[22/7/22, 4:47:05 PM] ‪Mr. N: How critical is realising non-duality for nirvana? Actually, wot is non-dualism??

[23/7/22, 12:52:27 AM] Soh Wei Yu: I believe we had this discussion. Let me recap what I said:


Soh Wei Yu


Nixon Na

"As for concepts like non-duality, or triple-duality or whatnot, use them as tools. Don’t be fooled into attainments of awakening."

We have to be clear what the non-duality here means.

There are three main types listed by Acarya Malcolm but can be more than that, David Loy lists 5 or more for example.

Malcolm's 3 in summary (my own words and paraphrase, not his):

1) ontic non-duality -- the Vedantic 'one without a second' variety of non-duality. Everything is just one substance -- Atman-Brahman, you are that one, all phenomena are that one, just like a necklace may appear in various shapes but is just made of one 'thing' -- gold.

2) absence or emptiness of subject-object (such as: perceiver-perceived, agent-action, doer-deed, etc)

3) emptiness of the ontic pairs such as existence and non-existence through insight of emptiness

It is obvious that when we realise the Buddhist insights, 1) becomes irrelevant or is seen through as flawed. It is no longer based on a view of essence, substance, or ontological substratum.

The Buddha however did teach, even in Pali suttas, 2 and 3. When you have a Buddhist awakening, the so called 'non-duality' of 2 and 3 becomes implicit and natural even without needing to call it by that name or give special emphasis to them as a concept. It is just non-conceptually actualized. That is why you do not need to give special emphasis on these as concepts, for example you can teach four noble truths and anattalakkhana sutta and then automatically the first five students have attained arahantship even without hearing about non-duality. In other suttas, the Buddha however did explicitly describe the equipoise of an arya as the suchness of heard/sensed/cognized without a cognizer and something cognized (such as Kalaka Sutta) i.e. subject and object, and many other suttas also describe how the overcoming of self view in various forms includes overcoming the view and sense of being an experiencer, agent, and watcher (Sabbasava Sutta among others).

Anyone who experiences a state, a peak experience, where the cognizer and cognised 'fuses into one' or a state of forgetting self is just describing a peak experience. That is not awakening. Even if there is some form of non-dual realization, it can end up being like Brahman. That is also not Buddhist awakening.

But if you realise anatta, dependent origination, emptiness ala the Buddhist insights, and you enter the stream, whether it be called 'stream entry' or 'first bhumi' (which Malcolm calls 'Mahayana stream entry'), automatically no subject and object is a natural and effortless state. It is not a peak experience. All the time it will be experienced like that (without reified subject and object) even without the slightest effort. It is just that the insight allows the seeing through of reification and this allows all experience to be seen in its true face - without a self/agent/perceiver/doer-deed dichotomy, and operating via conditionality, without self-nature or essence. It is like seeing a picture puzzle until one day something clicks and the perspective shifts forever, never to be unseen again. All these are far from a kind of conceptual game, it requires a direct insight into the nature of dhamma/dharma. The nature of mind. Then the so called no subject-object is just implicitly so, you don't even need to emphasize it... the more important point in fact is the absence of self-nature and conditionality.

However, if someone claims to have awakened in the Buddhist sense, but then they say their subject object sense is still strong or present, I would say this person hasn't really attained true Buddhist awakening. Even if they claim to realise no self, it is not the true Buddhist no self insight, but only halfway there.

Like Ajahn Brahmavamso said those who practice meditation and jhanas can first overcome self by seeing through and dissolving the doer. Only later, at a more mature phase, the "last citadel of self" -- the knower -- is seen through. How can you say for example that the self is truly seen through but still hold oneself to be a knower behind the known (subject and object)? So that cannot be, obviously.

The true Buddhist insight of anatta is not only seeing through doer, but also agent, knower, perceiver, seer, hearer, be-er, being, etc etc. Total deconstruction of all self/Self. Then that I consider true insight.. and Yin Ling and Sim Pern Chong fortunately has that deep penetrative insight.

[23/7/22, 12:55:02 AM] Soh Wei Yu: if there is anatta realisation, there is no subject / object (perceiver and perceived)

this is well explained in http://www.awakeningtoreality.com/2012/09/great-resource-of-buddha-teachings.html with citations with suttas also

[23/7/22, 12:55:48 AM] Soh Wei Yu: AN 4.24 Kāḷakārāma Sutta:

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

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

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

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

Thus, monks, the Tathagata — being the same with regard to all phenomena that can be seen, heard, sensed, & cognized — is 'Such.' And I tell you: There's no other 'Such' higher or more sublime.

