Posted by: Soh
Here are some recommendations of books and authors who/which I found to be insightful. Some are recommended to me by Thusness/PasserBy. Note that I am not an avid reader, so the books I have read are limited.

This post will be updated time to time, when I have found new books worth mentioning.

Books list updated: 17th October 2012

Me: AEN's E-Journal

(Arranged Alphabetically)

Any articles and books by Aaron:

Ajahn Brahmavamso:
Topic: Theravada; jhana meditation

Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook
Website: (many of his talks are available for download there)

Actual Freedom/The Third Alternative/Richard/etc:
Topic: Actualism

Good articles on 'No-Self':

Bernadette Roberts:
Topic: Christian contemplative tradition

What is Self: The Study of the Spiritual Journey in Terms of Consciousness

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
Topic: Theravada; essential Buddhist mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness in Plain English
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness
Book available for free reading online:

Bernie Glassman:
Topic: Zen

Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen

Topic: Buddhism

What The Buddha Taught (by Walpola Rahula)
 In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (Teachings of the Buddha) by Bhikkhu Bodhi
The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya (Teachings of the Buddha)  
Basic Teachings of the Buddha (Modern Library Classics) (by Glenn Wallis)

Related websites:

Very good presentation of Buddha's teachings:

Charles Genoud:
Topic: Awareness Practice/Emptiness/Anatta  

Gesture of Awareness: A Radical Approach to Time, Space, and Movement


Charlie Singer:
Topic: Buddhism/Dzogchen

Reflections in a Mirror: The Nature of Appearance in Buddhist Philosophy

Charlotte Joko Beck:
Topic: Zen

 Everyday Zen: Love and Work
Nothing Special: Living Zen

Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche:
Topic: Dzogchen

The Supreme Source: The Fundamental Tantra of the Dzogchen Semde KUNJED GYALPO
The Cycle of Day and Night: An Essential Tibetan Text on the Practice of Dzogchen
The Crystal and the Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen
Dzogchen: The Self-Perfected State
The Mirror: Advice on the Presence of Awareness (See excerpts from
Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light, Revised
Dzogchen Teachings
Dakpo Tashi Namgyal:
Topic: Mahamudra (seriously recommended meditation manuals!)
Clarifying the Natural State: A Principal Guidance Manual for Mahamudra
Mahamudra: The Moonlight: Quintessence of Mind and Meditation

Dalai Lama:
Topic: Buddhism; Dzogchen

How to See Yourself As You really Are
Lighting the Way 

Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection


Darryl Bailey:
Dismantling the Fantasy

Good articles on 'No-Self':

David Carse:
Topic: Advaita

 Perfect Brilliant Stillness: Beyond the Individual Self

David Loy:
Nonduality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy

A list of his written articles and interviews can be found at: - many of his articles such as Nondual Thinking are well written on the aspect of Non-Duality.

Dharma Dan (Daniel M. Ingram):
Topic: Theravada; Mahasi Sayadaw style meditation
Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha (available for free download here).
Topic: Zen

Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi
Enlightenment Unfolds
Sounds of Valley Streams

Douglas Harding
Topic: Advaita
On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious

Dudjom Lingpa

Topic: Dzogchen

Buddhahood Without Meditation: A Visionary Account Known As Refining One's Perception (Nang-jang)

Eckhart Tolle
Deeply transformative and inspirational even for beginners.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose
Stillness Speaks

Godfrey Devereux:
Commentary of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

Greg Goode:
Topic: Advaita
The Direct Path: A User Guide
Standing as Awareness: Dialogs from Nondual Dinners
Nondualism in Western Philosophy

Hakuun Yasutani
Topic: Zen; Dogen studies

Flowers Fall: A Commentary on Zen Master Dogen's Genjokoan

Hee-Jin Kim
Topic: Zen; Dogen studies

Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist


Hsu Yun:
Zen; Good self-inquiry advice.


