[12:27 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: As for the deconstruction process via total exertion, a more effective way will b contemplating the ayatanas (Soh: See https://suttacentral.net/mn148/en/bodhi) and consciousness sort of deconstruction..

As I told you the insight trigger from  "hearer hearing sound" and "ear, sound, ear-consciousness" are different.  Also  "ear, sound, ear-consciousness" imo is post anatta into phenomena and action.

[12:28 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Oic.. but ear sound ear consciousness is before deconstruction of ear and sound into total exertion right
[12:34 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: Post anatta, you are left with sound.  When you look at sound from "ear, sound, ear-consciousness" we are led to total exertion.
[12:38 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: But before you talk about total exertion let's look at fluxing...

Buddha named consciousness after its ayatanas. This is to prevent us from abstracting and reifying a pure self standing consciousness. In other words, consciousness is in a perpetual state of fluxing and if you where to slice a moment out of this stream of consciousness-ing, it is always one of the six types of consciousness -- eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness and mental-consciousness.
[12:40 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Ic..
[12:41 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: Now what is that ear-consciousness?
[12:42 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Cannot be spoken besides in relation to ear and sound.. it is just that sound in relation to ear, manifesting that sound consciousness
[12:51 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: Yes. If I were to hit a bell with a stick and produce a "tingssss" sound...where and what is that "tingss"?

Is it in the stick, the bell, the air, the vibration of the air, the ear canal, the eardrum?

Also is that "tingss" produced?  Is it caused?
[12:53 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: And if you take out a part of the conditions, is there still "tingss" at that moment?
[12:54 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: No
[12:55 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: It is relational but not produced or caused
[1:00 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: The conventional world is populated with discrete separated objects as the mind sees in bits and pieces and languages play a role in enforcing the hoax of separations.

We link these separated objects and say this causes that.  We must see through all these symbols and names constructs and cause and effect issues, not just no-self.
[1:08 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: When you say no? are you able to see how and y it is "no"?  Like choosing, without all its parts, is it still that choosing?

When you flip a coin, can you flip the head without flipping the tail? When you flip the head, you are at the same time flipping the tail.  So can the tail choose not to be flipped?

When we say sensation, sensation is always the sensation of something.  Can there b sensation without an object? And we say sensation is not free from that something?
[1:20 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Ic.. yeah.. nothing can be found besides those relations. Sensation of heat cannot be found to reside somewhere besides the exertion of hand grasping on the cup and the hot coffee, etc etc.. Therefore unproduced, not inherent production or cause and effect... If produced then it could exist apart from those relations. Choosing also cannot be found besides the relations which volition plays an important role.. volition etc too is dependently originating. It is not determinism which is a kind of fixed view of inherent production, just dependent origination
[1:27 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Choosing is dependent on choosable objects, the subjective mental factors which includes ignorance, afflictions, habits, or conversely wisdom, mindfulness, willpower, external influences, internal rational reasoning, etc etc.. all those factors exerting in the activity of choosing
[1:27 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: It is not exactly important how words are being replaced but what exactly is "uprooted" from the process of decosntruction.  It must lift the veil of "production" and separation, entity and it's characteristics to understand the vivid vibrancy of that "tingss"...

So there can be a direct pointing that enables one to taste without intermediary beyond names and forms of that "tingsss", a non-dual, non-local or total exerted experience, but that does not mean the intellectual blindspot is uprooted.

There can also b clear understanding of intellectually but somehow the blindspot is not lifted and a second pointing into the taste of clarity is needed.
[1:30 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: So direct experience is one thing, clearly seeing through and uprooting of the blindspots is altogether another question.
[1:40 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
[1:42 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: When I say soh is very successful, a damn good programmer.  So when you look at "success" and see through this label, what did you see?
[1:43 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: Just suddenly successful?🤣🤣🤣
[1:43 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: No.. years of gaining experience etc
[1:43 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: Tell me more
[1:43 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: Everything ...
[1:43 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: Go into it...
[1:46 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: It includes learning from teachers, working with others, learning from failures and mistakes, continually refining knowledge and learning, and experience, hmm... actually cannot finish listing all the factors lol..
[1:47 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: Yes...that includes coding ten of thousands of lines of codes, many sleepless nights, continual refining ones logic...etc
[1:48 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: All of these all is being exerted into soh as a good programmer here and now...
[1:49 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: So success is designated based on these conditions
[1:55 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: So soh that is here and now and the whole exertion, what is the difference?
[1:59 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: No difference
[2:10 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: No difference how come?
[2:13 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Here and now is just another designation... cannot be found besides the whole exertion of ten directions and three times.. just like consciousness is named and designated after conditions
[2:37 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: Similarly, when you studying an object A, you will soon find that you are not just studying the object itself, you are at the same time studying it's environment, it's conditions...until the line between the thing you study and it's environment and conditions become a blur...until the boundaries and the divisions dissapears ... What can you realize from that?
[2:54 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: To study something is to study the relations and exertion of everything involved

Reminds me of dogen..

