Showing posts with label Conceptuality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conceptuality. Show all posts

I often say, self enquiry is not a mantra. It's not something you just repeat mentally "who am i.. who am i..." it's not that sort of practice. It is an investigation, an exploration, an inquiry into the true nature of identity and the true nature of consciousness.

The inquiry/koan "Before Birth, who am I?" has a dual purpose: the elimination of all conceptual identification (ego) and to discover one's underlying radiant Consciousness, or Pure Presence/Beingness.

During my journey of self-enquiry, which spanned over two years (2008-Feb 2010), involving meditative contemplations such as “before birth, who am I?” During the process, this line of questioning, we eliminate all the candidates for my self -- I am not my hands, my legs, my name, my thoughts. They come and go and are observed, they are not me. So what am I? As John Tan said before, “you cannot know the “Ultimate Source” without the process of elimination”. What does it eliminate? The conceptual identification of self with various mentally constructed and perceived objects. This is why "before birth" is asked, as it directs the mind to this elimination. And what does that elimination reveal? Who am I, what is this radiant Being that stands alone revealed after that process of elimination?

Ramana Maharshi said:

"1. Who am I ?

The gross body which is composed of the seven humours (dhatus), I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, viz. the senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell, which apprehend their respective objects, viz. sound, touch, colour, taste, and odour, I am not; the five cognitive sense- organs, viz. the organs of speech, locomotion, grasping, excretion, and procreation, which have as their respective functions speaking, moving, grasping, excreting, and enjoying, I am not; the five vital airs, prana, etc., which perform respectively the five functions of in-breathing, etc., I am not; even the mind which thinks, I am not; the nescience too, which is endowed only with the residual impressions of objects, and in which there are no objects and no functioning’s, I am not.

2. If I am none of these, then who am I?

After negating all of the above-mentioned as ‘not this’, ‘not this’, that Awareness which alone remains - that I am.

3. What is the nature of Awareness?

The nature of Awareness is existence-consciousness-bliss"

- continue reading at

This line of questioning (before birth, who am I?) led me to a moment in silent meditation where everything subsided, leaving only a doubtless unshakeable certainty of pure existence and presence.


So eliminating concepts until none is left with some prompting like self enquiry or zen koan will allow one to reach a complete state of stillness (stillness of the conceptual mind) and authenticate presence/clarity/radiance directly. 

While this method effectively dissolves conceptual attachments and reveals the radiant core of Consciousness, it fails to address the view of inherency and the dualities of subject and object or the deeper insight of both self and phenomena as merely nominal and overcome views that reifies the four extremes. Sometimes we call it "inherentness" in short, and inherentness means concepts being reified and mistaken as real. But that requires deeper insights and realisations and is crucial for releasing the deeper afflictive and knowledge obscurations. Merely the pausing of conceptual thinking or even revealing one's Radiance is insufficient to realise its nature. 

At this point, after radiance is realized, as John Tan points out, "before we can hop into the next path and focus on radiance and natural state, without recognizing implication of conventional and seeing through them, there will be ongoing cognitive as well as emotional obscurations. How deep and far can you go? Much less talking about natural state when one can't even distinguish what is conventional and what is ultimate."

As John Tan said before,

“When we authenticate radiance clarity directly, we have a first hand experiential taste of what is called the "ultimate free from all conceptual elaborations" but mind is not "free from conceptual elaborations".”

I also wrote some time back:

"Seeing selfness or cognizance as a subject and phenomena as objects is the fundamental elaboration that prevents the taste of appearances as radiance clarity.. then even after anatta, there are still the subtle cognitive obscurations that reified phenomena, arising and ceasing, substantial cause and effect, inherent production and so on.

So elaboration is not just coarse thinking like labelling but to me is like a veil of reification projecting and distorting radiant appearances and its nature.

Another way to put it is that the fundamental conceptual elaboration that obscures reality/suchness is to reify self and phenomena in terms of the extremes of existence and non existence through not apprehending the nature of mind/appearance.


