Someone asked:

  1. While you use the words 'formless' and 'form', the descriptions of anatta suggest to me that, indeed, all there is is form, although that form is nondual, as in, it is only ever one compound form which is always in constant transience -- and 'formless' would be merely another thought. Would you agree with this characterization?

Soh replied:

Do read these excerpts and I trust you will understand:

In Buddhism we talk about six senses. In addition to the five senses accepted in science, in Buddhism we talk about Mind. Mind includes what we call thoughts, concepts, images, but there is also the subtlest thought, some call it subtle clear light, and so on. It is the subtlest aspect of thought that is described as ‘beyond thought’ (except after anatta one no longer conceives of a ‘beyond’), but is what John Tan calls a non conceptual thought, just luminous thought, that is described as a pure sense of beingness or presence or existence. This pure sense of existence is then described as formless, etc. However, it is incorrectly reified into something ultimate and unchanging and independent and so on. In truth it is just another manifestation that is momentary and part of the transient stream of vivid happenings and manifestations.

About formless… Here are some quotations from the ATR Guide (longer edition):

“The direct realization of Mind is formless, soundless, smell-less, odourless, etc. But later on it is realised that forms, smells, odours, are Mind, are Presence, Luminosity. Without deeper realisation, one just stagnates in the I AM level and get fixated on the formless, etc. That is Thusness Stage 1.

The I-I or I AM is later realised to be simply one aspect or 'sense gate' or 'door' of pristine consciousness. It is later seen to be not any more special or ultimate than a color, a sound, a sensation, a smell, a touch, a thought, all of which reveals its vibrant aliveness and luminosity. The same taste of I AM is now extended to all senses. Right now you don't feel that, you only authenticated the luminosity of the Mind/thought door. So your emphasis is on the formless, odourless, and so on. After anatta it is different, everything is of the same luminous, empty taste.

And the 'I AM' of the mind door is not any more different than any other sense door, it is only different in that it is a 'different' manifestation of differing conditions just like a sound is different from a sight, a smell is different from a touch. Sure, the Mind door is odourless, but that's not any different from saying the vision door is odourless and the sound door is sensationless. It doesn't imply some sort of hierarchy or ultimacy of one mode of knowingness over another. They are simply different sense gates but equally luminous and empty, equally Buddha-nature.” – Soh, 2020


Soh also wrote that from the perspective of anatta, “Presence is just appearance (however it will not be seen as such prior to anatta realization, instead it will be seen as very Absolute and Ultimate and distinguished from other transient appearances due to immaturity of insight). The so called formless is really another appearance, another manifestation, not any different from the appearance of a color, a sound. A sound is not a sight, but a sound is a manifestation, an appearance. A sight is not a sound, but a sight is a manifestation, an appearance. A sensations is not a sound, but it is manifestation, appearance. The I AM is likewise just another appearance, it is of the Mind door and therefore you say it is not a sight, not a sound. That I AM or Mind (pure sense of formless Presence-Awareness even when five senses are shut) is formless because it is not visually seen nor auditorily heard (because it is the Mind door, not the visual or auditory sense door) but it is still a manifestation. But it is really just another appearance, a manifestation. You do not say Presence allows appearance, for Presence is just appearances in all its diversities. In other words, Presence has not just one particular face but ten thousand faces.”


As John Tan also said in 2011:

“John: what is "I AM"

is it a pce? (Soh: PCE = pure consciousness experience, see glossary at the bottom of this document)

is there emotion

is there feeling

is there thought

is there division or complete stillness?

in hearing there is just sound, just this complete, direct clarity of sound!

so what is "I AM"?

Soh Wei Yu: it is the same

just that pure non conceptual thought

John: is there 'being'?

Soh Wei Yu: no, an ultimate identity is created as an afterthought

John: indeed

it is the mis-interpretation after that experience that is causing the confusion

that experience itself is pure conscious experience

there is nothing that is impure

that is why it is a sense of pure existence

it is only mistaken due to the 'wrong view'

so it is a pure conscious experience in thought.

not sound, taste, touch...etc

PCE (Pure Consciousness Experience) is about direct and pure experience of whatever we encounter in sight, sound, taste...

the quality and depth of experience in sound

in contacts

in taste

in scenery

has he truly experience the immense luminous clarity in the senses?

if so, what about 'thought'?

when all senses are shut

the pure sense of existence as it is when the senses are shut.

then with senses open

have a clear understanding

do not compare irrationally without clear understanding”

“...There is nothing underneath everything, in the state of I AM, it is just I AM. The rest of the 5 sense doors are shut. Everything else is excluded. It is called I simply because of the koan, nothing else.

What’s experienced is similar to hearing sound without the sense of hearer. So keep the experience but refine the view.” - John Tan to someone in Awakening to Reality Discussion Group, 2019


[5:24 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: What is the most important experience in I M?

[5:24 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: What must happen in I M?

[5:25 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: There is not even an M, just I... complete stillness, just I correct?

[5:26 PM, 4/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Realization, certainty of being.. yes just stillness and doubtless sense of I/Existence

[5:26 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: And what is the complete stillness just I?

[5:26 PM, 4/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Just I, just presence itself

[5:28 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: This stillness absorbs excludes and includes everything into just I. What is that experience called?

