Showing posts with label Self Enquiry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Self Enquiry. Show all posts

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

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

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

Ramana Maharshi said:

"1. Who am I ?

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

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

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

3. What is the nature of Awareness?

The nature of Awareness is existence-consciousness-bliss"

- continue reading at

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


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

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

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

As John Tan said before,

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

I also wrote some time back:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Question: “ Thank you Soh, much appreciated.

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

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

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

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

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

Do watch this:

Also watch this:


What is the master who at this very moment is seeing and hearing? If you reply, as most do, that it is Mind or Nature or Buddha or one's Face before birth or one's Original Home or Koan or Being or Nothingness or Emptiness or Form and Color or the Known or the Unknown or Truth or Delusion, or say something or remain silent, or regard it as Enlightenment or Ignorance, you fall into error at once.
What is more, if you are so foolhardy as to doubt the reality of this master, you bind yourself though you use no rope. However much you try to know it through logical reasoning or to name or call it, you are doomed to failure. And even though all of you becomes one mass of questioning as you turn inward and intently search the very core of your being; you will find nothing that can be termed Mind or Essence. Yet should someone call your name, something from within will hear and respond. Find out this instant who it is!
If you push forward with your last ounce of strength at the very point where the path of your thinking has been blocked, and then, completely stymied, leap with hands high in the air into the tremendous abyss of fire confronting you-into the ever-burning flame of your own primordial nature-all ego-consciousness, all delusive feelings and thoughts and perceptions will perish with your ego-root and the true source of your Self-nature will appear. You will feel resurrected, all sickness having completely vanished, and will experience genuine peace and joy. You will be entirely free.
- Bassui Tokusho, Letter to layman Ippo


"The master said, “It is because you cannot stop your mind which runs on seeking everywhere that a patriarch said, ‘Bah, superior men! Searching for your heads with your heads!’ When at these words you turn your own light in upon yourselves and never seek elsewhere, then you’ll know that your body and mind are not different from those of the patriarch-buddhas and on the instant have nothing to do—this is called ‘obtaining the dharma.’"

- Record of Linji, p 28, tr Sasaki

Take the backward step and directly reach the middle of the circle from where the light issues forth.

- Hongzhi Zhengjue, 1091-1157: “Cultivating the Empty Field”

What is turning the light around and shining back? (ekō henshō) Illuminating outward things, one’s own light is turned back to shine on the inner self…The knowing mind is the light, errant thoughts are shadows; the light illumining things is called shining, and when the mind and thoughts do not range over things but are turned toward the original nature, this is called turning the light

around and shining back. It is also called panoramic illumination; illumining the whole of the immediate substance, it is where neither delusion nor enlightenment have ever appeared…The nonproduction of a single thought is what is known as the original essence of mind. It is not stopping thought, yet it is also not not stopping thought; it is just the nonproduction of a single thought.

- Lanxi Daolong, 1213-1279 (Treatise on Sitting Meditation)

When your mind experiences a vacant state, which lacks both thought and mental activity, look naturally into the one who notices this state, the one who is not thinking. When you do so, there is a thought-free knowing (rigpa) that is totally open, free from inside and outside, like a clear sky. This knowing is not a duality of that experienced and that experiencing, but you can resolve that it is your own nature and feel the conviction that “it is no other than this.”

- Jamgon Mipham, 1846-1912 (Lamp that Dispels Darkness)

 Mr. WA

Top Contributor

That makes sense. I have definitely looked for the seer, thinker, doer, but in experience it is still very fast and very subtle. Very hard to catch, still a very automatic and solidified conditioning, I think. I recognize this is probably the deepest of all conditioning... the core sense of being "separate" from that which is directly perceived. However, there's still a great deal of aversion and craving in the body mind. Much of it is very powerful, very uncomfortable, and very slow to dissolve. My feeling at this stage is that this needs to be worked through before I will have the clarity to start to see the very subtle Anatta pointers. Do you agree?

I have definitely observed that clarity continues to get finer, allowing a deeper investigation, the more conditioning is dissolved. It seems reasonable that at some point it will be possible to finely see and dissolve the seer, thinker, doer.

Definitely hear you on the radiance part, I will continue to inquire. I am at a really strange place with that because of my whole psychedelic awakening thing. I definitely experience presence / awareness as a sort of bubble, but it never took over my identity. I have a hard time with the no-doubt aspect, because skepticism and doubting is a very deep conditioning of mine to begin with. There's more work to do.



Soh Wei Yu



Aversion, craving, everything can also be the fuel for insight investigation, the contemplation of the two stanzas, the seal of anatta is always already the case -- a dharma seal, not a state or a stage, so there is no need to wait. But of course you should also balance with some shamatha, some calm abiding practice, anapansati, or something that works for you.




Soh Wei Yu



You can try self enquiry to realize that doubtless certainty of Beingness.. when enquiring, just enquire without expection of doubt/doubtless/future attainment etc, diving straight to the Source, to what Self is.

