Also see:
What is Nirvana?
Great Resource of Buddha's Teachings
The Deathless in Buddhadharma?
The Meaning of Nirvana

Early Buddhism's Model of Awakening

The Mahayana Model of Awakening
Buddhahood: The End of All Emotional/Mental Afflictions and Knowledge Obscurations


One of the most top-voted threads on Reddit's streamentry subreddit:


[9:07 PM, 8/27/2020] John Tan: Yes pretty much agree with what he said.
[9:40 PM, 8/27/2020] John Tan: But the same insight of anatta must be applied to object, characteristics, cause and effect, production and cessation...which is a more slippery issue.  Nevertheless, experientially seeing through self/Self is still most crucial.




John TanFriday, January 23, 2015 at 6:13pm UTC+08

u cannot choose and pick what u like about liberation and enlightenment. Saying one has actualized anatta and uprooted self and attained arahatship is not what u see ppl declaring here and there. I have told u many times what [these people] realized is only at most stream entry. U r talking about liberation and freedom from cyclical existence and therefore u r referring to arahatship.







[6:11 am, 19/04/2022] John Tan: This article is written myriad object?
[6:14 am, 19/04/2022] John Tan: Should put geoff and myriad objects article in main link, I think it clears a lot of misconceptions.
Soh: Yeah.. ok
Main link as in the stickied posts in atr blog?
John Tan: Yes
Soh: Ok
[9:58 am, 19/04/2022] John Tan: Any links to insightful articles?
[9:58 am, 19/04/2022] John Tan: I think a section on that is good
Soh: Ok.. later i think how to create
John Tan: Otherwise many ppl might missed all these good articles
[9:59 am, 19/04/2022] John Tan: Otherwise many ppl might missed all these good articles
[9:59 am, 19/04/2022] John Tan: And its really difficult to search through the whole blog other than u 😂😂😂
[10:00 am, 19/04/2022] John Tan: Nafis is another one that probably went through the whole blog... Lol
Soh: yeah im surprise he is becoming like me.. many of the posts he pasted was what i wanted to pasted but lazy



Update, 2024:

I recently wrote on reddit:

What Krodha said in this thread is right: "It is quite rare to attain stream entry, I’ve been involved with dharma for over a decade and can count those who are tried and true stream entrants on one hand. That said, contemplate the Bahiya and Kalakarama suttas and cultivate the first dhyāna."

I would add that many people have misunderstood what stream entry is. Maybe 99% on reddit. The only thread on the streamentry subreddit that correctly presents stream entry can be found in , it is a good read and highly recommended reading.


Glad you liked it. If that interests you, I think this should interest you too. On nondual awareness and its nature and the subtleties of insight:


🙏 :) p.s. I'm Soh, and Thusness (John Tan) is my mentor... I've been through similar stages in my journey


Self-view is well defined, for example, as I quoted in my article:

The contemplation of neti neti, or dissociation, the separation of the witness from the witnessed, Self from not-self and so on, is done to 'support' a position of a true Self. So with regards to the phenomenal world of everchanging things, I reject as not me and mine, for I am the ultimate Witness that is perceiving all these.

This is the false View no. 4 described in Sabbasava Sutta: "...As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will stay just as it is for eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress." - the commentary of 'Middle Length Discourses' book explains, "of these six views, the first two represent the simple antinomy of eternalism and annihilationism; the view that ‘no self exists for me’ is not the non-self doctrine of the Buddha, but the materialist view that identifies the individual with the body and thus holds that there is no personal continuity beyond death. The next three views may be understood to arise out of the philosophically more sophisticated observation that experience has a built-in reflexive structure that allows for self-consciousness, the capacity of the mind to become cognizant of itself, its contents, and the body with which it is inter-connected. Engaged in a search for his 'true nature,' the untaught ordinary person will identify self either with both aspects of the experience (view 3), or with the observer alone (view 4), or with the observed alone (view 5). The last  view is a full-blown version of eternalism in which all reservations have been discarded."”

The insight and realisation of anatman puts an end to all views of self.


Since self view is well defined by Buddha in several suttas, that is a very clear indication of when stream entry occurs. Most people however misunderstand that point and have a watered down version of “ending self view”.

So yes what you said is right it is not arbitrary

On a related note, i wrote an article about the different degrees of no self. Only the true anatman insight can end self view, not mere non doership, impersonality or even nondual:


A crucial criteria in Buddha's teachings on stream entry is the ending of self-view. This ending of self-view marks the attainment of stream entry.

