This blog is about spiritual awakening, maps and stages, the blinding effects of our strong momentum/conditioning (karmic propensities), view, realization, experience, etc. If you're new here, I recommend going through the 'Must Reads' articles (see sidebar). For discussions you are welcome to join my Facebook group, or my forum.
Even more anatta stuff! By Bill F in DhO. He's here too but never posts.
I relate to a lot of AEN's descriptions and stages. There are some that
I can see on the intellectual level, but I can't honestly say that I
have realized deeply in a way that has permanently shifted experience,
particularly stage 7 (http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/…/thusnesss-six-stag…). I'm feeling tired and lazy, but for the sake of comparison, here goes:
I had worked within the fold of the pragmatic dharma scene for a while.
Shortly prior to stream entry it became evident that what I had called
"me", this backdrop upon which all experience seemed to reflect and
hinge, was not solid and durable, but was instead a composite built from
causes and conditions in the field of experience. After stream entry it
became impossible to solidify around this idea of an eternal, solid
"me", but habitual patterns of thought and reaction could lead to
thoughts and behavior not aligned with this insight.
path in the pragmatic dharma model it became clear to me that external
phenomena in the form of thoughts, mental impressions, sights, sounds,
etc. could not be separated into things with inherent solidity. I could
look at a face and see it as a fluxing pattern of nondistinct,
vividness. I was working with the elderly at the time and the beauty of
their faces, and wrinkles was really amazing. This insight is not
perfected, perhaps it never will be, but the general pattern is that it
continues to infuse more and more areas of experience.
As a point
of comparison, having seen the empty nature of self at stream entry, or
perhaps even before, does not mean that you will never again think a
sentence with the word "I" or constrict around a personal attack. If
you've been driving one hundred miles per hour for ten, twenty, or forty
years and you suddenly slam the breaks the momentum of the previous
years will continue to effect the movement of the car. The next phases
in my practice involved a further shift into what zen refers to as One
Mind. Alex Weith in his excellent piece on the Bahiya Sutta -Bahiya-
writes the following of this phase: "One Mind has often been compared to
a bright mirror that reflects phenomena and yet remains untouched by
appearances. As discussed with one of Sheng-yen's first Western
students, this One Mind is still an illusion. One is not anymore
identified to the self-center, ego and personality, yet one (the man) is
still holding to pure non-dual awareness (the ox). Having tamed the ox,
the ox-herder must let go of the ox (ox forgotten) and then forget
himself and the ox (ox and man forgotten). The problem is that we still
maintain a subtle duality between what we know ourself to be, a pure
non-dual awareness that is not a thing, and our daily existence often
marked by self-contractions. Hoping to get more and more identified with
pure non-dual awareness, we may train concentration, try to hold on to
the event of awakening reifying an experience, or rationalize the whole
thing to conclude that self-contraction is not a problem and that
suffering is not suffering because our true nature is ultimately beyond
suffering. This explains why I got stuck in what Zen calls "stagnating
waters" for about a year. " (http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/…/zen-exploration…)
One of the more interesting aspects of this phase is that cycling
between the nanas that before seemed a major problem, no longer seemed
to be a problem. It was as though some physical instability that had
been driving practice for me for those years (five at the time of this
phase) seemed gone. Two of the major pragmatic dharma teachers diagnosed
me as fourth path at this point, but in truth, I did not find my
ongoing experience to match up to Daniel's description of 4th path
until several months later. During the next several months I would
occasionally have experiences where any sense of an internal observer
just vanished. My consistent experience was still that of the non-solid
Watcher, empty but in some way separate and reflecting on other empty
phenomena. But then suddenly the watcher would be gone, and there would
just be experience experiencing itself vividly, no doer, or watcher,
simply the sensations manifesting as themselves at all sense doors. Each
time I would come out of this state there would be a sense of anxiety,
particularly as these experiences began to increase in consistency and
duration. Then one day I was walking the dog General R.I.P and I
experienced the vanishing of the observer, but with the realization that
there had never been a separate observer, dual or non-dual, no watcher,
no Self, or self. Experience spoke for itself without any residual
observation point. Even self-referential thinking was seen to occur
without a landscape from which it projected or landed onto. I documented
that experience, and the fall out here, towards the bottom of the page,
on January 29: Bill'sNotes (http://kennethfolkdharma.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=36)
More than anything else I had experienced this changed the nature of
how I understood everything that had happened before and it totally
destroyed any sense of my being a meditatior or on a spiritual path or
any of that. That being said, I still practice daily for 2-3 hours, but
practice is perhaps the wrong word as that implies efforting towards a
goal. Things continue to change and deepen and infuse new areas. I went
through a dramatic deepening a couple weeks ago, but nothing new was
really revealed, just an increase in clarity and immediacy.
aside, I can't know for sure that what I'm writing about/experienced is
what AEN and Thusness are writing about. I am just sharing my own
experience, and it may not correspond exactly so I'm not making
definitive notes as a representative of Thusness and AEN's
I am glad these things are
being discussed. I think an important point would be that just because
one is no longer priviledging non-dual experience as being an ultimate
reality does not mean that one is prohibited from acting in a way
towards living a good life. In my experience, when the idea of the
spiritual and Awareness and Ultimate Reality fell away, I was
devastated. It was as though what had given my life meaning for so many
years had suddenly been taken away, and I had no way to account for all
the hours I'd spent practicing, nor the way I had held certain states or
practices or insights as being special. It really and truly broke my
heart. I could not practice for a while, or even really think about it,
as I had no way to configure this new understanding with the way I had
constructed practice and life before. That was a bout a year. It was in
some ways very dark, and yet I couldn't feel that bad about it somehow.
Gradually I returned to practice, but with a new sense of freedom.