Doubts cant help happening until the doubtless certainty of Beingness dawn just like cloud covers pass revealing the doubtless clearer than day brillliance of the Sun. At that time even if you want to deny that sun's brilliance that outshines all doubts, all thoughts, and indeed the entire world, you can never do it.

You can't force doubtlessness before that self-realization, and doubts cannot be forced to stay after self-realization, just like darkness cannot be forced to stay when the intense sunshine reveals itself dispelling all darkness, and it's not doubts per se that is the source of the issue, just like darkness was never an issue preventing sunshine from revealing itself.

So just self enquire wholeheartedly and meditate on what the Source/Self is until it reveals itself on its own. Don't worry about doubts/doubtlessness, it will take care of itself.




Soh Wei Yu



“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




Steven Lane







In the ATR Practice Guide, as part of stage 1, it says, " 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?"

This is clearly a Zen instruction which I would have received myself many times. Yet, is this really essential?

Contemporary non dual teachers such as Rupert Spira would point to Presence as something we already intuitively know - we know we are present (existent) and we know we are aware. If we ask the question, "am I aware" it becomes obvious. Subsequent pointing out makes stage 1 obvious (Rupert Spira has a 3 fold insight process - discovering Presence as a witness, discovering Presence as a container in which everything is arising and disappearing, and finally discovering Presence as Isness in which Presence and what is appearing are of the same nature)

In Dzogchen different approaches are taken according to the practitioners' capacity. For example in Semde, emphasis is first put on quieting the mind. But in the Uppadesha teachings other approaches are used (which go way beyond stage 1 because the emptiness of Presence is realised simultaneously). For example, the PHAT practice - this sounds is uttered loud and shocks the mind - the first results is a confusion - a nothingness - followed by a clear though brief seeing of Presence. Or the practice of Trekchod in which essentially we just sit and allow everything to be, sooner or later reveals the same.

Thoughts? (how important is it to have the empty mind first)

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Top comments

Jake Yeager

In my opinion, if it's difficult to quiet your mind, it will probably take longer to realize I AM.

It took about 10 years of meditation and 5 years of self-inquiry here before I AM awakening. I was working through a lot of trauma, which made it difficult to quiet the mind and likely slowed the pace.

If you find it difficult to quiet the mind, there may be trauma in the body. Trauma is housed in the nervous system and is not necessarily released through meditation or inquiry. Some kind of body-based practice, like qigong, yoga, TRE, EMDR, 5Rhythms, or Somatic Experiencing, is likely needed to access and release the trauma. This will likely make meditative and inquiry practices flow more smoothly, because you are releasing chronic tension and emotional blockages in the body, which normally impede energy flow, create reactivity, and drive habitual thinking.







Soh Wei Yu


Important for the realization beyond mere glimpses IMO. It is also not really that difficult to get that pause in conceptualization. We all encounter it from time to time. But it is important to train in some kind of shamatha or meditation as a foundation for effective self enquiry.

Do read these two articles as it elaborates:

But there is no need to wait until the mind is super still before you start inquiring. For example there is no need to wait until you meditate 30 minutes, or 1 hour, or enter a jhana, etc before you start inquiring. Back then I would probably sit for only a short while relaxing my mind, before I begin inquiring, or start inquiring when I was able to set aside my mundane concerns enough to focus on the main inquiry "Before birth, Who am I?"

My I AM realization happened during a one hour sitting meditation session with a backdrop of relatively stable and quiet mind and inquiring on 'before birth, who am I?'





Will Gau

One way to think about the 'I Am' is as a pure consciousness experience in thought space, or an experience of the space of thought prior to the arising of any thought. So it may also be argued that it is synonymous with a quieting of the mind, even if only for a moment.




Will Gau

It's also worth 'investing' in samatha practice as it will help you throughout every stage of the process, and every time you access concentration states like jhanas for the first time, they become easier to access in the future.




Will Gau

Combining self-inquiry with concentration will be more likely to trigger insight than either one alone. Concentration, like samatha meditation, will also allow for more consistent access to and smoother integration of insights. Even in direct approach schools, samatha is taught to stabilize the mind. My I Am realization occurred during a home retreat following a recording of a dzogchen samatha retreat given by Allan B. Wallace. I found the instructions to be very clear and direct, and lead me straight to the insight after a period of stabilizing concentration.




Someone asked, "Are koans a good practice for stage 1? Or just self inquiry?"

Soh replied:

If you wish to train in zen koans, you should find a qualified and awakened zen master to train under.

There are many classes of koans. Self enquiry is one of the classes of koan, for beginners to have the initial realization of I AM. This is crucial in Zen too.

You can also try this:

The purpose of self enquiry and similar types of koans is this:

Anatta and Pure Presence

Someone told me about having been through insights of no self and then progressing to a realisation of the ground of being.

I replied:

Hi ____

Thanks for the sharing.

This is the I AM realization. Had that realisation after contemplating Before birth, who am I? For two years. It’s an important realization. Many people had insights into certain aspects of no self, impersonality, and “dry non dual experience” without doubtless realization of Presence. Therefore I AM realisation is a progression for them.

