E: I’ve been thinking a lot about “atman” vs “anatman” (a.k.a. “anatta”), or “self” vs “no self.” Advaita says the Self exists; Buddhism says it does not. The problem with Advaita is that “the Self” sounds like an object, and no object ultimately exists. The problem with Buddhism is that “no self” sounds like a nihilistic void. However, Advaita readily concedes that “the Self” is not an object, and Buddhism readily concedes that “no self” is not a nihilistic void. It would appear, therefore, that this supposed difference of opinion is just a case of the inadequacy of language at describing the indescribable. “Atman” and “anatman” are just concepts, and ultimately meaningless.

I searched for articles and videos about “atman vs anatman” and I found a fantastic video. The speaker is someone I was unfamiliar with: Swami Sarvapriyananda, from the Vedanta Center of New York. This is the simplest, clearest exposition of Advaita I’ve ever heard. What’s more, starting at around the 16 minute mark, he explains how atman and anatman are ultimately the same thing, approached from opposite directions. Soh Wei Yu, what do you think?


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Soh Wei Yu Buddhism tells you not only "no Object" but also "no Subject". The deconstruction of objectivity usually lends itself to the reification of Pure Subjectivity or One Mind, which is Thusness Stage 4. However if both Subject and Object are deconstructed through experiential realization, that is a rather advanced realization in the Buddhist path, and it is the 9th of the Ten Oxherding Pictures of Zen.


On the 9th Stage:

...Let's now appreciate the verse by Master Kakuan:

Having come back to the origin and returned to the source,
you see that you have expended efforts in vain.

You are now back to your starting point. How much effort you needed for that! Occasionally you encouraged yourself washing your face with the ice-chilly basin water, or you sank into desperation listening to frogs croaking in the dusk outside, or you kept sitting in defiance of the pains in the legs or of unbearable fatigue. Many times you have felt, "Now, this time I've come to a true experience!" but soon that experience is covered with anxiety and discontent. How many times you have determined to stop doing zazen altogether!.

What could be superior to becoming blind and deaf
in this very moment?

Come to think of it now, why didn't I become like a blind and deaf person right away? "Blind and deaf" here means a state of mind where there is nothing to see and nothing to hear. When you see, there's only the seeing, and the subject that sees doesn't exist. When you hear, there's only the hearing, and the subject that hears doesn't exist. The objects which are seen or heard are, just as they are, without substance. But understanding the logic of this will not do. When this is realized as a fact, you become like a "blind and deaf" person.

Inside the hermitage,
you do not see what is in front of the hermitage.

The late YAMADA Kôun Roshi comments that this line comes from a dialogue between Unmon [864-949] and Master Kempô [dates unknown]: Unmon visited Master Kempô and asked, "Why doesn't a person inside the hermitage know anything outside the hermitage?" To this, Kempô burst out into laughter. The point is why the person inside the hermitage (subject) cannot see the things "in front of the hermitage" (object). That's because there isn't anything in front of the hermitage. You may say that there is only the subject, there being no object at all. Yet, in actual truth, that "subject" doesn't exist either.

The water flows of itself and the flowers are naturally red.

The water runs smoothly, the flowers are colored scarlet. This line seems to imply that there are only the objects and there's no subject at all. However, as a matter of fact, those objects do not exist at all. It's simply that the water is running smoothly, and flowers are scarlet. Everything is just as it is [tada korekore], and everything is void as it is now [arugamama no aritsubure]. The fact that there is no distinction between self and others simply continues without end - "The water flows of itself and the flowers are naturally red.". ...

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Soh Wei Yu Also the realization as described above is consistent with what the Buddha taught in many places, including Kalaka Sutta, Bahiya Sutta, etc etc.

p.s. I have read thousands and thousands of pages of Advaita and its scriptures, as well as thousands and thousands of pages of Buddhism and its scriptures, I am actually very familiar with both systems, and I do appreciate both systems although I do not equate them to be the same.

I like what the Christian mystic Bernadette Roberts said,

"Bernadette Roberts said:

"That everyone has different experiences and perspectives is not a problem; rather, the problem is that when we interpret an experience outside its own paradigm, context, and stated definitions, that experience becomes lost altogether. It becomes lost because we have redefined the terms according to a totally different paradigm or perspective and thereby made it over into an experience it never was in the first place. When we force an experience into an alien paradigm, that experience becomes subsumed, interpreted away, unrecognizable, confused, or made totally indistinguishable. Thus when we impose alien definitions on the original terms of an experience, that experience becomes lost to the journey, and eventually it becomes lost to the literature as well. To keep this from happening it is necessary to draw clear lines and to make sharp, exacting distinctions. The purpose of doing so is not to criticize other paradigms, but to allow a different paradigm or perspective to stand in its own right, to have its own space in order to contribute what it can to our knowledge of man and his journey to the divine.

