I had an intense peak experience recently, which I revisited some aspects of my previous realizations/experience.

There is a vast impersonal natural intelligence which is living you, or rather, it IS this life, this breathing, this walking, this drinking... this life of the universe, of the earth spinning, .... all an interconnected play of Dharma, of total life, intelligence, and awareness. The only blockage is simply this sense of an 'I', someone who controls will and dictates actions in life.

If you think that I am sounding like an advocate of 'God', I have to reiterate that this so called 'God' or intelligent Mind is empty of its own existence apart from Dharma, is not something changeless and independent, and is not some sort of source acting behind the scenes or pulling the strings. Because this vast impersonal intelligence is so magnificent, powerful and impersonal, it can give the impression that we are all just the dream or expression of a Universal Mind of God, and if we follow this 'personification' and 'reification' we may start to think whether we are living in a matrix, a dream of Shiva for no other reason than his own enjoyment. But we are not the play or lila of a Brahman, there is no need to personify or reify this at all. This intelligence IS the miracle of manifestation. The divine has no face of its own, and yet every face is the face of divinity. There is no I, no perceiver, or a controller of this spontaneous intelligent happening. Living this is living in complete ecstasy and joy born of this total intelligence, life and clarity.

I just found something by Daniel Ingram which pretty much describes it nicely:

"Thus, sensations of effort are just sensations of effort, but imply no fundamental split off entity that is making this effort. It is just a natural product of the interdependent universe. Just so, the sense of a will is replaced with a mysterious sense of absolutely natural causality and a natural, creative “intelligence” that operates in all of this, though the sensations that make up the sense of will continue as before. This is what is meant in the teachings of the twelve links of dependent origination when it says, “With the complete cessation of [fundamental] ignorance, volitional formations cease.” Similarly, sensations of intimacy are just sensations of intimacy and simply imply proximity rather than a separate self. Those of third path know this to some degree, and those of second path can look into this to try to attain the understanding of third path. Arahats have fully understood this."
(note: his definition of 'Arahat' is different from the suttas definition)

Also in moments of peak experience, I see we have to overcome the habitual tendencies of distracted thoughts... means we must be able to completely silent our mind and be able to have no thoughts at all to fully experience the fullness and presence of our six senses without a single trace of thought or sense of self... the trees, the sky, the breeze, everything in its complete intensity without thoughts. I'm not saying thought must be stopped at all moments, but like Eckhart Tolle said, after awakening 90% of his (unnecessary) thoughts just disappeared and thats what make a difference to his life. Without this we will not be able to feel the intensity of total Presence. So meditate and do yoga. Realization alone is insufficient without shamatha. Yes, you can experience anatta even when there are wandering thoughts because it is always already so, but one can never fully appreciate the Presence, total life, intelligence and awareness... it is a whole different level.

In other words: thoughts are ok, but you must have 'mastery' over them. Means unnecessary thoughts do not arise.
21 Responses

    This post makes me want to join Dharma Connection on FB again so I can see the comments (assuming you posted it there). But I get so addicted to reading all the stuff on there I can't ever go back. lol

  2. Says:

    It seems to me that conceptual thought arises because of attachment to future and past events. So as you let go of attachments it also reduces that 10% left after awakening. May it be?

    My dear Gary Weber states that he has no conceptual thought at all (or at 99%) and he always focus in letting go.

    Past events was quite "easy" but attachment to future events (or rejection or fear to them) are still creating some conceptual thought

    Best regards

  3. Soh Says:

    Furthermore in scriptures like the Anapanasati sutta, the Buddha describes the 16 stages of meditating on the breathe. Most people only teach about "focus on the breath"... but the Buddha's teaching is so much more than that. He talks about how to become sensitive to joy, how to come to tranquility, to insight, to dispassion and cessation. They're all interdependent. Mindfulness of breathing remains one of my core practices.

    May want to read: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html

  4. Soh Says:

    You said: "It seems to me that conceptual thought arises because of attachment to future and past events. So as you let go of attachments it also reduces that 10% left after awakening. May it be?"

    Definitely one of the many possible reasons for thoughts to arise.

    "and he always focus in letting go."

