Update: a guidebook is now available as an aid to realize and actualize the insights presented on this blog. See https://app.box.com/s/157eqgiosuw6xqvs00ibdkmc0r3mu8jg

‘If you want to 明心 (comprehend Mind) reading some zen and awareness teachings will help [Soh: also, advaitic and self-enquiry materials will help]. If you want to 见性 (see [empty] nature) you need to explore deeply into emptiness and MMK (Mulamadhyamikakarika of Nagarjuna). If you want to have a feel of 自然之道 (the Way of self-so/naturalness/spontaneity), read about 老子 (Lao Tzu) 道德经 (Tao Te Ching), 列子 (Lieh Tzu) 冲虚经 (Chong Xu Sutra) and 庄子南华经 (Chuang Tzu’s Nan Hua sutra)。Go read about them, it will help you a lot.’ - John Tan, 2019

‘All these teachings are not pointing to the same things at all. All of them have a different purpose and intent but can be integrated. Therefore do not think that Brahman = Emptiness = Tao. Brahman is not talking about Emptiness, Emptiness is not talking about Tao. Don’t agree with notions that all teachings point to the same ultimate.’ - Soh, 2019

Lately I have successfully guided a few people. As of now, more than 30 people have realised anatta through encountering this blog, myself or Thusness, a feat rarely achieved by dharma teachers. (Buddha had thousands of enlightened students but that's another story) This is only possible due to the use of modern technologies that allows easy access worldwide and the unique clarity of Thusness's writings (I'm sure Thusness will be quite displeased with me for stating my opinion openly, haha).

However in the future I do not foresee that I will have time to do personal coaching. It is also not fruitful to neglect one's practice, as a deva addresses the following verse to Ven. Ānanda as Ven. Ānanda had been spending too much time teaching Dhamma to laypeople, "Coming to the bower at the root of a tree, placing unbinding in your heart, do jhāna, Gotama, don’t be heedless. What use is this chitter-chatter to you?". This is why recently I have compiled a list of articles so that the essentials are covered and sufficient for one's personal contemplation, and do not require any personal coaching. Personal pointing can be of benefit (like what Liberation Unleashed is doing), but that will take time, effort and responsibilities.

You are welcome to join our Facebook group Awakening to Reality to discuss anything related to this blog, or request for guidance from others who are ahead of you on the path. For other general discussion of Buddhadharma (teachings of Buddha/Buddhism), you can also join the Dharma Connection facebook group. I have also updated Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Enlightenment with further clarifications towards the end of the article as I found that many people who read that article continue to misunderstand those stages.

Plenty of words and discussions are pointless, sometimes (in fact, often times) just one stanza is enough to trigger one's awakening if taken seriously in one's practice. Bahiya attained liberation upon hearing a single verse of Dhamma from the Buddha. As Buddha said in the Dhammapada, A man is not versed in Dhamma because he speaks much. He who, after hearing a little Dhamma, realizes its truth directly and is not heedless of it, is truly versed in the Dhamma. However, as Thusness pointed out before, unless one has directly realized the truth of anatta, and one's view and practice is completely refined, pointers from good teacher(s) and/or clear dharma books are still necessary. Only after direct realization of anatta (Thusness Stage 5) does it become "safe" to explore on one's own, "because after anatta, one is able to see what is meant by direct, gapless and pure, and he is on his own to mature this experience, until the next phase comes" (See: The Path of Anatta by Thusness), and "all practitioners must experience for themselves and not read". (One can still read, but it takes secondary role in one's practice) On another occasion, Thusness said, "Only after seeing the 6 phases of insights, you can then be said to be safe to explore on your own. The actual experience cannot be communicated." And as Thusness commented about Simpo (Sim Pern Chong) after he had certain breakthrough realizations, back in 2007, "given enough time, whatever he said will be like Buddha. But he need not read what that is taught by Buddha. However by reading it, it may help him and speed up his progress.", "...longchen (Sim Pern Chong) has realised the importance of transients and the five aggregates as Buddha nature, time for unborn nature. You see, it takes one to go through such phases, from "I AM" to Non-dual to isness then to the very very basic of what Buddha taught... can you see that? The more one experience, the more truth one sees in what Buddha taught in the most basic teaching. Whatever longchen experience is not because he read what Buddha taught, but because he really experience it."

We are blind at the start, pointers from good teachers and books bring us to the right track, and once we're in the right track, we will have to boldly walk forward ourselves. Unfortunately very clear teachers and clear books are hard to come by, so I try to provide a list of good resource that can be of help. I seldom read dharma books nowadays, though I have read plenty years ago. Even back in my army days (compulsory national service, about 8-9 years ago) I read thousands of pages of Buddhist scriptures, thousands of pages of dharma books, thousands of pages of non-Buddhist texts. It has been of help along my journey. But nowadays, I am more interested in actualizing my insights in living experience.

Many have awakened to anatta through reading this blog and contemplating accordingly, without personal coaching. And what I can advise is already documented in my blog articles, Awakening to Reality: A Guide to the Nature of Mind and my e-book, and I think I have covered all the essentials quite thoroughly. If you have realized anatta through this blog, do write to me, I might even post your story up. Always good to hear an inspiring story.

After reading those articles and Awakening to Reality: A Guide to the Nature of Mind and my e-book, if you still have doubts that need to be clarified, you're welcomed to contact me. However if you have not read through those articles and/or Awakening to Reality: A Guide to the Nature of Mind and my e-book, please do so first, as otherwise I will simply be directing you to the existing articles that addresses your questions. Perhaps try doing a search on this blog to find your answer.

