Hello! Welcome to the Awakening to Reality blog.

For all new to Awakening to Reality blog, I highly recommend reading the 'Must Read' articles on the right panel, such as 

If you are interested in realizing and actualizing these insights, do read the following (free) e-books:

1) The Awakening to Reality Practice Guide by Nafis Rahman:

  • Update: Portuguese translation now available here

2) The Awakening to Reality Guide - Web Abridged Version by Pablo Pintabona and Nafis Rahman:

Special thanks to these individuals for their efforts in making these compilations. I trust they will greatly benefit spiritual aspirants.

3) The Awakening to Reality Guide - Original Version compiled by Soh:

  • Feedback:  "I also want to say, actually the main ATR document >1200 pages helped me the most with insight. I am not sure how many have the patience to read it. I did it twice 😂 it was so helpful and these Mahamudra books supported ATR insights. Just thought to share.", "To be honest, the document is ok [in length], because it’s by insight level. Each insight is like 100 plus pages except anatta [was] exceptionally long [if] I remember lol. If someone read and contemplate at the same time it’s good because the same point will repeat again and again like in the nikayas [traditional Buddhist scriptures in the Pali canon] and insight should arise by the end of it imo.", "A 1000 plus pages ebook written by a serious practitioner Soh Wei Yu that took me a month to read each time and I am so grateful for it. It’s a huge undertaking and I have benefitted from it more that I can ever imagine. Please read patiently."  - Yin Ling

Finally, with the help of AI's automated transcription of videos, I have finished my transcription of this 3.5 hours long meeting! You can read it here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16QGwYIP_EPwDX4ZUMUQRA30lpFx40ICpVr7u9n0klkY/edit ChatGPT's Synopsis and Timeline of ATR Meeting on 28 October 2020


  • Discussion about the pandemic's impact on businesses and related moral dilemmas in investments​​.


  • Kenneth Bok asks about the start of John Tan's spiritual journey.
  • John Tan shares his journey began at age 15 with the "I Am" experience, describing it as a direct experience of self-awareness, linking it to Buddhism and Hinduism​​.


  • John Tan elaborates on the difference between experience and insight, emphasizing non-duality and the phases of realizing no-self​​.
  • Discussion on how the concept of self is a mental construct and the phases of realizing no-self, including insights on reification and Madhyamaka​​.

ANATTA AND TOTAL EXERTION (1:00:00 - 1:20:00)

  • Detailed discussion on the experience of anatta (no-self) and total exertion.
  • John Tan explains anatta involves experiencing things directly without the conceptual overlay of self, and how total exertion involves seamless integration with all experiences​​.
  • Practical methods mentioned include Vipashyana (insight meditation), mindfulness, and the importance of direct, non-dual experiences​​.


  • Conversation shifts to practical applications of spiritual insights in daily life, including the continuous process of deconstructing concepts and the importance of sincerity in self-inquiry​​.

SOMATIC PRACTICES AND YOGA (1:40:00 - 2:00:00)

  • John Tan and William Lam discuss various somatic practices and yoga.
  • Mention of Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga, and other somatic exercises as methods to facilitate spiritual insights and bodily awareness​​.
  • Discussion on how these practices help in managing stress, fear, and enhancing bodily awareness through exercises like deep breathing and rhythmic movements​​.


  • John Tan discusses his experiences and insights from Taoism, comparing it to Buddhism.
  • Explanation of key Taoist concepts like Wu Wei (Actionless Action) and the interconnectedness emphasized in the I Ching​​.
  • Discussion on Taoist practices focusing on the transformation of Qi (vital energy) and the cultivation of Shen (spirit)​​.


  • Discussion on advanced practices such as the microcosmic orbit in Taoist alchemy, involving the circulation of energy through the body.
  • Mention of Kundalini practices and their parallels in Taoism and Yoga​​.
  • John Tan explains how these practices aim to balance and enhance energy flow, contributing to spiritual development​​.


  • Reflections on the journey of spiritual practice, the importance of understanding and deconstructing concepts, and maintaining a connection with teachings and experiences across different spiritual traditions.
  • Emphasis on the continuous nature of spiritual practice and the integration of insights into daily life​​.



  • John Tan elaborates on overcoming attachment and the nature of attributes and objects.
  • He discusses how attributes like color are not inherent in objects but are dependent on consciousness and the whole exertion of consciousness​​.
  • Emphasizes the gradual process of deconstructing concepts such as cause and effect and attributes over years, leading to a deeper understanding of dependent origination​​.
This synopsis captures the flow of the conversation and key points discussed during the meetings, providing a structured timeline for easy reference. It includes mentions of various somatic practices and yoga, emphasizing their role in spiritual development, and incorporates the discussion from the Toa Payoh Meeting Ending.

 [20/5/24, 11:34:02 PM] John Tan: Understanding the orientation of continual practice, the attitude of devotion to what is real, gets us closer to the mystery of the relationship between practice and realization. When we first learn to practice, we usually have an experience of ourselves practicing. As we come to more thoroughly understand the nature of the self and of reality, our sense of self transforms until, at some point, we realize that when one is practicing, when one is meditating, when one is inquiring, when one is chanting, it is not one particular individual that is practicing, it is the totality of all that there is that is practicing. The more continual our practice and the more unflagging our orientation toward reality, the more our understanding of who or what practices can shift from an identified self to the totality of reality.

[20/5/24, 11:34:33 PM] John Tan: From diamond approach, I like this one.

[20/5/24, 11:35:59 PM] Soh Wei Yu: from Runaway Realisation.. that book by him i want to read but haven't had time. its about anatta and total exertion

[20/5/24, 11:36:01 PM] John Tan: Without core (essencelessness) and totality presenting itself is one understanding.

