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Anatta is a Dharma Seal or Truth that is Always Already So, Anatta is Not a State
Wrote in 2018：
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
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'.""
Differentiate Wisdom from Art
Replying to someone in Rinzai Zen discussion group, John Tan wrote recently:
“I think we have to differentiate wisdom from an art or a state of mind.
In Master Sheng Yen’s death poem,
Busy with nothing till old. (无事忙中老)
In emptiness, there is weeping and laughing. (空里有哭笑)
Originally there never was any 'I'. (本来没有我)
Thus life and death can be cast aside. (生死皆可抛)
"Originally there never was any 'I'" is wisdom and the dharma seal of
anatta. It is neither an art like an artist in zone where self is
dissolved into the flow of action nor is it a state to be achieved in
the case of the taoist "坐忘" (sit and forget) -- a state of no-mind.
example in cooking, there is no self that cooks, only the activity of
cooking. The hands moves, the utensils act, the water boils, the
potatoes peel and the universe sings together in the act of cooking.
Whether one appears clumsy or smooth in act of cooking doesn't matter
and when the dishes r out, they may still taste horrible; still there
never was any "I" in any moment of the activity. There is no entry or
exit point in the wisdom of anatta.”
Labels: Anatta, Zen Master Sheng-yen 1 comments | |
Soh wrote in 2007 based on what John Tan wrote:
I do not see Anatta as merely a freeing from 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 arising and passing. 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. 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 put further emphasis on the importance of this point, I would like to borrow from the Bahiya Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/.../kn/ud/ud.1.10.irel.html)
that ‘in the seeing, there is just the seen, no seer’, ‘in the hearing,
there is just the heard, no hearer’ as an illustration. When a person
says that I have gone beyond the experiences from ‘I hear sound’ to a
stage of ‘becoming sound’, he is mistaken. When it is taken to be a
stage, it is illusory. 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. This is the seal of no-self. Therefore to a
non dualist, the practice is in understanding the illusionary views of
the sense of self and the split. Before the awakening of prajna wisdom,
there will always be an unknowing attempt to maintain a purest state of
'presence'. This purest presence is the 'how' of a dualistic mind -- its
dualistic attempt to provide a solution due to its lack of clarity of
the spontaneous 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
John Tan adds: "This is the seal of no-self and can be realized and experienced in all moments; not just a mere concept."
Labels: Anatta |
Anatta is a Dharma Seal or Truth that is Always Already So, Anatta is Not a State
Yes. Anatta is realised as a dharma seal, always already so. That
realisation will not be forgotten this life but may be forgotten next
life. Just like when you grow up and realised santa claus is fake, you
will never again be tricked into believing santa claus is real in this life. But in your next life you may be tricked into believing in santa claus again.
I recall John Tan said many years ago for him there is no entry and
exit with regards to agent-agency-perceiver-perceived, the same for me.
There is no subject-object duality or perceiver or agent all the time,
no entry or exit to nondual experience, which is
also the same here. He also commented something about characteristics of
phenomena not being permanently eliminated all the time, although he
has since made further breakthroughs that eliminates cognitive
free ourselves from sense of self first, then it is probably 60% done.
After then gradually to all notions into supreme purity.
· Reply · 1d
John Tan I like that. Where did the 60% factor in!?!? No self is true. For whom would the other 40% apply.
· Reply · 1d
Deller an arbitrary number...haha. "For whom" is within the 60%. If we
start from other notions like cause and effect, will most likely end up
as intellectual entertainment.
· Reply · 1d
in the words of Maximus. “Are you not entertained”.
I’ve had enough intellectual stimulation to last an eon or so.
In thinking no thinker
Thought with no thinking.
· Reply · 1d
If both thinker and thinking are deconstructed, why do you keep that thought?
· Reply · 1d
John Tan I don’t. They just come and go. Like pixels. Fuzzy characters with no landing place.
· Reply · 1d
Deller then notion of "coming", "landing" and "going" must be subjected
to the same scrutiny like thinker, thinking and thought.
· Reply · 1d · Edited
John Tan I had a feeling that you picked up on that. Was gonna go into the non-arising via DO, but my brain said it isn’t necessary.
· Reply · 1d
John Tan you just lit a . In deep samadhi and insight meditation that’s very clear. On the go throughout the day while interacting, not as much.
