Hi there, I hope you’ve been well. I’d just like to ask for some practice advice in dissolving the sense of there being a stable watcher/subject of experience. There’s a huge wall of text below, so please be warned!
    Just as background info, an un-abiding experience of I AM turned me onto Vipassana around 2-3 years ago. I was not sober during the time when this happened, but interestingly this state lingered on for 3 days after the substance I took wore off. (*Disclaimer: I do not condone the use of any substances for recreational purposes. It just happened to be part of my path)
    I intuitively knew with 100% conviction that no substances were necessary for this state to emerge as it was timeless, effortless, and had existed before I was even born. It was also totally overwhelming and caught me completely off guard. It was stranger than fiction and beyond description, yet it was the most ordinary thing ever. When the sense of duality started to creep back into experience, I vowed that I would be back to this effortless state again when I was totally sober and more ready to embrace this shift.
    However, even though the I AM experience felt very complete, there was still a lingering 0.0001% intuition that felt as if this was not the end of what I was looking for. Shortly after that time, I came across the no-self or Anatta teachings, which really stoked my interest and gave me the sense of "Yes, this is what I'm looking for".
    For around 2 years since that time, I did Noting practice that was inspired by the methods of Daniel Ingram, Kenneth Folk, and Shinzen Young.
    Currently though, I’ve ditched the Noting and just started Noticing for the past few months. This method is basically knowing directly whatever sense objects are arising and passing in the immediate moment. I sometimes do some samatha just to brush up on concentration power, which I do quite loosely without forcing the attention to stay on the object.
    At this point, I can understand that awareness arises with the object and ceases with the object. I can also see that the perception of there being one awareness that’s moving between the six sense doors is an illusion. Nonetheless, the illusion of there being a watcher/subject is still quite persistent in my experience.
    When a feeling of there being a watcher/subject emerges, I go watch that watcher and realize that it’s made up of nothing more than some thoughts + some tight sensations in the chest or between the eyes. The subject then becomes an object of awareness.
    But then almost immediately, the feeling of there being a new watcher arises somewhere else. Then I go pay attention to that new watcher, see that it’s just another object in awareness, and that’s when I realize that yet another watcher has been fabricated somewhere! This loop goes on and on.
    I’m still living in duality and just feeling kind of directionless at this point. If anyone has any practical advice for me, I would be very grateful for your help. If you’ve made it this far, wow! Thanks for reading all of this!


  • Yin Ling
    Hi Mac Donalds,
    I recognise what you are talking about 🙂
    Noting at some point need to be let go of because the activity itself enhance a strong subject/object structure. I think you intuited that and slowly let noticing take place and you start to investigate what awareness is. I too had a period when I was very confused about awareness, because I could always find a watcher watching whatever activity I was doing and it goes ad infinitum. I do not understand that.
    Those period were the most confusing for me.
    My teacher started pointing me to investigate awareness
    by looking for the separation line between awareness and phenomena. and if there is one.
    At this point I was also glad to borrow some help from Mahamudra teachings from the book Clarifying the Natural state by dakpo tashi nyamgyal which really helped me look at the nature of experience.
    I was also glad to read ATR at that time, mainly the chapters on stage 4 or anything that feels relevant to your expeirence .
    Understanding of the view gave me a direction to investigate.
    Things clarify slowly after that . However it took a little while and alot of patience.
    Hope you find your footing soon 🙂 If there is one hahaa!
    Good luck!

    Mac Donalds
    Hi Yin,
    Yes, I feel like it’s exactly as you describe. The early stages of Noting seem to lead to the strong perception of there being a subject and object split. It certainly is disorienting when I can clearly see that the subject is just another object, but now it’s from the vantage point of a newly emerged subject. I feel like a dog chasing its tail.
    I will definitely be paying attention to finding that line between awareness and phenomena during sits going forwards from here. That’s an interesting way of investigation that I’ve never considered doing before. I feel like the insights I have about the object and awareness arising together is mostly intellectual at this point, so I should really hone in on understanding this from experience from now onwards. Thanks for your clear pointers and reading recommendations!
    By the way, I saw your interview with Angelo on Simply Always Awake a few weeks ago. Hearing about your journey and persistence in pursuing awakening was very encouraging. 😊

  • Aaron Bohannon
    "It just happened to be part of my path."
    Those words caught my attention. They are the words of someone who has gone beyond the mind traps that keep many people trapped.
    You don't need to need drugs.
    You don't need to not need drugs.
    What is important is to embrace the path that you're on with your whole heart and to stay curious and observant.
    I could say that I have used psychedelics on many occasions during the past seven years. Or I could say that they have used me in order to bring gifts of healing and understanding to the world. Where is the truth? I can tell you only this much: If there is a truth, it is not a truth that anyone else can decide for us.
    I had an awakening experience that involved no drugs. But if I take pride in that fact, then I couldn't really even claim it to be a very profound sort of awakening, could I? Because that would mean that I was still be tangled up in the value judgements of society.
    The value judgements of society are the mortal enemy of developing a deep awareness of reality as it is.
    Unfortunately, we cannot escape the need for food and shelter. And, depending on circumstances, that need can squeeze the life (and awareness) out of even the best of us. However, the use of psychoactive substances must never be regarded as a cause for shame. Shame merely distracts us from our path... and I'm speaking not as someone who understands your position but merely as someone who has struggled with the burdens of shame that others have tried to thrust upon me for years and years because I have not been willing to comply with the expectations of society in numerous ways.
    All I'm trying to say is that... we each need to know ourselves and feel our paths with our hearts and that I am going to stick up for you against anyone who tries to tell you that the experience that set you on your path was somehow less significant because it involved psychoactive substances.
    Who are we to judge how the spirit of God works through others?