[20/5/24, 11:36:24 PM] John Tan: Yes

[20/5/24, 11:37:25 PM] Soh Wei Yu: https://www.amazon.com/Runaway-Realization-Living-Ceaseless-Discovery-ebook/dp/B00OYFPKK2/ref=sr_1_1?crid=G95HQNP1W4BR&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.l-tL5eKFWZ16hX8XWreMDaFtqxU4pJ9OxQILOyoY3LwQVHQPsTKa6KQeoOn8vH70yBgUB5VcE0BaQsG0r9aUtNC6lfepU3hwWr-a56zm_wXv_8lA_b7DK57QD7gNSzM9IKMzvY_CSCp54z4DRS8QV8k7_IG0O2g69MMM3VEba58CM2sNxb8zJ7Xqt0mxDRnnpfcbVIIxRH-TF6MA3S9qYb97YJIhoJlmWPCNNm3qigY.p3TPBdtYle_6UW4lnef9LGKWKjEtPvA7yEH--_8lLCY&dib_tag=se&keywords=runaway+realization&qid=1716219400&sprefix=runaway+realiz%2Caps%2C387&sr=8-1 

- his first book after anatta... also this one https://www.amazon.com/Alchemy-Freedom-Philosophers-Secrets-Existence/dp/1611804469/?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_w=Gvbs2&content-id=amzn1.sym.cf86ec3a-68a6-43e9-8115-04171136930a&pf_rd_p=cf86ec3a-68a6-43e9-8115-04171136930a&pf_rd_r=137-7634696-2758744&pd_rd_wg=nlkgv&pd_rd_r=e5b815bb-b6da-4644-b9d2-7ad11517f91f&ref_=aufs_ap_sc_dsk

[20/5/24, 11:39:11 PM] John Tan: So we cannot understand one without the other.  U must deeply understand these 2 and taste effortlessness and natural spontaneity from these 2 understanding conceptually first.

John Tan wrote for someone on AtR group:

"Conditions" means those factors in the 12-links.  

"DO" (Soh: Dependent Origination) does not arise out of ignorance, "things" arise out of ignorance and are therefore non-arisen -- dependent origination is non-origination.

Therefore DO is an enlightened view, sentient beings do not see DO, they see truly existent things being produced and destroyed (essential causality). So DO is taught because sentient beings in confusion (ignorance) mistake reified conventions as "things" being produced and destroyed.  

Both prasangika and svatantrika do not deny conventionalities, because denial implies rejecting the functional validities of these conventionalities.  Like how "money" is created out of paper, failing to see the validities of the functional aspects of "money" is nihilistic.

Prasangika and svatantrika differ only in terms of the philosophical approaches in debates with opponents holding varying degrees of inherent views, not in terms of ultimate realizations.  According to both Mipham and Gorampa, the result of ultimate realization for both prasangika and svatantrika are the same and to Gorampa,  prasangika is not a higher view than the svatantrika.

Wrote in Reddit: 

IMO Just Sitting (nothing but sitting) is like actualizing anatman. In seeing just the seen, in hearing just sound, in sitting just sit (shikantaza = just sitting).

"Shikantaza is to practice or actualize emptiness." - Shunryu Suzuki https://www.lionsroar.com/letters-from-emptiness/

"The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice realization of totally culminated enlightenment." - Dogen

"SHIKANTAZA IS MEDITATION IN its simplest form. There are only three elements: body, mind, and breath. No gimmicks. Nothing to hold on to. Not even the breath. Breath is still present, of course, but we're not fixed on it. Earlier in this book I talked about tranquility (shamatha in Sanskrit) and awareness (vipashyana in Sanskrit). In shikantaza, these two are not separate. The mind settles, but not on a particular point. In shikantaza, Awareness is objectless and subjectless—there's no "you" who does shikantaza. It's as if concentration has been filed down to a single point—yet, at the same time, has expanded outward and is taking in everything: sights, sounds, feelings, sensations, thoughts, movements. And this Awareness is sizeless and timeless. In shikantaza we discover that there is no clear distinc-tion between self and other. Are you breathing? Or are you being breathed? You need not answer. There is no essential difference. Awareness is general and without location. It's been this way all along, but only now is it clear and obvious."

  • Zen teacher Steve Hagen, "Meditation Now or Never"

"Buddha said in the Agama Sutras (Soh: Referring to Bahiya Sutta): "In the seen is just the seen, in the heard is just the heard." Our six senses are naturally free and unobstructed. So, in sitting meditation, just sit like that, letting the six senses function naturally and freely. Don't interfere with them, not even non-interfering interference. In essence, there isn’t an "I" watching or listening there. Thus, zazen is about allowing all phenomena to prove there's no you, not about you proving there's no you. The key is here; don't get it wrong. When you try to prove there's no you, an "I" is already there proving it. Is that forgetting the self? No!

So, how do all phenomena prove there's no you? What exactly are these phenomena?

The seen forms, heard sounds, smelled scents, tasted flavors, felt sensations of cold and heat, the arising and passing thoughts. All these phenomena are constantly telling you, there's no me! There's no me!"

"The six senses are truly just present, operating naturally within the true and unobstructed reality. This is the so-called natural, unobstructed functioning of the six senses. It's so natural, a matter of course. Only in the genuine practice of zazen, at that very moment, do you realize our mind is incredibly vast, its applications infinite. The six senses function naturally: eyes seeing forms, ears hearing sounds, nose smelling scents, tongue tasting flavors, body feeling touches, mind perceiving phenomena. All actions and movements are the Dharma Body. The six senses are unimpeded, free from attachment or aversion, equally interacting with arising and ceasing conditions, naturally liberated. Siddhartha Gautama Buddha himself said, if you can genuinely let all phenomena prove there's no you, sitting zazen honestly in this way, just the time it takes for an ant to crawl from your nose to your forehead is more beneficial than sitting for ten, a hundred years with an 'I'. If you seek the Dharma with yourself for a hundred billion years, it's impossible, forever impossible. Because there's an "I" wanting to become a Buddha!"Shikantaza," this method, is the authentic practice of zazen. Sitting in that moment is performing the Buddha's dignified conduct, Buddha's actions. The moment without delusion is Buddha's dignified conduct, hence this is called the method of great ease."