Without being tied to ideas of non-duality, self/no self, I was more or
less free to pursue whatever I wanted. This might be the brahma viharas.
It might be the jhanas. It might be therapy. Or relationships. I might
choose to spend a couple hours a day walking outside and not practice at
One question that comes up for me is this: Having had a
similar experience, how can I be sure that I am not now just creating
another model? In other words, the stage of reifying a Super Awareness
or Non-duality or whatever it might be, is just the stage before the
stage of seeing through all that, and in what ways am I currently
cutting myself off from further development? Just some food for thought
I don't know
that there's much there I don't agree with. I do think you are
projecting onto me ideas that are not being put forth. All I was stating
was that the belief in awareness separate from phenomena, is itself an
experience, not to be priviliged, and it is flimsy.
certain point in practice it seemed to me that all of my experience,
though empty, was being experienced through the filter of empty, lucid,
awareness. At a certain point (January 2012) Awareness as Self, Watcher,
Primordial Reality, or whatever term we use or don't use to designate a
backdrop or landscape for reality that contains that reality, was seen
through. It became apparent that that experience of Awareness was simply
another appearance, undivided, not happening on any landscape or with
any backdrop or source. It was simply the experience and the possibility
that it reflected onto something or was born from something was seen to
be impossible. The idea of Awareness as backdrop is simply the idea of
Awareness as backdrop. It is not symbolic of anything else. The same
could be said for the sense of identity. The experience of I or non-self
is simply that, with nothing attached, signifying neither the absence
of identity nor a separate self who experiences. The sense of self, the
sense of awareness, the sense of reflective consciousness is immediate
and is not happening against a backdrop, born out of anything, or
landing on anything.
I am not trying to build a new model
out of this realization. As I wrote above it took me time to integrate
this new, and very much unexpected understanding into what I understood
my life and practice to be before it happened. It really and totally put
me into a new and different place than any insight or change in
practice had brought before. After it was integrated there was a great
deal of freedom in not being tied to spiritual ideas, or models. That
being said, I can not see that this insight could not progressively
happen after some reliance and belief on a non-dual backdrop behind
experience, as it is precisely seeing through that that is the
I have been practicing
Mahamudra for the past few weeks in a systematic way using Reggie Ray's
"Mahamudra for the Modern World" as a practical guide. I have also been
practicing a form of metta involving simply tuning into the direct
sensations of the body (using breath as an anchor) and spreading the
feeling of metta through the body. The latter does not involve sending
myself or anyone else metta, just submerging into the pleasurable
directness of the body, and repeating the word "happy" at the beginning
of the out breath. At times the invocation of any word becomes too
cumbersome, and it is enough to just bathe in the comfort of the body.
This feeling has persisted at times throughout the day so that it seems
the practice has begun to take effect on a cellular level. The feeling
is at times that of having a new physical body free from tension so that
the whole body for hours oozes a sense of release. If you have
experienced a deeply pleasant exhale where release seems at the
forefront it is as if the deep tissue of the body is doing that in an
extended and potent way.
Regarding Mahamudra, Reggie Ray in "Secret
of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet" writes, "In the
realization of Mahamudra, each phenomenon stands as a proclamation of
the inseparability of form (mudra) and emptiness (maha). The form aspect
of each phenomenom is the fact that it appears vividly; the emptiness
aspect is that it is beyond concept or imagination." Though for me this
became evident "in real time" consistently at third path such that no
effort was needed to induce the insight, I continue to find variations
in how the depth of what has been seen play out in my life and in my
I spent the last couple of weeks using shamatha to
heighten enjoyableness and clear seeing, and am now mostly in a phase
where I am practicing the somatic metta (not a mahamudra teaching,
though similar to vajrayana tonglen in some ways), shamatha without an
object, and investigating the nature of thoughts.
In the practice
of shamatha without an object one returns again and again to the
undivided, ununified, knowing, natural aspect of reality. Though it is
referred to as the "natural state" or "emptiness of mind" what's left in
the practice is what remains when thoughts that would take one outside
of the direct immediacy of reality have been let go. What remains is the
immediacy of reality, totally at rest. The more I practice in this way
the more evident that direct, restful, non-separate nature of reality
becomes my reality, and the less pull there is from thoughts that, if
grasped onto, obscure this naturalness.
The other practice I
have been useing frequently is the practice of investigating thoughts.
There are a variety of instructions, but basically it begins with
resting in the natural state, allowing thoughts to arise, and
investigating from the innocence of the natural state. In this practice
it becomes apparent that thoughts upon their arising are just blips of
energy, inseparable from naturalness. Writing of Mahamudra using the
analogy of a child visiting a colorful temple, Trungpa Rinpoche writes,
"He sees all kinds of magnificient decorations, displays, rich colors,
vividness of all kinds. But this child has no preconceptions or any
concept whatsoever about to begin to analyze...The experience is all
pervasive. At the same time, it is perhaps somewhat overwhelmingly
pleasurable." There is the experience when practicing in this way of
seeing thoughts as beautiful patterns of energy, arising and dying of
their own accord. To further the analogy, if you have ever lay on the
ground on a winter night when it is snowing and looked up into the sky,
mostly there is the all pervasive peacefulness of the limitless dark
above, and out of the dark flashes of pristine light. One may begin to
conceptualize the snowflake, think about the weather, what time it is,
when to be home, but the nakeness of the experience remains unblemished
when seen directly.
To clarify the analogy above, I am not
suggesting a non-dual watcher gazing into the sky of emptiness. Rather,
"I" am an empty thought, the same as a star erupting and dying, and in
direct experience there is only the nakedness of sky and snow.