Distinguishing what is true or false, essential or superficial in our experience is not a matter to be taken lightly. We cannot simply define our terms and then sit back and expect perfect agreement across the board. Our spiritual-psychological journey does not work this way. We are not uniform robots with the same experiences, same definitions, same perspectives, or same anything."

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Soh Wei Yu The youtube is talking about the objectless Self, the Witness. I have gone through that phase of realization and wrote extensively in my ebook http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/.../my-e-booke... , and Thusness too wrote about it.


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Thanks, Soh. But if there is no object AND no subject, how is that not a nihilistic void?

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Soh Wei Yu Presence is not denied. Also, Suchness is not denied, but is empty of subject and object.

So as I quoted above,

"The water flows of itself and the flowers are naturally red.

The water runs smoothly, the flowers are colored scarlet. This line seems to imply that there are only the objects and there's no subject at all. However, as a matter of fact, those objects do not exist at all. It's simply that the water is running smoothly, and flowers are scarlet. Everything is just as it is [tada korekore], and everything is void as it is now [arugamama no aritsubure]. The fact that there is no distinction between self and others simply continues without end - "The water flows of itself and the flowers are naturally red.". ..."

In the Kalaka Sutta, it is said by Buddha,


"“Thus, monks, the Tathāgata, when seeing what is to be seen, doesn’t suppose an (object as) seen. He doesn’t suppose an unseen. He doesn’t suppose an (object) to-be-seen. He doesn’t suppose a seer.

“When hearing.…

“When sensing.…

“When cognizing what is to be cognized, he doesn’t suppose an (object as) cognized. He doesn’t suppose an uncognized. He doesn’t suppose an (object) to-be-cognized. He doesn’t suppose a cognizer.

Thus, monks, the Tathāgata—being the same with regard to all phenomena that can be seen, heard, sensed, & cognized—is ‘Such.’2 And I tell you: There is no other ‘Such’ higher or more sublime."

And in the Yogacara treatise and other places, it is also taught,

The Treatise of Buddha-nature (佛性论) by Bodhisattva Vasubandhu states: "Buddha-nature is the suchness (tathatā) revealed through the two emptinesses of person and phenomenon. Due to suchness there is no ridiculing or ridiculed (i.e. a subject and object). Penetrating this principle one is free from delusional attachments." 佛性者。即是人法二空所顯真如。由真如故。無能罵所罵。通達此理。離虛妄執。 (http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=2416)

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E: Soh, I really enjoyed the “Tada” article; thank you. ☺️

“...each thing that is known is simply being known as detail arising within the Knowing of it.”

“The Knowing” is the term I settled upon some time ago as the best explanation of “what I am.” There is this bodymind, and the knowing of it. But why stop at this bodymind? There is the Universe, and the knowing of it. I am nothing which I can experience. Therefore, I am not the bodymind/Universe. So, if “we are that which is true” (see below), am I not the Knowing?

“There is nothing that is true 'about' us because we are that which is true. We are that which presents itself everywhere as everything and yet is itself nowhere at all, no thing at all.”

This quote really resonates. I see this as fitting in with Advaita, as well.

E: Soh, I just realized I’ve managed to hijack this thread. Should we take this back to Messenger?
I apologize to all. 😕



Soh Wei Yu Session Start: Friday, 30 April, 2010

(9:38 AM) Thusness: The tata is very good. The Stainless is also good but just to be picky... the 'it' must be eliminated...stainlessness is the ungraspable of the arising and passing phenomena. Without essence and locality of any arising...nothing 'within or without it'.
(9:38 AM) Thusness: all the expressions in what u quoted are excellent.
(9:38 AM) Thusness: and all those phases of insight is to get u to what's being expressed. 🙂
(9:38 AM) Thusness: and all those phases of insights are to get u to what that is being expressed in the tata and stainless articles. It is the place where anatta and emptiness become obsolete. 🙂
(9:38 AM) Thusness: put this in the blog...great expression


Soh Wei Yu What’s seen here is that knowing does not exist by its own side as a subject, knowing is just what’s known, seeing is just colors and hearing is just sounds. No background seer or hearer


Happy Nini No! Esteban! I love the thread - Thanks a lot! :) <3 span="">

E:  Happy Nini well, I can ask Soh if he’s up for hijacking the thread again 🙂
E: “What’s seen here is that knowing does not exist by its own side as a subject, knowing is just what’s known, seeing is just colors and hearing is just sounds. No background seer or hearer”

I see knowing as eternal and unchanging because, while it merges completely with the appearances of the moment, all those appearances disappear, to be replaced with hew ones.