To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.
[3:14 PM, 6/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Also dependent designations.. everything is dependent designations
[3:43 PM, 6/24/2020] John Tan: The Soh that is here and now and the whole exertion are not two different phenomena.  The splitting up creates the impression as if they can be separated. As if you can choose some part and still retain the same successful Soh at the moment.  We also create a cause and effect relationship as if Soh that is here and now is a puppet that can't do anything.  

Like the head and tail of a coin, they are two aspects of the same coin. The mind that sees the bits and pieces and the language creates an alienated experience and confusions.

All these deconstructions and uprooting of blindspots are to allow the full and total experience of the sound "tingss". Each moment is also the dynamic total participation of the entire situation of the three times.

So in the total exertion of that "tingss", there is no outside, no inside, therefore nothing to cause...no cause, no conditions, no self, no arising, no ceasing.  Effortless, boundless, immense, vibrantly alive and free.

John Tan:

The logic that since there is no agency, hence no choice to be made is no different from "no sufferer, therefore no suffering".

This is not anatta insight.

What is seen through in anatta is the mistaken view that the conventional structure of "subject action object" represents reality when it is not. Action does not require an agent to initiate it. It is language that creates the confusion that nouns are required to set verbs into motion.

Therefore the action of choosing continues albeit no chooser.

"Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found;

The deeds are, but no doer of the deeds is there;

Nibbāna is, but not the man that enters it;

The path is, but no traveler on it is seen."


[10:40 PM, 6/15/2020] John Tan: Very good
[10:41 PM, 6/15/2020] John Tan: I wonder why people can't explain like Malcolm.
[10:42 PM, 6/15/2020] John Tan: Lol

[11:36 PM, 10/17/2019] John Tan: Yes should put in blog together with Alan watt article about language causing confusion.

Alan Watts: Agent and Action

Investigation into Movement

Also, an enlightening conversation recently (thankfully with permission from Arcaya Malcolm to share this) in Arcaya Malcolm's facebook group:

"[Participant 1]
June 14 at 2:40 PM

I came across a passage in a book I'm reading which brings up how Nagarjuna often bases arguments on unstated and unproven premises and manipulates ambiguities in language to justify his arguments leading to criticisms of sophistry. How do later authors address this if they do at all?

One example from chap 3 of the MMK with the following 3 arguments:

"Vision cannot in anyway see itself. Now if it cannot see itself, how can it see other things?

"The example of fire is not adequate to establish vision. These have been refuted with the analysis of movement, past, future, and present" - refers to the refutation from chap 2

"When no vision occurs there is nothing to be called visions. How then can it be said: vision sees?"

The book brings up the following critcism respectively:

This is based on the assumption for objects to have certain functions it needs to apply the function to itself but this is not justified. A counter example being lamps illuminate themselves and others.

The argument from chap 2 depends on natural functions (movement, burning of fire, seeing of the eye, etc.) being predicated on the moment of time which it takes place, and when the non obtaining of time is established it leads to the non happening of the function. This is not justified.

Here Nagarjuna jumps from how seeing only occurs with a sense object to the occlusion the eye faculty can't see. The author distinguishes between "seeing independent of condition" and "seeing dependent of condition" so Nagarjuna really only negates the first one. And that negating the first is close to pointless since no one asserts seeing occurs irrespective of condition. The second is left alone.
6[...] and 5 others

    [Participant 2] What book is this from?

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    [Participant 1] Madhyamaka in China, the author was giving some background on Nagarjuna.

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Malcolm Smith
Malcolm Smith Lamps do not illuminate themselves. Candrakirti shows this.

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Malcolm Smith
Malcolm Smith Nāgārjuna is addressing the realist proposition, "the six senses perceive their objects because those sense and their objects intrinsically exist ." It is not his unstated premise, that is the purvapakṣa, the premise of the opponent. The opponent, in verse 1 of this chapter asserts the essential existence of the six āyatanas. The opponent is arguing that perception occurs because the objects of perception actually exist.

· Reply · 1w · Edited

Malcolm Smith
Malcolm Smith [Participant 1] "The argument from chap 2 depends on natural functions (movement, burning of fire, seeing of the eye, etc.) being predicated on the moment of time which it takes place, and when the non obtaining of time is established it leads to the non happening of the function. This is not justified."


