions to thoughts and sensation create the sense of self.

An Eternal Now:

I've spoken to Thusness about this.

There is no point saying all is/are You, Presence, Reality.
It is only in the direct experience that you know it is true nature.

When you said sensation, images..etc, there is separation and division. Precisely because the experiences and theories you created are derived, therefore the moment to moment of existence are not experienced in full, and pure consciousness as a separate layer is created, not experienced directly. If you can experience yours directly and see condition arising, then you have entered the stream.


Hi LongChen,

It is not that it is pointless to experience all as pure presence.
Your experience of "All there is are actually the all-pervading Presence" is most valuable and sacred.
Nothing is more real and clear than IT -- The reality of All.
There is no doubt about it. Smile

I am sure you have experienced 'Pure Presence' but I am equally sure that it escapes you in daily life experiences.
Why is this so?
Because during the process of analysis we have unknowingly divided 'Pure Presence' from sensation, thoughts, images, taste and forms..etc
and worst still we have made this a blueprint for us to 'see' and 'experience' the phenomenon existence.
This unintentional re-enforcement of our karmic forces will prevent us from experiencing our nature in full
and 'Pure Consciousness' will become a transparent like-substance hiding somewhere waiting forever to be found.
This Pure Consciousness as a 'transparent-formless-light' is an image created by thought, it is not the true face of Pure Consciousness.

Do explore into the concept of Emptiness and Conditional Arising of Buddhism in detail if you have time. Smile



Dear Thusness,

Thank you for your advice... it is most valid and helpful and I can see that 'habit' that you have described.

I do have experiences of presence in the daily waking life... but there are also habitual patterns as well. It will take time and fearlessness to fully stabilise. You know what i mean.

Also, I have psychically 'read' you and Xabir (i.e. AEN/Soh) and are intuitively factored.

Thanks for the help. Smile


Eternal Now,

When the pure, formless, clear, brilliance bright, boundless and luminous enters
the sphere of thoughts, the mind transforms the Presence into an 'ENTITY' that is pure, formless,
clear, brilliance bright, boundless and luminous.
This entity, this something is the 'Self' added by a divided mind.
Without creating this 'center', this base, this something, a divided mind does not know how to function. Because the thinking mind understands through measurement and comparison.

In Buddhism, this 'Self' is extra and created. In reality it does not exist.
This is the wisdom to be awaken in order to see reality in its nakedness.
When this is clear, the stream always IS.

Hi Sangha,

What happens when presence is eliminated. No thought, no presence... then could this be a blank?

I do have a time when i meditated into a blank. No perception. it was when the mind 'moves' again that i realise that i was in the blank.

Thanks you.


Hi LongChen,

The blankness is a form of absorption where the knowing faculty of consciousness is temporarily suspended. Complete clarity and Presence without a 'Self' is more crucial. Smile

The 'Self' that is created over countless lives of attachment cannot be underestimated.
We are in almost helpless bondage that our perceptions are shaped and held in a sort
of hypnosis that we feel, think, experience and deduced our understandings from the
perspective of an 'I'. Thus analytical understanding derived from the glimpse of
the Pure Presence Reality will very quickly get distorted.

When Presence is experienced with the six sense doors shut,
Presence is experienced as a form of "I AMness".

When Presence is experience with six sense doors widely open,
Presence is experienced as a form of "I AM All".

However neither experience tells us the TRUE NATURE of Pure Presence.
Even the very sense of Realness, of Existence, of Life and Vividness is so strong,
due to the sense of 'I' there will be a sense of location somewhere,
and the true face of Pure Presence remains hidden.

The mind is just not used to knowing the absolutely nothing, non-local,
nowhere to be found yet pure, brilliance bright and ever luminous.
It will locate, it will find, it will grasp.
There must come a time for the mind to let go of itself completely.
If we are bold enough to let go and enter into the world that is wordless,
labelless and thoughtless, and if this is sustained, wisdom and insight will arise.
This wisdom is the extraordinary Clarity, Vividness and Realness, wholeness whole.
It is crystal clear filling all spaces and places.
Both in silence and in noise, in blankness and somethingness.
Those that experience the Pure Presence will appreciate this crystal clear reality.
This re-visiting of Pure Presence will be thorough and entire.
There will be no doubt.

