A lot of people are asking me who is at what stage these days in the Awakening to Reality Facebook Group. I would suggest trying to get the essence of what the thusness seven stages are about, then look honestly and without bias and try to get the essence of what the other teacher is saying, then you can tell for yourself. It will be impossible for me to comment on every single teacher on earth and that is perhaps not very nice.

However as I often said, if you are for example seeking I AM realization or are at I AM phase, then one should not be too picky - it might be good and helpful to read books and teachers on I AM and one mind.


Difference Between Thusness Stage 1 and 2 and other Stages
Difference Between Thusness Stage 4 and 5 (Substantial Non-duality vs Anatta)
Differentiating I AM, One Mind, No Mind and Anatta

Excerpt from link, 2008:

(12:17 AM) Thusness: Stage 1 to 6 cannot be skipped
(12:17 AM) AEN: wat do u mean
(12:18 AM) Thusness: Best experienced that way.
(12:18 AM) AEN: oic
(12:18 AM) Thusness: A practitioner cannot skip stages
(12:18 AM) AEN: but buddhist path skips some rite
(12:18 AM) AEN: like dharma dan never go through 'i am'
(12:18 AM) Thusness: Yes
(12:19 AM) Thusness: the depth of clarity will not be there
(12:19 AM) Thusness: Like grimnexus see 4 same as 5.
(12:20 AM) Thusness: But a person that undergone knows clearly.
(12:21 AM) AEN: oic
(12:21 AM) AEN: ya he tot its the same
(12:21 AM) AEN: btw grimnexus at stage 4 rite
(12:21 AM) Thusness: Like ken and Ajahn amaro, seems the same but even Ajahn Amaro thought it is the same.
(12:21 AM) AEN: long time nv see him online liao, he like never came online for many months
(12:21 AM) AEN: oic
(12:21 AM) Thusness: Why u worry so much abt others ppl stage?
(12:22 AM) AEN: lol
(12:23 AM) Thusness: Rather pray hard that u will not be misled and go through countless lives of rebirth again
(12:23 AM) AEN: oic..
(12:23 AM) Thusness: What u must have is to correctly discern
(12:24 AM) AEN: icic..
(12:25 AM) Thusness: If u want to hv clarity of the essence of the six phases, discern and understand correctly.
(12:25 AM) Thusness: What if I m no more around?
(12:25 AM) AEN: oic..
(12:26 AM) Thusness: If Ajahn Amaro cannot know the diff, much less is others
(12:26 AM) AEN: icic..
(12:26 AM) AEN: dharma dan leh
(12:26 AM) Thusness: Rather ask urself have u correctly understood then abt others
(12:27 AM) AEN: icic..
(12:27 AM) Thusness: How I know?
(12:27 AM) AEN: oic
(12:27 AM) Thusness: U kept asking abt others, I worry more abt u.
(12:27 AM) AEN: icic..
(12:28 AM) Thusness: If u know, u will be able to know r they there.
(12:28 AM) AEN: oic..
(12:29 AM) Thusness: Like ken and Ajahn Amaro clearly have same experience but different understanding
(12:29 AM) Thusness: David loy treat them the same too.
(12:29 AM) Thusness: Not realizing the differences
(12:30 AM) AEN: icic..
(12:30 AM) Thusness: So have the right understanding
(12:31 AM) Thusness: One is abiding, the other is non-abiding
(12:32 AM) AEN: icic..
(12:32 AM) Thusness: One is still efforting, the other is effortless
(12:32 AM) AEN: oic..
(12:33 AM) Thusness: One is Brahman, the other is DO
(12:34 AM) Thusness: One is mirror, the other is pure manifestation
(12:34 AM) AEN: icic..
(12:36 AM) Thusness: 'Self' is grasped unknowingly because it is independent, changeless
(12:36 AM) Thusness: Therefore they can't treasure the Transience
(12:37 AM) Thusness: They can't c conditions
(12:37 AM) AEN: oic..
(12:37 AM) Thusness: The Transience and conditions are most sacred
(12:38 AM) Thusness: How can Self c this?
(12:38 AM) AEN: icic..
(12:39 AM) Thusness: But one must know the emptiness nature of Transience, unfindable and ungraspable
(12:39 AM) Thusness: And rises when condition is
(12:40 AM) AEN: oic..
(12:40 AM) Thusness: When we say attributes, we r referring to the empty nature of awareness
(12:41 AM) AEN: wat u mean
(12:41 AM) Thusness: But awareness is full of colors
(12:41 AM) AEN: u mean attributelessness?
(12:41 AM) AEN: icic
(12:41 AM) Thusness: Like 'redness' of a flower
(12:42 AM) AEN: icic..
(12:42 AM) Thusness: But to advaitins, it is absence
(12:42 AM) Thusness: Nothing to do with awareness
(12:43 AM) AEN: u mean they see awareness as formless?
(12:43 AM) Thusness: yes
(12:43 AM) AEN: icic
(12:44 AM) Thusness: Means absence of attributes as colorless, formless
(12:44 AM) Thusness: But what buddhism is referring is its emptiness nature
(12:45 AM) Thusness: Not that there is a real formless entity
(12:45 AM) AEN: oic..
(12:45 AM) Thusness: Awareness is appearances appearing when condition is
(12:46 AM) AEN: icic..
(12:46 AM) Thusness: awareness is not free of thoughts
(12:46 AM) Thusness: To advaitins, it is.
(12:47 AM) Thusness: To buddhist practitioner, thought is awareness
(12:48 AM) Thusness: One thought arises
(12:48 AM) Thusness: Next one
(12:48 AM) Thusness: Like what Ajahn Amaro said
(12:48 AM) Thusness: There is no worry abt no thought, no conceptuality
(12:49 AM) Thusness: All will be experienced in their most vivid forms
(12:49 AM) Thusness: I got to go now.
(12:49 AM) AEN: oic..
(12:49 AM) AEN: ok gd nite
(12:49 AM) Thusness: Nite


As much as I would not like to say, but I have been forced to say this from time to time because many people just can't seem to understand what I mean by 'anatta' and wrongly compare it to other teachers or teachings that are actually talking about impersonality + I AM or One Mind... it is because most people do not understand anatta properly and make false equations that I have to return to this topic again and again.