If you mean just authenticate radiance clarity like I AM, then it’s just nonconceptual taste and realisation of presence.

That moment is nondual and nonconceptual and unfabricated but it doesnt mean the view of inherency is seen through. Since fundamental ignorance is untouched the radiance will continue to be distorted into a subject and object."

"The process of eradicating avidyā (ignorance) is conceived… not as a mere stopping of thought, but as the active realization of the opposite of what ignorance misconceives. Avidyā is not a mere absence of knowledge, but a specific misconception, and it must be removed by realization of its opposite. In this vein, Tsongkhapa says that one cannot get rid of the misconception of 'inherent existence' merely by stopping conceptuality any more than one can get rid of the idea that there is a demon in a darkened cave merely by trying not to think about it. Just as one must hold a lamp and see that there is no demon there, so the illumination of wisdom is needed to clear away the darkness of ignorance." - Napper, Elizabeth, 2003, p. 103"

It is important however to note that Gelug and non Gelug authors may have different definitions of conceptualities, as John Tan pointed out years ago: “Not exactly, both have some very profound points.  Mipham "conceptualities" is not only referring to symbolic layering but also self-view which is more crucial.  Mipham made it very clear and said the gelug mistake "conceptualities" as just symbolic and mental overlay, which is not what he is referring then he laid down 3 types of conceptualities.  Same for dharmakirti also...there is the gross definition and the more refine definitions.”

However, for the purpose of beginners trying to realize the I AM, just going through and focusing on self-enquiry and the process of elimination mentioned earlier is sufficient to result in Self Realisation. 

You should read this article as this author was able to bring several to the realization of I AM, and explains well the process of self enquiry and the process of elimination.

Question: “ Thank you Soh, much appreciated.

I'm familiar with some of the material but i'll work my way through it all again. 

Can you say anything more specifically about the quality of the question "what is aware of self" as opposed to "who am I"? If it leaves me in an "emptier" experience is it necessarily a better question for me, or is it important to keep trying to deconstruct that ickily shifting sense of self that "who am I" points at?”

Soh replied: “ Who am i doesnt point at sense of self, it lets you see that the sense of self is not in fact who you are. You are what is aware and prior to that sense of self. So all objects conceived or perceived that is mistaken as Self are naturally negated as neti neti - not this, not this. And so you revert back to the Source, or the pure Beingness prior to all concepts and sense of self.

Who am i points at the pure I-I prior to all conceived sense of self and perceived objects. In other words it points to the same thing as “what is aware” is pointing at.

The fact that the sense of self is as you put it, “ickily shifting” is already a hint to you that it is not in fact who you truly are at all, it is not your true self. So inquiring who am I naturally negates that shifting sense of self as being a possible candidate for who you are. And so seeing this you naturally deconstruct that and trace back to the Source in self enquiry.”

Do watch this:

Also watch this:

John Tan:

  • I told u about 3 points that u must see through in conceptualities: 1. Vase is empty of vase 2. Vase is empty of the inherentness of vase 3. Division Anurag is talking abt one of them -- vase is empty of vase. Nagasena told king Milinda that there is no "chariot" that can be found anywhere ultimately but obviously Nagasena is ferried by what we conventionally designated as "chariot". When u look at yourself there is no "Soh" or any identity u can point to yet obviously there is the mere appearances. There is no cause and effect but there is functioning. So what exactly is "de-constructed" here? Is this same of different from the de-construction of "hearer hearing sound" in anatta? Like "mover and movement", "lightning flashes", "thunder roars". Lastly, why is life designated as "life" and not the beginning of death? Where exactly is the line of demarcation? Like the question I asked you "this moment ceases as it arises, does it arise or does it cease"? In experience, where exactly is the line that divides subject and object? The deconstruction on these 3 aspects of conceptualities can yield different experiences and u have to discern them with clarity.

