Showing posts with label Madhyamaka. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Madhyamaka. Show all posts


Some quotes by Acarya Malcolm Smith from Dharmawheel on Conventional vs Ultimate Truth


"“Conventional” simply means “functional,” it does not mean arbitrary or subjective. For example, perceiving water as amṛta, pus, boiling metal, etc., is invalid in the human realm.

One can build many kinds of cars, but if they don’t function as cars, they are not cars, conventionally speaking."

"No, conventions are not subjective, they are conventions because one or more people have agreed to call a functional thing a given name. For example, a truck is called a lorry in England, but they both refer to a heavy vehicle that carries loads."

"Conventional truths are derived from observing functional appearances. Falsehoods are derived from observing nonfunctional appearances. Example, lake vs. mirage."

"No, it is not more correct to say consciousness arises or ceases than a labelled self, a since consciousness is also a conventional label, like the label "self." Prior to analysis there is both a self, akuppa, and a consciousness. After analysis one will find neither self nor consciousness, beyond the designations "akuppa" and "consciousness." For example, take a car as a metaphor for "self". A car cannot be found in any part, all of its parts, or separate from its parts. Likewise, as self cannot be found in any aggregates, all of the aggregates, or apart from the aggregates. Likewise, consciousness cannot be found in the sense organ nor the sense object, both, or separate from them. The mind is also made of parts, and cannot be found in one of them, all of them, or separate from them.

Functionally speaking, we can say there is a self, because when I say "akuppa go there!" You will respond to this directive by saying yes or no. This means that "self" is functional. It is efficient. Whatever is functional corresponds with relative truth. If I said to you, "Malcolm go there!" you would respond, "I am not Malcolm." So calling you "malcolm" is not functional and therefore cannot be considered to be relatively true. Consciousness is a relative truth, as long as it performs its functions, then we can say "there is a consciousness." But when we analyze consciousness, we cannot find it outside of the conventions we use for an appearance we label "mind.""

"Two truths are specified, seeing correctly and seeing falsely. That’s enough. No need to have the Buddha declare that aggregates and so on are ultimate, otherwise it would have been game over for Madhyamaka at the beginning."

"Which Sutra view did you have in mind, the one where in PP Sūtra it is stated that all phenomena are nonarising, pure from the beginning, and the state of dharmatā? The dependent origination of phenomena? Emptiness? In what way does Dzogchen refute these views? We do not reject conventional truth in Dzogchen. Longchenpa was utterly clear on this point.

ChNN understood what is stated in the Dzogchen tantras: we do not make a distinction between sharp and dull. If someone is sincerely interested in the teachings, they do not have to convert to Buddhism, but it is not because Buddhism contains any wrong views. It does not. There is no contradiction between Dzogchen and the four truths of nobles. There are serious contradictions however with Samkhya, etc."

"This is not correct. There is such as thing as mundane correct view. A correct view in this case is one that is functional. For example, believing in normative causes and effects. We have to distinguish wrong views about entities from wrong views about essences. Christians have wrong views about both essences and entities, since they believe salvation comes from believing in the divinity of a man executed by Romans somewhere between 30-33 CE.

Buddhists only hold wrong views about essences, i.e. that knowledge obscuration of the innate habit of I-making."

John Tan weeks ago:

"Clarity as I AM is only dualistic and must go into anatta which is just the beginning into emptiness free from all elaborations and DO which is just natural perfection.

Because we do not know what the primordial and natural perfection is all about, we can only talk about de-construction of conventional constructs from self to all phenomena otherwise all experiences at every phases of insight will be distorted.

We think we know what is natural and primordial but we don't.

Whether it is anatta or not is dependent on insights and view, not just experience.

Means there must be a see through, then one realizes and go further to realize that self is a mental construct, learnt and taught, was never there but thought to be there.

However how subtle and deep do these conventional constructs affect mind and experiences is a different matter.

Many do not understand what is and how freedom mental constructs are like. No clarity of view and experience as long as one do not see DO and emptiness from mental constructs level as well as empty radiance level.

The mind will always link back to the physical and material world of conventional understanding, unknowingly links analysis and interpretation excluding consciousness from the equation.

Or we will jump into conclusion of denying causal efficacy not knowing what exactly mmk is pointing to and what exactly is negated. What do we mean by no cause and effect and what sort of cause and effect r we talking about and what exactly is non-causal talking about...

These are all the mind cognitive obscurations, it is unable to clearly sort out.