    This is very good and important practice :)

    "Past events was quite "easy" but attachment to future events (or rejection or fear to them) are still creating some conceptual thought"

    Yes it is very difficult to overcome grasping. We are not fully liberated yet and as a result of karmic tendency there is grasping.

    It is a combination of practicing shamatha and vipashyana directed towards letting go which will resolve our problems. We cannot 'reason ourselves' out of attachment. Just doing deep breathing, just practicing mindfulness... etc... the effects and release will eventually come.

    Everything arises via afflictive and transcendental dependent origination, and that includes our inner peace. Just do the practice and the effects like letting go will come, there is no "I" which can control suffering or peace.

  5. Says:

    >Hi, I've read Gary Weber explain that his 'no thought' does not literally mean no thought, but no self-referential thought. If there were not the case, I do not believe he could have typed all the articles in his blog. No self-referential thought sounds more reasonable.

    You're mainly right, but he also claims that he dont have any conscious thought 99% of the time. In fact he was mesured by some techniques and the results were very interesting, having less thought-activity than any other in the test (including some famous theravada practitioners)

    Anyway, you dont have any conscious thought *before* writing or talking spontaneosly. So you dont need them for writing. Right now I'm not thinking any word before typing in, they just arise D.O. and get typed at the same moment.

    Never have a peak experience and be without thoughts for a day or more? Some do. And then it's clear that there's no need for them. But maybe also there's no benefit from elimating them completly. Not sure... Conscious thought seems basically language spoken internally to a inexistent "I"...

    You're reply is very, very welcome and log :) , now I need some time to read it all completly.

    Thank you very much again

  6. Soh Says:

    Spontaneous action does not necessarily mean 'no thought'. It just means the thought is completely manifesting spontaneously un-self-consciously without a sense of an I to which the thought is referring to. What Gary is describing is more like non-doership. He places a lot of emphasis on it.

    By the way, there are many activities that can happen quite naturally without reflection or pondering. Like playing basketball if you're into sports. Or walking. There is no mental calculation or narrative needed, it's all immediate and spontaneous action.

    On the other hand there are pondering thoughts like what Buddha described -- reflecting on how difficult it is to teach dharma, that he rather stay silent. And so on. Of lets say, you need to make a complex plan to get something done... lots of thoughts may be involved. Singapore would not be what it is today without good politicians planning decades ahead. This is all ok if there is no attachments, such as to an outcome.

    In either case, there is no 'I' behind them either watching or controlling it, just one self-luminous thought, one action.

    Attaching to a state of no-thought is also affliction.


    Excellent discussion. How are we defining "intelligence"? I assume that it is not a dictionary definition?

    I have had many experiences of this type, but I am not sure what the usefulness of trying to have them is, unless it is just a carrot to lead one to let go of identity (in my case it led to great passion for enlightenment but much delusion as well). Buddha told one disciple he would meet pink-footed nymphs in Nibbana, for example, just to inspire him to practice.

    True that Buddha said we should do jhanas to develop capacity for insight, but to say, for example, "there is neither nothingness nor not nothingness," simply as a result of experiencing 8th jhana would seem to me "premature immaculation"--something that I am also prone to.

    Our own personal intelligence upon examination is actually just imputation (at least it seems that way to me), so I wonder if the vast impersonal intelligence may also just be imputation (and maybe that is what you were trying to say in the post). I say that knowing what it feels like, even tho I still don't really know how to define intelligence here except as a kind of wise knowing compassion that is beyond specificity.

    And although I see it may be useful to impute in this way (don't we all hope there is a vast intelligence?), I can also see how it may lead one astray since a) I don't think Buddha taught this, and b) one may cling to this feeling of vast intelligence and not go beyond it. For example, some of the most incredibly freeing peak experiences I have had lately have been also free of any sense of vast intelligence. Not that my experiences are necessarily all that important or meaningful.

    Sorry for the long and possibly useless comment.

  8. Soh Says:

    Hi, there's no need to reify this intelligence. But this intelligence is something very natural. It's not some special state, jhana, or exotic samadhis, or a trip on LSD.

