Showing posts with label Actual Freedom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Actual Freedom. Show all posts[0]=AZUcg2fbsrjcHAAuVCuCuCEf7S7cAuYWyL2sVIBsw4cAinM60e0A6UuFWe8J06mBSFzn4vePrLYrXkIsaRrW9qUrgM8gyQD7xE2taxjDPb5qCAAigBlRPzBiDHRqGhSjvIWkiQV1qUTjAWBOgLlzfCNG7i92Zh7Oe3i7ZaLs6ATzpA&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R

Michael Sky

Rising contributor








What is this groups opinion on actualism / actual freedom? On the site he makes grand claims about how it’s superior to enlightenment. But Daniel Ingram said when he practiced it, it developed him in a different direction than his meditative path.

Dean Paradiso

I revisited it not long ago, and came to the conclusion that the enquiry itself can be useful up to a point and as a nice pointer to return back to direct experiencing. I used it myself at different times. But like any pointer that gets repeated often, it loses its magic after a while. However it’s an incomplete path in itself and needs other ingredients that are missing. They dismiss meditation for instance or ethics. The website is a mess and the ideas expressed on it are purely opinions and some downright ridiculous.

2h2 hours ago



Tommy McNally

Rising contributor

A few of us here have experience with Actual Freedom, and also with Richard and his original AF Trust people like Vineeto, etc..

There are some useful techniques and some of Richard's writings - some which was verifiably plagiarized and reframed from other authors, including Buddhadharma teachers - are pretty good in describing some of the territory beyond what Daniel Ingram describes as 4th Path.

However, AF is an incomplete path. It lacks bodhicitta, amongst other important aspects, and their claims of being "happy and harmless" not only do not appear to be true based on the observed behaviors of its progenitor and friends; but their method of eradicating "affective feeling" (which also appears to be bullshit) encourages repression, denial of emotions and, in at least one case I know of personally, led to psychological issues that required psychotherapy to resolve.

Soh has a good article on Actual Freedom on the AtR site.

If you're curious about it, then by all means explore and experiment; but keep in mind that the allegedly affective emotion-free founder has been seen, in person by several people, in various states of distress, anger and other, quite clearly still active and functioning emotions.

The HAIETMOBA technique can be useful, but ultimately it's just a way to incline attention back towards your immediate sensate experience. The mental posture involved only goes so far and lacks the depth to truly penetrate the skandha of feeling, or to disentangle our mistaken identification with it.

In short, it's not remotely superior, or even equal to Buddhadharma. Yes, it can be a fun and potentially useful developmental trajectory to explore, but it ain't ending suffering for all sentient beings.

Edited to add: Daniel Ingram's criteria for 4th Path, and his descriptions of his current experience, don't align with Arahatship. It's a complex topic, and one I'm not remotely capable of addressing, but I'd suggest taking the MCTB 4-Path model as a useful adaptation by Daniel, rather than as an actual representation of the classical 4-Path model of the Tripitika. I say all of this as someone who has been friends with Daniel for probaby 15+ years, and who has spent time with him in person. I love the guy, but the claims of Arahatship were misguided and caused many, including me, massive confusion over the years.

Hope this helps.

2h2 hours ago



Nafis Rahman


Top contributor

There are prior threads in the group that discuss Actual Freedom along with its founder, Richard Maynard:
He has realized anatta and experiences total exertion, but ends up reifying external reality due not having insight into emptiness and dependent origination. He is still very far from realizing traditional Arhatship/Buddhahood.
Regarding Daniel Ingram, since he skipped I AM, he lacked sufficient luminosity/vividness which is why he felt that he was entering a new phase of development when he practiced Actual Freedom (in reality he was simply realizing anatta stanza 2). MCBT 4th path/’Arhatship’ is only anatta realization, and is equivalent to Pali Canon Stream-Entry/ATR Stage 5. This article by Myriad Objects goes into further detail:

2h2 hours ago


Soh Wei Yu


All-star contributor

You asked at the right place.

In addition to Nafis’s links which you should read and I think Tommy is quite right in his post, I wrote a 100+ page document commenting what’s good and what is wrong about actual freedom richard’s understanding (particularly his misinterpretation of buddhism) here:

I appreciate his teachings (albeit its flaws).

By the way AF Richard died two weeks ago.

I shared on whatsapp: “Af richard died two weeks ago:

Vineeto revealed that richard suffered intense anxiety and was on all kinds of psychotic medications for the first 3-4 years after his “actual freedom”

He wrote this three years after actual freedom

“Dr. Wright has tried me on clonazepan (Rivortril) and a reduced dosage of trifluorperazine (Stelazine), but the side effects of the clonazepan (Rivortril)—(I felt like a walking Zombie)—have proved too much so I am currently taking an increased dose of trifluorperazine (Stelazine) (15 mg.) and diazepam (Valium) (10 mg.) and benztropine (Cogentin) (4 mg.).

The medication makes life barely tolerable, it does not take the symptoms away, it only reduces their severity.

To this day I feel like an alien in a strange and eerie world. I suffer from Depersonalisation and Derealisation—I experience everything as being unreal—and I have nightmares of being back in the Army again and back in Vietnam (strangely enough the nightmares have expanded to include all of South-Eastern Asia). I find anxiety to be too mild a word as I experience life in a state of abject fear.

I have no social life nor friends. My wife (Mrs. Irene [redacted]; pron. ee-ray-nuh) is my only companion. She used to be a registered nursing Sister and is well equipped to be with me in my distress.””

John Tan: “Poor fellow

So don't over claimed”

Soh: “Ya he said he became suicidal (in 1993) which was after attaining actual freedom

But the website also said by 1997 or something he became ok”

Yin ling: “Sounds like very bad anxiety or PTSD”

Soh: “Yeah

Some of his descriptions i could relate during my energy imbalance period

I think its a mix of that and ptsd”

Yin ling: “Ya ptsd sometimes very hard to treat one, veterans especially”

Actual Freedom and Buddhism


Actual Freedom and Buddhism

Actual Freedom and Buddhism

19m19 minutes ago


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Here's a document I wrote many years ago comparing Actual Freedom teachings and the teachings of Buddhism.

ChatGPT generated synopsis:

The document titled "Actual Freedom and Buddhism," written by Soh, explores the conceptual and experiential overlaps and distinctions between Actual Freedom (AF), a modern spiritual practice, and traditional Buddhist teachings, particularly in relation to Thusness's Seven Stages of Enlightenment. Soh delves into a detailed experiential comparison between AF and various stages of Buddhist enlightenment, emphasizing the nuanced understanding of self/Self, no-self/Self (anatta), and the nature of experience in both traditions. The document argues that while AF shares similarities with the insight of Buddhist anatta, particularly in its description of experiential realization, there are key distinctions in their approaches to understanding and experiencing reality. It includes discussions on the nature of subject-object duality, the experience of non-duality and no-self/Self, and the implications of these realizations for spiritual practice. Soh also addresses misunderstandings and critiques concerning the relationship between AF and traditional Buddhist goals, which includes clarifying misconceptions on nirvana and other Buddhist concepts, misrepresented by Richard, providing a balanced perspective on both spiritual approaches, advocating for a nuanced appreciation of both paths while highlighting their potential for complementing each other in a practitioner's journey towards understanding the nature of mind and reality.

Picture: Hawaii

Just now while jogging.. while looking at the trees I suddenly recalled some of my peak experiences of PCE (Pure Consciousness Experience) many years ago, even before anatta was realized in 2010.. (although anatta realization was a crucial key that made this all effortless and natural) the wow factor that arise from the marveling at the wondrous and magical quality of everything and it occurred to me that the wondrous and magical quality is very much present as every vivid actuality of all forms even now except without the aspect of astonishment as it has become a natural quality of experience. It is all so naturally magical, marvelous, and wondrous like I am literally living in a paradise, but without any 'fireworks' or sense that some special event is happening. It is an all-encompassing (and non-metaphysical/non-ontological/non-subjective) Pristine/Pure Awareness completely devoid of a center or boundary, devoid of a self/Self/agent/perceiver/doer/be-er radiating as none other than the very textures and colors and sounds and sensations from moment to moment. The actuality of everything, trees, sky, ground, people, things and events, are revealed in each moment as magical, wonderful, marvelous, alive and vivid beyond description as in being magical and wondrous like actually living in a fairy-tale like paradise without the slightest trace of a self/Self, agent, doer, be-er, being, or the slightest division of a subject and object. Everything (colors/smells/sounds/sensations/touch/thoughts) has a sparkling intensity and brilliance of aliveness that simply stands out.

