This is related to something someone asked days ago.

Was going through old chats a few moment ago.
Here is something from 2006
(10:41 PM) John: AMness to no-self, no-self to emptiness, spontaneous arising
(10:41 PM) John: this must be the steps
(10:42 PM) AEN: icic
(10:42 PM) John: it is no good to skip level
(10:42 PM) AEN: oic
(10:42 PM) John: cause there will be no true understanding.
(10:42 PM) AEN: icic
(10:44 PM) AEN: is AMness a stage tat all buddhists also go through?
(10:44 PM) John: nope...but it is better to go through...i think it is a very important stage. 🙂
(10:45 PM) AEN: icic
(10:45 PM) AEN: how come important?
(10:46 PM) John: without no-self as a yuan, it is really difficult to go beyond AMness and refine our experience and understanding of pristine awareness
(10:46 PM) AEN: oic
(10:46 PM) John: i do not know how to if one did not come into contact with buddhism doctrine of no-self and emptiness
(10:47 PM) John: it is very very subtle
(10:47 PM) AEN: icic
(10:47 PM) John: even one has entered the stream, it still require quite a period for one to stabilize the experience. 🙂
(10:47 PM) AEN: oic
(10:48 PM) John: but mindfulness can lead directly to no-self
(10:48 PM) AEN: icic
(10:48 PM) John: without going through AMness
(10:48 PM) AEN: oic
(10:48 PM) John: I AMness is a mystical path.
(10:48 PM) AEN: shamatha can lead to amness?
(10:49 PM) AEN: icic
(10:49 PM) John: yes but a person if has the correct "yuan" entering into "AMness" will know the No-Self is the way and the correct path.
(10:50 PM) AEN: oic
(10:50 PM) John: it is like finding the correct medicine for a disease....when one taste it, one will know...
(10:50 PM) AEN: icic
(10:50 PM) John: one will know it is the next stage when one experience
(10:51 PM) John: and when no-self is stabilized, one knows about emptiness is the next stage
(10:51 PM) AEN: oic..
(10:52 PM) John: and spontaneous arising though is experienced in each and every stage, one after thorough understanding, one knows that after the purification of no-self and emptiness, it can then be considered the real experience of unconditioned arising...the still water flows...(i like this description)
(10:52 PM) AEN: icic
(10:54 PM) John: u may want to ask longchen himself. 🙂
(10:54 PM) John: it is like a medicine for "I AMness"
(10:54 PM) AEN: ask him about ?
(10:54 PM) AEN: icic
(10:55 PM) John: it is like the natural progression for the next stage
(12:08 AM) John: it is okie to tok about the One Mind. :)
(12:09 AM) John: i tell u this is because i don't want u to think that "I AMness" is wrong.
(12:09 AM) AEN: oic
(12:09 AM) John: it is a natural progression.
(12:09 AM) AEN: icic
(12:10 AM) John: u must also realised that even if one get trained to quite a high stage in mindfulness in sensing and being present, he is unable to fuse into everything
(12:10 AM) AEN: how come?
(12:11 AM) John: but if he experience "I AMness" and go into mindfulness, his progress will be more thorough and profound.
(12:11 AM) John: his understanding will be deeper.
(12:11 AM) John: because he will struggle between the source and no-self and emptiness until true understanding arise
(12:11 AM) AEN: oic..
(12:12 AM) John: from "I AMness" to experiencing presence, one must know anatta and emptiness
(12:13 AM) John: but when when go directly into anatta, one cannot really appreciate...this is what i find out after reading so much books by great meditator.
(12:14 AM) John: why?
(12:14 AM) John: because of the cultural setting
(12:14 AM) John: india has a very strong cultural background on the 'Self'
(12:14 AM) AEN: oic..
(12:15 AM) John: so many great mystics if given the yuan when they experience no-self knows the depth
(12:15 AM) AEN: icic..
(12:15 AM) John: this you must be aware.
(12:16 AM) John: that is why i sense his condition for breaking-through no-self is pretty strong.
(12:16 AM) John: but his yuan in buddhism is strong.
(12:16 AM) John: unlike bob. :P
(12:16 AM) AEN: oic..
(12:16 AM) AEN: how u know bob no yuan with buddhism? lol
(7:03 PM) John: actually it is important to experience the "I AMness"
(7:03 PM) AEN: oic..
(7:04 PM) John: i find that people having such experiences have more profound understanding of the teaching of Buddha if they are able to humble themselves down.
(7:04 PM) AEN: oic
(7:04 PM) John: Because these are the people that are in the best position to tell if they go beyond that stage...
