If someone talks about an experience he/she had and then lost it, that's not (the true, deep) awakening... As many teachers put it, it's the great samadhi without entry and exit.

John Tan: There is no entry and exit. Especially for no-self. Why is there no entry and exit?
Me (Soh): Anatta (no-self) is always so, not a stage to attain. So it's about realisation and shift of perception.
John Tan: Yes 👍

As John also used to say to someone else, "Insight that 'anatta' is a seal and not a stage must arise to further progress into the 'effortless' mode. That is, anatta is the ground of all experiences and has always been so, no I. In seeing, always only seen, in hearing always only sound and in thinking, always only thoughts. No effort required and never was there an 'I'."


Here's a description by Daniel Ingram of what is awakening, also an interesting comment about whether he would trade it for anything else. It's a good description which resonates with my experience.

“Since the topic has come up so often and been so bandied about so many times by so many people, let me state here what I mean by 4th path, regardless of what anyone else means by it. It has the following qualities:

1) Utter centerlessness: no watcher, no sense of a watcher, no subtle watcher, no possibility of a watcher. This is immediately obvious just as color is to a man with good eyesight as the old saying goes. Thus, anything and everything simply and obviously manifest just where they are. No phenomena observe any others and never did or could.

2) Utter agencylessness: meaning no agency, no sense of doing, no sense of doer, no sense that there could be any agent or doer, no way to find anything that seems to be in control at all. Whatever effort or intent or anything like that that arises does so naturally, causally, inevitably, as it always actually did. This is immediately obvious, though not always the forefront of attention.

3) No cycles change or stages or states or anything else like that do anything to this direct comprehension of simple truths at all.

4) There is no deepening in it to do. The understanding stands on its own and holds up over cycles, moods, years, etc and doesn't change at all. I have nothing to add to my initial assessment of it from 9 years ago.

5) There is nothing subtle about it: anything and everything that arises exhibits these same qualities directly, clearly. When I was third path, particularly late in it, those things that didn't exhibit these qualities were exceedingly subtle, and trying to find the gaps in the thing was exceedingly difficult and took years and many cycles. I had periods from weeks to months where it felt done and then some subtle exception would show up and I would realize I was wrong yet again, so this is natural and understandable, and if someone claims 4th as I define it here and later says they got it wrong, have sympathy for them, as this territory is not easy and can easily fool people, as it did me many, many times over about 5 years or so. However, 4th, as I term it, ended that and 9 years later that same thing holds, which is a very long time in this business.

There are other aspects that may be of value to discuss at some other time, but those are a great place to start for those who wish to claim this. If you truly have those, then perhaps we can talk about a few other points that are less central and essential.

Now, how there can still be affect (though quite modified in many ways) when there is centerlessness and agencylessness, this is a mystery to the AF kids and to me as well, and that brings me to my next point: there seems to be areas of development depending on what you look for and aim for that may arise independently, and not everything seems to come as a package necessarily. Those things are what I looked for really hard for about 7 years, and that is what I found. Now I find that the interest in the unraveling of what drives that residual affect is arising, and so that investigation happens on its own also.

Perhaps people will find this helpful in some way.”


"Well, these debates go on and on and on.

A few simple points:

I still very much recommend my criteria as helpfully posted above. They have merit and value, and achieving those really shifts reality to something much better, having myself tried the before and after, I can tell you that from my point of view there is nothing more important that I achieved and attained than the total elimination of all sense of doer, watcher, controller, center point, observer, etc. True and total elimination of duality was a massive step up from the near total elimination of it: no comparison at all. It is hard to imagine that anyone else wouldn't value it the same way I do, but then tastes differ.

There are many axes of development: insight, concentration (and it has many axes within it), morality (an endless festival of axes to develop, including emotional and psychological health). Insight stands alone in that it is all basically towards one goal, and that goal does transform the relationship to all of the rest of it in ways that provide global improvement at the core sensate and paradigmatic levels of intrinsic processing. The rest are all also important, but nothing does what that does.

I really appreciate the chapter in Chögyam Trungpa's Journey Without Goal about the Five Buddha Families. This is a video of that chapter by the crazy old dead perverted but helpful genius himself: The Five Buddha Families

His embracing of the wide range of experience in all its human glory is so valuable, and that helped empower me to really take on everything that was going on in my experience. I still must warn against the limited emotional range models and what they can do to practice: beware becoming like those who follow those: so many complexities occur.

