Comments: Jui sent me a good article which Thusness and I think is good. The first part of this article is subsuming all as Mind... second part is anatta. As Thusness say, it is good "because there is a direct taste of mind. Otherwise one also has the danger of misunderstanding anatta as mere non-doership and ownership without the direct taste of mind." Also he said, "Atammayata is an important word... depicting a freedom from proliferation without subsuming."

(Above: Piya Tan, a Dharma teacher in Singapore, author of this article)

Reflection no 328:
[For past reflections, see]

Making nothing of it
We have all heard of the 3 characteristics of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-self. It is impossi­ble for any of us, in our right minds, to deny that everything in this universe is impermanent. Whatever is impermanent is not satisfactory (or is suffering): we can never be fully satisfied with such a thing, even if we tenaciously grasp to it. Indeed, we keep grasping it because we are not satisfied with it!

Whatever is impermanent and unsatisfactory entails that there is no abiding entity behind it. It has no con­trolling factor, nor any kind of essence, whether we call it God, soul, or whatever. Everything that exists is a process. There are no entities. Of course, we may have concepts of an “entity,” but it is merely an idea to discuss or communicate some other ideas with.

Very often, the main hindrance to our understanding the higher reality that Buddhism or Buddhist medi­tation offers us is that of language. The kind of language we use, the kinds of questions we ask, often decide whether or not we will readily or really understand the nature of true reality.

For example, we often tend to ask questions like “Who created the world?” This is a loaded question, one that is wrongly put. We assume it is a “who” (some kind of entity) that “creates” the world. We assume that the world is “created,” and so we assume that there is also a “creator.” The world is “evolving,” a process; we are all processes, we are evolving beings. We are sets of conditions, physical and mental, working together to produce results which in turn become new conditions, and so on and on.

The problem is that whenever we assume something, especially about someone or even about ourselves, the situation is never really what we have assumed it to be. When we assume something to be “that,” it often turns out to be something else. This is a more tricky aspect of impermanence that we are troubled with but less likely to notice. Indeed, if we are able to notice this guile of impermanence, we would surely understand ourselves and the world much better.

Things are such that we cannot make sense of them unless we accept that they are impermanent, chang­ing and becoming other. Interestingly, the key term here is “that.” We can rightly say, for example, “that’s the way it is.” And leave it at that, but this is not easy if we do not really understand what it is that we are letting go of.

Let’s use a simple figure: the hand takes the shape of whatever it grasps. The process of seeing, for exam­ple, is explained as the eye sending out some kind of rays which then takes the shape of what we see and comes back with it. Similarly with thought: mental energy con­forms to its object (such as a thought) and then returns to the subject. Our idea is “formed of that,” which in Pali is atam,mayata,[1] that is, the mental energy of the experiencer is physically shaped by the thing experienced. In modern terms, this may be said to be a representationalview of perception.

The early Buddhist theory of perception, on the other hand, is constructional. We cognize sense-data through the sense-faculties, which are then perceived or recognized by checking them, as it were, against a memory bank of past experiences, so that we can make sense of it, form ideas and motivation for vari­ous actions. In other words, we do not really see even a representation of the external world, but con­struct our own private reality and live with that.

In simple terms, we can say that an understanding of atam,mayata corrects our inner vision to see things as they really are. Otherwise, we are constantly pushed ahead or pulled back by the idea, “What is that?” meaning that something else out there is more interesting or more real than what is in here.

Try examining this. Thinking the mind is in the body, we say, “my mind” [pointing at the head] or “my mind” [pointing at the chest (the body)]. “It’s all in my mind.” Actually, it’s the other way around.

The mind is not in the body, but that the body is in our mind! Even when we are in a body, “our” body, we are not really there if we do not have a conception of “body.” We can only truly know our body by constantly being mindful of it; then, we begin to know what it really is.

What do we know about our body? We can see it. We can hear it. We can smell it. We can touch it.

But, where does seeing occur?               In the mind.
Where does hearing occur?                    In the mind.
Where does smelling occur?                  In the mind.
Where does tasting occur?                     In the mind.
Where do we feel touch?                         In the mind.

When we think or know of the body, we do so through the agency of our minds. We have never known anything about our body except through our mind. So our entire life, from the very first day, everything we have ever known about our body and the world has happened in our mind. So, where is our body?

It does not mean that there is no physical world, but all that we can meaningfully say is that our expe­rience of the body and of the world happens within our minds. It does not happen anywhere else. It is all happening here, and in this here-ness, that the world’s externality and separateness cease. When we real­ize that the whole world is in this body of ours,[2] its thingness, its thatness, its otherness, stop. We are bet­ter able to see its true nature.