People not familiar might on first glance think I am describing some special altered state of consciousness unnaturally induced through the ingestion of a psychedelic drug or through some intensive meditative or yogic technique, but I can assure you this is now my everyday and every moment sober, natural, spontaneous and effortless state of experience.

This aspect of a PCE or an Actual Freedom is quite well described by the Actual Freedom teachings (which I have been revisiting recently while helping to write the Awakening to Reality guide), except I would not make ontological statements about the physical universe as I do not have notions of inherent existence with regards to a physical universe out there. The infinitude (boundlessness) of the universe participating in this very spontaneous breathing and activity is experientially actualized as a state of total exertion, with no sense of solidity or inherency involved, therefore I am free from any such views as rejected by the Buddha in the Culamalunkya Sutta as I do not make ontological assertions of some eternal and infinite universe that inherently exists out there, nor is there the slightest sense that a soul exists at all.

Then it also occurred to me that those very familiar with anatta shouldn’t be unfamiliar with total exertion and conditionality (though the view aspect of dependent origination seems missing in teachings like AF), for there is thoroughgoing and cosmic relativity (as in a completely seamless activity that is conventionally expressed as relative origination) in anatta without the slightest trace of an Absolute. It is in this sense of total exertion and thoroughgoing relativity and exertion where the entire universe is participating in every single activity including jogging and breathing, that teachings like Hua-Yen makes sense, however I have to say that I do not have the slightest trace of a metaphysical reality, a noumenon, a Being or a framework of that sort in my consciousness, as my state of consciousness is constantly completely devoid of a self or a Self. And this is why when writings surface recently about noumenon/phenomenon, being, etc, I have to say, those terms resonate with my earlier stages of realisation but my current state is nothing of that kind, there is nothing like that in anatta.

A thought did cross my mind just now -- if Actual Freedom's Richard reads Zen Master Dogen's teachings, he might find some of them resonating, but I did not find any reference to Zen Master Dogen's works in Actual Freedom's website. E.g. , also among many things Soto Zen (Dogen’s lineage teachers) teachers write, Shinshu Roberts wrote the following, “Since our activity is not a progression from delusion to enlightenment made solely by the independent self, Dogen defines the first thought of practice as 'immediate present ultimate Dharma' or genjokoan: the presence and perfection of all dharmas as they are in the here-and-now.' 

Hee-Jin Kim further explains the meaning of genjokoan: 'It does not suggest an evolutionary ascent from hidden-ness to manifestation, or from imperfection to perfection, or conversely, an emanational descent from one to many, or from reality to appearance. Rather, things, events, beings are already unmistakably what they truly are; what is more, they are vibrant, transparent, and bright in their as-they-are-ness.'”

This state of consciousness is devoid of affective emotional imposition on the purity and perfection of the experience. Everything is clean, perfect, wonderful, marvelous and alive, without the additional layer of obscurity that consists of the solidifying of a self/Self with its incumbent habitual (or what Richard calls "instinctual") affective reactions, emotional reactions. For example just now while listening to the baby crying, the crying is incredibly "actual" just as the trees and rivers and buildings are "actual" - not in the sense that they are felt as solid, physical and inherently existing, but "actual" in the sense of vividly manifesting in a completely "pristine" and "unsullied" state, the complete actuality of sound unobscured by any trace of emotional or mental reactions, in actual fact completely unsullied by the slightest trace of subjectivity -- only the crying just as it is, vividly heard, with no self/Self or passions or aversions whatsoever.

And this is how the teachings of Buddha in Bahiya Sutta, and its related Malunkyaputta Sutta leads to complete liberation --

"Then, Malunkyaputta, with regard to phenomena to be seen, heard, sensed, or cognized: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Malunkyaputta, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."

"Knowing an idea — mindfulness lapsed — attending to the theme of 'endearing,' impassioned in mind, one feels and remains fastened there. One's feelings, born of the idea, grow numerous, Greed & annoyance injure one's mind. Thus amassing stress, one is said to be far from Unbinding. Not impassioned with forms — seeing a form with mindfulness firm — dispassioned in mind, one knows and doesn't remain fastened there. While one is seeing a form — and even experiencing feeling — it falls away and doesn't accumulate. Thus one fares mindfully. Thus not amassing stress, one is said to be in the presence of Unbinding."

As a sidenote, I am very blissful these days (not the sort of 'emotional' bliss that is contaminated by self/Self, but always a radiant joyfulness springing up spontaneously as a natural ongoing delightfulness of no-self/no-Self, happy and delightful and smiling very often), today even more so.



Some of my descriptions from related discussions:

"Strong and vivid radiance.. 

Even now the smell of food is standing out in intensity

...[sights have a] HD hypervivid quality...

...Actually more accurate description is magical and marvellous colors (as in the vivid 'textures' of what's called trees, sky, houses, people, streets, etc), sounds (as in the vivid 'textures' of a bird chirping, sound of traffic, etc), scents (as in the aromas of food, and plants, etc), etc. Complete perfection with a stark intensity...

Yet feels completely natural. Without slightest sense of distance or self/Self, even the tiniest details becomes starkly clear

This sense of perfection and magical radiance of everything is still there even when I'm physically tired and lack sleep on the previous night

By magical what I mean is a sense that there’s something very magnificent, almost like beauty but it is not beauty vs ugly and is not at all a subjectively imposed or affective feeling of beauty, but a sense of perfection.. like I look at the fly crawling on my skin, the fly is so completely perfect, like part of the paradise (note: this is different from Thusness's usage of the term 'magical')

Like a ball of radiance, except radiance as none other than the boundless world of forms, colors, textures and sounds, that is the very radiance, for it is the world that is the radiance and nothing else. Not a subjective radiance standing apart from forms.

There is nothing subjectively imposed here.. when I say “sense of perfection” that is already not quite accurate as it conveys some subjectively imposed interpretation of perfection.. rather it is the world that is the perfection and each moment carries the flavor of perfection

Perfection being merely a qualitative description of the pristine state of consciousness/radiant forms, not an affective feeling of "it is perfect" but neither is it an objective characteristic of some inherently existing object (there is neither subject nor object as subject and object is conceptual)

But this state of consciousness is not just heightened clarity... it’s like even the trees swaying is marvelously and magically alive and life reveals its significance and meaning all around. I think this is what Richard calls “meaning of life”.

The emotional model of AF makes some sense"


Driving around Singapore, it feels like I am experiencing Singapore for the first time. 


I would also just like to add that this luminosity has always been experienced since anatta 8 years back and as glimpses even before anatta realization, but it's getting more intense after a few events these days. Or as John Tan (Thusness) suggest, some overcoming of the center. He told me he actually expected that I'll experience this a long time ago, but I was late by 2 years from his expectation


[9:40 PM, 3/29/2019] Soh Wei Yu: Now I’m walking.. absolutely no self /Self/agency at all.. and the pce [i.e. the vivid radiance of anatta that 'makes' everything like a wondrous paradise is now my unbroken state] is still there as before but the main characteristic that stands out now is not the radiance but the walking is just infinitude of the universe as the seamless activity.. in the absence of an agent/self/Self there is just this
[9:42 PM, 3/29/2019] Soh Wei Yu: [And also the experience comes with a] Very still mind.. except when writing this
[9:42 PM, 3/29/2019] John Tan: Yes don't focus, relax and be light. No self, no center. Don't over do. Learn a somatic technique.
[9:52 PM, 3/29/2019] Soh Wei Yu: yea this cosmic sense of centerless ness is different from focused kind of pce.. it’s like pce is already natural here and makes no sense to focus more.. the cosmic sense of Maha does not require focusing but complete opening without self/Self/agent... it created no tension in my head at all
[9:55 PM, 3/29/2019] John Tan: Yes
[9:57 PM, 3/29/2019] John Tan: Just centerless and without background, light and immense. No focus no concentration. Natural and free.
[9:57 PM, 3/29/2019] John Tan: And master a somatic technique to release ur body and any form of energy imbalance.