    It's just this natural intelligence and awareness which naturally knows when the body is thirsty. This intelligence allows (or rather, IS) the spontaneous action to pick up the cup of water. This intelligence gulps down the cup of water without a second thought or intention. This intelligence does kriyas, walks to the toilet, walks back... we never thought there is any significance in all this because we are so engrossed in our thoughts to feel it. We never actually felt the 'intelligence' in all these. We think "that's just a simple action, drinking a cup of water, what's so intelligent about that"? Because we are equating intelligence with conceptual intelligence, but that is only a small figment of this vast impersonal intelligence that I'm talking about. A mimosa plant closes its leaves when being touched even though it does not have a sense of a self or agency. What's this? But then we may realize one day that there is a tremendous intelligence, life, and awareness involved in all this. It's all 'divine' and 'significant'. Even a simple act is full of profundity.

    When I say 'this intelligence', I don't mean it in a reified sense, like there is a God or someone behind all these pulling the strings, or as some sort of a Knower behind perception. This intelligence and clarity is just that act, just that manifestation, full of intelligence.... not something dead, not a robot -- a robot, or A.I., is only beginning to mimick this natural sentient intelligence of the universe. A scientific person may say it's an intelligence born out of millions of years of evolution. But that's just a theory, a concept, what's the direct experience of this? And we can only touch and taste this when we let lose our concepts and filters.

    You're alive! There is immense intelligence, aliveness, Presence everywhere! Touch it, feel it... appearance is not dead, appearance is 'divine'.


    So, this intelligence is "something very natural." Sorry, I guess I'm trying to get you to really define what you mean by intelligence, and hence I am trying to get you to reify it?

    But what I hear you saying is that everything is "divine" and "significant," even tho those things are undefinable.

    What I am getting at is, perhaps it is merely an appearance (or sense) of "divine" and "significant." I say this because every time I have felt any sense of anything being significant in any way, upon investigation it has turned out to be totally empty and only significant on the surface appearance to "observers" of it...

    To say that a computer is not alive is just our assumption--there is no actual way of knowing something as not alive, thus no actual way of knowing something as alive.

    Again, I am afraid that what I'm saying may be totally pointless. :)

  10. TAFKA JESTDR Says:

    What I can say from my experiences (which are most certainly not mine) lately is that without any sense of divine intelligence, what remains is perfection. It is perfectly self-known without anyone knowing, perfectly free of stress (which is the ultimate happiness) as it is perfectly automatic.

    When I have experienced the divine intelligence, it has always had a quality of mystery to it. Something about it unknowable. Now I think that the mystery was not actually a mystery but just that it is unknowable from outside itself.

  11. Soh Says:

    There is nothing beyond appearance. But this appearance is completely alive, completely intelligent, completely clear and vivid. The significance can only be felt in its wondrous happening without any sense of an observer behind it. This is the luminous clarity :)

  12. TAFKA JESTDR Says:

    Or perhaps better said, the mystery is a combination of unknowable and a desire to know.

    Once the two collapse, there is no more sense of mystery/wonder/awe/amazing.

    Kind of like how the jhanas procede from gross bliss to equanimity.

  13. Aditya Says:

    This is interesting, Wei. I find that it's possible to write and speak fairly complex ideas without seemingly any creation of the experience I normally call "thought." And I don't think it's for lack of attention or concentration (i.e., that I miss the fact that there are thoughts).

    It has felt for some time that thoughts are merely echoes of things already known. As a previous commenter noted, almost as if they're being expressed for the benefit of an internal observer.

    BTW, in Dzogchen it is sometimes said that a Buddha has no thoughts. Can find a reference if you like. But maybe that means something different from what we're talking about.

  14. Soh Says:

    Yes many people say a Buddha does not have thought. But I find it doubtful considering the many instances where Buddha talked about his thought-narratives after awakening in the Pali suttas: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.026.than.html

  15. Aditya Says:

    I wonder if this is just a manner of speaking. If you are in a state of knowing without thinking, and you have to express your wisdom to someone else, it would be convenient to use the words "I was thinking...."

  16. Soh Says:

    I like this writing by Joan Tollifson:


    Are thought, imagination and memory things we should avoid? It sometimes feels that way when we listen to teachings about nonconceptual presence and awareness, or when we take up forms of meditation that encourage us to let go of thoughts and stories and turn our attention instead to bare sensations, pure perceiving, energy or presence itself.