This shift of vision is a simple but useful meditation tool we can use any time. It is very useful be­cause it leads us on to see the true reality of the matter. As it were, it turns our world inside out, so that we are able to see that this body is indeed just a set of perceptions, and everything is seen in proper per­spective. It is all happening right here in our minds.

Having said that, we are now ready for atam,mayata to take us a step further. At first, atammayata makes us realize that there is really no “that,” only “this.” Then, as we get used to this new level of reality, we soon realize that even the “this” is meaningless, that is, we begin to see the duality of subject and object, or the notions of self and other, as essentially meaningless.

In reality, atammayata creates neither an objective observed “thing” known nor a subjective “observ­er” knowing it. There is neither a representation (“thatness”) of reality nor a construction (“thisness”) of reality: there is just true reality. It is the abandoning of the conceiving of “thatness” and “thisness,” of the observer and the observed, of subject and object, of duality. Hence, non-identificationrefers to the sub­ject­­ive aspect and non-fabrication to the objective. True reality transcends both.

Atammayata is the realization that, in reality, there cannot be anything other than ultimate reality. There is neither this nor that. In completely letting go of this and that, the whole relative subject-object world, even at its subtlest level, dissolves away. Transcending both these extremes of perception, atammayata refers nei­ther to a state where the mind does not “go out” to the object and occupy it, nor to a fabricated virtual real­ity relative to the object. The roots of duality have been pulled out. All we see is a spacious whole­ness: this realization is true wisdom and seeing wholeness is true compassion.

With this kind of understanding, we will find that a cryptic passage in the Malunkya,putta Sutta (S 35.95) becomes clearer, as it is illustrative of atammayata:
”When, Malunkya,putta, regarding what is seen, heard, sensed and cognized by you,

in the seen                   there will only be the seen;
in the heard                  there will only be the heard;
in the sensed               there will only be the sensed;
in the cognized            there will only be the cognized,

then, Malunkya,putta, you are ‘not by that.’

When Malunkya,putta, you are ‘not by that,’ then you will ‘not be therein’.
When, Malunkya,putta, you are ‘not therein,’ then you will ‘be neither here nor beyond nor in between the two’.       (S 35.95.13/4:73), SD 5.9[3]

R328 Revisioning Buddhism RB85
[an occasional re-look at the Buddha’s Example and Teachings]
Copyright by Piya Tan ©2014
Also see: The Mahayana Model of Awakening
Update: Made a correction  - akanistha is the highest of the five pure abodes which are five subplanes of the fourth jhana realm. An anagami can be born in either of the five pure abodes.


Someone asked me to write something about the ten fetters, so this is what I wrote:

In the Pali suttas, the Buddha teaches two types of persons destined towards stream entry, and four types or stages of aryans (awakened beings).

The two types of persons destined towards stream entry is 1) a faith follower, and 2) a dhamma-follower. (Khanda Sutta)

What is a faith follower? A faith follower is someone who accepts by faith and conviction, that all conditioned dharmas/phenomena - that is, the five aggregates, are inconstant, changeable, alterable, arising and passing, and also are unsatisfactory and ungraspable, and that all dharmas (conditioned and unconditioned) are empty of a self. If you have such a view, even by faith, the Buddha assures that you will never be capable of performing non-virtuous deeds that are so serious as to land you in the three lower realms (hell, animal, hungry ghost), and furthermore you are assured to attain stream-entry before you die in this life.

So even if you are not yet awakened but you want some kind of assurance for your liberation, and you have some faith in the Buddha's teachings, get right view (which is the forerunner of the noble eightfold path). That alone is enough for an assurance for your Nirvana. And it isn't really difficult - after all, you don't even need to be an expert in the Madhyamika or the Abhidharma, you just need to understand it and accept it by faith, even that alone serves as an assurance. When you have the right view, your entire life will naturally be directed or led towards realizing this truth, there is no turning back.

And what is a Dharma follower? A Dharma follower is someone who goes a step further than the faith follower, a dharma follower is someone who after "pondering with a modicum of discernment" (that is, after intellectually analyzing and concluding that all phenomena are such, for example, by following the Madhyamika or Abhidharma analysis, or just reading the suttas or sutras) and perhaps with a little experience with vipassana meditation (not to the point of direct realization) has accepted that all the conditioned dharmas are impermanent, (as mentioned above), unsatisfactory, and all dharmas are empty of self. Again, such a person is said to be (as similar to the above) someone who has 'entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill'. He is incapable of doing misdeeds (as mentioned above) that can land him in the three lower realms, he is incapable of dying before he realizes the fruit of stream entry.