Most practitioners and teachers with realisations (my estimation: 85% I AM, 10% One Mind, 2% or less anatta), not only outside Buddhism but even within Buddhism, have not realised anatta. Their view and realisation does not go beyond I AM and One Mind. Back in 2007, John Tan also said, "(4:34 PM) Thusness: for 99 percent what one is talking about is "I AMness"
(4:34 PM) Thusness: and has not gone beyond permanence
(4:35 PM) Thusness: still thinking permanence
(4:35 PM) Thusness: formless

(4:43 PM) Thusness: all and almost all will think of it along the line of "I AMness"
(4:44 PM) Thusness: all are like the grandchildren of "AMness"
(4:44 PM) Thusness: and that is the root cause of duality."

And it is not just I that would openly criticise the views of these teachers and practitioners. Zen Master Dogen was very open about criticizing his contemporary Zen masters that fall into such views. It was very common for Zen (as well as Theravada, Tibetan, and non-Buddhist) masters to get stuck at I AM and One Mind back then, as it is today. Zen Master Dogen was a rare beacon of clarity, although of course there are some other Zen masters that were also clear. Zen Master Dogen would not mince a word at critiquing his contemporaries or those who held erroneous views, and would even use words that I would not use, like 'madmen' to describe holders of such views.

To point out how rare anatta and emptiness realisation is, I would also like to quote a passage from 'Introduction to the Middle Way: Chandrakirti's Madhyamakavatara with Commentary by Jamgon Mipham',

"There is a story that once when Atisha was in Tibet, he received news of the death of the master Maitripa. He was deeply grieved, and on being questioned about the reasons for his sorrow, he replied that Buddhism was in decline in India and that everywhere there was syncretism and confusion. Until then, Atisha continued, there had been only two masters in the whole of India, Maitripa and himself, capable of discerning the correct teaching from the doctrines and practices of the reviving Hindu schools. The time is sure to come, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche commented, and perhaps it is already here, when there will be an analogous situation in the West. Only the correct establishment of the view will enable one to find one's way through the religious confusion of the modern West and to distinguish authentic Buddhism from the New Age "self-help" versions that are already taking hold."

Just like it is rare today to find someone who is able to penetrate wrong views and distinguish between the views of I AM/One Mind and anatta & emptiness, it was rare even in ancient times.

Personally, I just find myself so fortunate to have come to know John Tan, otherwise I will 100% be stuck at I AM like so many other practitioners and teachers. It is rare now, just like it was rare back in the days to have someone with such clarity, to be able to distinguish clearly and have such deep comprehension.

Anyway I wanted to share what Dogen said as he elucidates the difference between I AM/One Mind and anatta quite clearly:

Zen Master Shohaku Okumura.


Rujing said that authenticity of The Shurangama Sutra has been questioned from ancient times, therefore ancestral masters in the early times never read this sutra. 

Anyway, Dogen has a doubt about the authenticity and quality of The Surangama Sutra and The Complete Enlightenment Sutra. Those are sutras I have introduced as the foundation of Zhongmi's and Xuansha’s usage of “one bright jewel”.

Dogen gives the question to his teacher. This is a very serious question. Dogen thinks that the teachings in these sutras are similar with the six outsider teachers. This means the sutras advocate non-Buddhist teachings such as Senika’s theory, which Dogen introduces in Bendowa. In this case, to be non-Buddhist means to go against the Buddha’s teaching of anatman (no permanent self). The teaching of the metaphor of the mani jewel (one bright8jewel) which is permanent and never changes, even though the surface color is changing is, according to Dogen, nothing other than atman. That is the problem in Dogen’s question. He is asking whether the theory included in these two sutras can be considered to be authentic Buddhist teaching or not.

This is a conversation that happened when Dogen was twenty-five years old. In China, it seems that the authenticity of these two sutras has not been questioned. However in Japan, in the 8th century, some Hosso School (Japanese Yogacara School) monks doubted whether The Surangama Sutra is an authentic sutra from India or not. Dogen and his teacher Rujing had the same question. In modern times, almost all Japanese Buddhist scholars think that The Surangama Sutra and The Complete Enlightenment Sutra were written in China. 

The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism says the following about the authenticity of The Surangama Sutra: 

Although Zhisheng assumed the Surangama sutra was a genuine Indian scripture, the fact that no Sanskrit manuscript of the text is known to exist, as well as the inconsistencies in the stories about its transmission to China, have led scholars for centuries to question the scripture’s authenticity. There is also internal evidence of the scripture’s Chinese provenance, such as the presence of such indigenous Chinese philosophical concepts as yin-yan cosmology and the five elements (wuxing) theory, the stylistic beauty of the literary Chinese in which the text is written, etc. For these and other reasons, the Surangama sutra is now generally recognized to be a Chinese apocryphal composition. 2
However, Chinese masters don’t agree. There is a Chinese temple in San Francisco named Golden Mountain Temple, and it has a big community called the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah, Northern California. The founder of that temple, Ven. Master Hsuan Hua, opposed those modern scholars:

“Where the Surangama Sutra exists, then the Proper Dharma exists. If the Surangama Sutra ceases to exist, then the Proper Dharma will also vanish. If the Surangama Sutra is inauthentic, then I vow to fall into the Hell of Pulling Tongues to undergo uninterrupted suffering.” 3 In a subsequent section of the introduction to the Surangama Sutra, Ron Epstein and David Rounds argue that it was written in India.4

So there is a controversy. Since I am not a Buddhist scholar, I cannot discuss which is right. Anyway, we are studying Dogen’s Shobogenzo, we need to hear what Dogen has to say on this point. We need to understand that Dogen questions not only about whether the Surangama Sutra was written in India or China but also whether the core teaching in the sutra is non-Buddhist theory.