Similarly in Zen, asking who am I is to directly experience presence. How about asking a koan of what is the cup? What is the chirping bird, the thunder clap? What is its purpose?

When I talked about anatta, it is a direct insight of Presence and recognizing what we called background presence, is in the forms and colours, sounds and sensations, clean and pure. Authentication is be authenticated by all things. Also there is no presence other than that. What we call background is really just an image of foreground Presence, even when Presence is assuming its subtle formless all pervasiveness.

However due to ignorance, we have a very inherent and dual view, if we do see through the nature of presence, the mind continues to be influenced by dualistic and inherent tendencies. Many teach to overcome it through mere non conceptuality but this is highly misleading.

Thusness also wrote:

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

Labels: Anatta, Luminosity |


Also, regarding koans:

Thusness wrote in 2009

Yes Emanrohe,

That is precisely the question asked by Dogen that “if our Buddha Nature is already perfect, why practice?”  This question continues to bother him even after the initial glimpse and that led him to China in search for the answer that eventually awaken his wisdom into the non-dual nature of Awareness.

Therefore we must understand in Zen tradition, different koans were meant for different purposes. The experience derived from the koan “before birth who are you?” only allows an initial glimpse of our nature. It is not the same as the Hakuin’s koan of “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” The five categories of koan in Zen ranges from hosshin that give practitioner the first glimpse of ultimate reality to five-ranks that aims to awaken practitioner the spontaneous unity of relative and absolute (non-duality). Only through thorough realization of the non-dual nature (spontaneous unity of relative and absolute) of Awareness can we then understand why there is no split between subject and object as well as seeing the oneness of realization and development. Therefore the practice of natural state is for those that have already awaken to their non-dual nature, not just an initial glimpse of Awareness. The difference must be clearly understood. It is not for anyone and it is advisable that we refrain from talking too much about the natural state. The 'natural' way is in fact the most challenging path, there is no short cut.

On the other hand, the gradual path of practice is a systematic way of taking us step by step until we eventually experienced the full non-dual and non-local nature of pristine awareness. One way is by first firmly establishing the right view of anatta (non-dual) and dependent origination and practice vipassana or bare attention to authenticate our experience with the right view. The gradual paths are equally precious, that is the point I want to convey.

Lastly there is a difference between understanding Buddha Nature and God. Not to let our initial glimpse of pristine awareness overwhelmed us. :-)

Edited by Thusness 05 May `09, 10:35PM


2009, Thusness:

Ha…this is a very late reply and yes what you said is very true.

It is difficult to have someone that is so-trained academically and scientifically to provide us such deep insight in the spiritual discipline.  The article is very clear, well structured and organized.  We should learn how to treasure good stuff. :)

I will just jot down some of my thoughts after reading it.

Although much is mentioned in the article about divided consciousness, the ‘strength’ of making a practitioner sink back to a divided consciousness is overlooked.  We should never underestimate the power of this bond.  That is, given a1000 practitioners that has sufficient glimpses of the pristine-ness or even awaken to the non-dual nature of Awareness, the tendency for these practitioners to fall back to ’divided consciousness’ remains surprisingly strong.  Why despite all the blissful experiences, the tendency to fall back to a divided state continues to be powerfully strong?  In transpersonal psychology, holotropic breathwork is one technique that deals with the deeply held bond of the subconscious and unconscious mind.  Unleashing these deeply held bonds can cause transpersonal experiences that include communication with mythic deties, recalling past life memories, OBEs and memories of perinatal events.  Regardless of whether these experiences are delusional or hallucinatory, we must not overlook the vast impact of ‘bonds’ on consciousness.

Next, I will just touch a little on the importance of the relationship between the view, path and fruition as I think to experience the therapeutic effect from a particular form of practice, “sync-ing” the view, path and fruition is crucial.  The significance of the relationship surfaced while I was reading this article and was triggered by your question 2 days back about whether Genpo Roshi is talking about anatta in

While Dr. John Welwood outlined the different path of practices from pre-reflective identification, to the practice of conceptual reflection, to pure witnessing, to transformation and self-liberation, his focus is mainly on the aspect of how direct and effective each method is in narrowing the gap of subject-object duality.  To me it is more important to have clarity on the exact experiential fruition that can be derived from adopting a particular view and path of practice.

For example if someone were to ask will dissolving ‘personality’ results in a non-dual experience?  We need to know what the experience of “impersonality” is like and what methods of practice that will lead to the experience of “impersonality” and the role “impersonality” plays in non-dual presence.

To illustrate, let’s take the question you asked about Genpo Roshi.  There is no doubt that Genpo Roshi is speaking about anatta -- “there is witnessing, there is no witness”.  However the ‘path’ he uses is clearly a ‘desync’ from his ‘views’ of  anatta.  He uses a ‘stepping back witnessing method’ which is essentially a reflective process; frankly using the “stepping back technique” to experience anatta is quite contradicting and can be counter-productive.  I must say it is not an effective way to bring about an experiential non-dual insight of anatta.