Now, those two types of people I have just mentioned above, those are people who only had an intellectual view, one is accepted by faith in the Buddha's dharma, and one is concluded through intellectual analysis. Even these people have the assurance that they will attain awakening (at least the first stage of awakening) before they die. But those are still not awakened people. Awakening starts at stream entry (sotapanna), where you become an aryan, which is then followed by three more stages of awakening: once returner (sakadagami), non returner (anagami) and arahant - which connotes the conqueror, the saint, etc.

A stream entrant, having *directly*, *experientially*, realized that all conditioned phenomena are impermanent and unsatisfactory, and are empty of a self. Having directly discerned the nature of phenomena and gaining the dharma eye that sees the arising and cessation of aggregates, realizing anatta, the stream entrant has permanently eliminated the view of a self. What this means is really such a person can no longer conceive, believe in, or hold the notion of, a real, changeless, independent self, agent, observer, doer, controller, of one's life or experiences or the aggregates. One stops conceiving of any soul, self, or even an ultimate Self (such as identifying a true self that is 'Brahman' or 'Pure Consciousness'). A stream entrant can no longer hold the view that there is such a self/Self. A stream entrant sees, realizes, there is only ever the stream of aggregates with no self behind (or within) the aggregates. And he realizes this directly, through insight meditation.

A stream entrant is called a "stream entrant" because
by attaining the right view he/she has entered the stream that leads to Nibbana - the noble eightfold path.
From Dhammapada verse 178:
Sole dominion over the earth,
going to heaven,
lordship over all worlds:
the fruit of stream-entry
excels them.
A stream entrant (sotapanna) is assured to never again be reborn in the three lower realms, to be only reborn in either the human realms or the deva realm (heaven), and furthermore is assured to attain complete Nirvana (cessation) of afflictions as an Arahant in no more than 7 more lifetimes. Now a stream entrant may attain arahantship in that very life if he puts some effort in his practice, but even if he didn't, he can no more exceed 7 more lifetimes in samsara. A stream entrant has eliminated the first three fetters:

1. identity view (as explained above)
2. doubt (there can be no more doubt about the Buddhadharma because you have directly realized it in your own experience)
3. ritual attachment (the belief that reliance on rituals and rules can somehow save you from samsara or end your suffering, as by now you would have realized that only by following the noble eightfold path which is summarized as the path of insight and tranquility, can suffering truly be ended, there can be no end of suffering besides through wisdom)

So once you have directly realized the dharma, and gained the Dharma Eye, you are a stream entrant that has permanently ended the above three fetters and is on an irreversible conveyer belt to Nirvana - the end of samsaric births and deaths, the end of all afflictions (passion, aggression and delusion), the end of all I and mine-making. What is the 'stream' that the stream enterer enters? The Buddha explained that the stream is the noble eightfold path, so basically such a person, having attained realization of the right view - which is the forerunner of the noble eightfold path, has entered the path which invariably leads to Nirvana.

A once returner (sakadagami) is one step further, having attenuated (lessened, weakened significantly) two more fetters: the fetter of sensual desire and the fetter of ill will. Well the fetter of sensual desire is very easy to understand: craving for good sensual enjoyment, sex, music, or even good food and chocolates, etc. Anything that has to do with desiring nice experience of the senses, that comes under sensual desire.

The fetter of ill will, well, it just means hostility, hatred, violence, thoughts of harming others, etc. All these are ill will. A once returner has significantly attenuated, though not necessarily removed completely, these two fetters. And a once returner is assured to only be reborn in either the human or the deva realm for one more life at most before attaining complete nirvana.

The non returner is a further step, having completely eliminated the fetter of sensual desire and fetter of ill will, instead of merely 'attenuating' them. Such a being, an anagami, cannot have thoughts of anger, cannot have sexual lust, and do not engage in sex. Yeah - that is what the Buddha taught, it is not what I invented (refer to Mahavacchagota Sutta - it clearly states that stream entrants and sakadagami partakes in sensual pleasures but not anagami and arahants). So if someone continues to crave sex, and engage in sexual activities, and claims to be anagami, I have good reason to doubt that, because it simply does not tally with the Buddha's definition of what anagami is. It may be that others have different ideas of what anagami means from the Buddha, but after all the four stages are defined by Buddha so we should follow his definitions when discussing it in the context of dharma as taught by him. Otherwise we simply won't understand what he is saying, what he had in mind.

Then again some may say, oh, actually I am an anagami, I so transcend these earthly desires but for some reason I am still having an active sex life. Again, I seriously would doubt such claims, because as the Buddha states, "“Bhikkhus, that one can engage in sensual pleasures without sensual desires, without perceptions of sensual desire, without thoughts of sensual desire—that is impossible." (Alagaddūpama Sutta) So in my mind, in accordance with the scriptures, all anagamis and arahants are celibates, and furthermore have no interest in pursuing the pleasures of the senses (not only sex). This is what the Buddha suggested in the suttas, and is also the position of the commentaries.