"I' is not right, 'no I' is not right, but meditation is happening! What thing is meditating? What is meditating? How do you resolve this? Some more enlightened Zen masters, like Zemu Xingdao, sometimes say 'meditation is meditating' for the sake of instruction, for convenience in teaching. Because he is experienced, whatever he says is right. Or in English, 'the universe is universing', the universe is sitting the universe, the universe is the universe. Some people, upon hearing this, might be even more baffled."


I recommend this monastery's retreats in Taipei (outskirts of Taipei in a forested area, close to the foot of Yangmingshan volcano) for those who can understand Chinese. I visited and attended in Taipei earlier this year. It's rare to have realized teachers able to guide you one on one (usually they have too many students and are very busy) and without needing to pay a huge sum of money.
You can check their schedule from their website: http://www.changrove.org/
Ven Guo Ru is one of Ch'an Master Sheng Yen's twelve successors.
[22/3/24, 9:20:04 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Btw he is the first among sheng yen list of 12 successors:
[21/3/24, 2:08:02 PM] Soh Wei Yu: https://youtu.be/f8y0QKXZGHs?si=o26rUnamdVvBwCgC
[21/3/24, 2:08:20 PM] Soh Wei Yu: First thirty minutes talk about anatta, emptiness, hinayana vs mahayana vs brahman
[22/3/24, 8:04:55 AM] John Tan: 👍
[22/3/24, 8:09:47 AM] John Tan: 👍
[22/3/24, 8:30:46 AM] John Tan: Yes quite good.
[24/3/24, 12:02:51 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Ven guo ru retreat quite good.. for him zen is revealing the marvellous true mind and practice with that in everyday life not just meditation. The teachings emphasize emptiness of all phenomena but also about revealing marvellous mind. The method is meditation is sort of methodless method of actualizing the true mind every moment but he says it’s important we do 早晚课 (like daily meditation and chanting), he say the methodless method is most difficult
He also teach can hua tou like “what is this?” The meditation is sitting insterspersed with standing meditation and they have walking and even running meditation.. they have many other movements and stretching and exercises also
He got one disciple i think a nun who is like his successor and probably had some realisation also thats guiding there.. she would like shout self enquiry questions from time to time. Like someone sleepy she would shout “在昏沉的是谁?” (Who is being sleepy?) what is the self nature 自性 of sleepiness? 能走路的是谁? (Who is it that was able to walk?) and something like 能觉察 (that which is able to be aware of) movement of legs 的清明心是什么 (what is that Clear Mind)? etc. she shouts with some fierceness lol ‎<This message was edited>
[24/3/24, 12:02:56 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Reminds me of my self enquiry days lol
[24/3/24, 12:03:58 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Ven guo ru did initial talk and concluding talk and q n a. Everything is very methodical even their eating and lunch.. got a lot of things and behaviour to follow and must be mindful every moment. And silence is observed ‎<This message was edited>
[24/3/24, 12:04:12 AM] Soh Wei Yu: And we all spent an hour sweeping floor and trimming weeds lol
[24/3/24, 12:05:44 AM] Soh Wei Yu: I think they have a lot of movement and exercises unlike those skewed to sitting like goenka.. i feel healthier and less prone to energy imbalance
He say next week he will give a talk on zen sickness
[24/3/24, 12:07:59 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Theres more than 30+, some of his students went china now to visit hui neng temple so usually might have more. Also got one white guy there.. i heard he attained kensho. His chinese was not so good, interesting he was able to benefit that way
[24/3/24, 12:26:05 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Marvellous mind he calls 妙净明心
[24/3/24, 12:33:00 AM] John Tan: Very good👍
[24/3/24, 12:34:24 AM] John Tan: Yes very good.
[24/3/24, 9:03:44 AM] John Tan: 明心还需见空性,明空性也需证妙心。(Soh: [after] apprehending Mind, one must still realise Emptiness, after understanding Empty nature, one still needs to realize marvellous Mind)    
[24/3/24, 9:56:46 AM] John Tan: Also natural state can also be approached from mature knowledge of effortlessness and non-doership nature of luminous clarity side or from thorough knowledge of the conventional which is freedom from all extremes and elaborations (emptiness).
[24/3/24, 6:25:31 PM] John Tan: How much u pay?
[24/3/24, 6:25:55 PM] John Tan: And u don't go everywhere talking about ur blog🤦
[24/3/24, 6:26:32 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Lol
[24/3/24, 6:27:22 PM] Soh Wei Yu: I think the recommended donation is like 500twd a day and its like up to you. I just gave 2000twd a day to support them more
[24/3/24, 6:27:46 PM] Soh Wei Yu: 500twd is like 21sgd
[24/3/24, 6:29:17 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Theres a lot of monks and nuns at the temple.. maybe like 10 ‎<This message was edited>
[24/3/24, 6:29:25 PM] Soh Wei Yu: And not so many students as far as i can tell
[24/3/24, 6:32:10 PM] John Tan: 10 is not a lot but 10 with clarity of insights is good.

元音老人著 一九九五年六月十七日講於杭州

Written by Elder Yuan Yin, spoken on June 17, 1995, in Hangzhou


A disciple asked, "How can we eliminate greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt?"


