A078 starts:
John: …then you say self-release. You see you must always understand that there is the experience, there is the view, and there is realization. Until you fully integrate these three first. Then you talk about that. Otherwise you are always jumping, you know? So your experience now is like that. Everything is vivid, right? Then you say, ‘oh’, then it self-releases. Correct? The experience of the releasing is important, but you lack the view. So, in addition to this totality of presence, this complete presence that you are experiencing now, you must see that all these… let me take for example, here, that seven phases article I wrote in the blog. That insight cannot remain as an intellectual understanding. Means, I press the cup, then I see the totality of this sensation. Remember? In the Swenson’s.
So what I am trying to tell you is that, let’s say in the blog I said that, there is this complete presence. This sound… or whatever. This presence. This entire Here, is a formation. This existence, this Here, everything, is a formation – there is nothing Here, empty. It is very very clear, … this scenery, this entire total existence, is empty. You understand? What I want you to feel is that you must have this view. There is nothing wrong with the view.

Me: What I experience is that, everything is very vivid but arising and passing.
John: Then you say release, ah, just relax, you call it self-liberate. No no, I don’t want you to do that. That’s what I call jumping steps. That is not phase six of insight. Anatta tells you everything Is, there is just sound. There’s scenery. There is just this sense of your breath … so you can feel this clearly, vividly, completely, directly, just that. Correct or not? This is what I call, the totality of presence. Like all these… lets say now.. all these, here, everything, here, solid, everything, here, is empty. Understand?
One is the totality of presence where you do not have the background. Correct or not?
Me: Yes, anatta is very clear
John:  Yes. One is this presence itself, this entire thing that you call here, now, is empty. It’s a formation. Nothing truly real. It cannot remain as an intellectual understanding, so that when you see everything, it’s so vivid like a rainbow, but it’s not truly there. It is so clear, so real,
Me: It’s what I wrote about the dream like nature?
John: Correct. It’s nothing real. So you must go along with the dreams, the interpretations of the dreams, the dream-like nature of reality. So in order to experience, let’s say, the pointing towards your dream, this totality of existence, this – what you call existence, this here-ness, here is just a formation of your senses, and everything, correct or not? So this remains a view, it must be a view. Correct or not? But what is that experience like? It’s empty. Understand? The totality of the presence, so real, so clear, it’s empty.
So when you reach this state of non-dual or anatta lah, this complete state of anatta, everything is vividly clear and presence right? So there is a tendency, you say, to be here and then to be now, to hold to be actual. So you experience is…. Uh… the tendency to be what we call, the AF. Trying to be actual.
But I’m saying this whole thing, is empty. So first there is nobody behind. Then the experience of whatever arises is actually the total presence, correct or not? Then this here and now, everything, is empty. You understand what I’m saying? Then you continue to do that, then you continue to see things, see your relationships, see your whatever things, as dependent origination. So you see – scenery – non-dual, then you said there is no object or a subject splitting. There is just this experience. Neither the experience nor the perceiving – that perception itself, that experience itself, is empty. Understand?
Me: Sometimes what I perceive is that everything is transient, and flickering, like writing on water. Like what Dharma Dan always say, the transience is flickering and luminous.
John: Correct. But what I want you to do is not …. There is this experience that I want you to see and experience. It’s like here-ness… is empty. Then after that, then you talk about releasing. Understand? That is to say, you reach complete non-dual, yet you are not substantialist, there is just manifestation. But that manifestation itself, you must see that it is a formation, it looks very real but it is just a formation. Nothing real. Conditioned arising dharma.
When you hold a cup, it feels so solid, hard, it is just a sensation…. This hand, cup, everything… everything… everything… that formation that comes into being, that arising of awareness, or feeling. That is conditioned arising dharma, nothing real. It’s very solid. There is only this sensation of solid. Very very solid. It’s dependently originated manifestation. You understand what I’m saying? This is the next phase that you have to go through first. Then you can feel total exertion, correct? Release.
It is not saying, wah, everything is clear (clean?) right? (Contact?) let go. Not like this. This is not self-liberation. I don’t want you to  be like this. This is skipping stages. You did not truly experience it, it becomes a kind of knowledge, and not you are truly experiencing sound, …. Then no more, that is self-release. No. That is not. I’m not asking you to experience these.