Because an anagami has completely put an end to the fetter of sensual desire and ill will, there is no more cause for becoming (rebirth) in the sensual planes - which is all the planes of samsara up to the 6 sensual devalokas (deva means celestial being, loka means world, i.e. heavens). Why? Because if you understand the four noble truths you know, becoming (that is, rebirth) and the mass of suffering is driven by craving. Craving is the cause of suffering and rebirth.

If you have craving for sensuality, and the karmas pertaining to sensuality ripens - you get reborn in the sensual planes of existence. If you have craving and attachments to the form dhyanas/jhanas (these are states of meditative absorptions), then (provided that you have the wholesome karma and meditative practice to support that desire) you get reborn in the form devalokas as a Brahma. In the form realm you still have a material body but no sensual desires, whereas in formless realms you do not have a material body. If you have craving or attachments to the formless dhyanas such as infinite space, infinite consciousness, etc, then you get reborn in those samsaric planes. Then, you experience living in those realms for kalpas, for millions of years, until eventually your karmas get exhausted (especially if you are reborn in the formless realms it is easy to get into lower realms since there is no opportunity to make merits), and then you become reborn again in the lower realms and work your way up again. So, rebirth in these devalokas without wisdom is totally insecure, they are not to be sought by Buddhists seeking for freedom. (It's another thing if you are reborn there as a stream entrant, etc, cos eventually you get back to dharma and the path and you don't stray into samsara for long)

So going back to topic, an anagami does not get reborn anymore in the sensual planes, then where does he/she get reborn to? They are reborn in the five Pure Abodes (suddhavasa) of the 4th jhana planes, of which the akanistha is the highest of them. This is the only realm where Buddha has not been reborn in before (as he stated: having recalled many aeons of past lives, he has been reborn in all samsaric realms, except the five pure abodes), because once you get reborn in it, you can never come back - that realm is literally made up of ONLY anagamis and arahants: once an anagami is born there, one will never return from that realm into another samsaric rebirth, so basically you just become an arahant there and enter into nirvana. (Mahāsīhanāda Sutta: "it is not easy to find a realm in the round that I have not already [82] passed through in this long journey, except for the gods of the Pure Abodes; and had I passed through the round as a god in the Pure Abodes, I would never have returned to this world.")

Anagamis are assured of only rebirth in such a high devaloka simply because an anagami has cut off craving from sensuality, yet, there is still the fetter of craving for form and formless jhanas (will be explained later), and this supports becoming/rebirth in a jhanic plane.

Then we have an arahant. An arahant fully removes 5 more fetters and no longer takes birth in samsara after his/her parinirvana:

lust for material existence, lust for material rebirth (rūparāgo)[12]
lust for immaterial existence, lust for rebirth in a formless realm (arūparāgo)[13]
conceit (māna)[14][15]
restlessness (uddhacca)[16]
ignorance (avijjā)[17]

Material existence and immaterial existence here refers to the jhanic planes. So how can you have craving for jhanic planes? As I mentioned before, the meditative absorptions of jhanas are incredibly blissful and sublime. They are much more blissful than any sensual pleasures you have ever experienced. As Ajahn Brahmavamso said, jhanas are more blissful than sex. And it is on an entirely different level too.. the mental peace, intense joy and bliss, and equanimity, and mindfulness, these are very good, very wholesome mental factors. So it is nothing like the coarse sensual pleasures we get from drugs, intoxication, sex, etc etc which only leads to heedlessness and delusion. This is why jhanas is part of the noble eightfold path, the practice of right concentration. Jhanas are to be developed. They support the development of wisdom, they support the complete liberation from defilements, so it is important.

However these states are like any other conditioned phenomena marked by transciency, unsatisfactoriness, and are not-self, not-mine. By not perceiving the nature of all states, they can become object of attachment and craving. That is why some people who have no wisdom at all (that is, they are not even stream entrants) may get stuck on practicing jhanas the wrong way - that is, instead of using it as a support to develop wisdom they completely get attached to those states and become what is called "jhana junkies". If you have proper guidance I don't think you will fall into such a category of people. These jhana junkies only know how to sit all day, get into meditative bliss, and then when they die the cycle of rebirth continues, they get reborn in the higher devalokas for a long time but that is about it, eventually they return back to lower realms (like all sentient beings do eventually, if they did not encounter dharma).