Though it is tempting to think of awakening as binary, an on/off switch
that once encountered is complete, my own experience is that it is more
gray scale. It is true that there are insights that once seen, can
never be unseen, and that in the seeing perception changes clearly in a
permanent, effortless, no need to induce anything sort of way. None the
less, within that transformation there are still moments of dullness or
narrowing that obscure the lucidity of luminosity and emptiness.
Inspired by reading Droll's recent postings, and former practice logs
from a few years ago I have again begun incorporating the process of
grounding. Formally influenced by Kenneth Folk's method of grounding
emotions in the body, I spent a serious chunk of practice time keeping
an almost constant thread of awareness on the body, watching for pockets
of reactivity and then feeling into them. This resulted in a shift in a
way that emotions presented. It did not stop them, nor was that the
intent. Rather, it was that the energy of the emotions became more
clear, lucid, richer and in some subtle way pleasurable, while the story
lines themselves that would normally occur as a result of
disassociating from that initial spark of energy, became signifigantly
less pronounced and elaborate. This process has continued to deepen in
subtle ways in the intervening years. As a side note, I don't like the
word grounding, and its implications, and my own experience is that it
is intimacy with the arising of energy in the body. In being with the
body in direct experience the boundaries of skin are not obvious, and it
is impossible to tell where the body begins and ends. Similarly
emotions when seen in direct experience as arising energy, when neither
grasped onto nor consolidated into story, are without border or definite
shape. Dzogchen master Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche spoke about the experience
of empty, knowing as "space suffused with sunlight", and it is a good
description of the immediacy of the practice.
Ray's Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body, he writes
"When we remain within the body and are thereby able to remain open
enough to allow the process of emotions to unfold, we make the starling
discovery that the the so-called "neurotic emotions" are not inherently
neurotic at all. The neurotic emotionality -the self-absorption or
twisted reaction that happens with us- is not a result of the emotions
at all, but rather of our attempts to get control of them, to short
circuit their own natural, in-born process, and to prematurely come to
closure about them. This discovery, which we make over and over in
working with subtle as well as highly charged emotional states, can be
experienced as astonishing, moving and deeply inspiring". What this has
looked like for me recently is that when the subtle changes of energy
that would normally lead to disassociating from the immediacy of the
energy -by conceptualizing the energy into a story or simply a narrowing
but nonverbal change in attention- are remained with in an intimate way
the story line does not begin and there is just the energy, fluid,
transparent, immediate and lucid. So my practice has been continued
somatic metta, shamatha without an object, and the practice of feeling
into the body and remaining with the immediacy of the changing energy.
It has been rewarding, and I am trying to remain without ideas about
where it will go.
Not much to add here, but for the sake of consistency why not:
What became interesting to me recently was the subtle sense of
presence, that can be felt attentionally or somatically as a narrowing.
Mostly for me I experience it in the gut. I have been playing around
with the feeling of how it is that this sense of presence comes to be,
locating the narrowing in the immediate directness of experience.
At other times it is just sitting in effortlessness. This is
non-meditation. No focus. Just sights, thoughts, sensations. No
intention. No intention to have no intention.
At other times it is just returning again and again to the immediacy of experience.
I also am continuing with the metta practice as before. Some times it
is "may this body be happy", but more recenlt it has become "may love
(on the inbreath), love this body (on the out-breath)"
more sustained periods where the attentional focus seems not to shift at
all. It is interesting to practice metta from this place. It's nice in a
way, but also doesn't seem to do much.
agency, there is no one to meditate. Meditation then becomes simply the
effortless experience of aliveness, experience, thoughts, sights and
sounds. The experience of life released of the pressure of navigation
justifies itself in its nakenedess.
Having seen this before, I know
that intention can and does arise again, and in the intention, just the
intention, though clarity waxes and wanes.
Had an experience two weeks ago where the practices I had been doing intensively for the previous two months seemed to culminate. It was not the experience of anything new, rather the immediacy of thinking became apparent in a way it had not before such that thoughts seemed to be unraveling in direct, immediateness with the same clarity as the perception of the external world. Due to the immediacy of it all thoughts were thoughts, but were experienced more like physical energy, and were brief, and somehow pleasant in their duration.
I have lately been working with familiar methods to some extent, but putting more focus on locating the "where" of transient phenomena (thoughts/feelings). There can at times be the vague sense of location related to thinking. Often this is the sense that a thought or feeling is located in the area of the body where the sensations occurring along with the thought or sensation are. In looking directly into the experience the mental impressions reveal themselves to be empty, without a fixed position, neither divided or inside but separate from the seamless landscape of experience, but existing as a seamless movement of the field of experience.
know if there is a good way to maintain awareness while thinking if this
suggests that the thoughts are playing themselves out and you are aware
of it. In my experience prolongued conceptual thinking only occurs when
I am disassociated from thoughts in their immediacy. In being with the
immediacy of thoughts they reveal themselves as explosions of energy,
and quickly die. If a thought has been going on and attention inclines
to looking directly at the thought it seems to vanish. Most of the
dullness in my experience anymore comes from moments where there is just
some habitual, neutral thinking going on at a low hum below the
Mahamudra practice regarding thoughts involves looking
at thoughts from a place of emptiness as though looking at the surface
of a still pond and watching for a ripple to appear in a very intense
way. Conversely there is the practice of relaxing the focus and allowing
the thoughts to do whatever they may as though watching from sidelines
in appreciation of the wild, energetic nature of thinking. The analogy
that is given is like watching children play from the side without
John Wilde wrote:
Only that which is delineated is
impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-me/not-mine/not-self. The totality
-- by whatever name -- never is. (And there's no place from which to
evaluate it as such, nothing to compare it against).
Bill replied: The
delineation is the totality. Thinking that it is somehow different, or
apart from, separate, is uneccesary confusion and the result of
separating the two and creating borders where there need not be any.