In Zen tradition, different koan were meant for different purposes.  For example the experience derived from the koan “before birth who are you?” is not the same as the Hakuin’s koan of “what is the sound of one hand clapping?”  The five categories of koan in Zen ranges from hosshin that give practitioner the first glimpse of ultimate reality to five-ranks that aims to awaken practitioner the spontaneous unity of relative and absolute.

Similarly different techniques can also be devised to allow a practitioner to experience the different qualities of Awareness.  The experience of “impersonality” is not the same as the experience of the “pristineness” of our nature; the experience of “oneness” is also not the same experience as spontaneity; the experience of non-dual without a subject and object split does not necessary result in the thorough insight of anatta; the experience of anatta is also not the same experience when a practitioner thoroughly sees the emptiness nature of phenomena.  Thus, the master that prescribes the medicine must have deep clarity and wisdom of the view, path, fruition and conditions of the students. It is not a one for all sort of medicine.

Lastly no one religion has monopoly over Truth much less a tradition.  The techniques of spontaneous perfection in Mahamudra and self-liberation in Dzogchen that are described by Dr. John Welwood will naturally be realized by a Zen practitioner that passes the five-rank koan.  Even in the basic teachings of Buddha, as long as we have complete and thorough insight of anatta and the principle of Dependent Origination, practitioners will also naturally enters the pathless path of self-liberation.  :)[0]=AZUpVKvDTKtBr5ilhmc4FoC4ti9TqJnLussoZ5gBX168fAKNpxxZjNplLdmiQLI8IOFsMaAsUkM4J5IJjJuNaOItdkYQIPa1BiBSKJ6LKb5YJcw6vdINZa6EYGnocYAYTuCXVbvRgraoxU-QqJlegnYROI2OptyG8Gin7YTmqF4m9qIty8hWM1zg4LTlgMujKYvf33cZVzbwGucO-CYoMMDy&__cft__[1]=AZUpVKvDTKtBr5ilhmc4FoC4ti9TqJnLussoZ5gBX168fAKNpxxZjNplLdmiQLI8IOFsMaAsUkM4J5IJjJuNaOItdkYQIPa1BiBSKJ6LKb5YJcw6vdINZa6EYGnocYAYTuCXVbvRgraoxU-QqJlegnYROI2OptyG8Gin7YTmqF4m9qIty8hWM1zg4LTlgMujKYvf33cZVzbwGucO-CYoMMDy&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R]-R

    Anonymous member

    Ive seen somewhere post by Sim Pern Chong about his experience with observing thoughts and I have pretty similar experience, but want to ask about usefulness of it.
    Once I sat for a 3-4 hours and directly observing arising thoughts and dont go into context, just notice first impressions, immediately let go (basically just by noticing it ceases) of it and wait for another. So, after awhile it become more and more subtle stream until it feels like I observe not an imaginary objects, but something like potential that can form into what we called “thoughts”, like electric impulse about to transform into more solid objects.
    In that process were a little insight (but not realisation) that all discursive thinking and even analysis (which feels really intimate and kinda “all this thoughts come and go, but analytical thoughts its me/mine for sure”), all this mental stuff is just one thought talking to another thought, for example one opinion try to dominate and argue with another opinion, but both of it came from the past and process without my volition.
    After that experience I try to maintain this practice in dynamic daily life, with open eyes it feels like thoughts become bigger like bubbles and far less contracted and easy to let go, thats why everytime I feel a little bliss when I just observe it without passive thinking.
    Im curious:
    1) So, is there any possibility with this method to trigger some insights to Iam/cessation?
    2) Sometimes Angelo Grr said that this “silent watcher of the thoughts” its too just mere a thought, but I dont understand how it can be, how to recognise it? Im just sitting with this IAm sense for hours days by days and nothing happened lol, just sense of life itself, empty cognisance.
    Thank you


  • Sim Pern Chong
    Just a sharing... from my limited understanding. Pls read with a pint of salt.
    I think the experience of what you described as "potential that can form into what we called “thoughts”, like electric impulse about to transform into more solid objects" is authentic. However, the afterthought analysis of that experience is not entirely correct.
    The part about me observing thoughts ... emm.. its not really accurate. There is absolutely no me in such occurrence. .. because the 'sense of I/me' is simply the 'stage' where the delusion (of subject/object) has taken hold.. And the imagination-inducing spell of 'thoughts' is a component of the impression of 'self'...and 'others/ world'.
    For example, there is an impression as if there is a guy call 'Sim Pern Chong' who is posting these texts. But that is just an impression of 'processes' that are really not-arising out of a base/self or anything . .. Impressions are really 'appearing' non-dually and not as distinct object. The concept mind locks in on a certain aspect to focus and see that as fixed 'entity/object/etc'.
    What appears as thoughts, sight, sound, etc.. are 'luminous or space-like' yet empty expressions. If experiences are not grasped, the 'appearance' prior to solidification as a physical 'environment' can be perceived. The experience of pre-thought appearing as 'luminous' object.. is just one expression. Sight will have a different appearance prior to solidification as '3D world' as well and etc.
    Hence, depending on what is in attention, that will appear to be the 'reality' at that moment.