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    Mac Donalds
    Aaron Bohannon Thank you for your kind words Aaron. I totally agree with you that shame is unnecessary, and that adherence to value judgements lead to more ignorance.
    I don’t know if my path is somehow less significant or not because it involved some dried magical fungi, but to honest, I’m just immensely thankful that I somehow got thrown into this rabbit hole. Ultimately, the means of how I discovered this path was out of my control, but ever since being on this path, suffering in life has decreased significantly and I’ve finally found exactly what I’ve been looking for since I was a kid. It’s insane and incomprehensible to me how I even got on this ride, but I am just so grateful to be on it.
    Reality is so weird man.

    J.P. Hamilton
    Mac Donalds Just wanna sneak my comment in here 😊 Really glad you are here. Relate to your post on so many levels. There are so many amazing people here that will help you in ways you cannot imagine. You are in the right place. Welcome.

  • Mac Donalds
    Thank you for your warm welcome J.P. I feel really fortunate to have stumbled upon this page. I tend to just lurk around forums, but this is the first place where I felt compelled to write something and ask questions. The attention to detail and sincere dedication in the pursuit of truth that I've seen here and on the ATR website is rare and remarkable.

  • Erik Moritz
    There is a method called Headless way wich is almost like a Dzogchen pointing that was really powerful for me.

    Soh Wei Yu
    Headless way will lead to I AM and in the book it later leads to a state of nondual and no mind.
    But it is different from realisation of anatta http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/.../different... which is crucial to make no mind into effortless and natural state

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  • Mac Donalds
    Erik Moritz Oh yeah The Headless Way is very intriguing. I've read some of Douglas Harding's book On Having No Head, and what he describes is on par with ATR's descriptions of I AM, just as Soh says.

    Soh Wei Yu
    Mac Donalds And this is the part that describes the state of no mind (but not anatta realization): http://www.awakeningtoreality.com/.../no-head-no-mirror...
    Douglas Harding, "On Having No Head":
    ..."Victim of a prolonged fit of madness, of a lifelong hallucination (and by "hallucination" I mean what my dictionary says: apparent perception of an object not actually present), I had invariably seen myself as pretty much like other people, and certainly never as a decapitated but still living biped. I had been blind to the one thing that is always present, and without which I am blind indeed -- to this marvelous substitute-for-a-head, this unbounded clarity, this luminous and absolutely pure void, which nevertheless is -- rather than contains -- all that's on offer. For, however carefully I attend, I fail to find here even so much as a blank screen on which these mountains and sun and sky are projected, or a clear mirror in which they are reflected, or a transparent lens or aperture through which they are viewed -- still less a person to whom they are presented, or a viewer (however shadowy) who is distinguishable from the view. Nothing whatever intervenes, not even that baffling and elusive obstacle called "distance": the visibly boundless blue sky, the pink-edged whiteness of the snows, the sparkling green of the grass -- how can these be remote, when there's nothing to be remote from? The headless void here refuses all definition and location: it is not round, or small, or big, or even here as distinct from there. (And even if there were a head here to measure outwards from, the measuring-rod stretching from it to that mountain peak would, when read end-on -- and there's no other way for me to read it -- reduce to a point, to nothing.) In fact, these coloured shapes present themselves in all its simplicity, without any such complications as near or far, this or that, mine or not mine, seen-by-me or merely given. All twoness -- all duality of subject and object -- has vanished: it is no longer read into a situation which has no room for it."...
    No Head, No Mirror, No Distance
    No Head, No Mirror, No Distance
    No Head, No Mirror, No Distance

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  • Soh Wei Yu
    I wrote to DhO 6 months ago:
    Soh Wei Yu, modified 6 Months ago.
    RE: How to experience non-self?
    Posts: 69
    Join Date: 2/13/21
    Recent Posts
    You are only experiencing the non-doership aspect of no-self but there are more faces of self/Self and it is not yet the realisation of anatta. See http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/.../different...
    My suggestions on how to realize anatta:
    1) Practice Vipassana according to this instruction by Daniel Ingram: https://vimeo.com/250616410
    2) Read and contemplate on these two stanzas of anatta: https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/.../on-anatta...
    3) Read and contemplate on Bahiya Sutta, the key to my own breakthrough - http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/.../ajahn-amaro-on... (comments section comments by PasserBy/Thusness is also great), http://www.awakeningtoreality.com/.../my-commentary-on...
    Different Degress of No-Self: Non-Doership, Non-dual, Anatta, Total Exertion and Dealing with Pitfalls
    Different Degress of No-Self: Non-Doership, Non-dual, Anatta, Total Exertion and Dealing with Pitfalls
    Different Degress of No-Self: Non-Doership, Non-dual, Anatta, Total Exertion and Dealing with Pitfalls

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    Mac Donalds
    Wow, thank you for these excellent resources Soh. That video by Daniel Ingram is very clear and helpful. I saw it a while ago and have been implementing what he talks about in my practice, particularly in observing the Three Characteristics. I’m mostly intrigued by Anicca and Anatta, so I’m mostly looking out for those. I feel like the suffering insight is pretty much the most obvious one to see in daily life lol.
    As for the Bahiya Sutta, that’s got to be one of if not my favorite suttas from the Pali Canon. It’s just so direct and simple. Nonetheless, even though I can get what this sutta is talking about, my understanding of “in the seeing, just the seen etc.” is still mostly intellectual (as with a lot of my other insights). Even though I can somewhat “taste” it right now ever so subtly, I feel like most of my understanding of this is based on the brief I AM glimpse that happened 2 years ago.
    Do you have any suggestions in how to practically contemplate these stanzas during practice? As in do I just think about these stanzas during vipassana sits?

