Answering someone’s question: “ Thanks for the clarification Soh. So you think an arahat from sutra and dzogchen buddhahood would have the same realization?”


“Acarya malcolm smith has said to me before that dzogchen goal of buddhahood is same as other buddhism (or particularly how mahayana buddhism is defined, and dzogchen is one type of mahayana buddhism, as with vajrayana, the 'uncommon mahayana')

which is defined as the elimination of the twin obscurations - afflictive and knowledge obscurations

"Two obscurations

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Two obscurations (Tib. སྒྲིབ་པ་གཉིས་, dribpa nyi; Wyl. sgrib pa gnyis) — emotional and cognitive obscurations.

Emotional obscurations are defined according to their essence, cause and function.

In essence, they are the opposite of the six paramitas, as described in the Gyü Lama:

"Thoughts such as avarice and so on,

These are the emotional obscurations."

Their cause is grasping at a personal ego, or the “self of the individual”.

They function to prevent liberation from samsara.

Cognitive obscurations are also defined according to their essence, cause and function.

In essence, they are thoughts that involve the three conceptual ‘spheres’ of subject, object and action. The Gyü Lama says:

"Thoughts that involve the three spheres,

These are the cognitive obscurations."

Their cause is grasping at phenomena as truly existent, or, in other words, the “self of phenomena”.

Their function is to prevent complete enlightenment."

this is how mahayana understands the difference between sravaka and buddha's enlightenment, as stated in the very famous lankavatara sutra:

"“...Therefore, Mahamati, the assurances given to shravakas and bodhisattvas do not differ. Mahamati, what doesn’t differ is the taste of liberation when shravakas and pratyeka-buddhas or buddhas and tathagatas get rid of the obstruction of passion, not when they get rid of the obstruction of knowledge. Mahamati, the obstruction of knowledge is purified when they see that dharmas have no self. The obstruction of passion is removed prior to this when they become accustomed to seeing that persons have no self. It is when the seventh consciousness ceases that they are liberated from the obstruction of dharmas. And it is when the habit-energy of the repository consciousness ceases that their purification is complete.”"

here's how jamgon mipham describes it.


What follows is a short explanation of the way Mipam presents the structure of the Buddhist path to awakening. According to him, we can only go so far in the Lesser Vehicle, realizing the lack of a personal self based on its path, but without the Great Vehicle, we will not come to fully realize the lack of self (that is, emptiness) with respect to all phenomena. In other words, those in the Lesser Vehicle realize only part of emptiness (the lack of a personal self) but do not realize the entire scope of emptiness. They hang on to an ultimate foundation of reality (the fundamental elements of reality, or dharmas), whereas there is actually no such foundation. Therefore, according to Mipam, one cannot become a buddha based solely on the Lesser Vehicle path; becoming a buddha is the result of the Great Vehicle. Nevertheless, realizing the lack of a personal self is enough to free us from samsara, because in doing so, we relinquish the obscurations of the afflictive emotions. The afflictive emotions can be included within the “three poisons” of attachment, aversion, and delusion.

These afflictive obscurations function to prevent liberation, and they are tied in with the apprehension of a personal self. Based on the notion of such a self, we become attached (to me and mine) and averse (to what is other). This notion of self keeps the wheel of samsara rolling, because it perpetuates the distorted framework through which we selfishly act out attachment and aversion, thus sowing the seeds of suffering. Afflictive obscurations have two aspects: a gross, imputed aspect and a more subtle, innate aspect. According to Mipam, the imputed aspects are relinquished on the first “ground” (Tib. sa, Skt. bhūmi) when you directly perceive the suchness of reality. This experiential realization is called “the path of seeing.”

