[1:46 AM, 11/8/2020] Soh: malcolm says this quote by buddha from the pali canon: "Viññanam anidassanam from the Kevatta sutta:

    Consciousness without feature, without end, luminous all around"
[1:47 AM, 11/8/2020] Soh: is equivalent to dzogchen pristine consciousness

"Malcolm wrote:

    The view is self-originated pristine consciousness, free from the extreme of the dualism of an apprehended object and an apprehending subject.

— Self-Liberated Vidyā Tantra"
[7:52 AM, 11/8/2020] John Tan: Yes.  But how it is understood.
[8:01 AM, 11/8/2020] John Tan: Can be I AM, can be anatta.
[8:05 AM, 11/8/2020] John Tan: This I m aware all along.  Malcolm doesn't understand zen, they r pointing to the same essence and nature.  The only difference is Dzogchen is strong in view and clear about freedom from extremes and mmk. 

[Comments by Soh: I don't think Malcolm is saying Zen is not pointing to the same realization, as Malcolm also stated, "There really is no difference between perfection of wisdom, mahāmudra, Chan/Zen, etc., and tregchöd. I have heard it said that Tulku Orgyen asserted that trekchöd exists in all yānas, perhaps EPK would be kind enough to confirm this. What separates from trekchöd from these other systems of the method of introduction. Trekchöd, like any secret mantra practice, is based on empowerment/introduction."]
[8:55 AM, 11/8/2020] John Tan: Once we r free subject-object duality, consciousness/appearance is without feature, without end and luminous all around.  So is there realization about mere appearances is key otherwise It is just reification of consciousness.

 p.s. another term in Dzogchen is Zang Thal:

Kyle Dixon, "The reality of mind for him is non-arising which would be anatta

The difference between gsal ba and zang thal is difference between clarity experienced as background subject and clarity totally freed from that through realizing anatta"

He also wrote,

"Cognitive clarity is your cognizance reified as a subject, a self, while zangthal is that same aspect totally freed of all extremes and conditions."

  • Soh:

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    Also, John Tan, 2014:
    "It is also important that Buddha relates a description similar to consciousness without features in Bahiya sutta. This is what I told jax abt allowing the five elements to "kill u" when he asked me abt how I understand consciousness without features."

    (Soh: referring to “ To Jax:

    The place where there is no earth, fire, wind, space, water…

    is the place where the earth, fire, wind, space and water kills “You” and fully shines as its own radiance, a complete taste of itself and fully itself.”)

    "Consciousness without features. See how yor answer.
    We must know that Buddha told the bhikkhu the way the question is phrased is invalid and must be understood not as a cessation of the 4 elements without remainder.
    But I believe Stian is not seeing that way.
    Therefore cessation/nirodha should b understood from the perspective of "no footing", the release without ground of the elements.
    And a consciousness that is so is luminous without feature
    Where the place without heat and cold
    Not exactly no-mind but the featureless quality of groundlessness...that is u must understand the featureless quality in the experience."
    "Just realized that kevatta consciousness without features is not the cessation of the 4 elements but the 4 elements having no footing.
    Very often we say if there is no subject, how can there b object. This may sound logical but isn't verified as an experiential truth.
    As we can c from the case of actual ism and two fold emptiness. Y is this so?

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  •  Soh:

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Leigh Brasington:

“So as quickly as a strong man could extend his arm or draw it back, that monk disappeared from the Brahmā realm and reappeared on
earth. He went to the Blessed One, saluted him, sat down at one side, and said: ‘Venerable sir, where do the four elements cease without
remainder?’ The Buddha replied, ‘You’ve been wandering around as far as the Brahmā realm asking this question. And now not finding
it, you come back to me. But, monk, you should not ask your question in that way – where do the four elements cease without
remainder? Instead, this is how the question should be put:
Where do earth, water, fire and air no footing find?
Where do long and short, small and great, beautiful and ugly -
Where do name-and-form completely come to an end?
And the answer is:
Where consciousness is signless, limitless, and all-illuminating.
That’s where earth, water, fire and air no footing find.
There both long and short, small and great, beautiful and ugly,
there name-and-form all come to an end.
With the cessation of consciousness, all this comes to an end.Ӡ
This is a bit cryptic. The wrong question is “Where do the four elements cease without remainder?” The right question is “Where do the
four elements no footing find?” This harkens back to the verses after the Bāhiya sutta, where the Buddha says where the four elements
no footing find, there dark and light don’t occur. Here, he expands the teaching to say it’s where consciousness is signless, limitless, and
When you see a table, you’re seeing the signs of a table. It’s got a flat top and legs holding it up off the ground. That’s how you know
it’s a table. You pick up the cues, the signs. So what does it mean that consciousness is signless? How about a consciousness that is,
well, in seeing is just seeing, in hearing is just hearing, in sensing is just sensing, in cognizing is just cognizing? How about a
consciousness that is not fabricating, not concocting a table, not giving birth to a table, not making this a table? It’s a way of
experiencing the world without fixating in any way on the objects or characteristics of any object being sensed – or on the one doing the
sensing. It's looking at the world from a non-dual perspective.
Nibbāna is not a thing. It doesn’t have ontological existence. It’s a realization. It’s a realization that there is nothing but streams of
dependently originated processes interacting, without even making a thing out of the streams. If you concoct “stream,” you still have not
quite gotten all the way to the point. Every thing is not a thing, it’s just dependent on other things which aren’t things. It’s a little hard to
talk about. You can see why the Buddha says it’s not this and it’s not that.
It’s consciousness that is signless. But it's not just your ordinary open awareness – which is also a form of consciousness that is signless.
Indeed open awareness/Bāhiya practice is certainly helpful in gaining this realization. But the realization of Nibbāna does seem to
require a breakthrough to a much deeper understanding – an understanding that is so profound that it permanently changes the way you
experience the world. The best totally inadequate simile I can offer is to ask you to remember what it was like when you found out there
was no Santa Claus (apologies to those of you who never believed in Santa Claus – it is an inadequate simile). I remember I saw the
world differently. There was fear – fear I wouldn't be getting any more of those really premium Christmas presents. But there was also a
different way of seeing the world and of relating to the big guy in the red suit. The world wasn't any different, but I was. The
breakthrough experience of Nibbāna is a realization so profound it permanently changes you and your relationship to the world. And a
very important component of what is experienced is signless consciousness.’”‡
When consciousness is signless, it’s also limitless. There can’t be any limits because a limit would be a sign. You’re not concocting the
end of this consciousness, it really is all-encompassing, and it’s all-illuminating. When viewing from this viewpoint, when realizing in
this way, nothing is hidden. Everything is experienced to be dependent on other things. Nothing stands alone. And nothing is a thing, it’s
all verbs, it’s all processes, but they aren’t individual processes. One gets this huge, giant picture of, I guess you could say, unfolding.
Not “the unfolding,” because that makes it a noun, a thing – there’s just unfolding. Can you experience the world like that? Can you
experience the inconstant, unsatisfactory, empty nature of phenomena, without resorting to dualities or even signs? Then your
consciousness is signless, limitless, and all-illuminating. That’s where earth, water, fire and air no footing find. There long and short,
small and great, beautiful and ugly; there name-and-form all come to an end.

The last line is really puzzling. “With the cessation of consciousness, all this comes to an end.” Does that mean you have to become
unconscious? The usual explanation is that, at a path moment – a momentary experience of Nibbāna – there’s a cessation experience
where everything stops, then it starts up again, only it’s really different on the other side. That turns out not to be what’s being talked
about here, because the idea of “path moments” is from the later commentaries and this is a sutta.
The word viññāṇa which we translate as “consciousness” literally means “divided knowing.” When divided knowing comes to an end,
all these dualities come to an end. When we stop chopping up the holistic unfolding into bits and pieces, then all this comes to an end.
As Ud 8.1 says, “Just this is the end of dukkha.”
This required holistic experience is expressed so very eloquently by Kitaro Nishida in his work The Nothingness Beyond God:
Pure experience is the beginning of Zen. It is awareness stripped of all thought, all conceptualization, all categorization, and all
distinctions between subject-as-having-an-experience and experience-as-having-been-had-by-a-subject. It is prior to all judgment.
Pure experience is without all distinction; it is pure no-thingness, pure no-this-or-that. It is empty of any and all distinctions. It is
absolutely no-thing at all. Yet its emptiness and nothingness is a chock-a-block fullness, for it is all experience-to-come. It is rose,
child, river, anger, death, pain, rocks, and cicada sounds. We carve these discrete events and entities out of a richer-yet-non-
distinct manifold of pure experience."