  • Thusness's Vipassana
    Thusness's Vipassana
    Thusness's Vipassana

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  • Soh Wei Yu
    Has your I AM reached realization yet or just a glimpse? https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/.../i-am...
    I AM Experience/Glimpse/Recognition vs I AM Realization (Certainty of Being)
    I AM Experience/Glimpse/Recognition vs I AM Realization (Certainty of Being)
    I AM Experience/Glimpse/Recognition vs I AM Realization (Certainty of Being)

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    Mac Donalds
    Soh Wei Yu Just a three day glimpse, back in early 2019. To this day, that was the most in depth glimpse I have had. What led up to it was an instinctual urge to try surrendering. I just went with this instinct, so I closed my eyes, relaxed all the muscles I could, and just let go however possible. A few seconds later, there was this suddenly "click". It literally felt as if a light switch had turned on in the entire body/mind.
    When I opened my eyes again, everything didn't look so much different, but the perspective of the perceiver was totally different. I was no longer looking out of my eyes, but now it was as if everything from all the six sense gates was being experienced by consciousness itself (which I was not able to locate or point to where this "thing" was). At that time it felt like I had found what I had been seeking for my whole life - it was total fulfillment and joy. It also felt familiar, as if I had been here before. Yet at the same time, I felt incredibly overwhelmed and vulnerable, as if I were naked to the whole world. I was a heavy cannabis user at the time, and found that smoking would help return me to dualistic consciousness, so I did a lot of smoking. I had 100% certainty that this state could always be returned to when I was sober (because it felt like it's always been here), so that's when I vowed to myself that I'd come back here when I am sober and more ready for it.
    During a 10 day Goenka retreat I participated in later that year, there was a similar experience, but much subtler. I was walking out of the meditation hall after a sit, and suddenly felt as if "I" had never moved a millimeter my whole life, and that all movement that has ever happened was on an infinitely (but immeasurable) screen of awareness. It was very subtle though.

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  • Mac Donalds
    I'm pretty much perceiving things dualistically now, but it definitely feels much less solidified than before having that first glimpse.

  • Soh Wei Yu
    Mac Donalds usually those who have glimpses of the I AM i will tell them to do self enquiry until they reach total certainty and realization of Being.
    But your path depends on your inclinations and differs according to the individual

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  • Mac Donalds
    I would be open to shifting my focus to self inquiry and seeing where that goes. Do you think it would be a good idea to couple it with Noticing vipassana, or would it be more advisable to just do one or the other?
    The cittanupassana approach I am taking also mentions getting to the point of seeing "The Knower", which to me sounds eerily similar to the I AM realization. Then once The Knower is seen, it is to be be seen as not-self and transcended.
    (I don't have a teacher to personalize instructions for me, but I'm basing my cittanupassana practice on the online dhamma talks of Luangpor Pramote of Wat Suan Santidham in Thailand.)

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  • Soh Wei Yu
    Mac Donalds thai forest usually lead to I AM first yes
    Self enquiry or asking before birth who am i was how i came to self realization
    Took me about two years of inquiring back then

  • Mac Donalds
    Wow, that's interesting how even Thai Theravadan methods have I AM as a stage. I will take your advice and focus on realizing this I AM (y)

  • Seven Stages and Theravada (and other Buddhist traditions)?
    Seven Stages and Theravada (and other Buddhist traditions)?
    Seven Stages and Theravada (and other Buddhist traditions)?

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  • Mac Donalds
    Soh Wei Yu My mind is blown by how many topics ATR has covered in such detail 🤯

  • Soh Wei Yu
    Cos of the number of qns i receive. Sometimes it’s overwhelming but i am glad many people in atr has similar insights and can help me ans. 😂

  • Soh Wei Yu
    On contemplating the anatta stanzas:
    Session Start: Monday, September 22, 2008
    (12:31 PM) AEN: hi i replied u just now
    (12:31 PM) AEN: i mean forum
    (12:54 PM) Thusness: don't talk about effortless and spontaneity
    (12:54 PM) Thusness: if we look at Isis question, why is it so?
    (12:54 PM) Thusness: why is there fear and phobia?
    (12:55 PM) Thusness: What is mind?
    (12:56 PM) AEN: bcos of past experiences right
    (12:56 PM) AEN: like something happened before
    (12:56 PM) AEN: and so when he/she experience something (like dog)
    (12:57 PM) AEN: then he/she will react through conditioned thinking
    (12:57 PM) AEN: so give rise to fear
    (12:57 PM) Thusness: u r using logical reasoning
    (12:57 PM) AEN: its like habitual reaction
    (12:58 PM) AEN: or karmic propensity?
    (12:58 PM) Thusness: all experiences that resulted has just one impact, they becomes imprints
    (12:58 PM) AEN: oic
    (12:58 PM) Thusness: so what is mind?
    (12:58 PM) AEN: imprints and mental activities?
    (12:58 PM) Thusness: u must feel it
    (12:59 PM) Thusness: it is not an entity...
    (12:59 PM) Thusness: it is a tendency
    (12:59 PM) Thusness: that is not as an entity...u still have that sensation as if it is a Witness, an entity because u cannot feel this truth yet.
    (1:00 PM) Thusness: can u see that mind As an arising tendency
    (1:01 PM) AEN: the other day when meditating i had a sense suddenly that my entire mind is just tendencies arising, and there is like no thinker
    (1:01 PM) Thusness: yes
    (1:02 PM) Thusness: u must first feel this truth with ur entire being
    (1:02 PM) Thusness: like what Jeff Foster said, 'YOU' r just an arising thought
    (1:02 PM) AEN: oic
    (1:02 PM) Thusness: don't worry too much how it arises and how it subsides
    (1:03 PM) Thusness: for now, u must see 'what is'
    (1:03 PM) Thusness: a thought arises, then subsides
    (1:03 PM) Thusness: then sound, then subsides
    (1:03 PM) Thusness: then another thought arises
    (1:04 PM) Thusness: what is thought?
    (1:04 PM) AEN: just thought lor
    (1:04 PM) AEN: awareness?
    (1:04 PM) Thusness: no good
    (1:04 PM) AEN: its like a kind of phenomena just like sound, sight, etc
    (1:05 PM) AEN: but a different kind
    (1:05 PM) Thusness: very good
    (1:05 PM) Thusness: very good. 🙂
    (1:05 PM) Thusness: what sort of phenomena?
    (1:05 PM) AEN: dunnu how to describe it leh
    (1:05 PM) AEN: mental phenomena?
    (1:05 PM) Thusness: haha...
    (1:05 PM) Thusness: yes what is it like?
    (1:06 PM) AEN: images recalled, mental reasoning, arising in the mind?
    (1:07 PM) Thusness: yes
    (1:07 PM) AEN: words, etc
    (1:07 PM) Thusness: but what that is more important, it is a 'knowing' or 'luminous' phenomenon
    (1:07 PM) AEN: icic..

