Showing posts with label I AMness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label I AMness. Show all posts

 Nirvikalpa samadhi is different. It is the different degrees of meditative absorption and depths of absorption in the pure presence and pure consciousness of Self, which makes up the different levels of nirvikalpa samadhi. That is to say, even after I AM, there is the different degrees and intensities of the oceanic, blissful qualities of Self that are especially deep when one is able to develop the mastery of meditative strength and stability in absorption of Self. So as I wrote in the AtR guide, meditative samadhi and absorption is one area that one can develop after the I AM realization.

However, the path to the effortless total presence and the self-liberating nature of empty clarity lies not just in the development of samadhi. It lies in attaining key insights and wisdom into anatman (no-self), dependent origination and emptiness. Therefore I also wrote, for those that attained the realization of I AM, they should look into the four aspects of I AM, the nondual contemplations, the two stanzas of anatta. These will bring the practitioner into further breakthroughs and insights. There is a chapter on samadhi post-I AM in the longer AtR guide ( ). But in general for most people I recommend starting with the shorter AtR practice guide .

Edmond cigale wrote a document detailing his experiences with different levels of nirvikalpa samadhis prior to his realization of nondual and anatman ( ), I helped to point out anatman to him many years ago. His document is a good read detailing his own journey and experiences.

As for the realization of anatta..  The realization of anatta is not a samadhi state. As someone wrote very long ago, asking whether his indepth experience with nirvikalpa samadhi was related to Thusness’s insights into no-self. Thusness replied then, in 2007, “So persistent, it might not be fruitful but so be it! 

It will be quite misleading if I tell you yes. As it is not quite the same as the Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi you are referring too. ‘No-self’ (in Buddhism and in reality) is not a state to be attained nor is there a state to reside, it is the ‘nature’ or a characteristic that is exhibited in phenomenon arising at all time. Always so and truly so. 

Unless the fabric and texture of awareness as 'forms', as 'things' is sufficiently experienced, we might not be talking the same stuff. “

One key insight into effortless total presence is the insight into anatman. In the anatman realisation, it is seen that the so called 'background' consciousness is that pristine happening. There is no a 'background' and a 'pristine happening'. During the initial phase of non-dual, there is still habitual attempt to 'fix' this imaginary split that does not exist. It matures when we realized that anatta is a seal, not a stage; in hearing, always only sounds; in seeing always only colors, shapes and forms; in thinking, always only thoughts. Always and already so.

Over a decade ago, someone at the I AM stage commented that the Thusness stages sounded like different levels or absorption or jhana.

John Tan/Thusness and I wrote back then,


Dec 30, 2007, 9:37:00 PM

Hi Jhanananda,

Thanks for dropping by your comments. I have a somewhat different understanding on how they are mapped to the Buddhist Anatta experience and will thus be sharing my understanding. 

Thusness six stages of enlightenment are short summaries of his gradual insights into the non-dual (aka Anatta/no-self in Buddhism), emptiness (dependent origination) and self-liberated nature of our pristine awareness. As spontaneous self-liberation is commonly misunderstood, Thusness has always stressed that before the arising of the intuitive insights into our non-dual and emptiness nature, it is best not to discuss about it. For the purpose of this comment, I will only discuss the Anatta and the strength of propensity that blinds.

Indeed self-liberation cannot be understood before the experience of non-duality and emptiness nature of our pristine awareness. However after the stability of these 2 insights, nothing needs to be said as the ‘mere manifestations of these inseparable characteristics as arising phenomena’ is itself liberation.

First I do not see Anatta as merely a freeing of personality sort of experience as you mentioned; I see it as that a self/agent, a doer, a thinker, a watcher, etc, cannot be found apart from the moment to moment flow of manifestation or as its commonly expressed as ‘the observer is the observed’; there is no self apart from the arising and ceasing. A very important point here is that Anatta/No-Self is a Dharma Seal, it is the nature of Reality all the time -- and not merely as a state free from personality, ego or the ‘small self’ or a stage to attain. (related article: This means that it does not depend on the level of achievement of a practitioner to experience anatta but Reality has always been Anatta and what is important here is the intuitive insight into it as the nature, characteristic, of phenomenon (dharma seal). 

To illustrate further due to the importance of this seal, I would like to borrow a quote from the Bahiya Sutta ( 
‘in the seeing, there is just the seen, no seer’, ‘in the hearing, there is just the heard, no hearer’… 
If a practitioner were to feel that he has gone beyond the experiences from ‘I hear sound’ to a stage of ‘becoming sound’ or takes that ‘there is just mere sound’, then this experience is again distorted. For in actual case, there is and always is only sound when hearing; never was there a hearer to begin with. Nothing attained for it is always so. 

Well said! Just a little more emphasis: This is the seal of no-self and can be realized and experienced in all moments; not just a mere concept.
For a non dualist that has gained sufficient stability, practice takes a very different role. This is due to the thoroughness of seeing through the illusionary views of the sense of self, the entire mechanism that causes the split and the mechanism of how it ‘blinds’. Therefore after knowing the real cause and conditions, a non-dualist cannot resort back to a dualistic approach towards liberation and practice and meditation take very different roles. It becomes instant, dynamic, spontaneous and direct. 

Before the awakening of prajna wisdom, there will always be an unknowing attempt to maintain a purest state of 'presence'. For this is how the dual mind works. This purest state of presence is the 'how' of a dualistic mind -- its dualistic attempt to provide a solution due to its lack of clarity of the spontaneous and emptiness nature of the unconditioned. It is critical to note here that both the doubts/confusions/searches and the solutions that are created for these doubts/confusions/searches actually derive from the same cause -- our karmic propensities of ever seeing things dualistically (also see my other friend Longchen’s article where I posted two of his articles including ‘How is nonduality like?’ in this forum)

‘Purest’ because it is the limit of the thought realm; beyond that is inconceivable by the conceptual mind. The mind conjures out this ‘state’ as it cannot penetrate its own depth. It does not allow itself to cease completely.