This proves our mind is still oscillating between the extremes."


If those whose lord is Death himself,
Ruler of the three worlds, without a master,
Sleep like true vanquishers,
What could be more improper?
~ Aryadeva
Without sleep the night is long,
Without rest the journey is long,
Without knowledge of the best dharma,
For those children, existence is long.
~ Gendun Chopel
Meditate again and again
until you have turned your mind away
from the activities of this life,
which are like adorning yourself
while being led to the execution ground.
~ Tsongkhapa
To liberate myself alone
will bring no benefit,
For sentient beings of the three realms
are all my fathers and mothers.
How disgusting to leave my parents
in the thick of suffering,
While wishing and seeking
for just my happiness alone!
So may the suffering
of all the three realms ripen on me,
May my merits be taken
by sentient beings,
And through the blessings
of the merit of this,
May all beings attain buddhahood!
~ Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen
I prostrate to the perfect Buddha,
The supreme teacher, who taught
That dependent origination
Is without ceasing and without arising,
Without extinction and without permanence,
Without coming and without going,
Not different and not one.
It is the peace in which discursiveness
is completely still.
~ Nagarjuna
When there is an “I”, there is a perception of other,
And from the ideas of self and other
come attachment and aversion.
As a result of getting wrapped up in these,
All possible faults come into being.
~ Dharmakirti
All beings consist of causes and effects,
In which there is no ‘sentient being’ at all.
From phenomena
which are exclusively empty,
There arise only empty phenomena.
All things are devoid of any ‘I’ or ‘mine’.
Like a recitation, a candle,
a mirror, a seal,
A magnifying glass, a seed,
sourness, or a sound,
So also with the continuation
of the aggregates—
The wise should know
they are not transferred.
If the self were the aggregates,
It would have arising and ceasing
(as properties).
If it were different from the aggregates,
It would not have
the characteristics of the aggregates.
Neither the aggregates,
nor different from the aggregates,
The aggregates are not in him,
nor is he in the aggregates.
The Tathagata does not possess
the aggregates.
What is the Tathagata?
~ Nagarjuna
The entities that our and other schools affirm,
Since they exist inherently in neither singular nor plural,
In ultimate reality are without intrinsic being;
They are like reflections.
~ Shantarakshita
Not from itself, not from another,
not from both, nor without cause:
Never in any way is there any
existing thing that has arisen.
Like an illusion, like a dream,
like the city of the gandharvas,
so origination, duration, and cessation
are declared to be.
Since origination, duration,
and cessation are not established,
there is nothing that is conditioned.
And in the absence
of the establishment of the conditioned,
What unconditioned thing will be established?
Whatever is dependently co-arisen
That is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation
Is itself the Middle Way.
Something that is not dependently arisen
Such a thing does not exist.
Therefore a non-empty thing
Does not exist.
~ Nagarjuna
The practice of all the bodhisattvas
is never to entertain concepts,
Which revolve around dualistic notions
of perceiver and perceived,
In the knowledge that all these
appearances are but the mind itself,
Whilst mind’s own nature is forever
beyond the limitations of ideas.
~ Gyalse Thogme Zangpo
Through the perception of mind-only
One achieves the nonperception of objects;
Through the nonperception of objects
There is also the nonperception of mind.
~ Vasubandhu
When scrutinized with insight,
Neither the imaginary, nor the dependent,
Nor the perfect [nature] exists.
So how could insight conceive of an entity?
~ The Sutra of the Arrival in Lanka
Consider all dharmas as dreamlike:
As this indicates,
the whole environment
and the beings within it,
which we perceive as objects,
are dreamlike.
They appear as they do
because our own minds are deluded
and not as a result
of even the slightest factor
aside from mind.
We must therefore put a stop
to our projections.
We might then wonder
whether the mind itself is real,
so the root text says:
Examine the nature
of unborn awareness:
Mind itself is empty of the three stages
of arising, remaining and ceasing.
It has no colour, no shape, and so on.
It does not abide outside
or within the body.
It has no fixed character at all
and cannot therefore
be apprehended in any way.
Rest in an experience beyond thought.
If any thought of an antidote
—such as considering that body
and mind are empty—
should arise, then as the root text says:
Let even the antidote
be freed in its own place:
We look into the essence
of the antidote itself,
and when we realize
that it has no true nature,
we rest with that experience.
As for how to rest, the root text says:
Rest in the ālaya,
the essence of the path:
Avoiding all the projection
and absorption associated
with the other seven types of consciousness,
we must settle with lucid clarity
in an experience that is beyond thought.
We must not mentally fixate in any way
on what has no fixed character at all.
~ Gyalse Thogme Zangpo
Physical phenomena
are assemblages of subtle particles.
When one analyzes these particles
by splitting them into their own sections,
not even the smallest part is left.
Not even the tiniest appearance remains.
The nonphysical refers to mind.
The mind of the past
has ceased and dissolved.
The mind of the future
has not arisen or come into being.
The mind of the present
is extremely difficult to identify:
it has no color or shape; it is like space.
Therefore it is not established.
Furthermore, it is beyond
being one or many things,
it has never arisen,
and it is luminous by nature.
We use these and other forms
of the sword of reasoning
to investigate and analyze phenomena.
Through this, we realize
that they do not inherently exist.
Since both physical
and nonphysical phenomena
are not established as any entity
and do not exist,
the prajñā of discriminating investigation
also does not exist.
Once all specifically
and generally characterized phenomena
have been established as nonexistent,
the prajñā no longer appears;
it is luminous,
not existing in any manner whatsoever.
~ Atisha
Without referring to an imputed entity,
One cannot apprehend the lack of this entity
Therefore, the lack of a delusive entity
Is clearly delusive [too].
Thus, when one’s son dies in a dream,
The conception “He does not exist”
Removes the thought that he does exist,
But it is also delusive.
Once neither entities nor nonentities
Remain before the mind,
There is no other mental flux.
Therefore, it is utter nonreferential peace.
~ Shantideva
The world would be unproduced,
unceased, and unchangeable,
it would be devoid of its manifold appearances,
if there were intrinsic nature.
If there is no entitihood,
What changes?
If there were entity,
How could it be correct
that something changes?
If there is no essence,
What could become other?
If there is essence,
What could become other?
~ Nagarjuna
Any thought such as miserliness and so on
Is held to be an afflictive obscuration.
Any thought of ‘subject’, ‘object’ and ‘action’
Is held to be a cognitive obscuration.
~ Maitreya
To say “existence” is the clinging to permanence.
To say “nonexistence” is the view of extinction.
Therefore, the learned should not dwell
In either existence or non-existence.
If you grasp at existence,
there is no liberation;
If you grasp at non-existence,
there are no higher rebirths;
If you grasp at both,
you are just ignorant,
So do the best you can,
to remain in non-duality!
The nature of appearances
is like a magical illusion,
And the way they arise
is through interdependence:
That’s the way things are,
which cannot be expressed in words,
So do the best you can, to dwell
in a state which is inexpressible!
~ Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen
In this, there is not a thing to be removed,
Nor the slightest thing to be added.
It is looking perfectly into reality itself,
And when reality is seen, complete liberation.
~ Nagarjuna / Maitreya
The true nature of things
is naturally free of conceptual projections.
It does not exist, since even
the victorious ones do not see it.
Yet neither is it non-existent,
as it is the ground of all samsara and nirvana.
There is no contradiction here,
for it lies beyond the realm of expression.
~ From the Longchen Nyingthig
All compounded phenomena,
as arising and ceasing things,
Are not bound and not released.
For this reason a sentient being
Is not bound, not released.
The nature of things is to be, like nirvāṇa,
without origination or cessation.
In terms of its imaginary aspect,
this very other-dependent nature is samsara.
In terms of its perfect aspect,
it is nirvāṇa
There is no distinction whatsoever
between saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.
There is no distinction whatsoever
between nirvāṇa and saṃsāra.
What is the limit of nirvāṇa,
that is the limit of saṃsāra.
There is not even the finest gap
to be found between the two.
What is the nature of the thus-gone one,