[5:29 PM, 4/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: I am everything?

[5:29 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: That experience is non-dual.

[5:30 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: And in that experience actually, there is no external nor internal, there is also no observer or observed.

[5:30 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: Just complete stillness as I.

[5:31 PM, 4/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Ic.. yeah even I AM is nondual

[5:31 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: That is ur first phase of a non dual experience.

[5:32 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: We say this is the pure thought experience in stillness

[5:32 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: Thought realm

[5:33 PM, 4/24/2020] John Tan: But at that moment we don't know that...we treated that as ultimate reality.

[5:33 PM, 4/24/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Yeah

In 2007: 

(9:12 PM) Thusness: you don't think that "I AMness" is low stage of enlightenment leh

(9:12 PM) Thusness: the experience is the same. it is just the clarity. In terms of insight. Not experience.

(9:13 PM) AEN: icic..

(9:13 PM) Thusness: so a person that has experience "I AMness" and non dual is the same. except the insight is different.

(9:13 PM) AEN: oic

(9:13 PM) Thusness: non dual is every moment there is the experience of presence. or the insight into the every moment experience of presence. because what that prevent that experience is the illusion of self and "I AM" is that distorted view. the experience is the same leh.

(9:15 PM) Thusness: didn’t you see i always say there is nothing wrong with that experience to longchen, jonls... i only say it is skewed towards the thought realm. so don't differentiate but know what is the problem. I always say it is misinterpretation of the experience of presence. not the experience itself. but "I AMness" prevents us from seeing.


“It is not the contemplations that are important, it is the view brought to contemplation that makes the difference. For example, there is no actual difference between the Hindu Nirvikalpa samadhi and Vajropama samadhi in terms of its content, but the fact that one is accompanied by insight and the other is not makes the difference between whether it is mundane or liberative.” – Dzogchen Teacher Acarya Malcolm Smith, 2014

In 2009: 

“(10:49 PM) Thusness:    by the way you know about hokai description and "I AM" is the same experience?

(10:50 PM) AEN:            the watcher right

(10:52 PM) Thusness:    nope. i mean the shingon practice of the body, mind, speech into one.

(10:53 PM) AEN:            oh thats i am experience?

(10:53 PM) Thusness:    yes, except that the object of practice is not based on consciousness. what is meant by foreground? it is the disappearance of the background and whats left is it. similarly the "I AM" is the experience of no background and experiencing consciousness directly. that is why it is just simply "I-I" or "I AM"

(10:57 PM) AEN:            i've heard of the way people describe consciousness as the background consciousness becoming the foreground... so there's only consciousness aware of itself and thats still like I AM experience

(10:57 PM) Thusness:    that is why it is described that way, awareness aware of itself and as itself.

(10:57 PM) AEN:            but you also said I AM people sink to a background?

(10:57 PM) Thusness:    yes

(10:57 PM) AEN:            sinking to background = background becoming foreground?

(10:58 PM) Thusness:    that is why i said it is misunderstood. and we treat that as ultimate.

(10:58 PM) AEN:            icic but what hokai described is also nondual experience rite

(10:58 PM) Thusness:    I have told you many times that the experience is right but the understanding is wrong. that is why it is an insight and opening of the wisdom eyes. there is nothing wrong with the experience of I AM". did i say that there is anything wrong with it?

(10:59 PM) AEN:            nope

(10:59 PM) Thusness:    even in stage 4 what did I say?

(11:00 PM) AEN:            its the same experience except in sound, sight, etc

(11:00 PM) Thusness:    sound as the exact same experience as "I AM"... as presence.

(11:00 PM) AEN:            icic

(11:00 PM) Thusness:    yes”

“"I AM" is a luminous thought in samadhi as I-I.  Anatta is a realization of that in extending the insight to the 6 entries and exits.” – John Tan, 2018

Excerpt from (a must read!) No Awareness Does Not Mean Non-Existence of Awareness :


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

can you deny Witnessing?

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

(11:16 PM) AEN:    no

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

how could you deny your very own existence?

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

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

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

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

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

what is meant by non-dual

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

what is being spontaneous

what is the 'impersonality' aspect

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

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


 PM) Thusness:    in later phase, when you experience non-dual, there is 

still this tendency to focus on a background... and that will prevent ur

 progress into the direct insight into the TATA as described in the tata

 article. ( ) 

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

(11:23 PM) AEN:    non dual?

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

(11:24 PM) AEN:    oic..

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


 PM) Thusness:    vividness into transience, feeling what i called 'the 

texture and fabric' of Awareness as forms is very important

then come emptiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(10:48 PM) AEN:    oic.. lol

(10:49 PM) Thusness:    anatta is no ordinary insight.  When we can reach the 

level of thorough transparency, you will realize the benefits

(10:50 PM) Thusness:    non-conceptuality, clarity, luminosity, transparency, 

openness, spaciousness, thoughtlessness, non-locality...all these 

descriptions become quite meaningless.


Session Start: Sunday, October 19, 2008

(1:01 PM) Thusness: Yes

(1:01 PM) Thusness: Actually practice is not to deny this 'Jue' (awareness) 

(6:11 PM) Thusness: the way you explained as if 'there is no Awareness'.