  • Soh Wei Yu
    Angelo Grr's advise might depend on where the person is at. He might ask someone to realise the silent watcher first, which is also important.
    Gap Between Thoughts, Thought Between Gaps
    Based on some conversations earlier this year and last year by Thusness/PasserBy which I have slightly edited:
    First experience the Isness of the gap between 2 moments of thought, then the Isness of the thought between 2 moments of gap.
    ~ Thusness/PasserBy
    On the realization of luminosity in the gap between thoughts, this conversation in 2005 is relevant:
    [23:23] <ZeN`n1th> Dzogchen teacher Tenzin Wangyal (1997, 29) points out:
    [23:23] <ZeN`n1th> The gap between two thoughts is essence. But if in that gap there is a lack of presence, it becomes ignorance and we experience only a lack of awareness, almost an unconsciousness. If there is presence in the gap, then we experience the dharmakaya [the ultimate].
    [23:24] <ZeN`n1th> so presence is the awareness?
    [23:24] <ZeN`n1th> nice quote , anyway
    [23:24] <ZeN`n1th> anyway u were saying about the "i"... so what do u mean?
    [23:24] <^john^> without presence, it is absorption
    [23:25] <^john^> very well said, where u get this quote. 🙂
    For the purposes of contemplation for the first breakthrough awakening (the I AM), this pointer by Angelo Dillulo (author of Awake: It’s Your Turn, he also realised deep insights further than the initial awakening and his pointers are clear) is important:
    “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.
    Art by: Platon Yurich”
    However, beyond that initial awakening, we must also understand the following.
    When we discriminate between awareness from thoughts, awareness appears as the 'space' behind and between thoughts. And because of discriminating awareness and content thinking, the behind background reality is preferred over content, so background awareness appears as 'awakening' -- but it is really only treating a particular speck of dust as mirror and thus unable to see all as mirror... and so instead of being 'awakening' it is actually being 'lost'. That experience is just a dimension of Presence... but due to deeply rooted habitual tendencies to grasp dualistically, one tightly clings to the 'background subject'. That is, Presence is mistaken as a true Subject or True Self behind all objects, as some kind of unchanging background. Or it becomes the Eternal Witness perceiving (dispassionately) and untouched by all impermanent objects coming and going (where in reality the knowingness cannot be separated from the flow of phenomenality). (See Stage One of Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Enlightenment) But it is not the entirety of Presence -- the aspect of non-dual, Anatta (no-self), Emptiness and Dependent Origination are not included. Because of this, it is difficult to see that the five aggregates (the 'heaps' of experiences that are designated as 'self': forms, feelings, perceptions, volition and consciousness) are Buddha-Nature.
    When we talk about naked awareness it is not a state where not even a single thought arise. When it is taught about the gap between 2 moments of thought, it is to first have an experience of the nakedness of awareness. To touch just that aspect of awareness. When we extend the gaps, our thoughts become less and clarity becomes more obvious.
    However it will come to a time that no matter what is done, how much effort is being invested, how long, the other aggregates do not subside. This then is the crucial moment whether one can break through into non-duality (of subject and object).
    Awareness is a seamless experience that is non-dual in nature. In this seamless experience, there is no boundary whatsoever, no experiencer experiencing experience; whatever arises is experience, is awareness -- as the sound of birds chirping, as words appearing on the screen, as the thoughts itself. There is no separate hearer, seer, watcher, observer, thinker. Everything is shining, self-felt, self-knowing, self-luminous, without a center. It is always just spontaneous arising and ceasing. There is no center, agent, boundary, inside or outside... merely a seamless whole experience.
    Whether perception or no perception, whether momentum or no momentum, whether there are thoughts or no thoughts, it doesn't matter. That is the arising of the non-dual wisdom, with the understanding that the transience are the Presence.
    Then no thoughts and thoughts are thoroughly understood. When no thoughts and thoughts are clearly understood, it becomes Gap-less. That is true effortlessness and is the pathless path without entry and exit.
    Gap Between Thoughts, Thought Between Gaps
    Gap Between Thoughts, Thought Between Gaps
    Gap Between Thoughts, Thought Between Gaps