Buddhism Emptiness is deep and profound. Do go into it. Smile

Happy Journey

Hi Thusness,

Your message feels of truth. Thanks for it. I will do as you advice. Very Happy



Hi longchen,

It is ungraspable not because the Ultimate Object cannot be the subject of observation; but rather there is really no such ‘ultimate object’ hiding behind anywhere. A ‘someone’ inside somewhere is from the very beginning a mistake. True authenticity comes when we realized that any form of ‘centricity’ is illusionary.
To experience the Pure Presence of Isness, “I AMness” must completely dissolve. The Pure Presence you experienced is non-local and has no-center. It becomes an ‘I AM’ due to linear mode of analysis. If you have time do explore into insight meditation and the essence of ‘Emptiness’ Wink



Hi Thusness,

OK. Will do so.

I have a question that hopefully you can answer... if I Amness completely dissolves won't we have difficulty relating to normal society?

BTW, nice to hear from you again.Smile



Hi Long Chen,

Nice to see you and Eternal Now too. Smile As to your question whether one's enlightenment will hinder oneself from relating in a normal society, I supposed not. For one that has arrived at the fundamental ground, whatever role he assumes, whether as a monk, teacher, businessman or a beggar, he remains free. When it comes to practical application, he will naturally know how to harmonize and fuses completely with everything.

In Buddhism, No-Self is not a question of morality; it is a question of the true nature of the phenomenon reality. From the macro universe to the quantum world of quarks, from time to space, from body to consciousness, all exhibit this characteristic. Emptiness prevails everywhere. Even right now at this moment, we witness the Emptiness truth in action -- the moment ceases as it arises. There is no changing thing (Self), only change. Viewing things as solid entities and categorizing them as 'this' or 'that' is due to the poverty of our thinking mechanism, it is not reality.

The act of labeling will make 'things' appear solid and separated, to the extent that even when we are dealing with the very essence of ourselves -- the pure awareness, we make it an 'I AM'. 'I AMness' is perhaps the furthest the Thinking-Mind can give way and it is never meant merely as an expression for communication. We seek, find and attempt to locate it as if it is a solid entity hiding somewhere. As long as this wrong way of 'seeing' persists, there will be attachments and sufferings. This is the way it is; you cannot eliminate attachment with an 'I'. Therefore the capacity to see by awakening the emptiness wisdom is especially important in Buddhism.

Bare attention that is taught in insight meditation trains one to see without labeling, without a layer of words. It presents us a new mode of experiencing reality as an ever changing inseparable flux. Without this layer of thought, 'I' has no place to reside and slowly the bond of 'I' will loosen and subside. If the karmic condition ripens, the mysterious relationship between the pure awareness and the phenomenon world will be revealed.

The experience of I AM is an intuitive experience of our naked consciousness. It is seeing Consciousness face to face and touching Consciousness directly without in between thoughts. But its Emptiness nature must be understood to progress further. I got to go now....do take care. Smile



Hi Thusness,

Thank you very much for your explanation. It is most important. I am most grateful.Very Happy

After reading, what you wrote... I went to meditate.

Observing the thoughts that arises, there appears to be a relationship between
each thoughts. Occasionally, a desire to recall arises, a new thought will arise that does a recall. But each moment seems to be a fresh moment. .. with no second and no past.

The continuity and the recall of thoughts and memories arises one after another... but there appears to be NO ONE observing the thoughts. The observer is an impression... there is no observer. The impression of a self appears to be due to the continuity and the recalling of memories.

If this is correct... then the 'I' is but the impression caused by the continuity and recalling ability.

This is accurate?

Kind regards and respect.



Yes LongChen,

There is thinking but there is no thinker. Succession from one moment to another does not require an ‘I’. The ‘I’ prevents direct perception. This must be extended to the rest of the 5 senses (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body). The experience of no-self must be thorough. Smile


Hi Thusness,

Thank you so much.. Will do so.Very Happy

For Buddha to spot the difference, his perception must have been razor-sharp and fast.