Certainly, here is the continuation of the translation, providing the Chinese text followed by the English translation for each paragraph:


Greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt belong to the category of thought delusions (思惑). According to Buddhist teachings, ignorance (無明) is divided into view delusions (見惑), thought delusions (思惑), dust-like delusions (塵沙惑), and fundamental ignorance (無明惑). These range from coarse to fine, from fine to extremely fine.


View delusions (見惑) arise from ignorance of the truths of non-arising and non-self, leading to incorrect views (妄惑) and are considered delusions of principle (理惑). They are divided into five kinds of mistaken perceptions: self-view (身見), extreme view (邊見), evil view (邪見), view of attachment to views (取見), and view of rigid attachment to precepts (戒禁取見). All of these are incorrect perceptions.


For example, being attached to supernatural powers without considering whether one has realized one's true nature is a common erroneous view among practitioners.


View delusions are easier to eliminate; once we practice and realize our true nature, correct our perceptions, view delusions are eradicated. However, thought delusions (思惑) are harder to eliminate immediately; they require continuous practice after enlightenment to gradually remove them.


Thought delusions arise from attachment to worldly phenomena, characterized by greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt, and are difficult to eliminate instantly.


Without eliminating view and thought delusions, one cannot escape the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, to eliminate these ten delusions—self-view, extreme view, evil view, view of attachment to views, view of rigid attachment to precepts, greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt—one must first realize their true nature and attain great enlightenment.


Understanding that all phenomena are illusory and unobtainable, clearly seeing the cessation of thoughts, the inherent knowing nature, is our true nature. By constantly protecting and refining it, ingrained habits and attachments to greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt will eventually dissolve.


The teachings also state that these four delusions manifest in the desire realm, form realm, and formless realm, across nine grounds and eighty-eight types. They must be removed step by step, not all at once. Hence, one must possess deep and long-lasting dedication, diligently striving in every situation.


Most importantly, we must understand that our true mind inherently possesses the Dharmakaya (法身), Sambhogakaya (報身), and Nirmanakaya (化身), and does not require external seeking. Our present moment of numinous awareness, when thoughts have ceased, is our Dharmakaya; the wisdom that perceives all things is our Sambhogakaya; and the various manifestations of phenomena are transformations of our true nature, our Nirmanakaya.


The Dharmakaya and Sambhogakaya are easier to comprehend. When thoughts cease and numinous awareness remains, this is our Dharmakaya. The ability to perceive all things is the light of our Sambhogakaya, without which we cannot see anything. For example, without light, we would be like a blind person who cannot see anything. What allows us to see is the light of our Dharmakaya, which is the clear, illuminating light of wisdom.


Nirmanakaya is harder to grasp; all things, like cups, fruits, and houses, are transformations of our true nature. How can these inanimate objects be our Nirmanakaya? They seem to be inanimate, while humans and animals are sentient.


These objects would not exist without the wisdom of our true nature. For instance, when we design a house, the engineer first creates a blueprint by absorbing external phenomena, analyzing and thinking about how to modify, develop, and meet human needs. This seems to be a function of the brain, but actually, the brain's neurons, like visual and auditory nerves, are like wires that are useless without electricity. What is this electricity? It is the function of our Dharmakaya.


What is Buddha-nature? Nature refers to function. Function is the ability to act without a visible form. For example, we cannot see electricity, but once it flows, lights can illuminate, and machines can operate. The brain's neurons are like wires, and electricity is the function of our Buddha-nature. So whether it is designing a blueprint or having craftsmen build the house, these are all functions of our Buddha-nature, manifested as the Nirmanakaya.


Understanding that the Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya are all inherently complete within our mind, we do not cling to appearances. All phenomena are mere reflections of the great mirror wisdom of our Dharmakaya, and we remain undisturbed, unattached, and without seeking. Practicing in this way, greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt will gradually diminish.


If we do not understand this principle and instead focus on supernatural powers, we become attached to appearances. This not only fails to eliminate greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt but actually increases them. Why seek supernatural powers? Isn't it for fame and profit, for praise and recognition? This only adds to greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt, providing no real help. Therefore, to eliminate these delusions, one must realize one's true nature. Without realizing one's true nature, it is impossible. The root lies in clearly seeing and realizing one's true nature, which is the fundamental goal of Buddhism.


Nowadays, some people misunderstand and prioritize supernatural powers over realizing their true nature. They rush to learn any practice that promises supernatural abilities, mistakenly believing it will bring them spiritual achievement. This only increases their greed. Thus, in practice, we must let go of everything, including the desire for meditative absorption (samadhi). Seeking samadhi itself becomes an obstacle to achieving it. When we let go of this desire, the deluded mind ceases to move, allowing us to enter true samadhi.


Therefore, to enter samadhi, we must let go of everything, not seek anything, and remain ordinary and natural. This allows our mind to be peaceful and at ease, enabling us to enter samadhi and realize our inherent Buddha-nature. In truth, achieving enlightenment is neither mysterious nor extraordinary; it is extremely simple and ordinary.


However, I have heard some fellow practitioners in Hangzhou say, "None of us in Hangzhou have achieved enlightenment." This is a misunderstanding of the true meaning of enlightenment. Does achieving enlightenment necessarily mean attaining supernatural powers? If one does not attain supernatural powers, does it mean one has not realized their true nature and cannot achieve enlightenment? This is clearly a great error.


Let us first discuss what enlightenment means, and the purpose of studying Buddhism. The purpose of studying Buddhism is to break free from the cycle of birth and death, to attain liberation. This is our ultimate goal.


How can we attain liberation and break free from the cycle of birth and death? Can supernatural powers achieve this? No! Even non-Buddhist practitioners possess the five supernatural powers—divine eye, divine ear, mind-reading, supernatural locomotion, and knowledge of past lives—but they cannot attain liberation.