Even this separating is only experience manifest. Look closer into the
looker who is able to perceive the perfection of the totality, as well
as the experience of the totality itself. That or just spend a lot of
time resting attention on the direct experience of the body, which is
really just a fancy way of saying the immediacy of experience.
Tao: Why make bold proclamations that refute the understanding of
others and then ignore any criticism when others try to engage you on
the post you created. I believe you won't respond to this as criticism
of others, and avoidance of their responses seems to be the name of the
game, but it's a pretty slimey way to operate.
John Wilde: I think you think I was saying that
'the delineated' is impermanent / unsatisfactory while 'the whole' is
permanent / satisfactory. If so, that's not quite where I was coming
from. What I meant was that, once you partition anything off and reify
it as an object, that which is partitioned off is thereby subject to the
3Cs... as an artefact of the partitioning.Which is to say, the language
of limitation (in time, space, knowledge, etc) then becomes applicable
to 'it'. (Which is never the case regarding the totality, by definition,
because it can't be objectified). Bill: Yes, I did read you that way, which I guess you are saying was a misinterpretation. I like what you wrote here. Well put.
How are you defining the totality that can't be objectified, and are
you saying that it itself is neither permanent nor impermanent? How do
you know that you are accurately reading it, and it is not just your
subjective interpretation? John Wilde: Why? I'm not sure what you want me to notice, or quite how it relates... Bill: I
guess I'd need you to clarify the question above, but if you believe
that the totality stands apart from conditioned experience like
thoughts, and feelings, then this itself is a misperception caused by
the believe that there is a separate observer or that thoughts/feelings
are somehow an experience separate from the totality. A closer look
would reveal that they are not two separate things. Even the thought
that they are is just the thought that they are. I'm not being clever. I
mean that exactly. The thought or perception of separation is only and
totally the thought or perception of separation. In seeing this more
clearly the attachment to perfection as separate from one's subjective
experience evaporates, and the load is lessened significant
Here is something I wrote today. Cut and pasted from another online discussion. Thought it would go nicely here as well.
I'm saying something completely different. I'm questioning your
assertion that "at every moment, experience has two components -- (1)
appearances (thoughts, perceptions, sensations) which come and go; and
(2) awareness, which does not come and go." This, I maintain, is a
suggesting that there is no experience of awareness. Awareness is
always inferred. The experiences you are calling "awareness," however
subtle, exquisite, profound, and self-validating, are just experiences,
with no more or less claim to Ultimate Reality than an itch, or a
thought, or gas pain. I'm suggesting that neither you, nor I, nor anyone
else, past or present has ever perceived or apperceived,
quasi-perceived, or otherwise-perceived awareness, either personally or
impersonally. What people (understandably) mislabel "Awareness" is, in
fact, a mental construct, a composite of physical and mental phenomena.
I'm suggesting that the next step for you (and anyone who is talking
about Awareness) is to grieve the death of your projection. With this
understanding, this process of awakening takes a sharp turn into
territory we never bargained for and couldn't have anticipated in
advance. This is why it's hard, and rare. Most people will not take this
step. They will park themselves in their mental constructs, surround
themselves with people who believe the same thing, and fail to move
beyond their current understanding.
understanding of dependent origination (or "interdependent
co-origination" as he coins it) errs a bit on the substantial side. His
criticism of Wilber appears to be presented at the beginning of the
piece, however further down the page when he begins to make his own
clarifications he explores dependent origination and presents his
understanding, for example he writes:
Everything that exists is contingent upon everything else. The totality
of the universe is one interacting system of mutual interrelations.
Beyond horizontal interdependence is the vertical emergence or
origination of the entire universe all-at-once. The continuous creation
of the cosmos means that all is emerging as a unified whole at every
by combining these two words, we recognize the totality of existence is
arising all-at-once as an interdependent whole—a fresh creation in its
totality at every moment—where everything depends upon everything else.
Reality then involves both cascading causality (or “karma”) through time
and instantaneous causality in time."
just seems to be interpreting dependent origination quite literally; as
if things are actually originating in dependence upon one another. When
in all actuality, dependent origination is a view that is applied to
one's experience in order to reveal that origination in fact never truly
occurs beyond the scope of conventionality. Elgin appears to be
mistaking 'dependent existence' [parābhava] for dependent origination
in Elgin's defense he also makes statements like "The Buddha awakened
to interdependent co-arising and the insight that there is no solid and
enduring reality."... so he seems to understand that dependent
origination, in principle, implies a lack of substantiality. Whether
that understood implication translates to an actual smooth understanding
though, I'm not so sure.
"wow --- I have never had that insight before"
the fact that dependent origination is meant to specifically reveal
non-arising is often missed or overlooked, but that aspect is really the
linchpin and salient point that drives the principle home:
"The perfectly enlightened buddhas-proclaimed, 'What is dependently created is uncreated.'" - Candrakīrti
"Whatever is dependently originated does not truly arise." - Mañjuśrī
"What originates dependently is unoriginated!" - Nāgārjuna Looking
at dependent origination as an alleged origination that occurs in
dependence upon causes and conditions also helps. Because for something
to actually, truly "exist" - it technically must do so separately and
independently of causes and conditions. However since nothing can be found to exist separately of causes and conditions, nothing can be found to truly exist.
phenomena are born from causes can never be inconsistent [with facts];
since the cause is empty of cause, we understand it to be empty of
origination. The non-origination of all phenomena is clearly taught to
be emptiness." - Nāgārjuna | Bodhicittavivaraṇa
The singularity of seeing is self evident.
The absence of a seer naturally gives rise to the absence of an object
(of seeing), the knowing of which is clarity itself.