E: This is Soh’s reply:

i'll reply you later, going for yoga 🙂
you're still unable to forego an 'IT' therefore stage 4, like thusness wrote to me when I was in the same phase one month prior to anatta realization:

o 12 Sep `10, 12:44PM
Hi Simpo and AEN,
Yet we cannot get carried away by all these blissful experiences. Blissfulness is the result of luminosity whereas liberation is due to prajna wisdom. 🙂
For intense luminosity in the foreground, you will not only have vivid experience of ‘brilliant aliveness’, ‘you’ must also completely disappear. It is an experience of being totally ‘transparent’ and without boundaries. These experiences are quite obvious, u will not miss it. However the body-mind will not rest in great content due to an experience of intense luminosity. Contrary it can make a practitioner more attach to a non-dual ultimate luminous state.
For the mind to rest, it must have an experience of ‘great dissolve’ that whatever arises perpetually self liberates. It is not about phenomena dissolving into some great void but it is the empty nature of whatever arises that self-liberates. It is the direct experience of groundlessness and non –abiding due to direct insight of the empty nature of phenomena and that includes the non-dual luminous essence.
Therefore In addition to bringing this ‘taste’ to the foreground, u must also ‘realize’ the difference between wrong and right view. There is also a difference in saying “Different forms of Aliveness” and “There is just breath, sound, scenery...magical display that is utterly unfindable, ungraspable and without essence- empty.”
In the former case, realize how the mind is manifesting a subtle tendency of attempting to ‘pin’ and locate something that inherently exists. The mind feels uneasy and needs to seek for something due to its existing paradigm. It is not simply a matter of expression for communication sake but a habit that runs deep because it lacks a ‘view’ that is able to cater for reality that is dynamic, ungraspable, non-local , center-less and interdependent.
After direct realization of the non-dual essence and empty nature, the mind can then have a direct glimpse of what is meant by being ‘natural’, otherwise there will always be a ‘sense of contrivance’.
My 2 cents and have fun with ur army life. 🙂
Edited by Thusness 12 Sep `10, 12:56PM

OK, I will read up again on emptiness; thanks.

Soh Wei Yu Yes.. and in addition to what I said above, it's good to contemplate on emptiness using the 'weather' analogy (this is similar to the chariot analogy in madhyamika - http://www.nonduality.com/goode6.htm ) but apply it experientially to have direct realization.

It is good to have a clear understanding of emptiness teachings but even more important to have direct realization, many people approach emptiness teachings intellectually, which is a useful first step but of course we shouldn't stop there.

The chariot analogy has its origin in the earliest Buddhist scriptures/suttas, such as Vajira Sutta:


" Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view? This is a heap of sheer constructions: Here no being is found. Just as, with an assemblage of parts, The word 'chariot' is used, So, when the aggregates are present, There's the convention 'a being.' It's only suffering that comes to be, Suffering that stands and falls away. Nothing but suffering comes to be, Nothing but suffering ceases."

Once we see 'Awareness' and 'Self' in the same way we see 'Chariot' and 'Weather' - as merely conventional rather than having an essence/inherent existence of its own, then the luminosity is actualized as mere manifestation (scenery, sound, tactile sensations, scents and thoughts) without an image of 'inherent existence'.

If we see 'Awareness' as 'Weather', we no longer have notions of 'phenomena is happening in awareness' or 'coming out of awareness', nor does it make sense to say 'awareness merges with appearances' and 'awareness remains the same unchangingly even as appearances passes', in the same way it doesn't make sense to say 'rain is coming into weather' or 'rain is coming out of weather', nor does it make sense to say 'weather merges with rain' and 'weather remains the same unchangingly even as rain passes' as if weather is a 'thing in itself'.

 Weather is no more a 'thing' any more than a 'rock band' is a 'thing' -- it's just the electric guitar player, electric bass guitar player, drummer and singer are labelled as a 'band' for convenience sake, but it's nowhere to be found as a thing-in-itself. You certainly cannot say the band merges with the guitar player, or the band remains unchangingly so even as the members change, and so on.

The problem is that this sense of 'Awareness as Self-in-and-of-itself' is a very strong propensity and conditioning, and it needs time to investigate, look into our own experience and challenge the sense of 'in and of it-self-ness' and penetrate it, to realize that seeing is only ever colors without seer, hearing is just sound without hearer. That is why Bahiya Sutta is important. Together with the weather analogy it will become clearer in time.

