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“In anatta, self is negated and D.O (dependent origination) is realized. In emptiness the idea of "negation" is further refined to allow the mind to see how conventions are mistaken to be "real" and "true". Understanding how conventions and reifications (mistaken to be "real" and "true") can be intellectual but seeing through requires direct experiential insight and anatta is the actual taste of that in relation to the convention "self/Self". Once this is understood "emptiness" is realized to be the natural progression of anatta. The direct taste is beyond description, often expressed as +A and -A.”

~ Thusness (John Tan), 2018

John Tan
Hi David, thanks for sharing.

First there is the direct apprehension of Clarity/Awareness.

Next is recognizing the apparent separation of clarity and appearance caused by a seeming perceptual knot.

Then there is resolving of this separation and what’s left is appearances / phenomena / cognized, seen, heard, tasted, smelled and sensed

It is interesting that the resolving of the separation for your case is not by way of subsuming into an all-encompassing non-dual awareness/space; however the overcoming of the center/agent can arise (from my experience) by:

1. By a prolong training in a state of no-mind.

2. Seeing through the center that the center has always been assumed, it is extra. In reality it does not exist.

3. Seeing through that the fundamental nature of the perceptual knot itself

4. A combination of above

Do you overcome the center by any of the above or by a different approach?

June 25 at 12:45pm · Edited · Unlike · 4

David Vardy Nice to meet you John. Looking back ( I was a slow learner. This is over a thirty year period). The first insight was associated with Taoist Yoga/Meditation performing the small microcosmic orbit. I had developed a lot of Chi over the years and when that orbit opened there was a hyper aware state, one of complete calmness and clarity. A feeling where everything just dropped. It wasn't until another decade or so when I was standing in line at an ice cream stand and a little girl turned around and looked up at me. In that moment she seemed as if she didn't see me, was looking straight through me. It was huge to say the least, brought me literally to my knees. The event left me feeling as if I had a hole in my forehead for about 2 months, experiencing headlessness all along. Deconstructed were the opposites, particularly inside and outside. You could say that from that day with that girl automatic continuous deconstruction was going on henceforth. There was no getting around it, even when exhausted. It's difficult retracking in such a short space here, but subsequently there was the experience of Anatta. This was incredible in light of the fact it hadn't been spelled out to me and having left the Chan tradition well before advancing in it I was kind of at a loss, not experientially, there was no doubt there, but how to talk about it. I had pretty much been seeing from the I AM position prior to this. Prior to Anatta it was as if my backside was an infinite expansive potential, the front being purely phenomenal. This destroyed the backside. What had been imagined to be non-dual was seen not to have been the case at all. The notion of absence being on the backside was now gone. The idea of no-self prior to Anatta was really just self as Absence, but still holding onto a conceptual absence you could say. There was still a center. Experiencing Anatta in my case, coincided with seeing DO. Prior to Anatta, phenomena seemed to be hyper real, substantiated as you say? In the moment of Anatta, the packed nature of phenomena as a unitary seeing having no inherent qualities was clear. Emptiness of both sides was clear in the same moment, and fortunately continued as a heightened Samadi like experience for months after the initial introduction.
June 25 at 1:28pm · Unlike · 3

David Vardy There is a physical component to this. Here, the experience occurring with the insight coinciding with seeing the packed nature of sensing is also a packed feeling in the brain. Every space is filled. I call it the 'stuffed animal' effect. The center is squeezed out by seeing itself. It's as if by virtue of occupied receptors, the play of opposites is cancelled out, not intellectually but physically. And that which is cancelled is who you've been featured imagining yourself to be. There has been no one there but the play of opposites in a hyperactive fashion. The essence of quietude is the absence of that play.
June 25 at 1:51pm · Like