Hi LongChen,

Yes indeed. Buddha is so clear, precise and accurate. Such penetrating insight and clarity must come from a mind that is completely free. Smile

After experiencing the Emptiness nature of consciousness in all the six senses without labeling and words (directly felt and intuitively experienced as in the case of "I AM" that you experienced), do explore into the 18 dhatus and authenticate your intuitive experience with the 4 dharma Seals.


Hi LongChen,

It is difficult to comprehend the mystery of life. Just like there is no half-infinity, the Movement is really the Source. The nature of Consciousness is without self, it is the very otherness that we experience, not to distant itself from itself. The hidden unmanifest is ever manifesting, in the movement everything IS.

There are more workers and warriors then we imagine. Some plant the seed of luminosity, some plant Emptiness. Not all are aware of their designated roles but knowingly or unknowingly they carry out their tasks. The tasks carried out might appear conflicting as if enlightened beings battling among themselves. Thus battling is not only dark against light. Smile

From the perspective of the source, there is no conflict, not even in the minuteness moment of arising – a lost balance does not exist in reality but only in forms. ‘Birth’ is the beginning of life and yet it is also the beginning of Death. The wise therefore look beyond the appearance of forms and works on cause, condition and effect and understands the emptiness nature of reality.

Originally posted by An Eternal Now:

Quite a good article I found from a quite well known Western Dzogchen teacher, Lama Surya Das.
Why chase after thoughts, which are superficial ripples of present awareness?
Rather look directly into the naked, empty nature of thoughts; then there is no duality, no observer, and nothing observed.
Simply rest in this transparent, nondual present awareness.
Make yourself at home in the natural state of pure presence, just being, not doing anything in particular.

Present awareness is empty, open, and luminous; not a concrete substance, yet not nothing.
Empty, yet it is perfectly cognizant, lucid, aware.
As if magically, not by causing it to be aware, but innately aware, awareness continuously functions.
These two sides of present awareness or Rigpa-its emptiness and its cognizance (lucidity)-are inseparable.
Emptiness and luminosity (knowing) are inseparable.
They are formless, as if nothing whatsoever, ungraspable, unborn, undying; yet spacious, vivid, buoyant.
Nothing whatsoever, yet Emaho!, everything is magically experienced.
Simply recognize this.
Look into the magical mirror of mind and appreciate this infinite magical display.

With constant, vigilant mindfulness, sustain this recognition of empty, open, brilliant awareness.

A very enlightening article. Very Happy

Just a point to add, the pristine awareness "...is formless, as if nothing whatsoever, ungraspable, unborn, undying;..."

These characteristics aren’'t attributes peculiar only to pure awareness, all phenomenon existence possess this seemingly unknowable and ungraspable nature. It simply is how reality is where pure awareness has no monopoly at all.


Thusness:Yes _Wanderer_,

As Ridzin Jigme Lingpa said “Experience is like a mist, it vanishes instantaneously.” But in lightning flash moment, it reappears with perfect lucidity and vividness. Still nothing lost and nothing attained.

Yes very true. A “True experience” is better than a thousand words but it is also the very “true experience” of the Brilliance Bright that has blinded Mystics of all ages. The Brilliance Bright is more vivid then we can imagine. In All IT is seen and In All IT is experienced. Being vividly bright it also serves as the “condition” that obscures its very own Emptiness nature.

Lastly, there is a question, but No-One is there to answer.
Buddha picks a flower, Mahakashyapa smiles.
Thusness hits the keyboard, keyboard-sounds.
“Da Da Da”, how CLEAR. Luminosity smiles. Smile


Well said and well quoted sinweiy. Smile

Now, can luminosity arise without conditions? Is there a time where there is a bright, true, essential, magnificent mind without conditions?


Originally posted by sinweiy:

True/bright/luminous mind is like a source sun with an ability of shining, and all conditions are like sunlight which are emitted from the sun. Sun and sunlight come spontaneously together.
Just like we say Sunyata is form/existence; form/existence is sunyata (sound better in chinese), w/o form there's no sunyata, w/o sunyata there's no form.
sunyata can be associated with True mind while form/existence can be associated with conditions. they are although two yet they are not two per se.

that say in an similie, i recalled also in Shurangama Sutra, that the Light is already switched on, we thought it's not On, when we seek enlightenment, and we go and turn the switch, unnoticely we are actually turning it Off instead. Neutral


Yes Sinweiy,

The Buddha out of infinite compassion spoke the lucid luminosity, the unconditioned Obviousness, the pure. But the self-luminous awareness from beginningless time has never been separated and cannot be separated from its conditions. They are not two -- This is, That is. Along with the conditions, Luminosity shines without a center and arises without a place.
No where to be found. This is the Tatagatha Nature. Smile



Please allow 'me' to say something and correct 'me' if I am wrong...