Within the Theravadin tradition, I understand the experience of (Thusness’s) Stage 4 which is the beginning of realising non-duality to be the beginning of the third path/stage of enlightenment (see
and  (Comments by Soh: this is MCTB model, not the Buddha’s fetter model) and also corresponding in terms of realisations to the beginning of ‘One-Taste’ in the Bodhisattva bhumi models. From here on it is a matter of how deeply the insights of nonduality/nonself and emptiness has penetrated into our consciousness and replaced our dualistic way of knowing due to karmic propensities.

This is known as the ‘turning point’ in Lankavatara Sutra.

The author of the two articles (a Theravadin teacher) mentioned above also said in the Heart Sutra Model of the Four Paths regarding the third path, “That said, the concept of Nirvana now seems to generally apply to the phenomenal world as well as the attainment of Fruition, though there is still something clouding the waters. Those of third path will have a direct understanding of what is meant by non-duality, the “intrinsic luminosity” of phenomena and of “interdependence” that is far more direct and clear than the somewhat intuitive understanding of those of first and second path. This holds up quite well until they get into another progress cycle.”, and, 

“It requires great deal of trust in reality as well as a fairly new realm of understanding. Paths that emphasize “surrender to the will of God” might well have an easier time with this transition. Simply emphasizing the Third Characteristic, that all things simply happen on their own, works just as well.”

Great insight by Dharma Dan!

That said, I never doubted the importance of “concentration & absorption” in spiritual practices. It is also true that the strength of uninterrupted concentration may not be there even for one with insights (especially when one have just begun to have nondual realisations and the insight into emptiness is not yet there), and it has to go hand in hand with their new found insight of nonduality for stability, and also move into various graduation of nonduality. As mentioned earlier, there are no stages/appearances that are purer than any others – every state is equally pure and non-dual in nature. When the mind grasps pure awareness as ‘formless’, ‘thoughtless’, ‘attributeless’, and as the background reality.... the ‘fabric’ and ‘texture’ of pristine awareness as ‘forms’ is then missed. Nevertheless, whatever you commented is crucial especially for the first 3 (Thusness’s) stages of experience, and in these stages the problem would certainly be the lack of sustained meditation concentration as well as the tendency of trying to grasp intellectually... which is also why Thusness often emphasizes the importance of sitting. 

The first 3 stages are before the arising of non-dual insight and the purpose of sustainability is to create sufficient gap between 2 moments of thoughts to allow the sensation of contrast between conceptual/non-conceptuality for the thinking mind to realize the possibility of going pre-symbolic thereby loosening its stubborn grips of a dualistic framework. 
Sustained bare attention also gave rise to the realization that ‘inner’, ‘outer’, ‘space’, ‘time’ and even ‘body’ and ‘mind’ are all mere constructs. Freeing from these constructs, also give rise to the condition for non-dual insight to arise. 
For the first 3 stages, practice takes the form of striving towards a certain stage of perfection whereas stages 4 onwards, practice moves from ‘efforting’ to natural luminosity and spontaneity. 

As to what led to jhanic bliss, I would like to say that regardless of samatha or vipassana practices, true blissful absorptive experiences are the result of dissolution of self and subject-object split. For non-dualists, this blissful absorptive experience takes a form of clarity-absorption which is mentioned in one of the Thusness posts in my friend Longchen’s forum ( It is difficult to explain and I will not speculate further what that is beyond me. It should also be mentioned however at a deeper level of non-dual realisation, when true spontaneity is realised, and psychological death is complete, one will overcome the tendency of grasping on the conscious and the three states (waking, dream, deep dreamless sleep) becomes one. He will also realize that it is needless to maintain an uninterrupted state of conscious witnessing awareness when the true nature of Awareness is revealed, as Thusness and Longchen have said.

Well said! Speak no more and experience fully! 

- the 2007 comments can be found in the commenters section of 


Wrote in 2018:

"If someone talks about an experience he/she had and then lost it, that's not (the true, deep) awakening... As many teachers put it, it's the great samadhi without entry and exit.

John Tan: There is no entry and exit. Especially for no-self. Why is there no entry and exit?

Me (Soh): Anatta (no-self) is always so, not a stage to attain. So it's about realisation and shift of perception.

John Tan: Yes 👍

As John also used to say to someone else, "Insight that 'anatta' is a seal and not a stage must arise to further progress into the 'effortless' mode. That is, anatta is the ground of all experiences and has always been so, no I. In seeing, always only seen, in hearing always only sound and in thinking, always only thoughts. No effort required and never was there an 'I'.""

- excerpt from


The atr guide named four sub stages of Self. All these do not go beyond the I AM stage but are instead depths of samadhi within the I AM phase. Nondual and anatta are different varieties of insights.


Someone asked, “ different samadhis? that is interesting, are they abiding or non-abiding? effortful or without effort?”

Soh replied, 

“The different levels of nirvikalpa samadhi are expressed well by edmond cigale who realised anatman after some contemplation on the pointers i wrote to him.

Supposedly, the highest level if nirvikalpa samadhi, called sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi, is supposed to be effortless. That is supposed the highest stage in hindu yogic systems.

However as Thusness wrote, 

[24/3/19, 11:17:05 PM] John Tan: From the perspective of clarity, it is true that Buddhism anatta and emptiness is more profound and deep… lol. But still good to caution about respecting all religions and practice. Why empty clarity is only pointed out in buddhism. So although it is true about all points to pure consciousness, it is realizing the emptiness that is the prajna eye to allow us to clearly see the empty nature of clarity. Otherwise we will most likely land in alaya or [be] required to still in deep stillness of samadhi.

(On this point, I was reminded of something John Tan said back in I think 2012:

"Every religion is talking about consciousness.  It is the nature of consciousness that is important.  It is like talking about “Soh'' from different people. Of course all is pointing to "Soh" but when someone say he is an American, has 10 sisters and is now studying in India… we cannot say that he is correct and it is the same because ultimately we are talking about "Soh".")”

“Yes sahaja samadhi but that remain as "experience".  Just like in taoism, it is all about naturalness 自然 and non-action (action without agent) though there are overlaps but they are different in praxis and view essentially.  There is no need to forcefully integrate the various religions into one, that is just more attachment.

Although there is no monopoly over truth as ultimately all is/are talking about one's primordial nature but there are those that much clearer and precise in their system of practice.  If the views and philosophies are 90% inherent and dualistic, the result from such a system will at best be a stage to be achieved albeit the emphasis of “natural state”.

As I said before, if someone were to say "Soh is a malay, a speckie, used to be a c# programmer, 1.9m tall and has a sister", obviously some informations are correct and some are misleading.  Even if you were to stand right in front of him, he will not be able to recognize you.  Therefore although all are talking about the natural condition of pristine consciousness, some are exceptionally clearer than others.” – John Tan, 2020”[0]=AZU3CzA-lkxT7qJS20VO8yu8tqae_XhIOqncQ4cQokvotSjKY2tA3rq2FmYk1g41mhDAJmw1h4G1SfzIOShlA0j7ruUK3JjkYB7RXNUWqfHYU4KwpnfkECtbOhlL6OdehzPPDC3TuHF3X6sdLNsaO30FmfzPqHO4WATazVNuByPKKjkuUHP13bSb5_-EIOfuxSc&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R


Neony Karby
What if suffering is a case of identity at all, being the mistake?


Yin LingAdmin
Top contributor
Neony Karby don’t understand?


Neony Karby
What if identification ( with anything at all ) is the problem ?


Soh Wei YuAuthor
Neony Karby
Not wrong. As John Tan said before years ago,
“Just send. When she explains "I M" as real, just without hesitation and say that is 妄 (delusion) and 苦的根源 (the root of suffering)。
That is all.”


Soh Wei YuAuthor
Neony Karby

As John Tan said,
"Though buddha nature is plainness and most direct, these are still the steps. If one does not know the process and said ‘yes this is it’… then it is extremely misleading. For 99 percent [of ‘realized’/’enlightened’ persons] what one is talking about is "I AMness", and has not gone beyond permanence, still thinking [of] permanence, formless… ...all and almost all will think of it along the line of "I AMness", all are like the grandchildren of "AMness", and that is the root cause of duality.” - John Tan, 2007”


Soh Wei YuAuthor
Neony Karby nevertheless I AM is an important realization of one’s luminous essence


Nicolas BenauTop contributor
The relaxation bit is actually a very good pointer.
Not sure what’s going on with this fellow’s other videos, though.


Soh Wei YuAuthor
Nicolas Benau i have no ideas too, never watched his other videos


Soh Wei YuAuthor
Neony Karby
The witness is the preliminary rigpa beginners start with even in dzogchen teachings


Soh Wei YuAuthor
(See krodha/kyle dixon posts)

User avatar
level 1
Op ·
4 mo. ago

Rigpa is not the “witness” according to Dzogchen.
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level 2
4 mo. ago

    Rigpa is not the “witness” according to Dzogchen.

It is when you start out.
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level 3
Op ·
4 mo. ago

Fair point. But if one stays attached to THINKING “ah there it is! I am aware and of my awareness. There you are Rigpa!” Then the practitioner stops further progress until this way of thinking and believing is transcended and released.
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level 3
4 mo. ago

    It is when you start out.

Would you mind fleshing that out for me? I’m not sure I follow.
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level 4
4 mo. ago

Rigpa in normal sentient beings is just the dualistic mind as the vijñāna skandha. Meaning it is an inner subjective observer. The “subject” in the subject-object duality that in fact is vijñāna, dualistic consciousness.

As you progress on the path you begin to realize the emptiness of that subjective aspect, but it is very concrete and well established in normal sentient beings.
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level 5
4 mo. ago

That’s helpful. Thank you.
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level 6
4 mo. ago

Rigpa not being an observer pertains to the domain of āryas and tathāgatas. The rest of us certainly have dualistic vision with subject and object.

The rhetoric being thrown around in this thread about rigpa not being an observer or witness is true in certain contexts, but it is big talk. It really is something that accomplished yogis realize.
User avatar
level 7
4 mo. ago

This clarifies and demystifies things significantly. Thank you again.


Soh Wei YuAuthor

Kyle Dixon wrote before,

“I don’t see why not. Stream entry involves recognition of the true nature of the clear, bright, knowing, cognizance of your mind.

As your practice progresses you should begin to familiarize with that knowing capacity. Even with bipolar, in the height of happiness, the depths of depression, in the intensity of anger, that knowing capacity is always the same, stable, bright, clear. Like the surface of a mirror.

Anger, sadness, happiness and everything else are like reflections that appear in the surface of the mirror but don’t affect it.

Be the mirror and don’t get caught up in the reflections.

This is not yet stream entry. But it can be a basis for practice that will help you get there.

In initial practice, if you treat your knowing conscious clarity of mind as something like the surface of a mirror, and the sensory stimuli as reflections that appear on the mirror, anchor your view as being the mirror and the view will always be stable no matter what appears.”


Soh Wei YuAuthor
Aditya Prasad
Soh Wei Yu I don't understand this quote. "Stream entry is X. This is not yet stream entry." I think I am misunderstanding which parts describe stream entry and which do not. Is the distinction here the same as initial rigpa vs mature rigpa ( = stream entry)? Kyle Dixon · 49m
Soh Wei Yu
Aditya Prasad
Kyle Dixon is saying that recognising the clarity aspect of rigpa is not stream entry but is an important preliminary realisation. Realising the empty nature (i.e. anatman) of that clarity of mind is stream entry.


Soh Wei YuAuthor
As for the matured rigpa post emptiness realization, Kyle also expressed:
"'Self luminous' and 'self knowing' are concepts which are used to convey the absence of a subjective reference point which is mediating the manifestation of appearance. Instead of a subjective cognition or knower which is 'illuminating' objective appearances, it is realized that the sheer exertion of our cognition has always and only been the sheer exertion of appearance itself. Or rather that cognition and appearance are not valid as anything in themselves. Since both are merely fabricated qualities neither can be validated or found when sought. This is not a union of subject and object, but is the recognition that the subject and object never arose in the first place [advaya]. ", "The cognition is empty. That is what it means to recognize the nature of mind [sems nyid]. The clarity [cognition] of mind is recognized to be empty, which is sometimes parsed as the inseparability of clarity and emptiness, or nondual clarity and emptiness." - Kyle Dixon, 2014


Soh replied to someone:

Actually self enquiry is not just to realise the lack of a personal self, but Pure Presence. 