(7:04 PM) John: it is a natural progression.
(7:04 PM) John: and Buddha I would say knows this problem and is one that has gone through similar process. ........... 
For further reading you can also refer to this section from the AtR Guide: Why Realize the I AM (Can I skip straight away to more “advanced stages” like anatta?)
Some people wonder if it is necessary to go through the I AM realization before they realize further stages of insight like Anatta (Stage 5). While possible, it is easy to miss out certain aspects like the luminous Presence. One can have non-dual experiences but it is dry and barren without the luminous taste of Presence-Awareness. Furthermore, as discussed towards the end of this document, the stages are not to be seen as purely linear progression nor as a measurement of importance -- even the first phase of I AM Realization is important as it brings out the luminous essence. Actually, the taste of Stage 1 (I AM) and Stage 4 and 5 is similar, only the insight and view is different. At Stage 4, John Tan wrote that it is the same luminous taste as the direct taste of Mind (called “I AM”) but now extended to all six senses.
“[11:25 AM, 6/6/2020] John Tan: People that do not go through the phases of insights between I AM will not know the difference but it is important to go through I AM to realize the intensity.” - "Frank Yang" Eating Show (Enlightened Mukbang)
In 2009, John Tan wrote:
"Hi Teck Cheong,
What you described is fine and it can be considered vipassana meditation too but you must be clear what is the main objective of practicing that way. Ironically, the real purpose only becomes obvious after the arising insight of anatta. What I gathered so far from your descriptions are not so much about anatta or empty nature of phenomena but are rather drawn towards Awareness practice. So it will be good to start from understanding what Awareness truly is. All the method of practices that you mentioned will lead to a quality of experience that is non-conceptual. You can have non-conceptual experience of sound, taste...etc...but more importantly in my opinion, you should start from having a direct, non-conceptual experience of Awareness (first glimpse of our luminous essence). Once you have a ‘taste’ of what Awareness is, you can then think of ‘expanding’ this bare awareness and gradually understand what does ‘heightening and expanding’ mean from the perspective of Awareness.
Next, although you hear and see ‘non-dual, anatta and dependent origination’ all over the place in An Eternal Now’s forum (the recent Toni Packer’s books you bought are about non-dual and anatta), there is nothing wrong being ‘dualistic’ for a start. Even after direct non-conceptual experience of Awareness, our view will still continue to be dualistic; so do not have the idea that being dualistic is bad although it prevents thorough experience of liberation.
The comment given by Dharma Dan is very insightful but of late, I realized that it is important to have a first glimpse of our luminous essence directly before proceeding into such understanding. Sometimes understanding something too early will deny oneself from actual realization as it becomes conceptual. Once the conceptual understanding is formed, even qualified masters will find it difficult to lead the practitioner to the actual ‘realization’ as a practitioner mistakes conceptual understanding for realization.
“The anatta I realized is quite unique. It is not just a realization of no-self. But it must first have an intuitive insight of Presence. Otherwise will have to reverse the phases of insights.” - John Tan, 2018
“(1:28 AM) Thusness: complete stillness, ultimate, without thoughts
complete certainty. Ramana Maharshi at later phase is talking about that
resting completely as Self
(1:30 AM) Thusness: when he visualized that he is being dead and carried to be burnt
he realises he is not the body. it is not the direct experience of "I AM"
(1:31 AM) AEN: not?
(1:31 AM) Thusness: yes. Not. it is just a glimpse, not that direct experience. That experience is like what a Zen master asking a koan. It is that sort of experience. direct realisation of the 'I'. found it. without thoughts, no inference, entire and complete. just that experience rest in the I. not as everything, and the empty nature is not seen. that experience is correct
(1:34 AM) AEN: icic.. correct?
(1:34 AM) Thusness: yeah. have you read my stage 4
(1:34 AM) AEN: yea, what about it
(1:34 AM) Thusness: i said the sound is exactly like i am. it is not like your experience of sound leh
(1:35 AM) AEN: what do you mean? its totally nondual?