The imputed aspects of the afflictive obscurations are learned and not inborn like the innate aspects. Imputed aspects involve distortions that are explicitly conceptual, as opposed to the perceptual distortions that comprise the innate aspects. The difference between the imputed and innate aspects can be understood as something like the difference between software and hardware: the innate aspects are embedded more deeply in one’s mind-stream and are thus more difficult to eliminate. Imputed ego-clinging refers to imputing qualities to the self that are not there—namely, apprehending the self as a singular, permanent, and independent entity. This is overcome on the first bodhisattva ground in a direct, nonconceptual experience of reality that is the culminating insight of analysis. Nevertheless, the more subtle, innate aspect of ego-clinging hangs on.

The innate ego-clinging, as the bare sense of self that is imputed on the basis of the five aggregates, is more difficult to remove. Rather than construing qualities to the self such as singularity or permanence, it is a more subtle feeling of simply “I am” when, for instance, we wake up in the morning. This innate sense of self is a deeply rooted, instinctual habit. It thus involves more than just imputed identity; it is a deeper experiential orientation of distorted subjectivity. Although analysis into the nature of the self paves the way for it to be overcome, it cannot fall away by analysis alone. Rather, it has to be relinquished through cultivating the path of meditation. According to Mipam, there are no innate aspects of the afflictive obscurations left on the eighth ground. However, the afflictive emotions are only one of two types of obscurations, the other being cognitive obscurations.

Cognitive obscurations are nothing less than conceptuality: the threefold conceptualization of agent, object, and action. Conceptuality is tied in to apprehending a self of phenomena, which includes mistaking phenomena as real, objectifying phenomena, and simply perceiving dualistically. Such conceptualization serves to obstruct omniscience. Based on the Great Vehicle, these cognitive obscurations can be completely relinquished; thereby, the result of the Great Vehicle path culminates in not merely escaping samsara, as in the Lesser Vehicle, but in becoming an omniscient buddha. According to Mipam, up to the seventh ground, the realization (of the twofold selflessness) and abandonment (of the twofold obscurations) are the same in the Great and Lesser Vehicles.

As with the Great Vehicle, he maintains that accomplishing the path of the Lesser Vehicle entails the realization of the selflessness of phenomena, to see that phenomena are empty. Those who accomplish the Lesser Vehicle path also realize the selflessness of phenomena, because their realization of emptiness with respect to a person is one instance of realizing the emptiness of phenomena. The final realization of the Lesser Vehicle path, however, is incomplete. Mipam compares it to taking a small gulp of the water of the ocean: we can say that those who realize emptiness in the Lesser Vehicle have drunk the water of the ocean, just not all of it.150 The final realization of the bodhisattva’s path in the Great Vehicle, however, is the full realization of emptiness, like drinking the entire ocean.

- Jamgon Mipam: His Life and Teachings"

“John Tan

Just free ourselves from sense of self first, then it is probably 60% done. After then gradually to all notions into supreme purity.

 · Reply · 1d

Arthur Deller

John Tan I like that. Where did the 60% factor in!?!? No self is true. For whom would the other 40% apply. 😎

 · Reply · 1d

John Tan

Arthur Deller an arbitrary number...haha. "For whom" is within the 60%. If we start from other notions like cause and effect, will most likely end up as intellectual entertainment.😝

 · Reply · 1d

Arthur Deller

in the words of Maximus. “Are you not entertained”.

I’ve had enough intellectual stimulation to last an eon or so.

In thinking no thinker

Thought with no thinking.

 · Reply · 1d

John Tan

If both thinker and thinking are deconstructed, why do you keep that thought?

 · Reply · 1d

Arthur Deller

John Tan I don’t. They just come and go. Like pixels. Fuzzy characters with no landing place.

 · Reply · 1d

John Tan

Arthur Deller then notion of "coming", "landing" and "going" must be subjected to the same scrutiny like thinker, thinking and thought.

 · Reply · 1d · Edited

Arthur Deller

John Tan I had a feeling that you picked up on that. Was gonna go into the non-arising via DO, but my brain 🧠 said it isn’t necessary.

 · Reply · 1d

Arthur Deller

John Tan you just lit a 🔥. In deep samadhi and insight meditation that’s very clear. On the go throughout the day while interacting, not as much.