Nāgārjuna shows two things in chapter two, one, he says that if there is a moving mover, this separates the agent from the action, and either the mover is not necessary or the moving is not necessary. It is redundant.

In common language we oftren saying things like "There is a burning fire." But since that is what a fire is (burning) there is no separate agent which is doing the burning, fire is burning.

On the other hand, when an action is not performed, no agent of that action can be said to exist. This is why he says "apart from something which has moved and has not moved, there is no moving mover." There is no mover with moving, etc.

This can be applied to all present tense gerundial agentive constructions, such as I am walking to town, the fire is burning, etc.

· Reply · 1w · Edited

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 [Participant 3] Malcolm Smith these are not agentive constructions, they are unaccusative (cf. "byed med") verbs, so of course no separate agent can be established. So what?

The example of the fire and the eye are likewise not convincing, because they just happen to describe natural functions, but this is not all that unaccusative verbs do. When you say "the cat falls down", you cannot say that "falling down" is what a cat "is", the same way you can with fire burning.

· Reply · 1w

Malcolm Smith
Malcolm Smith [Participant 3] the point is aimed at the notion that there has to be a falling faller, a seeing seer, etc. it is fine to say there is a falling cat, but stupid to say the cat is a falling faller. The argument is aimed at that sort of naive premise.

For example, if eyes could see forms by nature, they should be able to forms in absence of an object of form, and so on.

But if the sight of forms cannot be found in the eyes, and not in the object, nor the eye consciousness, then none of them are sufficient to explain the act of seeing. Because of this, statements like the eyes are seers is just a convention, but isn’t really factual.

And it still applies in this way, apart from what has been seen and not been seen, there is no present seeing.

· Reply · 1w · Edited"

Malcolm Smith
Malcolm Smith Any people make the mistake of thinking that nag has an obligation to do more than just deconstruct the purpaksa.

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[Participant 1] Malcolm Smith thank you, definitely clears it up

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Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu Malcolm Smith What is purpaksa?

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Malcolm Smith
Malcolm Smith purva means "prior", pakṣa" means postion

     · Reply · 1w

Malcolm SmithActive Now
Malcolm Smith meaning, "the opponent's position."

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Malcolm Smith Purvapaksa

     · Reply · 1w"

- From his facebook group Ask the Ācārya https://www.facebook.com/groups/387338435166650/

Who this group is for: people who wish to ask Ācārya Malcolm Smith questions about Dharma etc., and to converse with like-minded people. Being admitted to this group carries a commitment not to share content outside of the group.

Who this group is not for: People with pseudonyms; people who think one can practice Dzogchen, Mahāmudra, etc. without a guru; people who think psychedelics are useful on the Buddhist path; people who think they can mix Buddhadharma with nonbuddhist paths, etc.

Also, more by Malcolm:

[10:51 PM, 10/17/2019] Soh Wei Yu: malcolm (Arcaya Malcolm Smith) wrote:


There is no typing typer, no learning learner, no digesting digester, thinking tinker, or driving driver.


No, a falling faller does not make any sense. As Nāgārjuna would put it, apart from snow that has fallen or has not fallen, presently there is no falling.


 It is best if you consult the investigation into movement in the MMK, chapter two. This is where it is shown that agents are mere conventions. If one claims there is agent with agency, one is claiming the agent and the agency are separate. But if you claim that agency is merely a characteristic of an agent, when agent does not exercise agency, it isn't an agent since an agent that is not exercising agency is in fact a non-agent. Therefore, rather than agency being dependent on an agent, an agent is predicated upon exercising agency. For example, take movement. If there is an agent there has to be a moving mover. But there is no mover when there is no moving. Apart from moving, how could there be a mover? But when there is moving, there isn't a mover which is separate from moving. Even movement itself cannot be ascertained until there has been a movement. When there is no movement, there is no agent of movement. When there is moving, there is no agent of moving that can be ascertained to be separate from the moving. And since even moving cannot be ascertained without there either having been movement or not, moving itself cannot be established. Since moving cannot be established, a moving mover cannot be established. If a moving mover cannot be established, an agent cannot be established.


 Hi Wayfarer:

The key to understanding everything is the term "dependent designation." We don't question the statement "I am going to town." In this there are three appearances, for convenience's sake, a person, a road, and a destination.

A person is designated on the basis of the aggregates, but there is no person in the aggregates, in one of the aggregates, or separate from the aggregates. Agreed? A road is designated in dependence on its parts, agreed? A town s designated upon its parts. Agreed?

If you agree to this, then you should have no problem with the following teaching of the Buddha in the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Sūtra:

This body arises from various conditions, but lacks a self. This body is like the earth, lacking an agent. This body is like water, lacking a self. This body is like fire, lacking a living being. This body is like the wind, lacking a person. This body is like space, lacking a nature. This body is the place of the four elements, but is not real. This body that is not a self nor pertains to a self is empty.