    Any path of awakening has something to do with waking up from the ways in which we create suffering. And how do we create suffering? By believing in and getting hypnotized by habitual thought-loops (e.g. “I’m a failure,” “I’ll never get it,” “You ruined my life,” “I can’t stand this,” etc.), by remembering (and telling stories about) “all the ways you hurt me,” or “all the opportunities I missed,” or “all the mistakes I made,” or “all the mistakes you made,” or by imagining all the terrible things that might happen to me—basically, by getting lost in past or future and mistaking the map for the territory, and sometimes a totally distorted map at that.

    So the path of awakening has something to do with a process of learning to recognize the difference between the living reality and our thoughts about that reality, between what’s actually happening and the stories we tell ourselves (and others) about it, between presence-awareness (the Now) and conceptualization, memory or imagination. And that’s all well and good—crucial, in fact.

    But let’s don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Imagination, memory, and thought are wonderful capacities.

    Without memory, we’d be forever reinventing the wheel and stepping into the same quicksand. We learn from our mistakes and from history, and that’s important. If you’ve been around a person with advanced dementia, you know very well how crucial memory is for a functional life. If every time I run into Person Y, he hits me over the head—it’s helpful to remember that and to perhaps be more cautious when I approach that person. But if I assume that because Person Y has always done that in the past, that therefore he always will do that in the future, or that anyone else named Y will necessarily behave in the same way, then I’m making a mistake. I’m no longer open to a new possibility. I’m no longer seeing the present moment clearly. We encounter situations of this kind all the time in our personal lives and globally (think Israel-Palestine, for example, or the ways we “see” or don’t see someone we’ve decided is our enemy).

    Our ability to think, to abstract, to conceptualize, to reason…this has gotten us to the moon and to the top of the food chain. We wouldn’t have any of the wonders of our modern society without these capacities. Science, technology, medicine, law, journalism, literature, sophisticated forms of communication and organization—all rely on these abilities. Without thinking, I couldn’t write this Facebook post and you couldn’t read it. Obviously, thinking can also get us into hot water, and so the ability to discern the difference between the map (the thought or the concept) and the territory (the living reality that it describes), and between the useful or creative thought and the dysfunctional thought, is crucial. But thought itself is a wonderful tool. It is every bit as much the Holy Reality as rivers and trees and mountains.

  17. Soh Says:

    Imagination is another amazing capacity of consciousness. Without imagination, there would be no music, no poetry, no novels, no theater, no movies, no opera. It is through these realms that humans share and experience many wonderful insights and heart-openings, great beauty, as well as simply the joy of entertainment. And without imagination, there would be no social progress. For example, without the ability to imagine a world without slavery, segregation and racism, there would have been no abolitionist movement and no civil rights movement in the United States. Without imagination, there would be no houses, no boats, no airplanes, no trips to the moon, no International Space Station, no environmental movement, no Facebook or Facetime, no computers or telephones or can-openers or solar energy panels.

    Many spiritual paths utilize story-telling and mythology, and some actively encourage and work with the imagination—for example, Tibetan Buddhist visualization practices or Zen koan work. One Tibetan Buddhist teacher said that the point of visualization practice is to realize that we are visualizing (or imagining) everything. Indeed, it could be said that consciousness is imagining everything that happens, and that whatever appears is imagination. Law of Attraction teachings make use of this same principle, encouraging people to visualize what they want and to regard whatever appears as a reflection of their present state of consciousness. While that can be taken too far (blaming people with cancer, or people born into poverty, or rape victims, or people in war zones for “creating their own reality”), it can certainly be very liberating to notice how we do in many ways create our own reality. And imagining or envisioning ourselves being free and open and loving is certainly better than imagining ourselves as worthless failures stuck in a horrible world. Years ago, when I studied martial arts and we had to punch and kick through boards, I found that visualizing my punch going through the board made all the difference, and that when I (inadvertently) visualized the opposite, I’d get hurt. So clearly, imagination is a wonderful power and a source of creativity, illumination and evolution.