(1:35 AM) Thusness: Non dual is no separation. There are differing degrees. Do you feel like you are God? When one experiences "I AM", he feels like he is God. That sort of experience leh. Can that experience be ordinary? It is transcendental
(1:37 AM) AEN: icic.. just now you said the forum there's this article that was inferring and not direct experience. that is why one is led to the journey into perfecting that state
(1:38 AM) AEN: which one you referring to
(1:39 AM) Thusness: like you do this, shake a bit then you realise that. like it is like a screen… Nothing like that. You cannot understand awareness that way. Either by self enquiry you directly experience it, or koan. there is no such thing as unsure
(1:41 AM) AEN:[Soh: old link no longer working, check out, and also]
(1:41 AM) Thusness: there are few ramana
(1:41 AM) AEN: its ramana maharshi
(1:47 AM) Thusness: if a practitioner can experience like what maharshi experience as SELF in anatta, then he is near full enlightenment liao. :P
(1:47 AM) AEN: oic.. you mean someone who experience anatta may not experience what ramana experience? both are required?
(1:48 AM) Thusness: it is the thoroughness and the depth and degree of luminosity. for non-dual anatta to have that sort of presence, there must be complete effortlessness. because unlike concentrative mode of practice, non-dual or the formless and pathless path requires one to be completely effortless and spontaneous to have total non-dual luminosity
(1:51 AM) AEN: oic.. btw for ramana it's still a concentrative mode of practice rite, like abiding on self
(1:52 AM) Thusness: to me yes
(1:52 AM) AEN: icic..
(1:53 AM) Thusness: the video is good
(1:55 AM) Thusness: if a person can have that experience then go into nondual, it is different. if anatta can be experienced, it will be better
(1:56 AM) AEN: oic.. what do you mean by 'it is different'
(1:57 AM) Thusness: a person can experience non-dual, there is no separation. but there is no such experience like "I AM", so he does not have that 'quality' of experience. however he a practitioner experience that "I AM" then when non-dual, he knows that there is such an experience and all experiences are really like that
(1:59 AM) AEN: oic.. the nondual experience will be more indepth?
(1:59 AM) Thusness: no. it is all the same, but found in all manifestation, not as a stage. i wrote in luminousemptiness [Soh: a good blog -] that if luminosity and emptiness is taught but there is no realisation that it is the great bliss, then one has not realised anything. but chodpa said, not that it is pointless but just a step along the path. so what is it the geat bliss? it is actually a sort of absorption. will talk about that next time. i think i will write about anatta, so that you don't get confused with non-dual. anatta is about no agent. clarity that there is no agent, and because there is no agent, it has to be direct. it is naturally non dual” - Excerpts from I AM Experience/Glimpse/Recognition vs I AM Realization (Certainty of Being)
I noticed that many Buddhists trained under the doctrine of anatta and emptiness seem to be put off by the description of “I AM realization” as it seems to contradict anatta. This will prevent their progress as they will fail to appreciate and realize the depth of luminous presence, and their understanding of anatta and emptiness remains intellectual. It should be understood that the I AM realization does not contradict Anatta realization but complements it. It is the “original face before your parents were born” of Zen, and the unfabricated clarity in Dzogchen that serves as initial rigpa, it is also the initial certainty of Mind discovered in the first of the four yogas of Mahamudra (see: Clarifying the Natural State by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal). Calling it “I AM” is just another name for the same thing, and you should also know that AtR’s definition of I AM is different from Buddhism’s term “conceit of I Am” or Nisargadatta’s I Am. The I AM of AtR is a direct taste and realization of the Mind of Clear Light.
The view gets refined and the taste gets brought to effortless maturity and non-contrivance in all manifestation as one’s insights deepen.
As John Tan also said in 2011:
“John: what is "I AM"
is it a pce? (Soh: PCE = pure consciousness experience, see glossary at the bottom of this document)
is there emotion
is there feeling
is there thought
is there division or complete stillness?
in hearing there is just sound, just this complete, direct clarity of sound!
so what is "I AM"?
Soh Wei Yu: it is the same
just that pure non conceptual thought
John: is there 'being'?
Soh Wei Yu: no, an ultimate identity is created as an afterthought
John: indeed
it is the mis-interpretation after that experience that is causing the confusion
that experience itself is pure conscious experience
there is nothing that is impure
that is why it is a sense of pure existence
it is only mistaken due to the 'wrong view'
so it is a pure conscious experience in thought.
not sound, taste, touch...etc
PCE (Pure Consciousness Experience) is about direct and pure experience of whatever we encounter in sight, sound, taste...
the quality and depth of experience in sound
in contacts
in taste
in scenery
has he truly experience the immense luminous clarity in the senses?
if so, what about 'thought'?
when all senses are shut
the pure sense of existence as it is when the senses are shut.
then with senses open
have a clear understanding
do not compare irrationally without clear understanding” “...There is nothing underneath everything, in the state of I AM, it is just I AM. The rest of the 5 sense doors are shut. Everything else is excluded. It is called I simply because of the koan, nothing else.
