In DharmaOverground:

Hibiscus Kid:
Hello svmonk,

It seems like you are describing some very advanced perceptual shifts. However, it seems sort of difficult given that I am not quite sure what definition of 'emptiness' that you or the Tibetans may be using. I've see that word thrown around in so many different contexts, that it has become unhlpful.

Some people here seem to be experiencing reality in such a way, that the Tibetans would say that they achieved the same results (Daniel mentions this on his essay in Actualism). It's pretty interesting. 

I replied:

MCTB 4th path and PCE (or rather the state of Actual Freedom as discussed in was my constant state before I dwelled more deeply into Emptiness. 4th Path actually deals with Emptiness as well but the emphasis is on the yogic realization/experience of the absence of a subject, self/Self, controller, agent, knower, doer, etc, and furthermore the complete stability of this insight such that it becomes the constant mode of perception in every moment of experience. However, there is also the emptiness of the 'objects' front, which is not merely the collapsing of subject and object dichotomy, but realizing the 'nature' of this non-dual presence (which is already emptied of any subject or background). It pertains to the non-arising of the foreground appearance, but not through deconstruction.

For example looking at the very solid vision of floor in a PCE mode with no self/Self/experiencer whatsoever just brilliant colors shining as its own vivid clarity, and we raise a question of how does 'emptiness' direct apply to this, it can suddenly become clear that there is no floor there at all, no floor to be found anywhere, only a shimmering appearance, flickering patches of luminous brown with nothing arising at all, and then the meaning of appearing yet non-arising, appearance negates existence as it relates to the nature of presence (by Presence I don't mean a Self, or a Being, etc, but whatever vivid appearance as it presents itself dynamically) became clear. This unfindability and non-arising nature of Presence/Appearance is its true nature. It is not "impermanent, flickering in and out" that is its emptiness but the very non-arising of the whole field of manifestation due to its lacking of any essence whatsoever by its sheer appearance, where the very mere appearance by its very fact of merely appearing negates existence.

It is not by deconstruction, and it is not by subsuming everything to some ultimate Mind/Consciousness/etc. That metaphysical illusion is completely gone by the time the self/Self illusion is dropped through anatta realization and actualization, as Actual Freedom teachings point out. There is no such thing as an unborn undying metaphysical substrate or consciousness behind phenomena, that belongs to the lower stages like Thusness Stage 1 to 4: -- in Advaita the illusoriness of phenomena is posited through the subsuming of phenomena to an ultimate source and substratum (which truly exists) in the manner of 'necklaces of different shapes being fundamentally only gold', this is not the same insight as Stage 5 and 6. At the peak of the subsuming or essentialist type of non-dual, the subject/object division collapses into a seamless field of awareness and yet awareness is felt to be ultimate, unchanging, having an Absolute metaphysical essence yet undivided with manifestation (Thusness Stage 4). The kind of Emptiness insight I'm talking about however is completely non-essentialist, non-substantialist, non-metaphysical, and non-referential.

By Emptiness and the Non-Arising of phenomena I mean the very appearance does not arise even for a flickering moment, does not arise/abide/subside for even an instant, but its very appearance itself rejects the illusion of the appearance existing by its own essence and undergoing (even a flickering moment of) arising/abiding/subsiding. Conventionally, appearance which does not exist inherently, appears only by way of interrelatedness/interdependence, and in yogic actualization of emptiness-appearance, everything appears as being equal to space and illusions like mirage, holograms, reflections, and the like in a seamlessly interconnected suchness (but not even the concept of 'dependent origination' remains in this actualization).

The as-it-isness or suchness of anatta becomes even more as-it-is in the manner of any subtle non-recognition of the non-arising, empty nature of presence (misperceiving presence as truly arising/abiding/ceasing or ‘truly there’) released into the as-it-isness/suchness of shimmering holographic illusions through the recognition of its non-arising, which leads to actualizing of emptiness as forms in a direct and non-conceptual manner. This illusion-like nature of aggregates is most often taught in Mahayana sutras, but you find similar teachings by Buddha in the Pali Canon such as Dhammapada, Phena Sutta on the illusoriness of the aggregates, and Kaccayanagotta sutta explains how dependent origination negates 'existence' and 'non-existence' as it relates to the 'world'.
For the emptiness part check out ,

Also recently I wrote:

Presence and the Nature of Presence

(Wrote this after a clear insight arose)

No behind, presence as form is anatta

Presence-as-form is merely appearing, nothing there, that's emptiness (the nature of Presence)


only no who, but truly no it, no there, no here, no now, no when, no where, no
arising, no ceasing, no abiding or place of abidance. Coming to rest in
the nature of presence with no place to rest, whole field of
spontaneous illusory display emerges as empty-clarity-bliss.