“Arthur Deller not that it needs a name but that’s what I call interpenetration. What is so beautiful about this is that, like other realization “stages” or fundamental shifts in experiential insight, it is seen to be more primary, natural and spontaneous than what came before. Before meaning sense gates as separate from one another even if explored directly and non conceptually as pristine, complete, self releasing phenomena. As this interpenetration becomes more and more “just the way it is” it also becomes more intuitively clear that it is uncaused, free and spontaneous. Here a great relaxation is possible. Practice of vigilance gives way to immersion and unfettered enjoyment, but without contraction. That last part is important. Before a thorough examination of the vivid, all encompassing, no-remainder nature of each sense gate (including consciousness), what we think of relaxation is still intertwined with subtle avoidance mechanisms. So then relaxation is related to personal will more than a natural expression of harmonization with the flow of phenomonality (no-gap).” - Angelo Gerangelo


[8/4/19, 7:19:55 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Btw the other day I was investigating fear.. then I saw how fear is tied to the sense of self that feels like its existence needs to be protected.. but upon investigating that sense of self is completely seen to be a complete delusional fabrication without basis and then released. It seems to improve my fearlessness... ...Also just now I see that everything is total exertion.. even looking at the patch of grass is the body mind universe in total exertion.. so the infinitude should be tasted as a natural state in each moment
[9/4/19, 7:25:01 AM] John Tan: Yes contemplation is a good practice but more importantly is to arise the willinglessness to let go.  Not through analysis alone but recognition of the energetic pattern of attachment.

Actually anatta itself is sufficient to dissolve fear,  just how deep the insight goes.  Ignorance manifests as attachment but it is difficult to uproot as seeing through is only at the surface compare to the aeon lives of attachments and we constantly re-enforce such view.  Wrong view and attachments beget each other and one attachment leads to another endlessly.  The "willingness" that let go must arise to directly feel the afflictive chain as a form of energetic pattern, analysis itself is insufficient.
[9/4/19, 8:02:54 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
[10/4/19, 3:28:33 PM] Soh Wei Yu: I looked down from tall building over railing.. not much fear.. maybe initially a slight body sensation but nothing like before.. maybe if someone push me I might.. stopped looking after people come out of bunk and I don’t want to look funny 🤣

[10/4/19, 3:29:37 PM] Soh Wei Yu: I like to just stand there looking at the scenery... stillness, boundlessness, trees and horizon


“I” am my emotions and fears and the emotions and fears are “me” in the same way that the aggregates are collated into a Self by imputation.. even as there is no agent for any arising including the sense of self which occurs by dependent arising.

The sense of self and emotions and fears as a protective mechanism is not necessary for the optimum functioning of life.. it has served its purpose. Seeing this there is another level of release which seems like a veil has lifted.. there is now a stillness

There is a sense of deep stillness that is the character of the universe.. even as activities, sounds, people walking and everything is happening, everything feels very still. Amidst the centerlessness and boundlessness there is a stillness.. both in the sense of silence and the sense that there is no sense of movement.

Just sitting on the bed... seeing the ceiling, the link door, the fan whirling sound... all these simple things are delightful without any other entertainments. And even seeing the fan is inseparable with the total exertion of my breathing.. the movement of the diaphragm, my eyes, the fan, the wind blowing...


Senses are naturally heightened and everything takes on a depth and freshness like you never experienced before. Colors literally feels deeper and more vibrant, sounds and scents are felt with stark vividness, an energetic pulsation of sensation flows throughout the body, and you can’t help but be in a state of wonderment at the aliveness of the universe. That’s just the radiance aspect. There is also a complete absence of self/Self and only the forms and textures and fabric of the moment are the radiance, nothing else behind or besides as if experiencing things through a separative veil, that hallucinatory separative veil and background self/Self preventing a complete gaplessness and directness and immediacy of the experience of actual that is conventionally called “people, things and events” is realised to be completely delusory and extinguished. Without that hallucinatory veil, the other person you meet, the sun in the distance is seen and experienced to be no more distant than your heartbeat. For no longer do you see yourself as the seer of scenery, in seeing there is just radiant colors, in sensing just sensations without a sensor. This absence of distance and separation is called “actual intimacy” by Richard but a better term would be gaplessness as there is simply no one to “be intimate with” another, there is only another - the actuality of “people, things and events”.

The sense of a self that feels like its existence needs to be protected or feels threatened and fearful or distressed and any other manners of emotional affliction is also seen to be a complete phantasm, a delusional construct without the slightest existence in actuality and thus extinguished, leaving the perfection and purity of the actual and the trees and nature appears as a paradisiacal wonderland full of neverending gladness and delight. You smile more. There is a complete absence of grim and glum in the “actual”, only bright, joyful radiance and peace.

The radiance that is the very forms is always already so but the separative veil and identity prevents the full blossoming of the radiance and infinitude of the universe. This delusional veil of identity dulls out perception of life. It literally dulls our experience in the opposite way that psychedelics heightens it or tunes it up (albeit only temporarily - but once identity is completely relinquished this non-separative heightened perception of life becomes permanent).

This separative veil and identity must be completely seen through as a delusion and completely extinguished without a trace for the permanent actualization of the gapless and direct radiance of the actual and the infinitude of total exertion. In the infinitude of the universe, everything you see and experience is centerless and boundless, even the words on the screen is the exertion of the ten directions and three times (limitless space and limitless time), and yet the universe is at a standstill, a complete stillness or lack of continuity of something or 'myself' over time.

This separative veil and identity is precisely what must be “cleansed” from the “doors of perception” that prevents us from the direct living of the magical wonderland of the actual, such as William Blake have said,

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”


"I’m now at the park.. the infinitude, aliveness, perfection of everything is strong.. but no tenseness. There is the experience that this body and every body and everything is the expression of the infinitude of the universe.. like I am the same stuff as everything, but I do not have the slightest sense of being a universal consciousness [there is no trace of metaphysicality or subjectivity here]. Neither do I reify some solid physical universe existing out there.. it’s just that the experience is like that

There is much joy and wonder.. my eyes are open wide.

The experience is like richard says, I am the infinite universe experiencing itself as this sensate and reflective body mind

Actually to say the experience is like this is wrong.. as if it implies subjectivity.. to say it is a physical universe out there is wrong.. to say it is universal consciousness is wrong.. yet it is experienced as cosmic exertion

Everything is seamlessly connected.. and interpenetrating. And the seamless infinitude of the universe does not take away the awareness of specific causalities, like I clearly know when an ant is biting my legs, that the pain is linked to the ant biting.

There is no effort at all in this state.. no concentration at all.. in fact concentration will probably spoil the natural boundless perfection

I think I do feel light as feather and immense as universe..."


"Sorry I didn’t look into your previous mail, lots of things have been happening to my life lately and something happened to my practice lately that resembles some of the things on the AF site. There is/was the intense actualization of the previous realization (I've had this realization of anatta for 8+ years with varying degrees or intensity in experience since then) of the radiance that is none other than the textures and details of infinite world (which makes the world a paradisiacal wonderland of incredible aliveness and in that sense resembles a constant trip on a psychedelic drug like LSD despite being completely sober, the colors literally look brighter and deeper, the scents and sounds and tactile sensations all becomes intensified and experienced differently - it felt like my brain, body and state of consciousness underwent a form of mutation and transformation) and there is/was an ongoing surge of super-active energy-sensation running through the body (which has by now mellowed a little but not completely gone and I feel this is what makes me more awake and energized in the day), and the state of consciousness was/is so incredibly intense and blissful. 