Because they do not realize their true nature and are attached to external phenomena, they cannot break free from the cycle of birth and death. To attain liberation, one's mind must be completely free, without any attachments.


Knowing that all phenomena are manifestations of the functions of one's own Buddha-nature, without seeking or attachment, being free and at ease, is the true great accomplishment, great freedom, and great supernatural power.


If there is any pursuit or seeking, the mind remains troubled, and even possessing the five supernatural powers is not true accomplishment.


Therefore, studying Buddhism means learning to be free and at ease, adapting to circumstances in society, doing one's best to serve the community, and being able to rise or fall without seeking or attachment.


Being truly free and at ease is the true meaning of Mahayana Buddhism and the true accomplishment. If we can remain unattached to all circumstances during our lifetime, without any feelings of love, hatred, acceptance, or rejection, when the time of death comes, we can naturally remain unattached and peacefully free from the cycle of birth and death.

I will stop here for now. Please let me know if you would like me to continue or make any adjustments.

please continue
Certainly, I'll continue with the direct translation, providing the Chinese text followed by the English translation for each paragraph:


Our current attachment to birth and death is because we grasp at phenomena. Today, we have physical bodies and flesh because when our parents were intimate, we ourselves became emotionally involved and entered this physical existence.


If you do not attach to phenomena and do not enter this physical existence, you would be free and at ease, able to wander wherever you wish.


Now that we have physical bodies, we are burdened and restricted, and this is something we brought upon ourselves.


In our current practice, we must understand this principle: the Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya are all inherently complete within our mind. We should not seek anything, including supernatural powers, but let go of everything. In doing so, we will be free and at ease.


Being free and at ease, unattached to anything, this applies in life and in death. You can go wherever you wish, entirely self-determined, and in doing so, you transcend birth and death.


Ultimately, there is no birth and death. Our true nature is originally unborn and undying, neither coming nor going, neither increasing nor decreasing, neither tainted nor pure, neither moving nor still. There is fundamentally no birth and death.


Attachment to birth and death is due to our deluded mind's agitation and grasping at phenomena. Letting go of everything, wouldn't we be completely free? This is great freedom, where there is no birth and death, and no greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, or doubt.


Greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt arise from not understanding our true nature, chasing after external phenomena, being deluded by appearances and external dust. Once we understand our true nature and stop grasping at external phenomena, greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt naturally disappear.


Similarly, if we can truly be free and at ease, seeking nothing and grasping at nothing, the five supernatural powers will naturally manifest. This is because they are inherently complete within our true nature and are not acquired through practice.


Therefore, we say the Way is about realization, not about practice. Realization is like waking up from a dream and no longer continuing the dream.


In our daily lives, we are in a dream, chasing after dream phenomena, unaware that it is a dream and taking it as real. Therefore, seeking leads to greed, failing to attain leads to hatred, and being attached to greed and hatred is ignorance.


conceit is looking down on others, thinking "none of you are as good as me," which is attachment to the self and others.



Doubt is even more inevitable. For instance, if I say that the clear, distinct awareness at the cessation of a thought is our true mind, you might doubt and think, "Is this really the true mind? It can't be. If this is the true nature, I should manifest great supernatural powers. Since I don't have any supernatural powers, this must not be it." This doubt arises and causes problems.


Because you don't truly believe, you can't fully protect your true nature, and you end up following external circumstances, taking another path. Originally, you were doing well, close to realization, just needing to persevere. Due to doubt, you turn back and switch to another method. After trying one method, you switch to another, and this constant switching due to lack of focused effort prevents any success. This is the mistake of not committing to diligent practice due to doubt. Many people waste their efforts this way and achieve nothing.


If we can firmly believe without doubt that the clear, distinct awareness at the cessation of a thought is our true nature, and constantly protect it, not forgetting to protect this true nature while walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, not being overwhelmed by external circumstances, not being swayed by any situation, knowing that all appearances are illusions, and the only reality is our numinous awareness, then everything else is false and can be ignored.


If you truly practice in this way, within three to five years, you will naturally manifest great supernatural powers. Because you do not chase after them, the supernatural powers that are inherently complete within you will naturally reveal themselves.


The reason these powers do not manifest now is because they are covered by your greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt. It is your delusions, attachments, and pursuit of supernatural powers that prevent them from manifesting.


Therefore, supernatural powers are not attained through seeking or practice. Powers that are sought after are false, not genuine, and are often accompanied by external entities. Because of your desires, these spirits and entities come to you, aligning with your psychological state and entering your mind. This is why many people who practice qigong and have special abilities are actually influenced by external entities, not their own true abilities, due to their greed.


Studying Buddhism is about developing wisdom and understanding that our true mind is the numinous awareness at the cessation of a thought. Explaining realization is simple; it is directly pointing out this fact, without any mystery.


Realization is not about mysterious or profound teachings or various practices. In fact, Chinese Zen (Chan) is the best, as it directly points to the mind, without relying on scriptures, and leads to seeing one's true nature and becoming a Buddha. It is the highest form of esoteric teaching.


The highest level of Tibetan esoteric Buddhism is Zen (Chan). This is not something I invented. The great Karmapa who achieved great accomplishment in Tibetan esoteric Buddhism once said, "In our esoteric tradition, the highest and most profound teaching is Dzogchen. Does China have Dzogchen? Yes, it is Zen. Zen is Dzogchen."


Is this statement correct? Yes, it is absolutely correct. We studied Dzogchen with Kunga Rinpoche. Dzogchen has "preliminary practices" (前行) and "main practices" (正行).


The "preliminary practices" involve rituals and practices with form; the "main practices" directly reveal the nature of Buddha-nature, which is exactly the same as the direct pointing in Zen, without any difference.