that is the nature of the world.
The thus-gone one is devoid of nature;
the world is devoid of nature.
Those who develop mental fabrications
with regard to the Buddha,
Who has gone beyond all fabrications,
As a consequence of those cognitive fabrications,
Fail to see the Tathagata.
By taking any standpoint whatsoever,
You will be snatched by
the cunning snakes of the afflictions.
Those whose minds have no standpoint
Will not be caught.
The victorious ones have said
That emptiness is the relinquishing of all views.
For whomever emptiness is a view,
That one has achieved nothing.
In order to relinquish all imagination,
You taught the nectar of emptiness.
However, those who cling to it
Are also blamed by you.
~ Nagarjuna
Therefore, there is no such thing
That ultimately can be proved to be.
And thus the Tathagatas all have taught
That all phenomena are unproduced.
Since with the ultimate this is attuned,
It is referred to as the ultimate.
And yet the actual ultimate is free
From constructs and elaborations.
Production and the rest have no reality,
Thus nonproduction and the rest
are equally impossible.
In and of themselves, both are disproved,
And therefore names cannot express them.
Where there are no objects,
There can be no arguments refuting them.
Even “nonproduction,” entertained conceptually,
Is relative and is not ultimate.
~ Shantarakshita
Since the negation of arising and so on
Concords with actuality, we accept it.
Since there is nothing to be negated,
It is clear that, actually, there is no negation.
How should the negation of an imputation’s
Own nature not be an imputation?
Hence, seemingly, this is
The meaning of actuality, but not actuality [itself].
In actuality, neither exists.
This is the lack of discursiveness:
Mañjuśrī asked about actuality,
And the son of the Victors [Vimalakirti] remained silent.
~ Jnanagarbha
The ultimate is freedom from discursiveness.
Being empty of all discursiveness
Is to be understood
As the nonnominal ultimate.
Its character is neither existent, nor nonexistent,
Nor [both] existent and nonexistent, nor neither.
Centrists should know true reality
That is free from these four possibilities
The purpose of emptiness
is its characteristic of all discursiveness
being at utter peace.
~ Bhavaviveka
Since this lack of arising
is concordant with realizing the ultimate,
it is called “the ultimate.”
Since there is no object of negation,
such as arising, that is established,
[its] lack [cannot really] be
related to this non-existent object.
Therefore, to apprehend
the lack of arising and such
is nothing but a reference point...
Ultimately, true reality
cannot be expressed
as the lack of arising and such.
Therefore, Noble Mañjuśrī
asked about true reality
and Noble Vimalakirti said nothing.
~ Kamalashila
Engagement with the idea
that form is empty,
or that it is not empty,
is still engagement with marks.
It is not engagement with transcendent insight.
When there is no engagement
with anything at all,
it is the engagement with transcendent insight.
~ The Mother of the Victorious Ones [Sutra]:
Kāśyapa, I say that
the one who observes emptiness,
and thus conceives of emptiness,
has failed, failed entirely,
with respect to these teachings.
Having a belief in personal existence
that is as solid as the King of Mountains
is a minor problem compared
to the arrogant view of emptiness.
Why is that? Because emptiness
is a deliverance from all views.
Hence, I say that if the view
is exclusively emptiness,
then there is no cure.
~ The Noble Jewel Mound [Sutra]
Perfectly discerned
by self-cognizing primordial wisdom alone,
this is an ineffable experience
beyond thought and word,
a state of equality like the very center of space.
This is what the ultimate nature is like,
and therefore it is said that
if the Bodhisattvas understand and proclaim
that “the aggregates are empty,”
they are still caught up in characteristics.
They have no faith in the unborn nature.
~ Mipham Rinpoche
The pacification of all objectification
And the pacification of illusion:
No Dharma was taught by the Buddha
At any time, in any place, to any person.
~ Nagarjuna
I salute Gautama, who,
based on compassion,
taught the true Dharma
for the abandonment of all views.
~ Nagarjuna
Through whatever merit
has here been gained,
may all beings generate sublime bodhicitta,
both relative and absolute,
and through this,
come to equal Lord Avalokiteśvara,
transcending the extremes
of existence and quiescence.
~ Gyaltse Thogme Zangpo
May the Dharma, suffering’s only cure,
And the source of all real happiness,
Always be valued and respected,
And remain long into the future!
~ Shantideva