Regarding the weather analogy:


Soh Wei Yu Seeing 'Awareness' as 'Weather' rather than an 'IT':

14/4/13 7:35:01 PM: John Tan: When u say "weather", does weather exist?
14/4/13 7:35:20 PM: Soh Wei Yu: No
14/4/13 7:35:42 PM: Soh Wei Yu: It's a convention imputed on a seamless activity
14/4/13 7:35:54 PM: Soh Wei Yu: Existence and non existence don't apply
14/4/13 7:36:02 PM: John Tan: What is the basis where this label rely on
14/4/13 7:36:16 PM: Soh Wei Yu: Rain clouds wind etc
14/4/13 7:36:25 PM: John Tan: Don't talk prasanga
14/4/13 7:36:36 PM: John Tan: Directly see
14/4/13 7:38:11 PM: John Tan: Rain too is a label
14/4/13 7:39:10 PM: John Tan: But in direct experience, there is no issue but when probed, u realized how one is confused abt the reification from language
14/4/13 7:39:52 PM: John Tan: And from there life/death/creation/cessation arise
14/4/13 7:40:06 PM: John Tan: And whole lots of attachment
14/4/13 7:40:25 PM: John Tan: But it does not mean there is no basis...get it?
14/4/13 7:40:45 PM: Soh Wei Yu: The basis is just the experience right
14/4/13 7:41:15 PM: John Tan: Yes which is plain and simple
14/4/13 7:41:50 PM: John Tan: When we say the weather is windy
14/4/13 7:42:04 PM: John Tan: Feel the wind, the blowing...
14/4/13 7:43:04 PM: John Tan: But when we look at language and mistaken verb for nouns there r big issues
14/4/13 7:43:22 PM: John Tan: So before we talk abt this and that
14/4/13 7:43:40 PM: John Tan: Understand what consciousness is and awareness is
14/4/13 7:43:45 PM: John Tan: Get it?
14/4/13 7:44:40 PM: John Tan: When we say weather, feel the sunshine, the wind, the rain
14/4/13 7:44:58 PM: John Tan: U do not search for weather
14/4/13 7:45:04 PM: John Tan: Get it?
14/4/13 7:45:57 PM: John Tan: Similarly, when we say awareness, look into scenery, sound, tactile sensations, scents and thoughts


Soh Wei Yu Even though moment after moment, the different colors, sounds, sensations, scents, and thoughts (both verbal/imagery as well as non-conceptual sense of presence) are all equally vivid and alive and luminous, it would be a conceptual abstraction to separate that luminosity into some unchanging entity with such an attribute.

A useful way to see this would be in terms of the analogy of saltiness and seawater, heat and fire, wetness and water. In truth, there is no saltiness of water anywhere other than the taste of seawater, no heat without the burning of fire, therefore it makes no sense to distinguish them into independent and separate entities, or extrapolate in terms of one being unchanging and another being changing, and so on.

We should see the 'luminosity of a manifestation' and 'manifestation' as not two different things in the same way as 'wetness and water' can't be found independently. This analogy deconstructs 'thing' and 'its characteristics', or 'phenomenon' and 'its nature'. Therefore it makes no sense to speak of some unchanging nature independent of manifestation, in the same way as it makes no sense to speak of wetness that remains unchanged or independent of the flow of water.

Lopon Malcolm:

The idea that things have natures is refuted by Nāgārjuna in the MMK, etc., Bhavaviveka, Candrakīrti, etc., in short by all Madhyamakas.

A "non-inherent nature" is a contradiction in terms.

The error of mundane, conventionally-valid perception is to believe that entities have natures, when in fact they do not, being phenomena that arise from conditions. It is quite easy to show a worldly person the contradiction in their thinking. Wetness and water are not two different things; therefore wetness is not the nature of water. Heat and fire are not two different things, therefore, heat is not the nature of fire, etc. For example, one can ask them, "Does wetness depend on water, or water on wetness?" If they claim wetness depends on water, ask them, where is there water that exists without wetness? If they claim the opposite, that water depends on wetness, ask them, where is there wetness that exists without water? If there is no wetness without water nor water without wetness, they can easily be shown that wetness is not a nature of water, but merely a name for the same entity under discussion. Thus, the assertion that wetness is the nature of water cannot survive analysis. The assertion of all other natures can be eliminated in the same way.


Then not only are you ignorant of the English language, but you are ignorant of Candrakīrti where, in the Prasannapāda, he states that the only nature is the natureless nature, emptiness.

Then, if it is asked what is this dharmatā of phenomena, it is the essence of phenomena. If it is ask what is an essence, it is a nature [or an inherent existence, rang bzhin]. If it is asked what is an inherent existence [or nature], it is emptiness. If it is asked what is emptiness, it is naturelessness [or absence of inherent existence]. If it is asked what is the absence of inherent existence [or naturelessness], it is suchness [tathāta]. If it is asked what is suchness, it is the essence of suchness that is unchanging and permanent, that is, because it is not fabricated it does not arise in all aspects and because it is not dependent, it is called the nature [or inherent existence] of fire, etc."