John Tan Hi David,
Nice meeting you too and thanks for sharing your experiences…felt a little nostalgic after knowing your Taoist background.
Your description of the little girl’s stare is beautiful. The stare cuts through not only one’s discursive thoughts but also pierces through the living Presence (the first level of koan of one’s original face) and right into the fundamental essence of anatta. Even from your mere description, there is still the wordless transmission of headlessness that penetrates deep into one’s bone marrow and boils the blood. The stare preserves the lineage that is beyond words. Thank You.
For me, the initial insight of anatta was mainly what I have stated in scenario 2 -- seeing through the center that the center has always been assumed, it is extra. In reality it does not exist.
Up until this point of anatta, I was very much a non-conceptual advocator, less words more experience. I have heard of the word “Kong
”(Emptinesss) numerous times but never exactly know what it truly meant. The idea of Emptiness struck me probably “2 years later when I came across the chariot analogy of the Buddhist sage Nāgasena. There was an instant recognition that the analogy is precisely the insight of anatta and anatta is the real-time experiential taste of the “Emptiness” in relation to self/Self except that it is now replaced with “chariot” in the example.
The insight was huge and I began to re-examine all my experiences from the perspective of "Emptiness". This includes mind-body dropped, the impression of hereness and nowness, internal and externality, space and time...etc. Essentially a journey of deconstruction, that is, extending the same insight of anatta from the perspective of emptiness to all phenomena, aggregates, mental constructs and even to non-conceptual sensory experiences. This led to the taste of instant liberation at spot of not only the background (self) but also the cognized, seen, heard, tasted, smelled and sensed without the need to subsume either subject into object or object into subject but liberates whatever arises at spot.
The deconstruction process reveals not only the taste of freedom from freeing the energy that is sustaining the constructs (in fact tremendous energy is needed to maintain the mental constructs) but also a continuous formation of a perceptual knot that blinds us in a very subtle way and that relates to scenario 3 -- Seeing through the fundamental nature of the perceptual knot itself. Seeing the nature of perceptual knot involves in seeing clearly certain very persistent and habitual patterns that continues to shape our mode of knowing, analysis and experience like a magical spell. The perceptual knot is the habitual tendency to reify and Emptiness is the antidote for this reifying tendency.
The journey of emptying also convinces me the importance of having the right view of Emptiness even though it is only an intellectual grasped initially. Non-conceptuality has its associated diseases…lol…therefore I always advocate not falling to conceptuality and yet not ignoring conceptuality. That is, strict non-conceptuality is not necessary, only that habitual pattern of reification needs be severed. Perhaps this relates to the zen wild fox koan of not falling into cause and effect and not ignoring cause and effect. A koan that Hakuin remarked as "difficult to pass through".
Not falling, not ignoring.
A word different, a world of difference.
And the difference causes a wild fox for five hundred lifetimes!
A long post and time to return to silence.
Nice chat and happy journey David!
June 26 at 1:33am · Edited · Unlike · 9

David Vardy Thank you John. This is a real pleasure. It’s like having a first flush cup of Tung Ting after a few years of drinking Lipton. This feels similar to when Soh happened to pop up in another forum that I was in. What he said then, and continues to say, is perennially refreshing.
“This led to the taste of instant liberation at spot of not only the background (self) but the cognized, seen, heard, tasted, smelled and sensed without the need to subsume either subject into object or object into subject but liberates whatever arises at spot.”
Functioning, in the absence of clinging as it were, seems to be self-consuming much like a fire burning, the fuel being what appears to be arising. Whatever arises is consumed by the very nature of the activity itself. What we’re featured doing it seems is making ‘still lifes’ (reification) out of the flames, assumed to be living as such, but only in memory. When this functioning isn’t appearing against a background, and there can only be a conceptual background, then what pops up only survives as long as it’s noticed. If there was anyone to be continuously surprised by all this, slack jaw would probably be an ongoing
For many years, 23 to be exact, I worked in a small kitchen of my restaurant. We had two windows looking into the dining room including a distant view of the street in front of our restaurant. I remember to this day, the first impact of seeing people walking by in the street, disappearing stage left, disappearing stage right, appearing from stage left, appearing from stage right. What was a surprise back then, slowly became a virtual matter of fact. There just isn’t a way to create a story of what’s happening to those people, do they have lives, where do they go, what happens to them. etc. in the absence of a background. In many ways, this is just about seeing things as they arise in the absence of stories. What can’t be described is the utter simplicity of it, and in one sense, it’s the one thing that isn’t required because, in fact, that’s all that’s happening.
This then translates to our daily ‘lives’. When someone shows up who you haven’t seen for sometime you ask out of genuine curiosity how they’ve been, what’s been happening because they’ve simply been out of mind and out of sight, not asking out of mere habit.
So long as there’s reification, deconstruction is required. The nature of deconstruction can at first be tedious, but eventually it just becomes what has to happen. There’s no getting around it. When it becomes as natural as a fire burning, then we can trust that what’s happening is what’s happening and their need not be concern for outcomes, a future, a past, whatever. It’s not different from experiencing a wound heal. Patience I’ve discovered has been my best friend. Sometimes these things feel as if they can take an When it’s understood that the undercurrent is far stronger than whatever is appearing at the surface, we give in to the current.
June 26 at 1:43am · Edited · Unlike · 3