It has come to my attention that this video "Vedantic Self and Buddhist Non-Self | Swami Sarvapriyananda" is circulating around in the internet and forums and is very popular. I appreciate Swami's attempts at comparisons but do not agree that Candrakirti's analysis leaves non-dual consciousness as the final irreducible reality, undeconstructed. Basically in summary, Swami Sarvapriyananda suggests that the sevenfold analysis deconstructs a separate eternal Self, like the Witness or Atman of the dualist Samkhya schools, but leaves the nondual Brahman of the nondualist Advaita schools untouched, and the analogy he gave is that consciousness and forms are like gold and necklace, they are nondual and not a separate witness. This nondual substrate (the "goldness of everything" so to speak) that is the substance of everything truly exists.

Because of this video, I realized I needed to update my blog article containing a compilation of quotes from John Tan and myself and a few others: 3) Buddha Nature is NOT "I Am" -- it is important for me to update because I have sent this article to thousands of people online, including spiritual teachers (along with other articles depending on conditions, usually I also send 1) Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Enlightenment and possibly 2) On Anatta (No-Self), Emptiness, Maha and Ordinariness, and Spontaneous Perfection -- the responses in general are very positive and lots of people have benefitted). Should have updated it earlier for clarification.

I have huge respect for Advaita Vedanta and other schools of Hinduism be it dualist or nondualist, as well as other mystical traditions based on an ultimate Self or Nondual Consciousness found in various and all religions. But the Buddhist emphasis is on the three dharma seals of Impermanence, Suffering, No-Self. And Emptiness and Dependent Origination. Therefore we need to emphasize the distinctions in terms of experiential realisations as well, and as Archaya Mahayogi Shridhar Rana Rinpoche said, "I must reiterate that this difference in both the system is very important to fully understand both the systems properly and is not meant to demean either system." - .

Here's the additional paragraphs I added into :

-------------- 2nd Update of 2022

Between I AM and Anatta realization, there is a phase that John Tan, I and many others have underwent. It is the phase of One Mind, where nondual Brahman is seen to be like the substance or substratum of all forms, nondual with all forms but yet having an unchanging and independent existence, which modulates as anything and everything. The analogy is gold and necklace, gold can be made into necklaces of all shapes, but in reality all forms and shapes are only of the substance of Gold. Everything is in final analysis only Brahman, it only appears to be various objects when its fundamental reality (pure singularity of nondual consciousness) is misperceived into a multiplicity. In this phase, consciousness is no longer seen to be a dualistic Witness that is separate from appearances, as all appearances are apperceived to be the one substance of pure nondual consciousness modulating as everything.

Such views of substantial nondualism ("gold"/"brahman"/"pure nondual consciousness that is unchanging") is also seen through in Anatta realization. As John Tan said before, "Self is conventional. Cannot mix up the 2. Otherwise one is talking about mind-only.", and "need to separate [Soh: deconstruct] self/Self from awareness. Then even awareness is de-constructed in both freedom from all elaborations or self-nature."

For more information on this subject, see the must read articles 7) Beyond Awareness: reflections on identity and awareness and 6) Differentiating I AM, One Mind, No Mind and Anatta

Here's an excerpt from the longer [non-abridged version] of AtR guide:

Commentary by Soh, 2021: “At phase 4 one may be trapped in the view that everything is one awareness modulating as various forms, like gold being shaped into various ornaments while never leaving its pure substance of gold. This is the Brahman view. Although such a view and insight is non-dual, it is still based on a paradigm of essence-view and ‘inherent existence’. Instead, one should realise the emptiness of awareness [being merely a name just like ‘weather’ – see chapter on the weather analogy], and should understand consciousness in terms of dependent origination. This clarity of insight will get rid of the essence view that consciousness is an intrinsic essence that modulates into this and that. As the book ‘What the Buddha Taught’ by Walpola Rahula quoted two great Buddhist scriptural teachings on this matter:

It must be repeated here that according to Buddhist philosophy there is no permanent, unchanging spirit which can be considered 'Self', or 'Soul", or 'Ego', as opposed to matter, and that consciousness (vinnana) should not be taken as 'spirit' in opposition to matter. This point has to be particularly emphasized, because a wrong notion that consciousness is a sort of Self or Soul that continues as a permanent substance through life, has persisted from the earliest time to the present day.

One of the Buddha's own disciples, Sati by name, held that the Master taught: 'It is the same consciousness that transmigrates and wanders about.' The Buddha asked him what he meant by 'consciousness'. Sati's reply is classical: 'It is that which expresses, which feels, which experiences the results of good and bad deeds here and there'.

'To whomever, you stupid one', remonstrated the Master, 'have you heard me expounding the doctrine in this manner? Haven't I in many ways explained consciousness as arising out of conditions: that there is no arising of consciousness without conditions.' Then the Buddha went on to explain consciousness in detail: "Conciousness is named according to whatever condition through which it arises: on account of the eye and visible forms arises a consciousness, and it is called visual consciousness; on account of the ear and sounds arises a consciousness, and it is called auditory consciousness; on account of the nose and odours arises a consciousness, and it is called olfactory consciousness; on account of the tongue and tastes arises a consciousness, and it is called gustatory consciousness; on account of the body and tangible objects arises a consciousness, and it is called tactile consciousness; on account of the mind and mind-objects (ideas and thoughts) arises a consciousness, and it is called mental consciousness.'