Soh Wei Yu The other article Thusness mentioned along with Tada -- http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/04/stainlessness.html

E: Soh Wei Yu I’m not getting this: “But in direct experience, there is no issue but when probed, u realized how one is confused abt the reification from language...And from there life/death/creation/cessation arise.” Can you explain how life/death/creation/cessation arise from the reification of language? Thanks.


Soh Wei Yu There are two levels. If we treat a chariot, or a rock band, or self, as truly existing instead of merely conventional, then we feel as if that entity X is truly created at some point, truly born into existence, truly abiding in time, and truly ceasing at some point.

But if the conventional entity X is seen to be empty and merely named, then the arising, abiding and cessation of X does not apply. What is never truly born into existence in the first place can never die. To speak of the birth and death of X is only truly conventional, and when analyzed, no truly existing X can be found to truly be born, nor abide, nor cease.

The initial realization of Anatta is seeing through the constuct of 'Awareness'/self/Self like 'weather', so the self is non-arisen (not that there is an inherently unborn Self like Advaita, but that a 'Self' has never truly existed to begin with), and the self being non-arising/non-abiding/non-ceasing will lead to the sense of 'being-time' where there is no sense of movement amidst dynamic activity. (See: https://www.facebook.com/notes/soh-wei-yu/being-time/10151991508035226/ )

But even after anatta there is another level of unborn which is not resolving into being-time.

Another level is having direct realization at the level of non-dual anatta Presence, so that the foreground presencing is realized to be empty and non-arising due to dependent origination, and this is realized to be the nature of presence. As I wrote before,

"The insight is how presence/appearance appears yet never truly exists (i.e. by way of inherent existence), like truly there... instead it's just mere substanceless appearance. Instead of essence, we see dependent origination.

It's an insight into seeing how 'essence' does not apply, not only to background/self but to foreground/presence/phenomena, therefore arising/abiding/ceasing also don't apply.

Because of this, there's no way to locate or pin down anything anywhere, therefore all the where, now, here, there don't apply, as pinning down something as 'there' requires the essence view.

It is not just an experience of all reality as 'dream-like' (this experience can arise by linking what appears to one's radiance) but a direct insight that overturns the wrong view of phenomena as having essence in the same manner as the direct insight into anatta overturns the wrong view of self or consciousness as having essence existing by its own side."

Time is just a construct like self. The notion that it takes time for me to walk from point A to B, which implies distance, space and time, deconstructs when we realize there is no atemporal abiding entity or self that is the traveller (this implies I am a truly existing atemporal self that is separate from time/the stream of transient phenomenality, which is not the case). In fact there is not even 'traveling' or 'movement' when Point A is only point A or being-time-A, point B is only point B being-time-B, each instant is whole and complete - there is nothing subjective or objective that is separate from each time-instant that abides and travels from A to B. Where time is being and being is time (things do not occur 'in' or 'pass through' time - they ARE time, as everything is irremediably temporal), there is Only being-time which is the sun and the moon and the stars, wherein there is neither an atemporal object passing through time nor an atemporal subject witnessing or passing through the passage of time and space from one point to another, and neither is it the case of one thing becoming another thing (winter is winter, spring is spring, winter does not turn into spring). Each instance of sight, sound, etc, is an entire and whole being-time independent of past and future (it occupies or IS a unique manifestation-position), yet inclusive of all causes and conditions spanning all time-space in a single moment that transcends the structures of time-object-self dichotomy. Each instant is a happening without movement. Time stops in the midst of temporality but Not by transcending to some unmoved backdrop.
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Soh Wei Yu Also Thusness wrote in 2014,

"There is always only conventional reality, only manifestations, only encounters. All r realized to b dependent arising and what liberates is the further realization that whatever dependently originates is empty and non-arising.

Be it pure experience or conceptuality, all r DO [dependent origination] and therefore empty and non-arising.

In anatta, there is no self...that experience of no-self is the freedom, the releasing, the freedom of Self/self...it is empty and non-arising. There is only the [five] aggregates, 18 dhatus. When u look at these dharma, it to is realized to b DO [dependent origination] and non-arising.