  • Soh Wei Yu
    (1:08 PM) Thusness: an arising thought, then another arising thought
    (1:08 PM) AEN: oic..
    (1:08 PM) Thusness: each thought is 'luminous'
    (1:08 PM) Thusness: first u must know this
    (1:08 PM) Thusness: but if u see it from all previous experiences, u 'see' differently.
    (1:09 PM) Thusness: what is seen is 'An Eternal Witness' sort of experience.
    (1:09 PM) Thusness: is it not true?
    (1:10 PM) AEN: yea
    (1:10 PM) AEN: and theres a subtle tendency to push away all thoughts rather than simple see everything as it is
    (1:10 PM) AEN: or rather
    (1:10 PM) AEN: attempt to be the background awareness
    (1:10 PM) Thusness: yes the tendency to push, to relate to a 'center' a source
    (1:10 PM) Thusness: to be a container, a background
    (1:11 PM) Thusness: u must feel the differences
    (1:11 PM) AEN: icic..
    (1:12 PM) Thusness: it is just a tendency to relate back to a source and refuses to 'see' what is.
    (1:13 PM) Thusness: every arising of a thought carries with it deeply rooted imprints
    (1:13 PM) Thusness: that 'blinds'
    (1:13 PM) AEN: oic..
    (1:14 PM) AEN: and the eternal witness is the thought of what is and what isnt awareness right, then becomes a tendency
    (1:14 PM) AEN: to sink back to a center
    (1:14 PM) Thusness: yes
    (1:14 PM) Thusness: but first u must understand 'thought'
    (1:14 PM) AEN: icic..
    (1:15 PM) Thusness: a thought is luminous
    (1:15 PM) Thusness: a luminous arising mental phenomena
    (1:15 PM) AEN: oic..
    (1:15 PM) Thusness: isn't it?
    (1:16 PM) AEN: yes
    (1:16 PM) Thusness: besides that what else? Isn't it always so?
    (1:16 PM) Thusness: 'You r just an arising thought'
    (1:17 PM) Thusness: a luminous thought at this moment 'looking' back, relating
    (1:17 PM) Thusness: pondering
    (1:17 PM) Thusness: in thinking, there is only thoughts
    (1:17 PM) AEN: oic..
    (1:17 PM) Thusness: now meditate on the stanza
    (1:18 PM) Thusness: in thinking there is only thought
    (1:18 PM) Thusness: in hearing, there is only sound
    (1:18 PM) Thusness: just this two lines is enough
    (1:19 PM) AEN: icic..
    (1:21 PM) AEN: so whenever thoughts, tendency arise, we should just experience the thought as it is
    (1:21 PM) AEN: as luminous
    (1:21 PM) Thusness: no
    (1:22 PM) Thusness: u must first understand clearly what is meant by no-self
    (1:23 PM) Thusness: but know what is thought first.
    (1:23 PM) Thusness: then understand anatta
    (1:23 PM) AEN: oic..
    (1:31 PM) Thusness: What is the different between in 'thinking, no thinker' and in thinking, only thoughts?
    (1:31 PM) AEN: the luminosity of the thought is not thoroughly experienced even though there is insight into no split?
    (1:31 PM) AEN: i dunno
    (1:32 PM) Thusness: until u understand, then tell me.
    (1:32 PM) Thusness: 😛
    (1:32 PM) AEN: lol ok
    (1:35 PM) AEN: in thinking, only thought, means each thought is discrete and complete?
    (1:35 PM) AEN: no linking
    (1:37 PM) AEN: before that there is still chaining of one thought with another?
    (1:39 PM) Thusness: okie..so so only...anyway u have not understood the real essence of being unsupported, discrete and complete yet.
    (1:40 PM) AEN: icic..
    (1:40 PM) Thusness: just meditate on the first 2 lines : in thinking, just thoughts and in hearing, just sound
    (1:40 PM) AEN: ok

  • Soh Wei Yu
    You must realise, and see, experientially realise the stanzas as a truth that is always already so. It is not about thinking only but seeing that it is so. The stanzas are just a pointer. It's like you're trying to see the cow in the picture puzzle. You cannot see it.. you kept looking and you can't see it. Then I give you a stanza "the cow is slightly to the right of the middle" and you contemplate that stanza while looking at the picture until you realise oh, that is just how it is. And once seen it will never be unseen. But thinking alone wouldn't help, you need to contemplate until you see it. The nature of mind is so, always already anatta, it is by nature so, not a stage. But realising that it is always already so makes all the difference, it is a quantum leap of perception. A rope that was mistaken as a snake suddenly is restored into its suchness when its misperception is obliterated with seeing.

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  • The Wind is Blowing, Blowing is the Wind
    The Wind is Blowing, Blowing is the Wind
    The Wind is Blowing, Blowing is the Wind

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  • Mac Donalds
    Thank you so much for all your help Soh. I'll be pouring over all of these resources over the next few days.