2 hrs · Like
I (Wei Yu) replied:
what you're writing is more about non-dual awareness. But there can be
different phases in seeing the nature of non-dual awareness.
awareness can reveal everything to be Mind as subject-object dichotomy
is deconstructed, but this Mind may be seen to be changeless and
inherently existing, which is the substantial nondualism of One Mind.
Therefore it is said there is no objects, everything is
Self/Awareness/etc. The reflection is none other than the mirror, yet
the mirror is not its reflections. This is not yet understanding anatta.
it can be realized that 'awareness' is none other than the transience,
the manifestation, that there is really no inherently
existing/changeless Awareness containing, subsuming, or even 'being
inseparable with' manifestation, just like the word 'weather' does not
exist as something that contains or subsumes the rain and wind and
clouds but is merely a convention collating them, empty of being
something in itself.
That, is anatta, and any sense of self/Self
behind manifestation is seen through. And this is case 1) -- the
emptiness of a background. Then one can proceed on to 2), where by
zooming into the impermanence and insubstantiality of pure
clarity/manifestation, one tastes the shimmering appearance to be
fluxing wave-like or cloud-like or water-painting-like patterns, or like
what I scribbled down during a journey: "everything is so pure,
clean, unfiltered, manifest, clear, just that sensation... consciousness
forms/"modulates" (not exactly a good word) like cloud patterns,
insubstantial... appears and disappears like a mist".
emptiness is directly realized to be the true nature of
clarity/manifestation not by zooming into impermanence, but by
contemplating Dependent Origination and suddenly it is realized how
appearances, like mirror reflections that appear dependently, is really
never there. (For example sometimes two of the same faces appear on the
'same mirror' at different locations depending on which eye you use to
look at it, which again is due to dependent origination) And what
dependently originates is fundamentally non-arising -- uncreated,
unborn, never abiding and never ceasing. Zooming into impermanence is
unable to remove the fundamental inherent view of seeing
'arising/abiding/ceasing', however it does lead to a taste of the whole
field as being insubstantial.
This is where in my previous post
it's stated, "But even when it is realized that there isn't any
awareness/observer besides the sensations and manifestation and there is
no more sense of
duality, one still has yet to penetrate 2 folds. The "absence/emptiness"
of appearance/sensations/dharma will still be understood as some
ultimate true existence (sensations) undergoing the phase of arising,
abiding and ceasing in a flickering instant. The depth of 2-fold
emptiness in terms of insights and actual taste will not be there.
Spaciousness and Illusion-like emptiness will not permeate one's entire
being in actual experience."
in Phase 3, that instant of clarity is realized to be non-arising not
by seeing how they momentarily manifests/shimmers for an instant and
subsides, but the very presence itself is absence, non-arising, unborn,
uncreated, like mirror reflection... the taste of illusory is present in
the clarity/appearance without its disappearance, and the illusion of
something going through arising/abiding/ceasing is seen through.
The realization of non-arising results in an actual taste of everything
being illusory appearances, yet it is not like the sort of 'everything
is just an illusion, the only reality is Mind/Brahman/Awareness' kind of
substantialist view, rather, it is the very vivid non-dual presence
itself that we're talking, the very non-dual and luminous display which
in all its intense wonder and clarity, is empty and illusory. This is
the 'yogic view' of the two truths as one, absence and presence.
David: "The singularity of seeing is self evident" doesn't necessarily assume, Mind, background, or Awareness for that matter. The functioning itself doesn't necessarily lead to, arise in, or come from anything. January 10 at 12:05pm · Unlike · 3 Wei Yu: Yes.. of course you're not referring to Awareness as a background or one mind haha... that's very clear from your writings previously. But just shedding some clarity on the differences.. January 10 at 12:06pm · Edited · Like · 3 David: Much appreciated too...... January 10 at 12:07pm · Like David: Only concepts appear and disappear, while the field is always packed and constantly 'modulating' (not exactly a bad word, Soh:)). It's never not packed, Empty yet full. How can emptiness feel full? How can it not? Thoughts stop in their tracks when it's seen there's nothing happening apart from what's happening. Questions? There's no room for them. 20 hrs · Like · 2 Neony: Straight..no chaser 16 hrs · Like Wei Yu: Yet what's happening dependently is nothing happening... just like movie or mirror reflections 12 hrs · Edited · Like Wei Yu: Emptiness here is not about seeing 'nothing besides happening'... that is just anatta, the first aspect. 9 hrs · Like Wei Yu: For example, Phase 1 will not result in illusion-like spaciousness. More likely it will result in experiencing foreground as real and magnificent. 9 hrs · Edited · Like Neony: Please tell me what you mean by 'foreground' and (I suppose) 'background' Soh . I think you did elsewhere, but I can't find it again. Thanks. 7 hrs · Like Albert: in anatta the witness is seen through so you get foreground PCE as your experience. That could mean a sense of continual nowness as the very sound, smell, taste, thought, sensation, color.
so the collapse of the background leaves the foreground because we still reify a ground. or rather we reify the aliveness and brightness of the present arising. 7 hrs · Like Albert: i suppose it doesn't even have to be a witness. it could be a sense of background or container. a sense of a reference point here relating to whats out there or even in here based on being another thing.
in an experiential sense it is the bounceback that occurs when we place attention on anything. for instance we hear a sound and instantly there is a bounce back to some vague background where we relate the sound from. and thus construct the hearer. 7 hrs · Like Neony: PCE??? Albert 7 hrs · Like Albert: in any case there has to be a union of seeing A+ (positive emptiness aka do) and A- (negative emptiness aka absence).
So that means the very appearance-presencing of say a red water bottle is due to causes and conditions in direct experience. Eye meeting form equals the very appearance.
Which is exactly the absence of presence.
OR one can go about it the other way in which one tries to find an abiding principle and finds a lack and thus concludes its dependent arisen.