Someone asked me for book recommendations. What books you should read depends on where you're at, what practices you're doing, what realization you're aiming for.

If people ask me for advice on where to start, I usually recommend self-inquiry with the aim of attaining Self-Realization (the doubtless realization of I AMness). If you're still trying to attain I AM realization, focus on the books listed under the Self Inquiry sections. If you feel like you're having glimpses and experiences of the I AMness/Witness, do note that there are differing degrees and having glimpses and experiences are not the same as having the direct realization and complete certainty of I AM/Self. See I AM Experience/Glimpse/Recognition vs I AM Realization (Certainty of Being) and the first point in Realization and Experience and Non-Dual Experience from Different Perspectives by Thusness - anything short of the unshakeable and doubtless certainty of Being is not the I AM realization but more like a glimpse or experience. Self-inquiry will lead to the realization. I had glimpses of I AM experience for 3 years prior to the doubtless and unshakeable Self-Realization in February 2010 after less than 2 years of self-enquiry, which I detailed in my e-book, after which the Self/Presence/Awareness was no longer 'maintenance state' or passing glimpses for me and the certainty of what I am was never lost, I no longer felt the 'lose it/gain it' syndrome.

If you have realized I AM, focus on the four aspects of I AMness and other advices in Awakening to Reality: A Guide to the Nature of Mind and my e-book and the two types of nondual contemplation.

If you're already past I AM and/or nondual but aiming for anatta realization, just focus on Bahiya Sutta contemplation and its related articles, read The Sun My Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh especially the chapter on 'There is Knowing in the Wind' and 'Each Action is its Own Subject', you need a more direct apprehension mode of contemplation, like the way Daniel M. Ingram describes Vipassana here or how practice and contemplation is described in Gesture of Awareness).

If you think you already realized anatta, more often than not, you haven't. Most people who say they realized anatta are only having a more minor realization of non-doership or having experience of no mind, or are unable to distinguish between Thusness Stage 4 and 5. It is also common to fall into the disease of non-conceptuality, mistaking that as the source of liberation and thus clinging to or seeking a state of non-conceptuality as the main object of practice, whereas liberation comes only through the dissolving of ignorance and views (of inherent existence) that cause reification, by insight and realization. See: The Disease of Non-Conceptuality

Hence, do go through all the links in the comments section of Thusness Seven Stages of Awakening and read the article carefully before making a diagnosis on where you are as it is very common to think that one is there when one is not.

If you truly realized anatta and are wondering how to progress, read Advice for Taiyaki and +A and -A Emptiness (On the two experiential insights involved in Thusness Stage 6)

Also, it is very important to understand that having a conceptual understanding of no-self, dependent origination and emptiness is very different from direct realization. As I told Mason Spransy in The Importance of Luminosity, it is very possible to have the conceptual understanding of Thusness Stage 6 but lacking in direct realization. Days after that conversation he had certain breakthrough (see: Suchness / Mason Spransy). As Thusness pointed out in Purpose of Madhyamaka, if after all the analysis and contemplations of Madhyamaka (Buddhist emptiness teachings taught by Nagarjuna) one is unable to realize that the mundane is precisely where one's natural radiance is fully expressed, a separate pointing is necessary.

If you have attained all Thusness 7 Stages, do note that it is not a finality but the beginning of endless actualization. Have you perfected all elements of the Noble Eightfold Path? If your insight is clear, how about samadhi ("right concentration")? Furthermore, wisdom is just one aspect of practice. Another equally important aspect of practice is compassion or metta, which you can read more on your own from other sites, beginning with Metta Sutta. This blog hasn't dealt as much in topics like samadhi and metta/karuna, compared to topics on insight and wisdom. This is not because meditation, samadhi and metta/karuna are less important subjects, but there are resources out there that deals with these subjects quite thoroughly. Having a daily and disciplined meditation practice is important (refer to books under Mindfulness Practice/Meditation below). On the other hand, the insights and wisdom presented here by Thusness are very rare, and the clarity on the distinction of View, Realization and Experience can hardly be found elsewhere, therefore I have placed more effort to present these insights/wisdom aspect of the practice. As Thusness pointed out to me, there has to be a balance between insight, samadhi and compassion, in the sense that all these aspects are important in one's practice. Thusness is also deep into Yoga and energy practices and sees that as important for further progression in one's practice after insights, however it is beyond the scope of this blog at the moment, as I myself am not at the level of expertise like Thusness. It is important to have an "integral" approach to practice rather than skewing towards insight.

Regardless of where you're at, I still recommend reading the 'General Buddhadharma' books to get a rough understanding of Buddhadharma, even if one hasn't realized it yet.

Lastly, if you can find a spiritual community and living teacher, it can be of immense benefit for you. Thusness adviced before to "find a good teacher that has gone through the various phases of insights, at least until phase 5 of insight. However [in phase 5] one might still miss certain point [disregarding Dependent Origination]". Realistically speaking, it is quite hard to find someone who has at least realized Thusness Stage 5. That realization is very rare. For example, I searched around in my country and did not find any, though I can find lineage teachers at the I AM and Non Dual phases of insight (Stage 1 to 4). However, it should be known that whether the teacher has the exact same understanding of dharma, or whether he/she is coming from a very deep level of realization, there are always things that can be learnt, and a community of practitioners can be of a great help and encouragement to one's practice. Therefore I hope you will not have too much of an expectation for a dharma/meditation teacher, such as an expectation for a teacher to be fully realized. If there is someone who can help you grow spirituality, then seek their guidance. But you yourself must have clear understanding of dharma, have right views, and not be misguided. So read through this blog and the book recommendations. Group practice of sitting meditation can often be beneficial, it is something you have to experience for yourself. Refer to the book Meditation Now or Never by Steve Hagen for advice on how to find a good and qualified meditation teacher and practical advices on meditation. You need to overcome the common issues of 1) motivation, 2) monkey mind, 3) drowsiness. Mindful awareness is key, it solves dullness or drowsiness. Tranquility and release is key, it solves monkey mind. Consistency and discipline is key, getting habituated to a consistent practice solves the issue of motivation, especially when one tastes the higher state of bliss and clarity from meditation. I currently practice Anapanasati (Mindfulness of Breathing) and Satipatthana (Four Foundations of Mindfulness) while actualizing my insights like how Suzuki Roshi describes. This actualization is not confined to sitting but continues in everyday life (also see: What is Total Exertion?). See also: How silent meditation helped me with nondual inquiry