John Tan Hi David, I see that you are expressing what I called the +A and –A of emptying.
When u cook, there is no self that cooks, only the activity of cooking. The hands moves, the utensils act, the water boils, the potatoes peels …here there is no room for simplicity or complications, the “kitchen” went beyond it’s own imputation and dissolved into the activity of cooking and the universe is fully engaged in this cooking.
30 years of practice and 23 years of kitchen life is like a passing thought.
How heavy is this thought?
The whereabouts of this thought?
Taste the nature of this thought.
It never truly arises.
June 26 at 8:43am · Unlike · 8

David Vardy Hi John - Well said. The kitchen is full of metaphors, but once beyond metaphor and measure, there's nothing quite like it. I use to refer to it as being a 'corner of a wall-less room'.
June 26 at 11:25am · Like · 1


On "Right View? No View? Semblance":

I wrote to Din Robinson:

Not commenting on Aham Monas as I am unfamiliar with his view. But commenting on your comment:

"Din Robinson yes, I'm asking if you believe your thoughts/views are an accurate reflection of reality"

Which implies that no thoughts and views are an accurate reflection of reality. I don't quite agree with that. That view of yours will lead to the disease of non-conceptuality:

Before Anatta, non-conceptual direct realization of Presence-Awareness can be there, but reified and identified and clung to as some true Self or background behind all phenomena. This is a form of clinging, not liberation. Even though one may rest in a non-conceptual state of Presence, it is not the same as liberation.

Even if the Witness collapses into One Mind and one experiences non-dual luminosity, that luminosity can be reified again into something ultimate, changeless and independent.

As Thusness said in the past (and has been so in my experience), non-dual luminosity is blissful, but emptiness liberates (seeing the nature of Self/Phenomena as empty liberates).

It will be a mistake to think that I, Thusness, and the other members of this group, have not had direct realization of that Presence-Awareness. But we know that is not the key to liberation, merely resting in a state of non-conceptual awareness is not the key to liberation but serves as a basis to investigate the nature of Presence-Awareness further, so that not only is the luminous clarity experienced but its empty nature.

Even after anatta, all experience is self-luminous, lucid/vivid, direct and non-conceptual, without seer-seeing-seen. Although the sense of being a background Witness or Agent is gone, foreground presencing/lucid/vivid phenomena can appear vivid and real, until analyzed by seeing the dependent origination, so that its non-arising is realized. This analysis of dependent origination and dependent designation is at first conceptual and inferential, but eventually a direct, non-conceptual realization of the emptiness and non-arising of foreground Presence can arise. But until direct realization arises, having a proper understanding of dependent origination, dependent designation and emptiness as a semblance (semblance as direct insight has not arisen) can be helpful to aid one's contemplation.

Hence the path of Buddhadharma is about giving rise to direct realization that ends reification, identification and clinging, of both Self and Phenomena as existing inherently, rather than merely resting in a state of Awareness or Clarity (as most teachers and teachings have taught). It is quite unique in this regard from the common non-dual discussion groups out there. The direct realizations are non-conceptual, but it is not induced by merely resting in a non-conceptual state of clarity/presence/awareness (which can happen even at the I AM phase) but by analyzing and contemplating the nature of Presence/Awareness/Experience. First penetrating into anatta (with the wind analogy and weather analogy and the two stanzas of anatta), then into twofold emptiness (the dependent origination and non-arising of all phenomena).