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  • Soh Wei Yu
    Going before the arising of thoughts and perception and have a glimpse of that luminous nature is simply just a glimpse. Here lies 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, 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. In truth, 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, for the first 3 (Thusness’s) stages of experience in Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Enlightenment -, 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. That is apart from the lack of clear and deeper insight into the nature of awareness which will lead to the effortless and self-liberating actualization of total presence or empty clarity.
    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 Thusness stage 4 onwards, practice moves from ‘efforting’ to natural luminosity and spontaneity. Even so, meditation is still very important as explained in Meditation after Anatta .
    If a practitioner mistakes that initial glimpse (such as the I AM awakening of Stage 1) as the entirety of Buddha Nature by maintaining the mirror bright and attempt to go after that particular state, it will eventually proof futile. If we see only the realm of no-thought, then the gap between two moments will eventually becomes an obstruction.
    Then the practice becomes the thought moment between two moments of gaps. To experience that luminous empty essence of that thought. It is in essence clarity, awareness itself, and is empty. The waves and the ocean are one and the same. All waves are One Taste. Experiencing Isness as an ocean and shunning away thoughts and manifestation is equally lost, the further insight (insight into non-duality) is the insight into everything as self-luminous awareness or Mind. smile.gif
    However, start by practicing the gap between 2 moments of thought and expand it but with the right understanding of no-self/non-duality. Then when the luminosity shines, it will gradually understand because it knows what blocks. When it tries all its best to do away the transients and yet the transients persist, one will have to wait for the right condition to come, such as having someone to point out or some verses that serves as a condition for awakening.
    So first experience the Isness of the gap between 2 moments of thought, then the Isness of the thought between 2 moments of gap.
    Excerpt from Pointing Out Innate Thinking:
    "Is it an aware emptiness after the thought has dissolved? Or is it an aware emptiness by driving away the thought from meditation? Or, is the vividness of the thought itself an aware emptiness?"
    If the meditator says it is like one of the first two cases, he had not cleared up the former uncertainties and should therefore be set to resolve this for a few days.
    On the other hand, if he personally experiences it to be like the latter case, he has seen identity of thought and can therefore be given the following pointing-out instruction:
    "When you look into a thought's identity, without having to dissolve the thought and without having to force it out by meditation, the vividness of the thought is itself the indescribable and naked state of aware emptiness. We call this seeing the natural face of innate thought or thought dawns as dharmakaya.
    "Previously, when you determined the thought's identity and when you investigated the calm and the moving mind, you found that there was nothing other than this intangible single mind that is a self-knowing, natural awareness. It is just like the analogy of water and waves."
    ~ 14th Century Mahamudra Master, Dakpo Tashi Namgyal
    "When you vividly perceive a mountain or a house, no matter how this perception appears, it does not need to disappear or be stopped. Rather, while this perception is experienced, it is itself an intangible, empty awareness. This is called seeing the identity of perception."
    "Previously you cleared up uncertainties when you looked into the identity of a perception and resolved that perceptions are mind. Accordingly, the perception is not outside and the mind is not inside. It is merely, and nothing other than, this empty and aware mind that appears as a perception. It is exactly like the example of a dream-object and the dreaming mind.
    "From the very moment a perception occurs, it is a naturally freed and intangible perceiving emptiness. This perceiving yet intangible and naked state of empty perception is called seeing the natural face of innate perception or perception dawning as dharmakaya.
    "This being so, 'empty' isn't something better and 'perceiving' isn't something worse, and perceiving and being empty are not separate entities. So, you can continue training in whatever is experienced. When perceiving, in order to deliberately train in perception, there is no need to arrest it. When empty, in order to deliberately train in emptiness, you do not need to produce it.
    - Clarifying the Natural State, Dakpo Tashi Namgyal
    Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Enlightenment
    Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Enlightenment
    Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Enlightenment