"The affairs of the world will go on forever. Do not delay the practice of meditation."


“Do not waste time but practise zazen (zen meditation) as if your hair were on fire.”

Dogen Zenji

“The reason why we delay practicing is because we always think that we have more time. When you wake up in the morning, you should always say to yourself, “I am still alive – I did not die. I should finish this great work. There is no tomorrow.””


Happy New Year and may you attain Nirvana and realize all appearances are fundamentally in Nirvanic quiescence - the unity of two truths.

Try to buy these books from a local Buddhist or spiritual bookstore. Support them, as they certainly need your support more than soon-to-be-trillionaire Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Not that I have anything against Amazon, but I would rather support the local less well-off small businesses. Wouldn't you?

Not in any particular order -

General Buddhadharma

Buddhism Is Not What You Think by Steve Hagen (see some excerpts in https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/04/buddhism-is-not-what-you-think.html
Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen 
What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula

Mindfulness Practice/Meditation

Why do I need meditation training?
Meditation Now or Never by Steve Hagen
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Sun My Heart: Reflections on Mindfulness, Concentration, and Insight by Thich Nhat Hanh
Quietening the Inner Chatter

On Theravada/Vipassana

Gesture of Awareness: A Radical Approach to Time, Space, and Movement by Charles Genoud (excerpts can be found here)
Mastering the Core Teachings of Buddha 2nd Edition by Daniel M. Ingram, available in hardcopy for purchase, or online for free: https://www.mctb.org/
The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, translated by Bikkhu Nanamoli and Bikkhu Bodhi
"Udana" and the "Itivuttaka": Two Classics from the Pali Canon by John Ireland -- Bahiya Sutta is in this
The Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic with Annotations Paperback –  by Gil Fronsdal
Measureless Mind by Geoff - https://app.box.com/s/nxby5606lbaei9oudiz6xsyrdasacqph / https://www.scribd.com/document/274168728/Measureless-Mind
The Breakthrough by Ajahn Amaro
In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (The Teachings of the Buddha) by Bhikkhu Bodhi
The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya (The Teachings of the Buddha) by Bhikkhu Bodhi
Early Buddhism's Model of Awakening

On Zen

Flowers Fall by Hakuun Yasutani
Living By Vow by Shohaku Okumura
The Mountains and Rivers Sutra by Shohaku Okumura
Articles by Ven. Jinmyo Renge osho
Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen by Bernie Glassman
Hakuin on Kensho: The Four Ways of Knowing, Edited with Commentary by Albert Low
Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist by Hee-Jin Kim
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
Hearing with the Eye: Photographs from Point Lobos by John Daido Loori
Yasutani-roshi's Introductory Lectures on Zen Training -

Eight Gates of Zen by John Daido Loori
The Art of Just Sitting: Essential Writings on the Zen Practice of Shikantaza by John Daido Loori
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Suzuki Roshi
Man on Cloud Mountain | Shodo Harada Roshi in America
The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing by Ted Biringer
Zen Cosmology by Ted Biringer

On Mahamudra

Poems of Mahamudra in the blog Luminous Emptiness and its comments
Clarifying the Natural State by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal  (some excerpts in http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.sg/2008/11/few-excerpts-from-clarifying-natural.html)
Pointing out the Dharmakaya by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche
Crystal Clear by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche (a commentary for Clarifying the Natural State)
Essentials of Mahamudra by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche
The Royal Seal of Mahamudra by Khamtrul Rinpoche III (some excerpts in http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.sg/2015/12/self-liberation-by-khamtrul-rinpoche-iii.html)
Mahamudra: The Moonlight -- Quintessence of Mind and Meditation by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal (note: a new translation can be found called Moonbeams of Mahamudra and it also includes another text by the ninth karmapa, check it out here)
Garland of Mahamudra Practices by Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen
An Ocean of the Ultimate Meaning: Teachings on Mahamudra by Khenchen Thrangu
The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra by Dalai Lama (Author), Alexander Berzin (Author)
Lamp of Mahamudra by Tsele Natsok Rangdrol

On Dzogchen

Way of Bodhi by Yogi Prabodha Jnana and Yogini Abhaya Devi
Dzogchen vs Advaita, Conventional and Ultimate Truth by Kyle Dixon (also see linked articles inside)
Self-Liberation through Seeing with Naked Awareness by Padmasambhava
Buddhahood in This Life by Malcolm Smith
(also check out the interview at http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.sg/2017/11/podcast-with-malcolm-smith-on-dzogchen.html)
The Self-Arisen Vidya Tantra (vol 1) and The Self-Liberated Vidya Tantra (vol 2): A Translation of the Rigpa Rang Shar (vol 1) and A Translation of ... (vol 2) (The Seventeen Dzogchen Tantras)
by Malcolm Smith
Books by Tsoknyi Rinpoche
A Garland of Views: A Guide to View, Meditation, and Result in the Nine Vehicles with a commentary by Jamgon Mipham (Padmasambhava's Classic Text) 