However, at one point an energy imbalance developed (and I think it was partly due to my wrong way of practicing, my overfocusing on the details of the world in PCE created a rather tense energy), a stuck energy in the head and third eye chakra that caused headaches, affected my state of consciousness and thought process (I can hardly focus on work during that time, I was just lucky I didn’t have a very busy schedule at work back then), made me barely able to work and function and sleepless (at the peak of the imbalance at least for one day I could not sleep at all - my body laid on the bed while the mind was awake) and then on the last day I actually spent half an hour in the office toilet to calm my energies with the nausea which was hard to bear and on that day I entered a half-awake trance like state and had flashes of figures (like two brief one-second flashes of hallucination - one of a witch-looking woman wearing black and one of an alien-looking man with big eyes) and on a separate occasion (not tied to or caused by the hallucination - the brief flashes of images caused no fear in me) a brief one second flash of bodily sensations that seemed like fear caused by (or rather, is none other than a brief outburst of) the agitation of stuck energy but without any mental story or emotional content. I intuitively stood up and walked around, as soon as I stood up it subsided. But nonetheless it did cast doubt on my having overcome fear, but a further insight some days later seemed to do further damage to the sense of self involved in fear. Also, during that day I entered the world of sound where music took on a new depth while relaxing with music, but I quickly snapped out of it as I knew any focusing on sound will agitate my energies further. After these unpleasant experiences I thought to myself that I needed my family members to drive me home from work that day as I did not think it will be safe for me to operate a vehicle with my condition then. Fortunately by 5pm+ the tense energy in my head and chest suddenly lifted and my mind went back to normal. It has been solved since then (it’s been about 2~3 weeks already), no more headaches, stuck and tense energy, trouble falling asleep, brain fog, etc. I was very wary of consuming caffeine (I avoided all coffee, tea, and chocolates) then as even a cup of tea was able to trigger another episode of a shift of consciousness and energy that sort of resembles the over-excited energy even about 1~2 weeks ago, but by now I am able to enjoy a cup of coffee without too much issues. 

I was reminded of Richard’s 2 years period of mental agony and ‘brain excitation’ and U.G. Krishnamurti’s ‘calamity’ that he said was a mental torture which lasted 3 years. Fortunately that only lasted like a week or so and I am so glad to have solved that rather quickly (instead of years) with the advise of Thusness who seems to have gone through all these, he basically taught me to relax, completely stop any thinking or contemplating (including but not limited to any issues pertaining to self/no-self/actual/radiance/universe/etc) as it has been my experience too that any thinking simply agitates my energies further at that point, stop focusing in a contrived manner, stop focusing on radiance and simply concentrate on somatic practice and rooting to the earth, bringing the energy into the abdomen and ground. That helped. (For a somewhat related energy practice, see John Tan had also informed me that the energy imbalance could have been far worse had I not nipped it in the bud.

Now all the good things remain without the energy imbalance stuff, like the full glory of PCE and the infinitude of the universe (without any need for focusing or effort - the centerless, boundlessness and infinitude of the universe is simply spontaneously present and living this 'flesh and blood body') where the field of consciousness is very naturally, unconstricted by the sense of a center, the vast infinite expanse (centerless, boundless) of the universe without the slightest trace of self/Self in which this body and everybody and everything is the expression of/with, a total exertion with the whole universe, including lessened sleep (right after I overcome the energy imbalance: 4-5 hours, now [2 to 3 weeks later] 5-6 hours, but in the past I can sleep anywhere from 7 to 10 hours plus naps in the afternoon if I'm free) but have no trouble falling asleep at all, and I feel much more energised with that lessened amount of sleep than when I was waking up with the help of alarm clocks with 7 hours of sleep everyday back then. John Tan (Thusness) himself sleeps only 4 to 5 hours everyday and has told me 10+ years ago that at some point my sleep will lessen and I will undergo a bodily transformation and become beaming with clarity and energy (the details of what he described was identical to what I have underwent recently), and recently he said he has been expecting that I would experience what I've been experiencing recently but I was behind his expected schedule by 2 years. I see the lessened need for sleep as a positive development for me, as that means I have more time to spend on other things. 

This intense apperception has been ongoing in an unbroken way for a month or more, though there has been a gradual building up for months until a triggering event about a month back when I was contemplating on a PCE that made it go off the roof. The constant mode of heightened apperception seems to lessen or blocks out my ability to visualise and imagine. When closing eyes the state of consciousness is still apperception where only the vivid actuality of blackness is present along with whatever visual (non-imagined) colors imprinted due to lighting. Daydreaming seems gone or almost (if I relax I can still get a few wandering thoughts but that’s it, I cannot really enter into a state of daydreaming) whereas I used to enjoy daydreaming especially when younger, yet I do not think I have 'no imagination capacity' (I can still get a faint semblance of an image I used to be able to conjure up with considerably more effort, it doesn’t come as naturally or easily as before). 

Dreams seems to have changed or is changing, I think I am dreaming less, with perhaps less visual content than before (I do not recall much visual contents, however I can't be sure if they completely lack that aspect). The last vivid dream with full on imagery was 1+ months back - I dreamt I was in a lift and that lift failed, I went into a free-fall from the 10th floor to the 1st and I thought I was going to die but I experienced 0 fear, anxiety, tenseness, emotions at all. Emotions now seem to have reduced a lot or changed and it is tempting at times to think "this is it, I'm free from affective emotions" but I still hesitate to make claims about being free from affective emotions as I think I will need more time to observe the changes - IMO the only way to get a good gauge of any changes is through time-testing in challenging conditions and utter sincerity (many have dropped claims later on, I would rather not make a claim to have them dropped later, making some claims to finality is not necessary to me). I am not too concerned whether I am there or I am not there, what matters more is the ongoing moment-to-moment actualization of freedom and peace, and if anything that hinders freedom arises, then they too can be investigated and dissolved or released with practice. And despite whatever breakthroughs we have in practice, life goes on - there are still so many things to be learnt and experienced in life, our new insights and state of consciousness continues to be integrated in various ways, and so on. It's not some be-all-end-all event in life that marks the end of any further developments down the road. If anything, perhaps it marks a new beginning in life, where life starts to be lived in an ever-fresh and pristine manner.

But the best thing in terms of affect so far is that the constant apperception is such a joyful, clean, pristine state of appreciating the boundless and radiant world that there isn't room for unpleasant emotions like sadness, boredom, depression, etc. There is certainly no more "Monday blues" or any kind of "blues" at all. It make sense now in my experience when Richard says his days are one perfect day after another. Even lying on bed, looking at the ceiling, the sound of the humming and background noises is joyful. Any added entertainment on top of that perfection is just another addition on top of perfection."


This state of apperception is effortlessly and naturally present from the very moment I wake up to the moment I sleep, for example when I wake up sometimes a sound is heard and I do not even know where I am (the body is lying on the bed but the mind hasn't cognized that on the very first moment of waking up) in contrast to the bird chirping or the fan humming as there is simply no 'I' to be located anywhere, there is only everything everywhere... it is almost as if I am at the sound of the bird chirping except there is no 'I' to 'be at' or 'be one with' the sound, there is only sound. The reflection of the orange rising sun over the window in the next building shines as vivid radiance with flawless perfection... the radiant energies courses through the body, energising and vitalising my day. All these informs me that it's going to be yet another perfect day in paradise even before I open my eyes. When driving, when walking, overlooking the long stretch of road over the horizon, there is no center, no reference-point, no center-of-reference, and no circumference... the whole universe is walking, is the walking, is the driving, where the movement of legs is not done or perceived by an 'I' (there is no doer, thinker, feeler, watcher, cognizer, being/Being whatsoever, only action) and this body is walking inseparably from the entire universe, it is not the case that there is a body here and a separate universe out there in which the body moves through.

