Months ago someone (let's call him Mr. X as he prefers anonymity) messaged me about a breakthrough. He described having no more sense of self, instead there is just a vast open expanse and stillness without inside and outside, that holds everything within it. It was a beautiful, all-encompassing radiance of clear light that has never not been here, is ever-present and from which all appearances appear within. His description was longer than this but I summarized.
He must have thought that this was the same as what I call the anatta realization, but I told him it was more of the I AM and one mind type of realization and understanding. He couldn't understand what was the difference between that and anatta. Today however he had another insight and became clearer.
He said, "Its about practice and perspective and view etc. When we spoke last there you mentioned it wasnt quite anatta and i couldnt work out why it wasnt...but then today all experience dropped out, totally, there wasnt nothing, and there wasnt something. cant explain it.
upon coming back from that its abundantly obvious that everything that ever was has been could be is here, and not here. theres no viewer, no view, no seen, heard, everything that arises knows itself totally, comes, and goes, changing changing changing. like a kaleidoscope. Its not as if theres anyone thats aware, its all just aware of itself without effort.
Perhaps an analogy would be a spinning top or a diver diving off a high board, over and over itself, in and out, no time, space, or location
vibrant, shining, is-ness
no questions remain and no point of even being an I. just this
i wonder if you had any reflections on that?
Soh: "What is experience like now? It can be a glimpse of no mind but glimpses fade. Realization is doubtless quantum shift in perception and leap in view
Are you doubtless about anatta as always already so? Not a stage"
Mr. X: "never wasnt like this bro
i just didnt realise
its always been this way
but theres quite literally no 'I'. just the feeling of the keyboard, the sound of the keys, the bird song outside
the aliveness of the body.
the feet on the floor.
all just happening in and of itself
very very alive though. vibratory. sounds are felt like a subtle subtle vibration
What is experience like now? It can be a glimpse of no mind but glimpses fade. Realization is doubtless quantum shift in perception and leap in view
the view would be like 'being' a totally bottomless endless space of potentiality
but its not really something that words can really describe
interested in your reflections as its some time before i can see my teacher"
[1:15 am, 14/10/2021] John Tan: Wow...viewing his [Mr X]'s age and with his teacher guidance, he will go far. 20?👍
[1:16 am, 14/10/2021] John Tan: Or 24?
Soh: XX years old haha
[1:16 am, 14/10/2021] John Tan: Or 24?
Soh: XX years old haha
Anyway I went online to check out his Zen teacher a little.
John Tan and I like this description by his Zen teacher:
"Let the senses come fully to rest in sustained zazen. “The senses”
includes mind and all its activities as well. That is, the activation of
the mind that generates self-other, light-dark, illusion-enlightenment,
and so on. When the church bell rings, what’s there? Do you
reverberate – or do you sit there in your little world listening to the bell
outside? In the beginning it may seem like awareness itself is
resounding, but that is still the inside of self-experience, isn’t it?
Something remains within, listening.
When we really sit through, it becomes clear: it ’s not a state of
mind, it’s not a matter of awareness. Light is often used as a
metaphor for awareness. But only when our light is extinguished –
blown out, as it was with Tokusan – do things illumine themselves.
Here the exquisite beauty and inviolable dignity of “the other” is
illumined – precisely because the separation that we impose on it is
gone. Then we really see what’s in front of our little noses!
In terms of the metaphor of the ocean and the waves, first we
settle into the calm, boundless depths where all wavering and turmoil
are gone. Then, out of that, sense experience is suddenly
reawakened by a wave of sight or sound – w e come back to our
senses. To put it zenistically, no-self comes back to its senses :
laughing with pleasure , crying in pain . With this, each and every
wave is realized as what it is: the boundless source now flowing back
through all of our senses.
Every other also shares that boundless depth. And this is directly
realized, not just understood, felt, or intuited. Every other also shares
that boundless depth, not by becoming likenesses or pale reflections
of yourself, but by truly being what they are. Sitting through to the
very depths, you don’t get stuck even there. Wisdom naturally wells
up as compassion.
Please feel free to stand up and stretch. [Short break]
For the last several days you have gotten a sense of continuous
practice. Eventually, it’s something we are so imbued with that it’s
spontaneously forgotten – without a trace. Thus it seamlessly works
in the world. Wisdom realizes that there never was, is not now, and
never will be, a self that suffers. And that wisdom, if it’s truly wise and
alive, can’t help but overflow as loving compassion. Realizing that all
is, at bottom, empty of self, we never deny the actual conditions of
felt pain and dis-ease. Consider this well as you return to home and
“Never blind another’s eye.” This has been a guiding principle
throughout. We don’t open the eye of the other. We don’t need to.
We can help and guide them in various ways, as they can do so for
us. But we should never get in the way of others realizing it for
Please do take care returning home today; you may be more tired
than you realize. Just as you threw yourself into the practice here,
when you get home throw yourself into what needs to be done
there. Return grateful to those who sacrificed so that you could be
here sitting on your butt. Recognize that some people may think
that’s all you were doing here. Hard to deny! You don’t have to
explain how painful that butt was at times. [Laughter] Remember that
they were home covering your butt: doing the laundry, watching the
kids, and so on. Thus we bow deeply.
Each and every dharma,
Consisting of causes & conditions – empty, without self.
Putting mind to rest, penetrating the original source –
Thus one is a sramana.
[一切諸法中 因縁空無主 息心達本源 故號為沙門]
From The Middle Length Sutra on Origination. The term “dharma”
refers both to any particular thing and to the living truth. What’s the
difference? “Sramana” referred to someone wandering in search of
truth, and eventually became a term for a Buddhist monk. Here and
now it simply refers to all of us. Consider it well.
To sum it up in my own clumsy way:
Sun always shining bright
Moon ever full and round
Each dark night
every tossing turning wave
Sometimes it’s cloudy , or the sun has yet to rise; but t he sun is
always shining bright, isn’t it? Half moon, quarter moon, new moon;
yet it’s ever full and round , isn’t it? Each dark night, just as it is, is
unbound, released. I mention it merely for you to go beyond. Thank
you all for your questions and comments, and for your support. This
is the way we work it out together. "