Soh Wei Yu
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[5:03 PM, 12/29/2020] John Tan: Trekchö
Trekchö means to “cut through”. In Dzogchen we are cutting through the totality of karmic mind or sem.
The karmic mind is composed of conceptual constructs and beliefs. These mental constructs concern the subjective side of a self and the objective side as “other than self”.
It is discovered that our self, mind, problems, birth, death, our body, people, creatures and things; meaning our entire world and universe, are composed only our thought constructs and beliefs.
The method is to suspend paying attention to thoughts, actively thinking thoughts and investing belief in any thought.
As the process cuts deeper, all conceptual reference points are cut through and abandoned.
The beliefs in a self, a soul, a being, a spirit, a god, a guru, a path, enlightenment, a Buddha, Brahman, other people, creatures, objects, planets, stars, galaxies and universes, all are seen to be your own conceptual constructs.
When all such beliefs and all other remaining reference points have been cut though, what remains is a pristine and pure Awareness (Dharmakaya) that can’t possibly be understood conceptually or captured in thought.
Samsara is the self and its world created by the mind’s thought constructs and beliefs... all thought constructs must be “cut through” and abandoned.
Professor of Quantum Physics at John Hopkins, Richard Conn Henry wrote:
“We know for a fact that the universe is not “made of” anything. Get it through your heads, physicists! It is sometimes said that the only thing that is real are the observations, but even that is not true: observations are not real either. They, and everything else, are purely mental."
He later states: ".... there are no real monkeys or cats or other humans––the entire universe exists only in YOUR mind."
“In the real ultimate truth that Prasangika philosophers maintain, there is no objectively existent thing or event, even at the level of conventional truth.”
Tenpa Tsering
Lama Zopa on Prasangika Emptiness Teachings:
“The entire world, even the Dharma path, hell, god realm, positive and negative karma, and enlightenment, were made up by your own mind. Your mind projected the hallucination of things existing from their own side.
This hallucination of inherent existence is the foundation. Then, on top of that, you pay attention to certain attributes and label “wonderful,” “horrible,” or “nothing much.” When you think, “He’s awful” and get angry, you label the person an enemy. Not aware that you created the enemy, you believe there is a truly existent one out there and project all sorts of other notions on him. You justify your actions, thinking they are positive, when in fact you created the enemy. In fact, there’s no real enemy there. There’s not the slightest atom of an enemy existing; not even a tiny particle of true existence.”
Dzogchen teacher, Chokyi Nyima explains:
“The most subtle type of obscuration is to simply conceive of something – like simply thinking, “It is.” Any notion we may hold is still a way of conceptualizing the three spheres: subject, object and action. Whenever there is a thought which conceives the three spheres, karma is created. People ask, ‘What is karma? I don’t get it! Where is karma?” In fact, karma is our mind conceiving something. Karma is the doings of conceptual mind. This subtle forming of a notion of anything is like a web, a haze that obscures our innate Suchness just as mist obscures the sun from being vividly seen.
The great master Nagarjuna said, “There is no samsara apart from your own thoughts.” Samsara is based on thought; samsara is made by thought.”
Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso:
“The aim of the Prasangika is to silence completely the conceptualizing mind, allowing the mind to rest in absolute freedom from concepts. Absolute freedom from concepts is what Prasangikas call Emptiness.”
[5:03 PM, 12/29/2020] John Tan: From jax
[6:36 PM, 12/29/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Oic.. what do you think?
[6:37 PM, 12/29/2020] Soh Wei Yu: I think can give the false impression that merely a nonconceptual state is liberation lol
[5:59 PM, 12/30/2020] John Tan: Vase empty of vase is like the semantics, meanings, definitions that r associated with a conventional term. The whole idea of and concept abt vase, cause and effect, physicality, existence. For example the whole idea of self/Self is eliminated but will that lead one to the same initial insight and experience of anatta, I doubt so and Non-dual seems to come only much later after maturing of deconstruction. Initially it is the releasing of the mind from the attachments to the "definitions and meanings" of the concepts.
Inherentness is like hearer of sound (imo). However they r related. Yet the experiences differs initially but ultimately both insights will align. Empty of inherentness is more intuitive.
[6:01 PM, 12/30/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
[6:07 PM, 12/30/2020] John Tan: So vase empty of vase is doing away completely with conceptualities. If practitioner were to start from such a way of practice, will take a long time to give rise to experiential taste similar to anatta. It must b directed to self/Self first before one look at phenomena.
[6:08 PM, 12/30/2020] John Tan: Like chariot is empty of chariot. If u start from there, it is hard to get to an experiential tasted similar to anatta.
[6:08 PM, 12/30/2020] Soh Wei Yu: ic..
[2:24 AM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Vase empty of vase is like Atmanananda way of deconstructing objects into consciousness right
[2:24 AM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: It is also taught in tibetan buddhism?
[4:08 AM, 12/31/2020] John Tan: Sort of.