    Discussion - www.dharmaoverground.org
    Discussion - www.dharmaoverground.org

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  • Nafis Rahman
    For the final insight to emerge, it’s important to understand *why* the notion of an internal perceiver/underlying awareness never existed in the first place which is due to dependent origination. For example:
    Guy Armstrong, Emptiness: A Practical Guide
    Surely we would expect to find an “I” in an act of volition. Who decides to act? Who makes a choice? But if we look closely at a simple action, we see that a multitude of factors converge to bring it about. Let’s say we are sitting in a room feeling a bit chilly and we decide to draw a shawl over our lap. In a normal account, that is all there is to say: “I felt cold, so I put on a shawl.” But if we look more closely, with the eyes of meditative mindfulness, we see that there are more steps in the process.
    First there is the recognition that one is sitting (mindfulness of body). Then at some point there is a sensation (contact) that we recognize as cold (perception). Cold is felt as unpleasant (feeling tone), and there is a reaction of aversion (volitional formation). Not seeing the reaction mindfully (delusion), we don’t pause to investigate the feeling tone or formation, but rather distract ourselves (beginning of proliferation) with the mildly complaining inner voice, “I’m starting to feel cold,” and perhaps we feel a little shiver (sensation). Perhaps some perception of “warm” then arises, either by feeling a part of the body that is well covered or by remembering how the room felt when we sat down. Based on the perception of warmth, a desire (formation) arises to experience being warm (sensation with pleasant feeling tone). Just as the earlier aversion was not seen mindfully as something to investigate, so also the desire for warmth is not seen mindfully or investigated. Based on desire for warmth and a touch of delusion (lack of mindful attention), a memory arises of the shawl lying on the sofa. Based on desire and memory, a volition arises and we turn our head to see the shawl on the end of the sofa (perception). Next the urge arises (volition) to reach for the shawl and cover our lap with it (action) — which we do.
    In this entire chain of linked causes and effects, there is never a separate agent or self. Rather there is a back-and-forth dialogue between the body, perceptions, feeling tone, aversion, desire, volition, and action. Volition is just another factor of mind that arises based on prior causes and conditions. It then leads to action, in this case, of the body. It can be very tempting to identify with volition: “I decided to reach” or “I reached.” But when we see the momentary nature of all the factors arising and passing, we see there is no continuity to volition either. It too arises, does its work, and passes away.
    Soh Wei Yu Not only anatta, but one must realize Dependent Origination. Means from the direct taste of Heart/Mind in whatever manifestation, one also intuits the chain of dependencies involved in the total exertion of a given manifestation. The green is the pure visual-consciousness is not 'there' or 'here' or 'anywhere', is not produced by self, not produced by other, but appears due to conditions. Also it is not that everything is 'one awareness' - pure-visual-consciousness/green-display is perculiar-consciousness-instance according to a given condition, the experience of music, the sensation of hand pressing against an object, are all perculiar displays/consciousness-instances. And just like 'weather' is merely a name when certain patterns are appearing which we then call 'rain, cloud, wind, sunshine' (these too are mere labels), 'consciousness' is not one single unchanging static entity nor even one entity 'transforming into many' (as if weather is some pre-existing or self-existing 'entity' that morphs into various forms, rather than simply a label denoting the entire flow of aggregates and formations) but simply a label denoting the whole bundle or aggregate or composite or collection or heap of self-luminous aggregates/display/manifestation. Mere-name does not mean nothing at all exist but that the various appearances which is the vivid displays of luminosity do not amount to a substantially existing [existing by its own side, having its own essence, independent of conditions, or changeless] entity either in terms of subject or object, which is why the emptying of both leads to the actualization of suchness in the way described in Kalaka Sutta.
    Suffering, afflictions, likewise manifest by dependencies. Some practitioners like AF think that when self is there, afflictions arise, as if the 'feeler' causes the 'feeling' but anatta and D.O. reveals that afflictions/sense-of-self/suffering manifest via dependencies and is nowhere located or stored anywhere nor is it produced by a feeler (there never was a feeler/agent/self/Self), the chain of dependencies is what is always involved in a given experience which is always empty of self/Self/agency. Likewise, 'Awareness'/'colors'/'taste'/'sounds'/'thoughts', etc never resided anywhere just like the reflection of moon on water never resided 'inside' the water but merely manifests in an illusory way due to dependencies -- when condition is, manifestation is, consciousness is - condition, manifestation and consciousness are one and inseparable, never separated and neither are they 'interacting' with each other in the case of a mirror reflecting (stage 4). It is revealed that all phenomena are neither produced by an agent, nor by another, are not existing by its own side, and in fact is unproduced, unoriginated, non-arising, due to merely appearing via conditionality.
    All the terms that sounded ultimate, metaphysical and ontological now applies to Mind/Appearance but in a non-inherent, non-metaphysical, non-ontological manner. The sense of quiescence, unmoving, non-arising that once applied to an inherent Awareness now applies to Mind/Manifestation in a non-inherent manner. For as Nagarjuna said and I reiterate, if the conditioned/arising of phenomena cannot be established, how can the unconditioned be established [in contrast to so called conditionally arising/abiding/subsiding phenomena]? So as Thusness wrote many years ago, 'The next understanding u must have after anatta and emptiness is to know that all qualities similar to those that are described and sounded ontological are always manifesting presently, spontaneously and effortlessly after the purification of anatta and emptiness insights.'
    All displays are 'illusory' not because it is 'mentally projected' nor due to being subsumed to be 'mere modulations of consciousness' (like one mind) but because whatever appears is nothing there or here or anywhere but appearing via dependencies in total exertion. The taste of illusoriness and indestructible non-arising of a given self-luminous Mind/Heart display which is the total exertion of D.O. must be complemented, -A and +A: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/.../a-and...
    Fully Experience All-Is-Mind by Realizing No-Mind, Conditionality, Unreality and Non-Arising
    Fully Experience All-Is-Mind by Realizing No-Mind, Conditionality, Unreality and Non-Arising
    Fully Experience All-Is-Mind by Realizing No-Mind, Conditionality, Unreality and Non-Arising

