Wrote to someone days ago:
Also you seem to be misunderstanding the person above when you said " Maybe there is a “place” where only awareness of being exists. " What's not denied is the 'awareness of being', in fact, it is very possible to experience the shutting of all five senses with only Mind remaining (as in a state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi or bardo), as a mere 'awareness of being' or a 'pure sense of existence'. There is nothing wrong with this. Buddhism acknowledges six senses, so even when five senses are shut or gross concepts dissolve, there can still be the luminous presence of Mind.
But this Mind is not an unchanging background or something ultimate and special apart from the stream of manifestation, it too is a manifestation. the only problem is thinking that this "awareness of being" is something behind experience as some Ultimate Experiencer. The person above is trying to point out that this "awareness of being" (although formless) is still a manifested experience and not some hidden Experiencer or background, which will be an illusion. As he said, " If being did know itself in total voidness, that very "knowing" would itself be an experience, hence the void would not be void. God cannot be separated from creation, because the potential for creation is already Known."

It is also important to realize that this "awareness of being" or "sense of being" or "sense of existence" or "Presence" is not actually a background. As Thusness wrote before:


(1:01 AM) Thusness: pce (Soh: pure consciousness experience, as in http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/library/topics/pce.htm ) is about direct and pure experience of whatever we encounter in sight, sound, taste...
the quality and depth of experience in sound
in contacts
in taste
in scenery
has he truly experience the immense luminous clarity in the senses?
if so, what about 'thought'?
when all senses are shut
the pure sense of existence as it is when the senses are shut.
then with senses open
have a clear understanding
do not compare irrationally without clear understanding
(1:06 AM) Thusness: lol...but do not put it across to him so bluntly


(5:08 PM) Thusness: what is "I AM"
is it a pce?
is there emotion
is there feeling
is there thought
is there division or complete stillness?
in hearing there is just sound, just this complete, direct clarity of sound!
so what is "I AM"?
(5:10 PM) Soh Wei Yu: it is the same
just that pure non conceptual thought
(5:10 PM) Thusness: is there 'being'?
(5:11 PM) Soh Wei Yu: no, an ultimate identity is created as an after thought
(5:11 PM) Thusness: indeed
it is the mis-interpretation after that experience that is causing the confusion
that experience itself is pure conscious experience
there is nothing that is impure
that is why it is a sense of pure existence
it is only mistaken due to the 'wrong view'
so it is a pure conscious experience in thought.
(5:13 PM) Soh Wei Yu: oic..
(5:13 PM) Thusness: not sound, taste, touch...etc


Also, in 2009:


84. RE: Is there an absolute reality? [Skarda 4 of 4]
Mar 27 2009, 9:15 AM EDT | Post edited: Mar 27 2009, 9:15 AM EDT
Hi theprisonergreco,

First is what exactly is the ‘background’? Actually it doesn’t exist. It is only an image of a ‘non-dual’ experience that is already gone. The dualistic mind fabricates a ‘background’ due to the poverty of its dualistic and inherent thinking mechanism. It ‘cannot’ understand or function without something to hold on to. That experience of the ‘I’ is a complete, non-dual foreground experience.

When the background subject is understood as an illusion, all transience phenomena reveal themselves as Presence. It is like naturally 'vipassanic' throughout. From the hissing sound of PC, to the vibration of the moving MRT train, to the sensation when the feet touches the ground, all these experiences are crystal clear, no less “I AM” than “I AM”. The Presence is still fully present, nothing is denied. -:) So the “I AM” is just like any other experiences when the subject-object split is gone. No different from an arising sound. It only becomes a static background as an after thought when our dualistic and inherent tendencies are in action.

The first 'I-ness' stage of experiencing awareness face to face is like a point on a sphere which you called it the center. You marked it.

Then later you realized that when you marked other points on the surface of a sphere, they have the same characteristics. This is the initial experience of non-dual. Once the insight of No-Self is stabilized, you just freely point to any point on the surface of the sphere -- all points are a center, hence there is no 'the' center. 'The' center does not exist: all points are a center.