  • ·Reply· 33m ·Edited

Soh Wei Yu
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[6:36 AM, 12/31/2020] John Tan: That is y I cut and paste this part to u. This is vase empty of vase.
==> "to suspend paying attention to thoughts, actively thinking thoughts and investing belief in any thought"
This will lead one into dry non-conceptualities without insights. Rather the purpose is to trigger the "insight" to see through and transcend all these man-made constructs and conventions and mistake them as "real" (reifications).
So my first question to u is, will such an insight lead to non-dual, collapsing subject and object duality and inherentness? If no, y? If yes, when?
==>"As the process cuts deeper, all conceptual reference points are cut through and abandoned.
The beliefs in a self, a soul, a being, a spirit, a god, a guru, a path, enlightenment, a Buddha, Brahman, other people, creatures, objects, planets, stars, galaxies and universes, all are seen to be your own conceptual constructs.
When all such beliefs and all other remaining reference points have been cut though, what remains is a pristine and pure Awareness (Dharmakaya) that can’t possibly be understood conceptually or captured in thought.
Samsara is the self and its world created by the mind’s thought constructs and beliefs... all thought constructs must be “cut through” and abandoned."
"When all such beliefs and all other remaining reference points have been cut though, what remains is a pristine and pure Awareness (Dharmakaya) that can’t possibly be understood conceptually or captured in thought."
My second question, is this the purpose like what Jax said? Will this lead to "what remains is pristine, pure Awareness"? If yes how? If no y?
My third question, what is the final result of vase empty of vase?
[9:53 AM, 12/31/2020] John Tan: Quite good. (Soh: Referring to my earlier writing: [5:38 PM, 12/30/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Seeing life and death as mere designation is the seeing through of any inherentness of birth and death by realising that all designated entities undergoing birth/abiding/cessation is by mere designation or the confluence of conditions and designation
[5:43 PM, 12/30/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Not just life and death
[5:44 PM, 12/30/2020] Soh Wei Yu: There is also the sense that for example meditating here is deeply connected with buddha, there is no buddha and no me, just total exertion. It also makes sense that guan yin has thousand arms. It can mean literal emanations, but in a sense all practitioners can feel the total exertion with guan yin because there is no inherent division of guan yin and oneself
[5:45 PM, 12/30/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Just like life and death, that division and line is merely designated)
[7:01 PM, 12/31/2020] John Tan: Now is
[7:05 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Yeah i think both links still work
[9:24 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Happy new year!
[10:22 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: No need for deconstruction to realise awareness
[10:22 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Just self enquiry is enough
[10:23 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: But deconstruction leads to deeper insights.. like for the atmananda path there is deconstructing objects after the I AM
[10:23 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Initially the deconstruction of objects does not result in nondual in that path
[10:24 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Its like from opaque to transparent witness
[10:24 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Everything is deconstructed to arisings in awareness.. but still dual
[10:24 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Then later that duality collapses
[10:24 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: But thats for atmananda path
[10:24 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: For me i was more like into anatta first
[10:31 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: A Very Important Step