On Madhyamika

How to See Yourself As You Really Are by Dalai Lama (Greg Goode has some good chapter summaries for this book in https://greg-goode.com/article/dalai-lama-summaries/)
Greg Goode on Advaita/Madhyamika
The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way by Nagarjuna/Jay Garfield 
Nagarjuna's Middle Way: Mulamadhyamakakarika (Classics of Indian Buddhism) by Mark Siderits, Shoryu Katsura

Seeing that Frees by Rob Burbea (see: A Summary of Seeing that Frees by Rob Burbea) 

Introduction to the Middle Way: Chandrakirti's Madhyamakavatara with Commentary by Ju Mipham

Ocean of Reasoning: A Great Commentary on Nāgārjuna's Mulamadhyamakakārikā by Tsong khapa, Translated by Geshe Ngawang Samten and Jay L. Garfield
In Praise of Dependent Origination by Tsongkhapa
Emptiness Yoga: The Tibetan Middle Way by Jeffrey Hopkins
A Sun That Never Sets

On Tibetan Buddhism

Jamgon Mipham by Douglas Duckworth
The Dharma's Gatekeepers: Sakya Pandita on Buddhist Scholarship in Tibet by Jonathan C. Gold
Mipham's Dialectics and the Debates on Emptiness: To Be, Not to Be or Neither
A Garland of Views: A Guide to View, Meditation, and Result in the Nine Vehicles - Padmasambhava's classic text with a commentary by Jamgon Mipham

On Chittamatra/Yogacara

Distinguishing Phenomena from Their Intrinsic Nature with Commentaries by Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham (The Dharmachakra Translation Committee)

Mahayana Sutras (Scriptures)

The Heart Sutra (The most famous Mahayana sutra today. Short and brings out the essence of emptiness succinctly.)
The Diamond Sutra by Red Pine (This one triggered the awakening of 6th Ch'an Patriarch Hui-Neng)
The Lankavatara Sutra by Red Pine (This one was brought to China by 1st Ch'an Patriarch Bodhidharma, Thusness likes it very much)
The Samdhinirmochana Sutra by John Powers (Another sutra Thusness recommended 10+ years ago)
All the Sutras and Tantras as translated by 84000
Lopon Malcolm: "The most highly revered Sūtra in India was the Perfection of Wisdom in 8000 lines."
The Perfection of Wisdom in 8000 Lines
Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Sūtra
Non-Arising of Phenomena is the Most Vital and Definitive TeachingThe Mahayana Model of Awakening


A New Buddhist Path by David Loy
The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation Through Hearing In The Bardo by Chogyam Trungpa (Author), Francesca Fremantle (Author) (comments by Soh: I posted some excerpts of this book in my article Fearless Samadhi)
Nonduality by David Loy
A Brief History of Everything by Ken Wilber (comments by Soh: I like what Ken Wilber writes, but I also find that the critique on Ken's metaphysical beliefs very valid as well - http://www.integralworld.net/visser99.html and furthermore, Ken Wilber mischaracterized the teachings of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, an issue I pointed out in A Common Wrong Explanation of Hinayana vs Mahayana)
This Is It: and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience by Alan Watts
The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts
The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts
A Process Model by Eugene T. Gendlin
Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis by David Loy

Books for People Seeking Self-Realization (Realization of I AMness) and/or are Practicing Self-Inquiry

Awakening to Reality: A Guide to the Nature of Mind
My e-book has a chapter on Self-Inquiry: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/12/my-e-booke-journal.html
The Direct Path to Your Real Self
Who am I? by Ramana Maharshi
Some Writings on Self-Enquiry and Non-duality by Ken Wilber
Essentials Of Chan Practice (Hua Tou/Self Enquiry) by Ch'an Master Hsu Yun
All books by Eckhart Tolle (perhaps start with The Power of Now – this is always the first book that I pass to friends and relatives if they show an interest in spirituality, as it is easy to read, inspiring and practical – it is a #1 New York Times bestseller that sold millions of copies)
The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer (if you like Eckhart Tolle's books, read this one too. It is another #1 New York Times Bestseller in a similar vein and also sold over a million copies. This book also teaches about Self-Enquiry ala Ramana Maharshi)
True Meditation by Adyashanti
All books by Ramana Maharshi
Sri Ramana Maharshi - JNANI 2018
Sailor Bob with John Wheeler, Feb 2012 
The best non duality teachers: Meeting with John Wheeler Part 1
The Way of Liberation by Adyashanti (free PDF here)
All writings/books by Ch'an Master Hsu Yun
All books by John Wheeler (See writing: Awakening to the Natural State: Guest Teaching by John Wheeler. Also: A sample of John Wheeler's book 'You Were Never Born')
The Simple Feeling of Being by Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber - I Am Big Mind
Descartes: Reviving the West's Greatest Modern Vedantist
Numinous Awareness Is Never Dark: The Korean Buddhist Master Chinul’s Excerpts on Zen Practice
What Am I? A Study in Non-Volitional Living by Galen Sharp

Advaita Vedanta

Standing as Awareness: The Direct Path by Greg Goode
The Direct Path: A User Guide by Greg Goode
After Awareness: The End of the Path by Greg Goode
Anything by Ramana Maharshi, Rupert Spira, Ramesh Balsekar and Nisargadatta Maharaj


Anything by Tony Parsons
Perfect Brilliant Stillness by David Carse
Anything by Jeff Foster

Comments: Neo-Advaita is good at pointing out nondual ala Thusness Stage 4 and in Tony Parsons' case more like Stage 5 especially recently, but I do not agree with their 'nothing to do' philosophy and neglecting conditionality/karmic propensities.