Dogen’s criticism in Eihei Koroku 

Not only when he was young, but also in his later years, he repeats the same opinion regarding the two sutras in his Dharma discourse number 383 in Eihei Koroku (Dogen’s Extensive Record), the collection that includes9 more than five hundred formal discourses by Dogen. Because this is a long discourse on Dogen’s disagreement with the theory of the identity of the three teachings (Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism), I will only quote one paragraph of just a few sentences:

Therefore we should not look at the words and phrases of Confucius or Lao Tsu, and should not look at the Surangama or Complete Enlightenment Scriptures. (Many contemporary people consider the Surangama and Complete Enlightenment Sutras as among those that the Zen tradition relies on. But the teacher Dogen always disliked them.) We should exclusively study the expressions coming from the activities of buddhas and ancestors from the time of the seven world-honored Buddhas to the present. If we are not concerned with the activities of the buddha ancestors, and vainly make our efforts in the evil path of fame and profit, how could this be study of the Way? Among the World-Honored Tathagata, the ancestral teacher Mahakashyapa, the twenty-eight ancestors in India, the six generations [of ancestors] in China, Qingyuan, and Nanyue [Huirang], which of these ancestral teachers ever used the Surangama or Complete Enlightenment Sutra and considered them as the true Dharma eye treasury, wondrous mind of nirvana? 5

The italic sentences in the parenthesis are a note made by Gien, a disciple of Dogen who compiled volume 5 of Eihei Koruku. It is clear that he continued to dislike these two sutraseven when he was past his youth.

Dogen criticizes not only the two sutras but Guifeng Zongmi’s essential points in Dharma discourse number 447 of Eiheikoroku:

I can remember Guifeng Zongmisaid, “The quality of knowing is the gateway of all excellence.”

Zen master Huanrong Shixin [wuxin] said, “The quality of knowing is the gateway of all evil.” Later students have recited what these two previous worthies said, without stopping up to today. Because of this, ignorant people have wanted to discuss which is correct, and for hundreds of years have either used or discarded one or the other thing. Nevertheless, Zongmi’s saying that knowing is the gateway of all excellence has not yet emerged from the pit of those outside the way. What is called knowledge is certainly neither excellent nor course. As for Huanlong [Shixin]’s saying that knowing is a gateway of all evil, what is called knowledge is certainly neither evil nor good. 

Today, I, Eihei would like to examine those two people's sayings. Great Assembly would you like to clearly understand the point of this? 

After a pause Dogen said: If the great ocean knew it was full, the hundreds of rivers would all flow upstream.6

It is clear that Dogen knows what Guifeng Zongmi wrote about the one bright jewel. Zongmi said that everything good came from10 this knowing (chi) or the spiritual intelligence that is nothing other than the one bright jewel. Dogen also quotes another Zen master, Huanrong Shixin. They said completely opposite things and Dogen made a comment about these two opposite sayings.
Dogen says Zongmi’s saying has not yet emerged from the pit of those outside the way. This “pit of those outside the way” means the trap of non-Buddhist theory. Dogen is saying that Zongmi’s saying is non-Buddhist teaching. This dharma discourse 447 was probably given when Dogen was around 50 years old, a few years before his death. Dogen still thinks Guifeng Zongmi’s teaching based on the two sutras was not Buddhist. 

After a pause he said, “If the great ocean knew it was full, the hundreds of rivers would all flow upstream.” The ocean will never fill up, so water can flow from the mountains to the ocean continuously. However, if the ocean becomes full, water needs to flow towards the mountains. Such a thing can never happen. From these sayings of Dogen, it is clear to me that Dogen does not agree with what Guifeng Zongmi had written using the analogy of “one bright jewel”.

Dogen’s Comment on The Surangama Sutra in Shobogenzo Tenhorin (Turning the Dharma Wheel).

In Shoboenzo Tenhorin (Turning the Dharma Wheel) written in 1244, Dogen discusses several Zen masters’ comments on an expression from the Surangama Sutra as follows: 

The expression quoted now, that “when a person exhibits the truth and returns to the origin, space in the ten directions totally disappears” is an expression in the Surangama Sutra. This same phrase has been discussed by several Buddhist patriarchs. Consequently, this phrase is truly the bones and marrow of Buddhist patriarchs, and the eyes of Buddhist patriarchs. My intention in saying so is as follows: Some insist that the ten-fascicle version of the Surangama Sutra is a forged sutra while others insist that it is not a forged sutra. The two arguments have persisted from the distant past until today. There is the older translation and there is the new translation; the version that is doubted is [not these but] a translation produced during the Shinryu era. However, Master Goso [Ho]en, Master Bussho [Ho]tai, and my late Master Tendo, the eternal Buddha, have each quoted the above phrase already. So, this phrase has already been turned in the Dharma wheel of Buddhist patriarchs; it is the Buddhist Patriarch’s Dharma wheel turning.7

The translation produced in the first year of the Shinryu era (Shenlong in 705 CE) is the ten fascicle version of the Surangama Sutra. The older ones are entitled Surangama-samadhi sutra, translated by Kumarajiva; this is a different sutra from the Surangama Sutra, which is a Chinese apocryphal scripture. Here Dogen doubts the authenticity of the Surangama Sutra, but he says that once a sentence from the sutra is quoted and used by ancestors to express the Dharma, the statement can be thought of as turning the Dharma wheel.11

Similar criticism in Bendowa, Question Ten

In Bendowa and Shobogenzo Sokushinzebutsu (The Mind itself is Buddha), Dogen criticized the theory that the mind-nature is permanent and forms are arising and perishing. This teaching is what Dogen thought came from the same ideas Zongmi wrote based on the Surangama Sutra and the Complete Enlightenment Sutra. I think that to clearly understand Dogen’s points in these two writings, it is important to know why Dogen does not appreciate these two sutras. Question ten in Bendowa is about the problem. First Dogen formulated the question, then he wrote the reply to the question.