Another thing I think AF is good at pointing out is that the slightest emotional affliction and feeling tone is tied to sense of self (thus the term “feeling being”) and obscures the purity and perfection of the pristine apperceptive awareness of mere forms, colors, sounds, etc. It can be noticed to have a palpable shift even though both feeling tone mode and non feeling tone mode may already be free of duality after realization. Got a better understanding of this point this year from experience

The very clean, luminous, free, uncontaminated perfection and purity of sensate display without any trace of self/Self and even emotions is now my default state.

The difference is a palpable shift from experience through a subtle feeling tone to completely selfless purity of the luminosity of the vivid silvery colors called table, spoon, and so on.. completely devoid of any sense of self/Self and feelings.

But it is important IMO to breakthrough by insight and realization of anatta first. The rest will follow naturally.”

“Certain descriptions of PCE (Pure Consciousness Experience) and Actualism are now a very, very close, identical or almost identical description to what I am experiencing intensely on a constant and unbroken basis for the past 1+ month (Update 9 months later: yep, still so, in fact even better now). However, as the Actualists experience an inherently existing, solid and physical universe, it is not completely identical to what I experience, although on the aspect of anatta and total exertion there are similarities. However as Vineeto [an actually free individual] informed me, ‘it is my direct experience that trees and rivers and buildings … and birds and clouds and the entire physical universe are solid, physical and inherently existing.’

For me the world like a car, a car cannot be found to exist as any particular parts (windscreen/engine/doors/etc designated in isolation or separated from each other cannot be asserted as a car on their own), functions (such as driving), and conditions involved in the driving, nor does a car exist in and of itself something apart from those parts, functions and conditions, but depend on these parts and functions and conditions there is the valid convention ‘car’, that ‘car’ is merely imputed in dependence. Therefore the ‘car’ does not ‘inherently exist in and of itself’ as a soul-like essence to be found as a ‘thing’ somewhere, but is imputed in dependence, yet I am not asserting non-existence. Likewise to anything else in the universe. What is experienced in PCE (or what appears to me similar to PCE) to me does not inherently exist with a soul-like substance to be found anywhere, yet is vividly clear, alive, and not in any way subjective (I do not subsume them into a universal subjectivity or consciousness).

I do not experience an inherently existing physical universe, nor do I experience an inherently existing awareness/Self/Brahman. I experience a fourth alternative (to the normal, spiritual/metaphysical, physical). My direct experience is without a who, where, or when, and yet there is not just blankness or nothing. I think spontaneous presencing is a good term. That spontaneous and seamless presencing is not generated by a self/Self and yet is not ‘inherently there in and of itself’, rather it is spontaneously presencing via total exertion (conventionally expressed as dependent origination or conditionality), empty and luminous. It is not some self-existing metaphysical presence, Absolute or Being, nor is spontaneous presencing a formless entity - whatever arises is spontaneous presencing, always seen, heard, tasted and experienced. What that is not seen, not heard and not experienced, is merely our conceptual idea of what “Presence” is. Neither is spontaneous presencing an inherently existing universe, nor is spontaneous presence manifesting causelessly/randomly/by chance, rather that spontaneous presencing is none other than the Maha (great/boundless) total exertion of the seamless conditions of the three times and ten directions, however it is not a linear causality where cause and effect are strictly separate with an actor (cause) and acted-upon (effect). As Dogen said, “Cause is not before and effect is not after.” and John Tan wrote in 2013, “Do you feel being caused or effected? It is just a single flow. Now when we see one, the 10000 things arise”. You can say what I experience (there is no ‘I’) is a spontaneous presencing that is none other than a seamlessly interdependent, radiant and empty universe.



AP to Soh Wei Yu I still don't understand. If you are a materialist, you believe that what you experience is brain signals. You never encounter the physical world itself -- it is an inference and never a direct perception. Why would one ever be certain that an inference is "more real than real"? On the other hand, this "sheer fact of experience" is NOT an inference. It is directly experienced (even if it is unoriginated). In this way, the two cannot be at comparable levels of delusion -- unless you're saying that after anatta, experience itself ceases (which would be surprising).

Half of me wants to believe there's something you're saying that I'm just not getting, and the other half thinks I still haven't explained myself clearly enough.

· Reply · a day ago1d · Edited

Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu to AP

That is not how actual freedom understands things.

They say again and again they directly experience the actual facticity of the physical universe. Since the physical universe is directly experienced to be real for them and in fact the sole ultimate reality, it isn’t a stretch to say consciousness is simply the physical universe, or brains, in action.

Just like the Hindus say they directly experience themselves to be an inherently existing metaphysical essence. They do not say that metaphysical essence is an inference.

· Reply · a day ago1d · Edited

Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu Vineeto [an actually free individual] informed me, ‘it is my direct experience that trees and rivers and buildings … and birds and clouds and the entire physical universe are solid, physical and inherently existing.’

· Reply · a day ago1d

Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu Their sheer facticity of luminosity, the brightness, vividness, of forms and sounds and so on are seen to be intrinsic properties of the “actual world”.

· Reply · a day ago1d · Edited

Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu Have you ever experienced a PCE?

· Reply · a day ago1d

AP to Soh Wei Yu I don't think I have experienced PCE.

· Reply · a day ago1d

AP But if I believed in an inherent physical reality, then I would be forced to admit that what I'm experiencing is my own brain's energy, and not physical reality directly, right?

· Reply · a day ago1d · Edited

Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu to AP

Ah ok. Maybe one day if you experience it you will see what it means to directly encounter the world.

This mode of perception is nothing wrong just like I AM is nothing wrong, the view just needs to be refined to reveal the true nature of both modes

· Reply · a day ago1d · Edited

AP to Soh Wei Yu I still don't see why. Are you saying that AF does NOT believe that their brains cause their experience? Because if they do believe that (and earlier I think we said they do -- it is an epiphenomenon), then they have already clearly admitted that their contact with physical reality is not "direct" but indirect.

· Reply · a day ago1d · Edited

AP They can only be saying "I directly experience this luminosity, and it makes me feel absolutely certain that it's being caused by a real physical world." They have not introspected on where this feeling of absolute certainty comes from, and this greatly surprises me.

This is very different from someone who says only "I directly experience this luminosity" and refuses to attribute anything more to it (other than perhaps "reality," which is a relatively much milder inference even if it's also wrong).

· Reply · a day ago1d · Edited

Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu You can't understand this way. You have to see from the perspective of their insight and experience. What is it like? It is the complete deconstruction and dissolution of subjectivity in terms of experience and insight. Of the sense of being/Being. Of the sense of a feeler, thinker, perceiver, agent, and so on. Of the sense of an egoic self, and even a metaphysical, ultimate Self.

When those are thoroughly seen through and dissolved, what's experienced? That there is only the actualness and aliveness of pure objectivity, the mere field of happening. Complete directness, complete gaplessness, to the point of the absoluteness of the field of objectivity that is the infinitude of the universe. There is no you being in contact with the world, it is just the radiant world revealing itself to itself. No you at all. And pure (as in uncontaminated by self/Self) consciousness is just this vivid happening, the universe experiencing itself as apperceptive consciousness. Consciousness is clearly seen and experienced as being free of self or a Self.

Note that the realization and experience of anatta means all sense of subjectivity is seen as an illusion and dissolved. Then one has direct contact of mere sights, sounds, sensations, smells, taste, thought, as vibrant and bright luminosity. Even to say 'contact' is wrong here, since there is no two things being in contact or intimacy with each other. There is simply the actual, luminous world, revealing itself to itself... as I said. Richard calls this 'actual intimacy', being intimate with a table, a tree, and so on. I say even intimacy is not clear enough as a term, John and I calls it gaplessness.