[23/7/22, 12:57:02 AM] Soh Wei Yu: ajahn brahm:

The Final Part of Bāhiya's Teaching

"Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: in the seen will be merely what is seen, ... in the cognized will merely be what is cognized. Practising in this way, Bāhiya, you will not be 'because of that'. When you are not 'because of that', you will not be 'in that'. And when you are not 'in that', you will be neither here nor beyond nor in between the two. Just this is the end of suffering."

What does it mean "you will not be 'because of that'"? The Pāli is na tena. Tena is the instrumental of the word for 'that'. Na is the negative. It means, literally, "not because of that, not through that, not by that". It means in essence, you will not assume that there is a self, a soul, a me; because of, through, or by; the seen or the heard or the sensed or the cognized. The Buddha is saying that once you have penetrated the truth of sensory experience, by suppressing the Hindrances through Jhāna, you will see that there is no 'doer', nor a 'knower', behind sensory experience. No longer will you be able to use sensory experience as evidence for a self. Descartes' famous "I am because I think" is refuted. You will not be because of thinking, nor because of seeing, hearing or sensing. In the Buddha's words, "You will not be because of that (any sensory experience)".

When the sensory processes are discarded as tenable evidence for a self, a soul or a me, then you are no longer located in the sensory experience. In the Buddha's words, "You will not be 'in that'". You no longer view, perceive or even think that there is a 'me' involved in life. In the words of the doctor in the original series of Star Trek, "It is life, Jim, but not as we know it"! There is no longer any sense of self, or soul, at the centre of experience. You are no more 'in that'.

Just to close off the loophole that you might think you can escape non-existence of a self or soul by identifying with a transcendental state of being beyond what is seen, heard, sensed or cognized, the Buddha thunders, "and you will be neither here (with the seen, heard, sensed or cognized) nor beyond (outside of the seen, heard, sensed or cognized) nor in between the two (neither of the world nor beyond the world). The last phrase comprehensively confounded the sophists!

In summary, the Buddha advised both Bāhiya and Venerable Mālunkyaputta to experience the Jhānas to suppress the Five Hindrances. Thereby one will discern with certainty the absence of a self or a soul behind the sensory process. Consequently, sensory experience will never again be taken as evidence of a 'knower' or a 'doer': such that you will never imagine a self or a soul at the centre of experience, nor beyond, nor anywhere else. Bāhiya's Teaching put in a nutshell the way to the realization of No-Self, Anattā. "Just this", concluded the Buddha "is the end of suffering".

[23/7/22, 1:08:31 AM] Soh Wei Yu: this article is also pretty good https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-v-awakening/37-models-of-the-stages-of-awakening/the-non-duality-models/

[23/7/22, 2:15:11 PM] ‪Mr. N: thks ill go thru

[23/7/22, 4:46:48 PM] ‪Mr. N: Wots your option on this: If we are originally enlightened, how did we become deluded? And after enlightenment again, what makes it so we don’t become deluded again?

[25/7/22, 12:04:36 PM] Soh Wei Yu: sorry i forgot to reply you, been quite busy. btw i just saw kyle dixon post something, this is correct and is related to the 3rd nonduality above:

"It definitely is not emphasized, however the same “nonduality” described in Mahāyāna (as a freedom from extremes) is arguably stated here in the Kaccayanagotta Sutta:

        Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle."

[25/7/22, 12:05:29 PM] Soh Wei Yu: as to your question, my answer is that there is no original enlightenment. therefore your question do not apply. original enlightenment is a wrong view..

[25/7/22, 12:05:33 PM] ‪Mr. N: hey hey no worries, just some philosophical musing to discuss

[25/7/22, 12:05:52 PM] ‪Mr. N: Wot led to ur conclusion?

[25/7/22, 12:13:25 PM] Soh Wei Yu: original enlightenment is based on the view of inherent existence, that an ultimate state existed inherently from the beginning. such a view would contradict the very quote in Kaccayanagotta Sutta I just posted above, in which existence and non-existence are an extreme and the Buddha teaches by the middle [dependent origination]

such a question is also one that plagued zen master dogen for a long time. because he wrongly assumed (or was taught wrongly) when he was young that there is original enlightenment, this gave rise to his doubt "If we were originally enlightened, how can we be lost?" and "If we were originally enlightened, why do we even need to practice?" plagued by this doubt he could not get it resolved in japan (later after his enlightenment he noted that nobody in Japan before him actually attained great enlightenment or true awakening of the buddhadharma). his doubt made him risk his life in a dangerous journey to sail to china in search for an answer, and even then he could not find an answer and almost went back to japan empty handed until someone on his last day introduced him to Zen Master Rujing and that encounter led to his great awakening, and then he became the founder of soto zen in japan when he returned.