(6:11 PM) Thusness: People at times mistaken what you are trying to convey.but to correctly understand this 'jue' so that it can be experienced from all  moments effortlessly.

(1:01 PM) Thusness: But when a  practitioner heard that it is not 'IT', they immediately began to worry  because it is their most precious state.

(1:01 PM) Thusness: All the phases written is about this 'Jue' or Awareness.

(1:01 PM) Thusness: However what Awareness really is isn't correctly experienced.

(1:01PM) Thusness: Because it isn't correctly experienced, we say that 'Awareness that you try to keep' does not exist in such a way.

(1:01 PM) Thusness: It does not mean there is no Awareness.”


Do note that John Tan never denied the ‘I AM realization’ but only pointed out that it should be realized to be not an ultimate background. If you have read the Amness article you would have seen this passage:

When consciousness experiences the pure sense of “I AM”, overwhelmed by the transcendental thoughtless moment of Beingness, consciousness clings to that experience as its purest identity. By doing so, it subtly creates a ‘watcher’ and fails to see that the ‘Pure Sense of Existence’ is nothing but an aspect of pure consciousness relating to the thought realm. This in turn serves as the karmic condition that prevents the experience of pure consciousness that arises from other sense-objects. Extending it to the other senses, there is hearing without a hearer and seeing without a seer -- the experience of Pure Sound-Consciousness is radically different from Pure Sight-Consciousness. Sincerely, if we are able to give up ‘I’ and replace it with “Emptiness Nature”, Consciousness is experienced as non-local. There isn't a state that is purer than the other. All is just One Taste, the manifold of Presence.


Update 17/7/2021 with more quotes:

The Absolute as separated from the transience is what I have indicated as the 'Background' in my 2 posts to theprisonergreco.

    84. RE: Is there an absolute reality? [Skarda 4 of 4]

    Mar 27 2009, 9:15 AM EDT | Post edited: Mar 27 2009, 9:15 AM EDT

    Hi theprisonergreco,

    First is what exactly is the ‘background’? Actually it doesn’t exist. It is only an image of a ‘non-dual’ experience that is already gone. The dualistic mind fabricates a ‘background’ due to the poverty of its dualistic and inherent thinking mechanism. It ‘cannot’ understand or function without something to hold on to. That experience of the ‘I’ is a complete, non-dual foreground experience.

    When the background subject is understood as an illusion, all transience phenomena reveal themselves as Presence. It is like naturally 'vipassanic' throughout. From the hissing sound of PC, to the vibration of the moving MRT train, to the sensation when the feet touches the ground, all these experiences are crystal clear, no less “I AM” than “I AM”. The Presence is still fully present, nothing is denied. -:) So the “I AM” is just like any other experiences when the subject-object split is gone. No different from an arising sound. It only becomes a static background as an after thought when our dualistic and inherent tendencies are in action.

    The first 'I-ness' stage of experiencing awareness face to face is like a point on a sphere which you called it the center. You marked it.

    Then later you realized that when you marked other points on the surface of a sphere, they have the same characteristics. This is the initial experience of non-dual. Once the insight of No-Self is stabilized, you just freely point to any point on the surface of the sphere -- all points are a center, hence there is no 'the' center. 'The' center does not exist: all points are a center.

    After then practice move from 'concentrative' to 'effortlessness'. That said, after this initial non-dual insight, 'background' will still surface occasionally for another few years due to latent tendencies...

    86. RE: Is there an absolute reality? [Skarda 4 of 4]

    Mar 27 2009, 11:59 AM EDT | Post edited: Mar 27 2009, 11:59 AM EDT

    To be more exact, the so called 'background' consciousness is that pristine happening. There is no a 'background' and a 'pristine happening'. During the initial phase of non-dual, there is still habitual attempt to 'fix' this imaginary split that does not exist. It matures when we realized that anatta is a seal, not a stage; in hearing, always only sounds; in seeing always only colors, shapes and forms; in thinking, always only thoughts. Always and already so. -:)

Many non-dualists after the intuitive insight of the Absolute hold tightly to the Absolute. This is like attaching to a point on the surface of a sphere and calling it 'the one and only center'. Even for those Advaitins that have clear experiential insight of no-self (no object-subject split), an experience similar to that of anatta (First emptying of subject) are not spared from these tendencies. They continue to sink back to a Source.

It is natural to reference back to the Source when we have not sufficiently dissolved the latent disposition but it must be correctly understood for what it is. Is this necessary and how could we rest in the Source when we cannot even locate its whereabout? Where is that resting place? Why sink back? Isn't that another illusion of the mind? The 'Background' is just a thought moment to recall or an attempt to reconfirm the Source. How is this necessary? Can we even be a thought moment apart? The tendency to grasp, to solidify experience into a 'center' is a habitual tendency of the mind at work. It is just a karmic tendency. Realize It! This is what I meant to Adam the difference between One-Mind and No-Mind.

- John Tan, 2009

- Emptiness as Viewless View and Embracing the Transience


Also, here’s another excerpt from the AtR guide:

In the I AM phase the spacious all-pervading aspect of Presence is reified into a static background, while in the further phase of anatta, the space-like, boundless field of consciousness/universe is experienced and realized to be the foreground without being abstracted and reified into a background.