So anyway as I was saying, these material existence and immaterial existence are so sublime and blissful and peaceful, so it is only at the very last stage of the path to personal liberation - that is, arahantship, that all attachments to the jhanic factors are completely removed, and with it, the causes for rebirth in these jhanic planes too are removed. Although stream entrant onwards have perceived directly the impermanence/dukkha/anatta of all phenomena, nonetheless subtle remnants or residue of ignorance persists that could lead to craving.

Regarding conceit, well, I've already spoken a little about it recently so I'll just cut and paste it here:

Many people translate the fetter of conceit as 'pride', however, the fetter of conceit is not just in the sense of being 'proud'. I mean, pride etc is definitely a fetter. But also some people can be very humble, yet it does not mean they have overcome their 'I Am conceit'.

The 'I Am conceit' is more specifically described as a kind of trace, like a stench left over in a jug when the contents of the jug has been poured away. That trace of self remains after realization of anatta and then one has to liberate even that trace itself. That liberation of trace is Arahantship. This is clearly described in the Khemaka Sutta.

The Buddha said:
Blissful is passionlessness in the world, The overcoming of sensual desires (i.e. anagami); But the abolition of the conceit "I am" (i.e. arahantship) — That is truly the supreme bliss.

Also, the Buddha said:

“The noble ones have seen as happiness

The ceasing of identity.

This [view] of those who clearly see

Runs counter to the entire world.


“What others speak of as happiness,

That the noble ones say is suffering;

What others speak of as suffering,

That the noble one know as bliss.”

So what is the difference between the 'view of self' and the 'trace of self'?

As Thusness wrote to me in 2011:

Session Start: 29 March 2011

Thusness: yeah of course
Thusness: if u do not feel the 'body construct' and 'mind construct', just the play of dharma, how does the sense of self arise?
AEN: It doesnt
Thusness: yeah...
Thusness: for me, it is just this dependent originated activity...
Thusness: primordially pure and luminous
Thusness: sense of self does not arise
Thusness: i do not see 'body' or 'mind'
Thusness: for there is no agent
Thusness: for u by now u should be clear on this
Thusness: experientially
Thusness: otherwise, u will not feel the 'process'
AEN: Ic..
Thusness: u told me about the mini maha experience
Thusness: so u should not feel the sense of self
AEN: Yea
Thusness: logically when the agent is gone, the primary cause for these sense of self should also be gone
Thusness: however due to the deeper dispositions, it continues to linger
Thusness: when u engage in this modern world, it re-enfore the identity
Thusness: so by seeing there is no-self in anatta, the sense of self should also dwindle
Thusness: when u practice and there is mind body drop
Thusness: due to de-construction of body and mind
Thusness: there is only purity of sensations
Thusness: it is just a lingering trace
Thusness: how does the sense of self arise?
Thusness: and that means it is simply a dispositions
Thusness: and during daily activity, there is re-enforcing of this trace
Thusness: when there is no agent, this trace will be seen as it is
Thusness: in non-dual and one mind, this is not just a trace
Thusness: u may have trace of identity

Thusness: but 'Self' (comments: self-view; that a truly existing self/Self exists) is not a trace

Thusness: it is as if it is truly 'there' and all there is
Thusness: but anatta is different
Thusness: for everything is like a trace
Thusness: and self is not any more special that an arising sound
Thusness: no diff
Thusness: can u understand the difference?

Now the 9th fetter which an arahant has eliminated:

restlessness (uddhacca)[16]

Restlessness is defined as "the excitement of mind which is disturbance, agitation of the heart, turmoil of mind." (Dhammasangani 429).

And this is a fetter that is only removed completely by an arahant. So it's very normal that you have a restless mind, a monkey mind, a distracted mind. We all experience that (well unless you're an arahant!). First we have a thought of X, and then from that thought X it drifts off into Y and Z and an endless chain of thinking, worries, pondering, etc. An analogy I gave is like it's reading the news feed on facebook. You scroll from one to another mindlessly, grasping to another post before leaving the previous post. We get distracted from time to time. In fact if you think you never get distracted, try sitting down in meditation, just watch your mind. Soon you'll realize how distracted you are but only you didn't notice it before. But at the same time if you sit a little longer, everything starts to tranquilize, mind and body tranquilizes and bliss happens.

Anyway. So, an arahant is someone who does not have restlessness. What this means, in my understanding, is that arahant does not have discursive thinking at all. They don't have a wandering mind. They don't daydream. They don't get distracted. They never get agitated. The only thoughts they have are wholesome, beneficial, necessary thoughts. They don't get excited and from thought X jump into Y, Z, etc, an endless chain of agitated thinking. And they aren't just in a state of equanimity in meditation - that is easy, but they are in equanimity in every moment in their life, through its ups and downs. They are not happy when they gained something nice, they are not unhappy when they lost something, in fact, sense of ownership never comes up in their mind at all.