What’s experienced is similar to hearing sound without the sense of hearer. So keep the experience but refine the view.” - John Tan to someone in Awakening to Reality Discussion Group, 2019
[5:24 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: What is the most important experience in I M?
[5:24 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: What must happen in I M?
[5:25 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: There is not even an M, just I... complete stillness, just I correct?
[5:26 PM, 4/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Realization, certainty of being.. yes just stillness and doubtless sense of I/Existence
[5:26 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: And what is the complete stillness just I?
[5:26 PM, 4/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Just I, just presence itself
[5:28 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: This stillness absorbs excludes and includes everything into just I. What is that experience called?
[5:29 PM, 4/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: I am everything?
[5:29 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: That experience is non-dual.
[5:30 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: And in that experience actually, there is no external nor internal, there is also no observer or observed.
[5:30 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: Just complete stillness as I.
[5:31 PM, 4/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Ic.. yeah even I AM is nondual
[5:31 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: That is ur first phase of a non dual experience.
[5:32 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: We say this is the pure thought experience in stillness
[5:32 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: Thought realm
[5:33 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: But at that moment we don't know that...we treated that as ultimate reality.
[5:33 PM, 4/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Yeah
In 2007:
(9:12 PM) Thusness: you don't think that "I AMness" is low stage of enlightenment leh
(9:12 PM) Thusness: the experience is the same. it is just the clarity. In terms of insight. Not experience.
(9:13 PM) AEN: icic..
(9:13 PM) Thusness: so a person that has experience "I AMness" and non dual is the same. except the insight is different.
(9:13 PM) AEN: oic
(9:13 PM) Thusness: non dual is every moment there is the experience of presence. or the insight into the every moment experience of presence. because what that prevent that experience is the illusion of self and "I AM" is that distorted view. the experience is the same leh.
(9:15 PM) Thusness: didn’t you see i always say there is nothing wrong with that experience to longchen, jonls... i only say it is skewed towards the thought realm. so don't differentiate but know what is the problem. I always say it is misinterpretation of the experience of presence. not the experience itself. but "I AMness" prevents us from seeing.
…… “It is not the contemplations that are important, it is the view brought to contemplation that makes the difference. For example, there is no actual difference between the Hindu Nirvikalpa samadhi and Vajropama samadhi in terms of its content, but the fact that one is accompanied by insight and the other is not makes the difference between whether it is mundane or liberative.” – Dzogchen Teacher Acarya Malcolm Smith, 2014
In 2009:
“(10:49 PM) Thusness: by the way you know about hokai description and "I AM" is the same experience?
(10:50 PM) AEN: the watcher right
(10:52 PM) Thusness: nope. i mean the shingon practice of the body, mind, speech into one.
(10:53 PM) AEN: oh thats i am experience?
(10:53 PM) Thusness: yes, except that the object of practice is not based on consciousness. what is meant by foreground? it is the disappearance of the background and whats left is it. similarly the "I AM" is the experience of no background and experiencing consciousness directly. that is why it is just simply "I-I" or "I AM"
(10:57 PM) AEN: i've heard of the way people describe consciousness as the background consciousness becoming the foreground... so there's only consciousness aware of itself and thats still like I AM experience
(10:57 PM) Thusness: that is why it is described that way, awareness aware of itself and as itself.
(10:57 PM) AEN: but you also said I AM people sink to a background?
(10:57 PM) Thusness: yes
(10:57 PM) AEN: sinking to background = background becoming foreground?
(10:58 PM) Thusness: that is why i said it is misunderstood. and we treat that as ultimate.
(10:58 PM) AEN: icic but what hokai described is also nondual experience rite
(10:58 PM) Thusness: I have told you many times that the experience is right but the understanding is wrong. that is why it is an insight and opening of the wisdom eyes. there is nothing wrong with the experience of I AM". did i say that there is anything wrong with it?
(10:59 PM) AEN: nope
(10:59 PM) Thusness: even in stage 4 what did I say?
(11:00 PM) AEN: its the same experience except in sound, sight, etc
(11:00 PM) Thusness: sound as the exact same experience as "I AM"... as presence.
(11:00 PM) AEN: icic
(11:00 PM) Thusness: yes” “"I AM" is a luminous thought in samadhi as I-I. Anatta is a realization of that in extending the insight to the 6 entries and exits.” – John Tan, 2018
Excerpt from (a must read!) No Awareness Does Not Mean Non-Existence of Awareness :
(11:15 PM) Thusness: but understanding it wrongly is another matter
can you deny Witnessing?