when dogen realised anatta, and this is as john tan described last time about the insight that resolved Dogen's doubts, "Indeed this is similar to anatta insight. When no self/Self is seen through, seen is just seen and heard is just heard. When original enlightenment is seen through, sitting is just sitting, walking is just walking, and sleeping is just sleeping -- practice enlightenment!" - http://www.awakeningtoreality.com/2021/03/original-enlightenment-vs-practice.html

later on Dogen wrote this criticising original enlightenment [hongaku],

"Some people say that, because the enlightenment of the Buddhas and Tathagatas encompass the whole world, even a speck of dust manifests that enlightenment. Because that enlightenment encompasses both subject and the object, mountains, rivers, earth, sun, moon, stars, and the four illusions and three poisons express it as well. To see mountains and rivers is to see the Tathagathas, and the four illusions and three poisons are the Buddha-dharma. To see a speck of dust is to see the dharma-dhatu and each spontaneous act is a manifestation of supreme enlightenment. They say this is the great understanding and call it a Patriarchal transmission. In latter-day Sung China, those who subscribe to this view are as numerous as rice plants, hemp. bamboo, and reeds. Their [religious] lineage is unknown, but it is clear they do not understand Buddhism."

[25/7/22, 12:15:23 PM] Soh Wei Yu: original enlightenment is also rejected in other traditions and teachings even in mahayana and vajrayana, those who knew better: 

Dzogchen teacher Acarya Malcolm Smith also said with regards to hongaku ("original enlightenment"), "Definitely a wrong view, even in Dzogchen.", "Chinese Buddhism departs from Indian Buddhism in many respects. Still, the idea of "inherent awakening" is patently absurd and cannot be taken literally or seriously by any means." - https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=97&t=19453&p=283507&hilit=hongaku#p283507

[25/7/22, 1:20:11 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Session Start: Tuesday, October 14, 2008

(11:21 PM) Thusness: We do not have an original nature, we have an empty nature.

(11:21 PM) AEN: icic..

(11:21 PM) Thusness: That has no beginning nor end.

(11:22 PM) AEN: oic..

(11:23 PM) Thusness: To visualize a purest state from start is a dualistic view.

(11:24 PM) AEN: icic..

(11:24 PM) Thusness: But it is not appropriate for u to answer this question yet.

(11:25 PM) AEN: oic..

(11:26 PM) Thusness: For it contradicts with many claims of those masters that focus on luminosity and have not understood their empty nature.

(11:26 PM) AEN: icic..

(11:26 PM) AEN: the poster follows korean zen, i tink zen master seung sahn etc

(11:29 PM) Thusness: Getting 'lost' and becoming dualistic is natural when we develop those conditions that make us 'lost'

(11:29 PM) AEN: oic..

(11:30 PM) Thusness: Being attached to our luminosity is one of the factor

(11:30 PM) AEN: icic..

(11:31 PM) Thusness: The assumption that there is a purest state and we will not become dualistic is itself a dualistic view.

(11:32 PM) AEN: oic..

(11:32 PM) Thusness: Luminous yet empty, this is our nature.

(11:32 PM) Thusness: Understand?

(11:34 PM) AEN: think so..

(11:38 PM) AEN: so theres no purest state, when condition is there delusion manifest?

(11:38 PM) AEN: btw u said i shldnt post this?

(11:42 PM) Thusness: Yes

(11:43 PM) Thusness: this is just to let u understand conceptually.

(11:44 PM) AEN: icic.. ok

(11:45 PM) Thusness: So that u r not trapped in a dualistic framework of understanding things.

(11:45 PM) AEN: oic..

(11:45 PM) Thusness: When DO replaces the dualistic framework, we will understand naturally.

(11:46 PM) AEN: icic..

(11:47 PM) Thusness: When DO replaces the dualistic framework, we will understand naturally.

(11:49 PM) Thusness: Because ur views is still very much inherent/dualistic, you find it hard to understand.

(11:50 PM) Thusness: Therefore whatever said is quickly distorted

(11:51 PM) AEN: oic..

(11:53 PM) Thusness: let DO re-orientate u and practice 'dropping'

(11:54 PM) AEN: icic..

(11:54 PM) AEN: ok

(11:56 PM) Thusness: It takes many many years to re-orientate urself and u have to undergo those phases I told u.  

(11:56 PM) AEN: oic.. which phases

(11:57 PM) Thusness: the six stages

(11:57 PM) Thusness: In which 5 and 6 are most important

(11:58 PM) AEN: icic..