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  • Soh Wei Yu
    Dzogchen Master Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche:
    Even if those who begin to practice this find it difficult to continue in this state for more than an instant, there is no need to worry about it. Without wishing for the state to continue for a long time and without fearing the lack of it altogether, all that is necessary is to maintain pure presence of mind, without falling into the dualistic situation of there being an observing subject perceiving an observed object. If the mind, even though one maintains simple presence, does not remain in this calm state, but always tends to follow waves of thoughts about the past or future, or becomes distracted by the aggregates of the senses such as sight, hearing, etc., then one should try to understand that the wave of thought itself is as insubstantial as the wind. If one tries to catch the wind, one does not succeed; similarly if one tries to block the wave of thought, it cannot be cut off. So for this reason one should not try to block thought, much less try to renounce it as something considered negative. In reality, the calm state is the essential condition of mind, while the wave of thought is the mind's natural clarity in function; just as there is no distinction whatever between the sun and its rays, or a stream and its ripples, so there is no distinction between the mind and thought. If one considers the calm state as something positive to be attained, and the wave of thought as something negative to be abandoned, and one remains thus caught up in the duality of accepting and rejecting, there is no way of overcoming the ordinary state of mind.
    Shurangama Sutra:
    "Ananda, you have not yet understood that all the defiling objects that appear, all the illusory, ephemeral phenomena, spring up in the very spot where they also come to an end. Their phenomena aspects are illusory and false, but their nature is in truth the bright substance of wonderful enlightenment. Thus it is throughout, up to the five skandhas and the six entrances, to the twelve places and the eighteen realms; the union and mixture of various causes and conditions account for their illusory and false existence, and the separation and dispersion of the causes and conditions result in their illusory and false extinction. Who would have thought that production and extinction, coming and going are fundamentally the eternal wonderful light of the Tathagata, the unmoving, all-pervading perfection, the wonderful nature of True Suchness! If within the true and eternal nature one seeks coming and going, confusion and enlightenment, or birth and death, one will never find them."
    "You still have not realized that in the Treasury of the Tathagata, the nature of form is true emptiness and the nature of emptiness is true form. That fundamental purity pervades the Dharma Realm. Beings’ minds absorb itaccording to their capacity to know. Whatever manifests does so in compliance with karma. Ignorant of that fact, people of the world are so deluded as to assign its origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity. These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the mind, are nothing but the play of empty and meaningless words."
    Lama Surya Das:
    I think this five skandha scheme is a very interesting one, in the sense that it can begin to raise some very interesting questions and help us dig deeper, rather than just having a vague, amorphous kind of understanding. We are individual. We are each responsible for ourselves and our karma and our relations. Our individuality is comprised of these five aggregates or skandhas. We can work with that. It is actually an expression of the Buddha-nature.
    Now, doesn't anybody want to say, "I didn't hear anything about Buddha-nature in the five skandhas. Where's the Buddha-nature? Who made that up?" That's the right question. What Buddha-nature? I never said anything about it. Who made that up? What enlightenment? What nirvana? Who made all that stuff up? Is it in us or elsewhere? How to get from "here" to "there"?
    We're all looking for something to hang our hopes on, but when we really get down to the present moment, to our own experience, to clear seeing, we come to what Buddha said: "In hearing there is only hearing; no one hearing and nothing heard." There is just that moment, that hearing. You might think, "Oh, a beautiful bird." How do you know it's a bird? It might be a tape recorder. It might be bicycle brakes squeaking. In the first moment, there is just hearing, then we get busy, our minds and concepts get involved. The Buddha went through all the five senses. "In seeing there is just seeing; no one seeing and nothing seen." And so on, with tasting, touching, smelling, and thinking. Thoughts without a thinker. In thinking there is just thinking. There is just that momentary process. There is no thinker. The notion of an inner thinker is just a thought. We imagine that there is somebody thinking. It's like the Wizard of Oz. They thought there was this glorious wizard, but it was just a little man back there behind the screen, behind the veil. That's how it is with the ego. We think there's a great big monkey inside working the five windows, the five senses. Or maybe five monkeys, one for each sense; a whole chattering monkey house, which it sometimes feels like. But is there really a concrete individual or permanent soul inside at all? It seems more like that the lights are on, but no one is home!
    Labels: I AMness, Non Dual, Thought |
    The Mirror: Advice On Presence And Awareness
    The Mirror: Advice On Presence And Awareness
    The Mirror: Advice On Presence And Awareness

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  • Soh Wei Yu
    “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

  • Soh Wei Yu
    In addition to "watching thoughts", the direct path to self realization is to inquire into who or what you are prior to the thoughts. Or, what is the watcher, the witness, the awareness, as Angelo said above. Until a certainty of Beingness dawns.
    (quote from Angelo above, do read the full text above: 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. )

  • Soh Wei Yu
    You can ask, "before birth, who am I?"

  • Owen Richards
    Oh I can totally relate re sitting in I am sense indefinitely with no breakthrough. Feels like such a high bar to just get the process started.
    And if even Rob Burbea of all people didn't have I Am realisation, even though Seeing that Frees has a whole chapter on mindfulness of the self sense, what hope the average householder!

    Soh Wei Yu
    Owen Richards The element of inquiry is a more direct path to realization rather than just sitting in presence which is more gradual.

    Owen Richards
    Soh Wei Yu I have done both for ages.