The Buddha says that arahants are completely fearless. Arahants are free from hope and fear, they are free from craving for life and fear of death, they are free from any kinds of craving or fear at all. In the Dhammapada, a newly attained arahant climbs down from a very high pole to meet the Buddha without the slightest fear, he does not fear falling to his death. They have no worries at all. And they have no sorrow even at the death of their closed ones. Their minds are not affected at all in life, they do not experience agitation, their minds are like a calm, serene lake. So that's arahant's mind - complete peace, non-disturbed, equanimity... arahants are the "cooled ones" according to Buddha.

Honestly, restlessness (discursive thoughts) is the strongest fetter I have. I don't have much sensual craving or ill will or anger or any of those fetters mentioned, but my mind wanders, gets distracted, I believe like all or most of us here. Sometimes it settles down in meditation but in daily life there are so many things to think about... until mindfulness returns, and then there is complete intimacy with the appearance at hand and at the same time everything self-releases, thoughts gets released.

Lastly it is the fetter of ignorance (avijjā) that the arahant overcomes -- the Buddha defines ignorance as ignorance of the four noble truths, but the four noble truths is linked all the truths that we discover - impermanence, unsatisfactoriness/suffering, not-self, dependent origination, etc. So if you truly, fully, comprehend the four noble truths, you also overcome the perception of permanence, satisfactoriness, self, independence, inherency, and so forth.

If you see the four noble truths, you clearly see dependent origination in action. You clearly perceive that suffering - the eight kinds of suffering - is rooted in craving, in grasping, in delusion, and you clearly perceive that there is path which leads to the end of that craving, that grasping, that delusion.

So you see dependent origination Directly, not just as an inference, but you see ignorance in action - what does ignorance means? What does karmic propensities mean? Many of us think of karmic propensities and ignorance as being some kind of ghostly, hidden, almost mystical force hiding somewhere and affecting our lives from a hidden 'subconscious' component of consciousness stored away from sight. That is having an inherent view, a self-view of ignorance and karmic propensities. We need to directly See that cause of suffering and that suffering as the total exertion of our experience in seamless dependencies.

As Thusness say, having the view of afflicted dependent origination is having the enlightened view. The enlightened view does not conceive of a sufferer, suffering does not come from a self. How does it arise? Based on conditions - delusion, grasping, craving.

The totality of our experience is being shaped moment by moment by our delusions (either that, or by wisdom), by our sense of self, and with it all kinds of grasping and craving and afflictions. Taste it, see it for yourself, what is it like? See that grasping in action, see that becoming in action, see the birth of suffering. Only when you see suffering and the cause of suffering, only then can you realize the path and the end of that suffering. (Otherwise you become some neo-advaitins that say the path is not necessary)

And the moment you perceive the nature of that - that every phenomena is dependently arising, is empty of a self, is empty of inherent existence, at that moment, by realizing the four noble truths you realize dependent origination and you realize emptiness. And with that, you attain liberation. That is how overcoming the ignorance of the four noble truths is so crucial. From a view that a Subject interacts with an Object, to a view of seamless process of dependencies without self/Self, and furthermore clarity into the workings of delusion, grasping, craving I-making and suffering.


The early Buddhism's model of awakening as taught by Buddha are a series of (four) stages in progressively terminating the three poisons of passion/craving/lust/desire, aggression/anger/ill-ill, and delusion/ignorance, which are the causes of all suffering and samsaric births. This results in release from mental afflictions and any further re-births/becoming in the cycle of samsara. That is the end of suffering, also known as Nirvana. How is Nirvana attained? By perfecting the three trainings of ethical conduct/morality (Sīla), meditative composure (Samādhi) and discernment/wisdom (Paññā).
Also see:

Fearless Samadhi
Excerpts from the Jewel Mirror Samadhi 

Thusness wrote to me yesterday:

"In my opinion many of our great aspirations and high views turn empty talks easily.

After the direct insight of anatta, it opens the gate that allows one to experience effortlessly all sensations that arise without duality, without fear, without doership and without ownership. Many are unable to see the "why"s and "how" of "directness", so don't waste your insights that have given the opportunity in this life.

Train yourself to do that with sincerity and dedication first. Then you will be fully in touch with your original purity; you will be genuinely in touch with peace and openness."

More later:

If we want to experience fully and have genuine peace, be very sincere in sensing all your sensations for pretense, blames, rejections and contractions... ...don't rush... slow down your thoughts and scan all your sensations for these... see all these traces... see all these come from the "I"s and "mine"s... develop a strong willingness to let go with your insights of anatta. If you can for a brief moment be free from the conceit of I, the craving of mine and the background of I AM, that moment you are respectable even to the gods.