I’m saying, the sound is very very clear, but you must see that it is just a dependently arisen dharma, I say that is empty. First, walk this step. At the back of your mind, you still think that this sensation is real. Understand? But if you keep observing this is just a dependently arisen dharma, the nature is empty, that is different.
Me: For me I can see everything is just disjoint and transient manifestation happening one by one. But the D.O. partly is not so clear.
John: So I want you to feel this itself, for example this, this complete presence itself, this manifestation. Because you do not have that behind Self that is watching, everything is just a formation of everything. This formation itself, very that, but it is still a form of dependently arisen dharma, empty by nature. So when you go through this, you keep training yourself to think like this, that is a form of view, but you are just luminous and empty. So you must go through this step first. Because this step is not just about letting go. It is first, you must feel this presence, this formation, because you can never leave that.
Me: Is that something like what Khenpo Gyamtso Rinpoche is saying?
John: To me, it is a form of direct experience, but I do not want to compare whether that is what I’m saying. Because I do not their… So to me, that is not important. I do not compare whatever that I teach you, with Dzogchen or whatever, because maybe it is completely different. I don’t know as well. But as long as you understand it with that kind of experience, then that’s ok. Like for example there is a pure sense of existence when all the sense doors are being shut. No (?) no sound, …quiescence. That presence, because all the sense doors are being shut, is just a pure sense of Being. Sound – whatever arises, this scenery, they all have this taste. So this is nothing special. So is this more special than this? Is this more special than this? All have the same taste. Understand? Then you must understand all these formations are yet, empty in nature. Then think about release.
Not that everything is very clear…. Then release. That is, you must slowly understand that everything is empty in nature, then release. If you talk about empty nature but do not talk about this luminosity, this total presence, then that is wrong too. Right? But if you think apart from all that, this is more Real than that, this is the most Real, then that is also an illusion. Understand? So when you hold a cup, you touch, this is so solid, but this solidness is like a Here and Now. Hereness. A kind of formation. Yet it is empty in nature. Understand this principle? Then talk about your mind, and your view and your experience becomes One, then talk about release. Understand what I am saying? Not this, then jump into that. But everything, everything, everything, formation is so real, just like a real, very very clear, but destroyed [in the end]. All these everything, the formation, very real formation…  then your illusion, your experience, is vivid and clear you know, but it’s dream like. Understand? This is the phase that you need to go through.
If you keep training like this, then you reach letting go, everything is just dependently arisen dharma. But if you skew towards the empty nature, and do not see the total presence, then you have only seen a certain aspect only. But you experienced No Self, originally never a self, everything is just This. This is in itself clear, and vivid, they have the same taste. But it is empty in nature. Understand? That is to say, Here, this is so real, it’s empty. Then you see that all these, everything, the formation, that is called total exertion. You understand? All these, all these, all these, total exertion, empty.
So the first one is you experience, when the self image is gone, you only experience the total presence. The other is to see that this total presence itself, this illumination of Awareness that is so [intense] – wahhh – not that mirror, there is already no mirror. There is just sound, there is just that. This total presence itself, Here, everything is so real, so actual, is empty. That illumination of Awareness IS this sound, (?) but you do not say that it is a release. You must have the view that sees the formation of dependent arising, then release. Then when your view, and your realization and your experience becomes one, then you talk about release. Then at this point you see the Presence, and at the same time you see its Emptiness. Then they are in themselves releasing.
But I do not want you to see the Presence, and then release. Not like this. I am saying, after this, you have to go one more step. With this entire experience of scenery, that is just a formation, which dependently originates. Understand? Then you will have another kind of realization. You understand the difference? You have to go through this one step. This step is to observe everything, this very moment’s entire formation, is empty in nature. Like Hereness, is just another formation. There is no Here. Didn’t I write that? This entire Presence, is empty. Then you know total exertion, but empty and releasing.
If you want to skip, you will not be able to understand what I am saying.
Me: it’s related to what I wrote right, last year June.
John: But you cannot understand very well. You cannot stay at an intellectual level. It must be a direct experience. Writing and your direct understanding is different. What I want is your direct understanding.
Me: There was one time the magical illusion type of perception was very obvious for me that time.
John: But you must know the entire formation. That is to say, your entire experience is always like that. Until the view gets in so deep into you. Actually there is nothing in terms of that. All experiences are like that. All the conscious/subconscious is just like what he said, daily usage (of conventions). But experience is originally like this, they are one. It is just that you think they are that is conscious, [that is subconscious], then you separate them. But you must treat them as one seamless formation, and not separate them. Because they are inseparable from the beginning. Whenever you talk about an experience, there is no experience that you have talked about that is not the total exertion of all these. Never has there been. Otherwise this experience can never be formed.