After then practice move from 'concentrative' to 'effortlessness'. That said, after this initial non-dual insight, 'background' will still surface occasionally for another few years due to latent tendencies...

86. RE: Is there an absolute reality? [Skarda 4 of 4]
Mar 27 2009, 11:59 AM EDT | Post edited: Mar 27 2009, 11:59 AM EDT
To be more exact, the so called 'background' consciousness is that pristine happening. There is no a 'background' and a 'pristine happening'. During the initial phase of non-dual, there is still habitual attempt to 'fix' this imaginary split that does not exist. It matures when we realized that anatta is a seal, not a stage; in hearing, always only sounds; in seeing always only colors, shapes and forms; in thinking, always only thoughts. Always and already so. -:)

In 2007:


(9:12 PM) Thusness:  you don't think that "I AMness" is low stage of enlightenment leh

(9:12 PM) Thusness:  the experience is the same. it is just the clarity. In terms of insight. Not experience.

(9:13 PM) AEN:           icic..

(9:13 PM) Thusness:  so a person that has experience "I AMness" and non dual is the same. except the insight is different.

(9:13 PM) AEN:           oic

(9:13 PM) Thusness:  non dual is every moment there is the experience of presence. or the insight into the every moment experience of presence. because what that prevent that experience is the illusion of self and "I AM" is that distorted view. the experience is the same leh.

(9:15 PM) Thusness:  didn’t you see i always say there is nothing wrong with that experience to longchen, jonls... i only say it is skewed towards the thought realm. so don't differentiate but know what is the problem. I always say it is misinterpretation of the experience of presence. not the experience itself. but "I AMness" prevents us from seeing.


This also reminded me of:

“It is not the contemplations that are important, it is the view brought to contemplation that makes the difference. For example, there is no actual difference between the Hindu Nirvikalpa samadhi and Vajropama samadhi in terms of its content, but the fact that one is accompanied by insight and the other is not makes the difference between whether it is mundane or liberative.” – Dzogchen Teacher Acarya Malcolm Smith, 2014


In 2009:


“(10:49 PM) Thusness:    by the way you know about hokai description and "I AM" is the same experience?

(10:50 PM) AEN:            the watcher right

(10:52 PM) Thusness:    nope. i mean the shingon practice of the body, mind, speech into one.

(10:53 PM) AEN:            oh thats i am experience?

(10:53 PM) Thusness:    yes, except that the object of practice is not based on consciousness. what is meant by foreground? it is the disappearance of the background and whats left is it. similarly the "I AM" is the experience of no background and experiencing consciousness directly. that is why it is just simply "I-I" or "I AM"

(10:57 PM) AEN:            i've heard of the way people describe consciousness as the background consciousness becoming the foreground... so there's only consciousness aware of itself and thats still like I AM experience

(10:57 PM) Thusness:    that is why it is described that way, awareness aware of itself and as itself.

(10:57 PM) AEN:            but you also said I AM people sink to a background?

(10:57 PM) Thusness:    yes

(10:57 PM) AEN:            sinking to background = background becoming foreground?

(10:58 PM) Thusness:    that is why i said it is misunderstood. and we treat that as ultimate.

(10:58 PM) AEN:            icic but what hokai described is also nondual experience rite

(10:58 PM) Thusness:    I have told you many times that the experience is right but the understanding is wrong. that is why it is an insight and opening of the wisdom eyes. there is nothing wrong with the experience of I AM". did i say that there is anything wrong with it?

(10:59 PM) AEN:            nope

(10:59 PM) Thusness:    even in stage 4 what did I say?

(11:00 PM) AEN:            its the same experience except in sound, sight, etc

(11:00 PM) Thusness:    sound as the exact same experience as "I AM"... as presence.

(11:00 PM) AEN:            icic

(11:00 PM) Thusness:    yes”

“"I AM" is a luminous thought in samadhi as I-I.  Anatta is a realization of that in extending the insight to the 6 entries and exits.” – John Tan, 2018

p.s. Self-Enquiry (asking Who am I?) is a potent method to the initial awakening to one's Pure Presence-Awareness or "I AM realization". Also see:
What is your very Mind right now?

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