    Nafis Rahman
    And as Thusness wrote in 2014,
    John TanSaturday, November 15, 2014 at 8:42am UTC+08
    Actually if u do not see DO [dependent origination], u do not see Buddhism. Anatta is just the beginning.
    John TanSaturday, November 15, 2014 at 8:46am UTC+08
    Be it Buddha himself, Nagarjuna or Tsongkhapa none never got overwhelmed and amazed with the profundity of dependent origination. It is just that we do not hv the wisdom to penetrate enough depth of it.
    John TanSaturday, November 15, 2014 at 8:54am UTC+08
    If u see dependent origination and emptiness then Advaita is world apart from Buddhism, if u actualized ur view into non-dual experience, then it is different from top to bottom. Simply looking at Awareness and no-self, besides non-dual empty clarity and substantial non-duality clarity, u will not b able to distinguish much.
    John TanSaturday, November 15, 2014 at 8:56am UTC+08
    So answer Mike Scarf from DO and emptiness perspective.
    John TanSaturday, November 15, 2014 at 9:07am UTC+08
    Just bring out the importance of DO. But what written is NOT the essence. The essence is the freedom from extremes of DO, the "nature" of mind and phenomena is realized to b dependent arising and empty. Dependent arising is exactly non-arising be it whether one sees dependencies from production, designation, relations or imputing consciousness. Conceptual or non-conceptual experiences, permanent or impermanent phenomena, conditioned or unconditioned phenomena, all dependently originates, empty and non-arising. If one sees this, how could it b Advaita....
    4. On Non-Dual Experience, Realization and Anatta
    I have just casually gone through some of your forum discussions. Very enlightening discussions and well presentation of my 7-phases-of-insights but try not to over-emphasize it as a model; it should not be taken as a definite model of enlightenment nor should you use it as a framework to validate others' experiences and insights. Simply take it as a guide along your spiritual journey.
    You are right to differentiate non-dual experience from non-dual realization and non-dual realization from the insight of anatta. We have discussed this umpteem times. Non-dual experience in the context we are using refers to the experience of no-subject-object division. The experience is much like putting two candle flames together where the boundary between the flames becomes indistinguishable. It is not a realization but simply a stage, an experience of unity between the observer and the observed where the conceptual layer that divides is temporarily suspended in a meditative state. This you have experienced.
    Non-dual realization on the other hand is a deep understanding that comes from seeing through the illusionary nature of subject-object division. It is a natural non-dual state that resulted from an insight that arises after rigorous investigation, challenge and a prolonged period of practice that is specially focused on ‘No-Self’. Somehow focusing on “No-Self” will spark a sense of sacredness towards the transient and fleeting phenomena. The sense of sacredness that is once the monopoly of the Absolute is now also found in the Relative. The term ‘No-Self’ like Zen-Koan may appear cryptic, senseless or illogical but when realized, it is actually obviously clear, direct and simple. The realization is accompanied with the experience that everything is being dissolved into either:
    1. An ultimate Subject or
    2. As mere ‘flow of phenomenality’
    In whatever the case, both spells the end of separateness; experientially there is no sense of two-ness and the experience of unity can be quite overwhelming initially but eventually it will lose its grandeur and things turn quite ordinary. Nevertheless, regardless of whether the sense of Oneness is derived from the experience of ‘All as Self’ or ‘as simply just manifestation’, it is the beginning insight of “No-Self”. The former is known as One-Mind and the later, No-Mind.
    In Case 1 it is usual that practitioners will continue to personify, reify and extrapolate a metaphysical essence in a very subtle way, almost unknowingly. This is because despite the non-dual realization, understanding is still orientated from a view that is based on subject-object dichotomy. As such it is hard to detect this tendency and practitioners continue their journey of building their understanding of ‘No-Self based on Self’.
    For Case 2 practitioners, they are in a better position to appreciate the doctrine of anatta. When insight of Anatta arises, all experiences become implicitly non-dual. But the insight is not simply about seeing through separateness; it is about the thorough ending of reification so that there is an instant recognition that the ‘agent’ is extra, in actual experience it does not exist. It is an immediate realization that experiential reality has always been so and the existence of a center, a base, a ground, a source has always been assumed.
    To mature this realization, even direct experience of the absence of an agent will prove insufficient; there must also be a total new paradigm shift in terms of view; we must free ourselves from being bonded to the idea, the need, the urge and the tendency of analyzing, seeing and understanding our moment to moment of experiential reality from a source, an essence, a center, a location, an agent or a controller and rest entirely on anatta and Dependent Origination.
    Therefore this phase of insight is not about singing eloquently the non-dual nature of an Ultimate Reality; contrary it is deeming this Ultimate Reality as irrelevant. Ultimate Reality appears relevant only to a mind that is bond to seeing things inherently, once this tendency dissolves, the idea of a source will be seen as flawed and erroneous. Therefore to fully experience the breadth and depth of no-self, practitioners must be prepared and willing to give up the entire subject-object framework and be open to eliminate the entire idea of a ‘source’. Rob expressed very skillfully this point in his talk:
    “One time the Buddha went to a group of monks and he basically told them not to see Awareness as The Source of all things. So this sense of there being a vast awareness and everything just appears out of that and disappears back into it, beautiful as that is, he told them that’s actually not a skillful way of viewing reality. And that is a very interesting sutta, because it’s one of the only suttas where at the end it doesn’t say the monks rejoiced in his words.
    This group of monks didn’t want to hear that. They were quite happy with that level of insight, lovely as it was, and it said the monks did not rejoice in the Buddha’s words. (laughter) And similarly, one runs into this as a teacher, I have to say. This level is so attractive, it has so much of the flavor of something ultimate, that often times people are unbudgeable there.”
    What then is the view that Buddhism is talking about without resorting to a ‘source’? I think the post by Vajrahridaya in the thread ‘What makes Buddhism different’ of your forum succinctly and concisely expressed the view, it is well written. That said, do remember to infinitely regress back into this vivid present moment of manifestation – as this arising thought, as this passing scent – Emptiness is Form. 🙂
    Realization and Experience and Non-Dual Experience from Different Perspectives
    Realization and Experience and Non-Dual Experience from Different Perspectives
    Realization and Experience and Non-Dual Experience from Different Perspectives

  • Mac Donalds
    Thank you for these readings Nafis. It's fascinating going through these writings. Particularly the passage about feeling cold and reaching for the shawl is like verbal Vipassana.