I’ve found that the deconstruction of physical objects (including the body) to be the single most important step. People want to rush past this step to get to the sexy things like thoughts, feelings, free will, etc. But here’s the catch. Almost invariably, we think of thoughts and feelings and free will with the help of physical metaphors. We can’t help it. So we attribute positionality, containment and spatial relations to these subtle, non-physical things. (e.g., “thoughts in the mind,” “mind in the body,” “thoughts causing emotional pressure,” etc.) As long as we do this, we will feel limited in an almost physical way by the non-physical. This is unnecessary, and largely a trick of language. The book goes into this in great detail.
But if we work with the book in order, and begin by deconstructing physicality completely, we will no longer think or experience in physical terms. We will then no longer think of mental things along the lines of physical things. It is then that we begin to understand witnessing awareness much more clearly, and amazingly enough, witnessing awareness begins to become less and less real and substantial at the same time. Our global experience is much lighter and freer as our notion of physicality and awareness together become thinner and thinner.
To help with the deconstruction of physicality, you can read one of the most sustained critiques of physicality ever written: George Berkeley’s Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (1713). A philosophical acquaintance of mine, and former teacher, Jonathan Bennett, has laboriously updated Berkeley’s 18th century English into more contemporary English for modern students. I was rigorously trained on this text with one of the world’s greatest Berkeley scholars, and it really, really worked to make physicality vanish!! Here is the collection of his modern renditions of Berkeley:
[10:31 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: But greg goode say before those who want to realise anatta should not do atmanananda direct path
[10:31 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Because it only gets to something like it at the very very end and only like talked about it briefly
[10:47 PM, 12/31/2020] John Tan: Very interesting. Where u get this?
[10:47 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Greg goode website.. the whole article is longer
[10:48 PM, 12/31/2020] John Tan: What is the url? Seams to deconstructs both mental and physical
[10:49 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu:
[10:51 PM, 12/31/2020] John Tan: Greg became a Christian right?
[10:52 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Last i heard he is into christianity
[10:52 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: But he doesnt seem to write about it in his website
[10:56 PM, 12/31/2020] John Tan: If he still teaching direct path?
[10:57 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Im not sure he closed down his facebook group on direct path some years ago
[10:57 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu:
[10:57 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: He explains advaita ajativada here
[10:57 PM, 12/31/2020] Soh Wei Yu: No creation
[11:01 PM, 12/31/2020] John Tan: Seems like he stop writing after 2017
[3:44 PM, 1/1/2021] Soh Wei Yu: Anurag Jain Soh Wei Yu the Witness collapses after the gestalt of arisings are seen through in Direct Path. Objects, as you have already mentioned, should have been thoroughly deconstructed before. With objects and arisings deconstructed there is nothing to be a Witness of and it collapses. 1 · Reply · 1m [3:46 PM, 1/1/2021] John Tan: Not true. Object and arising can also collapse through subsuming into an all encompassing awareness. [3:48 PM, 1/1/2021] Soh Wei Yu: yeah but its like nondual [3:49 PM, 1/1/2021] Soh Wei Yu: means after the collapse of the Witness and arising, it can be nondual [3:49 PM, 1/1/2021] Soh Wei Yu: but still one mind [3:49 PM, 1/1/2021] Soh Wei Yu: right? [3:49 PM, 1/1/2021] Soh Wei Yu: but then atmananda also said at the end even the notion of consciousness dissolves [3:49 PM, 1/1/2021] Soh Wei Yu: i think thats like one mind into no mind but im not sure whether it talks about anatta [3:50 PM, 1/1/2021] John Tan: Yes. [3:57 PM, 1/1/2021] Soh Wei Yu: Anurag Jain Soh Wei Yu where is the notion of "all encompassing awareness". Sounds like awareness is being reified as a container. · Reply · 5m Anurag Jain Soh Wei Yu also when you say Consciousness dissolves, you have to first answer how did it ever exist in the first place? 