It is important that this 'luminosity' is directly realized and experienced as the very very vibrant and alive colors, sounds, sensations, themselves. There is no 'luminosity' other than those, for one who realised anatta. Luminosity is just these vivid obviousness and aliveness as mere manifestation. Objects literally seem bright, brilliant, intensified, more colorful, HD, even the tiniest details are revealed as wondrous radiance, but it is not just that -- it is the complete absence of an illuminator or self/Self behind these vivid illuminating 'stuff'. Sounds are very clear and resonant.. Scents becomes very very strong and perculiar... so on for all other senses including thoughts. It is this vividness and shining brightness that is the luminosity. In fact if you have not come to this point of realisation and actualization that the luminosity is the very stuff of the 'transience', you haven't realised anatta at all, at least in my definition and John Tan's definition. So it is good that at least Actual Freedom has come to this point. You clearly see and experience that the luminosity has no other source than the exertion of the infinite universe (field of objectivity), there being no background source, no subjectivity, that referent of a subject is seen to be an illusion. It is the mere happening, the mere stuff of the universe that they call 'actual world' or seen as an infinite field of objectivity, that is very vibrant, alive, literally luminous, radiant, bright, intense, sparkling, vivid, so on and so forth. When it is seen that a real subject is an illusion, would it be a stretch to say that consciousness is the infinitude of the universe exerting itself as brain in action?

If you no longer have the illusion that a subjective self/Self exists in any way, then would it be a stretch to then say or postulate that the brilliance is inherent to the objects?

In truth, there are no subjects and objects, no objects and intrinsic characteristics of objects for one who realizes emptiness. Sure, there is no awareness besides manifestation, a mere luminous happening, a mere occurrence. But manifestation is just like chariot, it is understood in terms of dependent origination and dependent designation, non-arisen. This part, AF Richard doesn't understand.

· Reply · 47 minutes ago47m · Edited

Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu

RICHARD: So as to circumvent coining new words I chose to make a distinct difference between the word ‘actual’ and the word ‘real’ (plus the word ‘fact’ and the word ‘true’) whereas the dictionaries do not: thus when I talk of the actual world, as contrasted to the real world, whilst both words refer to the physical world I am making a distinction in experience.

I usually put it this way: what one is (what not who) is these eyes seeing, these ears hearing, this tongue tasting, this skin touching and this nose smelling – and no separative identity (no ‘I’/‘me’) inside the body means no separation whatsoever – whereas ‘I’/‘me’, a psychological/psychic entity, am busily creating an inner world and an outer world and looking out through ‘my’ eyes upon ‘my’ outer world as if looking out through a window, listening to ‘my’ outer world through ‘my’ ears as if they were microphones, tasting ‘my’ outer world through ‘my’ tongue, touching ‘my’ outer world through ‘my’ skin and smelling ‘my’ outer world through ‘my’ nose.

This entity, or being, residing in the body is forever cut-off from the actual – from the world as-it-is – because its inner world reality is pasted as a veneer over the actual world, thus creating the outer world reality known as the real world, and experiences an affective intimacy (oneness, union, unity, wholeness) wherein the separation is bridged by love and compassion ... instead of an actual intimacy (direct, instant, immediate, absolute) where there is no separation whatsoever.

In other words, no separative identity in the first place means no division exists to be transcended.
Frequently Asked Questions – What is Actual Intimacy?
· Reply · Remove Preview · 39 minutes ago39m


Also, here are some quotations where I find some similarities between Zen Master Dogen and AF Richard's message (both talk and emphasize about total exertion/the infinitude of the universe being apperceptively aware as a flesh and blood body in their own ways) although I am not suggesting that their expressions are completely similar -

From Bendowa, by Zen Master Dogen

Question Ten:

Some have said: Do not concern yourself about birth-and-death. There is a way to promptly rid yourself of birth-and-death. It is by grasping the reason for the eternal immutability of the 'mind-nature.' The gist of it is this: although once the body is born it proceeds inevitably to death, the mind-nature never perishes. Once you can realize that the mind-nature, which does not transmigrate in birth-and-death, exists in your own body, you make it your fundamental nature. Hence the body, being only a temporary form, dies here and is reborn there without end, yet the mind is immutable, unchanging throughout past, present, and future. To know this is to be free from birth-and-death. By realizing this truth, you put a final end to the transmigratory cycle in which you have been turning. When your body dies, you enter the ocean of the original nature. When you return to your origin in this ocean, you become endowed with the wondrous virtue of the Buddha-patriarchs. But even if you are able to grasp this in your present life, because your present physical existence embodies erroneous karma from prior lives, you are not the same as the sages.

"Those who fail to grasp this truth are destined to turn forever in the cycle of birth-and-death. What is necessary, then, is simply to know without delay the meaning of the mind-nature's immutability. What can you expect to gain from idling your entire life away in purposeless sitting?"

What do you think of this statement? Is it essentially in accord with the Way of the Buddhas and patriarchs?

Answer 10:

You have just expounded the view of the Senika heresy. It is certainly not the Buddha Dharma.

According to this heresy, there is in the body a spiritual intelligence. As occasions arise this intelligence readily discriminates likes and dislikes and pros and cons, feels pain and irritation, and experiences suffering and pleasure - it is all owing to this spiritual intelligence. But when the body perishes, this spiritual intelligence separates from the body and is reborn in another place. While it seems to perish here, it has life elsewhere, and thus is immutable and imperishable. Such is the standpoint of the Senika heresy.

But to learn this view and try to pass it off as the Buddha Dharma is more foolish than clutching a piece of broken roof tile supposing it to be a golden jewel. Nothing could compare with such a foolish, lamentable delusion. Hui-chung of the T'ang dynasty warned strongly against it. Is it not senseless to take this false view - that the mind abides and the form perishes - and equate it to the wondrous Dharma of the Buddhas; to think, while thus creating the fundamental cause of birth-and-death, that you are freed from birth-and-death? How deplorable! Just know it for a false, non-Buddhist view, and do not lend a ear to it.

I am compelled by the nature of the matter, and more by a sense of compassion, to try to deliver you from this false view. You must know that the Buddha Dharma preaches as a matter of course that body and mind are one and the same, that the essence and the form are not two. This is understood both in India and in China, so there can be no doubt about it. Need I add that the Buddhist doctrine of immutability teaches that all things are immutable, without any differentiation between body and mind. The Buddhist teaching of mutability states that all things are mutable, without any differentiation between essence and form. In view of this, how can anyone state that the body perishes and the mind abides? It would be contrary to the true Dharma.

Beyond this, you must also come to fully realize that birth-and-death is in and of itself nirvana. Buddhism never speaks of nirvana apart from birth-and-death. Indeed, when someone thinks that the mind, apart from the body, is immutable, not only does he mistake it for Buddha-wisdom, which is free from birth-and-death, but the very mind that makes such a discrimination is not immutable, is in fact even then turning in birth-and-death. A hopeless situation, is it not?

You should ponder this deeply: since the Buddha Dharma has always maintained the oneness of body and mind, why, if the body is born and perishes, would the mind alone, separated from the body, not be born and die as well? If at one time body and mind were one, and at another time not one, the preaching of the Buddha would be empty and untrue. Moreover, in thinking that birth-and-death is something we should turn from, you make the mistake of rejecting the Buddha Dharma itself. You must guard against such thinking.

Understand that what Buddhists call the Buddhist doctrine of the mind-nature, the great and universal aspect encompassing all phenomena, embraces the entire universe, without differentiating between essence and form, or concerning itself with birth or death. There is nothing - enlightenment and nirvana included - that is not the mind-nature. All dharmas, the "myriad forms dense and close" of the universe - are alike in being this one Mind. All are included without exception. All those dharmas, which serves as "gates" or entrances to the Way, are the same as one Mind. For a Buddhist to preach that there is no disparity between these dharma-gates indicates that he understands the mind-nature.

In this one Dharma [one Mind], how could there be any differentiate between body and mind, any separation of birth-and-death and nirvana? We are all originally children of the Buddha, we should not listen to madmen who spout non-Buddhist views.


Mind is skin, flesh, bones and marrow. Mind is taking up a flower and smiling. There is having mind and having no mind... Blue, yellow, red, and white are mind. Long, short, square, and round are mind. The coming and going of birth and death are mind. Year, month, day, and hour are mind. The coming and going of birth and death are mind. Water, foam, splash, and flame are mind. Spring flowers and autumn moon are mind. All things that arise and fall away are mind.