“Hi AEN,

Yes not to be fixated but also not to objectify the “spaciousness” otherwise “spaciousness” is no less fixated.  The ‘space’ appears appealing only to a mind that abstracts but to a fully participating and involving mind, such “spaciousness” has immediately sets itself apart, distancing itself from inseparable.  Emptiness is never a behind background but a fully partaking foreground manifesting as the arising and passing phenomena absence of a center. Therefore understand ‘spaciousness’ not like sky but like passing clouds and flowing water, manifesting whenever condition is.  If ‘Emptiness’ has made us more fixated and immobilized this innate freedom of our non-dual luminosity, then it is ‘stubborn emptiness’.

Nevertheless, no matter what said, it is always inadequate. If we want to fully realize the inexpressible, be willing to give up all centers and point of references that manifests in the form of ‘who’, ‘when’ and ‘where’.  Just give up the entire sense of self then instantly all things are spontaneously perfected.

Just a sharing, nothing intense.

Happy New Year! :)

There is no lack of clarity in whatever that is manifesting, simply forgo the self and be fully participating.” - John Tan, 2009

“Therefore the so called "Clear Aware Space" is no more special than this moment of arising sound or passing scent.  The failure to recognize that all apparent arising and passing transience is non other than the Dharmakaya is the problem of all problems.

When a pith instruction like “Relax and fully open to whatever is” is taught to a mind that is still under strong influence of dualistic tendencies, it is easy for such a mind to read  and practice in the form of clinging to the “Aware Space” and shunting away from the transience, thereby setting itself infinitely apart unknowingly.

If however there is maturity of insight that whatever arises share the same taste -- luminous yet empty (via twofold emptiness), then practice is naturally and simply unreserved opening to whatever is, it cannot be otherwise.  There can be no movement, duality and preference from this to that for there is no ‘this’ that is more ‘this’ than that.  

With clear recognition and unperturbed practice of complete unreserved opening to whatever is, all transience will reveal to posses the same taste of non-dual samadhi and self-liberation that we once thought to be the monopoly of the so called “Clear Aware Space”.

It is therefore advisable that after the direct experience and realization of the pure sense of existence, a practitioner further penetrates anatta and the empty nature of phenomena.  These insights are necessary and should not be considered “long cut”.  It will help a practitioner better appreciate the art of great ease in time to come.

My 2 cents.

The degree of “un-contrivance”,
Is the degree of how unreserved and fearless we open to whatever is.
For whatever arises is mind, always seen, heard, tasted and experienced.
What that is not seen, not heard and not experienced,
Is our conceptual idea of what mind is.

Whenever we objectify the “brilliance, the pristine-ness” into an entity that is formless,
It becomes an object of grasp that prevents the seeing of the “forms”,
the texture and the fabric of awareness.
The tendency to objectify is subtle,
we let go of 'selfness' yet unknowingly grasped ‘nowness’ and ‘hereness’.
Whatever arises merely dependently originates, needless of who, where and when.

All experiences are equal, luminous yet empty of self-nature.
Though empty it has not in anyway denied its vivid luminosity.

Liberation is experiencing mind as it is.
Self-Liberation is the thorough insight that this liberation is always and already is;
Spontaneously present, naturally perfected!” – John Tan to Mr. J, 2012


Lastly, here’s a conversation from over a decade ago:

Session Start: Wednesday, 5 November, 2008

(5:17 PM) AEN: hi.. did u read the email i sent on self liberation?

(5:18 PM) AEN: btw i went to library just now and read the book 'transpersonal knowing' a bit, the one where the self liberation article and also another author that talked about centered and decenetered

(5:19 PM) AEN: i tink i going to get it.. hehe

(5:20 PM) AEN: btw fred j. hanna mentioned a fourth substage of decentered stage... he said

(5:21 PM) Thusness has changed his/her status to Idle

(5:23 PM) AEN: Initiated a file transfer

(5:23 PM) AEN: ...I would like to add that there seems to be no evidence for the popular ideas of th Universal Self and the Universal Will. In younger days, I was once very fond of such characterizations. These are attractive ideas but arise from dependence on self and ind. In other words, such concepts are conceptually "pretty" in that they are harmonious, symmetrical, and balanced with great intellectual and conceptual appeal. Much like certain religious beliefs, they even bring a certain amount of comfort. However, they actually represent the concept-forming activities of the mind, warned against by Huang Po and so many others. concepts as these and others such as cosmic evolution makes good sense at earlier stages, but as the self becomes dismantled and the mind divested, such concepts lose their atractiveness, become less important, and are spontaneously abandoned.

(5:23 PM) AEN: Initiated a file transfer

(5:23 PM) Thusness has changed his/her status to Online

(5:23 PM) AEN:

In any case, this state of "willess activity" lasted for approximately a year, and once again, even though it diminished there was another new plateau that had been achieved. For the first time since I began my quest, I did no sitting meditation during that year. My meditation was now done spontaneously and in the moment as life presented itself. I had no illusions, however, I knew that there was much more work to do. I had been aroun te meditative block too many times to get fooled again. After the glow wore off I found myself meditating once more on the will and other new ares that needed attention.