  • “Where do water, earth, fire, & wind
    have no footing?
    Where are long & short,
    coarse & fine,
    fair & foul,
    name & form
    brought to an end?
    "'And the answer to that is:
    Consciousness without feature,
    without end,
    luminous all around:
    Here water, earth, fire, & wind
    have no footing.
    Here long & short
    coarse & fine
    fair & foul
    name & form
    are all brought to an end.
    With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness
    each is here brought to an end.'"
    - DN 11

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    So it seems when the Buddha speaks of this in the Pali texts, he is speaking about viññāna anidassanam
    Venerable Ñānananda has written extensively on this topic.
    Basically it seems it is considered the equipoise of an Arahant when they are completely free from ignorance and no longer reify any appearances as “Self vs Other” or the extremes of “existence” vs “non-existence” - the elements ‘cease to find footing’ - they are no longer reified at all & their mind is no longer established in passion, hatred or delusion.
    Some sources also suggest that this can refer to the mind of an awakened being (stream-enterer or higher) while engaged in meditation and on the Paṭiloma cessation aspect of contact/dependent origination.
    In the earliest Abhidhamma texts it is called Supramundane Jhāna, a samādhi only available to stream-winners and above.
    copy and pasted from a post from Geoff on the dhammawheel forum:
    “Conditioned arising in its forward sequence is always a description of deluded cognition. When rooted in ignorance and craving, any experience automatically includes all of the first eleven links. That is, for the worldling there is always ignorance, contact, craving, grasping, becoming, and birth, which is the birth of a "being" (satta).
    This sets up identity and alienation -- i.e. the struggle for ego survival -- of "my being" in "the world." Whenever there is "a being" in "the world" there is going to arise circumstances of "my being" vs. "the world."
    When the forward and reverse sequences of conditioned arising are penetrated the entire deluded cognitive and conflicted affective edifice of the forward sequence of dependent arising immediately collapses like a house of cards.
    This is why the mind of a learner engaged in practice is designated as measureless (appamāṇa). But this does not mean that there is a non-cognitive blackout. Non-cognitive absorptions are never considered supramundane.
    Ven. Ñāṇananda, Nibbāna Sermons:
    The cessation of the six sense-bases does not mean that one does not see anything. What one sees then is voidness. It is an in-‘sight’. He gives expression to it with the words suñño loko, “void is the world.”
    In Concept and Reality Ven. Ñāṇananda equates the experience of non-indicative/non-manifestative consciousness (anidassana viññāṇa) with the fruition-gnosis samādhi (aññāphala samādhi) of an arahant. AN 9.37 describes this samādhi as follows:
    Sister, the concentration whereby -- neither pressed down nor forced back, nor with fabrication kept blocked or suppressed -- still as a result of release, contented as a result of standing still, and as a result of contentment one is not agitated: This concentration is said by the Blessed One to be the fruit of gnosis.”
    “With his penetrative insight the Arahant sees through the concepts. Now, an object of perception (ārammaṇa) for the worldling is essentially something that is brought into focus -- something he is looking at. For the Arahant, however, all concepts have become transparent to such a degree in that all-encompassing vision, that their boundaries together with their umbra and penumbra have yielded to the radiance of wisdom. This, then, is the significance of the word ‘anantaṃ’ (endless, infinite). Thus the paradoxically detached gaze of the contemplative sage as he looks through concepts is one which has no object (ārammaṇa) as the point of focus for the worldling to identify it with.”

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  • Ven. Ñāṇananda, Nibbāna Sermon 07:
    “Now viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ is a reference to the nature of the released consciousness of an arahant. It does not reflect anything. To be more precise, it does not reflect a nāma-rūpa, or name-and-form. An ordinary individual sees a nāma-rūpa, when he reflects, which he calls 'I' and 'mine'. It is like the reflection of that dog, which sees its own delusive reflection in the water. A non-arahant, upon reflection, sees name-and-form, which however he mistakes to be his self. With the notion of 'I' and 'mine' he falls into delusion with regard to it. But the arahant's consciousness is an unestablished consciousness.
    We have already mentioned in previous sermons about the established consciousness and the unestablished consciousness. A non-arahant's consciousness is established on name-and-form. The unestablished consciousness is that which is free from name-and-form and is unestablished on name-and-form. The established consciousness, upon reflection, reflects name-and-form, on which it is established, whereas the unestablished consciousness does not find a name-and-form as a reality. The arahant has no attachments or entanglements in regard to name-and-form. In short, it is a sort of penetration of name-and-form, without getting entangled in it. This is how we have to unravel the meaning of the expression anidassana viññāṇa.”

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  • Soh:
    Sim Pern Chong wrote in 2007:
    There is also a spacious or all-pervading quality to the experience of non-duality and this is what was meant as a sense of Oneness. At times, objects and surroundings can be 'de-cognated' ( that is ... freed from being perceived as such) and a free-ing joyful and vitalising feeling can be felt. This feels like the mind has finally comes to a must-needed rest from its incessant mental activities.
    Also, in the deeper range of non-duality, there is an increasingly penetrating brightness. This brightness is the result of mind's deconstruction which allows for intense penetration into consciousness. The Brightness can be so intense that it is truly stunning.



  • Consciousness outside time and space
    Viññanam anidassanam. This term is nowhere explained in the Canon, although MN 49 mentions that it "does not partake in the allness of the All" — the "All" meaning the six internal and six external sense media (see SN 35.23). In this it differs from the consciousness factor in dependent co-arising, which is defined in terms of the six sense media. Lying outside of time and space, it would also not come under the consciousness-aggregate, which covers all consciousness near and far; past, present, and future. However, the fact that it is outside of time and space — in a dimension where there is no here, there, or in between (Ud 1.10), no coming, no going, or staying (Ud 8.1) — means that it cannot be described as permanent or omnipresent, terms that have meaning only within space and time. The standard description of nibbana after death is, "All that is sensed, not being relished, will grow cold right here." (See MN 140 and Iti 44.) Again, as "all" is defined as the sense media, this raises the question as to whether consciousness without feature is not covered by this "all." However, AN 4.174 warns that any speculation as to whether anything does or doesn't remain after the remainderless stopping of the six sense media is to "objectify non-objectification," which gets in the way of attaining the non-objectified. Thus this is a question that is best put aside.
    Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta
    Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta
    Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta

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    Anurag Jain
    It is worth mentioning that Thanissaro is reputed to have a subtle eternalist bias in his thinking on Nibbāna and Viññāna Anidassanam.
    His ideas on Viññāna anidassanam are absolutely NOT the same as those of someone like Ven. Ñānananda
    some quotes from dhammawheel forum:
    Buckwheat wrote:
    I'm genuinely interested in knowing any weaknesses in Thanissaro's approach
    Nyana wrote:
    Ṭhānissaro has taken a small number of suttas and forced his interpretation on them to fit with his preconceived thesis about nibbāna, while completely disregarding every credible tradition of Buddhist commentary in the process.
    Buckwheat wrote:
    Is there another explanation for the following passage besides a consciousness beyond the all (the six sense bases)?
    Nyana wrote:
    Let me ask you: How can there be a consciousness beyond the six sense bases? Moreover, how could nibbāna ever be known except through the mind (manas)?
    Buckwheat wrote:
    (1) The term viññanam anidassanam also occurs in DN 11, where it is described as where name & form are brought to an end: surely a synonym for nibbana.
    Nyana wrote:
    This doesn't support his thesis in any way.
    Nyana wrote:
    In the endnotes to MN 49 he also asserts that nibbāna is a form of consciousness:
    “Some have objected to the equation of this consciousness with nibbana, on the grounds that nibbana is no where else in the Canon described as a form of consciousness. Thus they have proposed that consciousness without surface be regarded as an arahant's consciousness of nibbana in meditative experience, and not nibbana itself.”
    No Indian Buddhist author -- whether Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, Mādhyamaka, or Yogācāra -- ever made this assertion that nibbāna is a type of consciousness. And in the Introduction to his translation of the same sutta he also asserts that this consciousness is not known by means of any of the six senses at all:
    “The Buddha describes his awakened knowledge in a variety of ways ... by describing an awakened consciousness that is not known by means of any of the six senses at all.... Some of these assertions — in particular, the assertion of a consciousness not mediated by any of the six senses — are extremely important dhamma lessons....”
    And in the endnotes to MN 38 he asserts that this consciousness is not included in the consciousness aggregate:
    “The Buddha, knowing that there are two types of consciousness — the consciousness aggregate (viññāṇakkhandha), which is experienced in conjunction with the six sense media, and consciousness without surface (viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ), which is experienced independently of the six sense media....”
    Again, no Indian Buddhist author -- whether Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, Mādhyamaka, or Yogācāra -- ever made any of these assertions. So apparently we are to believe that Ṭhānissaro has re-discovered the correct understanding of nibbāna as a form of consciousness which can only be experienced independently of the six sense media, that somehow eluded all of the best and brightest minds of Buddhist India!
    His interpretation of nibbāna is very novel. It's also nonsense.
    Nyana wrote:
    Ṭhānissaro also thinks that his assertion of a post-mortem "unadulterated experience" of "absolute freedom from all constraints of time, space, and being" should somehow exempt him from getting entangled in wrong views. Well, it doesn't.

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  • So for someone like Ven. Ñānananda, viññāna anidassanam is merely when ignorance ceases and the Arahant no longer reifies a self or objectifies a world - the Venerable likes to use the terminology “seeing THROUGH the object” - seeing the essencelessness of appearances through wisdom - but the appearances are still there, just understood properly through wisdom & there is no “independent transcendent consciousness” apart from the appearances.
    For Thanissaro, viññāna anidassanam is some kind of completely independent consciousness experienced outside of space and time, it is literally considered to be like an “element” existing on its own where there is no coming or going, no sun and moon...etc.
    He also states that this special consciousness is the ‘unadulterated experience of an Arahant after death.’
    He argues that this consciousness is completely equivalent with Nibbāna itself.
    The latter view is eternalist and has no precedent in the history of Buddhist tradition.

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    I will need to post this to AtR blog for future reference.
    Let me know if there are any other things I should post to the blog.

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    • Anurag Jain
      These quotations are well-explained in detail by Venerable Ñānananda without any need to resort to jumping to wrong conclusions that:
      - There is some “independent transcendent consciousness apart from the six sense bases”
      - That this viññāna anidassanam can even be equated with nibbāna at all
      - That this refers to anything but the mind when it stops ignorantly bifurcating appearances into a reified “Self vs World”

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      Thanissaro is an eternalist, like many (most) Thai forest monks, I believe.

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      All Thai forest teachers that I know of are eternalists stuck at I AM and one mind with the exception of:
      Ajahn Buddhadhasa
      Phra Kovit Khemananda (Ajahn Buddhadhasa's student)
      Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero
      Ajahn Brahmavamso

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      The good thing is that with a heavy emphasis on Awareness teachings, they lead to the direct realization of Awareness (I AM and so on)
      Some of the non-Thai forest Theravadins are prone to annihilation type states. Like Thusness Stage 3.
      Of course, in a very small minority (this is the case for all Buddhist traditions), they realise anatta and do not fall into extremes.

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    Also, Greg Goode agreed with me that many Thai forest famous teachers are eternalists with no difference from eternalist view and Advaita, and he quoted a story about how some famous Ajahn (was it Ajahn Chah?) found no difference with Nisargadatta.

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