 · Reply · 1d

John Tan

Arthur Deller distinguishing appearances and imputed notions added to mere appearances is a life long journey and indeed, daily engagement is the real meditation.

 · Reply · 1d · Edited

Arthur Deller

John Tan Hence the other 40%. Nice.

 · Reply · 1d” -[0]=AZW9RMcYxD4U-putKbNMFwVgGJ1iKh64xsoaT3Tc3EzfVLkeuA5VG4CquWq5ipwB8kPc1Wbbj1joppYUOo7ScaavSsmh_FaCwwogRuobR1hhpoNbrWMOTtQla5jMo00gw6akvIMQebu92niQQFO-vKUCtXSP5eM-vMSfM8WiOWAx5Of804uq1Q3AXWtzLG72mSo&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R 

[17/6/18, 6:53:49 PM] John Tan: Chariot analogy is next step of anatta

[17/6/18, 6:54:32 PM] John Tan: It is THE view for practitioners that has arisen insight of anatta

[17/6/18, 6:54:40 PM] John Tan: But there is a catch

[17/6/18, 6:54:48 PM] John Tan: It is in the way it is presented

[17/6/18, 6:56:00 PM] John Tan: In fact anatta is the most key and base insight after knowing dzogchen, mahamudra, madhyamaka, zen

[17/6/18, 6:56:46 PM] John Tan: you need anatta to beam through dzogchen and mahamudra but to have a stable base you need some further insight into mmk [Soh: Nagarjuna’s teaching on Mūlamadhyamakakārikā].

“Entities do not exist In their causes, 

in their conditions, 

in aggregations of many things, 

or in individual things.

Therefore, all entities are empty.”

― Nāgārjuna

Sevenfold reasoning of the Chariot

“There is no chariot which is other than its parts

There is no chariot which is the same as its parts

There is no chariot which possesses its parts

There is no chariot which depends on its parts

There is no chariot upon which the parts depend

There is no chariot which is the collection of its parts

There is no chariot which is the shape of its parts”

- Chandrakirti, on 'mere designation'


Soh: Btw u saw my email regarding teacher chen summary

Thusness: i do not know

Thusness: i don't want to comment on teacher chen

Thusness: it is disrespectful

Thusness: what summary

Thusness: the diagram?

Soh: He says hinayana realise anatta, then mahayana arise the realization of emptiness

Thusness: no

Soh: Then finally the realization of equality arise

Thusness: he sees hinayana as "I am"

Soh: That's like what u said right I mean sounds like the process he went through

Soh: Oic..

Thusness signed in.

Soh: The diagram sounds like a process he went through himself

Thusness: Yeah

Thusness: like polishing mirror

Soh: What u mean

Thusness: 证悟觉体 (realizing the substance of awareness) as the final destination of theravada practice (comments by Soh: I have seen more than one Mahayana teacher made this mistaken equation of theravada as I AM and mahayana as One Mind)

Thusness: maybe that is the practice and realization in modern time

Thusness: but not during Buddha's time i am sure.

Soh: I see

Thusness: for anyone talking about that will kena (get scolded) from

Soh: Lol

Thusness: Theravada is the realisation of anatta

Thusness: that must be very clear

Thusness: it is not substantialist non dual

Soh: Oic..

Thusness: only the clarity of anatta and clearly seeing what it means is not clear

Thusness: into the second fold emptiness

Thusness: that is 'seeing' the true meaning of the view

Thusness: one can realize anatta and experience no-mind, no agent

Thusness: but not depth in the view

Soh: Oic.. Btw pegembara is from theravada and the phena sutta which he quotes is also from pali canon... I think the clarity of phena sutta on the secondfold emptiness is on par with the prajnaparamita sutras

Thusness: yet there is no direct insight of anatta

Soh: Also I'm not sure about this but apparently different arhats can have different degree of insight into emptiness. Sariputra is known as "jie kong di yi" (foremost in understanding emptiness).. But I guess its true that arhats mostly stress on anatta

Soh: Oic

Thusness: of course.