(5:23 PM) AEN: But that center has not returned. There is no center of consciousness anymore and that feels quite natural and appropriate. It is hard to remember what it was like to have one. To experience the lapse of a self under healthy circumstnaces is, paradoxically, to understand what it means to be a normal human being, that is, "true normal." Indeed the more the meditation and growth continue, the more normal and insignificant this person becomes. It is quite liberating to be rid of this needless signifiance.

(5:23 PM) AEN:

Seeing Consciousness Arise out of Nothing

As of this writing, I am still quite in the midle of the Decentered Stage, and the meaning of true normal  continues to unfold. A fourth substage manifested recently while meditating on consciousness itself. This meditation can be described as following or tracing consciousnes back to its origin point, well beyond ind and perception of the world. I was doing this exercise as a result of the influence of Zen. There came a point at which, amazingly enough, I saw that consciousness itself is actually quite substantial, much more so than t void or sunyata. And as the void,

(5:23 PM) AEN: I saw consciousness itself coming into being out of noting at all. In some deep chamber of inner life, I saw it there, springing from the eternal dialectic between absolute sometingness and absolute nothingness, and arising as the wondrous compromise between the two. consciousness actually appeared as a gossamer substance, alive and fluiid, aware, pure, and somehow clean and "innocent." The wholly astonishing aspect was that consciousness, that which does seeing, was actually being seen and watched, as both subject and object. lease believe me when I say that I know this makes no sense at all. I am only reporting what seemed to me to happen. Perhaps equally strange, I also felt released from consciousness, with a resulting sense of being unburdened and somehow freed.

(5:24 PM) AEN: There was no "I" in this experience, only the void itself. A deep certainty arose that the void is not consciousness but encompasses consciousness as it does everything else. I know that this flies directly in the face of popular ranspersonal writings, for there we find consciousness florified and exalted as teh supreme, ultimate, perfect, utmost, transcendent reality. Not so to this iveinvestigator. It is wonderfully freeing to be released from this limiting perspective. Paradoxically, it seems that even transcendental consciousness has its limits. This insight taught me to appreciate Zen more than ever. I should also mention that the efect was largely temporary but the leson lives on.

(5:24 PM) AEN: is he talking something like stage 3?

(5:25 PM) AEN: and then towards the end of the article theres a summary

(5:25 PM) AEN:



A Summary of the Stages and Substages

The Precentered Stage

The Precentered Stage begins with the first experience of being centered. It is only the beginning. Some persons have many transcedent experiences and never get past this stage. Continued practice in the Precentered Sttage produces t insights that lead to becoming centered and the stability that comes with it.

Substage 1: Precenterednes begins with a glimpse of a transcendent reality beyond ordinary perception of hte world and mundane cognitive processes. The reality glimpsed is recognized as being beyond ordinary subject/object distinctions.

Substage 2: Merging with the transcendental reality to the point of full identification with it. Once again, this involves transcending the world of phenomena and moving beyond subject/object distinctions.

(5:25 PM) AEN: Initiated a file transfer

(5:25 PM) AEN:

The Centered Stage

At this stage a person intuitively understands the meaning of the term "pure consciousnes." Consciousness is understood as the center, focus, and origin of reality. It is seen  as separate from mind and self, which serve only allow and debase its pure character and quality. Consciousness is established in itself, freed from psychopathology, and  ultimately tiedto transcnedental reality.

Substage 1: Consciousness is established as the center, largely free of mind and reactions. This is not to say that reactions do not take place, only that consciousness is  ever observant and aware of the tides, flows, and eddies of mental processes and emotions. Put a bit differently, it might be said that consciousness exits or is released to  some degree from the "shell" of one's personality.

(5:25 PM) AEN:

Substage 2: Consciousnes becomes integrated, settled, and established in itself with no need for mental ideas or constructions as props and supports. It is liberated from  being chronically absorbed or lost in mental processes, including personality issues and structures. consciousnss is seen as separate from mind, more primal than mind, and as  absolute. It can also master and change any construction of mind, although not its total master.

Substage 3: The center expands outward and stabilizes as extended being. consciousness is no longer and never again experienced as a central point confined to being within the  sull. There is now a continuous sense of size or grand spaciousness that becomes a part of one's being.

The Decentered Stage

(5:25 PM) AEN:

In the Decentered Stage the center beigns to corrode or decompose as if from within. The self begins to literally disappear not only in transcendent experiences but in  everyday life -- which begins to become more and more transcendent. the "i" becomes les pronounced.

Substage 1: centeredness begins to break down as a result of the decomposition of confining self-structurs. This process results in a not unpleasant lack of lack of a sense of  center, which is now replaced by a sese of mildly pleasant disorganization.

Substage 2: The self is clearly seen as a defense against or a haven fro th stark reality of the void, and as a wound in te fiber of one's being. The self fades in and out for  short periods of time leaving a lack of category distinctions in everyday life. During times when t self is faded out, there is a recognition of a luminous, pervasive  awareness of the void as primordial and what all things are.