Both are used until they are seen to be exactly the same thing 7 hrs · Like Albert: a pce is a pure consciousness experience.
it is the non-conceptual experience of the immediacy of the present arising. THIS color. THIS sound. This sensation. Absolutely no witness or watcher.
but its a peak experience that people chase without any consideration of how it came about.
the insight into anatta makes the pce mode of experience natural. 7 hrs · Like Albert: and what is meant by consciousness is appearance. just to be clear. 7 hrs · Like Neony: Thanks. That's what I call 'Straight, no chaser'. 7 hrs · Edited · Like Albert: Yes. I think its also called no mind in zen. It's quite easy to move into so to speak if we emphasize not knowing and stick with the bare attention towards appearance.
This would also be the peak of shamatha practice in which directness and simplicity is the goal.
What prevents the pce as a natural state is the self. So simply if we examine where the self is in relationship to say the act of seeing we find a lack and automatically it cuts into a pce.
its almost as if the energy is spent so much on maintaining a sense of self or witness that once that assumption is seen to be false the energy is freed. so in that sense there is no longer a filter with experience. but experience has always been bare, non-conceptual, and vividly present. we just never related to it in such directness. and in fact we couldn't. 7 hrs · Like · 2 David: Maintaining self might as well be the definition of work. All other work doesn't compare once it's seen what it takes to maintain this fiction. 6 hrs · Edited · Like · 2 Albert: yes its a lot of work. self and suffering is something we do. it isn't something done to us. we are active agents in our hell making.
if we cannot see through the assumptions present then all we can do is study habit and create wholesome habits.
but fundamentally its all bullshit. 6 hrs · Like David: " Phase 1 will not result in illusion-like spaciousness. More likely it will result in experiencing foreground as real and magnificent."....This was very true for me. It was as if the foreground had finally become real, so to speak, almost too real. There was this sense that the absence of a background had given life to the foreground. 6 hrs · Like David: Fluidity, Illusion-like spaciousness, follows the realization that only pure functioning is what's happening. Knowing this verbing without object or subject eliminates the tendency towards reification. Singular functioning without agent, when realized with absolute conviction, is literally mind blowing. There are no longer 'things' which last, no source, no background. The ground has literally dropped out along with any question of how this might be happening or not happening. The brilliance of suchness lies in the fact it doesn't last. 5 hrs · Like · 2 John Tan (Thusness): Hi David,
Not only that it does not last and is insubstantial but it is non-arisen.
Anatta sees through the self (background) and with that freedom from the layer that obscures, everything becomes magnificently clear and real.
However when we attempt to further deconstruct the foreground appearance, for example, looking clearly at a red flower, where is this "redness" of the flower?
Outside? Inside? My consciousness or Soh's consciousness or dog's consciousness?
So clear, vivid and undeniable yet was never truly there. How does what that was "never truly there" disappear?
Likewise for sound. Hit a bell - Tingsss..non-dually clear and undeniable. Where is this crystal clear sound? Outside? Inside? Soh's consciousness, Albert's consciousness, dog's consciousness? No one sentient being hears the same "tingsss"...
Look at everything around...so vivid and lurid...touch anything...so solid and undeniable...when seen with DO, every intrinsic characteristic can never be found despite being fully present!
Same applies to sensations, colors, shapes, scent, sound, thoughts...all experiences r like that...empty and non-arising.
So when background self is negated, foreground appearances become magnificently real, it does not become illusion-like.
What is the actual taste of negating "A" from the "(inherent) existence" of A?
Only when foreground appearances r negated of it's existence, then experience becomes illusion-like...it cannot be otherwise. For everything clearly appears but when seen with the eyes of dependent arising, it is never truly there...it is just illusion-like (not that it wants to b named that way)
Seeing dependent arising is amazing! Whatever appears is non-arisen; indestructible by being not real and phenomena links without being "connected". Everything simply turns magic!
Good night! 4 hrs · Edited · Unlike · 4 David: Beautifully said John. Thank you. 4 hrs · Like · 1
Thusness had a casual discussion with me regarding the various phases of seeing through intrinsic-ness in experience:
Realizing the nature (i.e. non-arising, empty nature)
of clarity is not the same as realizing clarity. Anatta can lead one to
experience whatever arises/appearance as presence.
is part of the journey. The practitioner goes through anatta and
realizes what we called presence is just appearance. Then he must start
looking at absence. There are at least 4 levels of seeing through
intrinsic-ness or the realizing of absence and anatta is just the
1. The emptiness (i.e. non-existence of a) background
2. Seeing foreground appearance as empty like mist or shimmering paint in
the pond but appearance is seen as arising, abiding and ceasing.
3. Seeing absence in vivid presence... means in clear vivid non-dual
appearance, realize it is never there at all. At this phase, there must
be complete conviction without the slightest doubt from logical
analysis in understanding why it is "never there". The article where I
asked you what is second fold... non-Arisen emptiness. (link: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2013/04/daniels-post-on-anattaemptiness.html)
4. Turn insight of non-arisen in 3 into a
taste, otherwise the 2 mindstreams cannot become one... that is, mind
stream of dependent arising and emptiness are like what Tsongkhapa said
"mutually exclusive", no way to become one unless one reaches
Buddhahood. This is because we do not know the key is in recognizing the
taste of absence (i.e translate the logical and inferring consciousness
into a taste).
It is fully and vividly present and in the midst
of this clear presence/appearance, it is realized as absence. That is
why there is no arising, abiding and ceasing - non-arisen.
you hear music and just music, there is no hearer... no hearer is anatta
(lvl 1), the beautiful music in clean transparency is non-dual
appearance... when absence is seen only when music disappears like a
disappearing mist then it is phase 2. If it is clearly heard in non-dual
mode and simultaneously realized to be absence (without the music
disappearing) then it is phase 3. Then entire being will be pervaded
with deep sense of illusion-like spaciousness.
