Soh replied to someone:

Actually self enquiry is not just to realise the lack of a personal self, but Pure Presence. 

As my mentor Thusness/John Tan said:

“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'.”

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

He also said:

“Hi Mr. H,

In addition to what you wrote, I hope to convey another dimension of Presence to you. That is Encountering Presence in its first impression, unadulterated and full blown in stillness.

So after reading it, just feel it with your entire body-mind and forgot about it. Don't let it corrupt your mind.😝

Presence, Awareness, Beingness, Isness are all synonyms. There can be all sorts of definitions but all these are not the path to it. The path to it must be non-conceptual and direct. This is the only way.

When contemplating the koan "before birth who am I", the thinking mind attempts to seek into it's memory bank for similar experiences to get an answer. This is how the thinking mind works - compare, categorize and measure in order to understand.

However, when we encounter such a koan, the mind reaches its limit when it tries to penetrate its own depth with no answer. There will come a time when the mind exhausts itself and come to a complete standstill and from that stillness comes an earthshaking BAM!

I. Just I.

Before birth this I, a thousand years ago this I, a thousand later this I. I AM I.

It is without any arbitrary thoughts, any comparisons. It fully authenticates it's own clarity, it's own existence, ITSELF in clean, pure, direct non-conceptuality. No why, no because.

Just ITSELF in stillness nothing else.

Intuit the vipassana and the samantha. Intuit the total exertion and realization. The essence of message must be raw and uncontaminated by words.

Hope that helps!” - John Tan, 2019

Also, Angelo wrote: 

Inquiry for First Awakening

The inquiry that leads to first awakening is a funny thing.  We want to know “how” precisely to do that inquiry, which is completely understandable.  The thing is that it’s not wholly conveyable by describing a certain technique.  Really it’s a matter of finding that sweet spot where surrender and intention meet.  I will describe an approach here, but it’s important to keep in mind that in the end, you don’t have the power (as what you take yourself to be) to wake yourself up.  Only Life has that power.  So as we give ourselves to a certain inquiry or practice it’s imperative that we remain open.  We have to keep the portals open to mystery, and possibility.  We have to recognize that the constant concluding that “no this isn’t it, no this isn’t it either...” is simply the activity of the mind.  Those are thoughts.  If we believe a single thought then we will believe the next one and on and on.  If however we recognize that, “oh that doubt is simply a thought arising now,” then we have the opportunity to recognize that that thought will subside on its own... and yet “I” as the knower of that thought am still here!  We can now become fascinated with what is here once that thought (or any thought) subsides.  What is in this gap between thoughts?  What is this pure sense of I, pure sense of knowing, pure sense of Being?  What is this light that can shine on and illuminate a thought (as it does thousands of times per day), and yet still shines when no thought is present.  It is self illuminating.  What is the nature of the one that notices thoughts, is awake and aware before, during, and after a thought, and is not altered in any way by any thought?  Please understand that when you ask these questions you are not looking for a thought answer, the answer is the experience itself.

When we start to allow our attention to relax into this wider perspective we start to unbind ourselves from thought.  We begin to recognize the nature of unbound consciousness by feel, by instinct.  This is the way in.

At first we may conclude that this gap, this thoughtless consciousness is uninteresting, unimportant.  It feels quite neutral, and the busy mind can’t do anything with neutral so we might be inclined to purposely engage thoughts again.  If we recognize that “not interesting, not important, not valuable” are all thoughts and simply return to this fluid consciousness, it will start to expand.  But there is no need to think about expansion or watch for it.  It will do this naturally if we stay with it.   If you are willing to recognize every thought and image in the mind as such, and keep your attention alert but relaxed into the “stuff” of thought that is continuous with the sense of I, it will all take care of itself.  Just be willing to suspend judgement.  Be willing to forego conclusions.  Be willing to let go of all monitoring of your progress, because these are all thoughts.  Be open to the pure experience.  Just return again and again to this place of consciousness with no object or pure sense of I Am.  If you are willing to do this it will teach itself to you in a way that neither I nor anyone I’ve ever seen can explain, but it is more real than real.

Happy Travels.

Also, recently I shared in another group: 

Soh Wei Yu


Top contributor

Also an admin msged me

“I think he is practicing self-enquiry incorrectly based on his description, focusing on the sense gates instead of discovering his true self/luminous pure consciousness. Most people tend to focus outward instead of inward when attempting to realize I AM.”



Geoffrey Winslow


Soh Wei Yuthanks for the pointers - though "he should be discovering his luminous awareness" - seems obvious that this is what I want, but not really actionable practice guidance



Chris Wilson

Geoffrey Winslow I think one point from that comment might have been to kind of close out the other senses and put your attention in the thought consciousness gate.

What's crazy is we end up looking for some event or big bang revelation that we can talk about. Perhaps, while watching the thoughts and doing inquiry, let the goal be more to rest as the space between the thoughts. See if there is anything you can even say about it. That amness or beingness is so close and simple that we easily overlook it trying to find something that matches a description.



Soh Wei Yu


Top contributor

Geoffrey Winslow Try




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