And as Thusness wrote before, "People that have gone into the nihilistic understanding of 'non-doing' ended up in a mess. You see those having right understanding of 'non-doing' are free, yet you see discipline, focus and peace in them.
Like just sitting and walking... ...in whatever they endeavor. Fully anatta."

Christian Mysticism

Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic by Adyashanti 
Days of Awe and Wonder: How to Be a Christian in the 21st Century by Marcus J. Borg

Dream Yoga and Practices

Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life Through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep by Andrew Holecek and Stephen LaBerge
The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and Mark Dahlby
Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu and Michael Katz

Yoga and Energy Practices

Yoga in the Kashmir Tradition: The Art of Listening
Yoga Unveiled by Godfrey Devereux (http://www.satcit.com/ebooks for PDF or http://www.satcit.com/books for paperback)
Light on Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar
Open Heart, Open Mind: Awakening the Power of Essence Love by Tsoknyi Rinpoche


The Wonder of Presence and The Silent Question by Toni Packer
Anything by Joan Tollifson
Books by Judith Blackstone
Actual Freedom: Richard's Journal by Richard Maynard ( http://actualfreedom.com.au/sundry/orderformpaypal.htm )


Toni Packer is an ex-Zen successor-in-line of Zen Master Philip Kapleau, Toni was later influenced by anti-authoritarian/iconoclastic spiritual teacher J Krishnamurti and left her tradition. She founded the Springwater Center. Toni Packer was able to express the non-dual insight of anatta well along with mind-body drop. Like J. Krishnamurti, she placed emphasis on 'choiceless awareness'.

Joan Tollifson was a student of Toni, as well as a follower of other neo-Advaita teachings/teachers.

However, besides the great insights expressed in Toni and Joan's books, my main criticism of their approach is similar to what Thusness wrote before,

"After this insight, one must also be clear of the way of anatta and the path of practice. Many wrongly conclude that because there is no-self, there is nothing to do and nothing to practice.  This is precisely using "self view" to understand "anatta" despite having the insight.  
It does not mean because there is no-self, there is nothing to practice; rather it is because there is no self, there is only ignorance and the chain of afflicted activities. Practice therefore is about overcoming ignorance and these chain of afflictive activities.  There is no agent but there is attention. Therefore practice is about wisdom, vipassana, mindfulness and concentration. If there is no mastery over these practices, there is no liberation. So one should not bullshit and psycho ourselves into the wrong path of no-practice and waste the invaluable insight of anatta.  That said, there is the passive mode of practice of choiceless awareness, but one should not misunderstand it as the "default way" and such practice can hardly be considered "mastery" of anything, much less liberation."

In 2013, Thusness said, "Anapanasati is good. After your insight [into anatta], master a form of technique that can bring you to that the state of anatta without going through a thought process." and on choiceless awareness Thusness further commented, "Nothing wrong with choice. Only problem is choice + awareness. It is that subtle thought, the thought that misapprehend (Soh: falsely imputes/fabricates) the additional "agent"."

“A state of freedom is always a natural state, that is a state of mind free from self/Self. You should familiarize yourself with the taste first. Like doing breathing meditation until there is no-self and left with the inhaling and exhaling... then understand what is meant by releasing.”

For those who have not yet gone into one mind, Judith Blackstone has some good techniques for accessing non-dual awareness and transparency, although more from the perspective of one mind.

Related: Bahiya Sutta, Dispassion and Spontaneous Perfection
Practice Before AND After Anatta
Non-Doing and Actualization
Non-Meditation and Daily Activities

Update: a guidebook is now available as an aid to realize and actualize the insights presented on this blog. See https://app.box.com/s/157eqgiosuw6xqvs00ibdkmc0r3mu8jg

Thank you Yin Ling (Soh: a practioner with insights into anatta and emptiness and has written many insightful posts which I shared in the AtR blog) for answering to my request to compile her book recommendations.