(11:58 PM) Thusness: 5 is the great stability.  You become non conceptual and experience directly

(11:59 PM) AEN: oic..

(12:01 AM) Thusness: Now u must practice 'dropping' and go non-conceptual.

(12:01 AM) Thusness: But non-conceptuality should not be the object of practice,  it must be natural

(12:02 AM) Thusness: It comes naturally after the arising of anatta insight

(12:03 AM) AEN: icic..

(12:03 AM) Thusness: And after that, give up all thoughts can continue to 'drop' till anatta is most clear and vivid

(12:03 AM) AEN: oic..

(12:03 AM) Thusness: Till u become fully non-dual and non-conceptual

(12:04 AM) AEN: icic..

(12:04 AM) Thusness: U must practice dropping, it is safer.

(12:04 AM) AEN: wat do u mean

(12:04 AM) AEN: by it is safer

(12:05 AM) Thusness: If u don't want to experience side effects, then learn 'dropping'

(12:05 AM) AEN: icic..

(12:05 AM) AEN: what kind of side effects

(12:06 AM) Thusness: Give up and let go

(12:06 AM) AEN: oic..

(12:06 AM) AEN: when i meditate i can let go completely, and enter into an almost thoughtless state... but daily life v hard rite?

(12:06 AM) Thusness: Till u r open to all sensations naturally, vividly and effortlessly

(12:07 AM) AEN: icic..

(12:07 AM) Thusness: Difficult to tell u now lah

(12:08 AM) AEN: oic..

(12:08 AM) Thusness: U must summarize and be conceptually equipped with the right views first

(12:08 AM) AEN: icic..

(12:08 AM) Thusness: But these views are provisional  

(12:09 AM) Thusness: but because we r so caught up in looking for meanings, we want to expand these views more then necessary

(12:10 AM) Thusness: Then it becomes dangerous.

(12:10 AM) AEN: oic..

(12:10 AM) Thusness: It must go hand in hand with real experience.

(12:10 AM) AEN: icic..

(12:11 AM) Thusness: It can take few decades of practice b4 true insight dawns

(12:11 AM) Thusness: take

(12:13 AM) AEN: oic...

(12:15 AM) AEN: true insight as in prajna wisdom?

(12:19 AM) Thusness: I go sleep liao

(12:19 AM) Thusness: Yes



(7:34 PM) AEN: icic.. http://www.zenforuminternational.org/viewtopic.php?f=8...

(7:37 PM) AEN: namdrol says there cant be original enlightenment as that wld be the hindu teaching

or atman (Namdrol = acarya malcolm smith)

(7:38 PM) Thusness: yes because they see non-dual as enlightenment

(7:38 PM) AEN: oic

(7:39 PM) Thusness: u mean e-sangha ban them?


(7:40 PM) AEN: yeah... alot of zen teachers and even moderators were banned during a period of time and e-sangha even received lawsuits thread etc

(7:40 PM) Thusness: by the way, that is also not hindu teachings

(7:40 PM) AEN: and members


there were also other issues i think... some dun believe in rebirth etc... and some other things

(7:40 PM) AEN: im not exactly sure what happened

(7:40 PM) Thusness: that is neo-advaita teaching

(7:40 PM) AEN: oic

(7:41 PM) Thusness: because we are already enlightened so why practice?

(7:41 PM) Thusness: yet this will arise another insight

so this is also necessary

(7:42 PM) Thusness: first of all if this is not true, how is it that so many practitioners are claiming that?

(7:42 PM) AEN: they have the view of an inherent consciousness?

(7:43 PM) Thusness: there must b certain experience or incomplete realization that led practitioners to such a conclusion

(7:43 PM) AEN: oic..

(7:43 PM) Thusness: it too is a koan.

(7:44 PM) AEN: icic..

(7:45 PM) Thusness: if one stops at One Mind, it will most likely end up concluding that way

(7:45 PM) AEN: oic..

(7:48 PM) Thusness: yet it is also important that u come to the same conclusion. 🙂

just like I AMness

(7:49 PM) AEN: icic..

(7:49 PM) AEN: the original enlightenment is realised at non dual ?

(7:49 PM) Thusness: yes

(7:50 PM) AEN: icic

(7:50 PM) Thusness: i think i told u we do not have a perfect nature right?

(7:50 PM) Thusness: we have a dependent originated nature

(7:50 PM) AEN: oic..

(7:51 PM) AEN: but at the same time its spontaneously perfected?