Soh: I see..


also in his view, perfection of wisdom (complete perfection of the wisdom into twofold emptiness related to clearing knowledge/cognitive obscurations totally) is not necessary for the arhat level of liberation from samsara. but although realizing anatta is fundamental for that liberation, it is also insufficient (the realization only brings you to stream entry level of awakening, see and, key is total dispassion leading to cessation of all afflictions (arahantship level of awakening/liberation):

“Regarding arahant, John Tan thinks perfection of wisdom is not necessary, but dispassion and experience of cessation [of passion, aggression and delusion] are crucial:

John TanSaturday, November 1, 2014 at 6:58pm UTC+08

Perfection of wisdom is not necessary IMO.

John TanSaturday, November 1, 2014 at 6:59pm UTC+08

Dispassion and experience of cessation are crucial factors.

John TanSaturday, November 1, 2014 at 7:00pm UTC+08

That is why I thought of reading autonomy school of thoughts


John TanThursday, October 23, 2014 at 11:02pm UTC+08

Cessation imo is not just the ability to shut down consciousness ... It is consciousness coming to a complete rest due to dispassion...genuine calming down of the mind 贪嗔痴 (passion, aggression, delusion)...the fruition of a mind in total peace...


John TanTuesday, August 26, 2014 at 12:29am UTC+08

In later phase, you will prefer dispassion, letting go than concentration

John TanTuesday, August 26, 2014 at 12:30am UTC+08

You will find you know very little of how to let go despite strong attainment in concentration. Then you will revisit whatever you learnt and realized.


John TanSunday, July 13, 2014 at 9:59pm UTC+08

Dispassion will grow with time if you practice. When you experience the truth of 成住坏空 (formation, existence, destruction and emptiness) in life, together with your practice...dispassion will eventually arise.


“John TanFriday, January 23, 2015 at 6:04pm UTC+08

Cyclical existence ends when selflessness of person is actualized because that is the cause of cyclical existence. However in mahayana and vajrayana if i am not wrong, anatta ends cyclical existence and led to liberation whereas further realization and actualization of selflessness in phenomena resulted in omniscience Buddhahood.”


John TanWednesday, January 28, 2015 at 12:08pm UTC+08

I don't think the Theravada teaching is about that [annihilation]. In the lower tenet of the great exposition and sutra systems, they are very careful not to fall into the extremes of annihilation. When you get up the ladder be it yogacara, middle way up to Dzogchen and mahamudra, it is imo just a matter of refining the view of selflessness with direct experiential insights but still a sort of "middle path" from top to bottom...nvr a skewed towards the extreme of annihilation.

John TanWednesday, January 28, 2015 at 12:25pm UTC+08

Cessation is imp and once cessation is actualized, attachment to experiences of whatever samadhi is "cool down", so any form of promotion towards annihilation is unnecessary and extra (imo). Even shutting down of senses into an oblivious state is not exactly an extraordinary state, we enter in deep sleep every night anyway. The seeing through of any form of experience as dis-satisfactory that led to the direct taste of dispassion, dis-identification and atammayata should be the focus. Peace and liberation is directly related to this taste, so is the non-arisen of dharma. This is a state of evenness, calm and peace...and consciousness as well as senses can come to a shut down. Shutting down is not a secret or some exalted state for one that has gone through deep letting go in meditation but the cause that let one into it is. Anyway that is just my opinion.


John TanMonday, January 26, 2015 at 8:36am UTC+08

You must also understand a state of oblivion like deep sleep too is a landing ground, an escape into the cessation of experience. A movement from experience into non-experience and therefore it is driven by the same cause. It is not extinguishing the cause. The cessation is not to be understood as a shut down of senses and consciousness but disenchantment and dispassion that led to the ending of grasping. The mind no more chases anything and everything settles down, gone cool and is seen to be in a state of rest and peace.

John TanMonday, January 26, 2015 at 8:40am UTC+08

But it can and will lead to the shut down of senses and consciousness like deep sleep which is a natural consequent. So do not chase of the state of oblivion but the gradual extinguishing of grasping and into 寂静 (quiescence).