John Tan Hi Kyle, Actually I am saying instead of attempting to deconstruct endlessly, why not resolved that that pure experience itself is empty and non-arising. In hearing, there is only sound. This clear clean and pure sound, treat and see it as the X (treat and see it like an imputation/conventional designation as u explained), empty and non-arising. In seeing, just scenery, just this clear clean and lurid scenery. Where is this scenery? Inside, outside, other’s mind or our mind? Unfindable but nonetheless appears vibrantly. This arising thought, this dancing sensation, this passing scent, all share the same taste. All experiences are like that -- like mirages and rainbows, illusory and non-arising, they are free from the 4 extremes. Resolved that all experiences are non-arising then pure sensory experiences and conventional constructs will be of equal taste. Realize this to be the nature of experience and illusory appearances will taste magic and vajra (indestructible)! Groundless and naturally releasing! Just my 2 cents of blah blah blah in new year. Happy New Year Kyle. 2 minutes ago • Unlike • 1 February 6 at 1:50am · Edited · Like"

Soh, my friend, you are making a Herculean effort for me and I deeply appreciate it. I read your words (or those of Thusness) and they make perfect sense, but John Wheeler’s (and others’) words make perfect sense, as well. All I can tell you, as I mentioned before, is that I have had a series of inner visions (for example, “God” was presented to me as a giant screen and I was wordlessly told I was that) and “knowings” (knowledge that was suddenly “there”) starting at the age of 7 and they all turned out to be pure Advaita, although I didn’t discover non duality until my mid 40s. I don’t take any credit for this, because things just happen. But to think that all those visions and knowings were BS is very disconcerting. One hears a lot of talk about following one’s “inner guru,” and I have certainly had one. So I wonder, did my inner guru turn out to be a con artist? Lol. I do want to continue this inquiry, but I am feeling rather befuddled by all this. 🤔

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Soh Wei Yu I see no contradictions between Presence (which John Wheeler emphasizes) and Anatta, in fact Presence is important. But the wrong view of Presence is purified (wrong view as in inherent existence and subject/object duality).

I treat visions as merely expedient, as a means of revealing something that can be helpful to my path.


Anatta and Pure Presence
Someone told me about having been through insights of no self and then progressing to a realisation of the ground of being.

I replied:

Hi ____

Thanks for the sharing.

This is the I AM realization. Had that realisation after contemplating Before birth, who am I? For two years. It’s an important realization. Many people had insights into certain aspects of no self, impersonality, and “dry non dual experience” without doubtless realization of Presence. Therefore I AM realisation is a progression for them.

Similarly in Zen, asking who am I is to directly experience presence. How about asking a koan of what is the cup? What is the chirping bird, the thunder clap? What is its purpose?

When I talked about anatta, it is a direct insight of Presence and recognizing what we called background presence, is in the forms and colours, sounds and sensations, clean and pure. Authentication is be authenticated by all things. Also there is no presence other than that. What we call background is really just an image of foreground Presence, even when Presence is assuming its subtle formless all pervasiveness.

However due to ignorance, we have a very inherent and dual view, if we do see through the nature of presence, the mind continues to be influenced by dualistic and inherent tendencies. Many teach to overcome it through mere non conceptuality but this is highly misleading.

Thusness also wrote:

The anatta I realized is quite unique. It is not just a realization of no-self. But it must have first have an intuitive insight of Presence. Otherwise will have to reverse the phases of insights


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 Soh I’m not sure what you mean by “background” vs “foreground” Presence. My vision of the screen was essentially a visual representation of Presence. It was accompanied by a heightened sense of Presence, as well.

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Soh Wei Yu Background is the sense that Presence/Awareness is not the manifestation but resides 'behind' the manifestation. This is an illusion as explained earlier. There is actually no 'background', the 'background' is just an image of a foreground non-dual experience of Presence that has gone but captured and reified into a changeless background.
After anatta, one realizes there is no background, so Presence is always experience as foreground -- sight, sound, taste, etc. (Even a formless sense of Existence/Presence when five senses are shut is another foreground taste of Presence) But even that is further realized to be dependently originating and non-arising, not existing by way of its own essence, therefore twofold emptying (self and phenomena). Vivid presence/appearing yet nothing there.

The mind projects or visualizes Presence according to the level of understanding or the existing framework and paradigm at that time, or is moulded by the view that makes sense to you then. You were not ready or able to understand anatta at that time.

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Soh Wei Yu Holding on to God as a 'giant screen' is just another reified idol image of God. Because "God" or "Presence" is empty of inherent existence, you can only taste God, see God, hear God, smell God, touch God and liberate God by being unestablished.

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Soh so you would say that consciousness is empty of inherent existence? If so, why?

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Soh Wei Yu Yes Consciousness is empty of inherent existence. You can see it in two ways, from the perspective of Anatta and from the perspective of Dependent Origination. But you can focus on Bahiya Sutta/Anatta contemplation first.