We believe the 'I' or 'me' is the doer of all our actions and decision-making. This is really a false belief. The idea that a 'self' that is controlling and making decision is an illusion. Things gets accomplished nevertheless, with or without the 'sense of self'.

The 'I/sense of self' cannot will or control anything at all. The 'I' is inserted into the sequence of thoughts and is just a sequence of thoughts.

'I' is not the doer, for most, it is the 'being done.'


Yes Long Chen,

But for penetrating insight to arise there must be the willingness to let go of false beliefs. Not to create any sort of beliefs first, give up everything and see and feel from this raw state. Not to say there is a ‘doer’, a ‘controller’, not to react to your thoughts and memories, just merely feel and see the process. Not to immediately jump into conclusion and create a ‘Source’ to fill the in-between gaps to satisfy the thinking mind. Just conquer it with utmost sincerity. Allow ‘being done’ and understand the meaning of ‘doing without a doer’ – non doing. Do not separate ‘pure-awareness’ from the ‘being done’. Do not create a Source and separate it from the ‘Movement’. Instead be Still and simply Feel the ‘being done’ with totality. The experience is like knowing without thought and yet dwelling into even the minuteness details of every immediate experience with complete clarity. If you say I am IT, the clarity is lost. Any separation prevents ‘True Seeing’. Why is this ‘I’ necessary? Awareness is a stream of clear luminosity without a center to be found anywhere. If we continue to try contain awareness as ‘Self’ hiding somewhere, clear luminosity will not be experienced and the QUANTUM empty nature will not be known. Smile

We might feel that our body is moving through the universe... then we might realize that body is not 'our' nor is it 'other', in fact there's no 'body' other than felt sensations, perceptions and actions (movement, etc)... and this sensation-perception-action is not in any way limited... for where does body end and the world begin? Where can we divide an inner into an outer? Not me, not mine of bodily aggregates leads to the dropping of a presupposed 'me/mine' grasping, reference and boundaries not in a dissociative way but rather leading to complete intimacy with the whole field of Dharma. Is body 'me' or 'mine' or ever just part of the world/universe/environment or better yet - just the Dharma* in a whole interconnected movement?

(Note: Dharma as simply a unit of experience dependently originating - not implying any inherently existing material universe [as the universe/dharma body here is seen as marvelous activities/phenomena dependently originating seamlessly without center or boundaries], nor is this dharma body in any sense a subjective body at all [if it is subjectively self-existent then causes and conditions will not be incorporated nor necessary for any given manifestation])

I was suddenly reminded of a term used by Thusness many years ago, "Dharma Body". Here I do not dissociate from my body as 'other'... in fact all bodily sensations and movement are felt in crystal clarity and intimacy... Yet, no more intimate than the trees and the sky and the buildings, which are all the Dharma Body in action... all functioning together as much as two legs are functioning together in an activity called walking.

Yes... when I move this body (actually take the "I" out - body is just this movement without I), it is this whole hands swinging-legs moving-heads turning-scenery appearing and shifting all in one interconnected activity, and this "environment"/scenery is also the movement of body as much as moving legs are considered the movement of body. It is all the Dharma Body in action and complete intimacy.

Update: elaborated on how the Dharma Body is neither an inherently existing object nor a subject to clarify due to noticed tendency to misunderstand what I mean.


Few months ago I wrote something related:

"After maturing the insight of anatta, the natural and immediate experience is total exertion. It is an intuitive experience. In hearing, there is only sound. But it is not just the non-dual experience of sound, it also has this flavor of the entire movement, a total activity, and that becomes natural. One starts to see whole universe involved in the activity. Then one begins to feel net of indra in real time."