Is my emotional life transformed by my insights? Vastly transformed, no question.

Do I still manifest all the standard emotions: definitely, and some even more strongly than I did before.

Is there vastly less suffering in them as a result of their happening totally on their own just like qualities of space? Absolutely.

Is this anything like the disconnect feared by a poster above? Not in the least: there is no disconnection, because there is no longer any imagined thing to be disconnected.

The field lights up itself totally, without division, without restraint, without any barrier or gap, so disconnection is impossible. Does really honestly feeling what is going on help with emotional transformation more than models that imply that we shouldn't feel what we are feeling? I definitely think so.

Would I trade this for anything? Maybe world peace, but I would have to think about it. Until then, this totally rocks, and missing out on it would be barking crazy from my point of view.

Best wishes, and practice well,



Brandon Dayton:
I like this description from Daniel Ingram, time stamped from when the description begins.

Thanks Brandon! 

I transcribed a couple of questions whose phenomenological answers seemed very interesting for practice. If any fellow member finds an error in the transcription, please let me know. At 35:49 there are some words I couldn't understand.

MaxAnte: What are some of the actual, real world, tangible benefits of full Enlightenment?

Daniel Ingram: This kind of painful process that was literally sort like a ‘low grade headache’ (best way to explain it) stopped. That was just delightful, and in its place there’s a sense of synchrony. Synchrony just feels really nice. Everything synchronizes with itself. Before, everything feels out of phase. There is this that and then my knowing of it. There where this that and then this, and I was here and I was there. There was this always sense of jarring out-of-phaseness, which somehow experientially is just unpleasant. It’s suffering. It’s a fundamental type of suffering.

And when that stopped, the sense of synchrony and naturalness is substantially more delightful, just experientially. And that keeps on being substantially more delightful, moment after moment. It’s like a pleasure you don’t get a tolerance to. It’s a niceness that every moment is just as nice as the moment before, in that specific way.

That doesn’t mean that things can’t be unpleasant, but that quality is also there, even in very unpleasant things. So I’m not meaning to say there’s not the perception of pain or that everything is always nice. It isn’t. There’s still pain, but that quality of synchrony is simply delightful and is always happening. Actually, I’ve come to appreciate it more as time has gone on it. Continues to sort of be like ‘yeah’, almost like there’s like … as it sort of cascades through all other aspects of mind and situations and conditioning.

It’s fascinating to see some memory –I may not have had in 20 years– come up, and now it arises in this totally different space, where identity is nothing like the solid sticky thing it was before. And now it’s just a thought and space. That rewires something in the brain that now that memory –which might have been painful or complicated– is now arising in a space that is so much more clear and open. And in which thought, rather than being contracted into, is literally just this super wispy thing in this big echoey room that is so much nicer … Also, there will be meetings and I’m looking around like I’m the only person in the room full-time. I you’re the person who’s really in the room and everybody else isn’t in the meeting, that’s a real advantage!

MaxAnte: So, you think there are some actually real-world advantages here that you’re experiencing ongoingly?

Daniel Ingram: Sure, because people are constantly like “oh, I wasn’t really present for that … I wasn’t really into that”. Well, now the cool thing about being awake is that the holodeck no longer being filtered through the serial line that was constantly getting interrupted, and turning to the imagined holodeck –there was another holodeck– would tuned out the sort of consensus holodeck when it’s tuned to its internal holodeck … well, that’s not happening in that way. The default is now the consensus holodeck (as much as anything can be a consensus when we all have our own advantage points).

Speaking in relative terms, but ignoring all the ontological problems –I don’t want to go into that–, basically the room and being in the room (or the space or the field or wherever you are) is the default. Whereas before, tuning out was the default. Being lost in thought was the default. The default mode network being activated to-not-really-be-here was the default. Now the natural default is to be here. And by the way, if I really need to, I can check my calendar and perform a cognitive task that for some reason like to do that high level function I really kind of need to tune out the room a little bit, that can happen. But then the room is back as soon as that stops. Whereas before, it was the other way around. This is substantially better.