‘Mind as mountains, rivers, and the earth is nothing other than mountains, rivers, and the earth. There are no additional waves or surf, no wind or smoke. Mind as the sun, the moon, and the stars is nothing other than the sun, the moon, and the stars.’

...According to Dogen, this “oceanic-body” does not contain the myriad forms, nor is it made up of myriad forms – it is the myriad forms themselves. The same instruction is provided at the beginning of Shobogenzo, Gabyo (pictured rice-cakes) where, he asserts that, “as all Buddhas are enlightenment” (sho, or honsho), so too, “all dharmas are enlightenment” which he says does not mean they are simply “one” nature or mind.
~ Ted Biringer

All Buddhas and all things cannot be reduced to a static entity or principle symbolized as one mind, one nature, or the like. This guards against views that devaluate the unique, irreplaceable individuality of a single dharma.
Hee-Jin Kim, Flowers of Emptiness, p.257

Zen teacher David Loy:

Dogen "misinterprets" some of the most famous Zen stories to give them a radically different meaning-often one diametrically opposed to the traditional understanding. In the Katto fascicle, for example, Dogen challenges the traditional view of Bodhidharma's dharma transmission to his four disciples Tao-fu, Tsung-chih, Tao-yu, and Hui-k'o. According to their different responses to his challenge, Bodhidharma says that they have attained his skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, respectively-the last because Hui-k'o demonstrates the highest attainment by saying nothing at all. So it is, at least according to the usual view that sees these four attainments as metaphors for progressively deeper stages of understanding, indicating a hierarchy of rank among the disciples. Dogen, however, repudiates this common view by adopting the absolute point of view:

We should know that the patriarch's saying "skin, flesh, bones, and marrow" has no bearing on shallowness or deepness.... The patriarch's body-mind is such that the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow are all equally the patriarch himself: the marrow is not the deepest, the skin is not shallowest.17

A Soto Zen (Dogen’s lineage) teacher Shinshu Roberts says:

"Immediate Present, Ultimate Dharma
Since our activity is not a progression from delusion to enlightenment made solely by the independent self, Dogen defines the first thought of practice as 'immediate present ultimate Dharma' or genjokoan: the presence and perfection of all dharmas as they are in the here-and-now.' Hee-Jin Kim further explains the meaning of genjokoan:

'It does not suggest an evolutionary ascent from hidden-ness to manifestation, or from imperfection to perfection, or conversely, an emanational descent from one to many, or from reality to appearance. Rather, things, events, beings are already unmistakably what they truly are; what is more, they are vibrant, transparent, and bright in their as-they-are-ness.'

…This would not be how Dogen would approach the practice of deep investigation or exhaustive penetration. He might be describe the activity of washing dishes as washing washes washing, thereby removing the subject-object relationship. Mindfulness may be a dharma gate to intimacy, but it is not the Zen practice of exhaustively penetrating the totality of one's experience. In the true intimacy of complete engagement there is no labeling of self or other that comes from paying attention to something outside the self….

Included in this intimate total immersion in the being-time of a particular moment is the simultaneous arising of all being-time. This nondualism is not separate from the relative or everyday. Washing dishes is not special. By entering the world of washing dishes, we enter the whole world, which is our world, by jumping in with wholehearted effort.

Do not aspire to great realization. Great realization is everyday tea and meals.

—Dogen Zenji, Shobogenzo Gyoji

Ted Biringer says:

While it may be contrary to the suggestions of many that claim to represent Zen or Dogen, true nature, according to the classic Zen records (including Shobogenzo) is ever and always immediately present, particular, and precise. Notions or assertions suggesting that Zen is somehow mysterious, ineffable, or inexpressible are simply off the mark. The only place such terms can be accurately applied in Zen is to definite mysteries, particular unknowns, and specific inexpressible experiences. Indeed, in Zen, the terms definite, particular, and specific accurately characterize all dharmas. Dogen’s refrain, ‘Nothing in the whole universe is concealed’ means exactly what it says; no reality is the least bit obscure or vague. To emphasize this truth, the assertion that ‘real form is all dharmas’ runs like a mantra throughout Shobogenzo, for example:

“The realization of the Buddhist patriarchs is perfectly realized real form. Real form is all dharmas. All dharmas are forms as they are, natures as they are, body as it is, the mind as it is, the world as it is, clouds and rain as they are, walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, as they are; sorrow and joy, movement and stillness, as they are; a staff and a whisk, as they are; a twirling flower and a smiling face, as they are; succession of the Dharma and affirmation, as they are; learning in practice and pursuing the truth, as they are; the constancy of pines and the integrity of bamboos, as they are. Shobogenzo, Shoho-Jisso[199]”

In light of Shobogenzo’s (hence Zen’s) vision of existence-time (uji), existence (ontology; being) and time are not-two (nondual); dharmas are not simply existents in time, they are existents of time, and (all) time is in and of existents (i.e. dharmas). In short, dharmas do not exist independent of time, and time does not exist independent of dharmas. On a corollary note, since (all) existence demonstrates the quality of ‘impermanence,’ time too is impermanent. In Zen the nonduality of impermanence and time is treated in terms of ‘ceaseless advance’ or ‘ever passing’ – ‘ceaseless’ and ‘ever’ connoting ‘permanence’ or ‘eternity,’
‘advance’ and ‘passing’ indicating ‘impermanence’ or ‘temporal’ (temporary). Accordingly, ‘impermanence’ is ‘permanent’ and ‘change’ is ‘changeless’ – existence-time ever-always (eternally) advances (changes).[92] Dogen’s vision of reality exploits the significance of this to the utmost, unfolding its most profound implications with his notion of ‘the self-obstruction of a single dharma’ or ‘the total exertion of a single dharma’ (ippo gujin). This notion reveals a number of important implications concerning the nature of existence-time; two of which are: Each and all dharmas reveal, disclose, or present the whole universe (the totality of existence-time). Each and all dharmas are inherently infinite and eternal.

Biringer, Ted. Zen Cosmology: Dogen's Contribution to the Search for a New Worldview (p. 34). ZazensatioN. Kindle Edition. 

The point to get is that, in Zen, it is not dharmas in general but particular dharmas that are recognized as the fundamental elements, or better

Biringer, Ted. Zen Cosmology: Dogen's Contribution to the Search for a New Worldview (p. 95). ZazensatioN. Kindle Edition. 

“To carry yourself forward
and experience myriad things is delusion.
That myriad things come forth
and experience themselves is awakening.” 
- Dogen (Genjokoan)

“In mustering the whole body and mind and seeing forms, 
in mustering the whole body and mind 
and hearing sounds, 
they are intimately perceived; 
but it is not like the reflection in a mirror, 
nor like the moon in the water. 
When one side is realized the other side is dark.”
Dogen (Genjokoan, commentary in Flowers Fall)

From a Zen teacher of Soto zen (Dogen’s lineage)

Master Dogen describes Zazen as dropping off body and mind. That is, dropping off this sense of a me and things that belong to me. It is his way of describing anatta.

He doesn’t say that dropping off body and mind is a preliminary to the real activity of Zazen, but that Zazen is the continuous dropping off of body and mind. The activity of Zazen is this continuous activity of dropping off. It is an activity, not a state. It is an orientation, not an attribute.

He also says, although he attributes this to his teacher, Nyojo, that when body and mind are dropped off, we are free of the five desires and the five hindrances. The five desires correspond to the desires of the sense organs. The five hindrances are desire, ill-will, laziness, restlessness and doubt. If we think that practice is the vehicle for our own aggrandisement, we are full of these hindrances. But if there is no me and nothing belonging to me then where can these hindrances attach? Hence, Zazen is the dharma gate of ease and joy.


From the same site:

Master Dogen described our practice of shikantaza as dropping off body and mind. 