(11:16 PM) Thusness: can you deny that certainty of being?
(11:16 PM) AEN: no
(11:16 PM) Thusness: then there is nothing wrong with it
how could you deny your very own existence?
(11:17 PM) Thusness: how could you deny existence at all
(11:17 PM) Thusness: there is nothing wrong experiencing directly without intermediary the pure sense of existence
(11:18 PM) Thusness: after this direct experience, you should refine your understanding, your view, your insights
(11:19 PM) Thusness: not after the experience, deviate from the right view, re-enforce your wrong view
(11:19 PM) Thusness: you do not deny the witness, you refine your insight of it
what is meant by non-dual
(11:19 PM) Thusness: what is meant by non-conceptual
what is being spontaneous
what is the 'impersonality' aspect
(11:20 PM) Thusness: what is luminosity.
(11:20 PM) Thusness: you never experience anything unchanging
PM) Thusness: in later phase, when you experience non-dual, there is
still this tendency to focus on a background... and that will prevent ur
progress into the direct insight into the TATA as described in the tata
article. ( )
(11:22 PM) Thusness: and there are still different degree of intensity even you realized to that level.
(11:23 PM) AEN: non dual?
(11:23 PM) Thusness: tada (an article) is more than is phase 5-7
(11:24 PM) AEN: oic..
(11:24 PM) Thusness: it is all about the integration of the insight of anatta and emptiness
PM) Thusness: vividness into transience, feeling what i called 'the
texture and fabric' of Awareness as forms is very important
then come emptiness
(11:26 PM) Thusness: the integration of luminosity and emptiness
(10:45 PM) Thusness: do not deny that Witnessing but refine the view, that is very important
(10:46 PM) Thusness: so far, you have correctly emphasized the importance of witnessing
(10:46 PM) Thusness: unlike in the past, you gave ppl the impression that you are denying this witnessing presence
(10:46 PM) Thusness: you merely deny the personification, reification and objectification
(10:47 PM) Thusness: so that you can progress further and realize our empty nature.
but don't always post what i told you in msn
(10:48 PM) Thusness: in no time, i will become sort of cult leader
(10:48 PM) AEN: oic.. lol
(10:49 PM) Thusness: anatta is no ordinary insight. When we can reach the
level of thorough transparency, you will realize the benefits
(10:50 PM) Thusness: non-conceptuality, clarity, luminosity, transparency,
openness, spaciousness, thoughtlessness, non-locality...all these
descriptions become quite meaningless.
Session Start: Sunday, October 19, 2008
(1:01 PM) Thusness: Yes
(1:01 PM) Thusness: Actually practice is not to deny this 'Jue' (awareness)
(6:11 PM) Thusness: the way you explained as if 'there is no Awareness'.
(6:11 PM) Thusness: People at times mistaken what you are trying to convey.but to correctly understand this 'jue' so that it can be experienced from all moments effortlessly.
(1:01 PM) Thusness: But when a practitioner heard that it is not 'IT', they immediately began to worry because it is their most precious state.
(1:01 PM) Thusness: All the phases written is about this 'Jue' or Awareness.
(1:01 PM) Thusness: However what Awareness really is isn't correctly experienced.
(1:01PM) Thusness: Because it isn't correctly experienced, we say that 'Awareness that you try to keep' does not exist in such a way.
(1:01 PM) Thusness: It does not mean there is no Awareness.”
Soh also wrote that from the perspective of anatta, “Presence is just appearance (however it will not be seen as such prior to anatta realization, instead it will be seen as very Absolute and Ultimate and distinguished from other transient appearances due to immaturity of insight). The so called formless is really another appearance, another manifestation, not any different from the appearance of a color, a sound. A sound is not a sight, but a sound is a manifestation, an appearance. A sight is not a sound, but a sight is a manifestation, an appearance. A sensations is not a sound, but it is manifestation, appearance. The I AM is likewise just another appearance, it is of the Mind door and therefore you say it is not a sight, not a sound. That I AM or Mind (pure sense of formless Presence-Awareness even when five senses are shut) is formless because it is not visually seen nor auditorily heard (because it is the Mind door, not the visual or auditory sense door) but it is still a manifestation. But it is really just another appearance, a manifestation. You do not say Presence allows appearance, for Presence is just appearances in all its diversities. In other words, Presence has not just one particular face but ten thousand faces.”
