John tan commented on one of Adyashanti’s videos back in 2020, “ It is a good video but a bit long.  There is also genuine distinction between All as Self which is Non-dual but substantialist and no-self that is Non-dual and non-substantialist.  One does not need to take side but have to b objective and unbiased.  Hence clearly discerning the differences and implications r key to understanding how the mind reifies and how confusions arise.  Therefore on top of experiences which is quite difficult to differentiate clearly the two in experience (all as Self and No-Self) and authentication of pristine consciousness in real time, clearly seeing how the layers obscures is part and parcel of maturing our experiences and insights.”


"They point to different insights, and there are different insights even for nondual, substantialist and nonsubstantialist. David loy isnt clear about this point

His original nonduality book, he seems to confuse anatta with no mind state. Not clear about anatta as realization

He is conflating all is self with no self insight

The implications are huge [different view and realization]

(Soh: Read this article on the two different types of nondual insight, one of John Tan's 'must read' articles: 4) Realization and Experience and Non-Dual Experience from Different Perspectives )

His latest book seems to be clear about anatta realization i think

I wrote back in 2011 April,

Originally posted by An Eternal Now:

This is why I said most masters are still at the phase of substantial non-dual.

As for David Loy, he is a little unique. It could be that he has realized Anatta... but his insight is shadowed by his attempt to link up the religions (he was doing inter-religious comparison). Therefore he was unable to differentiate substantial non-dualism from anatta. In his book 'Non-duality', this is clearly the case.

However it is also likely that he is still in substantial non-dual phase.

Thusness replied:

Wow...If I am not wrong, David Loy is a qualified Zen Teacher and a Ph. D in Philosophy.  For you to make such a comment , you must be doubtless of your realization.

I am glad of your confidence and clarity of your realization.  This is the difference between having insights (clear seeing of the nature of experiential reality) and having mere experiences of no-mind and non-dual.

In my opinion, even though the insight is clear, to be like what Ted has remarked in the article Where There Is No Cold or Heat will still take some time.  Practice diligently and enter deeply into the 6 entires and exits "where there is no cold or heat".  This experience too can be as natural as breathing in our moment to moment of experience if we embrace the right view fully.  Have no doubt about it. :-)


But not everyone that realises anatta are clear about the different phases of insights, the impact of view experience realization etc.

The same for alan watts although his insights are clear

[12:16 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: U have to understand Alan Watts equates Taoism, Buddhism and Advaita as the same because he sees the beauty of unity.
[12:16 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Also, he sees a state of no-mind in all the teachings
[12:16 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Sounds like david loy
[12:16 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Yes
[12:17 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: This is not that they do not have the insights
[12:17 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: But they see the beauty
[12:18 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: However they may not differentiate insight from experience and view
[12:18 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: And may not see the importance of that...
[12:18 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: So it depends
[12:19 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: All have different conditions, how one penetrates the teaching differs.
[12:20 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: I find Alan Watts very insightful though his life doesn't reflect
[12:20 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Lol
[12:21 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Actually I m still looking for texts that can differentiate them clearly
[12:21 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Or books
[12:22 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: On fact Malcolm is already very unique
[12:22 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Lol
[12:22 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Kyle also
[12:24 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Dzogchen however seems to equate DO from only the afflictive point of view unlike the gelug, they put lots of emphasis on DO not from afflictive perspective.
[12:25 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: DO is the king of reasoning, it is the middle path and the essence of Buddhism.
[12:26 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: texts that can differentiate advaita from emptiness/D.O.?
[12:26 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Emptiness cannot b understood apart from DO.
[12:27 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Texts or books that and differentiate experience from insight and present the view in relation to anatta experience.
[12:27 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: oic..
[12:28 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: The same experience when experienced from substantialist view will end up subsuming.
[12:30 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: But we see buddhism many spoke of a state of no mind but using DO and Emptiness not as the presentation of the right view but as a path of disassociation towards an ultimate awareness.
[12:30 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Teacher cheb seems to b that approach too.
[12:30 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: yeah..
[12:30 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: In fact Theravada teaching is more anatta
[12:30 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: ven. hui lu seems different in that regard
[12:31 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: in that video he criticised other religion eternalism and said "permanence" is simply the emptiness and dependent arising of impermanence
[12:31 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: However they r anatta in no-self but view isn't strong
[12:31 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Yes ven hui Lu is quite good
[12:31 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: oic..
[12:32 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: What I din see in hui Lu is it remains as wisdom teaching
[12:33 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Experience wise I prefer that 王洪亮?
[12:33 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: "What I din see in hui Lu is it remains as wisdom teaching" what do u mean
[12:34 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Although hui Lu comment is good and clear, anatta isn't clear.
[12:35 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: The experience no mind due to anatta insight then into DO and Emptiness is important.
[12:35 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: "