Soh Wei YuI really like a statement by Tsongkhapa, “appearance negates existence”Manage
Like · Reply · 22h
Stian Gudmundsen HøilandSay some more about that Soh?

Like · Reply · 16h

Soh Wei YuIt
starts with the very vivid "Presence" (or you can call it Awareness or
Clarity) that is simply shining as the very vividness of forms, sounds,
thoughts, whatever appears, as the subject/object or perceiver/perceived
dichotomy has collapsed into a non-conceptual experience of the
vividness of whatever manifests with zero sense of distance. There is no
more standalone Presence or Awareness or Clarity in anatta. The
illusion of a background Self/Mind has been penetrated. Even so, the
very empty nature of 'foreground Presence' may not yet reveal itself

Let's say you're looking at the floor, or
a table, or whatever it is. It seems very solid and real, but then upon
some investigation it's realised to be merely appearing without
substance or essence, and that happens to be the very nature of Presence
-- vividly appearing according to conditions but completely empty of
anything 'there', empty of an 'it-ness' or 'floor-ness' or any sort of
substance. Basically it's sort of like suddenly an apparent figure
you've been looking at or talking to is suddenly realised to be literally a
hologram. The very nature of Presence as merely appearing without
substance basically negates the extreme of existence.

me the nature of Presence reveals in a more experiential sort of
examination rather than through analytical reasonings. Like what
Thusness wrote in his article "On Anatta (No-Self), Emptiness, Maha and Ordinariness, and Spontaneous Perfection",

we observe thought and ask where does thought arise, how does it arise,
what is ‘thought’ like. 'Thought' will reveal its nature is empty --
vividly present yet completely un-locatable. It is very important not to
infer, think or conceptualise but feel with our entire being this
‘ungraspability’ and 'unlocatability'. It seems to reside 'somewhere'
but there is no way to locate it. It is just an impression of somewhere
"there" but never "there". Similarly “here-ness” and “now-ness” are
merely impressions formed by sensations, aggregates of causes and
conditions, nothing inherently ‘there’; equally empty like ‘selfness’."Manage
Like · Reply · 1m · Edited
Soh Wei YuThat
said not everyone uses or likes the term "Presence". Tsongkhapa doesn't
use that term. You can substitute that for other terms like "dharma"
etc, it's just the empty and luminously clear nature of the display.

Foreground emptying has this taste where appearance negates existence.


p.s More writings on Emptiness from the experiential yogic insight point of view:

From "The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are" by Alan Watts:

As soon as one sees that separate things are fictitious, it becomes obvious that nonexistent things cannot “perform” actions. The difficulty is that most languages are arranged so that actions (verbs) have to be set in motion by things (nouns), and we forget that rules of grammar are not necessarily rules, or patterns, of nature. This, which is nothing more than a convention of grammar, is also responsible for (or, better, “goeswith”) absurd puzzles as to how spirit governs matter, or mind moves body. How can a noun, which is by definition not action, lead to action?

Scientists would be less embarrassed if they used a language, on the model of Amerindian Nootka, consisting of verbs and adverbs, and leaving off nouns and adjectives. If we can speak of a house as housing, a mat as matting, or of a couch as seating, why can't we think of people as “peopling,” of brains as “braining,” or of an ant as an “anting?” Thus in the Nootka language a church is “housing religiously,” a shop is “housing tradingly,” and a home is “housing homely.” Yet we are habituated to ask, “Who or what is housing? Who peoples? What is it that ants?” Yet isn't it obvious that when we say, “The lightning flashed,” the flashing is the same as the lightning, and that it would be enough to say, “There was lightning”? Everything labeled with a noun is demonstrably a process or action, but language is full of spooks, like the “it” in “It is raining,” which are the supposed causes, of action.

Does it really explain running to say that “A man is running”? On the contrary, the only explanation would be a description of the field or situation in which “a manning goeswith running” as distinct from one in which “a manning goeswith sitting.” (I am not recommending this primitive and clumsy form of verb language for general and normal use. We should have to contrive something much more elegant.) Furthermore, running is not something other than myself, which I (the organism) do. For the organism is sometimes a running process, sometimes a standing process, sometimes a sleeping process, and so on, and in each instance the “cause” of the behavior is the situation as a whole, the organism/environment. Indeed, it would be best to drop the idea of causality and use instead the idea of relativity.

For it is still inexact to say that an organism “responds” or “reacts” to a given situation by running or standing, or whatever. This is still the language of Newtonian billiards. It is easier to think of situations as moving patterns, like organisms themselves. Thus, to go back to the cat (or catting), a situation with pointed ears and whiskers at one end does not have a tail at the other as a response or reaction to the whiskers, or the claws, or the fur. As the Chinese say, the various features of a situation “arise mutually” or imply one another as back implies front, and as chickens imply eggs—and vice versa. They exist in relation to each other like the poles of the magnet, only more complexly patterned.