As my mentor Thusness/John Tan said:

“On a related topic, John Tan wrote in Dharma Overground back in 2009,

“Hi Gary,

It appears that there are two groups of practitioners in this forum, one adopting the gradual approach and the other, the direct path. I am quite new here so I may be wrong.

My take is that you are adopting a gradual approach yet you are experiencing something very significant in the direct path, that is, the ‘Watcher’. As what Kenneth said, “You're onto something very big here, Gary. This practice will set you free.” But what Kenneth said would require you to be awaken to this ‘I’. It requires you to have the ‘eureka!’ sort of realization. Awaken to this ‘I’, the path of spirituality becomes clear; it is simply the unfolding of this ‘I’.

On the other hand, what that is described by Yabaxoule is a gradual approach and therefore there is downplaying of the ‘I AM’. You have to gauge your own conditions, if you choose the direct path, you cannot downplay this ‘I’; contrary, you must fully and completely experience the whole of ‘YOU’ as ‘Existence’. Emptiness nature of our pristine nature will step in for the direct path practitioners when they come face to face to the ‘traceless’, ‘centerless’ and ‘effortless’ nature of non-dual awareness.

Perhaps a little on where the two approaches meet will be of help to you.

Awakening to the ‘Watcher’ will at the same time ‘open’ the ‘eye of immediacy’; that is, it is the capacity to immediately penetrate discursive thoughts and sense, feel, perceive without intermediary the perceived. It is a kind of direct knowing. You must be deeply aware of this “direct without intermediary” sort of perception -- too direct to have subject-object gap, too short to have time, too simple to have thoughts. It is the ‘eye’ that can see the whole of ‘sound’ by being ‘sound’. It is the same ‘eye’ that is required when doing vipassana, that is, being ‘bare’. Be it non-dual or vipassana, both require the opening of this 'eye of immediacy'.”

In 2009, John Tan wrote:

"Hi Teck Cheong,

What you described is fine and it can be considered vipassana meditation too but you must be clear what is the main objective of practicing that way. Ironically, the real purpose only becomes obvious after the arising insight of anatta. What I gathered so far from your descriptions are not so much about anatta or empty nature of phenomena but are rather drawn towards Awareness practice. So it will be good to start from understanding what Awareness truly is. All the method of practices that you mentioned will lead to a quality of experience that is non-conceptual. You can have non-conceptual experience of sound, taste...etc...but more importantly in my opinion, you should start from having a direct, non-conceptual experience of Awareness (first glimpse of our luminous essence). Once you have a ‘taste’ of what Awareness is, you can then think of ‘expanding’ this bare awareness and gradually understand what does ‘heightening and expanding’ mean from the perspective of Awareness.

Next, although you hear and see ‘non-dual, anatta and dependent origination’ all over the place in An Eternal Now’s forum (the recent Toni Packer’s books you bought are about non-dual and anatta), there is nothing wrong being ‘dualistic’ for a start. Even after direct non-conceptual experience of Awareness, our view will still continue to be dualistic; so do not have the idea that being dualistic is bad although it prevents thorough experience of liberation.

The comment given by Dharma Dan is very insightful but of late, I realized that it is important to have a first glimpse of our luminous essence directly before proceeding into such understanding. Sometimes understanding something too early will deny oneself from actual realization as it becomes conceptual. Once the conceptual understanding is formed, even qualified masters will find it difficult to lead the practitioner to the actual ‘realization’ as a practitioner mistakes conceptual understanding for realization.



“The anatta I realized is quite unique. It is not just a realization of no-self. But it must first have an intuitive insight of Presence. 

Otherwise will have to reverse the phases of insights.” - John Tan, 2018

He also said:

“Hi Mr. H,

In addition to what you wrote, I hope to convey another dimension of Presence to you. That is Encountering Presence in its first impression, unadulterated and full blown in stillness.

So after reading it, just feel it with your entire body-mind and forgot about it. Don't let it corrupt your mind.😝

Presence, Awareness, Beingness, Isness are all synonyms. There can be all sorts of definitions but all these are not the path to it. The path to it must be non-conceptual and direct. This is the only way.

When contemplating the koan "before birth who am I", the thinking mind attempts to seek into it's memory bank for similar experiences to get an answer. This is how the thinking mind works - compare, categorize and measure in order to understand.

However, when we encounter such a koan, the mind reaches its limit when it tries to penetrate its own depth with no answer. There will come a time when the mind exhausts itself and come to a complete standstill and from that stillness comes an earthshaking BAM!

I. Just I.

Before birth this I, a thousand years ago this I, a thousand later this I. I AM I.

It is without any arbitrary thoughts, any comparisons. It fully authenticates it's own clarity, it's own existence, ITSELF in clean, pure, direct non-conceptuality. No why, no because.

Just ITSELF in stillness nothing else.

Intuit the vipassana and the samantha. Intuit the total exertion and realization. The essence of message must be raw and uncontaminated by words.

Hope that helps!” - John Tan, 2019

Also, Angelo wrote: 

Inquiry for First Awakening

The inquiry that leads to first awakening is a funny thing.  We want to know “how” precisely to do that inquiry, which is completely understandable.  The thing is that it’s not wholly conveyable by describing a certain technique.  Really it’s a matter of finding that sweet spot where surrender and intention meet.  I will describe an approach here, but it’s important to keep in mind that in the end, you don’t have the power (as what you take yourself to be) to wake yourself up.  Only Life has that power.  So as we give ourselves to a certain inquiry or practice it’s imperative that we remain open.  We have to keep the portals open to mystery, and possibility.  We have to recognize that the constant concluding that “no this isn’t it, no this isn’t it either...” is simply the activity of the mind.  Those are thoughts.  If we believe a single thought then we will believe the next one and on and on.  If however we recognize that, “oh that doubt is simply a thought arising now,” then we have the opportunity to recognize that that thought will subside on its own... and yet “I” as the knower of that thought am still here!  We can now become fascinated with what is here once that thought (or any thought) subsides.  What is in this gap between thoughts?  What is this pure sense of I, pure sense of knowing, pure sense of Being?  What is this light that can shine on and illuminate a thought (as it does thousands of times per day), and yet still shines when no thought is present.  It is self illuminating.  What is the nature of the one that notices thoughts, is awake and aware before, during, and after a thought, and is not altered in any way by any thought?  Please understand that when you ask these questions you are not looking for a thought answer, the answer is the experience itself.