[Question 10] Someone has said, “Do not grieve over life and death. There is an instantaneous means for separating from life and death. It is to understand the principle that mind-nature is permanent. This means that even though the body that is born will inevitably be carried into death, still this mind-nature never perishes. If you really understand that the mind-nature existing in our body is not subject to birth and death, then since it is the original nature, although the body is only a temporary form haphazardly born here and dying, the mind is permanent and unchangeable in the past, present and future. To know this is called release from life and death. Those who know this principle will forever extinguish their rounds of life and death and when their bodies perish they enter into the ocean of original nature. When they stream into this ocean, they are truly endowed with the same wondrous virtues as the Buddha-Tathagatas. Now, even though you know this, because your body was produced by the delusory karma of previous lives, you are not the same as the sages. Those who do not yet know this must forever transmigrate within the realm of life and death. Consequently, you need comprehend only the permanence of mind-nature. What can you expect from vainly spending your whole life doing quiet sitting? “Is such an opinion truly in accord with the way of buddhas and ancestors?8

Life and death in this case refers to transmigration within samsara. In this teaching, we dont need to grieve over suffering in samsara, and we dont need to practice. This mind nature is shinsho (心性), shin is mind; sho is nature. This is one of the expressions Guifeng Zongmi used. We should see the permanence of mind-nature. Even though phenomenal body and mind are impermanent, this mind-nature is permanent. Just to see the permanence of mind-nature is an instantaneous method to become free from suffering. If this is true, it’s pretty easy to be released from samsara. We don’t need to practice.
This theory says that our life with this body is like a river. Until the river reaches the ocean, we are living as individual persons and experiencing different things and we attach to certain things and we hate certain things and we suffer. But once we return to the ocean, we become free from the body. The body is the source of delusions, but this mind nature is always pure. When this mind-nature returns to the ocean of original nature, we are free from the suffering12 of samsara and become like buddhas. Why do we have to go through a difficult practice such as zazen? 

According to this theory, we don’t need to practice. We just need to know that mind nature is permanent and undefiled, and even if we don’t practice at all, when we die we become buddhas. This is an interesting teaching. As long as we are living, we’re no good, and our practice doesn’t work. What we have to do is wait until we die. Then we become buddhas. It seems easy. However, this means that as long as we are alive we are deluded and we have to suffer. I don’t think this is an easy way of life. 

Bendowa: reply to Question Ten 

Dogen makes up this question and replies by himself as follows:
The idea you have just mentioned is not Buddha-dharma at all, but the fallacious view of Senika. 

This fallacy says that there is a spiritual intelligence in one’s body which discriminates love and hatred or right and wrong as soon as it encounters phenomena, and has the capacity to distinguish all such things as pain and itching or suffering and pleasure. Furthermore, when this body perishes, the spirit nature escapes and is born elsewhere. Therefore although it seems to expire here, since [the spiritual nature] is born somewhere, it is said to be permanent, never perishing. Such is this fallacious doctrine. However to learn this theory and suppose it is buddha-dharma is more stupid than grasping a tile or a pebble and thinking it is a golden treasure. Nothing can compare to the shamefulness of this idiocy. National teacher Echu of Tang China strictly admonished [against this mistake]. So now isn’t it ridiculous to consider that the erroneous view of mind as permanent and material form as impermanent is the same as the wondrous dharma of the buddhas, and to think that you become free from life and death when actually you are arousing the fundamental cause of life and death? This indeed is most pitiful. Just realize that this is a mistaken view. You should give no ear to it.9

Senika is one of the non-Buddhist teachers that appears in the Mahayana Parinirvana Sutra. What Dogen says here in Bendowa is the same as what he says in Eihei Koroku; this theory that insists that mind-nature is permanent is the same as the non-Buddhist teaching. 

This spiritual intelligence is a translation of reichi (霊知) and that is exactly the same word that Guifeng Zongmi used to describe one bright jewel in his writing when he compared the four lineages of Zen in the Tang Dynasty. When this spiritual intelligence encounters a certain object, it creates some discrimination. This spiritual nature escapes from our body when we die as the owner of a house goes out when the house is burned and gets a new house. 
Dogen repeats exactly the same discussion in Shobogenzo Sokushin-zebutsu (The Mind Itself is Buddha). There he quotes a long conversation between Nanyan Huizhong (Nanyo Echu,13675-775) regarding the same theory of Senika. The expression “mind itself is Buddha” is by Mazu (Baso), a disciple of Nanyan’s Dharma brother Nanyue Huairang (Nangaku Ejo,677-744). Dogen does not agree with the teaching of Guifeng Zongmi written in his text. 
If we interpret Xuansha’s saying, “The entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel,” according to the same usage of the analogy that appeared in Zongmi’s writing, then probably Dogen didn’t agree with it. What is Dogen’s understanding of Xuansa’s statement? Is there any difference between what Xuansha said and Dogen’s interpretation of Xuansha’s saying? This is the point of studying Shobogenzo Ikkamyoju (One Bright Jewel). What I have been discussing is a kind of preparation before starting to read Dogen’s insight about this analogy of “one bright jewel”. 