In other words, when it comes to the conventional use of language, Buddha never rejected statements like "When I was a so and so in a past life, I did so and so, and served such and such a Buddha." Etc. But when it comes to what one can discern on analysis, if there is no person, no self, etc., that exists as more than a mere designation, the fact that agents cannot be discerned on analysis should cause no one any concern. It is merely a question of distinguishing between conventional use of language versus the insight into the nature of phenomena that results from ultimate analysis.


[11:36 PM, 10/17/2019] John Tan: Yes should put in blog together with Alan watt article about language causing confusion.


From other threads:


There is no "experiencer" since there is no agent. There is merely experience, and all experience is empty.


Why should there be someone upon whom karma ripens? To paraphrase the Visuddhimagga, there is no agent of karma, nor is there a person to experience its ripening, there is merely a flow of dharmas.


There are no agents. There are only actions. This is covered in the refutation of moving movers in chapter two of the MMK.



 The point is that there is no point to eternalism if there is no eternal agent or object.



 Things have no natures, conventionally or otherwise. Look, we can say water is wet, but actually, there no water that possesses a wet nature. Water is wet, that is all. There is no wetness apart from water and not water apart from wetness. If you say a given thing has a separate nature, you are making the exact mistaken Nāgārajuna points out in the analysis of movement, i.e., it is senseless to say there is a "moving mover." Your arguments are exactly the same, you are basically saying there is an "existing existence."


This is precisely because of the above point I referenced. Nagārjuna clearly shows that characteristics/natures are untenable.

Candrakīrti points out that the possessor does not exist at all, but for the mere purpose of discourse, we allow conventionally the idea that there is a possessor of parts even though no possessor of parts exists. This mistake that we indulge in can act as an agent, for example a car, we can use it as such, but it is empty of being a car — an agent is as empty of being an agent as its actions are empty of being actions. 



Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh:

"When we say it's raining, we mean that raining is taking place. You don't need someone up above to perform the raining. It's not that there is the rain, and there is the one who causes the rain to fall. In fact, when you say the rain is falling, it's very funny, because if it weren't falling, it wouldn't be rain. In our way of speaking, we're used to having a subject and a verb. That's why we need the word "it" when we say, "it rains." "It" is the subject, the one who makes the rain possible. But, looking deeply, we don't need a "rainer," we just need the rain. Raining and the rain are the same. The formations of birds and the birds are the same -- there's no "self," no boss involved.

There's a mental formation called vitarka, "initial thought." When we use the verb "to think" in English, we need a subject of the verb: I think, you think, he thinks. But, really, you don't need a subject for a thought to be produced. Thinking without a thinker -- it's absolutely possible. To think is to think about something. To perceive is to perceive something. The perceiver and the perceived object that is perceived are one.

When Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am," his point was that if I think, there must be an "I" for thinking to be possible. When he made the declaration "I think," he believed that he could demonstrate that the "I" exists. We have the strong habit or believing in a self. But, observing very deeply, we can see that a thought does not need a thinker to be possible. There is no thinker behind the thinking -- there is just the thinking; that's enough.

Now, if Mr. Descartes were here, we might ask him, "Monsieur Descartes, you say, 'You think, therefore you are.' But what are you? You are your thinking. Thinking -- that's enough. Thinking manifests without the need of a self behind it."

Thinking without a thinker. Feeling without a feeler. What is our anger without our 'self'? This is the object of our meditation. All the fifty-one mental formations take place and manifest without a self behind them arranging for this to appear, and then for that to appear. Our mind consciousness is in the habit of basing itself on the idea of self, on manas. But we can meditate to be more aware of our store consciousness, where we keep the seeds of all those mental formations that are not currently manifesting in our mind.

When we meditate, we practice looking deeply in order to bring light and clarity into our way of seeing things. When the vision of no-self is obtained, our delusion is removed. This is what we call transformation. In the Buddhist tradition, transformation is possible with deep understanding. The moment the vision of no-self is there, manas, the elusive notion of 'I am,' disintegrates, and we find ourselves enjoying, in this very moment, freedom and happiness."


Unread post by PadmaVonSamba » Thu Dec 10, 2020 11:25 pm
If Nagarjuna had a mirror, would he say the mirror is a different mirror each time something different is reflected in it, or is it the same mirror?

Dzogchen teacher Arcaya Malcolm Smith:

"Apart from what has been mirrored and not been mirrored, there is no [present] mirroring. A mirroring mirror is redundant, just like moving movers." - https://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=116&t=35353...