1) Anatta:


15/4/13 12:53:28 AM: John Tan: Anatta is a realization that there isn't a consciousness besides sound, scenery...etc
15/4/13 12:56:15 AM: John Tan: U c through reification of that agent and get in touch with the base manifestation where the label rely upon
15/4/13 12:57:02 AM: John Tan: So sound is the actual consciousness is referring to
15/4/13 12:57:36 AM: John Tan: There is no consciousness other than that

15/4/13 1:01:13 AM: John Tan: When they see through reification, then phenomena has a different meaning
15/4/13 1:02:04 AM: John Tan: Seeing everything as awareness is not one mind
15/4/13 1:02:52 AM: John Tan: Seeing everything as the same unchanging mind is the problem
15/4/13 1:04:09 AM: John Tan: When u c through reification, u realized "awareness" is just a label point to these manifestations
15/4/13 1:04:32 AM: John Tan: So there is nothing wrong saying that
15/4/13 1:05:24 AM: John Tan: Only when we treat awareness to b of true existence then we r deluded because there isn't any
15/4/13 1:11:14 AM: Soh Wei Yu: I see..
15/4/13 1:11:36 AM: John Tan: In hearing, there is only sound
15/4/13 1:11:57 AM: John Tan: Hearing implies the presence of sound

2) Dependent Origination:



Soh, my friend, today I was doing something - I don’t know, things on facebook - when suddenly, there was just the doing of these things. It has remained that way pretty much all day, although it comes and goes a bit. I thought of the Bahiya Sutra.

Soh: (thumbs up)

Thusness: Indeed Buddha Bra, At first 'effort' to focus on experiencing on the vividness of 'sensation' in the most immediate and direct way will remain. It will be 'concentrative' for some time before it turns effortless. There are a few points I would like to share:

1. 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'.

2. It is better not to treat sensation as 'real' as the word 'real' in Buddhism carries a different meaning. It is rather a moment of vivid, luminous presence but nothing 'real'. It may be difficult to realise why is this important but it will become clearer in later phase of our progress.

3. Do go further into the aspect of dependent origination and emptiness to further 'purify' the experience of anatta. Not only is there no who, there is no where and when in all manifestation.

Whatever said are nothing authoritative. Just a sharing and happy Journey!

The realisation that this is always already so must arise then “no mind” becomes effortless


after anatta/thusness stage 5 there is stage 6. anatta must not just stay at the emptying of convention like weather/penetrating background 'awareness' and realizing it's just the scenery, the scent, sounds, etc. but must let you see the process of arising
No self is to directly taste the seeing is the seen, no one seeing... not just nothing or nihilist
But also no self is not just no self must see afflictive dependent origination.. means there is no self but there can be the arising sense of self.. which is the total exertion of ignorance and the whole 12 links of dependent origination, the entire chain of causality .
So no self must let see this chain .. whether afflictive dependent origination or non afflictive  dependent origination. Non-afflictive dependent originationis like for example even without sense of self/Self, the pure sound... is the total exertion of my hands hitting the bell, ears, mind, body all as a seamless activity as if the universe is giving its best for this pure sound.
So one is not stuck at 'only sound' but sees 'sound' as the whole process, one sees the dependencies and conditionality involved.. therefore nondual +total exertion

Soh, I loved the linked article. As it happens, just before I saw your message I was reading about “the three poisons,” one of which is anger, which the Buddha said will keep you from realization. My own approach has been to never give up, despite my anger and other flaws. This “thing,” whatever you may call it, has always been in me too strongly to just give up on. So, the second approach outlined in the article resonates more with me. However, does this mean that the Buddha’s teachings can be ignored, as in “Make up your own Buddhism as you go?” Thanks very much for this.

Awakening to Reality
all attachments cause suffering, buddhism is about putting an end to suffering. buddhadharma is about some verifiable and experiential truths and a workable path that ends suffering. you cant make up buddhadharma just like you can't tinker with the law of thermodynamics, but it is up to you whether to take up the path to the very end and put an end to suffering
Sent by Soh Wei Yu
Awakening to Reality
"never giving up is important" in any endeavor, also as thusness told me when i met up with him yesterday, dispassion or letting go (which is important) is not the same as the absence of passion, love and compassion. very often if we love someone we are attached to someone, like a mother suffers if a child is harmed because of attachment. but it is also possible to experience love without grasping, and it is also possible to love one's body and act in accordance to one's bodily needs (like being sick, feeling the thirstiness and giving it plenty of water), taking care of the body and yet not identifying or being attached to the body
Sent by Soh Wei Yu
Awakening to Reality
9/16/2012 10:51 PM: John: Fully engaged but non-attached. 9/16/2012 10:52 PM: John: When anatta matures, do u feel fully and completely integrated into whatever arises till there is no difference and no distinction 9/16/2012 10:53 PM: John: When sound arises, fully and completely embraced with sound yet non-attached 9/16/2012 10:59 PM: Soh Wei Yu: I see.. 9/16/2012 11:00 PM: John: Similarly, in life we must be fully engaged yet non-attached
Sent by Soh Wei Yu
Awakening to Reality
there is no anger when actualizing anatta, but there can be energy, passion, or compassion, or full engagement in whatever action we do