    Finally sit down and go through my libraries and listed down the books I personally love, both dharma and dharma related.
    I won’t categorise them bec I really do not think in category when I buy or read. All of them contributed to my insight and learning in its own way. If I feel it’s too much for me I put it aside and come back to it again when I have new insight, things usually open up. That’s how I read.
    A lot of theravada books I didn’t list, coz I read them early in the path say before 2019-2020.. I don’t remember clearly so I won’t list them.
    Pls also recommend me some books if not in the list. Much appreciated 🙂.
    Book recommendations (Dharma)
    1. Awakening to reality e-book guide written by Soh Wei Yu in his blog awakeningtoreality.com
    2. seeing that frees Rob Burbea
    2. How to see yourself as you truly are HHDL
    3. Clarifying the natural state DTN
    4. Awake Angelo DiLullo MD
    5. The method of no method Chan master Sheng Yen
    6. The sun my heart TNH
    7. Buddhahood without meditation
    8. Death Joan tollifson
    9. Royal seal of Mahamudra 1 and 2
    10. Enjoying the ultimate TNH
    11. Awakening the heart (sutra commentary) by TNH
    12. Hakuin on Kensho commentary by Albert low
    13. The end of your world Adyashanti
    14. Emptiness dancing Adyashanti
    15. Practical insight meditation Mahasi Sayadaw
    16. Mastering the core teaching of the Buddha Daniel Ingram
    17. No death no fear TNH
    18. Tsongkhapa praise for dependent relativity
    19. Mindfulness in plain English Bhante G
    20. The supreme source CNN
    21. Grist for the mill Ram Dass
    22. How to realize emptiness Gen and Wallace Lamrimpa
    23. Emptiness Greg Goode
    24. Being time shinshu Roberts
    25. Realizing genjokoan by shohaku okumura
    26. The practise of Dzogchen Translated by tulku thondup
    27. Natural liberation Padmasambhava
    28. Finding rest in meditation/ nature of mind/ illusion by longchenpa - illusion is my fav
    29. Insight into emptiness Tegchok
    30. The other shore TNH (heart sutra commentary)
    31. Call me by my true names TNH’s poetry collection
    32. Mindfulness Joseph Goldstein - core Buddhist teachings like textbook
    33. Introduction to emptiness Guy Newland
    34. Under the bodhi tree and heart wood of the Bodhi tree Buddhadhasa Bikkhu
    35. The grand delusion Steve Hagen
    36. A path with heart Jack kornfield
    37. Bringing home the dharma Jack kornfield
    38. Food for the heart ajahn Chah
    39. The mind illuminated culadasa
    40. The power of now ET
    41. 洪文亮法师writings (link can be found on ATR blog)
    1. the sun of wisdom
    2. Jan westerhoff
    3. Nargajuna mark siderits
    4. The feast for the fortunate
    5. Nargajuna vigraharyavartani
    ATR related
    1) free ebook
    2) all the recommended post in the blog
    On the right panel
    3) thusness old forum posts back in circa 2005-2008
    4) all the transcripts - 4 of them I think
    Others (indirectly to dharma)
    1. the body keeps the score Bassel van der kolk (trauma)
    2. Drugs and alcohol book by prof David nutt
    3. Dopamine nation
    4. The noonday demon Andrew Solomon (an anatomy of depression)
    5. When breath becomes air Paul kalanithi
    6. Attached amir Levine (attachment theory for relationships)
    7. Dying to be me Anita moorjani
    8. Atomic habits James clear
    9. Tiny habits BJ fogg
    Awakening to Reality

    1 Comment

    Soh Wei Yu
    Nice! Thanks for the effort Yin Ling

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  • 8m
Soh Wei Yu
Yin Ling I think you forgot to put this to the list above:
Awakening of the Heart: Essential Buddhist Sutras and Commentaries
Awakening of the Heart: Essential Buddhist Sutras and Commentaries
Awakening of the Heart: Essential Buddhist Sutras and Commentaries
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    • 1h
    Yin LingAdmin
    Soh Wei Yu yea this one is amazing
    Soh Wei Yu
    I just made that recommend to someone suffering depersonality ( comments towards bottom at
    Dark Night of the Soul, Depersonalization, Dissociation, and Derealization
    Dark Night of the Soul, Depersonalization, Dissociation, and Derealization
    Dark Night of the Soul, Depersonalization, Dissociation, and Derealization
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    • 58m
  • Yin LingAdmin
    Soh Wei Yu gosh he or she sounds very depersonalised or derealised for a long time. I don’t know much about it, only knowing depersonalisation is classified under the DSM5( a common psychiatry manual) as a mental disorder that needs treatment
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  • 44m
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    28 Responses
    1. Super helpful--thank you sincerely for this great compilation!

    2. Anonymous Says:

      What is eternity and wat is eternal now?

    3. Soh Says:

      I have little use for those terms now.

      I am done with all views. They have completely vanished from my experience, never to return.


    4. Soh Says:

      Thusness, 2008, on "Now teachings":

      (10:07 PM) Thusness: what they want to bring across to the readers is to tell them not to lost themselves in stories so that they missed the direct experience of 'Presence'.
      (10:07 PM) Thusness: This is just the first step.
      (10:09 PM) Thusness: Stressing the importance of 'Now' has no other purpose other than that.
      (10:09 PM) Thusness: What longchen said is a more important truth.

    5. Anonymous Says:

      Well,how to experience eternity then? Experience is different frm view. U may not belief in eternity,but yr (lack of )experience (of it) wont invalidate the possibility of its existence



    6. Anonymous Says:

      It seems yr stressing over and over again of 'no background,only manifestation, etc..' very likely comes frm inability to fully let go of attachment and holding on to this phenomenal existence.

      Until all clinging to conditioned existence(sabbe dhamma dukkha - all conditioned existence is suffering) is fully released, returning to Source is impossible..

      Again, cheers

    7. Soh Says:

      You have a very warped understanding of Buddhadharma. All views of eternity are just views, there is no eternity or anything that remains unchanging beyond a moment of arising. This is only realized at anatta phase. Your interpretation of Buddhadharma is predictable and similar to all the eternalists' gross and obvious misunderstandings of Buddhadharma, cherry picking and misinterpreting the Buddha's teaching without going deeply into understanding what he teaches.

      Source is the view of Thusness Stage 1 to 4. I have gone through that, and gone past that.

      Buddha rejected view of Source. A view of Source leads to clinging, it does not lead to end of suffering. It can lead to non-dual bliss and samadhi, but this is different from liberation. But in the Hindu schools it is treated as if Nirvikalpa Samadhi is liberation.