🙂 · Reply · 4m [3:57 PM, 1/1/2021] Soh Wei Yu: lol [4:01 PM, 1/1/2021] John Tan: In subsuming there is no container-contained relationship, there is only Awareness. [4:03 PM, 1/1/2021] Soh Wei Yu: Anurag Jain So Soh Wei Yu how does Awareness "remain"? Where and how? · Reply · 1m [4:04 PM, 1/1/2021] John Tan: Anyway this is not for unnecessary debates, if he truly understands then just let it be. ..... "Yes. Subject and object can both collapsed into pure seeing but it is only when this pure seeing is also dropped/exhausted that natural spontaneity and effortlessness can begin to function marvelously. That is y it has to be thorough and all the "emphasis". But I think he gets it, so u don't have to keep nagging 🤣." - John Tan ....[0]=AZUZ7t9QWFfK4Wd3W0hnZRK88FInyRHR5Ro-EC7V7u2sT5iRTyzLKDk96KN4ZjCLqB-mF9aL_IeIUsTAgYsJBkiPdB1GNJGWJV-3et_QDNaw4EKO94LcYv3oCcvV9BrkehLDlNzwiJWRrkC5uw4oAARq&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R
John Tan
Geovani Geo there is the way of de-construction from analysis where one analyses and understands that "named things" are empty and "non-arisen" but still, one may not directly taste that empty clarity even after clearly understanding it conceptually. We must ask y is it so.
So, my question is:
1. How can the understanding that conceptual notions are empty "SUDDENLY" lead to direct authentication of one's empty "clarity/awareness"? Or it does or does not affect one's "clarity/awareness"?
2. If it does not, then what is the purpose of such contemplations?
3. If we want to authenticate "clarity" directly, don't you find the neti neti way to self enquiry of "who am I" a much more direct and intuitive approach?
4. How do 1 and 3 differ from ATR anatta enquiry of:
In hearing, there is just sound, no hearer;
In seeing, there is just colors and shapes, no seer;
All the above r ways of deconstructing conceptual constructs, but they lead to different results. Clearly understanding which de-constructing technique lead to what "result" is crucial.
*** It has to do with whether we r deconstructing the "SYNTAX/STRUCURE" or the "SEMANTICS/MEANING" that is associated to conceptual notion but will not go into it.
I replied:
Soh Wei Yu
My take
1) In greg goode direct path, the conceptual notions and constructs of physicality and objectivity is deconstructed even at the I AM phase prior to collapse of witness
In this path, objects and physicality become deconstructed into arisings within witnessing awareness, even before witness collapses.
This leaves the subjective pole undeconstructed until much later.
(Their path: coarse Witnessing (correction: opaque witness) with personality undeconstructed > subtle Witness or opaque witness (correction: transparent witness) with personality and objectivity deconstructed > collapse of witness into pure consciousness (aka one mind) > finally even consciousness dissolve (no mind?))
3) will lead to dissociation and I AM. But neti neti is needed for self enquiry and I AM realization.
4) deconstructs subjective pole, leading to direct realization and taste of radiance as all manifestations. Aka anatta
Soh Wei Yu
As for 2) i think 1) can be a kind of release on mental level even if anatta isn’t realised. Greg goode said that by the time he reached transparent witness he was free of mental suffering.
John Tan
Soh Wei Yu what is opaque witness? Free of mental suffering is true.
Soh Wei Yu
John Tan
Sorry wrote wrong. Opaque witness first followed by transparent witness. He became free from mental suffering at transparent witness:
Soh Wei Yu
John Tan
Soh Wei Yu how does insight of "I Am" got triggered via such method of seeing through "named things"?
Soh Wei Yu
John Tan
To me I AM is triggered from self enquiry, not deconstruction. Seeing through named things is more on deconstruction
John Tan
Soh Wei Yu so u r saying 1 will not lead to realization of "clarity" but just mere release of mental suffering?
Soh Wei Yu
John Tan
If the deconstruction of all conceptual notions goes along with meditation into a state of cessation of concepts, there is also a possibility of discovering pure awareness / I AM. Doesn’t have to be self enquiry. Like sim pern chong got there by breathing meditation, some people through psychedelics, some people through yoga, kundalini etc
John Tan
Soh Wei Yu yes but not necessarily until total cessation of concepts, however at a much later phase of de-construction. The insight by then will be much clearer and stable imo though it comes at a later phase of de-constructing. I m more interested in how and why.