Joel Agee
is an author of a few books and you can read one of his articles in http://www.joelagee.com/tri_W08_058_063_agee.pdf.

Thusness and I think Joel Agee's recent writings are especially well written and clear. He had a breakthrough insight into anatta last year.


Joel Agee
I posted this on another list. Jackson suggested I post it here:

Here are two sentences from one of the oldest Dzogchen texts, The All-Creating Monarch (Kunjed Gyalpo) quoted in Longchenpa's Precious Treasury of the Way of Abiding (Richard Barron's translation):

“Seek the location of the heart essence through phenomena that derive from it
and come to appreciate it through the skillful means of not conceptualizing in any way whatsoever.
Since the heart essence occurs naturally, dharmakaya is not elsewhere.”

Coming across these lines had a vividly awakening effect on me.
Like · · Unfollow Post · September 2, 2012 at 1:29pm

    Dannon Flynn, Steven Monaco, Neony Karby and 6 others like this.

Joel Agee Simple but profound and ongoing: a deconstruction of an unconscious habit of locating awareness anywhere else than in the moment-to-moment transient phenomena. Whoosh! No observer, no witness. No location!
September 2, 2012 at 1:44pm · Unlike · 10

David Vardy No location but 'here' in the heart....
September 2, 2012 at 1:46pm via mobile · Like · 2
Chris Collins You're finding a deepening clarity in transcient phenomena ? Can you explain any more ?
September 2, 2012 at 1:48pm via mobile · Like
Joel Agee David: Yes, definitely. And your putting "here" in quotes feels accurate, because that too is unfindable.
September 2, 2012 at 1:50pm · Like · 2
Joel Agee Chris, I'm not sure I can explain exactly. There's a frequent and delightful experience of being "confirmed" by sounds and sights, especially sounds. Greater appreciation of what shows up from moment to moment, a kind of energy of being available for anything. More spontaneous ease in action and speech and thought. But in a way this is all secondary. The recognition of awareness is unobstructed. Sometimes it seems to be obscured by thoughts and feelings, and then it's obvious that those too are the clarity and the emptiness. RIght now there's joy in seeing and saying this.
September 2, 2012 at 2:01pm · Like · 10
Joel Agee David: By "that too is unfindable" I meant the "here" in which the heart is alive.
September 2, 2012 at 2:07pm · Like · 1
David Vardy Joel. Is there a sense of here being 'all front, no back'?
September 2, 2012 at 2:40pm via mobile · Like
Joel Agee No. No front and no back. Omnipresent betters describes it. But where is that?
September 2, 2012 at 2:41pm · Like · 3
Joel Agee "back here" as a default location of awareness is no longer being held. That seems to eliminate "in front" as the field of observation. I'm not "observing" much. Everything happens, including movement, thought, speech. And now sleep. Good night, if night is your time now!
September 2, 2012 at 2:52pm · Like · 8

Joel Agee I feel great fondness for Douglas Harding and his teaching but find it limited and limiting at this point. The experiments set up an Advaita-like duality between "No-self/empty awareness/First Person here" and "phenomena there." The wonderful writing describes Awareness as a vast container in which everything takes place. Always this subtle dualism.
September 3, 2012 at 5:43am · Like · 1

Joel Agee Chris, I think you’re missing part of the point in what Soh is talking about. Some concepts are held to be self-evident, so we never question or even notice them. For instance, in my case until recently, the view that awareness was a) something, and b) somewhere. "Intellectually" I knew better, but in my unconscious organically based felt sense, that was an unquestioned reality until those words in the Kunjed Gyalpo jarred me out of that dream. So it’s not "just words," because words and concepts shape our experience when they are invested with belief. This is true even of simple figures of speech. What Jackson just wrote suggests, for instance, that Douglas’s term “Seeing” is itself misleading if left unexamined.
September 4, 2012 at 12:09am · Unlike · 4
Joel Agee Even the words in the Kunjed Gyalpo are not to be "believed". They just direct the attention to something that is not contained in the words.
September 4, 2012 at 12:12am · Like · 2
Chris Collins I agree, but when clear, there is no such possibity of a belief clouding anything. When the truth is known, beliefs are rendered irrelivent. I don't miss his point as i said, prior to nondual clarity there are many misconceptions.
September 4, 2012 at 12:13am · Like · 1
Joel Agee I know what you mean. And I know what nondual clarity is. That's how I know what you mean. Nevertheless, there is no underestimating the tenacity of unconscious bonds. That's what Vipassana is good for. It's not heavy-duty intellectual labor. It's noticing, and then looking more closely.
September 4, 2012 at 12:19am · Unlike · 3