  18. Soh Says:

    In contrast to our hunter-gatherer ancestors who spent hours sitting on the plains watching the clouds blow across the sky, we live in a fast-paced society that bombards us with words and thought-generated information along with constant, fast-moving auditory and visual stimulation. TV screens are everywhere, and everyone now carries their own portable screens. We are rarely disconnected, and every moment of silence is instantly filled with sound and input. Just sitting in a waiting room or on a bus without turning on our phone, without reading or writing or listening to music or knitting or doing anything at all, can be an amazing relief and a great discovery—but for many of us, this kind of non-doing can seem initially terrifying. Our whole accelerated bodymind is urging us on, straining at the bit, desperately looking for something to occupy our attention. And because of that, I’d say it’s worth experimenting with simply being here, at least occasionally.

    But that doesn’t mean we should renounce our smart phones and our imagination, or that we should try to be a state of thought-free presence, doing nothing “all the time.” That’s just another fantasy, more noise. And while some meditation practices are indeed all about controlling the mind and developing concentration, the meditation that interests me is simply open awareness, beholding whatever shows up, being just this moment—devotion to what is. I find that much more interesting and liberating than trying to control and manage it all.

    But that doesn’t mean I just roll over passively in daily life and allow myself to be a doormat. It doesn’t mean I don’t try to change certain things. I do! Life moves in many ways, and realization is a never-ending discovery that includes everything. I love movies and plays and novels and TV and playing on my iPad. I love politics and gossip. I love the imagination. I love having memories of people I love who are no longer alive and of places I’ve been that touched me deeply. I love being able to think and conceptualize. None of this is in any way antithetical to being awake.

    I also love doing nothing. I love sitting in silence. I love stillness. I love seeing through and waking up from the kinds of habitual stories and beliefs that limit me and that I had thought were true until I discovered they weren’t. I love bare presence, open awareness, vast spaciousness. I love feeling the play of energy in the body and the aliveness of presence itself. In the end, the apparent differences are all facets of one, undivided reality. I love being Joan and I also love being impersonal boundless awareness. It’s all included.

  19. Soh Says:

    Going before the arising of thoughts and perception and have a glimpse of that luminous nature is simply just a glimpse. If a practitioner mistakes it as the entirety of Buddha Nature by maintaining the mirror bright and attempt to go after that particular state, it will eventually proof futile. If we see only the realm of no-thought, then the gap between two moments will eventually becomes an obstruction.

    Then the practice becomes the thought moment between two moments of gaps. To experience that luminous empty essence of that thought. It is in essence clarity, awareness itself, and is empty. The waves and the ocean are one and the same. All waves are One Taste. Experiencing Isness as an ocean and shunning away thoughts and manifestation is equally lost, the further insight (insight into non-duality) is the insight into everything as self-luminous awareness or Mind. smile.gif

    However, start by practicing the gap between 2 moments of thought and expand it but with the right understanding of no-self/non-duality. Then when the luminosity shines, it will gradually understand because it knows what blocks. When it tries all its best to do away the transients and yet the transients persist, one will have to wait for the right condition to come, such as having someone to point out or some verses that serves as a condition for awakening.

    So first experience the Isness of the gap between 2 moments of thought, then the Isness of the thought between 2 moments of gap.

    Excerpt from Pointing Out Innate Thinking:

    "Is it an aware emptiness after the thought has dissolved? Or is it an aware emptiness by driving away the thought from meditation? Or, is the vividness of the thought itself an aware emptiness?"

    If the meditator says it is like one of the first two cases, he had not cleared up the former uncertainties and should therefore be set to resolve this for a few days.

    On the other hand, if he personally experiences it to be like the latter case, he has seen identity of thought and can therefore be given the following pointing-out instruction:

    "When you look into a thought's identity, without having to dissolve the thought and without having to force it out by meditation, the vividness of the thought is itself the indescribable and naked state of aware emptiness. We call this seeing the natural face of innate thought or thought dawns as dharmakaya.

    "Previously, when you determined the thought's identity and when you investigated the calm and the moving mind, you found that there was nothing other than this intangible single mind that is a self-knowing, natural awareness. It is just like the analogy of water and waves."

