Someone I know recently asked me for a suitable meditation method as that person is experiencing chronic pain and mindfulness of breathing and body have caused more awareness of that pain that is hard to bear. Although an advanced practitioner may choose to remain mindful of pain until one experiences a state of transcendence devoid of duality and fabrications, I do not think it is a suitable advice for beginners.

For someone with such conditions as chronic pain (and even those without may choose to practice this), I recommend that they practice Awareness Watching Awareness. Turn your attention away from body, mind and world towards Awareness being aware of itself as I AM alone. John Tan (Thusness) confirmed with me that this method is suitable for the person.

Basically, if one sense door is not suitable (say, bodily sensation) you may need to choose another sense door. The I AM door is the subtlest mind of clear light, formless and unperturbed by the pain and afflictions of other sense doors. It is therefore a suitable candidate for meditation and contemplation, for realization and developing mental stillness and stability.

Told that person to read this and get this book:

This is also similar to the “turning the radiance around” of Shurangama Sutra and Zen Master Chinul, et al.
6 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    How complete is the book? Does it go beyond advaitic reification of consciousness, or must one suffer through the worship of an abstraction as an idol?

  2. Soh Says:

    The book only leads to Thusness Stage 1 - the realization of I AM, as in .

    I think you are having a misunderstanding of the I AM realization. It is a very important realization and is not a "worship of an abstraction as an idol", although it is true that at the phase, there is reification of consciousness. It is thus not liberating IN the view of Buddhadharma, but experientially it is blissful and a form of release.

    The reason why I AM realization is important for further progress is explained in

  3. Soh Says:

    I often tell people to start with self-enquiry and read books like The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Ramana Maharshi, etc, which is also about the I AM.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I only stumbled upon this post recently, but it is of particular interest, as I have a chronic nerve condition that affects nerves connecting my face to my brain. It can be quite excruciating at times (neuralgias are one of the most painful known conditions).

    > "Although an advanced practitioner may choose to remain mindful of pain until one experiences a state of transcendence devoid of duality and fabrications."

    When I am mindful and break down the sensations that "nerve pain" is composed of, I can examine that it is impermanent, has the seeds of suffering, and there is not an "I" that is experiencing it. It is just pain. At this point, there is often transcendence of pain. Strangely, I cannot even say there is suffering, there is just pain.

    This last part is tricky. The suffering arises when there is a story (when it is identified with) that arises along with the pain. If there is just pain, it is unpleasant, but it just there. (When the pain is intense, nothing is possible, other than just being mindful of the pain.)

    When there is a story attached, then the pain is affecting "me". Then there is the narrative of "I want this to stop, how can I get rid of this, and so on". This identification with the "selfing", the narrative of the I, this is the suffering.
    Sometimes I notice (in retrospect) that the pain arises first, followed by the story, sometimes vice versa. Intellectually, and experientially, I can see that there is never a self. But when the pain is particularly intense, I have found that the desire to push the pain away (which, co-arises with the identification with self-narrative) is overwhelming and reflexive.

    Now, despite the pain, I experience the cessation of selfing daily. Sensate forms still come and go, but all thoughts subside, and there is not a self who experiences anything. (I have only fairly recently deconstructed awareness, but seeing that form-and-awareness-of-form co-arise and that there is no-one there to be aware was liberating. But it is not complete. In meditation, I can see that thoughts just happen, there is no "thinker" that was the cause of the thought, but I do not have the sense of "utter lack of autonomy")

    Every other part of my body feels open, spacious, hollow. It is only this contraction in the head, this part of the "knot" that I would like to untie. I feel I need to treat the pain exactly the same as any other experience - something that needs to be deconstructed, but particularly challenging.

    Assuming one is a long-term meditator, has already stabilized in "I Am", and is somewhere at levels 1-4 could you elaborate on any additional advice or practice?

    Furthermore, I have an additional question - there are many records of practitioners undergoing hardships that involved pain (Ajahn Chah was bedridden for his last decade, Ramana, Zen master Shunryū Suzuki and many others had cancer, the Buddha himself was afflicted with chronic back pain and died of food poisoning, etc). These things cannot be avoided.

    You've recently described how being enlightened feels ( But how does someone at Stages 6-7 experience difficult challenges, such as illness, extreme fatigue, overwhelming sensations?

    Thank you (this comment turned out to be much longer than I expected).

  5. Soh Says:

    Have to contemplate until the two stanzas of anatta is realised as "always already so" without doubts and stabilized.

    As for pain, here's an excerpt from AtR guide:

    “John TanMonday, May 12, 2014 at 6:06pm UTC+08
    You are escaping into non-arising and emptiness of "no neck and no pain", trapped in the view of non-conceptual clarity also. What is the purpose of seeing the emptiness of "pain"? To ignore and rest in non-conceptual clarity? "Pain" does not arise?
    John TanMonday, May 12, 2014 at 6:11pm UTC+08
    Buddha is telling you how to release suffering, free from birth by right understanding. Not telling you to be confused and not know what to do. He sees DO and know what causes re-birth and taught DO, anatta to free us from sufferings. The purpose of telling you there is no pain in the neck so that you don't apply wrong medicine to the pain! It is not in the neck for example. So you are not trapped! Don't keep thinking it is just the neck get it? So that you can "see" clearly the causes and conditions of this empty "pain" in the neck. Otherwise you are not curing the "pain in the neck" because there is no so called inherent "pain" in the neck… You keep pressing and poking the neck cause more Wrong way, wrong understanding, wrong medicine! Get it? Like a person suffered from slipped disc and the big toe always feel numb and pain, the "pain in the toe" is empty, this is not to say there is "no pain", but to tell you you can correctly see and realize the exact causes and conditions and understand that it is from the disc protrusion that touches the spinal cord. So you can "cure" it …
    Soh Wei YuMonday, May 12, 2014 at 6:30pm UTC+08
    ic.. so its like seeing four nobles truths.. suffering, cause, cessation and path
    John TanMonday, May 12, 2014 at 6:30pm UTC+08
    Yes. Every sensation, experience, mental object, event...whatever appears to arise is so. Now if I go to the doctor and he gives me muscle relaxant and it cures for a while and come back again...what is it telling me?
    Soh Wei YuMonday, May 12, 2014 at 6:44pm UTC+08
    the root cause is not removed?
    John TanMonday, May 12, 2014 at 6:45pm UTC+08
    Yes...assuming you learn by trail and experimentation ... You start pressing the neck and press until it is not working. Then you go to the doctor it gives you muscle relaxant, it cures and comes back and you visit a Chinese doctor, it gives you medicine that you purge the "heaty" stuff...and it cures and then it comes back again... You begin to know more and more of the dependencies… Until you are able to link and see the stress that associates with the "pain"...the mental factors… When that attachment to projects, the success and failure, the mental attitude of total acceptance and release...and the pain is gone… You begin to understand deeper… The projects, the mental attitudes, the stress, the medicine, the energy they exert into this arising. Then the mental attitude of acceptance of the pain of the raw sensations and the mental attitude of full acceptance of success and failure of the projects… And the pain in the neck...all the karmic activities. When I visited my Chinese doctor, I told him about my neck pain...he was telling me not to earn so much of "$$$" He was not just joking...but he sees "the link" in a very practical sense. Total exertion of DO is not to make us more From top to bottom, there is no self, just these activities.”

  6. Soh Says:

    Also may be helpful: