When I was at the I AM phase (between February 2010 and August 2010) prior to nondual (August~beginning October) and anatta (mid October 2010) where was a period I started experiencing more the impersonality and non-doership aspects of no-self, although Awareness was still experienced as if like an unchanging backdrop to everything or an infinite formless container for everything to happen in. But John Tan told me that is not at all what he meant by anatta realization, and also told me to look into Thich Nhat Hanh's writings about that and this set me in the correct direction. It is easy to get glimpses of different faces or aspects of no-self but not come to the definitive anatta realization, which Thich Nhat Hanh has been clear in elucidating (also the aspect of Maha total exertion is emphasized very much in his teachings, along with the non-dual luminosity through mindfulness practice), much more clearly than many other teachers.

Here is John Tan's post to me back then:

“Not to talk too much about me, just focus on your experience. Also what you said about the no observer can be quite misleading. It does not mean there is 'no one doing anything' and 'everything is arising spontaneously'. You should understand anatta from below quotations taken from 'The Sun My Heart' by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh:

"When we say I know the wind is blowing, we don't think that there is something blowing something else. "Wind' goes with 'blowing'. If there is no blowing, there is no wind. It is the same with knowing. Mind is the knower; the knower is mind. We are talking about knowing in relation to the wind. 'To know' is to know something. Knowing is inseparable from the wind. Wind and knowing are one. We can say, 'Wind,' and that is enough. The presence of wind indicates the presence of knowing, and the presence of the action of blowing'." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun My Heart

"..The most universal verb is the verb 'to be'': I am, you are, the mountain is, a river is. The verb 'to be' does not express the dynamic living state of the universe. To express that we must say 'become.' These two verbs can also be used as nouns: 'being", "becoming". But being what? Becoming what? 'Becoming' means 'evolving ceaselessly', and is as universal as the verb "to be." It is not possible to express the "being" of a phenomenon and its "becoming" as if the two were independent. In the case of wind, blowing is the being and the becoming...." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun My Heart

"In any phenomena, whether psychological, physiological, or physical, there is dynamic movement, life. We can say that this movement, this life, is the universal manifestation, the most commonly recognized action of knowing. We must not regard 'knowing' as something from the outside which comes to breathe life into the universe. It is the life of the universe itself. The dance and the dancer are one." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun My Heart

Comments by John Tan in 2009 on these paragraphs from “The Sun My Heart” (see excerpts in Sun of Awareness and River of Perceptions http://www.awakeningtoreality.com/.../sun-of-awareness... ),
"...as a verb, as action, there can be no concept, only experience. Non-dual anatta (no-self) is the experience of subject/Object as verb, as action. There is no mind, only mental activities... ...Source as the passing phenomena... and how non-dual appearance is understood from Dependent Origination perspective."

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."

    Soh Wei Yu
    Also another important aspect of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is not just an initial breakthrough in realization, but simply his depth of actualization. It is simply inspiring just to see him walk. Just the way he walks demonstrates his depth of understanding and actualization. So his whole life is a demonstration of his actualization.

    Yesterday I was thinking what would Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh say to me if I met him today, in fact tried to intuitively sense his presence and see if I could receive some 'message' from/about him (I am not some psychic channeller though, don't get me wrong), and I intuited it must be about this point. The path of actualization has endless depths.

    Reminded me of what John Tan (I know he doesn't like me to quote him nowadays) told me years ago but it is very apt:

    ""People that have gone into the nihilistic understanding of 'non-doing' ended up in a mess. You see those having right understanding of 'non-doing' are free, yet you see discipline, focus and peace in them.
    Like just sitting and walking... ...in whatever they endeavor. Fully anatta."


    In my opinion many of our great aspirations and high views turn empty talks easily. After the direct insight of anatta, it opens the gate that allows one to experience effortlessly all sensations that arise without duality, without fear, without doership and without ownership. Many are unable to see the "Whys" and "Hows" of "directness" so don't waste your insights that have given the opportunity in this life. Train yourself to do that with sincerity and dedication first. Then you will be fully in touch with your original purity; you will be genuinely in touch with peace and openness.

    "If we want to experience fully and have genuine peace, be very sincere in sensing all your sensations for pretense, blames, rejections and contractions... ...don't rush... slow down your thoughts and scan all your sensations for these... see all these traces... see all these come from the "I"s and "mine"s... develop a strong willingness to let go with your insights of anatta. If you can for a brief moment be free from the conceit of I, the craving of mine and the background of I AM, that moment you are respectable even to the gods.
    I do not want you to get into too high views and lose touch with genuine and simple practice."
    We need to have time to practice and be focused otherwise very soon we will realize we have wasted this life."

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    • Sim Pern Chong
      Yesterday, i was talking to my younger brother about Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh's passing away. My Bro had an experience with him when he was in SG. As a energy sensitive person (qigong practitioner), he actually sensed Zen Master's peace inducing field before actually seeing him. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh presence is perceptible.

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