Dogen is really a difficult person with whom to practice. In a sense, he’s so stubborn and picky. Many Zen texts agree with this theory in these sutras and Zongmi’s. Dogen is a very unusual and unique Zen master. To be his student is a difficult thing. 

Shodoka, a poem by Yongjia Xuanjue

I pointed to the examples of usage of this analogy of “one bright jewel” in Zen Buddhism in the Tang Dynasty. I think Dogen didn’t agree the theory behind the expressions. He needed to make his own interpretation of what this bright jewel is. Obviously this bright jewel is a metaphor of Buddha nature, bussho in Japanese. We need to understand what Dogen’s understanding of Buddha nature is. 

Before I start to read the text, I’d like to introduce one more example of the same kind of idea in one of the famous pieces of Zen literature written in the Tang Dynasty. This is a very well known and important poem written by Yongjia Xuanjue (Yoka Genkaku, 665-713). This person was another disciple of the Sixth Ancestor Huineng (Eno, 638-713), and yet he stayed with Huineng only one night. On the day he visited the Sixth Ancestor, he attained enlightenment and he left. He is a Dharma brother of Nanyan Huizhong and Nanyue Huairang. He used to be a Tendai monk, a great scholar and also a very skillful poet. He wrote a long poem entitled Shodoka (Song of Enlightenment of the Way).

I found a translation by D. T Suzuki. In this poem Yongjia Xuanjue wrote about this metaphor of mani jewel as follows: 

The whereabouts of the precious mani-jewel is not known to people generally, Which lies deeply buried in the recesses of the Tathagata-garbha;
The six-fold function miraculously performed by it is an illusion and yet not an illusion, 
The rays of light emanating from one perfect sun belong to the realm of form and yet not to it.10

As it is generally said, people don’t see this bright jewel. It is something hidden deeply within us. In this translation it says “the sixfold function miraculously performed by it…” Six-fold function refers to the function of the six sense organs when they encounter the six14 objects of sense organs. This refers to what we do every day, the things happening between subject and object such as seeing, hearing, sensing and knowing. All these things we do are done by this hidden bright jewel, Buddha Nature. This bright jewel is the subject of seeing, hearing, etc. 

D.T. Suzuki translates, “…is an illusion and yet not an illusion.” I’m not sure if this is the right translation or not. The original word Xuanjue used is ku (􀀄) and fuku (􀀇􀀄). Ku isemptiness and fuku is not emptiness. This means that the conditioned color of blackness is empty but the bright jewel itself is not empty but substance as Zongmi said. 

The next line, The rays of light emanating from one perfect sun belong to the realm of form and yet not to it, is like this in Chinese:􀀂􀀈􀀃􀀅􀀆􀀇􀀆􀀁􀀂􀀈 is the same word as ikkain ikka-myoju, which means one piece. Even though D.T. Suzuki translated it as perfect sun, I think this one-piece refers to the mani jewel. 􀀆􀀇􀀆(shiki fu-shiki) is form and not form. I would translate this line : The perfect light of the one [bright jewel] is both form and not-form.

Of course ku and shiki came from the Heart Sutra,
shiki soku ze ku, ku soku ze shiki”. That is what this means. “Not ku” means shiki and “not shiki” means ku, so ku and shiki interpenetrate each other. That is what is said in the Heart Sutra. Form is nothing other than emptiness and emptiness is nothing other than form. The function between subject and object are performed by this hidden bright jewel. And these are at the same time emptiness (conditioned color) and not emptiness (bright jewel) and the light of the bright jewel is both form and yet not-form. That is what is written in this poem. So here we can see a kind of a combination between the teaching of emptiness and the theory of tathagata-garbha (buddha nature). The author of this poem or the theory in the Surangama Sutra and the Perfect Enlightenment Sutra combined these two. In a sense, this theory is an integration or mixture of theory of emptiness, Yogacara’s consciousness only, and tathagata-garbha. 

Dogen’s Understanding of the Bright Jewel
This poem is still considered as a classic of Zen Buddhism and no one thinks that this is a heretical teaching. This is considered an authentic Zen teaching. Probably Dogen is a rare Zen master who didn’t like this idea. The interactions of our six sense organs and the six objects of the sense organs are something we carry out day-to-day. Yet this poem says that there is something which is hidden and that that hidden thing called tathagata-garbha (buddha nature) is the subject that performs these day-to-day things. Here are two layers of reality; one is phenomena and another is probably, in Western philosophical world, called noumenon. Buddha Nature in this case is noumenon and things happening between subject and object are phenomena, and these phenomenal things are a function of the noumenon. That is the basic structure of this idea. I think this is what Dogen didn’t like, probably because viewing it from his practice of zazen, this theory is dualistic. There is the duality of phenomena and noumenon, or Buddha nature15and our day-to-day activities or one bright jewel and its conditioned black color. That is, I think, the basic problem for Dogen; thus he thinks this theory is not in accord with Buddhist teaching. 

Then, in the case of Dogen, what is this bright jewel? I think, the bright jewel in Dogen’s teaching is like a drop of water that is illuminated by moonlight. In the case of the structure of the theory of noumenon and phenomena, there’s no relation between phenomenal things. But as Dogen defines delusion and realization in his Genjokoan, delusion and realization are only within the relationship between self and myriad dharmas. In Genjokoan, Dogen used the word jiko(􀀂􀀁) and banpo(􀀄􀀃), and he said that conveying the self toward myriad things and carry out practice-enlightenment is delusion, and all myriad things coming toward the self and carrying out practice-enlightenment through the self is realization. 