Me: so it’s like the twelve links of dependent origination, you cannot talk about one link without the others.
John: You cannot talk about this moment of experience [existing in] itself, it involves all these coming together for this to be possible. So to talk about this is that you are separating unnecessarily. And whatever you say is just like the tips of the iceberg, it is nothing true. How can that be true? Understand? It is just like a rope, you keep pinpointing at it, but actually it is this whole formation. Everything, everything, is like this. One experience is originally like this. When you split up experience in this, this, and that, and seeing self or not seeing a self is just the similar kind of tendency. You understand? Every experience is already like that. It involves all these total things coming into one. Isn’t experience already like this? Experience is already like this. It is only in discussion that you split them up. But in real experience, all experiences are like that. Every moment of experience is like this. Understand what I’m saying?
Then after this, you must be able… to have this strength, this practice, moment to moment. It must reach into your three states.
Me: So you said you do not have dreams anymore?
John: No, sometimes there is dreams. I have lots of lucid dreams. I can control the dreams. But each of us have unique conditions. Like for example if you keep playing a game you will eventually dream of the game.
When you practice, like if you keep chanting, it is one seamless flow of activity. You understand? One seamless flow of activity that reaches this. But it is total activity, total chaining. Understand? If you keep chanting, it will also sometimes become like this. Right? You must see it as a form of practice. Right? You may think your practice is enough, but actually it is not enough. Because you are unable to …. Understand what I mean?
You must treat it as a form of practice that is just basically like this, your unripen practice is just unripen practice, yes?
Me: Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche also says it is not enough your rigpa remains in your waking state, that it must go into all the three states also.
John: Yes, what he says has a right point. But what I am telling you is that practice originally has to be just like this, like what I told you, one experience is just like what is known as latent tendencies, (?) all together, a formation of everything. So how can you say from one little bit, … I already told you everything is just a formation and exertion of totality. So how can I give up that one? So for example I am doing business, that will also affect me. Understand? All these activities itself, will surely affect me. Lying, sometimes this, … it will surely affect one’s processes. Understand what I mean? So even if you play one game it will be like this, if you chant it will be like this too, if you do business it will also be likewise, understand? So do not look down on all these. All these causes and conditions that form together from bits and drops. Understand?
So what I want you is to understand this. Otherwise you will not be able to slowly understand causes and conditions. Like for example what I see and what you see is different. Because I have this understanding and experience. So when I see experience I see the totality of experience, what you see is just this experience, and then that. So step by step, you must make them into one seamless thing, the entire activity, the total exertion formation, do not split them up. But when you explain it you have to split them otherwise you will not be able to understand. But when you talk about this experience right at this moment, it is always like that. When has experience, total formation, not been all arising from all these? You understand? Never before it is not like that.
So you must observe/contemplate causes and conditions, and understand its empty nature.
Me: …
John: First of all, let’s say you experience anatta. It is not saying there is no self. It is saying there is no self apart from all these. You understand? If you want to talk about an independently existing Awareness, I say I cannot find it, other than the sound, the scenery, all these aggregates in its purest form of experience, all the taste are the same. All your six sense doors are shut. This pure sense of existence, is no different from this total exertion of this sound, of this breath, this thought, this touch. This total Presence of Here. Correct? So there is nothing special when all sense doors are shut. It is never the purest form, right?
So once you understand that and you clearly see that and you clearly experience that, that this pure sense of empty space, is nothing special. Then you will not be attached. You also don’t know how to be attached. How are you going to be attached when they have the sense taste, correct? So in this pure presence and this totality of presence, this entire formation, you cannot be attached to that. But you still can be attached to the totality. You understand? You can be attached to this. So you must contemplate its empty nature. You must contemplate the entire formation, they are empty in nature.
Here – here is just a formation of all your senses, sense data, interaction, that forms this here-ness, this Here, that is empty. Then your entire experience of total presence will become illusion-like but it is nondual. You will not treat the sensation, this contacts that, this sensation, like Nikolai – he treats it as very real, very real. His experience now is that it is very real/very actual. It is like this, it is like this, it is like this. Actually it is not so. This non-dual experience, it is just a form of formation.