Then the Buddha explained it further by an illustration: A fire is named according to the material on account of which it burns. A fire may burn on account of wood, and it is called woodfire. It may bum on account of straw, and then it is called strawfire. So consciousness is named according to the condition through which it arises.

Dwelling on this point, Buddhaghosa, the great commentator, explains: '. . . a fire that burns on account of wood burns only when there is a supply, but dies down in that very place when it (the supply) is no longer there, because then the condition has changed, but (the fire) does not cross over to splinters, etc., and become a splinter-fire and so on; even so the consciousness that arises on account of the eye and visible forms arises in that gate of sense organ (i.e., in the eye), only when there is the condition of the eye, visible forms, light and attention, but ceases then and there when it (the condition) is no more there, because then the condition has changed, but (the consciousness) does not cross over to the ear, etc., and become auditory consciousness and so on . . .'

The Buddha declared in unequivocal terms that consciousness depends on matter, sensation, perception and mental formations, and that it cannot exist independently of them. He says:

'Consciousness may exist having matter as its means (rupupayam) matter as its object (rupdrammanam) matter as its support (rupapatittham) and seeking delight it may grow, increase and develop; or consciousness may exist having sensation as its means ... or perception as its means ... or mental formations as its means, mental formations as its object, mental formations as its support, and seeking delight it may grow, increase and develop.

'Were a man to say: I shall show the coming, the going, the passing away, the arising, the growth, the increase or the development of consciousness apart from matter, sensation, perception and mental formations, he would be speaking of something that does not exist.'“

Bodhidharma likewise taught: Seeing with insight, form is not simply form, because form depends on mind. And, mind is not simply mind, because mind depends on form. Mind and form create and negate each other. … Mind and the world are opposites, appearances arise where they meet. When your mind does not stir inside, the world does not arise outside. When the world and the mind are both transparent, this is the true insight.” (from the Wakeup Discourse) Awakening to Reality: Way of Bodhi

Soh wrote in 2012,

25th February 2012

I see Shikantaza (The Zen meditation method of “Just Sitting”) as the natural expression of realization and enlightenment.

But many people completely misunderstand this... they think that practice-enlightenment means there is no need for realization, since practicing is enlightenment. In other words, even a beginner is as realized as the Buddha when meditating.

This is plain wrong and thoughts of the foolish.

Rather, understand that practice-enlightenment is the natural expression of realization... and without realization, one will not discover the essence of practice-enlightenment.

As I told my friend/teacher 'Thusness', “I used to sit meditation with a goal and direction. Now, sitting itself is enlightenment. Sitting is just sitting. Sitting is just the activity of sitting, air con humming, breathing. Walking itself is enlightenment. Practice is not done for enlightenment but all activity is itself the perfect expression of enlightenment/buddha-nature. There is nowhere to go."

I see no possibility of directly experiencing this unless one has clear direct non-dual insight. Without realizing the primordial purity and spontaneous perfection of this instantaneous moment of manifestation as Buddha-nature itself, there will always be effort and attempt at 'doing', at achieving something... whether it be mundane states of calmness, absorption, or supramundane states of awakening or liberation... all are just due to the ignorance of the true nature of this instantaneous moment.

However, non-dual experience can still be separated into:

1) One Mind

- lately I have been noticing that majority of spiritual teachers and masters describe non-dual in terms of One Mind. That is, having realized that there is no subject-object/perceiver-perceived division or dichotomy, they subsume everything to be Mind only, mountains and rivers all are Me - the one undivided essence appearing as the many.

Though non-separate, the view is still of an inherent metaphysical essence. Hence non-dual but inherent.

2) No Mind

Where even the 'One Naked Awareness' or 'One Mind' or a Source is totally forgotten and dissolved into simply scenery, sound, arising thoughts and passing scent. Only the flow of self-luminous transience.


However, we must understand that even having the experience of No Mind is not yet the realization of Anatta. In the case of No Mind, it can remain a peak experience. In fact, it is a natural progression for a practitioner at One Mind to occasionally enter into the territory of No Mind... but because there is no breakthrough in terms of view via realization, the latent tendency to sink back into a Source, a One Mind is very strong and the experience of No Mind will not be sustained stably. The practitioner may then try his best to remain bare and non-conceptual and sustain the experience of No Mind through being naked in awareness, but no breakthrough can come unless a certain realization arises.