      Rob Burbea: "One time the Buddha to a group of monks and he basically told them not to see Awareness as The Source of all things. So this sense of there being a vast awareness and everything just appears out of that and disappears back into it, beautiful as that is, he told them that’s actually not a skillful way of viewing reality. And that is a very interesting sutta, because it’s one of the only suttas where at the end it doesn’t say the monks rejoiced in his words.
      This group of monks didn’t want to hear that. They were quite happy with that level of insight, lovely as it was, and it said the monks did not rejoice in the Buddha’s words. (laughter) And similarly, one runs into this as a teacher, I have to say. This level is so attractive, it has so much of the flavor of something ultimate, that often times people are unbudgeable there."

      Also, refer to https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/12/the-root-sequence.html

    8. Soh Says:

      Anatta is the direct realization of the absence and utter non-existence or delusion of a 'Background'. At the I AM phase you realize Presence, but misinterpret it as a background. Only after anatta you realize this is a complete fabrication and illusion of the mind.

      I will be posting on this on the blog next.

    9. Soh Says:

      By the way, I ask people to do Self Inquiry to realize I AM, which is tracing back radiance to Source. That led to my I AM realization. But at later phase it is seen that any notion of Background or Source is wrong and unnecessary. But self-inquiry has a 'provisional' usefulness.

      Just posted: https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/12/wrong-interpretation-of-i-am-as.html

    10. Anonymous Says:

      Book recommendation : Way of a pilgrim

    11. Anonymous Says:

      Book recommendation : Through Deaths Gate - Joel Morwood

    12. tao Says:

      How do you validate an Anatta realization in others?

    13. Soh Says:

      Through conversing one will know. For example it doesn't take long for me to find out that this person is not having the direct realization of anatta in the sense of Thusness Stage 4 or 5 but is having a more minor insight into non-doership: https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/12/non-doership-is-not-yet-anatta.html

      As Thusness said in 2008*, "If you know, you will be able to know are they there."

      And as an Arahant said,


      Thag 1:61 Vappa

      One who sees

      sees who sees,

      sees who doesn’t.

      One who doesn’t see


      see who sees

      or who doesn’t.


      *Excerpt from 2008:

      (12:21 AM) Thusness: Why u worry so much abt others ppl stage?
      (12:22 AM) AEN: lol
      (12:23 AM) Thusness: Rather pray hard that u will not be misled and go through countless lives of rebirth again
      (12:23 AM) Thusness: What u must have is to correctly discern
      (12:25 AM) Thusness: If u want to hv clarity of the essence of the six phases, discern and understand correctly.
      (12:25 AM) Thusness: What if I m no more around?
      (12:26 AM) Thusness: If Ajahn Amaro cannot know the diff, much less is others
      (12:26 AM) AEN: icic..
      (12:26 AM) AEN: dharma dan leh
      (12:26 AM) Thusness: Rather ask urself have u correctly understood then abt others
      (12:27 AM) Thusness: How I know?
      (12:27 AM) Thusness: U kept asking abt others, I worry more abt u.
      (12:28 AM) Thusness: If u know, u will be able to know r they there.
      (12:29 AM) Thusness: Like ken and Ajahn Amaro clearly have same experience but different understanding
      (12:29 AM) Thusness: David loy treat them the same too.
      (12:29 AM) Thusness: Not realizing the differences
      (12:30 AM) Thusness: So have the right understanding
      (12:31 AM) Thusness: One is abiding, the other is non-abiding
      (12:32 AM) Thusness: One is still efforting, the other is effortless
      (12:33 AM) Thusness: One is Brahman, the other is DO
      (12:34 AM) Thusness: One is mirror, the other is pure manifestation
      (12:36 AM) Thusness: 'Self' is grasped unknowingly because it is independent, changeless
      (12:36 AM) Thusness: Therefore they can't treasure the Transience
      (12:37 AM) Thusness: They can't c conditions
      (12:37 AM) Thusness: The Transience and conditions are most sacred
      (12:38 AM) Thusness: How can Self c this?
      (12:39 AM) Thusness: But one must know the emptiness nature of Transience, unfindable and ungraspable
      (12:39 AM) Thusness: And rises when condition is
      (12:40 AM) Thusness: When we say attributes, we r referring to the empty nature of awareness
      (12:41 AM) Thusness: But awareness is full of colors
      (12:41 AM) Thusness: Like 'redness' of a flower
      (12:42 AM) Thusness: But to advaitins, it is absence
      (12:42 AM) Thusness: Nothing to do with awareness
      (12:43 AM) AEN: u mean they see awareness as formless?
      (12:43 AM) Thusness: yes
      (12:43 AM) AEN: icic
      (12:44 AM) Thusness: Means absence of attributes as colorless, formless
      (12:44 AM) Thusness: But what buddhism is referring is its emptiness nature
      (12:45 AM) Thusness: Not that there is a real formless entity
      (12:45 AM) Thusness: Awareness is appearances appearing when condition is
      (12:46 AM) Thusness: awareness is not free of thoughts
      (12:46 AM) Thusness: To advaitins, it is.
      (12:47 AM) Thusness: To buddhist practitioner, thought is awareness
      (12:48 AM) Thusness: One thought arises
      (12:48 AM) Thusness: Next one
      (12:48 AM) Thusness: Like what Ajahn Amaro said
      (12:48 AM) Thusness: There is no worry abt no thought, no conceptuality
      (12:49 AM) Thusness: All will be experienced in their most vivid forms

    14. Anonymous Says:

      As is said in Eccleciastes, there is season and time for everything ....so i guess is time for u to move on to some other project and priorities in life .... through this blog and online discussion in de past u have had accumulated enough good karma and merit already...

      And not to mention,as youngster in early 20s,with raging hormones(lol) , mayb focus on life companion,girlfriend will be inevitable....