In Shobogenzo Sokushinzebutsu (The Mind is itself Buddha), Dogen quotes Nanyan Huizong’s conversation with a monk from the south who criticizes the Zen teaching in the south, saying that the theory is the same as Senika’s, the non-Buddhist. Then the monk from the south asked Huizong, “Then what is the ancient Buddha mind?” Huizong replied, “Fences, walls, tiles and pebbles.” Dogen quotes this saying in Shobogenzo Kobutsushin (The Ancient Buddha Mind) and says at the end of Sokushinzebutsu, “The mind that has been authentically transmitted is one-mind is all things and all things are one-mind.” Here there is no duality between noumenon (the bright jewel) and phenomenal things (black color). I think Huizong and Dogen mention the interconnectedness of phenomenal things within the network of Indra’s Net. 
It’s not a matter of there being Buddha nature that is like a diamond inside the self and to find this diamond is realization. Dogen doesn’t like this idea. If this is the case, our practice is to find something inside ourselves, and we would be able to attain so-called realization or enlightenment when we’ve found this inner diamond. Then it would have nothing to do with our relationship with others. But in the case of Dogen, practice-enlightenment is to transform the way of our life. Transformation of our life can be only within the relationship between self and myriad things. 

In the same writing (Genjokoan), he says that the self is like a drop of water; it’s a tiny thing, and it is impermanent. The moonlight is the light of myriad dharmas. The self is a part of the network of interconnectedness of myriad things. This way of existing is the bright jewel. The bright jewel is not a permanent noumenon. We and all myriad things are born, stay for a while, and disappear; nothing is permanent. And yet this tiny drop of water is illuminated by all dharmas. There are numerous things and they are all interconnected with each other. Without this connection, this tiny drop of water cannot exist even for one moment. This bright jewel is like a knot of Indra’s net and each knot is a bright jewel. This bright jewel or drop of water is illuminated by everything, and this bright jewel or drop of water also illuminates everything. In this case,16this self is a part of the moonlight. This is like five fingers and one hand. One hand is simply a collection of five fingers. One hand is not a noumenon of five fingers. Practice-enlightenment or delusion and realization exist only within this relationship between self and all other beings. There is the difference of framework between the one bright jewel as noumenon and as a part of interdependent origination. I think this is the point Dogen wants to show us. 

When Dogen interprets Xuansha’s saying, “This entire ten-direction world is one bright jewel,” he is talking about the relationship between self and myriad things within the structure of the network of interdependent origination. 
Everything is reflected in one thing and, because this is a net, when we touch the one knot we touch the entire net. There is no separation between self and myriad things. It’s really one seamless reality. And yet within our views it seems subject and object are separate. Unless we understand this point and interpret the title “One Bright Jewel,” we don’t really understand what Dogen is talking about and why he had to say it in this way. Dogen’s interpretation might be different from what Xuansha expressed with this expression as I interpreted in the last issue based on Zongmi’s comparison of the four lineages.

 p.s. regarding Shurangama Sutra,

Lopon Malcolm wrote that the Chinese Shurangama Sutra is a "Chinese Pseudographia", "and these ten Xian realms do not exist in Indian Buddhist cosmology at all."
More on this topic and Thusness/John Tan's comments in:  My opinion on Shurangama Sutra



Manjusri asked, "Noble sir, how should a sick bodhisattva control his own mind?"

Vimalakirti replied, "Manjusri, a sick bodhisattva should control his own mind with the following consideration: Sickness arises from total involvement in the process of misunderstanding from beginningless time. It arises from the passions that result from unreal mental constructions, and hence ultimately nothing is perceived which can be said to be sick. Why? The body is the issue of the four main elements, and in these elements there is no owner and no agent. There is no self in this body, and except for arbitrary insistence on self, ultimately no "I" which can be said to be sick can be apprehended. Therefore, thinking "I" should not adhere to any self, and "I" should rest in the knowledge of the root of illness,' he should abandon the conception of himself as a personality and produce the conception of himself as a thing, thinking, 'This body is an aggregate of many things; when it is born, only things are born; when it ceases, only things cease; these things have no awareness or feeling of each other; when they are born, they do not think, "I am born." When they cease, they do not think, "I cease."'

"Furthermore, he should understand thoroughly the conception of himself as a thing by cultivating the following consideration: 'Just as in the case of the conception of "self," so the conception of "thing" is also a misunderstanding, and this misunderstanding is also a grave sickness; I should free myself from this sickness and should strive to abandon it.'

"What is the elimination of this sickness? It is the elimination of egoism and possessiveness. What is the elimination of egoism and possessiveness? It is the freedom from dualism. What is freedom
from dualism? It is the absence of involvement with either the external or the internal. What is absence of involvement with either external or internal? It is nondeviation, nonfluctuation, and nondistraction from equanimity. What is equanimity? It is the equality of everything from self to liberation. Why? Because both self and liberation are void. How can both be void? As verbal designations, they both are void, and neither is established in reality. Therefore, one who sees such equality makes no difference between sickness and voidness; his sickness is itself voidness, and that sickness as voidness is itself void.

- Vimalakirti Sutra

Taken from Awakening, Realization and Liberation https://www.facebook.com/groups/546474355949572/
Written by Angelo Gerangelo
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.