Zen directly points you to see your true nature without detours. For example, when asked, "What is Buddha?" the answer might be, "Who is speaking to you face-to-face if not the Buddha?"


This means that the one speaking to you face-to-face is the Buddha. Expanding further, who is it that can hear sounds and perform actions? Isn't this our Buddha-nature? A simple, intimate, and crucial statement directly points you to see your true nature.


Or when asked, "What is Buddha?" the teacher might shout your name, and when you respond, he points out, "This is Buddha!" See how direct and straightforward it is!


Realization is this easy, without anything mysterious or extraordinary. This is the most profound Zen teaching, the Chinese equivalent of Dzogchen. Unfortunately, later people's foundations are weaker, and their doubts are greater, making them unwilling to accept it.


"Is this (dimension) of the cessation of a single thought really our true nature? Is it this easy? Probably not," they doubt. Among the five poisons (greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt), doubt is the most harmful, causing people to lose their true mind.


Seeing that direct pointing no longer works, the ancestral teachers stopped directly revealing it and instead used indirect methods, asking you to meditate on a "hua tou" ("head of the word"). For example, when asked, "What is Buddha?" the answer might be, "The water flows eastward," or "Take off your straw sandals and walk barefoot." They say something seemingly unrelated, not directly telling you.


This method is used to make you doubt the meaning of the answer, using doubt to cut off delusive thoughts. When the time and conditions are right, you can directly realize your true nature.


In Zen, after realizing the principle, one must diligently protect it, refining oneself through practical situations, and constantly eliminating delusive habits, thereby achieving a seamless unity and passing through the three barriers.


We can give many examples, such as the Sixth Patriarch Master Huineng. After the Fifth Patriarch revealed to him, "Let your mind be unattached, abiding nowhere," he realized enlightenment. After enlightenment, he knew that all daily activities are the wondrous functions of our Buddha-nature. As long as one is unattached, free, and at ease, the true nature and clear, wondrous true mind naturally manifest.


He then diligently protected it while walking, standing, sitting, and lying down. When his realization matured, he began teaching publicly.


Speaking of diligent protection, it starts with protection and then leads to letting go. Initially, you protect it by not following arising thoughts and not being swayed by external circumstances. Once you are proficient, you let go of protection, moving freely and acting naturally, without constraints and without attachments.


As Confucius said, "At seventy, I follow my heart's desires without transgressing the bounds of propriety." At this stage, you can do anything, whether it appears as entering Buddha or entering demons.


Later, Mazu's disciple Damei asked Mazu, "What is Buddha?" Mazu replied, "Mind itself is Buddha." Mind is Buddha, and Buddha is mind.


Damei immediately attained enlightenment. After three years of protecting his realization, Mazu wanted to test if Damei truly understood. He sent a servant to say, "Senior Brother, the Master has a new teaching recently." Damei asked, "What is it?"


The servant said, "The Master now says: 'It is neither mind nor Buddha.'" Damei replied, "This old man is confusing people without end. Regardless of whether he says 'neither mind nor Buddha,' I just follow 'mind itself is Buddha.'"


When Mazu heard this, he said, "The plum (Damei) is ripe!" A truly enlightened person stands firm and is not swayed by others' words.


Zen directly points to this, and Dzogchen is the same. Dzogchen ultimately teaches that "the nature of emptiness is the Dharmakaya."


At first, they do not teach this directly. Only after practicing for many years do they tell you this. The nature of emptiness is the Dharmakaya, completely without any signs; the manifested diversities of the nature is the Sambhogakaya; all phenomena are transformations of our Buddha-nature, which is the Nirmanakaya, without seeking or attachment.


This is explained clearly, known as Dzogchen's view. Therefore, it is not that no one in Hangzhou has achieved realization; you are deceiving yourselves and misunderstanding, chasing after supernatural powers.


Saying that no one in Hangzhou has achieved realization is incorrect; you are actually in the process of realization but do not recognize it.


You might also say that we do not know how to activate our potential. But aren't you activating your potential all day long? Isn't drinking water, eating, dressing, walking, and working all activating your potential? If this is not activating your potential, what is?


All of this is due to attachment, wanting to manifest supernatural powers and achieve something extraordinary. Thinking that if others can't do it but you can, then that is activation; if everyone can do it, it doesn't count as activation.


They do not understand that if it is bodily activation, once a breath stops, can the body still move? Who is activating now? Isn't it the function of our Buddha-nature? Isn't it the function of our true mind?


Therefore, the Zen master said, "People starve to death right next to the rice basket." Not knowing to eat the rice right beside them, not knowing to activate the wondrous function they already have—isn't this a great pity?


Certainly, here is the continuation of the translation:


Therefore, we must not deceive ourselves and must understand this principle. To truly eliminate greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt, we must realize our true nature. Without realizing our true nature, how can we eliminate these delusions? There will always be attachment and clinging. Greed knows no satisfaction; having a thousand, one wants ten thousand; having ten thousand, one wants a hundred thousand, a million. Greed has no end. Therefore, in studying Buddhism, we must let go of everything.


When we sit in meditation, we must be completely dedicated, like a dead person, ignoring everything else. Focus on reciting the mantra with the mind, not the mouth, and listen deeply with the ears. By doing so, the mind becomes still, leading to deep meditative absorption and peace.


After meditation, we must always observe our mind! We must constantly observe it while walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, never forgetting. Internally, do not follow thoughts; when a thought arises, immediately recognize it, and it will disappear. If a thought arises and you do not recognize it, you follow it, not realizing there was a thought until it is too late. When a thought arises, immediately recognize it and let it go.


Externally, do not be swayed by circumstances; no external change can move you. Know that all external phenomena are illusions, mere shadows of our true nature, and do not follow them. Practicing in this way, within three to five years, you will be on the path to enlightenment.