    15. Tao Says:

      I can't see any other way either, but I was hoping you know another...

      Thank you

    16. Soh Says:

      If you're talking about non-verbal cues.. If you meet a genuine practitioner, you will notice that their face is beaming with radiance. Their whole body mind is luminous radiance in direct experience, and it is quite obviously reflected in how they look. Even my aunt (who does not practice meditation) told me that Thusness's face was beaming with radiance, when he came to our house.

      However that should not be how we judge a person's insight or attainment.

      As Rob Burbea said,

      "And in that, there’s an incredible beauty, an incredible sense of mystery, that the being opens to. A person who practices in that way a lot, who practices at that level a lot, who cultivates that and looks to cultivate that and learns, develops the skill, the art of really hanging out there a lot, if you meet a person like that, they are going to be really radiant. Very shiny. Very big aura. Very free. And they will feel very free, at quite a deep level quite a lot of the time. They will also probably be quite compassionate. A lot of love there.

      The Buddha makes a very marked point on one occasion, I think it was to Ananda, which is never judge someone’s awakening or non-awakening, enlightenment or non-enlightenment by how radiant they seem, by how shiny they seem, by how glowing. Absolutely not the way you discern where someone’s really at in the practice. But to practice at that level will bring that, and to learn people do they develop it as kind of what they’re going for, we’re talking about Buddhists and non-Buddhists, and they learn to hang out there. Incredibly beautiful and incredibly powerful."

      - http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2009/07/realizing-nature-of-mind.html

      And Thusness himself mentioned this before a couple of times, like in 2007,

      https://app.box.com/s/325e5kqixjrqu7gdd9d1 - Lankavatara Sutra Discussion Transcript 2007

      "Thusness: The initial aspect is this. The initial aspect is that there is a sudden realisation of non-duality. Then you will be in a stage of probably 60 to 90 days of bliss, of joy, or rapture. These things will happen first. Then, you will suddenly feel {inaudible} the momentum is coming to work. Now, this sudden {inaudible} of non-duality or the experience of non-duality will come again probably in {inaudible} even with practise. Because it will not just stop, but it will not just continuously surface. I mean it will continue to surface, but it will take place with the momentum, that you feel a bit confused. Can you get what I mean? But, if after certain time about two, three years of continuous practise and continuous experiencing it becomes stabilised. Then it becomes very clear. Then the experience of transparency will {inaudible}. And when you experience, a person will feel radiance bright. Means when you see him, you will find radiance bright, you know?

      Participant 1: You mean this person see other person, radiance bright?

      Thusness: Because once a person experience non-duality, there is no holding, there is just luminosity. There is just a pure sense of existence, of clarity, of all things. Somehow, there is an utmost joy and energy that flows from everywhere, that sustains a person. This is its nature."

    17. Anonymous Says:

      He did look extremely radiant and contented ......


    18. Anonymous Says:

      Shld b 'advice' instead of advise ...

    19. Anonymous Says:

      The way of pilgrim is such a wonderful book,and should be read for its 'attitude' .. It reflects everyone who's born on this earth,a wanderer and nothing more... Who can claim not being a passerby in this impermanent life of ours?

      More important than that,it tells the story of contentment(of just basic needs) and faith, look at the opening of it :

      " By the grace of God I am a Christian man, by my actions a great sinner, and by calling a homeless wanderer of the humblest birth who roams from place to place. My worldly goods are a knapsack and some dried bread in it, and a Bible in my breast pocket. And that is all. "

      By 'grace' we may be Buddhist or Hindu etc... but that doesnt matter, for our calling ,each one of us, without exception, is to be a 'homeless wanderer' .... for it is by such act of renunciation,couple with unshakable faith , and only then, will there be hope of ever finding the proper Way ...

    20. Soh Says:

      Good article on self inquiry: https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/12/the-direct-path-to-your-real-self.html?fbclid=IwAR0uHILbaVKoyI9JzI74hxm3fHEIEDNrXOGgWAil5KxxFzBpVGqvVJYMNws

    21. Anonymous Says:

      Book recommendation : Arahatta magga - Arahatta phala / Path to Arahatship by Ajahn Maha Boowa

    22. Soh Says:

      Yes read before. Good book from a sincere practitioner detailing his journey from I AM to the collapse of Witness into Non Dual. But I wouldn't consider his insight as anatta yet. Still, his practice is very deep.

    23. Anonymous Says:

      The inclusion of the attitudes,heart and struggle in the book adds so much value to the book than plain path,stages etc...

      Many times we overlook 'heart qualities' and simply fall into 'disease of analytical mind' ... yes, we may read it like 37 factors of awakening , stages etc.. but in our own path all those qualities must be embraced,'make into own being' , instead of intellectually known ....only then can it be properly used as ship to carry us into the other shore ...


    24. Soh Says:

      I agree that his book is very valuable. I’m made a comment about Ajahn Maha Boowa not to criticize but just for your own discernment. Especially because Ajahn Maha Boowa makes the claim to arahantship, the summum bonum of the Theravada path. I personally do not agree with his claim to arahantship, but noted that his practice (especially with regards to aspects like samadhi) is very deep.

      Thusness also had teachers who have mastery of samadhi but not necessarily anatta realization. See https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/08/wat-tham-khao-rup-chang.html

    25. Anonymous Says:

      ...... its just i sense lack of emphasis u gv to 'heart' etc.... and too much on insights,stages etc...



    26. Anonymous Says:

      Book recommendation: Cloud of Unknowing

    27. Anonymous Says:

      Book recommendation : Practice of the Presence of God - Brother Lawrence