(5:25 PM) AEN:

Substage 3: The center ceases to exist, along with a sense of self. There is an almost paalpable chasm or gap where once there was a self. Unlike fading in and fading out,  this is a revolution at th center of awareness -- a metamorphosis. An essential core of th self is removed and is joyousuly replaced by the void.

Substage 4: Consciosuness itself is seen, in and by the void, coming into being. For the first time, consciousness seems almost substantial and limtited by comparison to the  void. one is momentarily freed fro mconsciosunes.

Substage 5: No inkling, no clue. There remains much, much more to learn. 

(5:32 PM) Thusness: The stages are okie to me but the insight is still not there.

(5:33 PM) Thusness: despite the fact that there is the awareness of the importance of being 'decentered', the true insight and essence of no-self isn't there yet.

(5:33 PM) AEN: oic..

(5:33 PM) AEN: what does he mean by entering void.. is it something like that stage 3 kind of experience?

(5:33 PM) Thusness: being transparent

(5:33 PM) Thusness: that is luminosity as the void.

(5:34 PM) AEN: but he said its beyond consciousness

(5:34 PM) Thusness: there is no problem experiencing as this void.

(5:34 PM) Thusness: just the non-dual understanding isn't there.

(5:34 PM) Thusness: this is because phenomena & void remains dual.

(5:34 PM) AEN: oic..

(5:35 PM) Thusness: That is he 'sees' a particular aspect of our pristine nature but is unable to go beyond analysis of the experience and that prevents him from experiencing the texture and fabric of awareness.

(5:36 PM) AEN: icic..

(5:36 PM) Thusness: phenomena is just an appearance that dependently originates when condition is.

(5:36 PM) Thusness: and this is what Awareness is.

(5:37 PM) Thusness: What he 'sees' is still with a center.

(5:37 PM) Thusness: that center now has become the 'void'

(5:37 PM) AEN: oic..

(5:37 PM) Thusness: in actual case, there is only appearance.

(5:38 PM) Thusness: the void was created due to the inability to go beyond dualistic more of understanding.

(5:38 PM) Thusness: mode

(5:38 PM) Thusness: Therefore there is no real experience of liberation.

(5:38 PM) Thusness: the void is what that 'bond' him.

(5:39 PM) AEN: icic..

(5:40 PM) AEN: oh ya btw did u read the article i sent u by john welwood

(5:40 PM) Thusness: not yet

(5:40 PM) Thusness: ????,???? (Seeing form is to apprehending Mind, hearing sound is the Tao/Way) 

(5:40 PM) Thusness: there is no need to experience 'void'

(5:40 PM) AEN: oic..

(5:40 PM) Thusness: all in ?,? (sights, sounds)

(5:41 PM) AEN: icic..

(5:42 PM) Thusness: all in ?,?,?,?,?,? (sights, sounds, smells, taste, touch, thought)

(5:42 PM) Thusness: seeing this is seeing our Buddha nature.

(5:42 PM) Thusness: only due to our empty nature manifestations appear diverse.

(5:43 PM) Thusness: it is not knowing our empty nature that 'void' is seen to be really existing.

(5:43 PM) Thusness: what exists is just appearances

(5:43 PM) Thusness: this is luminous yet empty.

(5:44 PM) AEN: oic..

(5:45 PM) Thusness: It is not that we are stubborn that we can't accept the existence of the 'void'

(5:45 PM) Thusness: the 'Void' must be understood correctly

(5:45 PM) AEN: icic... wat is the 'void'

(5:45 PM) Thusness: it is an assumed 'space' that arise only in 'thinking and analysiing'

(5:46 PM) Thusness: it is a 'mind space' made believe to exist and appears to exist only during introspection.

(5:46 PM) Thusness: What truly exists experientially is just the 18 dhatus.

(5:47 PM) AEN: oic..

(5:47 PM) Thusness: it is still the cause of dualism and dualism causes separation which is the root cause of suffering.

(5:48 PM) Thusness: There is no true spontaneity and effortlessness when we are still dualistic.

(5:48 PM) AEN: the assumed 'space' is the cause of dualism u mean?

(5:49 PM) Thusness: it is not the cause of dualism

(5:49 PM) AEN: what is the cause of dualism

(5:49 PM) Thusness: the tendency to divide is the cause

(5:49 PM) Thusness: that tendency to divide can manifest as 'space', 'void', 'Self'

(5:50 PM) AEN: oic..

(5:55 PM) Thusness has changed his/her status to Idle

(6:01 PM) AEN: john welwood speaks of different levels of practice. in summary: "If we use the analogy of awareness as a mirror, prereflective identification is like being captivated by and lost in the reflections appearing in the mirror. Reflection involves stepping back from these appearances, studying them, and developing a more objective relationship with them. And transreflective presence presence is like being the mirror itself -- that vast, illuminating openness and clarity that allows reality to be seen as what it is. In pure presence, awareness is self-illuminating, or aware of itself without objectification. The mirror simply abides in its own nature, without either separating from its reflections or confusing itself with them. Negative reflections do not stain the mirror, positive reflections do not improve on it. They are all the mirror's self-illuminating display."

(6:05 PM) Thusness has changed his/her status to Online

(6:06 PM) Thusness: good.