In particular, the important realization to breakthrough this view of inherent self is the realization that Always Already, never was/is there a self - in seeing always only just the seen, the scenery, shapes and colours, never a seer! In hearing only the audible tones, no hearer! Just activities, no agent! A process of dependent origination itself rolls and knows... no self, agent, perceiver, controller therein.

It is this realization that breaks down the view of 'seer-seeing-seen', or 'One Naked Awareness' permanently by realizing that there never was a 'One Awareness' - 'awareness', 'seeing', 'hearing' are only labels for the everchanging sensations and sights and sounds, like the word 'weather' don't point to an unchanging entity but the everchanging stream of rain, wind, clouds, forming and parting momentarily...

Then as the investigation and insights deepen, it is seen and experienced that there is only this process of dependent origination, all the causes and conditions coming together in this instantaneous moment of activity, such that when eating the apple it is like the universe eating the apple, the universe typing this message, the universe hearing the sound... or the universe is the sound. Just that... is Shikantaza. In seeing only the seen, in sitting only the sitting, and the whole universe is sitting... and it couldn't be otherwise when there is no self, no meditator apart from meditation. Every moment cannot 'help' but be practice-enlightenment... it is not even the result of concentration or any form of contrived effort... rather it is the natural authentication of the realization, experience and view in real-time.

Zen Master Dogen, the proponent of practice-enlightenment, is one of the rare and clear jewels of Zen Buddhism who have very deep experiential clarity about anatta and dependent origination. Without deep realization-experience of anatta and dependent origination in real time, we can never understand what Dogen is pointing to... his words may sound cryptic, mystical, or poetic, but actually they are simply pointing to this.

Someone 'complained' that Shikantaza is just some temporary suppressing of defilements instead of the permanent removal of it. However if one realizes anatta then it is the permanent ending of self-view, i.e. traditional stream-entry ( ).


More recently Soh also wrote to someone:

It is actually very simple to understand. You know the word 'weather'? It's not a thing in itself, right? It's just a label for the everchanging patterns of clouds forming and departing, wind blowing, sun shining, rain falling, so on and so forth, a myriad and conglomerate of everchanging dependently originating factors on display.

Now, the correct way is to realise 'Awareness' is no other than weather, it is just a word for the seen, the heard, the sensed, everything reveals itself as Pure Presence and yes at death the formless clear light Presence or if you tune into that aspect, it is just another manifestation, another sense door that is no more special. 'Awareness' just like 'weather' is a dependent designation, it is a mere designation that has no intrinsic existence of its own.

The wrong way of viewing it is as if 'Weather' is a container existing in and of itself, in which the rain and wind comes and goes but Weather is some sort of unchanging background which modulates as rain and wind. That is pure delusion, there is no such thing, such a 'weather' is purely a mentally fabricated construct with no real existence at all upon investigation. Likewise, 'Awareness' does not exist as something unchanging and persists while modulating from one state to another, it is not like 'firewood' that 'changes into ashes'. Firewood is firewood, ashes is ashes.

Dogen said:

"When you ride in a boat and watch the shore, you might assume that the shore is moving. But when you keep your eyes closely on the boat, you can see that the boat moves. Similarly, if you examine myriad things with a confused body and mind you might suppose that your mind and nature are permanent. When you practice intimately and return to where you are, it will be clear that nothing at all has unchanging self.

Firewood becomes ash, and it does not become firewood again. Yet, do not suppose that the ash is future and the firewood past. You should understand that firewood abides in the phenomenal expression of firewood, which fully includes past and future and is independent of past and future. Ash abides in the phenomenal expression of ash, which fully includes future and past. Just as firewood does not become firewood again after it is ash, you do not return to birth after death."

(Note that Dogen and Buddhists do not reject rebirth, but does not posit an unchanging soul undergoing rebirth, see Rebirth Without Soul )



when one realise that awareness and manifestation is not of a relationship between an inherently existing substance and its appearance.. but rather is like water and wetness ( ), or like 'lightning' and 'flash' ( ) -- there never was a lightning besides flash nor as an agent of flash, no agent or noun is required to initiate verbs.. but just words for the same happening.. then one goes into anatta insight

those with essence view thinks something is turning into another thing, like universal consciousness is transforming into this and that and changing.. anatta insight sees through the inherent view and sees only dependently originating dharmas, each momentary instance is disjoint or delinked although interdependent with all other dharmas. it is not the case of something transforming into another.


[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.


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[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.