But all these are
just -A. Next is to look at +A. It is exactly the same again but this
round non-conceptual appearance and dependent arising is brought to be
seen and understood at the conventional level.
So it is understanding the nature of experience...not just directly experiencing awareness.
After this practice is no practice... just complete non-dual
releasing... natural and spontaneous. When essencelessness is thoroughly
seen through, the way of practice can only be spontaneous presence and
natural perfection. Essence/inherent is what that prevents one from
being natural and spontaneous. But don't link it to Dzogchen... all these about spontaneous presence and natural perfection is simply thoroughness of knowing the habit and many faces of inherent tendencies... may be completely different from Dzogchen spontaneous presence.
So do you know why it must be in a state of non-dual presence...?
"Then at this moment of appreciating maha suchness of the breath, the sensations, the entire scenery, the entire world…
Understand that they are Empty!
Experience the magnificence then deeply understand that they are empty
but this Emptiness has nothing to do with deconstruction nor reification
nor do I mean they are simply impermanent. So what is this Emptiness I
am referring to?"
It must be vividly present with all magnificence... why? Because if it is gone then it is not the phase 3 absence.
Wrote a reply to someone regarding experience, realization, actualization:
An experience is simply an experience but there is no lasting insight.
There are many types of experience... non-doership, I AM, nondual, no
mind, etc etc. They come and go. (And then there are corresponding
insights and realizations at each of those level)
the other hand is not a glimpse. Say, the realization of anatta, when it
happened for me the sense of an agent, background observer, or even
'awareness' is completely gone and in the whole of waking life is
effortlessly and naturally pervaded with this luminous taste as it is
seen that 'in hearing only sound, no hearer', there is no
awareness/hearing besides the luminous sound, so there is just this pure
unfiltered cognizance that is none other than sound presenting itself
on its own in its complete directness, vivid, clear, incredible
aliveness and luminous intensity, and likewise 'in seeing only scenery,
no seer', ..... etc, which leads to an intimate.. no... gapless
experience of everything which is simply happening and being aware where
they are without a referencepoint, a vantagepoint, from which they are
looked at. Everything is intensely 'aware' where they are without a
center or agent. There is both intense luminosity and a sense of
In the whole of waking life, this has become a natural
after realizing anatta. Even before realizing anatta there were glimpses
of that, where by intently listening to a sound, or looking at a
scenery, or dancing, to the vanishingpoint of subjectivity leaving only
pure sensation, which often comes with a "Wow!" as if I have entered
into another dimension or state but will eventually exit out of it,
however, it was not the natural or effortless state as there is not yet
there is still the obscuration of self-view which prevents the
effortless and natural dissolution of self/Self, thus that dissolution
remains a peak experience or fleeting glimpses. But when the mind
realizes that there isn't an observer and the way things are, there is
no effort, just in seeing, only forms and colors and in hearing, only
sounds, all very natural and effortless. When the veil is gone, there is
naturally no obstruction and everything becomes most direct and clear
without gap. There is no issue of 'entering' or 'exiting' from a state,
there is no entry or exit.
Even though after anatta it becomes
effortless and natural and becomes sort of perpetual in the waking
state, at the very initial phase one may still notice dulling after the
initial 3 months of intense peak experience. By dulling I don't mean
that the sense of an observer or self/Self has obviously returned, it
just means the intensity apparently becomes less intense. That too will
be overcome after some time especially with deepening insights and
practice. Another issue is that it may still not enter into the sleep,
but eventually one will start to experience that.
realization -- realization can never be lost once realized. But whether
it is 'fully actualized' is another question. If you are fully
actualizing that realization, then all traces of self/Self/inherency are
completely released in actual taste... and as I said the taste is not
simply of a freedom, but it is opening another mode of perception*.
Usually in waking state it happens first then it enters into sleep
*(Somebody asked me about actualization again today, I
referred to something Thusness wrote about actualizing anatta in
"Just like the case we talk abt
designations come "live", u must know that in anatta, it is not just the
freedom that comes from seeing through self -- the release; it is also
not a mere dry mode of being non-conceptual but an insight that opens
the floodgate that turns everything "alive". Sound is clean, clear,
brilliance, transparent and it turns "alive". This new direct mode of
perception enables us to touch the "heart" of whatever arises."
Living in this 'mode' of insight in real time experiences be it in
sitting, walking, working, sleeping, is actualizing. Yes, even in sleep
it can be actualized.
Then there is actualization of twofold emptiness, and the actualization of total exertion.)
But even when it is realized that there isn't any awareness/observer
besides the sensations and manifestation and there is no more sense of
duality, one still has yet to penetrate 2 folds. The "absence/emptiness"
of appearance/sensations/dharma will still be understood as some
ultimate true existence (sensations) undergoing the phase of arising,
abiding and ceasing in a flickering instant. The depth of 2-fold
emptiness in terms of insights and actual taste will not be there.
Spaciousness and Illusion-like emptiness will not permeate one's entire
being in actual experience.
And this is where realizing the non-arising nature of naked sensation is important, what I wrote:
"In deep contemplation, it can become apparent in direct experience and
insight that all appearances are merely appearances, nothing arising or
staying or ceasing... there is no actual birth of anything. Just like
no matter what images appear on the movie or in a dream it will never
amount to anything more than an appearance, without anything that truly
come into existence. This is different from resolving non-arising
through being-time. Lastly it is not that things are mental projections
but that they are dependent arising.. what dependently originates is
empty and nonarising appearance... momentary suchness, but still as
It is with some reluctance that I'm sharing this... I'm
afraid that writing this might be a disservice to readers. I shall
refrain from posting and discussing further about this. I do not wish
this to become merely something to talk about, it has to be seen in
direct taste and insight... so that one knows what the experience is
like and what the realization is. Spouting big words or philosophizing
about this do not mean anything."