Krodha/Kyle Dixon explained well what that entails:

What's an easy way to identify self view in daily life?

Self-view is the nonconceptual feeling of being an inner subjective knower of external phenomena that feel separate from you. If you feel that you are the seer of sights, hearer of sounds, feeler of feelings, knower of the known, that is self-view.

Overcoming self-view looks like this:

With the recognition of selflessness there is an emptying out of both the “subject” and “object” aspects of experience. We come to understand that “I-making” and “mine-making” with regard to the mind and body as well as all external representations is deluded. When the recognition of selflessness is fully developed there is no longer any reification of substantial referents to be experienced in relation to subjective grasping. Whatever is seen is merely the seen (diṭṭhamatta). Whatever is heard or sensed is merely the heard (sutamatta) and merely the sensed (mutamatta). Whatever is known is merely the known (viññātamatta). This is explained in Ud 1.10 Bāhiya Sutta:

"Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."

When there is no self to be found one’s experience becomes very simple, direct, and uncluttered. When seeing, there is the coming together of visible form, the eye, and visual consciousness, that’s all. There is no separate “seer.” The seer is entirely dependent upon the seen. There can be no seer independent of the seen. There is no separate, independent subject or self.

This is also the case for the sensory object. The “seen” is entirely dependent upon the eye faculty and visual consciousness. There can be no object seen independent of the eye faculty and cognition. This is the case for all possible sensory objects. There is no separate, independent sensory object.

The same holds true for sensory consciousness as well. “Seeing” is entirely dependent upon the eye and visible form. There can be no seeing independent of the eye and cognition. This is the case for all possible sensory cognitions. There is no separate, independent sensory consciousness.

It’s important to understand this experientially. Let’s take the straightforward empirical experience of you looking at this screen right now as an example. Conventionally speaking, you could describe the experience as “I see the computer screen.” Another way of describing this is that there’s a “seer” who “sees” the “seen.” But look at the screen: are there really three independent and separate parts to your experience? Or are “seer,” “sees,” and “seen,” just three conceptual labels applied to this experience in which the three parts are entirely interdependent?

The “seer,” “seen,” and “seeing” are all empty and insubstantial. The eye faculty, visible form, and visual consciousness are all interdependent aspects of the same experience. You can’t peel one away and still have a sensory experience — there is no separation. AN 4.24 Kāḷakārāma Sutta:

Thus, monks, the Tathāgata does not conceive an [object] seen when seeing what is to be seen. He does not conceive an unseen. He does not conceive a to-be-seen. He does not conceive a seer.

He does not conceive an [object] heard when hearing what is to be heard. He does not conceive an unheard. He does not conceive a to-be-heard. He does not conceive a hearer.

He does not conceive an [object] sensed when sensing what is to be sensed. He does not conceive an unsensed. He does not conceive a to-be-sensed. He does not conceive a senser.

He does not conceive an [object] known when knowing what is to be known. He does not conceive an unknown. He does not conceive a to-be-known. He does not conceive a knower.

Sensory consciousness can’t be isolated as separate and independent. Nor can any of these other interdependent phenomena. Even the designations that we apply to these various phenomena are entirely conventional, dependent designations. But this doesn’t mean that we should now interpret our experience as being some sort of cosmic oneness or unity consciousness or whatever one may want to call it. That's just another empty, dependent label isn’t it? The whole point of this analysis is to see the emptiness of all referents, and thereby stop constructing and defining a “self.”
— Geoff/Jnana


Note by Soh: For the full chapter and article by Geoff/Jnana which is very highly recommended, "required reading", please read in full: Great Resource of Buddha's Teachings

Update, 2022:

Someone wrote:

>the first five looks fairly easy, even somebody trained in Adaita Vendanta could do most of them


Actually what triggers stream entry would be a direct experiential realization of anatman and conditionality. This is different from the realization of atman-brahman in Hinduism or Advaita Vedanta.

Anatman could be summarised as the realization that in truth, always already, in seeing, there is just the seen, no seer, in hearing, there is just sound, no hearer, and so on. Read Bahiya Sutta and Kalaka Sutta for example. Also check out the chapters on selflessness and cessation in this well compiled PDF:

Also, you should read this well written article explaining what stream entry is, what the realization entails, for example:

When the direct realization of anatman manifests and you attain stream entry, you instantly cut off the first three fetters all at once. You will no longer have skeptical doubt about the Buddhadharma because now you have direct experiential realization of it and have ascertained the Buddha's words to be true.