(6:06 PM) Thusness: The fact is the mirror is and always is just an analogy.  It is never is really a reflection.

(6:07 PM) Thusness: it is a reflection because our DO nature is not seen and therefore we can't 'see' that Awareness is always so.

(6:08 PM) Thusness: We see 'Awareness' according to certain 'definition' and is affected by that definition.  That 'definition' is not what Awareness is and all analogies become fault.

(6:08 PM) AEN: icic..


Session Start: Wednesday, 17 December, 2008

(9:49 PM) Thusness: Sense of self and sense of beingness is different

(9:51 PM) Thusness: Wisdom of our nature includes the ability to know the difference

(9:51 PM) AEN: oic..

(9:51 PM) Thusness: yes i read what he wrote.  

(9:52 PM) AEN: longchen? ic..

(9:52 PM) Thusness: yes in the morning.

(9:53 PM) AEN: oic..

(9:54 PM) Thusness: the other article about great freedom is also not bad.

(9:54 PM) AEN: icic..

(9:57 PM) AEN: btw wats the difference between 'now' and spontaneous arising.. to remain in 'now' doesnt mean there's no sense of self isit? and there's still the sense of effort to achieve or sustain the state

(10:00 PM) Thusness: 'Now' is a concept for what they really want to convey is a direct experience of a sense of presence.

(10:00 PM) Thusness: spontaneous arising is different.  It relates to 'effortlessness'.

(10:02 PM) Thusness: it relates to the direct experience of what liberation is.

(10:02 PM) AEN: oic..

(10:07 PM) AEN: u said travis post is still 'i am'... is cos he still cant differentiate sense of self and beingness?

(10:07 PM) Thusness: what they want to bring across to the readers is to tell them not to lost themselves in stories so that they missed the direct experience of 'Presence'.

(10:07 PM) Thusness: This is just the first step.

(10:08 PM) AEN: icic..

(10:09 PM) Thusness: Stressing the importance of 'Now' has no other purpose other than that.

(10:09 PM) Thusness: What longchen said is a more important truth.  

(10:09 PM) AEN: oic..

(10:10 PM) AEN: but spontaneous manifestation can only occur after insight rite?

(10:10 PM) Thusness: not exactly

(10:10 PM) Thusness: it always occur

(10:11 PM) Thusness: it is just that it is not realised

(10:11 PM) AEN: icic..

(10:11 PM) Thusness: now when the article from 'Great Freedom' said, the space is Awareness and what that arise is also Awareness.  How do u understand it?

(10:13 PM) AEN: thats non duality rite?

(10:14 PM) Thusness: To me it is non-dual but not buddhism sort of understanding.

(10:14 PM) Thusness: Therefore it does not the sort of insight I hope u can achieve.

(10:15 PM) AEN: oic..

(10:15 PM) AEN: wats the difference

(10:16 PM) Thusness: Yes what is the different?

(10:16 PM) AEN: they still treat awareness as an unchanging background?

(10:16 PM) Thusness: not actually that for this case

(10:17 PM) Thusness: obviously they also treat whatever arise as Awareness.

(10:17 PM) Thusness: They problem is the in the depth of clarity.

(10:18 PM) Thusness: There are several hurdles here.

(10:18 PM) Thusness: First is the experience of a pure sense of existence (Presence) from a state free from 'thoughts'

(10:19 PM) Thusness: an almost thoughtless state

(10:19 PM) Thusness: then there is also the experience of non-duality

(10:19 PM) AEN: icic..

(10:20 PM) Thusness: that is a state similar to what Ken Wilber experienced

(10:20 PM) Thusness: There is inability to break-through the 'bond' of dualism.

(10:22 PM) Thusness: The perpetual referencing back prevents the depth of 'seeing' despite the non-dual experience.

(10:22 PM) AEN: oic..

(10:22 PM) AEN: referencing back to a self or background?

(10:23 PM) Thusness: it is not that he wants the background, it is because the dualistic tendency

(10:24 PM) AEN: btw self inquiry can lead to a thoughtless state of presence rite? yesterday was practicing self inquiry until suddenly its like i have almost no thought already... just a sense of presence... then suddenly i enter into a v blissful state for i tink 1 or 2 minute

(10:24 PM) AEN: oic..

(10:24 PM) Thusness: yes

(10:26 PM) Thusness: this pure sense of existence cannot 'blind' us from seeing sight, sound, taste and other arising phenomenon as Presence

(10:26 PM) AEN: icic..

(10:27 PM) Thusness: once u let that blind u, u can't experience anatta completely

(10:27 PM) Thusness: the next natural development is to have the glimpse of what Ken Wilber experiences... u need vivid experience of that

(10:27 PM) AEN: i didnt remember experience sight or sound or taste... instead it feels like void... but theres presence

(10:28 PM) AEN: icic

(10:28 PM) Thusness: then confusion steps in whenever u try to make sense out of these 2 experiences

(10:28 PM) Thusness: the problem is with our dualistic mode of understanding things

(10:28 PM) Thusness: despite the experiences, we still cannot understand it correctly

(10:29 PM) Thusness: until we become clear of anatta then prajna insight arises

(10:30 PM) Thusness: Once we accept anatta and DO as the right understanding of these experiences, we began to experience clearer and less effort is needed

(10:31 PM) Thusness: Once we clearly see that the 5 aggregates are already non-dual, we no more preserve that 'state' of pure existence

(10:31 PM) Thusness: the 'effort' to sustain a particular state disappear

(10:32 PM) AEN: oic..