The Japanese which is rendered as 'dropping off' has two aspects. One is intentional, as we might drop off an article of clothing. The other is natural, like leaves falling in Autumn.

Dropping off mind, means dropping off that dualism between mind and world, and which is often prominent, although unacknowledged, in meditation.

So we don't think, "I must make my mind clear, my thoughts are an encumbrance to that". But rather, thoughts are just one more thing going on within unbroken experience, where there is not inner and outer, me and not-me.

And likewise dropping off body, we don't think "My body is experiencing these sensations and emotions", but rather, there is just this experiencing, which includes everything.

We can drop off Mind, in the sense that we can relocate the mind within the body, but we need to drop off both, otherwise the dualism remains.

So dropping off body and mind is, as it were, sitting within the body of the world. It is not to do with individual gain, or individual effort, and so it is the gateway to peace and joy.

From another Soto Zen master, John Daido Loori, 

“What happens when the self is forgotten? What remains? The whole phenomenal universe remains. The whole Dharmadhatu remains. That’s what it means, “To forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.”

John Daido Loori, “The Art of Just Sitting: Essential Writings on the Zen Practice of Shikantaza”:

“To be verified by all things is to let the body and mind of self, and body and mind of others, drop off.” Dropping off body and mind is a trnaslation of shinjin datsuraku. This is one of the key words in Dogen Zenji’s teachings. Originally the expression used by Dogen’s teacher [Tendo] Nyojo (Tiantong Rujing). In the Hokyoki, Dogen Zenji recorded his conversations with Ju-ching while he was practicing at the T’ien-t’ung (Tiantong) Monastery. This expression, shinjin datsuraku, was one of the topics Dogen Zenji discussed with his teacher repeatedly.

Nyojo said, “Sanzen is dropping off body and mind. We don’t use incense burning, prostration, nembutsu, practice of repentance, reading sutras. We only just sit (shikantaza).”

Dogen asked, “What is dropping off mind and body?” Nyojo said, “Dropping off body and mind is zazen. When we practice zazen, we part from the five desires and five coverings.” Dogen asked, if we part from the five desires and get rid of the five coverings, that is the same as the teaching taught in the teaching schools. Thus we are the same as the practitioners of Mahayana and Hinayana.”

Nyojo said, “The descendants of the Ancestor (Bodhidharma) should not dislike the teachings taught by Mahayana and Hinayana. If a practitioner is against the sacred teachings of the Tathagata, how can such a person be the descendant of the buddhas and ancestors?” Dogen asked, “In recent times, some skeptical people say that the three poisonous minds are themselves Buddha Dharma and the five desires are themselves the way of the ancestors. If we get rid of them, it is nothing other than like and dislike. Such a practice is the same as the Hinayana.”

Nyojo said, “If we don’t get rid of the three poisonous minds and the five desires, we are the same as the non-Buddhists in the country of the King Bimbisara and his son Ajatasattu (at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha). For the descendants of buddhas and ancestors, if we get rid of even one covering or one desire, that is the great benefit. That is the time we meet the buddhas and ancestors.”

Nyojo Zenji said that sanzen is dropping off body and mind and dropping off body and mind is zazen. He also said that dropping off body and mind is being free from the five desires and getting rid of the five coverings. The five desires are caused in our mind by contacting the objects of the five sense organs. When we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch some pleasurable objects, we enjoy them, we attach ourselves to them, and we want them more and more. Or if the objects are not pleasurable, we dislike them and try to keep away from them. But they often come toward us, so we hate them and become angry. Greed and anger are caused by the five desires.

The five coverings refer to hindrances that cover our mind and prevent it from functioning in a healthy way. Those are coverings of greed, anger or hatred, sleepiness or dullness, distraction, and doubt about the principle of causes and conditions. These five desires and five coverings are discussed originally in the Daichidoron (a commentary on Prajnaparamita Sutra by Nagarjuna) as obstacles in meditation practice. And Tendai Chigi, the great philosopher of the Chinese Tiantai (Tendai) School, mentioned them in the manual of meditation practice, the Mahashikan (Larger Book of Shamatha and Vipashyana). Chigi said that a practitioner should part from the five desires and get rid of the five coverings in the meditation practice called shikan (shamatha and vipashyana). Dogen Zenji was originally ordained as a Tendai monk in Japan and was familiar with the teachings and meditation practice in the Tendai tradition. Dogen was not satisfied by Tendai practice and began to practice Zen. That was why Dogen asked Nyojo if he should part from the five desires and the five coverings. Until then, Dogen Zenji was looking for something that is different from the teachings he learned in the teaching school. But Nyojo said that our practice of zazen should not be different from the Buddha’s teachings recorded in the sutras and systematized in philosophical teaching schools. The next conversation on the same topic between Dogen and Nyojo was as follows.

Nyojo said, “The descendants of the buddhas and ancestors should first get rid of the five coverings and then the six coverings. Adding the covering of ignorance to the five coverings make six coverings. Even if a practitioner only gets rid of the covering of ignorance, that makes the practitioner free from the five coverings. Even if a practitioner gets rid of the five coverings, if ignorance is not gotten rid of, the practitioner has not yet reached the practice of the buddhas and ancestors.”

Dogen immediately made a prostration and expressed gratitude for the teaching. He put his hands in shashu position and said, “Until today, I have not heard of such an instruction as that which you have given me now, teacher. Elders, experienced teachers, monks and Dharma brothers here do not know at all. They have never spoken like this. Today, fortunately, specially I have received your great compassion and have heard what I have not heard before. This is fortunate for me, because of the Dharma connection from the previous lives. And yet, is there any secret method to get rid of the five or six coverings?”

The teachers smiled and said, “Where have you been putting your whole energy? That is practicing nothing other than the Dharma to part from the six coverings. The buddhas and ancestors have not set up any classification in practice. They directly point out and singularly transmit the way of departing from the five desires and six coverings and getting free from the five desires. Making effort in just sitting and dropping off body and mind is the method to depart from the five coverings and the five desires. Besides this, there is nothing at all. Absolutely, there is nothing else. How can it fall into two or three?”

This is Tendo Nyojo Zenji’s explanation of dropping off body and mind. Since Nyojo was the original person who used this expression we should understand it based on Nyojo’s teaching. To drop off body and mind is to be free from the six coverings, the three poisonous minds that are the causes of samsara. In just sitting zazen, we let go of the three poisonous minds. That is why Dogen Zenji said zazen is not a practice of human beings but the practice of buddhas.”

(Note: three poisonous minds: passion/greed, aggression/hatred, delusion
Five desires: the desire for food, the desire for sex, the desire for sleep, the desire for comfort and the desire for reputation)


"Our present-day seven feet of skull and bones is precisely the form and image of the whole universe in all ten directions. Indeed, the whole universe in all ten directions which trains and enlightens us in the Buddha's Way is our skull and bones, our physical body with its skin, flesh, bones, and marrow." - Dogen


"Thus, the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind that fully manifest before us here and now are what an arhat is." - Dogen


Four years later, when Dogen returned to Japan, he said, "I have come back empty-handed. I have realized only that the eyes are horizontal and the nose is vertical."


"For Dogen this “dropping off body and mind” is the true nature both of just sitting and of complete enlightenment, and is the ultimate letting go of self, directly meeting the cold, clear wind and moon. After turning within while just sitting, it is carried on in all activity and throughout ongoing engagement with the world. Although just sitting now has been maintained for 750 years since Dogen, the teachings of Hongzhi and Dogen remain as primary guideposts to its practice." - Taigen Dan Leighton


“In Dogen’s view, the only reality is reality that is actually experienced as particular things at specific times. There is no “tile nature” apart from actual “tile forms,” there is no “essential Baso” apart from actual instances of “Baso experience.” When Baso sits in zazen, “zazen” becomes zazen, and “Baso” becomes Baso. Real instances of Baso sitting in zazen is real instances of Baso and real instances of zazen – when Baso eats rice, Baso is really Baso and eating rice is really eating rice.” - Ted Biringer,