Edit and update on my first point: When you experience impersonality and even nondual even in Advaita Vedanta, it is certainly not the overcoming of self view of the first fetter. There can still be the view of an unchanging self or awareness like vedanta. It is very clear by reading all the suttas that overcoming of self view covers even eternal witness and substantialist nondual views, so impersonality and nondual does not reach the elimination of self view that a stream enterer has attained.

I wrote an article before with citations from Buddha on how all these self views are refuted, including an eternal witness or an unchanging infinite consciousness as self and so on — stream entry realization covers the dissolution of all these subtle views of self and inherent existence.

Also see: Clarifications on Dharmakaya and Basis by Loppön Namdrol/Malcolm

The Degrees of Rigpa 




Posted by Kyle Dixon. Kyle Dixon = Krodha

100% Upvoted 
level 1
3 points · 16 days ago

An interesting topic coming off the heels of the previous post about “non-duality.” In the Rig pa rang shar non-duality is rejected, but not completely, and for specific reasons.

The type of “non-duality” that is rejected is a substantialist non-duality like that found in Advaita Vedanta, which asserts a singular, transpersonal nature that is solely valid. Dzogchen rejects this view (i) because it is substantialist and eternalist, and (ii) because relatively we do experience ontic dualities in the form of conventional juxtapositions.

Moreover, the “non-dual” view of Dzogchen is emptiness free from extremes. This is how the Cuckoo of Vidyā can state ”The nature of diversity is non-dual,” because while refraining from negating a diverse array of discrete conventional entities, we understand that each discrete entity, being empty, is free from the dual extremes of existence and non-existence, hence “non-dual.” Thus the rang bzhin aspect of our nature appears as a diversity while being completely and totally inseparable from ka dag, or original purity, which is the Dzogchen treatment of emptiness free from extremes.

As such, Dzogchen champions a “non-dual duality,” or a “dualistic non-duality,” as Malcolm says, “take your pick.”

level 1

thank you for posting.

level 1
2 points · 16 days ago · edited 16 days ago

“In Ati, the pristine consciousness — subsumed by the consciousness that apprehends primordial liberation and the abiding basis as ultimate — is inseparable in all buddhas and sentient beings as a mere consciousness. Since the ultimate pervades them without any nature at all, it is contained within each individual consciousness.”

Excerpt From: Ācārya Malcolm Smith. “Buddhahood in This Life: The Great Commentary by Vimalamitra”.

How is this pristine consciousness not functionally transpersonal? And why is "dualistic non-duality" not the same as Advaita? If the ultimate has no nature then why label it 'pristine consciousness that pervades'? I find this quite confusing and as much as I respect Malcolm he didn't really clarify these issues. Any ideas?

level 2
3 points · 16 days ago · edited 16 days ago

How is this pristine consciousness not functionally transpersonal?

A “transpersonal” jñāna would be a single, universal instance of jñāna that is shared by all sentient beings.

Instead jñāna is a generic characteristic like the heat of fire or the wetness of water, indentical in expression in each unique conventional instance but since the mind it represents the nature of is personal, belonging to a discrete entity, we do not say that there is a single, transpersonal, universal jñāna as an entity itself that is collectively shared.

If the ultimate has no nature then why label it 'pristine consciousness that pervades'?

It “pervades” consciousnesses in the same way wetness, as an identical quality, pervades each and every instance of water.

Ultimately there are no minds, no sentient beings etc., but conventionally we say there are discrete instances. When we negate entities from the stand point if the way things really are, we don’t then assert that there is a single extant purusa that is established in their place.

level 3

Ah o.k. So jñāna is a property of the individual. If you have a mind then you have jñāna. But then ultimately there are no minds? So ultimately there is no jñāna?

level 4
2 points · 16 days ago

So ultimately there is no jñāna?

Yes, ultimately there is nothing at all. This is the meaning of the exhaustion of dharmatā at the end of the Dzogchen path. Since all dharmas are realized to be non-arisen, their dharmatā or nature likewise cannot be said to remain. Jñāna [ye shes] is after all simply the dharmatā or nature of our mind. Our citta dharmatā or cittatā [sems nyid].