John TanMonday, January 26, 2015 at 8:45am UTC+08

This is no different from deep sleep...what is important is the cause that led a practitioner into that any case if seen from the perspective of the cause, the shutting down of senses and consciousness become quite irrelevant and should not be presented that way.


John TanSunday, January 25, 2015 at 8:47am UTC+08

This is what must be tasted as an experience ... The experience of cessation...everything coming to a complete rest...relax and rest...relax and let go of whatever completely into cessation. Even to the extent of cessation of more nihilistic than nihilist… are you able to do that?

John TanSunday, January 25, 2015 at 8:53am UTC+08

Not as what Kenneth said as a "realization" but as a taste until the ending of that taste...everything comes to an is like what you wrote the other time...Arahat happily waiting for death...terminating all passions...extinction...all your so called grand beauty of lsd experiences into extinction… are you able to do that?

[Soh: This is referring to this text:

Ven. Sañkicca:

I don’t delight in death,

don’t delight in living.

I await my time

as a worker his wage.

I don’t delight in death,

don’t delight in living.

I await my time

mindful, alert. — Thag 11]

Soh Wei YuSunday, January 25, 2015 at 9:22am UTC+08

Don’t think so yet..

John TanSunday, January 25, 2015 at 9:51am UTC+08

Should paste it in is a good realization of 寂...寂靜 (quiescence) is often overlooked and presence is often over-emphasized. As such even non-arising nature is understood analytically, it is not appropriately tasted. There are blissful experience but there is no peace and there is no liberation without 寂. As for 万法无生,本自寂静(all dharmas are non-arising, fundamentally quiescent) is a realization. To actualize it, we must be able to have some taste of 寂静 (quiescence) first then we can recognize it when insight dawn.


John TanSunday, November 16, 2014 at 9:10am UTC+08

Bliss of presence and bliss of cessation... both are related to the emptying of self/Self. After anatta the sense of self/Self is realized to be fabrication and the entire chain of afflictive D.O. [dependent origination] can come to a rest by seeing how stressful, dis-satisfying and suffering the chain is. That is right intention in the Noble Eightfold Path. Taste this afflictive D.O. coming to rest in relation to the need to maintain the Self/self or beingness. When the mind let go this way seeing the dis-satisfactoriness... it is by way of renunciation, dispassion, dis-identification… the freedom and bliss that come from Atammayata is the bliss of cessation (寂灭为乐), it is understood to be many times more blissful than any form of pleasure and beingness. However cutting the cause of suffering at root in Mahayana is about seeing the emptiness of self and phenomena. The bliss of cessation of the Theravadins are replaced by tasting the non-arising of phenomena therefore 观法如化,三昧常寂, 见闻觉知,本自圆寂。(contemplating all dharmas as illusory, [always in] samadhi-quiescence, seen-heard-cognized-sensed, are by nature completely quiescent [nirvana])” - Soh, 2020


regarding the difference between arhat and buddha, i think there are some subtle differences in opinions by different teachers. 

but this is acarya malcolm's view:

Seeker12 wrote: ↑Sat Mar 20, 2021 4:47 am

It's sometimes said that an arhat corresponds to an 8th Bhumi Bodhisattva, or that an arhat can enter the Mahayana and basically they start at the 8th Bhumi or will very quickly get there, or similar things.


“No, this is a mistaken view. If this were the case, the three incalculable eons necessary for buddhahood in sūtrayāna could bypassed by attaining arhatship.

But it does not work like that. First, the emptiness realized by arhats is only the emptiness of the person, not of phenomena, and not of the emptiness of the four extremes.

Gorampa Sonam Senge addresses all these issues in his Differentiation of Views. You can look there.”


eighth bhumi bodhisattva is similar to arhat in terms of both completely cutting off samsara and eliminating the afflictive obscuration, however, as acarya malcolm said they have different levels of realization. hence they cannot be equated

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