Joel Agee I was just going to add that I don't believe in God.
December 6, 2012 at 9:29am · Like
Joel Agee "I Am" is one of the names of God. I don't believe in that either. There is a great joyful doubt that works like a centrifuge whirling away concepts. I love that self-generating energy of clearing in the mental realm.
December 6, 2012 at 9:33am · Like

Joel Agee The ocean-and-waves distinction collapses when awareness recognizes itself as identical with experience. The ocean is the waves.
December 7, 2012 at 3:12am · Like · 1
Joel Agee Even to say "awareness recognizes itself as experience" or "awareness appears as experience" juggles two separate terms. At any moment there's just "this."
December 7, 2012 at 3:20am · Like · 4

Joel Agee Jackson, I find it impossible to believe any formulation that takes the form "I am x." Even "I am" doesn't withstand scrutiny.
December 21, 2012 at 4:41am · Unlike · 4

Joel Agee I will try to describe what it is that rings true for me in Thusness’s words. I don’t have a theoretical preference for the early Buddhist teachings over the later ones, including Dzogchen. In fact I know very little about the Pali Canon. My approach isn’t conceptual or theoretical at all. I look directly into the nature of my own consciousness in silent, objectless sitting meditation – shikantaza if you will. Whatever doesn’t meet the test of direct experience holds no lasting interest for me.

Until fairly recently, the metaphor of the mirror and its reflections seemed a fitting image of my contemplative experience: that there is an unchanging, ever-present, imperturbable awareness that is the absolute ground and the very substance of phenomena, and that while this motionless, contentless awareness-presence is inseparable from the ceaseless coming and going of appearances, it also transcends everything that shows up, remaining untouched, unstained, absolute and indestructible.

A couple of years ago I discovered Soh’s blog, Awakening to Reality, and in it Soh’s account of his exploration of the Bahiya Sutta and the Zen Priest Alex Weith’s report on his realization of Anatta through practical application of the Bahiya Sutta. I saw then that Anatta was not fully realized in my experience. The illusory nature of a separate unchanging personal self had been seen through, but an unconscious identification with “Awareness” or “rigpa” had taken its place.

Since then, an unstoppable deconstruction of that impersonal background identity has been happening in my contemplation and in my daily life. There is still a noticeable attachment to the memory of that subtle Home Base. It shows up as a tendency to "lean back" from the unpredictable brilliance and dynamism of the moment into a static, subtly blissful background presence. But there is no longer a belief in an Awareness that is anything other than, or greater than, or deeper than, THIS sound, THIS smile or stirring of emotion, THIS glance of light. There is no Mirror that is not the reflections.

So the shift in my experience and practice is not a preference for one teaching over another. It’s an ongoing realization that direct contact with the grain and texture of moment-by-moment experience is what Dogen meant by “being awakened by the ten thousand things.”
January 2 at 3:20am · Unlike · 6

Joel Agee Jackson, it's true that seeking ends with the recognition of rigpa. There is nowhere further to go, and there's no deeper truth to ferret out. I agree it is an immediate insight, not a gradual acquisition of understanding. And yes, it involves no self-belief. But what doesn't necessarily end and often passes unnoticed is the unconscious habit of locating oneself in a kind of pseudo-rigpa that subtly separates "awareness" from "phenomena." That persists, or maybe more accurately, it recurs when the crystal clarity of rigpa is intermittent, not stable. That was my experience, and I have observed this tendency in others. That is why I have found the instructions of the Bahiya Sutta helpful.
January 2 at 6:29am · Like · 2

Joel Agee Yes, it does help. "Thought-free rigpa" doesn't mean the cessation of thought, only the cessation of Namtok. Otherwise it would not be possible to speak or write in the natural state.
February 21 at 2:47am · Like · 1
Joel Agee The translation of Namtok as "thought" is misleading.
February 21 at 2:54am · Like · 2