Nevertheless, at the time of the result there are still appearances that manifest as the non-dual expressions of one’s own primordial state. The exhaustion of dharmatā does not actually mean everything disappears into some blank void. It just means we are totally liberated from everything, even jñāna.

level 5

We are liberated because there is nothing at all?

level 6
2 points · 16 days ago · edited 16 days ago

Ultimately no dharmas at all, no conditioned phenomena. And in classic buddhadharmic fashion, Dzogchen considers that a dharmatā, a “nature,” is the nature of an apparently conditioned entity, a dharmin. Upon realizing the nature [dharmatā] of the dharmin, the dharmin is recognized to have never arisen in the first place, it cannot be found anywhere. That absence of arising is the dharmatā to be realized. And so we do not then state that the dharmatā as such continues to be a dharmatā. With the exhaustion of the dharmin, dharmatā is also exhausted because the objective to be realized in relation to the dharmin has been realized, and the absence of arising is now known.

This is a non-reductive system. Nothing is actually reifed as being established at the end of the path. Just an array of illusory appearances.

level 7

Ah o.k so it's like this:

“Since all phenomena are included within the mind, there is no phenomena that exists outside the mind. The mind, which is by its very nature unborn, is simply referred to as “actual reality.” Now, who is it that meditates on what? It has thus been stated:

'Just as space is without reality and therefore

Space as such is not meditated upon,

How could the mind, which is by its very nature unborn,

Meditate on the unborn as such?'

Yet, if someone asks, “Just how is it that the convention meditation is designated?” it is stated:

'All effort is eliminated after recognizing that

Problems and their remedies are indistinguishable;

Practice the simple convention we call meditation by

Settling within an uncontrived state of great equanimity.'

That is, when it is recognized that both the class of afflictions that should be eliminated and the remedies that should be taken up are indistinguishable by nature, all effort connected to bias is eliminated and one simply settles into a state of great equanimity that is only conventionally labeled meditation.”

Excerpt From: Rongzom Chokyi Zangpo. “Entering the Way of the Great Vehicle”.

level 2

If the ultimate has no nature then why label it 'pristine consciousness that pervades'?

Ultimate nature cannot be labelled as anything.

Ultimate nature cannot be labelled as pristine awareness, rigpa, nondual, emptiness free from extremes, or whatsoever.

Simply because ultimately there is no a single object or a single phenomena for you to describe.

level 3

It seems to have a function and characteristics.

level 4
2 points · 16 days ago

Yes, but it is a generic characteristic [samanyalakṣana], not a specific characteristic [svalakṣana].

level 5

There are no generic characteristic and specific characterisric in ultimate truth

level 6

So-called “ultimate truth” is a generic characteristic of phenomena. Not a specific characteristic of a relative entity like the blue color of a car. That is the meaning of this distinction.

level 4

Those function, those characteristics are simply continuous changes that look like interaction of multiple objects.


Ju Mipham Refutes the Misconception of a Singularity in any Conditioned or Unconditioned Phenomena : Dzogchen (

User avatar
level 2
OP·7d·edited 7d

The Dharmakaya isn't a phenomena though.

Dharmakāya is just emptiness, a lack of intrinsic nature, which is classified as an unconditioned phenomenon. Space, emptiness and two forms of cessation are the only unconditioned phenomena in Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna.

The Dharmakaya is primordial awareness without anything else to be perceived.

Dharmakāya is not primordial awareness. So-called “primordial awareness” is negated by dharmakāya. Mañjuśrī states in the Bodhisattvacāryavatārabhāṣya:

Since it is taught that the ultimate is emptiness, one states, “It is devoid of even the gnosis that realizes the ultimate.”

User avatar
level 4
OP·7d·edited 7d

The Dharmakaya is primordial purity as unbound and unborn awareness.

No, it is emptiness as a lack of intrinsic nature. Gnosis or jñāna is intimately related to dharmakāya, but even jñāna is said to technically be absent in dharmakāya.

The Ārya-trikāya-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra:

Son of a good family, meaning of the dharmakāya of the tathāgatas is the absence of intrinsic nature, like space.

Dharmakāya is precisely emptiness.

Sunyata is the emptiness of everything of any independent causation or origination, it is indeed an unconditioned phenomena that is a consequence of primordial purity but Sunyata is not that primordial purity itself.

This is not the case, Huangbo elaborates on the synonymous nature of dharmakāya and emptiness:

Emptiness is the Buddha's dharmakāya, just as the dharmakāya is emptiness. People's usual understanding is that the dharmakāya pervades emptiness, and that it is contained in emptiness. However, this is erroneous, for we should understand that the dharmakāya is emptiness and that emptiness is the dharmakāya.