When we start to allow our attention to relax into this wider perspective we start to unbind ourselves from thought.  We begin to recognize the nature of unbound consciousness by feel, by instinct.  This is the way in.

At first we may conclude that this gap, this thoughtless consciousness is uninteresting, unimportant.  It feels quite neutral, and the busy mind can’t do anything with neutral so we might be inclined to purposely engage thoughts again.  If we recognize that “not interesting, not important, not valuable” are all thoughts and simply return to this fluid consciousness, it will start to expand.  But there is no need to think about expansion or watch for it.  It will do this naturally if we stay with it.   If you are willing to recognize every thought and image in the mind as such, and keep your attention alert but relaxed into the “stuff” of thought that is continuous with the sense of I, it will all take care of itself.  Just be willing to suspend judgement.  Be willing to forego conclusions.  Be willing to let go of all monitoring of your progress, because these are all thoughts.  Be open to the pure experience.  Just return again and again to this place of consciousness with no object or pure sense of I Am.  If you are willing to do this it will teach itself to you in a way that neither I nor anyone I’ve ever seen can explain, but it is more real than real.

Happy Travels.

Also, recently I shared in another group: 

Soh Wei Yu


Top contributor

Also an admin msged me

“I think he is practicing self-enquiry incorrectly based on his description, focusing on the sense gates instead of discovering his true self/luminous pure consciousness. Most people tend to focus outward instead of inward when attempting to realize I AM.”



Geoffrey Winslow


Soh Wei Yuthanks for the pointers - though "he should be discovering his luminous awareness" - seems obvious that this is what I want, but not really actionable practice guidance



Chris Wilson

Geoffrey Winslow I think one point from that comment might have been to kind of close out the other senses and put your attention in the thought consciousness gate.

What's crazy is we end up looking for some event or big bang revelation that we can talk about. Perhaps, while watching the thoughts and doing inquiry, let the goal be more to rest as the space between the thoughts. See if there is anything you can even say about it. That amness or beingness is so close and simple that we easily overlook it trying to find something that matches a description.



Soh Wei Yu


Top contributor

Geoffrey Winslow Try





The realization of Certainty of Being (I AM) is important and is the important base for further insights IMO. In further stages, it is not denied, the view just get refined through deeper realization that breaks down the view of dualism (subject object/perceiver-perceived dualism) and inherency.

🙏 :) p.s. I'm Soh, and Thusness (John Tan) is my mentor... I've been through similar stages as him in my journey

Session Start: Saturday, 27 March, 2010

(9:54 PM) Thusness: Not bad for self-enquiry

(9:55 PM) AEN: icic..

btw what do u think lucky and chandrakirti is trying to convey

(9:56 PM) Thusness: those quotes weren't really well translated in my opinion.

(9:57 PM) Thusness: what needs be understood is 'No I' is not to deny Witnessing consciousness.

(9:58 PM) Thusness: and 'No Phenomena' is not to deny Phenomena

(9:59 PM) Thusness: It is just for the purpose of 'de-constructing' the mental constructs.

(10:00 PM) AEN: oic..

(10:01 PM) Thusness: when u hear sound, u cannot deny it...can u?

(10:01 PM) AEN: ya

(10:01 PM) Thusness: so what r u denying?

(10:02 PM) Thusness: when u experience the Witness as u described in ur thread 'certainty of being', how can u deny this realization?

(10:03 PM) Thusness: so what is does 'no I' and 'no phenomena' mean?

(10:03 PM) AEN: like u said its only mental constructs that are false... but consciousness cant be denied ?

(10:03 PM) Thusness: no...i am not saying that

Buddha never deny the aggregates

(10:04 PM) Thusness: just the selfhood

(10:04 PM) Thusness: the problem is what is meant by 'non-inherent', empty nature, of phenomena and 'I'


(11:15 PM) Thusness: but understanding it wrongly is another matter

can u deny Witnessing?

(11:16 PM) Thusness: can u deny that certainty of being?

(11:16 PM) AEN: no

(11:16 PM) Thusness: then there is nothing wrong with it

how could u deny ur very own existence?

(11:17 PM) Thusness: how could u deny existence at all

(11:17 PM) Thusness: there is nothing wrong experiencing directly without intermediary the pure sense of existence

(11:18 PM) Thusness: after this direct experience, u should refine ur understanding, ur view, ur insights

(11:19 PM) Thusness: not after the experience, deviate from the right view, re-enforce ur wrong view

(11:19 PM) Thusness: u do not deny the witness, u refine ur insight of it

what is meant by non-dual

(11:19 PM) Thusness: what is meant by non-conceptual

what is being spontaneous

what is the 'impersonality' aspect

(11:20 PM) Thusness: what is luminosity.

(11:20 PM) Thusness: u never experience anything unchanging

(11:21 PM) Thusness: in later phase, when u experience non-dual, there is still this tendency to focus on a background... and that will prevent ur progress into the direct insight into the TATA as described in the tata article.

(11:22 PM) Thusness: and there are still different degree of intensity even u realized to that level.

(11:23 PM) AEN: non dual?

(11:23 PM) Thusness: tada (an article) is more than is phase 5-7

(11:24 PM) AEN: oic..

(11:24 PM) Thusness: it is all about the integration of the insight of anatta and emptiness

(11:25 PM) Thusness: vividness into transience, feeling what i called 'the texture and fabric' of Awareness as forms is very important

then come emptiness

(11:26 PM) Thusness: the integration of luminosity and emptiness

(10:45 PM) Thusness: do not deny that Witnessing but refine the view, that is very important

(10:46 PM) Thusness: so far, u have correctly emphasized the importance of witnessing

(10:46 PM) Thusness: unlike in the past, u gave ppl the impression that u r denying this witnessing presence

(10:46 PM) Thusness: u merely deny the personification, reification and objectification

(10:47 PM) Thusness: so that u can progress further and realize our empty nature.

but don't always post what i told u in msn

(10:48 PM) Thusness: in no time, i will become sort of cult leader

(10:48 PM) AEN: oic.. lol

(10:49 PM) Thusness: anatta is no ordinary insight. When we can reach the level of thorough transparency, u will realize the benefits

(10:50 PM) Thusness: non-conceptuality, clarity, luminosity, transparency, openness, spaciousness, thoughtlessness, non-locality...all these descriptions become quite meaningless.


(4:20 PM) Thusness: buddhism stresses more on direct experience.

(4:20 PM) Thusness: there is no-self apart from the arising and ceasing

(4:20 PM) AEN: icic..

(4:20 PM) Thusness: and from arising and ceasing one sees the emptiness nature of 'Self'

(4:21 PM) Thusness: There is Witnessing.

(4:21 PM) Thusness: Witnessing is the manifestation.

(4:21 PM) Thusness: there is no witness witnessing manifestation.

(4:21 PM) Thusness: that is buddhism.


(7:39 PM) Thusness: it is always witnessing...don't get it wrong

just whether one understand its emptiness nature or not.

(7:39 PM) Thusness: there is always luminosity

since when there is no witnessing?

(7:39 PM) Thusness: it is just luminosity and emptiness nature

not luminosity alone

(9:59 PM) Thusness: there is always this is the divided sense that u have to get rid

(9:59 PM) Thusness: that is why i never deny the witness experience and realization, just the right understanding


(2:58 PM) Thusness: There is no problem being the witness, the problem is only wrong understanding of what witness is.

(2:58 PM) Thusness: That is seeing duality in Witnessing.

(2:58 PM) Thusness: or seeing 'Self' and other, subject-object division. That is the problem.

(2:59 PM) Thusness: U can call it Witnessing or Awareness, there must be no sense of self.

(11:21 PM) Thusness: yes witnessing

not witness

(11:22 PM) Thusness: in witnessing, it is always non-dual

(11:22 PM) Thusness: when in witness, it is always a witness and object being witness

when there is an observer, there is no such thing as no observed

(11:23 PM) Thusness: when u realised that there is only witnessing, there is no observer and observed

it is always non-dual

(11:24 PM) Thusness: that is why when genpo something said there is no witness only witnessing, yet taught the staying back and observed

(11:24 PM) Thusness: i commented the path deviates from the view

(11:25 PM) AEN: oic..

(11:25 PM) Thusness: when u teach experience the witness, u teach that

that is not about no subject-object split

u r teaching one to experience that witness

(11:26 PM) Thusness: first stage of insight of the "I AM" 



Read more at: No Awareness Does Not Mean Non-Existence of Awareness  

Someone asked:

How do you recommend to break through to I AM? After a few years of self inquiry, it feels like that avenue is exhausted. How do I know I'm not wasting more time?


Soh replied:

How did you practice self enquiry? Do you fall into concepts or do you have glimpses of Being?

On self enquiry, see:

Soh's translation:
Yuan Yin Lao Ren:
In the past there was a Master who contemplated, "what is the original face before my parents were born?" He contemplated for many years, but did not awaken. Later on he encountered a great noble person and requested for his compassionate guidance. The noble one asked: "What koan did you contemplate?" He replied: "I contemplated what is the original face before my parents were born?" Noble one replied: "You contemplated too far away, should look nearby." He asked: "How should I look nearby?" Noble one replied: "Don't look into what is before your parents were born, need to look at: before a thought arise, what is it?" The Zen practitioner immediately attained great awakening.
Everyone that is sitting here, please look at what is this before a moment of thought's arising? IT is radiating light in front of everybody's [sense] doors, the brightness radiates everything yet is without the slightest clinging, nothing is known and nothing is seen yet it is not similar to wood and stones, what is This? IT is right here shining in its brilliancy, this is awakening to the Way. Therefore it is said, "the great way is not difficult, just cease speech and words"!


Meditation and Self-Enquiry
I wrote this to my mother today in Chinese about the purpose of practicing and to encourage her to meditate. English translation below.
English translation:
Contemplating Zen [Koan] is about inquiring what exactly is our original face, what is our Self-Nature, it is not about achieving a meditative state.
It is rather to discover, to realize, what exactly is our Self-Nature/Awareness. One must reach a state of utter doubtlessness/certainty to be considered '[Self-]Realization'.
After the utter cessation of all thoughts, one must turn one's light around to find out, What am I? What is it that is Aware? If there is a thought which answers 'it is this or that' then that's wrong, because the real answer lies not in words and letters. Therefore cast aside those thoughts and continue inquiring, turning the light around. This is the most direct method to apprehend one's Mind.
You should meditate everyday. Master Yuan Yin asks his student to meditate two hours a day.
If you are unable to quiet your mind to a state of no-thought, it will be difficult to realise. You should think carefully what is the best method for you to still your mind? Is it meditation? Or is it chanting the Buddha's name and reciting mantras? Whatever methods which calms the mind will do, but you have to practice everyday, not only practice intermittently or occasionally.
However, reaching a state of no-thought is not awakening. Upon reaching a state of no-thought, continue turning the light around to find out Who is that which is the Clear Knowingness? What is it? Then you will realise your Self-Nature. Otherwise your meditation is merely a state of stillness, not yet realising Self-Nature.
Realizing Self-Nature is only Apprehending one's Mind, it is not yet realizing Nature [the nature of mind and phenomena] (the principle of the twofold emptiness of persons and phenomena as realized by a first bhumi Bodhisattva), therefore one must continue. Hence, "Apprehending Mind and Realising Nature" consists of two parts: first apprehend one's Mind (True Mind), later realize [Empty] Nature.
Therefore practice hard to Apprehend Mind and Realize Nature.
The Sixth Ch'an Patriarch said: It is useless to learn the dharma without recognising original Mind.


Tips on Self Enquiry: Investigate Who am I, Not 'Ask' Who am I
 Mr. C: Hello Soh,

I have been practicing a lot of Self Inquiry during the past week. I’m reaching that thoughtless state and when I inquire “Who’s aware of this experience?” there’s no change. Is just this boundless space where there’s just awareness.

I read your journal and you describe being in a blank and asking “Who is aware of this experience?” and having a experience of being.