The view of anatta, dependent origination and emptiness is very different from Advaita, so while you intellectually understand this point, continue to do self enquiry which works on a different set of assumptions. Don't get disturbed by whether Presence is self or not self while doing self enquiry, or on anatta, etc. Just direct realize the Awareness/Presence/I AM first. If you get disturbed by thinking or concepts, you will never come to the Certainty of Being-Existence. As a matter of fact, that doubtless taste of luminous Presence does not contradict anatta, but complements it when properly understood. Merely understanding anatta without the direct taste of Presence is dry and nihilistic or merely intellectual.
However after you realize Presence (I AM), then non dual, then anatta and dependent origination and emptiness, you will start to see and appreciate that Buddha's view and insight is profound. John Tan told me in 2008, “Although the 'teaching of anatta' helps to prevent you from landing into wrong views, the downside is it also denies you from experiencing that deep and ultimate conviction, that certainty beyond doubt of your very own existence -- "I AM'. This is a very important factor for Advaita practitioners. The next important factor is the duration of this non-dual experience must be prolonged; long enough for you to enter into a sort of absorption that the experience becomes 'oceanic'.”
Although I had an intellectual understanding of anatta, emptiness and dependent origination since 2006, I (Soh) did not let it disturb my self-enquiry and my self enquiry between 2008 to February 2010 culminated in Self-Realization.
Furthermore, someone just asked me (Soh) about self-enquiry vs noting path. He asked, “Do you guys recommend self inquiry over mahasi-style noting? If so, why?” I (Soh) wrote in reply: “There is something sweet, beautiful and attractive in Awareness teachings even back when I was beginning to explore spirituality in 2004-2006. I was naturally drawn to it. I was also brought to dharma by my mother and took refuge in the triple gems under Venerable Shen Kai whose lineage is the Ch’an tradition. His teachings is heavily Awareness-centered and it resonated with me then. That was also when I first met John and he told me about his insights. I was very happy when I discovered The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle in 2006, which I felt to be a potent book at bringing readers to a direct glimpse and state of Presence. (This is now still my ‘starter book’ which I pass to my friends and relatives as an introduction to spirituality)
Pure noting would not suit me or my character because it would have felt dry and barren to me. That taste of Presence, a direct taste of Spirit or the Heart seems missing in those practices. Which I was already having glimpses of, as early as 2006-2007 (a few years before doubtless Self-Realization arose)
But through awareness teachings and the practice of self-enquiry when I AM realization arose, all further progressions are based on the maturing of insight in relation to that nondual luminous taste of presence.
However if you are drawn to MCTB approach there is nothing wrong pursuing noting and the path as outlined there. The luminosity aspect is eventually brought forth at the 3rd path of MCTB and matures at 4th and post-4th (Daniel’s exploration of AF practices).
You have to gauge and see for yourself which approach you felt more resonance with.”
Soh Wei Yu
Angelo Gerangelo
shared this days ago in his group:
The practices I recommend are usually momentary and arise from the conditions of the interaction at that moment. I do recommend simple meditation / presence practice on a consistent daily basis. You can use a technique or not (shikan taza). Also it’s good to develop a sense of when inquiry is most relevant and when practicing no practice is most relevant. This can take some time to hone the intuition, but it’s certainly possible. The practice of no-practice is spontaneity, alertness, contact, and innocent regard for momentary flow of life.
A few books I often recommend: Emptiness Dancing, Power of Now, Three Pillars of Zen.
Emotion work such as focusing can be very useful as well.
Jeff Foster talks about acceptance in similar ways to focusing techniques. I like his book The Deepest Acceptance as well.
Any kind of body/energy work such as hatha yoga, qi gong, tai chi also valuable.
Try things and feel into what you resonate with the most. Trust your own innate awake nature, it knows... it got you this far
That’s what’s coming to mind currently.
Michael Zaurov
To learn focusing I highly recommend the book The Power of Focusing by Ann Weiser Cornell. It's short and practical and gives you all the tools you need for emotional work (which i've found to be very very important for awakening)
Angelo Gerangelo
I also added this:
In my experience the most important aspect of your approach to awakening and realization is the commitment to it-not learning about it, understanding it, or even attaching rigidly to specific practices such as meditation. This means an intent and commitment to break through the barriers of what you take yourself to be. If you prioritize that, the right practices, teachers, and life events will coalesce to deliver it. Trusting in realization, the process itself, trusting the intuition that you aren’t here to suffer.
Call it a heart level commitment. It’s willingness to go through what you’ll have to got through to let reality sort you out, even if you don’t like some aspects of it.
Be willing to let go of any beliefs and views you have, even those about spirituality.
This is the price of admission.