If one thinks that emptiness is an entity and that this emptiness is separate from the dharmakāya or that there is a dharmakāya outside of emptiness, one is holding a wrong view. In the complete absence of views about emptiness, the true dharmakāya appears. Emptiness and dharmakāya are not different. The most important thing is your empty, cognizant mind. Its natural emptiness is dharmakāya, also called empty essence.

As such your container and contained view is inaccurate.

This is just reinforcing the point I was making about cognizing. In the Dharmakaya there isn't anything but awareness,

Again in the sūtras and tantras it is clearly stated that even jñāna ceases.

“Awareness” is a mental factor and not the right term to be using.

User avatar
level 5
User avatar
level 6

The emptiness of the Dharmakaya is the unborn and unbound nature of the primordial awareness.

What is “primordial awareness?” You keep using this term but it isn’t clear what Sanskrit or Tibetan term you are glossing.

Yep, Huang Po knows what's up

Yes, he demonstrated that your container-contained view with dharmakāya and emptiness is nonsense.

I got some great Huang Po quotes to use if that's an authoritative source around here.

In certain, specific contexts, such as discussing traditional principles. However Zen is not Dzogchen and so we must be careful.





15 points · 12 days ago · edited 12 days ago

Here is an old post on this topic, just swap “Advaita” with “Upanisad” and it is the same deal.


I wrote this in the past, in the context of the definition of “non-dual” in these systems, but it describes how emptiness [śūnyatā] is different from the brahman or purusa of Advaita:

An ontological non-duality [advaita] is monistic, we find this type of non-dualism in teachings like Advaita Vedanta. Buddhism has a different type of non-duality [advāya], which is epistemic instead of ontological.

An ontological non-duality is where everything is reduced to a single substance that exists alone by itself, which is the definition of monism. For example if subject and object were merged and we then held a view that the union of the two as a single X is truly substantial and valid. This is an affirming negation, where an unconditioned purusa is affirmed via negation of phenomenal entities.

On the other hand, an epistemological non-duality is simply a recognition that the nature of phenomena is free from the dual extremes of existence and non-existence, hence "non-dual". This is a non-reductive non-duality, and a non-affirming negation because it does not leave anything in its wake, there is no X left over once the nature of phenomena is recognized.

In epistemic non-duality the nature of a conditioned phenomenon [dharma] and its non-arisen nature [dharmatā] are ultimately neither the same nor different, hence they are "non-dual", because the misconception of a conditioned entity is a byproduct of ignorance, and therefore said entity has never truly come into existence in the first place. This means that the allegedly conditioned entity has truly been unconditioned from the very beginning. And to realize this fact only requires a cessation of cause for the arising of the misconception of a conditioned entity, i.e., a cessation of ignorance. If dharmins and dharmatā were not non-dual then it would be impossible to recognize the unborn nature of phenomena because that nature would be rendered another conditioned entity.


Non-duality in Hinduism and sanatanadharma in general is a view that promulgates an ontological, transpersonal, homogenous, unconditioned existent. Which means that non-duality in the sanatanadharma is a substantial and reductive non-duality.

Whereas one's (ultimate) nature in the buddhadharma is epistemic, personal, heterogeneous and free from the extremes of existence and non-existence. This means that one's so-called "non-dual" nature in Buddhism is an insubstantial and non-reductive non-duality.

Regarding these differences, the Tarkjavālā states:

Since [the tīrthika position of] self, permanence, all pervasivness and oneness contradict their opposite, [the Buddhist position of] no-self, impermanence, non-pervasiveness and multiplicity, they are completely different.


You should read this to start, it was authored by a teacher who began as an Advaitin, and realized the result of Advaita. He was urged to teach Advaita by his contemporaries and master because his realization was considered profound. However he did not feel his realization was complete, and later discovered Vajrayāna, and continued to refine his insight and realized that the purusa of Vedanta can also be seen through.

His view is very clear, and he is extremely well informed. I heard of him because he came to my friend in a dream and invited him to receive teachings at his place in Nepal I believe. At any rate, he very thoroughly demonstrates the differences in view, and having mastered both paths, is adamant that they are very different in praxis and result. I agree with him wholeheartedly.

This one as well (which goes over advāya vs. advaita, and the real meaning of tathāgatagarbha): Enlightenment in Buddhism vs. Vedanta