I wouldn’t say that the “place” I dwell it’s blank because it is very clear. And there’s a feeling of just being That. But at the same time I don’t feel anything really different in my perception of reality (beyond few thoughts and higher space awareness)

Am I missing something?

Thank you
Soh replied:
What you experience is good. Continue inquiring.
Session Start: Sunday, 25 October, 2009

(2:07 AM) AEN: just now it occurred to me that the places i've been are hazy like a dream, they come and go.... then i realised my thoughts also are like a dream, they come and go... when i dropped that theres only my own existence and presence left which is real and not hazy at all and doesnt come and go
(2:34 AM) AEN: then for a short while i was only aware of my own existence... until i got distracted :P
(5:16 AM) Thusness: not bad... 🙂 That is the beginning phase of I AM.
(5:19 AM) Thusness: first drop your thoughts, drop all sort of mental chattering, drop everything, don't think of non-dual. Allow urself to be filled with only this sense of existence. This is the first phase.
(5:19 AM) AEN: icic..
(5:20 AM) Thusness: then you will realize what existence is. 🙂
Mr. C:
That’s good to hear. I’ll keep working 🙏🏼
You said to keep inquiring, but this advice from Jon about dropping everything and allowing to be filled with sense of existence, to do this I need to stop the Inquiry right?
To clarify, this state of Being is different from the blank state. If it is the blank state I should keep inquiring but if it is the Being (sense of existence) should I let go of Inquiring?
Soh replied:
doesnt mean stop inquiry
i still inquired all the way to February 2010 when I realized I AM
inquiry is supposed to lead to the non-conceptual taste and realization of Existence, so its non contradictory
as long as there is slightest doubt what Existence is then continue inquiry. if you are just resting as Existence then just go into it
Mr. C:
Yeah my question is during practice. If I should stop inquiring when I’m just at a state of Being, not a blank state but a very clear Existence.

Thank you Soh!
Soh replied:
yes. the purpose of inquiry is not to keep repeating the question but to turn your attention to the Self
quote from
5. Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 6: if or as soon as anything other than ourself appears in our awareness, we should simply turn our attention back towards ourself, the one to whom all other things (all thoughts, forms or phenomena) appear

Regarding your statement, ‘I keep doing the enquiry “to whom these thoughts arise?”, “to me”, “who am I?” but I don’t know what I should do more’, these words, ‘to whom does this appear?’, ‘to me’, ‘who am I?’, are a very useful pointer given by Bhagavan, but we should understand clearly what he meant by this pointer. He did not mean that we should repeat these words to ourself whenever anything appears, but that we should simply turn our attention back to ourself, the one to whom all other things (all thoughts, forms or phenomena) appear. That is, he did not say ‘ask to whom’ or ‘ask who am I’ but ‘investigate to whom’ and ‘investigate who am I’, as he wrote in the following portion of the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:

பிற வெண்ணங்க ளெழுந்தா லவற்றைப் பூர்த்தி பண்ணுவதற்கு எத்தனியாமல் அவை யாருக் குண்டாயின என்று விசாரிக்க வேண்டும். எத்தனை எண்ணங்க ளெழினு மென்ன? ஜாக்கிரதையாய் ஒவ்வோ ரெண்ணமும் கிளம்பும்போதே இது யாருக்குண்டாயிற்று என்று விசாரித்தால் எனக்கென்று தோன்றும். நானார் என்று விசாரித்தால் மனம் தன் பிறப்பிடத்திற்குத் திரும்பிவிடும்; எழுந்த வெண்ணமு மடங்கிவிடும். இப்படிப் பழகப் பழக மனத்திற்குத் தன் பிறப்பிடத்திற் றங்கி நிற்கும் சக்தி யதிகரிக்கின்றது.

piṟa v-eṇṇaṅgaḷ eṙundāl avaṯṟai-p pūrtti paṇṇuvadaṟku ettaṉiyāmal avai yārukku uṇḍāyiṉa eṉḏṟu vicārikka vēṇḍum. ettaṉai eṇṇaṅgaḷ eṙiṉum eṉṉa? jāggirataiyāy ovvōr eṇṇamum kiḷambum-pōdē idu yārukku uṇḍāyiṯṟu eṉḏṟu vicārittāl eṉakkeṉḏṟu tōṉḏṟum. nāṉ-ār eṉḏṟu vicārittāl maṉam taṉ piṟappiḍattiṟku-t tirumbi-viḍum; eṙunda v-eṇṇamum aḍaṅgi-viḍum. ippaḍi-p paṙaga-p paṙaga maṉattiṟku-t taṉ piṟappiḍattil taṅgi niṟgum śakti y-adhikarikkiṉḏṟadu.

If other thoughts rise, without trying to complete them it is necessary to investigate to whom they have occurred. However many thoughts rise, what [does it matter]? Vigilantly, as soon as each thought appears, if one investigates to whom it has occurred, it will be clear: to me. If one investigates who am I [by vigilantly attending to oneself, the ‘me’ to whom everything else appears], the mind will return to its birthplace [namely oneself, the source from which it arose]; [and since one thereby refrains from attending to it] the thought that had risen will also cease. When one practises and practises in this manner, for the mind the power to stand firmly established in its birthplace increases.

The verb he used here that I have translated as ‘investigate’ is விசாரி (vicāri), which in some contexts can mean enquire in the sense of ask, but in this context means enquire only in the sense of investigate. Asking questions is a mental activity, because it entails directing our attention away from ourself towards a question, which is a thought and hence other than ourself, so as long as we are asking questions we are still floating on the surface of the mind by attending to things other than ourself, whereas investigating ourself means being keenly self-attentive, which causes the mind to sink deep within and thereby return to its ‘birthplace’, the source from which it had risen, namely our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is our fundamental and ever-shining awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’.

Therefore what Bhagavan is pointing out in this passage is the direction in which we should send our attention. Instead of allowing our attention to go out following whatever thoughts may arise, we should turn it back towards ourself, the one to whom all thoughts appear. ‘To whom?’ is not intended to be a question that we should ask ourself but is a very powerful pointer indicating where we should direct our attention. Asking the question ‘to whom?’ may sometimes be an aid if it helps to remind us to turn our attention back towards ourself, but self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) is not merely asking such questions but only fixing our attention on ourself alone.