Very good explanation by a great master. Unfortunately I'm too lazy to translate it now.. so if anyone wants to give translation a try, please do so and let me know.
[1:28 AM, 2/23/2020] Soh Wei Yu: http://www.fodizi.net/huilvfashi/7447.html
[1:28 AM, 2/23/2020] Soh Wei Yu: 【3、观听旋復,能使众生,设为水所漂,水不能溺,是为无畏。】什么叫观听旋复呢?就是我们的众生,“听”就是能听的,耳朵就是耳根,听,是听到外面的音声,众生听外面的音声,就被迷惑了。现在怎么样?回过头来,转过头来,这音声到底从哪来的呢?从耳根来吗?找不到。从外面的境界来?也找不到,找不到起源。耳根是无声,怎么样子呢?外面音声也是无声啊,找到一个声,找不到;可是,因缘,声音就显现,耳根就听得到。喔!缘生就是无生,原来万法都是无生,缘起就生。缘生就是无生,原来清净自性都在缘起里面,六根不可得,境界不可得,身心俱如幻,身心就像幻化的一样,缘生,音声出来了,这个音声,你实在去找,找不到一个实体,你找不到来处,也找不到去处,缘起就现,这个就是观听旋复,就是证得自性。能使众生,设为水所漂,水不能溺,是为无畏。
[1:28 AM, 2/23/2020] Soh Wei Yu: - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkEN2k1EAKw&t=4526s
[1:29 AM, 2/23/2020] Soh Wei Yu: 【13、六根圆通明照无二,】六根圆通,明照无二,眼、耳、鼻、舌、身、意,完全通达清净自性。不二就是根尘不二、性相不二、理事不二、心境不二,不二就是真如,万法皆如,就是不二。【以此无畏,施诸无子众生,欲求女者,即得生女。】
[7:52 AM, 2/23/2020] John Tan: Very good explanation. Must also emphasize 不二 does not mean 一. 无二也无一。

 Non-doership is just one of the aspects of anatta, by itself it is not the anatta realization. (Thusness Stage 5: "...Phase 5 is quite thorough in being no one and I would call this anatta in all 3 aspects -- no subject/object division, no doer-ship and absence of agent...") One can experience non-doership during the I AM phase, or for some people even before the I AM realization. Hence non-doership is not equivalent with anatta realization.


Although the aspect of non-doership itself does not indicate the realization of anatta, this does not mean it is not important. Particularly, non-doership becomes clearly experienced when the John Tan's first stanza of anatta is penetrated and clearly realised. However, the first stanza of anatta is not merely non-doership, as explained in the conversation below. The first stanza of anatta conveys both absence of agent and non-doership, and not just non-doership. Commenting on someone's breakthrough, John Tan said, "More towards second stanza [of anatta], non-doership is equally important." and on someone else, "Non-dual but can't discern clearly the difference between conventionalities and ultimate. Did it talk about natural spontaneity? [In] The 2 stanzas of anatta, the non-doership will lead to natural spontaneity. Currently it is talking about freedom from observer and observed, but the second part of realising appearances are just empty clarity isn't there. Therefore effortlessness of vivid presence will not be possible without these 2 insights as base."


Session Start: Saturday, March 07, 2009


(1:47 AM) AEN:            i just read kiloby's article on no doer... his anatta insight is mostly on the Stanza 1 rite?


(1:49 AM) AEN:            i tink wat he said is like wat you said in stanza 1... except that its more on spontaneous arising but without mentioning conditions

(1:50 AM) AEN:            actually he did mention conditioning a bit also

(1:52 AM) Thusness:    yes more on that but only the no doership. not seeing that there is no agent as a phenomena. and not seeing DO

(1:53 AM) AEN:            oic..

what do you mean 'no agent as a phenomena.'

(1:54 AM) Thusness:    means seeing there is no agent, that is without the subject in experience. than there is no controller, no co-ordinator, no agent that links. means on phenomena. not only doership. that there is no agent and phenomena. only phenomena exist. get it? that is different from no doership. means one, just that doing. means seeing the actual phenomena that there is no agent, just phenomena. get it?

(1:57 AM) AEN:            oic..

ya i tink longchen realised no doer first rite b4 seeing non dual the no agent is the non dual?

(1:58 AM) Thusness:    no agent as no doership...means in terms of controlling, coordinating

(1:59 AM) Thusness:    means there can be an agent, but that agent has no control

this means no doership. the other is the absence of an agent in phenomena. usually there are 2, the subject and the object

(1:59 AM) Thusness:    get it?

(2:00 AM) AEN:            oic..

yea i remember

galen sharp talked about

u are the watcher, but there is no doer

so thats only seeing the no doer aspect rite

(2:00 AM) Thusness:    not no doer. no doership

(2:01 AM) AEN:            ya

(2:01 AM) Thusness:    one is referring to the phenomena as an entity. one is referring to whether we have control over anything that is different

(2:01 AM) AEN:            oic..

(2:02 AM) Thusness:    means i do not see 2, i only see 1, in no doer

(2:02 AM) Thusness:    while no doership is seeing spontaneity without control. get it?

(2:03 AM) AEN:            yeah

so no doer = no agent + no doership

(2:03 AM) AEN:            ?

(2:03 AM) Thusness:    yeah

(2:03 AM) AEN:            icic

(2:03 AM) AEN:            kiloby talks about an agent?

(2:04 AM) Thusness:    actually both but not clear.