Even so, Pristine Awareness is never denied. As Thusness wrote in 2012, "I do not see practice apart from realizing the essence and nature of awareness. The only difference is seeing Awareness as an ultimate essence or realizing awareness as this seamless activity that fills the entire Universe. When we say there is no scent of a flower, the scent is the flower.... that is because the mind, body, universe are all together deconstructed into this single flow, this scent and only this... Nothing else. That is the Mind that is no mind. There is not an Ultimate Mind that transcends anything in the Buddhist enlightenment. The mind Is this very manifestation of total exertion... wholly thus. Therefore there is always no mind, always only this vibration of moving train, this cooling air of the air-con, this breath... The question is after the 7 phases of insights can this be realized and experienced and becomes the ongoing activity of practice in enlightenment and enlightenment in practice -- practice-enlightenment."

This reminds me of something Thusness wrote years ago which I agree:

John TanThursday, August 21, 2014 at 6:36am UTC+08
I am not into no view...but actualization of right view.

John TanThursday, August 21, 2014 at 7:03am UTC+08
We all know views are only provisional and are approximate of "reality" but some views are better representations of "reality" than others. I am not into "no view", that will lead us into taking "non conceptuality" as the goal of practice. I have no issue adopting "right view", "non conceptuality of view" to me simply means not to let "view" remains intellect and conceptual but have experiential insight and actualized it in daily activities.


John TanTuesday, December 30, 2014 at 6:21pm UTC+08
No what I mean is a view and a structure like that of "mere designation" to have a semblance of direct experience of 2 fold and total exertion. Then in each of the phase, to trigger the direct insight, use koan or short stanza for contemplation.

John TanTuesday, December 30, 2014 at 6:22pm UTC+08
So a practitioner will not have a desync of view and experience, there will be a smooth process.


John TanMonday, January 5, 2015 at 2:26pm UTC+08
Seeing through first how reifications arise and the deconstruction of these reifications in direct experience (anatta and 2 folds) and then how to correctly apply conventionality as a semblance to "what is".


John TanTuesday, January 6, 2015 at 9:12am UTC+08
Semblance because insight has not arisen.


John TanTuesday, February 3, 2015 at 8:56am UTC+08
Lol...actually I hv always like Jax's relentless zeal in pointing out the ultimate is direct, immediate and beyond arbitrary concepts. Primordial suchness is free from all elaborations, natural and stainless. Like eating an apple, the taste cannot be conveyed; all concepts of ultimate are at best a semblance, a concordant mental image but I believe no one is contesting that. It is the no practice and unskillful presentation of the ultimate, ignoring two truths and seeing everything as conceptual designation is a nightmare. Phenomena are only realized to be absence and empty when sought and analyzed via dependent arising, otherwise it is amazingly real and vivid. No matter how direct, non-dual and non-conceptual, no experience survives ultimate analysis, when analyze always non-arisen and empty. There is no subsuming of subject into object or object into subject, no skewing to either poles; only always seeing the nature of whatever arises as empty and non-arisen when presented then phenomenon is free and liberating.


Look at what that appears quite substantial in experience, it is easier to contemplate like "the green color of my yoga matt" because the "green-ness" doesn't disappear...clearly it is "green" but is it? We keep contemplating and realized it isn't truly there at all. We must infer for non-conceptuality cannot bring us to that realization...there it is conceptual + non-conceptual to "awake" this insight of absence while in vivid presence. What most practitioner missed is they hold too tightly to non-conceptuality and therefore are denied of this realization. We then bring this taste to the entire scenery and ask where is in this must be in a non-dual of just scenery to bring this actual taste upon one's own empty clarity...then the whole entire experience turns illusion-like. Then we bring this to the more insubstantial phenomena like sound, sensation, scent...just one's empty clarity ... Vividly there while absence...not being constantly dissolved.

It is a 2 mode (analysis via DO + non-dual no mind experience) of cognition into right contemplation as a practice...

Also, Thusness wrote in Jan 2015:

From "hereness"...everything is clearly here but there is no "here" scenery...where is this scenery ... Where is this clear "redness" of the flower...