(10:32 PM) Thusness: yet that is not the exhaustive even insight arises

(10:32 PM) AEN: huh?

(10:33 PM) Thusness: like when we faced adverse situations, non-dual is gone as in the case of longchen.  

(10:33 PM) Thusness: when in dream states also

(10:34 PM) AEN: oic.. ya longchen said he only experience non dual when he is near the end of the dream, and in the waking state

(10:34 PM) Thusness: not yet

(10:34 PM) AEN: oic wat u mean

(10:34 PM) AEN: he haven experience it in dream?

(10:37 PM) Thusness: not only that...

(10:38 PM) Thusness: i mean spontaneous manifestation is only correctly understood when we clearly see that there is no 'center', no 'self' from the anatta perspective

(10:38 PM) Thusness: that is, there is thoughts, no thinker

(10:38 PM) AEN: oic..

(10:39 PM) Thusness: means there is always only thoughts

(10:39 PM) Thusness: then we can begin to understand DO.

(10:39 PM) AEN: icic..

(10:39 PM) Thusness: always only Sound, no hearer

(10:40 PM) Thusness: understand spontaneous arising this way and understand DO from this experience.

(10:40 PM) AEN: oic..

(10:42 PM) Thusness: after absolute and effortless clarity of these experiences, when dealing with adverse situations, that non-dual experiences can still be gone.

(10:42 PM) Thusness: that is practice

(10:42 PM) AEN: icic..

(10:43 PM) Thusness: then we will begin to realise DO in a deeper aspect

(10:43 PM) Thusness: and the strength of the 'bond'

(10:43 PM) AEN: oic..

(10:44 PM) Thusness: but first the pure sense of existence

(10:44 PM) Thusness: then non-dual experience

(10:44 PM) AEN: icic..

(10:44 PM) AEN: btw earlier u said travis experience is still 'i am'.. isit bcos he cant distinguish beingness from sense of self?

(10:45 PM) Thusness: u must continue to practice letting go.

(10:45 PM) AEN: oic..

(10:46 PM) Thusness: to understand Travis experience, u must have the 'Oneness' experience 

(10:47 PM) Thusness: stripping 'personality' from experiences

(10:47 PM) AEN: icic..

(10:48 PM) Thusness: that is, u non-dual need not arise, but that stripping of 'personality' from experiences must arise

(10:48 PM) Thusness: it is also an important experience.

(10:48 PM) Thusness: then with a lil extrapolation, u come out that sort of conclusion.

(10:49 PM) Thusness: because will 'personality' is being stripped off from every moment of experience, an 'inherent essence' is not

(10:50 PM) Thusness: that bond of 'inherent essence' causes Travis to extrapolate and lead him to that understanding.

(10:51 PM) AEN: oic..

(10:52 PM) Thusness: i mean 'because while' 'personality' is being stripped off from every moment of experience, the aspect of  'inherent essence' is not

(10:52 PM) AEN: icic..

(10:53 PM) AEN: btw he had nondual experience rite?

(10:53 PM) Thusness: yes

(10:53 PM) Thusness: just that the insight of anatta does not arise.

(10:53 PM) AEN: oic..

(10:53 PM) Thusness: what i want u to experience is anatta

(10:55 PM) AEN: icic..

(10:57 PM) Thusness: now when u hear 'sound', do u feel like the 'sound' out there?

(10:59 PM) AEN: ya

(11:00 PM) AEN: it's a bond to the body/mind rite? like a sense of being 'in here'

(11:01 PM) AEN: but if i just listen attentively it becomes less distinct i tink

(11:02 PM) Thusness is now Online

(11:13 PM) AEN: u saw my msg?

(11:16 PM) Thusness: Nope 

(11:18 PM) AEN: oh i said

(11:18 PM) AEN: AEN      says:


AEN      says:

it's a bond to the body/mind rite? like a sense of being 'in here'

AEN      says:

but if i just listen attentively it becomes less distinct i tink

(11:21 PM) Thusness: seldom does it occur to us that it is due to our dualistic mode of perception as the main cause 

(11:21 PM) AEN: as the main cause of?

(11:22 PM) Thusness: of making us feel so 

(11:23 PM) Thusness: However there r other conditions that complicate our experience 

(11:24 PM) AEN: oic..

(11:24 PM) AEN: what other conditions

(11:24 PM) Thusness: That is the 'body' and the 'external conditions' 

(11:26 PM) AEN: icic..

(11:31 PM) Thusness: Now u have read, taught and the sutra to refer to, how is it that u still feel so? 

(11:32 PM) Thusness: U have so much faith in Buddha, why is it that u r unable to directly feel the truth of anatta? 

(11:32 PM) AEN: due to bond or the dualistic mode of perception?

(11:35 PM) Thusness: therefore know the subtlety and strength of this bond.  It is much stronger then the sum of all ur faith and practices 

(11:38 PM) AEN: oic..