(7:51 PM) Thusness: however it is also important that u arrive at the same conclusion as those zen practitioners

(7:51 PM) AEN: oic

(7:52 PM) Thusness: that is different

(7:52 PM) Thusness: i have already told u many times not to talk about spontaneous arising, liberation or perfection

(7:52 PM) AEN: icic..

(7:53 PM) Thusness: only after the direct insight of anatta and DO can u talk about that

(7:53 PM) Thusness: this I have emphasized many times to u

and written many times

(7:54 PM) AEN: oic..

(7:55 PM) Thusness: this is because after the insight of anatta and DO, u r already purified and clear of the wrong understanding

(7:56 PM) Thusness: ignorance is the cause of suffering, when it dissolves, u r naturally and spontaneously perfected

(7:58 PM) AEN: icic..

(7:58 PM) AEN: but even when there is ignorance, our nature is spontaneously perfected right, just not realised?

(7:59 PM) Thusness: nope..

(7:59 PM) AEN: oic what u mean

(7:59 PM) Thusness: to me yes, to u no

for i know what it meant

(8:01 PM) AEN: oic 




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Likewise that view is rejected in the text malcolm is explaining:

The Basis as Naturally Perfect Nevertheless, first, the assertion of the basis as naturally perfect is confirmed by understanding the four wheels: [Thesis] Naturally perfect reality is unfragmented and whole. [Refutation] The refutation states that this assertion that the basis is naturally perfect is defective. If it is claimed that at the time of the cause [the basis] is naturally perfect, the result also will be naturally perfect, [15b] like the example of butter already being naturally perfect in milk. In the same way, is the cause established

or not established in the result? If it is established, the result becomes a cause. Since a result is then pointless, the cause (deluded sentient beings) would then turn into the result (buddhas). In that case, there would be no need for anyone to make effort. If the cause is not established in the result, the assertion of the natural perfection [of the basis] is defective. Further, if it is said, “[The basis] is established at the time of the cause, but it is not established at the time of the result,” then natural perfection would alternate and become a view that falls into the extremes of existence and nonexistence. If it is said, “Because [the basis] is naturally perfect, it isn’t anything at all,” then this is no different than the Cittamātra assertion that the dependent nature is ultimate. The Six Dimensions Tantra states: Since the cause and result are different, [the basis] too is not naturally

perfect. Likewise, if the cause and result were the same, effort would be meaningless. The two replies to the objection can be inferred. Here they will not be mentioned. Since the essence is pure from the beginning, saṃsāra is not established. [16a] Since the nature arises as a diversity, nirvāṇa is not established. Since the essence and nature are nondual, they are present as an intrinsic nature 64 that has never experienced delusion.

- buddhahood in this life, dzogchen book/text by vimalamitra translated by acarya malcolm smith

[25/7/22, 1:21:46 PM] Soh Wei Yu: on whether enlightenment is reversible, Kyle Dixon wrote this three years ago which I like:

Nirvana is a species of cessation, and is defined as a total cessation of cause for rebirth in the three realms. Once the cause of affliction is exhausted there is no longer a means for it to re-arise, hence buddhahood is irreversible and permanent.

Nirvāṇa is the total exhaustion of one's ignorance regarding the nature of phenomena, and for that reason nirvāṇa is described as a cessation. What ceases is the cause for the further arising and proliferation of delusion regarding the nature of phenomena, which is precisely the cessation of cause for the arising of the cyclical round of rebirth in the three realms we call "saṃsāra."

For this reason, nirvāṇa is said to be 'permanent', because due to the exhaustion of cause for the further proliferation of saṃsāra, saṃsāra no longer has any way to arise.

Tsele Natsok Rangdrol:

You might ask, 'Why wouldn't confusion reoccur as before, after... [liberation has occured]?" This is because no basis [foundation] exists for its re-arising. Samantabhadra's liberation into the basis [wisdom] itself and the yogi liberated through practicing the path are both devoid of any basis [foundation] for reverting back to becoming a cause, just like a person who has recovered from a plague or the fruit of the se tree.

He then states that the se tree is a particular tree which is poisonous to touch, causing blisters and swelling. However once recovered, one is then immune.

Lopon Tenzin Namdak also explains this principle of immunity:

Anyone who follows the teachings of the Buddhas will most likely attain results and purify negative karmic causes. Then that person will be like a man who has caught smallpox in the past; he will never catch it again because he is immune. The sickness of samsara will never come back. And this is the purpose of following the teachings.

and from Lopon Kunga Namdrol:

Buddhahood is a subtractive process; it means removing, gradually, obscurations of affliction and obscurations of knowledge. Since wisdom burns these obscurations away, in the end they have no causes for returning; and further, the causes for buddhahood are permanent leading to a permanent result.

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