Earlier today I discussed with Thusness... I'm writing based on the discussion.
When we think of a label or a designation, it is dead, fixed and static... how is this designation made "alive"?
Seeing "things as they are" is not seeing non-conceptually without adding and subtracting anything from isness.. rather it is seeing impermanence, dependent arising and non-arising of phenomena so that mind can be released from grasping. So how is consciousness-nama-rupa understood to see its dependent arising and non-arising in conventionality? How should designation be understood in a thoroughly fluid, inseparable, dependent arising and non-arisen way?
There is a term in Gelug Prasangika by Tsongkhapa, it is termed "appropriation"... it is closely related to total exertion. Also to understand deeply, apply the insight of "a dream in a dream" where symbols and appearances are fully enacted as one, neither same nor different.
See through first how reifications arise and the deconstruction of these reifications in direct experience (anatta and 2 folds) and then how to correctly apply conventionality as a semblance to "what is".
19 hrs · Edited · Like · 4
John Ahn: Wei Yu
I wondered about this as well. There is a point in practice where the designations indeed do come alive (I'm not sure if Thusness means the same thing). There is a natural flow and interaction between the conventionality and direct non conceptual experience of passing sound. It's an emergence of a very flexible intelligence. One no longer holds a view of "how the world is." Labels arise in accordance with convenience and functionality and they are experienced with the same taste as the passing senses.
Just as conventions, memories, projection, etc are seen as labels arising dependent on direct experience, previous knowledge, language, situation, etc. there is no difference in the nature of their arising than the direct feet-touch-ground. The direct feet-touch-ground is also no more "real" than the conventions either. The arising dependent on conditions has no more reality than the arising dependent on designations. The label "chair" is just as real and just as false as the experience of the form of "chair" dependent on eye and material causation. "What is" is effortless dependent arising, there is truly no other "what is."
So how does reification arise...the main culprit IME is wrong view and identification. Both identification and reification are the same mistake of assuming inherent reality of a particular pattern of arising. For instance when we think that designations are more real than pure sensory data as most people do, we reify the mind. If we reify sensory data as more real than the designations that is what many physicalists do unknowingly.
The moment we reify something as more real identification arises immediately. Even if we hold a certain view as more "real," identity hides behind the one holding that view, regardless whether that view is of selflessness or emptiness. So some people try to get rid of views, which is..unfortunately another view. A view must become experience that is authenticated in all moments, and that is the view of dependent arising.
So which comes first..reification or identification..I'd say they are the same aspect: subject-action-object. A self perpetuating circle. 11 hrs · Edited · Unlike · 3 Stian Gudmundsen Høiland: A dead, fixed and static label or designation "comes alive" when... how to explain...
Seeing impermanence, a through-and-through lack of 'staying'.
Dependent arising means seeing the process of designation. It is *process* (dependent arising)—absence of substance (emptiness).
Absence of substance means non-arising of phenomena. It means that whatever imputed is merely imputed—nothing real, not inherent.
Seeing the inter-action and dependency between consciousness and nama-rupa demonstrates "live-ness"—meaning both "occurring right now, continually" and "dynamically expressive".
That is the thoroughly fluid, inseparable, dependent, non-arisen nature.
A dead, fixed and static label or designation "comes alive" when it is seen live—occurring right now, continually—that the designation is actualized or exerted by and through "a mesh/web/net of inter-relations/relativity": Air is air and nothing else, when it is experienced in relation to a breathing body.
This vision has a sense of mere reflection, a hall of mirrors, like a kaleidoscope, clockwork, or a continually tilting holographic image. Nothing static is found, except, the essence is unmoved—like water poured into water: What alteration is there? 4 hrs · Edited · Unlike · 1 Stian Gudmundsen Høiland It is a live seeing that air is air because it is being breathed.
The profundity of just that... the dependence of this on that.
Of course, saying "air is air because it is being breathed" is a drastic simplification of what is actually seen, but it would be rather useless to go on about it. That simplified sentence gives the gist, but the vision is all-'round, all-inclusive, limitless, undivided. 10 hrs · Edited · Unlike · 2 Ej Alex Reminds me of this: "Breathing in, sky becomes breath. Breathing out, breath becomes sky." http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.de/2013/10/breathing.html Awakening to Reality: Breathing awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com 10 hrs · Unlike · 4 · Remove Preview Stian Gudmundsen Høiland: WWZC (White Wind Zen Community) has to be one of the most authentic Buddhist communities around today. 10 hrs · Edited · Like Wei Yu: Thusness wrote:
Both of what John Ahn: and Stian expressed r very insightful. They bring more "life" to the designations.
Stian is expressing it very well. When Dogen rows the boat, the rowing makes the boat a boat and makes the hand, the sea, wooden oars and the movement of the boat into the "rowing". The designations turns "alive" yet r like mere reflections.
Why is it like water pouring in water? Because one tastes the hand, the sea, the wooden oars going beyond their designated boundaries into one seamless (like pour water in water) action of rowing. There is no self, only that action of rowing.
With anatta and dependent arising, u will feel immense inter-relatedness yet empty like reflections even in the world of conceptualities.
The father is dependent on the son and the son makes the father a father. Don't just look at the logic, see how much emotions and love are invested in them. There are no "things" and "world" other than that.
So not just what that is direct, clean, brilliance, non-dual, non-conceptual and transparent is empty like space; u must re-enter the world, dirty ur hands and see conventionalities with this new found insights of selflessness and DO...see the whole chain of arisings...so intricate yet empty like reflections.