Joel Agee Jackson, of course daydreaming is a species of "thought", but not all thought is Namtog. It's misleading to say, as Tulku Urgyen's translator does and as you suggest, that "there is no thought during the state of rigpa." If that were the case, no one could speak or write in the state of rigpa. Longchenpa couldn't have written his books.
February 21 at 11:22am · Like

Joel Agee I appreciate the distinction between Namtog and "sherab and yeshe." My disagreement has to do with the "no thought" formulation in the OP and in your subsequent post, where you wrote: "During the nondistraction of Rigpa, no thought can begin."

I’ve spent hundreds of hours with my teacher and others in this state, completely released and relaxed. Sometimes there were long periods of silence, sometimes there was speech and laughter. It made no difference. In the natural state, there is no reliance on thought, so there’s complete sovereignty with regard to thought. There is no need for thought to be either present or absent.

Here’s a banal example. You’re in rigpa, doing nothing, with nothing to think about. The telephone rings. You answer the call. In the exchange with the caller, thoughts are stirred, and let’s say a plan is made for getting together. Then you hang up. All the while, “undistracted nonmeditation” has remained undistracted.

Thought can begin at any time, and it’s not a problem.
February 22 at 2:38am · Like · 2

Joel Agee I asked because your method seems to establish something that is "like this" and "not like that." It's probably not possible to avoid doing this through the medium of language. The act of differentiation establishes difference, obviously, and with it identity -- in this case the identity of "ever present clear light." This identity, like any other identity, is precisely established by way of a contextualizing framework. Something truly unestablished, in the sense you give to the word, would have to be unnameable, wouldn't it?
April 22 at 1:41pm · Like · 3
Joel Agee I'm not arguing with what you are pointing to but with the language and apparatus of the pointing. For instance the imagined crystal sphere in place of one's skull, and also the mirror. Calling these images metaphors doesn't remove the suggestion that our nature is an unchanging truly existing immaterial Something -- in short a reification.
April 22 at 2:16pm · Like · 2

Joel Agee The "knower" who "exists continuously" can be a misleading formulation. This knowing is not an entity, and doesn't exist in the way objects seem to exist. The recognition shows it to be unfindable. Peter Fenner put it this way: "It exists by not existing. That is how it exists."
May 2 at 1:34am · Like · 1

Joel Agee "The knowing of the unfindability of the knowing is the 'knowing.'" In other words, there is no knower.
May 2 at 2:13am · Like

Joel Agee Wendy, I'm criticizing the imprecise language in the quote about a "knower" who "exists continuously", not the effortless knowingness. I'm not at all puzzled by that.
May 2 at 2:19am · Like

Joel Agee Good question. What is it that is ongoing? -- I seem to be allergic to nouns in this context. Even "knowingness" suggests an enduring unchanging substance.
May 2 at 5:57am · Like · 2

Joel Agee Jackson, I do practice Zazen regularly.
May 8 at 6:16am · Like · 1

Joel Agee "Wherever you look is then like looking into a mirror.." Up to that sentence, everything in the OP corresponds with my experience. But no one is looking into anything. In a metaphoric sense, I could say it's like BEING a mirror in which transient images appear -- the mirror being the perfectly clear openness of the view -- but this still suggests an abiding unchanging Subject that exists independently from the appearances. I can find no such being, except as a supposition or an idea.
August 22 at 3:19am · Edited · Unlike · 3

Jackson Peterson What is aware of that belief as it arises? The seeking is just an experience arising in awareness. The sense of being a "seeker" is just arising in awareness. There is no person or entity that is "you", you are impersonal awareness.
August 28 at 3:23am via mobile · Like · 4
Joel Agee Jackson, I see this differently. Maybe it's only the language you use that makes it seem different. I don't find an ever-present awareness that observes anything, or that experiences thoughts, etc. Seeing, hearing, smelling, etc. happen spontaneously on their own. Attention is an afterthought. A moment ago some leaves in a flower box outside my window were quivering in a breeze. The immediacy of that movement -- or of any occurrence in the micro-instant of its arising -- is all the awareness and presence there is.
August 28 at 3:35am · Like

Joel Agee Jackson, I find much wisdom, guidance, and inspiration in Buddhism, but I wouldn’t call myself a Buddhist, mainly because I don’t know enough about it, and because I have not taken refuge in the three jewels. Nor would I know how to locate myself on a map defined by the polarities of “secular” and “religious.”