    ~ 14th Century Mahamudra Master, Dakpo Tashi Namgyal

  20. Soh Says:

    Dzogchen Master Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche:


    Even if those who begin to practice this find it difficult to continue in this state for more than an instant, there is no need to worry about it. Without wishing for the state to continue for a long time and without fearing the lack of it altogether, all that is necessary is to maintain pure presence of mind, without falling into the dualistic situation of there being an observing subject perceiving an observed object. If the mind, even though one maintains simple presence, does not remain in this calm state, but always tends to follow waves of thoughts about the past or future, or becomes distracted by the aggregates of the senses such as sight, hearing, etc., then one should try to understand that the wave of thought itself is as insubstantial as the wind. If one tries to catch the wind, one does not succeed; similarly if one tries to block the wave of thought, it cannot be cut off. So for this reason one should not try to block thought, much less try to renounce it as something considered negative. In reality, the calm state is the essential condition of mind, while the wave of thought is the mind's natural clarity in function; just as there is no distinction whatever between the sun and its rays, or a stream and its ripples, so there is no distinction between the mind and thought. If one considers the calm state as something positive to be attained, and the wave of thought as something negative to be abandoned, and one remains thus caught up in the duality of accepting and rejecting, there is no way of overcoming the ordinary state of mind.

    Shurangama Sutra:

    "Ananda, you have not yet understood that all the defiling objects that appear, all the illusory, ephemeral phenomena, spring up in the very spot where they also come to an end. Their phenomena aspects are illusory and false, but their nature is in truth the bright substance of wonderful enlightenment. Thus it is throughout, up to the five skandhas and the six entrances, to the twelve places and the eighteen realms; the union and mixture of various causes and conditions account for their illusory and false existence, and the separation and dispersion of the causes and conditions result in their illusory and false extinction. Who would have thought that production and extinction, coming and going are fundamentally the eternal wonderful light of the Tathagata, the unmoving, all-pervading perfection, the wonderful nature of True Suchness! If within the true and eternal nature one seeks coming and going, confusion and enlightenment, or birth and death, one will never find them."



    "You still have not realized that in the Treasury of the Tathagata, the nature of form is true emptiness and the nature of emptiness is true form. That fundamental purity pervades the Dharma Realm. Beings’ minds absorb itaccording to their capacity to know. Whatever manifests does so in compliance with karma. Ignorant of that fact, people of the world are so deluded as to assign its origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity. These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the mind, are nothing but the play of empty and meaningless words."

  21. Soh Says:

    Lama Surya Das:


    I think this five skandha scheme is a very interesting one, in the sense that it can begin to raise some very interesting questions and help us dig deeper, rather than just having a vague, amorphous kind of understanding. We are individual. We are each responsible for ourselves and our karma and our relations. Our individuality is comprised of these five aggregates or skandhas. We can work with that. It is actually an expression of the Buddha-nature.

    Now, doesn't anybody want to say, "I didn't hear anything about Buddha-nature in the five skandhas. Where's the Buddha-nature? Who made that up?" That's the right question. What Buddha-nature? I never said anything about it. Who made that up? What enlightenment? What nirvana? Who made all that stuff up? Is it in us or elsewhere? How to get from "here" to "there"?

    We're all looking for something to hang our hopes on, but when we really get down to the present moment, to our own experience, to clear seeing, we come to what Buddha said: "In hearing there is only hearing; no one hearing and nothing heard." There is just that moment, that hearing. You might think, "Oh, a beautiful bird." How do you know it's a bird? It might be a tape recorder. It might be bicycle brakes squeaking. In the first moment, there is just hearing, then we get busy, our minds and concepts get involved. The Buddha went through all the five senses. "In seeing there is just seeing; no one seeing and nothing seen." And so on, with tasting, touching, smelling, and thinking. Thoughts without a thinker. In thinking there is just thinking. There is just that momentary process. There is no thinker. The notion of an inner thinker is just a thought. We imagine that there is somebody thinking. It's like the Wizard of Oz. They thought there was this glorious wizard, but it was just a little man back there behind the screen, behind the veil. That's how it is with the ego. We think there's a great big monkey inside working the five windows, the five senses. Or maybe five monkeys, one for each sense; a whole chattering monkey house, which it sometimes feels like. But is there really a concrete individual or permanent soul inside at all? It seems more like that the lights are on, but no one is home!