· Reply · 1d
Deller distinguishing appearances and imputed notions added to mere
appearances is a life long journey and indeed, daily engagement is the
(7:17 PM) Thusness: anatta is often not correctly understood
it is common that one progress from experience of non-dual to no-mind instead of direct realization into anatta
(7:19 PM) Thusness: many focus on the experience
and there is a lack of clarity to penetrate the differences
so u must be clear of the various phases of insights first and not mistake one for the other
at the same time, refine your experience
these few days...have deeper sleep and exercise more
balance your body energies
Conversations with Thusness 2009-2013 on I AM, One Mind, No Mind and Anatta:
(9:12 PM) Thusness: no mind is an experience, it is not an insight
(9:14 PM) Thusness: ppl that have experienced no-mind knows there is such experience and aims towards achieving it again.
(9:14 PM) Thusness: but insight is different...it is a direct experiential realization.
(9:14 PM) AEN: icic..
(9:14 PM) Thusness: that all along it is so.
PM) Thusness: u may have no-mind as an experience and understood
that there is such an experience as simple manifestation or just the
(11:19 PM) Thusness: but still it remains as a stage
(11:19 PM) Thusness: u have no idea that it is a wrong view
(11:20 PM) Thusness: we do not 'see' that it is the wrong view that 'blinds'
a mistaken view shaping our entire experience
(11:22 PM) AEN: icic..
(11:23 PM) AEN: dharma dan calls it the knot of perception rite
(11:23 PM) Thusness: yes
(11:23 PM) AEN: so no mind is a strage?
(11:24 PM) Thusness: no-mind is the peak of non-dual, the natural state of non-dual
(11:24 PM) AEN: oic
(11:24 PM) Thusness: where the background is completely gone
PM) Thusness: very often a practitioner in an advance phase of
non-dual and One Mind, will naturally knows the importance of no-mind.
And that becomes the practice
they know they have to be there
PM) Thusness: however, to come to this natural state of non-dual
where the background is deemed irrelevant, it requires insight of
(12:09 AM) Thusness: and say yes, u realized ur mistake. wrote too fast.
Awareness is just a label...
(12:11 AM) Thusness: some of the texts u quoted are also misleading
AM) Thusness: when one spoke to others in longchen forum, some is to
lead one into non-dual from "I AM" coz they can't accept anatta insight
but is able to penetrate non-dual.
(12:13 AM) Thusness: when anatta insight arises, one realizes there is no background
(12:14 AM) Thusness: when insight of emptiness arise, then all is just sharing the same taste, luminous yet empty
(12:14 AM) AEN: icic..
(12:15 AM) Thusness: that is, i do not see Awareness, just a luminous manifestation
there is no sense of Self/self
(12:16 AM) Thusness: there is always only sound, forms, smell...sweetness....hardness...thoughts...
(12:16 AM) Thusness: non-dually experienced
(12:18 AM) Thusness: in terms of actual experience, what that is written in the forum is not enough
(12:18 AM) Thusness: the intensity of luminosity isn't there.
(12:19 AM) Thusness: first u go through the "I AM" for a period first
later u will understand what i mean
(12:12 AM) Thusness: not by way of non-identification.
(12:13 AM) Thusness: by realization -- the arising insight there the mirror does not exist
AM) Thusness: if at the back of one's mind, there is this belief of a
self, then will experience of no-mind be intermittent or permanent?
(12:16 AM) AEN: intermittent
AM) Thusness: so how is one without the realization have a permanent
experience of no-mind? There is no clarity, no doubtlessness of
no-self, is it possible that there is a permanent and effortless
experience of all sensate experiences without self?
...To be more exact, 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. -:)
Differentiating I AM, One Mind, No Mind and Anatta
John Tan: It’s non conceptual. Yup. Okay. Presence is not
conceptual experience, it has to be direct. And you just feel pure sense
of existence. Means people ask you, before birth, who are you? You just
authenticate the I, that is yourself, directly. So
when you first authenticate that I, you are damn happy, of course. When
young, that time, wah… I authenticate this I… so you thought that
you’re enlightened, but then the journey continues. So this is the first
time you taste something that is different. It is… It is before
thoughts, there is no thoughts. Your mind is completely still. You feel
still, you feel presence, and you know yourself. Before birth it is Me,
after birth, it is also Me, 10,000 years it’s still this Me, 10,000 year
before, it’s still this Me. So you authenticate that, your mind is just
that and authenticate your own true being, so you don't doubt that. In
Kenneth Bok: Presence is this I AM?
John Tan: Presence is the same as I AM. Presence is the same as…
of course, other people may disagree, but actually they're referring to
the same thing. The same authentication, the same what... even in Zen
is still the same.
But in later phase, I conceive that as just the thought realm.
Means, in the six, I always call the six entries and six exits, so there
is the sound and there’s all these… During that time, you always say
I’m not sound, I’m not the appearance, I AM the Self that is behind all
these appearances, alright? So, sounds, sensations, all these come and
go, your thoughts come and go, those are not me, correct? This is the
ultimate Me. The Self is the ultimate Me. Correct?