The metaphor of the mirror and the reflections is tricky. The mirror is empty cognizance itself. For a while I had an idea of there being a subtle sort of awareness-mirror that existed separately from the reflections, and that was self-shining in their absence. Now I find that it’s more the other way around. Appearances are self-illuminating. The reflections are the mirror.

I am strongly attracted to Dogen’s teaching, though I can’t say I’ve plumbed more than the surface of it. I like his radical this-worldliness: “The transience is the Buddha nature.”

I understand your intention in the OP of distinguishing rigpa from the field of perception. But your language suggests that they are separate. Only a separate something could “observe” and “experience” feelings, thoughts, sensations, etc.

You seem to have a quasi-theistic concept of the Buddha as a transcendent cosmic intelligence that for some reason indulges in a daydream of manifestation. I don’t reject such a notion on dogmatic Buddhist grounds, but I don’t find it plausible or appealing.

To me, the universe of happenings is a daydream only when it is perceived dualistically. When rigpa is evident, everything is rigpa. The dream itself appears in the light of eternity. The religious dimension you are pointing to shows up for me in the particulars of momentary experience. I feel no need for a Beyond.
August 28 at 11:41pm · Edited · Like · 2

Joel Agee Jackson, I don’t hold a metaphysical position, at east not one I’m aware of. I’m impressed by the evidence for rebirth or reincarnation, and I’ve had personal experiences that lead me to believe that most people I’m close to are old acquaintances from previous lifetimes. I don’t know how to account for this.

Shikantaza has been my main contemplative practice for a long time. I’ve never come across the special instructions you mention in Dogen’s writing, or heard of them from teachers in his lineage. Can you direct me to these sources?
August 29 at 2:45pm · Like · 1

Joel Agee We evidently have different conceptions of shikantaza. My understanding is the one Dogen taught: “Enlightenment and practice are the same.” Shikantaza is not a means to an end but the practice of the end. It begins at the result level. It is not a method to attain enlightenment. It has nothing to do with chakras. There’s no "end experience" in shikantaza.
Yesterday at 12:32am · Edited · Like

Joel Agee Jackson, that’s a really good phenomenological description of a kensho experience. To me, shikantaza is not about experiences and breakthroughs, though they do happen. It’s just sitting in the depth of no-mind. The depth and extent of that is really indescribable.

I agree that shikantaza is a practice of no practice, very similar in that way to Dzogchen. But I wouldn't introduce terms like the Indo-Tibetan chakra system and the Dzogchen Clear Light and the transparent empty knowingness of rigpa into a description of shikantaza.
Yesterday at 2:25am · Edited · Like

Joel Agee He was talking about Satori, which is what you described. Zazen in Dogen's tradition is not about satori. It's just sitting.
Yesterday at 4:13am · Like

Joel Agee You keep insisting that shikantaza is a method for producing an amazing effect. That’s not the purpose of shikantaza. Harada Roshi would have served you better if he had told you not to make such a big deal of these kinds of experiences.

Sitting like a boulder is stupid. Sitting in awakeness with nowhere to go and nothing to achieve is something else.

I like what Oshaku Okumura, one of the foremost exponents of Dogen’s teachings, said when he was asked about Satori: “Satori is nothing but being aware of, or being alert in, whatever activity you are doing right now, right here. Any activity is not a step, means, or preparation for other things, but rather should be done for its own sake, being accomplished in each moment.”

I think we’ve come full circle. We have different interests in this matter. Let’s just leave it at that.
Yesterday at 6:00am · Like

Joel Agee Dominic, I agree with you. The tension between stillness and movement, contemplation and action, and also between spirit and body, is artificial and unnecessary.
Yesterday at 9:32am · Like · 1

Joel Agee I should have said "conflict" or "opposition" instead of "tension." I do think we're both saying the same thing.
Yesterday at 10:07am · Like · 1