  • Soh Wei Yu
    Owen Richards It took me 2 years, I think Anurag told me it took him 5 years of self enquiry to realise the I AM. The time it takes varies. What's most important is that there must be intensity of inquiry, to the point it takes over your whole life and being. Means you will automatically want to enquire throughout the day whenever you can, besides spending quality time to sit and meditate everyday (I recommend 1 hour at least, John Tan and Yin Ling recommend people to sit 2 hours a day, they personally sit much more). Inquire in sitting, inquire in normal activities.
    Q: Bhagavan wanted to know the answer to the question 'Who am I?' He seemed to find the answer straight away. When I ask the question when I try to find out what the Self is, I can reject thoughts that arise as being 'not me’, but nothing else happens. I don't get the answer that Bhagavan did, so I am beginning to wonder why I am asking the question.
    Annamalai Swami: You say that you are not getting the right answer.
    --- Who is this 'you'? Who is not getting the right answer? ---
    Question: Why should I ask? Asking has not produced the right answer so far.
    Annamalai Swami: You should persist and not give up so easily. When you intensely inquire 'Who am I?' the intensity of your inquiry takes you to the real Self. It is not that you are asking the wrong question.
    You seem to be lacking intensity in your inquiry. You need a one-pointed determination to complete this inquiry properly. Your real Self is not the body or the mind. You will not reach the Self while thoughts are dwelling on anything that is connected with the body or the mind.
    Question: So it is the intensity of the inquiry that determines whether I succeed or not.
    Annamalai Swami: Yes. If the inquiry into the Self is not taking place thoughts will be on the body and the mind. And while those thoughts are habitually there, there will be an underlying identification: ‘I am the body; I am the mind.' This identification is something that happened at a particular point in time. It is not something that has always been there. And what comes in time also goes eventually, for nothing that exists in time is permanent.
    The Self, on the other hand, has always been there. It existed before the ideas about the body and the mind arose, and it will be there when they finally vanish. The Self always remains as it is: as peace, without birth, without death.
    Through the intensity of your inquiry, you can claim that state as your own.
    Inquire into the nature of the mind by asking, with one-pointed determination, 'Who am I?' Mind is illusory and non-existent, just as the snake that appears on the rope is illusory and non-existent.
    Dispel the illusion of the mind by intense inquiry and merge in the peace of the Self. That is what you are, and that is what you always have been.
    LWB, p. 41”
    “Something I always say when you are doing self enquiry or any other contemplations and meditations, this is crucial:
    "We think it's all about like, again, because of our modern mind, we almost think everything can be solved through some sort of technology. Right, oh, I just need to do it different, there must be some secret trick to inquiry, that's our technological mind-set. Sometimes that's a mindset that is very useful to us. But, we don't want to let that dominate our spirituality. Because as I witnessed, the intensity of the living inquiry that's more important than all the techniques.
    When somebody Just Has To Know. Even if that's kind of driving them half crazy for a while. And, that attitude is as important or more important than all the ways we work with that attitude, you know, the spiritual practices, the meditations and various inquiries and various different things, sort of practices. If we engage in the practices because they are practices, you know like, ok I just do these because this is what I'm told to do, and hopefully it will have some good effect. That's different than being engaged, when you're actually being deeply interested in what you're inquiring about, and what you're actually meditating upon. It's that quality of real, actual interest, something even more than interest. It is a kind of compulsion, I know I was saying earlier don't get taken in by compulsion, but there is/can be a kind of compulsion. And that's as valuable as anything else going on in you, actually."
    - Adyashanti
    “Don’t overcomplicate the “how”. It is just simple, innocent inquiry into “who am I?” driven by genuine desire to discover the truth of your Being.” – Soh
    Soh’s koan between 2008 to 2010 that led to I AM realization was “Before birth, who am I?” But for some people it may not work well, in which they should change the questioning as follows.
    Soh Wei Yu shared a link.
    · 16m ·
    I wrote this for someone having difficulty with the koan "Before birth, who am I?"
    "You said before birth who am I leads to conceptuality for you. I told you that you should change your koan to “before thinking, what am I?”
    There is a similar koan in the past
    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"!

  • Soh Wei Yu
    Owen Richards I have also written before in this group that I'm a very pragmatic person, and if there were really a shortcut, like say a psychedelic drug that can trigger I AM realization for >50% of people, then I would recommend that even if I go to jail. Seriously, imagine how transformative it will be for the world if everyone takes a psychedelic drug that causes >50% of them to realise the I AM. The world will change for the better for sure, and I am willing to make that sacrifice. Actually I don't need to advertise that drug, I'm sure lots of people will know about it and take it.
    Unfortunately I don't see any such shortcut drugs (yet). Even psychedelic drugs only result in really small percentage of such breakthroughs or glimpses. Most people that tried those have altered states of experience without lasting realization, even if they have glimpses of presence and cosmic consciousness. So I still recommend self enquiry and meditation as the most direct and viable way to self realization, I never recommend any other shortcuts as I don't really see any.
    Probably government agents have taken note of what I said here 😂

  • Soh Wei Yu
    Owen Richards By the way how exactly do you inquire?

  • Owen Richards
    Soh Wei Yu I investigate what I am, non-verbally, in direct experience. Sometimes I employ the Ramana "method", but more often than not, I just think the word, 'I' and see what that refers to. Or I do that but wordlessly.

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  • Jean Frédéric Zolnet
    Owen RichardsI do that too, just saying 'I' and feeling into that. If that doesn't work I ask questions such ass, where is awareness, who am I, am I aware, what am I, what is awareness? Mostly during life. Results in silence and a little bliss and relaxation. It has a satisfying taste.
    P.s. I did have my first glimpses with the help of a certain fungi actually. But it was coupled with a period of intense inquiry and listening to Adyashanti.

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  • Mathias Pertusa
    Owen Richards have you reach the deepest essence/substances of what you are? Is the I am that you rest into is the essence of who you are? Meaning the ever clear pure background that everything is happening to?
    If yes, notice that every thoughts even doubt thoughts have the same taste of it, have the same essence of the background.

  • Owen Richards
    Jean Frédéric Zolnet yes, I do all this minus the mushrooms lol

  • Owen Richards
    Mathias Pertusa the clear essence is quite accessible however something in me doesn't accept that it's what I am.

  • Soh Wei Yu
    Owen Richards you don’t need to accept or reject it as what you are or what you are not. It has nothing to do with an intellectual acceptance.. and everything to do with the revelation of a doubtless unshakeable certainty of Beingness. When will that dawn you can never know and it is not good to anticipate and chase after some event. Just inquire and let it reveal itself like the brightness of ten thousand suns revealing itself one day when clouds dissipate. Even the clouds are not a hindrance if you inquire into the source behind the clouds. Inquire and return to that radiant Source. Every moment it is what you are, what is it that is hearing that sound, aware of that thought? Every moment can be an entry point to the source the moment you inquire.

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