Therefore, we must clarify these principles, so everyone knows the correct path. Displaying supernatural powers is definitely not true accomplishment.


After realizing the true mind, constantly protect it, truly being free and at ease, without seeking anything. The five supernatural powers will naturally manifest.


I have now given this teaching to everyone, revealing the true nature. Knowing that the clear, distinct awareness at the cessation of a thought is our true nature, this is the realization of principle (理悟). After realizing the principle, we must still protect it.


In protecting it, observe thoughts without following them. When proficient, the observing mind and the observed thoughts will simultaneously drop away, just like when in meditation, the mind that can think and the mantra being recited both drop away. Body, mind, and the world become ungraspable/unfindable, leading to the direct realization of true nature.


What is the difference between the realization of principle (理悟) and direct realization (親證)? The principle realized by both is the same, without distinction. Whether realized in a moment or after years of practice, the principle is exactly the same. It is also the same as what is realized in Zen after thirty years of meditation. However, the strength is different. Those who realize in a moment, without having done the work, often cannot withstand challenges and their mind becomes disturbed.


This means thought delusions are not eliminated, and greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt are not eradicated. When we practice meditation and the body, mind, and world become empty, we gain the strength of direct realization. When challenges arise, we can withstand them, and greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt are eliminated. Therefore, the strength is different.


However, if we can firmly establish ourselves, recognize that the clear, distinct awareness at the cessation of a thought is our true nature, without doubt, and protect it, that is also good.


Recognizing that this nature encompasses the three bodies—the Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya—everything is our transformation body, be without doubt, do not take them as real, nor chase after them, after three to five years, we will gradually understand. This is also a good thing.


Therefore, practice should be done this way, without anything mysterious. Linji, upon enlightenment, said, "Originally, there is not much in the Buddha Dharma." There is nothing special, it is just this moment, and enlightenment is realized at this moment.


Therefore, we do not depart from this moment in our practice, diligently working at all times.


The problem lies in everyone's doubts. For example, practitioners of Pure Land Buddhism doubt, "Can I be reborn in the Western Pure Land by reciting the Buddha's name this way? Probably not." With heavy doubt, reciting the Buddha's name loses its power, making rebirth in the Western Pure Land difficult.


One must have complete faith, thinking, "By reciting the Buddha's name this way, I will definitely achieve realization and be reborn in the Western Pure Land. Definitely!" With this strong faith, full dedication gives power.


First, we must attain the "exhaustion of outflows" (漏盡通), which is most important. Studying Buddhism is about being free and at ease. If we are still troubled and worried all day, that is not Buddhism and does not align with the teachings.


We say, "Let clothes and food be luxurious or simple according to circumstances," everything follows the circumstances. If good, we live well; if bad, we live simply. It does not matter; it is all illusory. If we laugh when conditions are good and worry when they are bad, what kind of Buddhism are we practicing? Isn't everything unobtainable? Isn't everything a dream? Why are you still disturbed?


Someone might ask, "Have I realized enlightenment?" To know if you have realized it, ask yourself, "Am I still attached to circumstances? Do I still cling to appearances?" If you are still attached to circumstances, then you have not realized enlightenment.


Realization means awakening and no longer dreaming. In a dream, everything exists; good situations make you extremely happy, bad situations make you suffer terribly, even crying and shouting in your sleep. But upon waking, not a trace remains.


If you are still troubled by circumstances, then you have not realized enlightenment. Remaining unmoved in favorable conditions and not troubled or angry in unfavorable conditions is the correct state, truly eliminating greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt.


If you have not realized your true nature, you cannot talk about eliminating greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt. None of these can be eliminated without realizing your true nature.


After realizing your true nature, you must still train and protect it in practical situations. If your strength is insufficient and your mind is still disturbed by circumstances, you need to meditate more. Being confused by circumstances and having your mind disturbed is a thought delusion (思惑).



If you do not understand what the true mind is, you will not know where to apply effort and how to work on it. How can you achieve the Way?! In practice, you must have self-awareness. If your concentration power is insufficient, you need to meditate more. More meditation increases concentration power.


In the past, we did the same. Every Sunday, instead of going out to play, we would stay at home and meditate for the whole day. By evening, the mind would become extremely clear and calm. Nothing could disturb it, and even things we used to like no longer attracted us. We felt only ease and incomparable joy in the Dharma.


Therefore, if your concentration power is insufficient, you need to meditate more to protect it closely. When the mind is truly clear and pure, free and at ease, it is the way to true understanding (道通) and the exhaustion of outflows (漏盡通). With this understanding, the other five supernatural powers will naturally manifest. This is called "attaining the essence, not worrying about the branches."


The five supernatural powers are inherently complete in our true nature. Once opened, they naturally manifest. If not opened, they remain covered. If you have not removed those attachments and your mind is still disturbed, seeking supernatural powers is contrary to the Way. It is attachment upon attachment, greed, hatred, and ignorance upon greed, hatred, and ignorance. How can you achieve what you desire?! You must let go of everything.


The Heart Center Dharma is a great teaching that integrates Chan, Pure Land, and Esoteric practices, always requiring us to directly realize our true nature. When practicing, it is neither empty nor existent. There are mantras, but what do they mean? They are beyond comprehension and consideration. Having them is like not having them. They are neither existent nor non-existent. A mantra exists but is also empty, thus non-empty.


Giving you a mantra to recite and a mudra to form is emptiness that is not empty, non-empty and non-existent, pushing you forward to realize your true nature. After realizing the true nature, you return to Chan.


When the mind is truly clear and pure, it is pristine, unblemished by a single speck of dust. Isn't this the Pure Land? The land is the mind, and the mind is the land. Thus, wherever you wish to be reborn—east, south, west, or north—you can be reborn there, and it is all the Pure Land. You are free and at ease, integrated with everything.