Thomas Arta
Michael Zaurov
yes to Ann Weiser Cornell. Focusing is an incredibly powerful tool. Thanks for mentioning this.
   Soh Wei Yu
I havent read emptiness dancing, but i can recommend the power of now and three pillars of zen
Angelo Gerangelo
Hey Chris. There are very good answers here to your question. I would take all of them into consideration.
Here’s something that may or may not be helpful.
It’s very common to approach awakening through analytical means initially. Indeed it’s almost impossible not to. The fact that you recognize that it’s not going to get you where you want to go is more profound than maybe you realize. While it’s frustrating, your instinct to go beyond that analytical approach, especially for initial awakening, is right on the money. The good news is that going beyond thought, that will always happen right now. If you think in terms of strategies that will take some time, that’s sort of delaying things and not recognizing the opportunity immediately here.
For instance when you notice you are contemplating a specific topic about spirituality, whether it’s about how you can wake up, what is the best technique, what book should I read etc, even the thought “I’m too logical”, THAT is your opportunity! Recognize the fact that you just recognized a thought. The fact that you recognized it as a thought means you aren’t identified with it at least in that moment. So then clarify the thought, like speak it internally. “I wish I knew the best book to read about Buddhism” or “I wander what I’m doing something wrong” Doesn’t matter the actual thought, just that you clearly see it as a thought.
Now once you do that, you can Inquire in several ways. You can try and see which seem to get traction (meaning lead to a thoughtless state, an awake gap, a living movement in consciousness that is not landing on any thought and yet you are still totally alert). Even if this is for a few seconds, you’re on the right track. Keep at it.
So once you are in Contact with that thought here are some inquiry questions. Obviously you aren’t looking for a thought answer only experiential. If you find yourself answering with thought that’s fine, just recognize that next thought as the point of inquiry and start over.
What is this thought made out of?
Can I come into contact with that thought stuff ?
These two questions can be regarded as if you were watching thoughts like images on a movie screen. It would be as if you are walking closer and closer to that screen like you wanted to see what that light stuff is that’s shining on the screen. With a movie screen you could walk right up until it blurs out, try it with a thought. You can even try to turn right around into that source of light.
You can ask:
How would it feel if I never resolved this question or thought? , then look/feel there.
What if stepped off the end of that question/thought and never looked back? Try it
What if I ask and then had no desire to answer bc the answer would be another thought? Where can you look now?
You can ask what is in the gap between this thought and the one right before, then put your attention into that gap and keep it there.
You can ask who is it that wants to resolve this question?
And try to find that one (me) experientially like you dropped a pin on the carpet and you got down on your hands and knees to look
You can ask what right HERE is not a concept or a thought?
You can ask what does a thought form IN? Then watch for the next thought to form and then watch it dissipate. What is that medium in which that occurred?
Ask: who’s thoughts are these? Then look for that one?
A couple of important points.
One is it’s actually not hard to find that gap and even stay in it for a few seconds. What deters most people, is we actually begin to feel uncomfortable if we really work it this, especially at first. You can have an intense physiologic reaction or a fear respond sometimes. Often before we even realize that’s what’s happening we just get distracted and go do some thing else. So it can be valuable to work past emotional or physiological responses. Meaning just recognize them and let them be but don’t let them deter you.
On the contrary it can be “suspiciously” neutral experience without thoughts. At least initially. The thinking mind can’t do anything with thoughtless awakeness so it deems it unimportant or even thinks it didn’t happen. Don’t let that deter you, keep on. It won’t stay neutral. Rather, it will remain neutral in one sense, but that opens a very important space for some shifts to occur that you can’t think your way into.
Good luck. Let me know if any of that is helpful or need more pointers
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“Regarding whether it is important to go through I AM realization or can we skip to anatta -- John Tan and I and Sim Pern Chong have had differing and evolving opinions about this over the years (I remember Sim Pern Chong saying he thinks people can skip it altogether, John also wondered if it is possible or advisable as certain AF people seem to have skipped it but experience luminosity), however after witnessing the progress of people it seems to us that those who went into anatta without the I AM realization tend to miss out the luminosity and intensity of luminosity. And then they will have to go through another phase. For those with I AM realization, the second stanza of anatta comes very easily, in fact the first aspect to become more apparent. Nowadays John and my opinion is that it is best to go through the I AM phase, then nondual and anatta..