Now I know how to express in prasangika terms - "A" being negated of the existence of "A"

From "hereness"...everything is clearly here but there is no "here" scenery...where is this scenery. If not how I dare to say the "key" is in translating the insight from inferring consciousness into a taste then dropped the habit to capture by inference after one is familiar with the illusion-like experience ... ... Where is this clear "redness" of the flower...

Look at what that appears quite substantial in experience, it is easier to contemplate like "the green color of my yoga matt" because the "green-ness" doesn't disappear...clearly it is "green" but is it? We keep contemplating and realized it isn't truly there at all. We must infer for non-conceptuality cannot bring us to that realization...there it is conceptual + non-conceptual to "awake" this insight of absence while in vivid presence. What most practitioner missed is they hold too tightly to non-conceptuality and therefore are denied of this realization. We then bring this taste to the entire scenery and ask where is in this must be in a non-dual of just scenery to bring this actual taste upon one's own empty clarity...then the whole entire experience turns illusion-like. Then we bring this to the more insubstantial phenomena like sound, sensation, scent...just one's empty clarity ... Vividly there while absence...not being constantly dissolved.

It is a 2 mode (analysis via DO + non-dual no mind experience) of cognition into right contemplation as a practice...

Having vivid experience and we look into the dependent arising of this vivid presence of experience...where is "hereness", just a formation of sense impression...clearly everything is here but "where"....this has the same effect of throwing one into illusion-like spaciousness...not only does it point to dependent arising and empty nature and also points us right back into one's clarity.

They [Advaita] are simply looking at the deconstruction of subject/object duality and the clarity that comes from such a state. This experience is important to nyingma as well as other schools too but that is simply part of the it. More importantly is to understand the non-arisen nature of whatever dependently originates. Many pride non-conceptuality over conceptuality and that is the problem. They refuse to analyze properly because there is this wrong impression that they already have a vivid experience of non-conceptual non-dual clarity, why the need to step back... The "when analyze" is key in madhyamaka because insight of non-arisen via dependent arising will not dawn without analysis.

Imo it is crucial to look at "dependencies" and "absence" as two distinct separate insights and later unite them. If masters and teachers can device koans style to trigger the "aha" moment of these 2 insights in a direct way and later the skillful unity of them, it will be great.

In addition to debates, one must seriously contemplate and realize the limitations of even the direct non-dual and non-conceptual mode of perception. Over pricing it can be a disservice. Prajna wisdom (wisdom of emptiness) is a deep realization that arises from the maturing of non-dual perception + inferring consciousness. It needs both. Btw, open spaciousness is a presence, not an absence.

So "profound absence" is triggered by ultimate analysis and integrated in an experience of non-dual Presence as empty and non-arisen. Therefore illusion-like spaciousness comes from both.
It is not easy to see this but go contemplate deeper.
I am referring the 4th level of realizing the "absence", clearly appear but "not exactly there". So analysis via DO triggers the realization of the absence and the dependencies whereas direct non-dual perception is about Presence.

Someone wrote: “I think something that might be totally crazy here but, isn't viewing things as mere conditioned arisings subtly reifying things to be a thing which is conditioned?”

I replied:

Depends on how it’s understood. Understood in the following way, conditionality does not reify but serves as a semblance for total exertion and empty clarity, +a and -a

Does dependent arising require some “thing” to depend on?

Greg Goode:

Steve,  Madhyamika interprets the "thingness" gestalt as a type conception, a way of reacting or conceptualizing words or concepts or sensations, as if there were existence involved.  Maybe some words seem to invite this kind of reifying conceptualization more than others - we usually feel that more physical-sounding, more concrete words entail a more independent kind of existence.  But Madhyamika would refute this kind of existence across the board.

Does "dependent arising" require there is (A) something dependent that arises, and (B) something that A is dependent on?   Even though Madhyamika itself refutes this?

Not according to Madhyamika itself.  When A is said to be dependent, the meaning is that is is not INdependent.  It is not self-sufficient, it has no essence or true nature.

What does "dependent" mean?  Dependence is usually broken down into three types.  Phenomenon A relies on pieces and parts, on conditions, and on conceptual designation.