The true Pure Land is our eternal tranquil light Pure Land, our true nature Pure Land, originally pure and untainted. It is because of our deluded mind's attachments that we create this impure world of the five turbidities. When our mind is pure, this impure world becomes the Pure Land.


Therefore, the Heart Center Dharma is the core of Esoteric Buddhism, embodying the view of Dzogchen.


Achieving the Way can be divided into four steps: The first step is "seeing the true nature." Now, understanding that the clear, distinct awareness at the cessation of a thought is the true nature is the same. Dzogchen also directly reveals this, enabling immediate realization of the true nature.


Next, one must engage in protective practice. During protective practice, "awareness and experience increase," which is the second step. Awareness means realizing and illuminating, not being deluded, and not being swayed or turned by circumstances.


True realization brings true benefit, eliminating worries. Otherwise, in adverse circumstances, you will worry and get angry. With realization, you know that everything is false, just shadows, and you are not attached, do not seek, and do not worry. This brings true benefit, filling you with Dharma joy, and you are light and happy all day long. Therefore, the first ground is called the Ground of Joy. As awareness and experience increase, you gradually progress, from the first to the second, third ground, and so on. You frequently evaluate yourself, "How am I now compared to before? Have I made progress?" Naturally, it is not a single leap to the tenth ground or the level of Equal Enlightenment. There is a process.


The third step is "advancing in the clear light body." The clear light body refers to the body of light. With progress, the light greatly increases, illuminating the ten directions. The Buddhas of the ten directions enter my body, and my body enters the Buddhas' bodies, mutually interacting without hindrance. This is the state described in the 'Avatamsaka Sutra.' Because awareness and experience have increased to this point, greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and doubt are completely gone. But this is not yet the ultimate.


The final fourth step is "ultimate realization of the Dharma realm." All light becomes ungraspable/unfindable, all supernatural powers become ungraspable/unfindable, everything returns to the true nature, and nothing manifests. According to Dzogchen, this is like "the moon on the thirtieth day of the lunar month." Can you see the moon on the thirtieth day? No, you cannot. Everything returns to the true nature, and nothing remains.


Zen also speaks this way. There is a story about a monk who asked Caoshan, "How is it when the bright moon is directly overhead?" The bright moon directly overhead means the great full moon shining overhead. Caoshan answered, "Still a man below the steps." Not yet home. The monk said, "Please, Master, lift me up the steps." The Master replied, "We will meet when the moon sets."


So Zen and Esoteric Buddhism are the same; do not misunderstand. The profound Esoteric teachings, the highest Esoteric teachings, are Zen.


Therefore, if you can stand firm and not be misled by others' words, you can achieve the Great Way. If you hear people say, "The living Buddha has arrived with great supernatural powers," and you follow them, you will go astray.


There is no Esoteric teaching higher than Zen. Seeking supernatural powers brings trouble and demonic influences. This time, a girl from Guangzhou practiced qigong and sought special abilities, resulting in two ghosts entering her body.


The first ghost that entered was manageable, telling her things and seemingly giving her some supernatural powers. But when the second one came, her body couldn't handle it, and she suffered. This is the consequence of seeking supernatural powers. Therefore, we must understand and follow the correct path in studying Buddhism. The most important thing in Buddhism is not attaining supernatural powers but transcending birth and death.


How can we transcend birth and death? By not being attached to circumstances, not following thoughts, and not clinging to any situation. Only then can we transcend birth and death.


Seeking supernatural powers is not ultimate and cannot transcend birth and death. Those who seek supernatural powers are all attached to appearances and are after fame and profit.


I have heard that qigong masters first give presentations with their abilities, sell tickets to make money, then treat diseases for money, and later sell various materials. All these things are unrelated to true practice. In short, they are all money-making schemes. Following them is truly a pity.


In studying Buddhism, we must adhere to the mind-ground Dharma door, "Only this is true; anything else is not true." Practicing outside the mind-ground Dharma door, seeking methods outside the mind, is to follow heterodox paths.


Accomplishment is not about attaining supernatural powers, but having a mind that is empty and unattached, open and free, carefree and at ease.


Being able to remain unperturbed in both favorable and unfavorable situations, carefree and at ease, is the greatest supernatural power.


Without this, even if you attain the five supernatural powers, your mind will not be at ease. For example, with the power to know past lives, you may realize you committed many bad deeds in previous lives, causing distress. One Arhat, upon realizing he had killed his own father in a past life, became very troubled, thinking, "How could I be so unfilial and kill my own father?!" He couldn't sit still.


Shakyamuni Buddha said to Manjushri, "This Arhat has attained the power to know past lives and found out he killed his own father, causing his mind to become unstable. Let's put on a performance and teach him some Dharma to help him."


So Manjushri drew his sword to kill the Buddha. Everyone was terrified, thinking that killing one's father was bad enough, but killing the Buddha was even worse. The Buddha said, "Don't be afraid. Manjushri has no intention of killing the Buddha."


All of this is just the foolish movements of your deluded mind. In reality, these events are like dreams appearing in a dream; they are all illusions and not real.


Thus, the things done in past lives are like dreams within dreams; upon waking, they no longer exist, and the mind becomes calm. The Buddha explained this to the Arhat, helping him to calm his mind.


Therefore, we must understand that past wrongdoings are like dreams within dreams. Upon awakening, letting go, and emptying the mind, they are gone.


When the mind is empty, karmic obstacles are eliminated. When the mind is not empty, it leads to trouble and one must bear the consequences of karmic obstacles. Thus, attaining the power to know past lives with an unempty mind results in endless sufferings.


Practitioners should always focus on cultivating their mind and not foolishly seek supernatural powers. Walk the right path and avoid deviating to achieve true liberation from birth and death!