(10:27 PM) Thusness: when u r angry, it is a split
(10:28 PM) Thusness: when u realized its anatta nature, there is just vivid clarity of all the bodily sensations
even when there is an arising thought of something bad, it dissolves with no involvement in the content
(10:29 PM) Thusness: to be angry, a
a 'someone' must come into the content
(10:29 PM) Thusness: when there is no involvement of the extra agent, there is only recoiling and self liberations
(10:30 PM) AEN: oic..
(10:33 PM) Thusness: one should differentiate arising thought from the active involvement of the content
(10:34 PM) Thusness: a practitioner that realizes anatta is only involved fully in the vivid presence of the action, phenomena but not getting lost in content
Sent by Soh Wei Yu
Awakening to Reality
so i hardly have any anger nowadays, also the same for many i've heard, including Kyle Dixon who wrote, "...The anatta definitely severed many emotional afflictions, for the most part I don't have negative emotions anymore. And either the anatta or the strict shamatha training has resulted in stable shamatha where thoughts have little effect and are diminished by the force of clarity. I'm also able to control them, stopping them for any amount of desired time etc. but I understand that isn't what is important. Can I fully open to whatever arises I would say yes. I understand that every instance of experience is fully appearing to itself as the radiance of clarity, yet timelessly disjointed and unsubstantiated.."
Sent by Soh Wei Yu
Awakening to Reality
at the same time it is important not to suppress any emotions or feelings that arise, therefore the four foundations of mindfulness include mindfulness of emotions as they are.


Many people have found that through being helped to express their anger (for example) they have overcome such problems as depression (which can be caused by repressing feelings of anger), but this has led to the mistaken view that it is healthy to express anger. In Tantric terms, to express anger is only to intensify the distorted reflection and to create further illusory distance from the liberated energy of that emotion. To express anger is only to condition us with a pattern of perception that triggers angry responses more readily in more varied situations. Simply speaking, if we regard our anger as a healthy release, we’re just training ourselves to be angry people. We avoid the side effects of repression, but we acquire the side effects of expression. Dissipation is the least injurious activity in terms of side effects whether dealing with anger or with any emotion, but it doesn’t deal with the root of the dilemma. Until that is directly confronted, an emotion will always re-emerge when our circumstances trigger one of our five distorted responses.

The practice of meditation in the context of embracing emotions as the path gives us another option. This option is one in which we neither repress, express nor dissipate our emotional energy. But one in which we let go of the conceptual scaffolding and wordlessly gaze into the physical sensation of the emotion. This is what we describe as 'staring into the face of arising emotions in order to realise their empty nature’. This is where meditation becomes an essential aspect of our method of discovery. The form of meditation we will discuss here comes from the system known as Trèk-chöd, which means ‘exploding the horizon of conventional reality’. Trèk-chöd involves finding the presence of awareness in the dimension of the sensation of the emotion we are experiencing. Simply speaking, we find the location of the emotion within the body (it may be localised or pervasive). This is where we feel the emotion as a physical sensation. We then allow that sensation to expand and pervade us. We become the emotion. We cease to be observers of our emotions. We stare into the face of the arising emotion with such completeness that all sense of division between ‘experience’ and ‘experiencer’ dissolve. In this way we open ourselves to glimpses of what we actually are. We start to become transparent to ourselves. Through this staring, the distorted energy of our emotions liberates itself. In the language of trèk-chöd it is said: ‘of itself – it liberates itself’, and ‘it enters into its own condition’. In order to use meditation in this way, we need to have developed the experience of letting go of obsessive attachment to the intellectual/conceptual process as the crucial reference point on which our sense of being relies. In short, we need to be able to dwell in our own experiential space without manipulating whatever arises to referential ends. We need to experience mind, free conceptual activity – yet qualified by the effulgence of pure and total presence.

Through the practice of meditation, we discover that we can make direct contact with the unconditioned essence of our spectrum of liberated energy. We can embrace our emotions and realise the unending vividness of what we are.
Sent by Soh Wei Yu
Wow man, you are really making a great effort for me, it is like being served a banquet on one golden platter after another. ☺️ I appreciate this so much.
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