There was also the worry that by leading people into the I AM, they can get stuck there. (As John Tan and Sim Pern Chong was stuck there for decades)
But I have shown that it is possible to progress rather quickly (in eight months) from I AM to anatta. So the being stuck is due to lack of right pointers and directions, not inherently an issue with I AM.” - Soh, 2020
On a related topic, John Tan wrote in Dharma Overground back in 2009,
“Hi Gary,
It appears that there are two groups of practitioners in this forum, one adopting the gradual approach and the other, the direct path. I am quite new here so I may be wrong.
My take is that you are adopting a gradual approach yet you are experiencing something very significant in the direct path, that is, the ‘Watcher’. As what Kenneth said, “You're onto something very big here, Gary. This practice will set you free.” But what Kenneth said would require you to be awaken to this ‘I’. It requires you to have the ‘eureka!’ sort of realization. Awaken to this ‘I’, the path of spirituality becomes clear; it is simply the unfolding of this ‘I’.
On the other hand, what that is described by Yabaxoule is a gradual approach and therefore there is downplaying of the ‘I AM’. You have to gauge your own conditions, if you choose the direct path, you cannot downplay this ‘I’; contrary, you must fully and completely experience the whole of ‘YOU’ as ‘Existence’. Emptiness nature of our pristine nature will step in for the direct path practitioners when they come face to face to the ‘traceless’, ‘centerless’ and ‘effortless’ nature of non-dual awareness.
Perhaps a little on where the two approaches meet will be of help to you.
Awakening to the ‘Watcher’ will at the same time ‘open’ the ‘eye of immediacy’; that is, it is the capacity to immediately penetrate discursive thoughts and sense, feel, perceive without intermediary the perceived. It is a kind of direct knowing. You must be deeply aware of this “direct without intermediary” sort of perception -- too direct to have subject-object gap, too short to have time, too simple to have thoughts. It is the ‘eye’ that can see the whole of ‘sound’ by being ‘sound’. It is the same ‘eye’ that is required when doing vipassana, that is, being ‘bare’. Be it non-dual or vipassana, both require the opening of this 'eye of immediacy'.”
Thusness: Ok, there are two things you must know. In the three (or four) dharma seals, the universal seals (characteristics of existence), there is the understanding of no-self, there is impermanence, there is suffering and there is nirvana. Entering from the door of impermanence is different from entering the door of no-self.
Participant 1: If I observe how the thoughts behave and realise it from there?
Thusness: Now you see, there are two things. One thing is that when you observe the arising and the passing away of the moment. Of every arising of your thoughts. When you observe the arising and passing away, it can also lead to the understanding of no-self, but from the door of impermanence. This means that Self is seen as a series: Self1, Self2, Self3, that does not remain, from moment to moment it changes. You see what I mean?
Participant 1: Yep.
Thusness: However, a person that enters through the door of no-self, means understanding no-self directly, he enters through luminosity. That is more like a mirror bright, but he cannot understand the luminosity due to momentum, then he separates the external world and the internal world. But the no-self itself will break this mirror, then he will see that everything is the Mind. Do you get it? One is from the luminosity door. No-self leads to the mirror bright, and then breaking the mirror and then experience everything as the nature. The other one that leads to no-self is through the understanding of impermanence.
Participant 1: {inaudible}
Thusness: Ok. Now, the understanding of these two is important, it must later be fused into one to understand what Emptiness about. This means there is no point of reference, there is no centricity, there is no where, there is no when, there is no I, but there is manifestation all and everywhere. If you enter the gate of impermanence, later you have to experience no-self from luminosity, then you have to fuse the two, then you have to stabilise the two, then you can understand Emptiness.
Participant 1: It’s like, I tend to want to see and perceive things without concept through the door of the mantra, the momentum. How does that relate?
Thusness: If you want to do that, you are going into mindfulness. That means you are slowly from impermanence seeing that things arises and ceases, leading to no-self, and then leading you to insight. That is the luminosity aspect already.”
For those interested in Vipassana practice, see chapter Vipassana, John Tan’s Style but keep in mind that the luminosity, and luminous manifestation needs to be brought out. - The longer AtR guide

update: One more quote, this one from 2010:
(4:39:30 PM) Thusness: if you do not see the cause of 'division', can there be non-dual and anatta experience? without the experience of "I AMness", your experience of non-dual and anatta will be different.
(4:40:37 PM) AEN: oic
(4:40:38 PM) AEN: how different
(4:40:58 PM) Thusness: very different in terms of intensity and realization. most will skew towards first stanza. the directness and immediacy is also different. the experience will re-surface if you practice non-dual dropping, but not by way of one-pointedness concentration
Sim Pern Chong
    Yah... going through I AM stage first before realising No-self.. will provide greater depth to the No-self insight.
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