But none of these things (pieces + parts, conditions, conceptual designation) is an inherent, self-standing thing.  Each of these things itself dependent.

This kind of dependency is not linear, tracing back to an original first cause or universal stopping point.  It's more like a web of dependencies.  It's not arborial, it's rhizomatic.

Years ago:

Greg Goode: Different types of dependency: several people have given examples, and here's another one.

A table..

1. A table depends on legs, a top, screws and braces (parts)
2. A table depends on being constructed, and trees, and sun and air, and builders (causes and conditions).
3. A table depends on being conceptualized and designated as a table.

This is the subtle one. Let's say you see a leg and a top. Do you see a backrest? No, so you won't call this a chair. The designation goes like this - you see some forms, and make them out as legs and a top. You give those forms the name, label, designation of "table."

This is subtle because the table is not exactly equal to the parts. The table cannot equal the parts, because then, if the parts change, the parts would be different, and so, following the equation, the table would have to change. Another reason the equality cannot hold is that there are many parts and only one table. The table cannot equal the *collection* of parts, because if the parts change, or if a leg gets broken off, or swapped out, then the collection changes. So the table would have to be a different table.

But we really don't want to say that the table would be different just because the parts are different. We want to somehow say that the table can remain relatively stable as the same table, even if the parts change, or get painted, etc.

And at the same time, we cannot find a truly existent, unchanging table behind or within the parts. If we did find such a truly existent table, then we wouldn't need to designate the parts as a table. But we do. It makes no sense that the table would really be a table if no one had ever in history designated anything as a table.

So we allow ourselves to end up saying, in a loose, conventional way, that the table depends on the parts, but is not the parts. It's a table in name only. this kind of naming is the designation-aspect of the dependency.

And this loose, conventional approach to tables and selves and life and all things is the experience of emptiness. It's a free, flexible, sweetly joyful, open-hearted way of life....

John Tan: And also functionality. A Chariot continues to function even with some of its parts missing. Dependencies based on parts, causes and conditions, relations, functions and imputations.

**Important: Does dependent arising require some “thing” to depend on?
**Important: All Things are Conceptual Designations
**Important: A Sun That Never Sets (Written by Kyle Dixon)
**Important: Putting aside Presence, Penetrate Deeply into Two Fold Emptiness
**Important: Nondual Emptiness Teachings
**Important: Fully Experience All-Is-Mind by Realizing No-Mind, Conditionality, Unreality and Non-Arising
**Important: Quotes by Dogen
**Important: Emancipation of Suchness
**Important: Buddha-Dharma: A Dream in a Dream

**Important: Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma on the Inseparability of Awareness and Conditions
**Important: Emptiness as Viewless View and Embracing the Transience
**Important: Actualization in Mundane Life and Encounters 
Ultimate and Relative 
Fully Experience All-Is-Mind by Realizing No-Mind and Conditionality 
Daniel's Post on Anatta/Emptiness
Realization, Experience and Right View and my comments on "A" is "not-A", "not A" is "A" 
Non-Arising Because of Dependent Origination
Being-Time by Shinshu Roberts (more on Total Exertion)
Dharma Body (more on Total Exertion)
How Experiential Realization Helps in Liberation
Emptiness as Unity
Two-Way Dependency/Dependent Designation
Another Kind of Self-Inquiry: Chandrakirti’s Sevenfold Reasoning on Selflessness
Dependent Arising and the Emptiness of Emptiness: Why did Nagarjuana start with causation? 
Advice from Kyle Dixon
Dzogchen vs Advaita, Conventional and Ultimate Truth (Written by Kyle Dixon, with comments by Thusness)
Greg Goode on Advaita/Madhyamika
Purpose of Madhyamaka?
Leaving traces or Attainment?
A casual comment about Dependent Origination
Reply to Yacine
Phagguna Sutta: To Phagguna
Where did by breath go? (luminousemptiness blog; read article + comments by PasserBy/Thusness) 
All Experience is Mind (luminousemptiness blog; read article + comments by PasserBy/Thusness)
True Mind and Unconditioned Dharma
The place where there is no earth, fire, wind, space, water 
Two Types of Nondual Contemplation after I AM
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