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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? 🙂

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[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?

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[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


Mipham Rinpoche wrote, excerpts from Madhyamaka, Cittamātra, and the true intent of Maitreya and Asaṅga self.Buddhism :

...Why, then, do the Mādhyamika masters refute the Cittamātra tenet system? Because self-styled proponents of the Cittamātra tenets, when speaking of mind-only, say that there are no external objects but that the mind exists substantially—like a rope that is devoid of snakeness, but not devoid of ropeness. Having failed to understand that such statements are asserted from the conventional point of view, they believe the nondual consciousness to be truly existent on the ultimate level. It is this tenet that the Mādhyamikas repudiate. But, they say, we do not refute the thinking of Ārya Asaṅga, who correctly realized the mind-only path taught by the Buddha...

...So, if this so-called “self-illuminating nondual consciousness” asserted by the Cittamātrins is understood to be a consciousness that is the ultimate of all dualistic consciousnesses, and it is merely that its subject and object are inexpressible, and if such a consciousness is understood to be truly existent and not intrinsically empty, then it is something that has to be refuted. If, on the other hand, that consciousness is understood to be unborn from the very beginning (i.e. empty), to be directly experienced by reflexive awareness, and to be self-illuminating gnosis without subject or object, it is something to be established. Both the Madhyamaka and Mantrayāna have to accept this...


The cognizer perceives the cognizable;
Without the cognizable there is no cognition;
Therefore why do you not admit
That neither object nor subject exists [at all]?

The mind is but a mere name;
Apart from it's name it exists as nothing;
So view consciousness as a mere name;
Name too has no intrinsic nature.

Either within or likewise without,
Or somewhere in between the two,
The conquerors have never found the mind;
So the mind has the nature of an illusion.

The distinctions of colors and shapes,
Or that of object and subject,
Of male, female and the neuter -
The mind has no such fixed forms.

In brief the Buddhas have never seen
Nor will they ever see [such a mind];
So how can they see it as intrinsic nature
That which is devoid of intrinsic nature?

"Entity" is a conceptualization;
Absence of conceptualization is emptiness;
Where conceptualization occurs,
How can there be emptiness?

The mind in terms of perceived and perceiver,
This the Tathagatas have never seen;
Where there is the perceived and perceiver,
There is no enlightenment.

Devoid of characteristics and origination,
Devoid of substantiative reality and transcending speech,
Space, awakening mind and enlightenment
Posses the characteristics of non-duality.

- Nagarjuna


Also, lately I have noticed many people in Reddit, influenced by Thanissaro Bhikkhu's teaching that anatta is simply a strategy of disidentification, rather than teaching the importance of realizing anatta as an insight into a dharma seal , think that anatta is merely "not self" as opposed to no-self and emptiness of self. Such an understanding is wrong and misleading. I have written about this 11 years ago in my article Anatta: Not-Self or No-Self? with many scriptural citations to back my statements.


Do also see, Greg Goode on Advaita/Madhyamika

  • Soh Wei Yu
    I also updated this paragraph earlier this year in the article with a small comment:
    Although there is non-duality in Advaita Vedanta (Comments by Soh in 2022: In rare variants of Advaita Vedanta like Greg Goode's or Atmananda's Direct Path, even [subtle subject/object] Witness is eventually collapsed and the notion of Consciousness too is dissolved later in the end -- see, and no-self in Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta rest in an “Ultimate Background” (making it dualistic), whereas Buddhism eliminates the background completely and rest in the emptiness nature of phenomena; arising and ceasing is where pristine awareness is. In Buddhism, there is no eternality, only timeless continuity (timeless as in vividness in present moment but change and continue like a wave pattern). There is no changing thing, only change.
    After Awareness: The End of the Path
    After Awareness: The End of the Path
    After Awareness: The End of the Path
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  • Soh Wei Yu
    Although most Advaita teachers treat consciousness as ultimate background (this is also a problem in Buddhism, many teachers and practitioners in Buddhism also fall into this error of reifying Buddha-Nature into a pure consciousness that is an ultimate background that is the true Atman-Brahman, despite the fact that Buddha was so clear about anatman right from the start), there are very rare Advaitins that do not fall into that trap (where the background Witness collapses and even the notion of consciousness is dissolved at the end, such as in Greg Goode's Direct Path or Atmananda's Direct Path). Most mainstream Advaitins however may not agree.
    But I added that comment to reflect the fact that some Advaitins do go beyond the notion of an ultimate background.
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