The other thing is the proportionality, which is a hard thing to explain. 99% of this room –even if I’m in pain somewhere– has no pain. And this is the vast experience, so the whole room is the experience evenly in some kind of way. Let’s say I have a pain in my knee: it’s no bigger than it is. In comparison to the volume of the space, it’s still really small. And the mind is also not doing that contracted exaggerating thing it used to do, where it would take the pain or make this big thing out of it and ignore all the areas that were neutral or even pleasant, that it becomes the sort of fixation. Whereas (now) even when I have pain in one place, most other places are neutral and or might even feel nice.

And so, also things that feel nice are much easier to perceive as I’m here. You can’t see me now because this is an audio, but I’m moving my hands around and like the coolness of the air on my fingers, it’s delightful. There’s something about the echo in the room that sounds kind of cool, like even that little click of your fingers, like it has a sort of nice little snap to it. There’s the glistening of the light on your hair, which is just naturally kind of cool when it’s just allowed to be itself, and that sort of childlike wondrous way of people perceiving things when they’re just in it, like you’re watching a beautiful sunset, you forget about the day and you’re just in the beautiful colors …

Well, everything has something of that to it in some way, because there’s the immediate sensate experience and it’s wrought on rock (35:49?) because we get everything kind of processed, but as raw as you can get with the human brain that receives everything kind of processed, and so there’s something really nice about that. The proportionality of though also. So emotions are mostly thoughts and then you get contracted into the thought rather than having it just be this wispy thing in space. And then because when you contract into the thought it then becomes a huge part of your world and then that distorts how much of a reaction you have to it. And then that costs a much greater release of all the stress chemicals if you’re having some unpleasant thought, because the brain is now taking that as a total world or whatever you get lost in the anger or whatever and then that creates a whole much bigger stress response and all these chemicals.

Well now it’s not that they aren’t stressors and things, but the thought arises in the room, is proportional, and in terms of experience the thoughts are really small wispy things most of the time. And then the stress chemicals that result from that, even if it’s really unpleasant thought, are vastly less because the experience of it wasn’t contracted into and the brain didn’t freak out that now this is a total world cut off from most of the room, which again is fine, and in fact pretty nice. So, it’s not that it made all bad emotions go away, but the relationship to it and the physiology of it is really different.

And the envelope of these things thus is a lot different, meaning the sort of attack, sustain and decay –the music synthesizer terms in terms of sound–. The attack is really fast because things are clear, but the release is also really fast because the thought arises and then it disappears. And the maybe some little stress chemical arises and then those bodily sensations hang out for a little bit, and then they disappear. But there’s nothing like the sort of feedback loop in the way that it used to be before, where this hurts and this cost of the thought and this thing and then that causes stress chemicals and they would loop and loop and loop… and this really exaggerated distorted way long after the thing had happened. And you’re just sitting there most of the room is fine, like why is the brain doing that? It’s just torturing itself, it doesn’t have to. It doesn’t benefit from that. And so the default now is to not do that, whereas before the default was to do that. So it’s not like some small sort of short versions of that can’t happen in extreme circumstances, but it’s vastly shorter and it’s vastly milder. So that’s better.

All of those things have been substantial upgrades … like unbelievable upgrades. Like I would give it all the stuff I lost getting this, I would give that again and more … many more times, to get this. This is such a benefit in terms of the actual living feel of it. I can’t even tell you.

Does it perform exactly like the old text said it would? No. Does it beat the crap out of what I had before? Absolutely yes. And the cool thing is this is reproducible and it’s based on really straight forward assumptions, just sensate clarity about intentions, mental impressions, thoughts in the room, experience, spotty mind, Six Sense Doors, and just noticing that clearly. That’s really straight forward and portable. And so that’s one of the supercool things about it. And it actually is reproducible. So people were able to do this, they were able to tell me how to do it and it’s like ‘yeah!’ so I like that. It satisfies the empiricist in me. It’s very egalitarian. Like here you are, here’s your senses, perceive them clearly. This can be yours.

2 Responses
  1. flávio Says:

    How is possible to have a point of view("there is nothing more important that I achieved and attained") and not have any sense of self("than the total elimination of all sense of doer, watcher, controller, center point, observer, etc.")?

    Is he talking about total elimination of an INHERENT sense of self, doer, watcher,.. or Is he talking about not have any sense of doer, watcher,.. in anyway?

    Thank you for your attention.

    Flávio Leal.

  2. Soh Says:

    Any sense of agency stops.

    Opinions, perspectives, analytical thoughts (this is better than that) can continue to arise without the sense of a thinker or perceiver.