I do not want you to get into too high views and lose touch with genuine and simple practice."


Thusness, 2007:

(5:29 PM) Thusness:    what are the 3 characteristics (of self-liberation)?
(5:29 PM) AEN:    impermanence, suffering, no self ?
(5:29 PM) Thusness:    nope
(5:29 PM) Thusness:    i just told u the other day
(5:30 PM) Thusness:    completely non-dual and transparent.
(5:30 PM) Thusness:    Completely fearless
(5:30 PM) Thusness:    completely non-attached
(5:30 PM) Thusness:    so if a person after the experience of no-self, and is able to attain this 3 characteristics
(5:31 PM) Thusness:    then his hui geng (wisdom root) is truly deep
(5:31 PM) Thusness:    da geng qi (superior capacity)
(5:32 PM) Thusness:    means the enlightenment of non-dual of our nature leads directly to self liberation
(5:32 PM) Thusness:    that is because the 'sense of self' is completely eliminated from 7th
(5:32 PM) Thusness:    and karmic propensities become self liberated 

Even after initial realization of anatta, we have to continue practicing and meditating until these three aspects are perfected.
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Someone wrote: "wisdom can only exist if ignorance is reified, they're both flip sides of the same non-existent coin, just more interpretation by the mind, that's why i tend towards "innocence""

The awakening of wisdom is only possible when ignorance is seen through, however wisdom is not 'just more interpretation'. It is a form of awakeness, it is a direct prajna wisdom where the true nature of experience/mind being empty is directly apprehended. This is what liberates, there is no liberation when the bonds of delusion persist. One can remain non-conceptual and luminous, but non-conceptuality is not what liberates the bond. The bond of perceiving inherent existence and self persists even in states of non-conceptuality. It does not resolve the deep-seated delusion.

As Thusness wrote to me in 2013:

Thusness Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 6:20pm UTC+08

There must b clear understanding of right and wrong understanding, ignorance and wisdom. What u r doing and subscribing is using experience to replace right understanding.
Thusness Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 6:23pm UTC+08

Ignorance is that tendency to c things inherently or "things" truly exist or there r "things". Wisdom is to c through that "thingness" via DO and realized emptiness...that nothing arise, come, go, life, death...

(note by me: 'things' include 'Awareness', seeing 'Awareness' as inherently existing is also bondage)

26/2/13 9:42:12 AM: Thusness: U experience them in terms of sensation
26/2/13 9:42:36 AM: AEN: Yes
26/2/13 9:44:48 AM: Thusness: What u r going through is freeing these "constructs" that bond u at the deepest lvl
26/2/13 9:45:43 AM: Thusness: But that is not being "non-conceptual" alone but by wisdom
26/2/13 9:46:19 AM: Thusness: Experience will naturally turn luminous and liberating experience wholely via losing center, not by intensifying experience.

26/2/13 8:53:42 PM: Thusness: With regards to locality, deconstruction implies freeing the tendency of getting bonded ... So u must feel and experience this freeing of oneself from this bond
26/2/13 8:54:38 PM: Thusness: Means whenever and where ever arising manifest, there must b this freedom
26/2/13 8:55:42 PM: Thusness: That sense of center and locality must dissolve.