大 悟之人不见法。他没有任何东西,因为法法本空,法法不相到。也不见身。为什么?四大本空,五阴本来就没有“我”。所以,什么叫做照见五蕴皆空?色即是空, 受想行识即是空。为什么讲色即是空?色即是空,空就是佛性,色就是佛性的展现。所以,真正的悟道的人,他的心性流露在一切缘起法里面,即于生灭,即得不生 不灭的无为法,也没有所谓有为跟无为,刹那即见永恒,永恒就是刹那,平等不二。 因此我们要了解:不见法,也不见身。身,地水火风所构成的,四大本来就空,五蕴——色受想行识,本来就是不可得。一切法,智者了知一切法,本来就无我。这无我里面,当下就是佛性。所以,佛法讲否定的时候,凡所有相,皆是假相。讲肯定的时候,尘尘都是真心,每一个颗粒微尘都是真心的影现,一切法全部都是真。 当他破除无明烦恼、破除执着、破除分别的时候,完全都是真心展现的,尘尘尽是真,没有一法不是真心,这个是站在肯定的角度。站在否定的角度,是凡所有相不 可得。站在本体界的角度,凡所有相,都是本体界的展现,都是清净心的影现,没有一法不是真实。"

- ven hui lu
[12:36 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: this is still more like nondual, not anatta?
[12:36 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: I got to read
[12:36 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: What is that Zen teacher name?
[12:36 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: 洪文亮?
[12:36 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Yes
[12:37 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: U see hui Lu is speaking from highest form of teaching
[12:38 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Actually very good
[12:38 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: U should pass your mom
[12:39 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: ok
[12:40 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: I also like 洪文亮。 i think these two, hong wen liang and hui lu fa shi are the only chinese masters i really resonate lol
[12:41 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Yeah only two that is really clear
[12:41 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: But u cannot read it from ur understanding
[12:41 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: It is not suitable for many ppl
[12:41 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: What do u mean
[12:42 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: This text is very good. But not suitable for many ppl.
[12:43 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: It involves anatta insight, emptiness and DO, clarity from anatta perspective.
[12:44 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: oic..
[12:46 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: He should say 尘尘假相都是真心
[12:48 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: The text that I wrote for u to teacher Chen, paste it here
[12:52 AM, 5/19/2020] Soh Wei Yu: 深入观行, 婆酰迦经。
了悟经旨, 直指无心。
无执能所, 忘却身心。
方知见性, 只需明相。
明相见性, 见色明心。
真心空性, 随缘显相。
迷时幻相, 悟时真心。
山河大地, 原是法身。
色声香味, 尽是妙心。
[12:52 AM, 5/19/2020] John Tan: Lol


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. :)
2 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Though u repeatly saying 'no background' , 'no background' .... but it is dis very 'Background' ( which u deny and refuse to see ) - when followed to its end - dat is the Supreme Himself !

  2. Soh Says:

    Background is really just the first step in Advaita. As Rupert Spira points out, the background and foreground distinction collapses in further stages of realization. But Buddhism points to an even deeper realization than what Rupert narrated.

    "If we are absorbed in a movie it may seem at first that the screen lies behind the image. Likewise, if we are so captivated by experience that we overlook the simple experience of being aware or awareness itself, we may first locate it in the background of experience. In this first step, being aware or awareness itself is recognised as the subjective witness of all objective experience.

    Looking more closely we see that the screen is not just in the background of the image but entirely pervades it. Likewise, all experience is permeated with the knowing with which it is known. It is saturated with the experience of being aware or awareness itself. There is no part of a thought, feeling, sensation or perception that is not infused with the knowing of it. This second realisation collapses, at least to a degree, the distinction between awareness and its objects.

    In the third step, we understand that it is not even legitimate to claim that knowing, being aware or awareness itself pervades all experience, as if experience were one thing and awareness another. Just as the screen is all there is to an image, so pure knowing, being aware or awareness itself is all there is to experience. All there is to a thought is thinking, and all there is to thinking is knowing. All there is to an emotion is feeling, and all there is to feeling is knowing. All there is to a sensation is sensing, and all there is to sensing is knowing. All there is to a perception is perceiving, and all there is to perceiving is knowing. Thus, all there is to experience is knowing, and it is knowing that knows this knowing. Being all alone, with nothing in itself other than itself with which it could be limited or divided, knowing or pure awareness is whole, perfect, complete, indivisible and without limits.

    This absence of duality, separation or otherness is the experience of love or beauty, in which any distinction between a self and an object, other or world has dissolved. Thus, love and beauty are the nature of awareness. In the familiar experience of love or beauty, awareness is tasting its own eternal, infinite reality. It is in this context that the painter Paul Cézanne said that art gives us the ‘taste of nature’s eternity’.
    - Rupert Spira, Being Aware of Being Aware"