William Lam: So, is that nondual? The I AM stage. It’s non-conceptual, was it nondual?
John Tan: It’s nonconceptual. Yes, it is nondual. Why is it
nondual? At that moment, there is no duality at all, at that moment when
you experience the Self, you cannot have duality, because you are
authenticated directly as IT, as this pure sense of Being. So, it’s
completely I, there’s nothing else, just I. There’s nothing else, just
the Self. I think, many of you have experienced this, the I AM. So, you
probably will go and visit all the Hinduism, sing song with them,
meditate with them, sleep with them, correct? Those are the young days. I
meditate with them, hours after hours, meditate, sit with them, eat
with them, sing song with them, drum with them. Because this is what
they preach, and you find these group of people, all talking about the
this experience is not a normal experience, correct? I mean, within the
probably 15 years of my life or 17 years of my life, my first... when I
was 17, when you first experienced that, wah, what is that? So, it is
something different, it is non conceptual, it is non dual, and all
these. But it is very difficult to get back the experience. Very, very
difficult, unless you're in when you're in meditation, because you
reject the relative, the appearances. So, it is, although they may say
no, no, it is always with me, because it's Self, correct? But you don't
actually get back the authentication, just pure sense of existence, just
me, because you reject the rest of that appearances, but you do not
know during that time. Only after anatta, then you realize that this,
when you when you hear sound without the background, that experience is
exactly the same, the taste is exactly the same as the presence. The I
AM Presence. So, only after anatta, when the background is gone, then
you realize eh, this has the exact same taste as the I AM experience.
When you are not hearing, you are just in the vivid appearances, the
obvious appearances now, correct. That experience is also the I AM
experience. When you are even now feeling your sensation without the
sense of self directly. That experience is exactly the same as I AM
taste. It is nondual. Then you realize, I call, actually, everything is
Mind. Correct? Everything. So, so before that, there is an ultimate
Self, a background, and you reject all those transient appearances.
After that, that background is gone, you know? And then you are just all
William Lam: You are the appearance? You are the sound? You are the…
Tan: Yes. So, so, that is an experience. That is an experience. So
after that, you realize something. What did you realise? You realise all
along it is the what, that is obscuring you. So… in a person, for a
person that is in I AM experience, the pure presence experience, they
will always have a dream. They will say that I hope I can 24 by 7 always
in that state, correct? So when I was young, 17. But then after 10
years you are still thinking. Then after 20 years, you say how come I
need to always meditate? You always find time to meditate, maybe I don't
study also meditate, you give me a cave last time I will just meditate
the the thing that you always dream that you can one day be pure
consciousness, just as pure consciousness, live as pure consciousness,
but you never get it. And even if you meditate, occasionally probably
you can have that oceanic experience. Only when you after anatta, when
that self behind is gone, you are not 24 by 7, maybe most of your day,
waking state, not so much of 24 by 7, you dream that time still very
karmic depending on what you engage, doing business, all these. (John
mimics dreaming) How come ah, the business…
so, in normal waking state, you are effortless. Probably that is the,
during I AM phase, what you think you are going to achieve, you achieve
after the insight of anatta. So you become clear, you are probably in
the right path. But there are further insights you have to go through.
When you try to penetrate the… one of them is, I feel that I become very
physical. I am just narrating, going through my experience. Maybe that
time… because you experience the relative, the appearances directly. So
everything becomes very physical. So that is how you come to understand
the meaning, how concepts actually affect you. Then what exactly is
physical? How does the idea of physical come about, correct? That time I
still do not know about emptiness, and all these kind of things, to me
it is not so important.
I start going into what exactly is physical, what exactly is being
physical? Sensation. But why is sensation known as physical, and what is
being physical? How did I get the idea of being physical? So, I began
to enquire into this thing. That, eh, actually on top of that, there is
still further things to deconstruct, that is the meaning… that, just
like self, I’m attached to the meaning of self, and you create a
construct, it becomes a reification. Same thing, physicality also. So,
you deconstruct the concepts surrounding physicality. Correct? So, when
you deconstruct that, then I began to realize that all along, we try to
understand, even after the experience of let’s say, anatta and all
these… when we analyze, and when we think and try to understand
something, we are using existing scientific concepts, logic, common day
to day logic and all these to understand something. And it is always
excluding consciousness. Even if you experience, you can lead a
spiritual path you know, but when you think and analyze something,
somehow you always exclude consciousness from the equation of
understanding something. Your concept is always very materialistic. We
always exclude consciousness from the whole equation.” - https://docs.google.com/.../16QGwYIP.../edit