[Soh: Scott Kiloby became quite clear about anatta in the following years]

In Soh’s I AM phase, John Tan told him not to mistaken anatta with [mere] non-doership:

“Not to talk too much about me, just focus on your experience. Also what you said about the no observer can be quite misleading. It does not mean there is 'no one doing anything' and 'everything is arising spontaneously'. You should understand anatta from below quotations taken from 'The Sun My Heart' by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh:


"When we say I know the wind is blowing, we don't think that there is something blowing something else. "Wind' goes with 'blowing'. If there is no blowing, there is no wind. It is the same with knowing. Mind is the knower; the knower is mind. We are talking about knowing in relation to the wind. 'To know' is to know something. Knowing is inseparable from the wind. Wind and knowing are one. We can say, 'Wind,' and that is enough. The presence of wind indicates the presence of knowing, and the presence of the action of blowing'." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun My Heart

"..The most universal verb is the verb 'to be'': I am, you are, the mountain is, a river is. The verb 'to be' does not express the dynamic living state of the universe. To express that we must say 'become.' These two verbs can also be used as nouns: 'being", "becoming". But being what? Becoming what? 'Becoming' means 'evolving ceaselessly', and is as universal as the verb "to be." It is not possible to express the "being" of a phenomenon and its "becoming" as if the two were independent. In the case of wind, blowing is the being and the becoming...." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun My Heart

"In any phenomena, whether psychological, physiological, or physical, there is dynamic movement, life. We can say that this movement, this life, is the universal manifestation, the most commonly recognized action of knowing. We must not regard 'knowing' as something from the outside which comes to breathe life into the universe. It is the life of the universe itself. The dance and the dancer are one." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun My Heart

Comments by John Tan in 2009 on these paragraphs from “The Sun My Heart” (see excerpts in Sun of Awareness and River of Perceptions),


"...as a verb, as action, there can be no concept, only experience. Non-dual anatta (no-self) is the experience of subject/Object as verb, as action. There is no mind, only mental activities... ...Source as the passing phenomena... and how non-dual appearance is understood from Dependent Origination perspective."

Session Start: Mon Jan 03 20:15:44 2005
Session Ident: ^john^
[20:18] hello John... have u heard about drugs like LSD which can cause ppl to feel "united with the universe", and realise that we are all "one organism"?
[20:18] 122. The sixth type of psychedelic experience has been called by such names as psychedelic-peak, cosmic, transcendental, or mystical. Some of the psychological phenomena which are said to characterize this experience, are: a sense of unity or 'cosmic oneness' with the universe; a feeling of transcendence of time and space; a deeply felt positive mood of joy, blessedness, love, and peace; a sense of sacredness, awe and, wonder; a feeling of profound theological or religious awareness; a feeling of insight into reality at an intuitive, nonrational level; an awareness of things which seem logically contradictory and paradoxical; and a belief that the experience is beyond words, non-verbal and impossible to describe. The full peak experience, in its entirety, does not occur in the majority of individuals, is usually transient, and does not last for long in its full intensity, although it may have persisting effects on attitudes an
[20:18] http://www.near-death.com/experiences/lsd01.html
[22:01] <^john^> yes.
[22:02] <^john^> But it is far from what it is being described.
[22:02] <^john^> I have told Sangha about OBE too when he told me his friend is able to see his own body during meditation.
[22:05] <^john^> In fact Baba Ram Dass (not exactly sure whether is it him) used to be a Harvard Lecturer in psychology. He experimented using LSD to induce mystical experience.
[22:06] <^john^> He was dismissed because of that.
[22:19] oh.. icic
[22:19] <^john^> Zennith, the experience of Thusness is not what that is described by them.
[22:20] <^john^> It is nothing close if u believe me.
[22:20] <^john^> how is one able to understand.
[22:21] <^john^> I just written something today.
[22:21] icic
[22:21] har?
[22:21] written wat
[22:21] <^john^> my meditation.
[22:22] oh icic.. wat is it about?
[22:22] <^john^> 03.01.2005
[22:22] <^john^> How could anyone understand?
[22:22] <^john^> The crying, the sound, the noise is buddha.
[22:22] <^john^> It is all the experience of Thusness.
[22:22] <^john^> To know the true meaning of this
[22:22] <^john^> Hold not even the slightest trace of 'I'.
[22:22] <^john^> In the most natural state of ILessNess,
[22:22] <^john^> All Is.
[22:22] <^john^> Even if one said the same statement,
[22:22] <^john^> the depth of experience differs.
[22:22] <^john^> The is no point convincing anyone.
[22:22] <^john^> Can anyone understand?
[22:22] <^john^> Any form of rejection
[22:22] <^john^> Any sort of division
[22:22] <^john^> Is to reject buddhahood.
[22:22] <^john^> If there is a slightest sense of a subject, an experiencer
[22:22] <^john^> we miss the point.
[22:22] <^john^> Natural Awareness is subjectless
[22:22] <^john^> The vividness and clarity
[22:22] <^john^> Feel, taste, see and hear with totality
[22:22] <^john^> There is always no 'I'.
[22:22] <^john^> Thank you Buddha, You truly know.
[22:23] <^john^>
[22:23] <^john^> It is difficult to understand the subtlety.
[22:23] icic... v nice
[22:25] <^john^> 02/1/2005
[22:25] <^john^> Without 'self' oneness is immediately attained.
[22:25] <^john^> There is only and always this Isness. Subject has always been the Object of observation.
[22:25] <^john^> This is true samadhi without entering trance.
[22:25] <^john^> Completely understanding this truth. It is the true way towards liberation.
[22:25] <^john^> Every sound, sensation, arising of consciousness is so clear, real and vivid.
[22:25] <^john^> Every moment is samadhi.
[22:25] <^john^> The tip of the fingers in contact with the keyboard, mysteriously created the
[22:25] <^john^> contact consciousness, what is it? Feel the entirety of beingness and realness.
[22:25] <^john^> There is no subject...just Isness.
[22:25] <^john^> No thought, there really is no thought and no 'self'. Only Pure Awareness.
[22:25] <^john^>
[22:26] <^john^> Zennith, it is meaningless to talk about anything. Just practice hard.
[22:27] icic...
[22:27] <^john^> The depth of emptiness cannot be measured.
[22:27] ok
Session Close: Mon Jan 03 23:30:08 2005