Me: Like after that bahiya sutta realization, I still had this tendency to be very actual, to attach to a Here and Now, then after that there is a shift that sort of ground, here, now is gone, then everything, including the here/now is just transient, vibrating sensations.
John: Not just transience but you must know the insubstantiality. You must see that it feels very real, yet it is a dependently arisen dharma. You also cannot say it is not real.
Me: There’s nothing to hold, there is no core.
John: No, you need to understand the formation. If you cannot see the formation, you cannot see reality, you cannot see any actual thing. You cannot say this moment is very real, very actual, for actually it is empty in nature. Nothing real. But the whole experience is clear, vivid and total presence. You must feel its entire presence, yet its nature is empty. Then that is correct. Understand?
Me: The Buddha said something like – when you see arising, you do not impute non-existence and when you see the cessation you do not impute existence. Is this related to what you are saying?
John: You see, experience and understanding is different for everyone…
…You see, when we say something like this, it is unable to… express what I want to tell you. You understand what I mean? What I want you to experience is, moment by moment, the total presence, but actually its nature is empty.
In the past I asked you, what is “like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows”, do you know the meaning of it? I think I asked you once.
Me: It became more clear like when I was looking at a thought, trying to locate a thought, and finding where it came from, and then suddenly there is just this seeing that actually the thought is illusory, without core or substance, everything is actually the same.
John: Like your experience now, without a background. You need to have enough rest to sleep. Don’t be inverted [in sleep habits]. Then your clarity will be different. Your current experience is like what?
Me: like what you said, clear and vivid…
John: then your sensation, you must spend some time, not to have too much thoughts. Not to have too much discursive thoughts… lessen the thoughts. Then feel this raw sensation. This is total presence. Understand? You must give yourself some quality hours to keep on experiencing this. So when you practice like sensing your breath. Lets say, (breathes) just this total sensation, then release. Then breath… you just need to focus, that’s enough. Then feel the sensation. Focus. Then you incorporate your view into it. Step by step. Then you will be concentrated because you do not have other discursive thoughts. Then you will have the total experience of just this breath. Keep on practice, you know? Make this into a kind of homework.
Because no-self has many phases. Your mind state can be very calm. You can slowly reach another level. Empty nature and no-self is the nature of reality, a dharma seal, that we see in all phenomena. But your moment to moment experience must be slowly tranquilized. Too much discursive thoughts. Understand?
Then when you are unable to… like myself, then I contemplate all are empty in nature, emotions also, because I am non-dual already. But my discursive thoughts are many. Because of business and all that. But when I look into it, they are empty. You understand? If you do not have other ways, then keep practicing in that way. Then it becomes a 24/7 practice of contemplating the dependently arisen dharmas’ empty nature. It becomes a practice that I keep practicing in society, in all that. It becomes a Great practice, you understand?
But now you have time, just experience the vivid-ness, the clarity, the total presence, anatta. Until you focus on Only This Thing. Then you look into this, this formation is empty in nature. So it is a kind of dedicated quality hours. Now you have a lot of time, do not waste it. In the future you may not have such good conditions to practice until like this. So you must have quality hours of sleep, etc, to slowly experience this. Just like a self-retreat.
Me: What do you think about Goenka body scanning?
John: That should only be able to reach anatta level of clarity. It is a not-bad kind of practice. It [breathing mindfulness] has its pros, it has a sensation of dropping. Like everything is being dropped like this. Then when you are at no-self, there is just this energy, this breathing in and out, that sensation.
Me: You’re talking about goenka?
John: No, I’m talking about the observation of breathing. Goenka is about scanning all your sensations. For you, you do not need it. Because your background is gone. That is already natural every-moment practice. But for you, you have to incorporate this relaxation, and your focus.
Me: I think anapanasati is very good. The Buddha talks about sixteen steps. Have you read before? Slowly leading to tranquility, calming the bodily and mental sensations, etc…
John: No. It is considered good. Everything [every kind of practice] has [leads to] its own set of experiences.
Me: That time I haven’t really read that sutta before, but when I first saw that sutta, I was shocked that the steps I go through in anapanasati meditation unfolded exactly as the Buddha unfolded.
John: When did you discover this sutta? Kaccayanagotta sutta. I think you can become a professor.
Me: haha... I am almost going to finish reading this Majjhima Nikaya. Because whenever there is some free time in army, I read it.
John: Take out the books [Ted Biringer’s book, and some others], later I forgot to take.