  • Nafis Rahman
    In terms of practice, you can use whichever section resonates the most:
    The most important catalyst for triggering Awakening to no-self is to investigate our Direct Experience. Direct Experience is what is noticed, here and now.
    We can skilfully divide d.E., for the purposes of investigation, into 3 main aspects:
    1) thought
    2) sensations
    feeling [tactile + kinesthetic)
    3) an unmistakable sense of Aliveness
    (presence, being)
    The illusion of separation is maintained by a stream of self referencing thoughts that are based on past conditioning. The most common reference point is a thought-created center referred to as “I” / “me” / “self”. There is no such center, and those self-labels refer only to other thoughts, or to some aspect of Experience.
    By referring to d.E., one is able to deconstruct any assumptions of separation or self, and see that there is just an Experience. There may be thoughts about Experience that conceptually divide certain aspects of Experience into a “me” and other aspects into “the outside world”, yet those thoughts are also just a part of Experience, and as such there is ONLY Experience.
    There is an assumption that there is an experience-er that experiences. This is propagated by a belief, as expressed by a thought such as “I experience”. We investigate this in d.E. by looking for this “I”. Is there a separate “I”, or is there just an Experience that thought conceptually divides as such: “I” + “what is experienced”?
    There is an assumption that there is a perceive-er that perceives. This is propagated by a belief, as expressed by a thought such as “I am the perceiver”. We investigate this in d.E. by looking for this perceiver. We can see that there is no such thing as a perceiver, just a perception and thought dividing it in to an “I” + “body” + “perception through the senses”.
    A sound is heard, then there is a thought “I hear a sound”. We can investigate and see that there is no hearer of sounds, just sound. If there is something felt and assumed to be the hearer, or self, is it anything more than some other sensations? or that sense of Aliveness? or another thought?
    “I feel my body against the chair” a thought says. So, we investigate d.E. and see that there are sensations that are habitually labelled “body” and other sensations we refer to as “feeling of chair against body”. When we investigate where this “I” is that claims these sensations, it cannot be found, as there is either another self-referencing thought, some sensations or another aspect of Experience.
    We can pick up an object, and look at it. We might say “I am looking at the object”. We then test this conclusion to see if it correlates with d.E., and what we find is that there is a sensation of seeing, and maybe some sensations that we usually label ‘head’ or ‘eyes’, or even other feeling-sensations labelled “body”. A thought may arise with the conclusion that these are inherently separate, and that one is “self” and the other is “what is observed”. When we test this out we see that there is never an “I” looking, never a watcher, never a seer. There is only seeing, only feeling, only Experiencing. We can say that it is simply Experience experiencing itself.
    We look deeply in to Experience, and see that the assumptions of separation, self, “I”, perceive-er or an experience-er are just references to Experience. There is never an actual separate object, just the perception of such, and thoughts labeling it. We deconstruct all these assumptions of there being a watcher, or a looker, or a hearer, and find that there is only Experience, never an actual separate self.
    Is it possible there is just Experience, with no separate experience-er?
    “Good insight. Stability of experience has a predictable relationship with the unfolding and deepening of insights. For example how seamless and effortless can non-dual experience be, if in the back of one's mind, subtle views of duality and inherency and tendencies continue to surface and affect our moment to moment experience - for example conjuring an unchanging source or mind that results in a perpetual tendency to sink back and referencing experience back to a source.
    For example even after it is seen that everything is a manifestation of awareness or mind, there might still be subtle tendencies to reference back to a source, awareness or mind and therefore the transience is not appreciated in full. Nondual is experienced but one sinks back into substantial nonduality - there is always a referencing back to a base, an "awareness" that is nevertheless inseparable from all phenomena.
    If one arises the insight that our ideas of an unchanging source, awareness or mind is just another thought - that there is simply thought after thought, sight after sight, sound after sound, and there isn't an inherent or unchanging "awareness", "mind", "source". Non-dual becomes implicit and effortless when there is the realisation that what awareness, seeing, hearing really is, is just the seen... The heard... The transience... The transience itself rolls and knows, no knower or other "awareness" can be found. Like there is no river apart from flowing, no wind apart from blowing, each noun implies its verb... Similarly awareness is simply the process of knowing not separated from the known. Scenery sees, music hears. Because there is nothing unchanging, independent, ultimate apart from the transience, there is no more sinking back to a source and instead there is full comfort resting as the transience itself.
    Lastly do continue practicing the intensity of luminosity... When looking at tennis ball just sense the tennis ball fully.... Without thinking of a source, background, observer, self. Just the tennis ball as a luminous light. When breathing... Just the breathe... When seeing scenery, just sights, shapes and colours - intensely luminous and vivid without an agent or observer. When hearing music... Sound of bird chirping, the crickets… Just that - chirp chirp. A zen master noted upon his awakening... When I am hearing the bell ringing, there is no I and no bell... Just the ringing. The direct experiencing of no-mind and intensity of luminosity.. This is the purpose of the practice of the four foundations of mindfulness that is taught by the Buddha.” - Soh, 2011
    An advise I often give which in my experience is a highly effective method for realizing no-self: "spend quality hours (or however much time you can afford) everyday practicing being naked in awareness (whether in sitting meditation or in movement), which is to say hear the sounds as clear as can be in its pristine clarity and vividness… observe/experience the minutest details of sensations in its crystal clarity and aliveness, the sights, smells, taste, touch. Then contemplate and notice the fact that “there is no experiencer behind experience, just the experience” or “in seeing just the shapes, colours, forms, no seer”... this can eventually lead to non dual experience and insight.” – John Tan
    (more in replies due to fb word limits)