16/3/13 1:02:48 AM: Thusness: Ignorance is like an endless loop
16/3/13 1:04:21 AM: Thusness: U penetrated object with direct non-conceptual experience, it hides in subject
16/3/13 1:05:09 AM: Thusness: U destroy object, it hides in here/now, there/here, in/out
16/3/13 1:06:25 AM: Thusness: Becoz the fundamental ignorance is there
16/3/13 1:07:04 AM: Thusness: With that view, there is no true overcoming
16/3/13 1:07:42 AM: Thusness: Objects will still appear to b external
16/3/13 1:07:58 AM: Thusness: Even after non-dual
16/3/13 1:08:37 AM: Thusness: A practitioner din really overcome it
16/3/13 1:11:13 AM: Thusness: U will hv to feel it with ur entire body-mind with that view to understand
16/3/13 1:12:34 AM: Thusness: And compare with the deconstruction of "emptiness"
16/3/13 1:14:05 AM: Thusness: If we hold substantial view, we will always feel something has changed to something
16/3/13 1:14:28 AM: Thusness: And we want to understand it that way
16/3/13 1:15:04 AM: Thusness: Therefore we r unable to overcome the source, appearances and apparent objects
16/3/13 1:15:48 AM: Thusness: How is something so solid and external is "mind"
16/3/13 1:19:24 AM: Thusness: Also when u realized there is no hearer behind sound and initially penetrated anatta, it does not mean u hv overcome appearances and apparent objects too
16/3/13 1:19:32 AM: Thusness: What is lacking?
16/3/13 1:19:55 AM: AEN: Insight that penetrates empty nature of objects ?
16/3/13 1:21:52 AM: Thusness: Yes only when one begin to "realize" emptiness and look into the experience of anatta and understand this "emptying"
16/3/13 1:23:27 AM: Thusness: Until it replaces that "inherent/dualistic" and apply it endlessly
16/3/13 1:23:57 AM: Thusness: When u look into Self/self it is empty
16/3/13 1:24:12 AM: Thusness: When u look into aggregates, it is empty
16/3/13 1:24:29 AM: Thusness: When u look at here/now, it is empty
16/3/13 1:25:15 AM: Thusness: When u look into in/out, it is empty then u begin to overcome appearances and apparent objects
16/3/13 1:27:17 AM: Thusness: R u denying Awareness?
16/3/13 1:27:30 AM: AEN: No
16/3/13 1:27:44 AM: AEN: Deconstruction is not denial
16/3/13 1:27:57 AM: AEN: But seeing inherent dualistic view
16/3/13 1:28:11 AM: AEN: Through
16/3/13 1:31:03 AM: Thusness: That is liberating it
16/3/13 1:31:21 AM: AEN: I see..
16/3/13 1:32:36 AM: Thusness: Life, death, here, now, this, that, subject, object...etc
16/3/13 1:32:57 AM: Thusness: Is there a substance?
16/3/13 1:33:33 AM: Thusness: Or the same substance being transformed into another
16/3/13 1:33:53 AM: Thusness: Is the current thought the same as previous thought
16/3/13 1:34:08 AM: AEN: Nope
16/3/13 1:34:10 AM: Thusness: The entire view has changed
16/3/13 1:34:20 AM: Thusness: It does not apply
16/3/13 1:35:03 AM: Thusness: All along we hv understood our immediate experience wrongly and treat that as ultimate
16/3/13 1:36:06 AM: Thusness: Then non-dual experience will turn liberating
16/3/13 1:36:46 AM: Thusness: Next look into total exertion

16/3/13 1:45:32 AM: Thusness: When u see a table, is there a truly existing "table"
16/3/13 1:46:29 AM: Thusness: When I say awareness, is there a truly existing awareness
16/3/13 1:46:54 AM: Thusness: When we say "here", is there a "here"
16/3/13 1:47:07 AM: Thusness: When we say now, is there a now
16/3/13 1:47:46 AM: Thusness: Some use analytical way of deconstructing into parts
16/3/13 1:48:18 AM: Thusness: As for me, it is total exertion of this immediate formation
16/3/13 1:50:28 AM: Thusness: Until luminosity, total exertion and emptiness becomes seem less
16/3/13 1:50:32 AM: Thusness: Seamless
16/3/13 1:51:48 AM: Thusness: The view that there must b an essence that continue from here to there, from now to then is overcome
16/3/13 1:52:25 AM: Thusness: Experience is as direct, non-conceptual, non dual and liberating

Thusness Monday, December 9, 2013 at 9:29pm UTC+08

The more I read, the more I find the essence of what liberates is not clearly expressed...rather what expressed is more on non-dual clarity
Thusness Monday, December 9, 2013 at 9:46pm UTC+08

Yeah...what liberates with ur current experience and insights?
AEN Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:34pm UTC+08

anatta, emptiness and impermanence... all these breaks various clinging be it self, here, now, it, etc
Thusness Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:36pm UTC+08

Yes. Simple and why it becomes complex is because of the many faces of grasping.

Göran Backlund recently published a new book.

Göran Backlund:


After countless days of hard work the book is finally done. I’m very proud of it. I’ve written something that I would have wanted back in the days when I just started to pull the threads of the fabric.
This piece of philosophy will guide you through every step in dismantling the notion of the external world. It will ruthlessly and effectively reveal and dispel any wrong-thinking surrounding this idea upon which all else stands.
This isn’t the first book that tackles this subject. But others have left it at “we can’t really know whether there’s anything beyond our experience,” while I go all the way and say that we can know – and in this book I’ll show you exactly how and why this idea of an external world beyond our perceptions is nothing but a figment of our imagination.
But this is a book for serious people. You won’t find any ‘pointers’ in it. What you’ll find is stone cold logic hacking away at the very foundation of existence itself. And in it’s wake; when the dust settles; you’ll recognize that, not only were the words of the sages true all along, but they’ve gone from being a remote possibility to being the light and guiding principle of your life. What words?
Consciousness is all.
The book is called REFUTING THE EXTERNAL WORLD and is available NOW as a downloadable E-book.