Moreover, as the egg/chicken relation suggests, not all the features of a total situation have to appear at the same time. The existence of a man implies parents, even though they may be long since dead, and the birth of an organism implies its death. Wouldn't it be as farfetched to call birth the cause of death as to call the cat's head the cause of the tail? Lifting the neck of a bottle implies lifting the bottom as well, for the “two parts” come up at the same time. If I pick up an accordion by one end, the other will follow a little later, but the principle is the same. Total situations are, therefore, patterns in time as much as patterns in space.

And, right now is the moment to say that I am not trying to smuggle in the “total situation” as a new disguise for the old “things” which were supposed to explain behavior or action. The total situation or field is always open-ended, for

Little fields have big fields
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And big fields have bigger fields
And so ad infinitum.

We can never, never describe all the features of the total situation, not only because every situation is infinitely complex, but also because the total situation is the universe. Fortunately, we do not have to describe any situation exhaustively, because some of its features appear to be much more important than others for understanding the behavior of the various organisms within it. We never get more than a sketch of the situation, yet this is enough to show that actions (or processes) must be understood, or explained, in terms of situations just as words must be understood in the context of sentences, paragraphs, chapters, books, libraries, and … life itself.

To sum up: just as no thing or organism exists on its own, it does not act on its own. Furthermore, every organism is a process: thus the organism is not other than its actions. To put it clumsily: it is what it does. More precisely, the organism, including its behavior, is a process which is to be understood only in relation to the larger and longer process of its environment. For what we mean by “understanding” or “comprehension” is seeing how parts fit into a whole, and then realizing that they don't compose the whole, as one assembles a jigsaw puzzle, but that the whole is a pattern, a complex wiggliness, which has no separate parts. Parts are fictions of language, of the calculus of looking at the world through a net which seems to chop it up into bits. Parts exist only for purposes of figuring and describing, and as we figure the world out we become confused if we do not remember this all the time.

11. The First Kukuräja
The First Kukuräja, Lord of Dogs, whose father was Kukuräja Gatu and whose mother was Dawa Dachen, was a bhiksu learned in the five branches of knowledge and particularly expert in the eighteen mahäyoga tantras of Mantrayäna. Aspiring after the essential meaning, he asked Atsantra Äloke for the essence of the teachings. The latter summarized them for him thus:
It is thought that creates the duality of mind and object; 
It is wisdom that perceives them as non-dual.
Meditation means understanding there is nothing to enter into or to exit from.
Not grasping what appears is the state of self-liberation!
Kukuräja perceived without any shadow of doubt the state of self-liberation of his mind and of all the phenomena of vision. Then he perfectly understood the meaning of the primordial state and expressed his realization thus:
I am Kukuräja!
Being without birth or death, mind itself is Vajrasattva.
The dimension of Vajrasattva's body pervades the whole universe
And not even the sky can be an example of it.
Meditating means not being distracted from this understanding!

Stian Gudmundsen Høiland
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Chandra also says one gains the four jhanas on the fourth ground (was it?). That doesn’t sit well with me: That the path of seeing is four grounds before the four jhanas.
· Reply · 41m
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu I like Daniel Ingram models. Perfecting one axis doesn't mean perfecting another. More rational, pragmatic approach to the path towards perfecting sila, samadhi and prajna :)
· Reply · 37m · Edited
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu Path of seeing does not require four jhanas, and four jhanas does not require path of seeing
· Reply · 38m
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland This isn’t the way Chandra presents the paths and grounds in Madhyamakavatara, but I kinda have a feeling it’s not so important in his work.
· Reply · 36m
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu Yeah. That's my point. Daniel also wrote about the problems of the Bhumi models. Basically mixing up a lot of axis
· Reply · 35m
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland What I meant was that since he says the four jhanas are attained in later grounds after the first ground (which corresponds with the path of seeing), therefore he says that for the bodhisattva the four jhanas depend on the path of seeing.
· Reply · 34m
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland
· Reply · 34m
André A. Pais
André A. Pais Is attainment of shamatha equivalent to attainment of the 4th or 8th jhana?
· Reply · 18m
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland According to whom? 😛
· Reply · 17m
André A. Pais
André A. Pais That's what I am asking. Is jhanas and shamatha the same? No, right? Concentration is not really something I've studied at all. It shows, right? 😉
· Reply · 15m
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Here’s how I think about it: Can you have jhana without samatha? No. Can you have samatha without jhana? Yes. Is samatha without jhana samma samadhi? No.
· Reply · 14m
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu Right samadhi/concentration
· Reply · 11m
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu As part of the eightfold path.
· Reply · 11m
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu "The Suttas usually define Samma-Samadhi as the four jhanas"
· Reply · 11m
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu Even in Tibetan, Dzogchen, Mahamudra, it's stated:

Malcolm (Loppon Namdrol) wrote:

Rongzom makes the point very clearly that Dzogchen practitioners must develop the mental factors that characterize the first dhyana, vitarka, vicara, pritvi, sukha and ekagraha, i.e. applied attention, sustained attention, physical ease, mental ease and one-pointedness. If you do not have a stable samatha practice, you can't really call yourself a Dzogchen practitioner at all. At best, you can call yourself someone who would like to be a Dzogchen practitioner a ma rdzogs chen pa. People who think that Dzogchen frees one from the need to meditate seriously are seriously deluded. The sgra thal 'gyur clearly says:

The faults of not meditating are:
the characteristics of samsara appear to one,
there is self and other, object and consciousness,
the view is verbal,
the field is perceptual,
one is bound by afflictions,
also one throws away the path of the buddhahood,
one does not understand the nature of the result,
a basis for the sameness of all phenomena does not exist,
one's vidya is bound by the three realms,
and one will fall into conceptuality

He also added:

Dhyanas are defined by the presence or absence of specific mental factors.

The Dhyanas were not the vehicle of Buddha's awakening, rather he coursed through them in order to remove traces of rebirth associated with the form and formless realms associated with the dhyanas.


Whether you are following Dzogchen or Mahamudra, and regardless of your intellectual understanding, your meditation should have, at base, the following characteristics:

Prthvi -- physical ease Sukha -- mental joy Ekagraha -- one-pointedness Vitarka -- initial engagement Vicara -- sustained engagement

If any of these is missing, you have not even achieved perfect samatha regardless of whether or not you are using an external object, the breath or even the nature of the mind.


Even in Dzogchen, the five mental factors I mentioned are key without which you are really not going to make any progress.


Samadhi/dhyāna is a natural mental factor, we all have it. The problem is that we naturally allow this mental factor to rest on afflictive objects such as HBO, books, video games, etc.

Śamatha practice is the discipline of harnessing our natural predisposition for concentration, and shifting it from afflictive conditioned phenomena to nonafflictive conditioned phenomena, i.e., the phenomena of the path. We do this in order to create a well tilled field for the growth of vipaśyāna. Śamatha ultimately allows us to have mental stability and suppresses afflictive mental factors so that we may eventually give rise to authentic insight into the nature of reality. While it is possible to have vipaśyāna without cultivating śamatha, it is typically quite unstable and lacks the power to effectively eradicate afflictive patterning from our minds. Therefore, the basis of all practice in Buddhadharma, from Abhidharma to the Great Perfection, is the cultivation of śamatha as a preliminary practice for germination of vipaśyāna. "
· Reply · 10m
André A. Pais
André A. Pais What does shamatha without jhanas actually entail? Mere single pointed concentration? What do the jhanas add?
· Reply · 9m
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu It can refer to formless realms, or pre-jhana states like "access concentration"
· Reply · 9m · Edited
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu How does jhana help.. I think Malcolm explained well: "While it is possible to have vipaśyāna without cultivating śamatha, it is typically quite unstable and lacks the power to effectively eradicate afflictive patterning from our minds. Therefore, the basis of all practice in Buddhadharma, from Abhidharma to the Great Perfection, is the cultivation of śamatha as a preliminary practice for germination of vipaśyāna."
· Reply · 7m · Edited
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland In the suttas the Buddha and the people who ask him things are quite often concerned with what kind of direction they should take concentration practices on. Personally, I think the jhana formulas, which are almost always repeated in full in the suttas, were one of the main practical things the Buddha taught: How to achieve a unified mind in a consistent and fruitful manner.
· Reply · 6m
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland I think that might have been a hot topic of the day: Knowing the immense benefits of samadhi, but lacking “scientific” thinking about it.
· Reply · 5m
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu 2011:

(8:29 PM) Thusness: removing the fetters is not to say no-emotion and be like a machine...
Through compassion u can also remove fetters
in the Theravada model, how are u to remove the 3 poisons?
(8:32 PM) AEN: through insight, tranquillity, dispassion
(8:33 PM) Thusness: so what is lacking in the 7 phases of insight?
(8:35 PM) AEN: the 7 phases of insight are focused on the insight portion
but i guess dispassion should arise after emptiness?
(8:36 PM) Thusness: it helps
so in addition to that, u must also practice samadhi
for tranquility and calm

(11:53 PM) Thusness: as for u, do some meditation to improve ur samadhi.

(2:29 PM) Thusness: the 10 fetters is removed by the perfection of ??? (jie4, ding4, hui4; precepts, samadhi and wisdom) in Theravada teaching
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