    Nafis Rahman
    Thrangu Rinpoche:
    In the Vajrayana there is the direct path to examining mind. In everyday life we are habituated to thinking, "I have a mind and I perceive these things." Ordinarily, we do not directly look at the mind and therefore do not see the mind. This is very strange because we see things and we know that we are seeing visual phenomena. But who is seeing? We can look directly at the mind and find that there is no one seeing; there is no seer, and yet we are seeing phenomena. The same is true for the mental consciousness. We think various thoughts, but where is that thinking taking place? Who or what is thinking? However, when we look directly at the mind, we discover that there is nobody there; there is no thinker and yet thinking is going on. This approach of directly looking in a state of meditation isn't one of reasoning, but of directly looking at the mind to see what is there.
    Source: Shentong and Rangtong
    If we look for a perceiver, we won’t find one. We do think, but if we look into the thinker, trying to find that which thinks, we do not find it. Yet, at the same time, we do see and we do think. The reality is that seeing occurs without a seer and thinking without a thinker. This is just how it is; this is the nature of the mind. The Heart Sutra sums this up by saying that “form is emptiness,” because whatever we look at is, by nature, devoid of true existence. At the same time, emptiness is also form, because the form only occurs as emptiness. Emptiness is no other than form and form is no other than emptiness. This may appear to apply only to other things, but when applied to the mind, the perceiver, one can also see that the perceiver is emptiness and emptiness is also the perceiver. Mind is no other than emptiness; emptiness is no other than mind. This is not just a concept; it is our basic state.
    The reality of our mind may seem very deep and difficult to understand, but it may also be something very simple and easy because this mind is not somewhere else. It is not somebody else’s mind. It is your own mind. It is right here; therefore, it is something that you can know. When you look into it, you can see that not only is mind empty, it also knows; it is cognizant. All the Buddhist scriptures, their commentaries and the songs of realization by the great siddhas express this as the “indivisible unity of emptiness and cognizance,” or “undivided empty perceiving,” or “unity of empty cognizance.” No matter how it is described, this is how our basic nature really is. It is not our making. It is not the result of practice. It is simply the way it has always been.
    Source: Crystal Clear
    Since you resonate with Daniel Ingram, you can watch this video on vipassana in relation to realizing anatta: https://vimeo.com/250616410
    These two articles for deconstructing the notion of an underlying/universal awareness:
    If you have some free time, you can go through this list of articles as well, it might help you in terms of view/insight:
    Thrangu Rinpoche on Nature of Mind
    Thrangu Rinpoche on Nature of Mind
    Thrangu Rinpoche on Nature of Mind

  • Mac Donalds
    Practical guidance like this is just what I feel like I'm in need of. It's tricky navigating this path without a teacher, but these readings seem to help clear the fog a lot.

  • Mac Donalds
    "If one arises the insight that our ideas of an unchanging source, awareness or mind is just another thought - that there is simply thought after thought, sight after sight, sound after sound, and there isn't an inherent or unchanging "awareness", "mind", "source". Non-dual becomes implicit and effortless when there is the realisation that what awareness, seeing, hearing really is, is just the seen... The heard... The transience... The transience itself rolls and knows, no knower or other "awareness" can be found."
    This passage is exactly what I would like to gear towards. This is that 0.0001% suspicion that I was talking about in feeling that I AM is just the beginning.

    Nafis Rahman
    If you can find a realized Mahamudra teacher near you like Thrangu Rinpoche that would be a very beneficial opportunity. He has a few centers all over the world although I’m not sure if they’re near your area: https://rinpoche.com/dharma-centers/
    I’m not sure if you have read Seeing that Frees before, but it has a couple of exercises that are helpful for deconstructing awareness and realizing anatta. Particularly chapter 25.
    Regarding I Am, John Tan once wrote before:
    "When consciousness experiences the pure sense of “I AM”, overwhelmed by the transcendental thoughtless moment of Beingness, consciousness clings to that experience as its purest identity. By doing so, it subtly creates a ‘watcher’ and fails to see that the ‘Pure Sense of Existence’ is nothing but an aspect of pure consciousness relating to the thought realm. This in turn serves as the karmic condition that prevents the experience of pure consciousness that arises from other sense-objects. Extending it to the other senses, there is hearing without a hearer and seeing without a seer -- the experience of Pure Sound-Consciousness is radically different from Pure Sight-Consciousness. Sincerely, if we are able to give up ‘I’ and replace it with “Emptiness Nature”, Consciousness is experienced as non-local. There isn't a state that is purer than the other. All is just One Taste, the manifold of Presence.
    The ‘who’, ‘where’ and ‘when’, the ‘I’, ‘here’ and ‘now’ must ultimately give way to the experience of total transparency. Do not fall back to a source, just the manifestation is sufficient. This will become so clear that total transparency is experienced. When total transparency is stabilized, transcendental body is experienced and dharmakaya is seen everywhere. This is the samadhi bliss of Bodhisattva. This is the fruition of practice." – John Tan, 2006, 3) Buddha Nature is NOT "I Am"
    "The key towards pure knowingness is to bring the taste of presence into the 6 entries and exits. So that what is seen, heard, touched, tasted are pervaded by a deep sense of crystal, radiance and transparency. This requires seeing through the center." – Thusness/John Tan
    “It will be advisable to take a step back to re-visit and re-experience each of the 6 sense doors. To cultivate a little on the aspect of being 'bare' for all the senses. Experience as much vividness as possible and have clarity on the luminous aspect of awareness first. Touch, taste, smell and sound… are all equally vivid as compared to seeing. Experience the texture and fabric of awareness. The rest of the conditions that give rise to no-self will come later. 🙂 There is no ‘willful’ entrance into non-duality, create enough conditions, that’s all. :)” - John Tan, 2007
    This aspect will come by practicing Vipassana, see John's Vipassana - https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/.../thusnesss... and Vipassana - https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/.../vipassana.html
    Mahamudra sample list if you find it resonating:
    1) Clarifying the Natural State by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal
    2) Crystal Clear by Thrangu Rinpoche (commentary on the book above)
    3) Pointing out the Dharmakhaya by Thrangu Rinpoche
    4) Ocean of Ultimate Meaning by Thrangu Rinpoche
    5) Essentials of Mahamudra by Thrangu Rinpoche
    6) Moonbeams of Mahamudra by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal (both Traleg Kyabgon and Elizabeth Callahan translation)
    http://www.mahamudracenter.org/MMCMemberMeditationGuide.htm (they use this manual in Thrangu Rinpoche’s retreat centers)
    Just listing everything in one place in case you find it useful in the future. Good luck with your practice.

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