Another point worth noting here is that what Bhagavan means by ‘thought’ is anything other than our fundamental awareness ‘I am’, so it includes all perceptions, memories, feelings, ideas and other mental impressions of any kind whatsoever. As he says in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai), ‘Excluding thoughts, there is not separately any such thing as world’, and in the fourteenth paragraph, ‘ஜக மென்பது நினைவே’ (jagam eṉbadu niṉaivē), ‘What is called the world is only thought’, so when he says here ‘பிற வெண்ணங்க ளெழுந்தால்’ (piṟa v-eṇṇaṅgaḷ eṙundāl), ‘If other thoughts rise’, or ‘ஒவ்வோ ரெண்ணமும் கிளம்பும்போதே’ (ovvōr eṇṇamum kiḷambum-pōdē), ‘As soon as each thought appears’, he means that if or as soon as anything other than ourself appears in our awareness, we should turn our attention back towards ourself, the one to whom all such things appear.

6. If we are vigilantly self-attentive, as we should try to be, we will thereby ward off both thoughts and sleep, but when we are tired we are naturally less vigilant, so we may then fall asleep as a result of our trying to be self-attentive

You ask, ‘Should I keep doing Self-Enquiry all day for hours in seated position? Should I continue the enquiry in bed as well before sleep? Or should I stop the enquiry from time to time to give some rest to the body?’ Firstly, self-investigation has nothing to do with the body, so we can practise it whether the body is lying, sitting, standing, walking or doing anything else. For the same reason, we do not have to stop being self-attentive in order to give some rest to the body, because being self-attentive cannot strain the body in any way. In fact, when the body and mind are resting is a very favourable condition for us to be self-attentive.

Regarding your question about continuing the practice in bed before sleep, that is also good, but since we are generally very tired at that time, we usually subside into sleep soon after trying to be self-attentive. There is no harm in that, because when we need to sleep we should sleep. There is no time and no circumstance that is not suitable for us to be self-attentive, so we should try to be self-attentive as much as possible whatever the time or circumstances may be, but we should not try to deprive ourself of however much sleep we may need.

If we are vigilantly self-attentive, as we should try to be, we will thereby ward off both thoughts and sleep, but when we are tired we are naturally less vigilant, so we may then fall asleep as a result of our trying to be self-attentive. As Sadhu Om often used to say, when we are sleepy we should sleep, because when we wake up again we will be fresh, and we should then make use of that freshness by trying to be vigilantly self-attentive.

I do not know whether anything I have written here is of any use to you, but I hope some of it at least may help to point you in the right direction.

7. What the word ‘I’ essentially refers to is only what is aware, so if we are just being aware of what is aware, we are thereby meditating on ‘I’

In reply to my first reply (which I adapted as the previous six sections) my friend wrote again about how he was trying to practise self-enquiry and the problems he was facing, in reply to which I wrote:

When you say ‘The practice of Self-Enquiry, especially in seated position (just being aware of awareness itself, not meditating in any object or form etc, simply just being, not even “I” in the “I am”) boosted my kundalini’, it is not clear to me what you are actually practising, because you say you are ‘just being aware of awareness itself’ but then seem to say that you are not meditating even on ‘I’. Meditating on ‘I’ means attending only to yourself, or in other words, just being self-attentive, so if you are not meditating on ‘I’, what do you mean by saying that you are ‘just being aware of awareness itself’?

In this context ‘awareness’ means what is aware, and what is aware is always aware of itself as ‘I’, so what the word ‘I’ essentially refers to is only what is aware. Therefore if you are not meditating on ‘I’, what is the ‘awareness’ that you are being aware of? Unfortunately ‘awareness’ is a potentially ambiguous term, because it could be taken to mean awareness in the sense of awareness of objects or phenomena, so when you are ‘just being aware of awareness itself’, are you just being aware of what is aware, namely yourself, or are you being aware of your awareness of objects or phenomena?

If you are being aware only of what is aware, namely yourself, then you are meditating on ‘I’. That is, what you are meditating on is not the word ‘I’, but what the word ‘I’ refers to, namely yourself, who are what is aware. If you are not meditating on what the word ‘I’ refers to, then whatever ‘awareness’ you are being aware of is something other than what is aware.

This is why Bhagavan gave us the powerful pointer ‘to whom’, about which I wrote in my previous reply. If we understand this pointer correctly, it is directing our attention back towards ourself, the one to whom all other things appear. In other words, it is pointing our attention back to what is aware, away from whatever we were hitherto aware of.

If you are aware of any phenomenon, such as the boosting of your kuṇḍalinī, your attention has been diverted away from yourself, so you need to turn it back to yourself, the one to whom all phenomena appear. If you turn your attention back to yourself and hold firmly to yourself (that is, if you just remain firmly self-attentive), whatever phenomena may have appeared will thereby disappear, because no phenomenon can appear or remain in your awareness unless you attend to it at least to a certain extent.

8. No matter what may distract us or seem a problem to us, let us not be concerned about them but just patiently and persistently continue trying to be self-attentive, unmindful of everything else

Regarding the boosting of your kuṇḍalinī you say, ‘By boosting I mean that I feel an energy in the spine passing through the chakras’, but the energy, the spine, the cakras and the energy’s movement are all objects or phenomena, so you should ignore all such things by trying to be keenly self-attentive. However much such things appear, they need not concern you. To whom do they appear? Only to you, so you should just persevere in trying to attend only to yourself.

Whatever may appear or disappear is other than ourself, so it should not interest or concern us. Such things distract us and become a problem for us only to the extent that we take interest in them or are concerned about them. Why should we be concerned about them? Our only concern should be to investigate and know what we ourself are. If we are not interested in or concerned about anything else, we will not attend to them, and hence they will not be a problem.

If we find ourself being concerned about such things and therefore distracted by them, that is due to the strength of our viṣaya-vāsanās, and the most effective means to weaken our viṣaya-vāsanās and thereby wean our mind off its interest in all other things is just to persevere in this simple practice of being self-attentive. Therefore, no matter what may distract us or seem a problem to us, let us not be concerned about them but just patiently and persistently continue trying to be self-attentive, unmindful of everything else.