Huang Po:
Topic: Zen

The Zen Teaching of Huang Po: On the Transmission of Mind, transl. by John Blofeld

Hui Hua:
Topic: Zen

Ch'an Master Hui Hua: Zen teachings of instantaneous awakening, transl. by John Blofeld

James M. Corrigan:
Topic: Advaita
An Introduction to Awareness
Jean Klein:
Topic: Advaita
I Am
Excerpts from books available for reading at:

Jeff Foster:
Topic: Advaita
The Wonder of Being: Awakening to an Intimacy Beyond
An Extraordinary Absence: Liberation in the Midst of a Very Ordinary Life

Jiddu Krishnamurti:
Freedom from the Known

Joan Tollifson:
Awake in the Heartland: The Ecstasy of What Is
Painting the Sidewalk with Water

John Astin:
This is Always Enough
Out Beyond Ideas (Downloadable: Free eBook)

John Myrdhin Reynolds:
Topic: Dzogchen

Self-Liberation Through Seeing with Naked Awareness
The Golden Letters

John Wheeler:
Topic: Advaita

Clear in Your Heart: The Radiant Mirror of Self-Shining Awareness

Judith Blackstone:
The Empathic Ground: Intersubjectivity and Nonduality in the Psychotherapeutic Process 
Belonging Here: A Guide for the Spiritually Sensitive Person

Keith Dowman:
Topic: Dzogchen

The Flight of Garuda
Natural Perfection: Longchenpa's Radical Dzogchen
Original Perfection: Vairotsana's Five Early Transmissions
Ken Wilber:
Topic: Advaita
A Simple Feeling of Being: Embracing Your True Nature
A Brief History of Everything 
One Taste: Daily Reflections on Integral Spirituality


Kenneth Folk:
Topic:  Advaita, Buddhism, Theravada, Meditation

Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche:
Topic: Mahamudra

Essentials of Mahamudra: Looking Directly at the Mind 
Pointing Out the Dharmakaya
Crystal Clear: Practical Advice for Mahamudra Meditators
Vivid Awareness: The Mind Instructions of Khenpo Gangshar

Leo Hartong:
Topic: Advaita
Awakening to the Dream: The Gift of Lucid Living
From Self to Self: notes & quotes in response to 'Awakening to the Dream'
LIberation Unleashed:
Topic: No-self; affiliated with Ruthless Truth


Mu Soeng
Topic: Buddhism/Emptiness teachings

The Heart of the Universe: Exploring the Heart Sutra

Nathan Gill
Topic: Advaita

Being - The Bottom Line
Already Awake



Topic: Dzogchen; Vajrayana; Buddhism
Treasures from Juniper Ridge: The Profound Treasure Instructions of Padmasambhava to the Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal

Ramesh S. Balsekar:
Topic: Advaita
Consciousness Speaks: Conversations With Ramesh S. Balsekar

Ramana Maharshi:
Topic: Self-inquiry

Be as You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi
The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi
Rupert Spira:
Topic: Advaita
The Transparency of Things: Contemplating the Nature of Experience

Ruthless Truth/Ciaran/etc:
Topic: No-self


'Sailor' Bob Adamson
Topic: Advaita
Only That: The Life and Teaching of Sailor Bob Adamson
One Essence Appearing as Everything
Presence-Awareness: Just This and Nothing Else
What's Wrong with Right Now, Unless You Think About It?
Articles available for reading at:

Seung Sahn:

Topic: Korean Zen

Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn


Steve Hagen:
Topic: Buddhism and Zen

Buddhism Is Not What You Think: Finding Freedom Beyond Beliefs
Meditation Now or Never
Buddhism Plain & Simple
How the World Can Be the Way It Is: An Inquiry for the New Millennium into Science, Philosophy, and Perception

Tan Kheng Khoo:
Topic: Varied
List of articles written by long time meditation teacher Dr. Tan on meditation and various teachings by different teachers and religions, recent articles (e.g. those on Taoism I - General., Theravada Buddhism, Tony Parsons, etc.) are well-written on the experience of Anatta/No-Self:

Ted Biringer
Topic: Zen; Dogen studies

The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing: The Second Ancestor of Zen in the West

Tejananda John Wakeman:

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche:
Topic: Bon, Dzogchen

The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep

Thich Nhat Hanh:
Topic: Buddhism, Zen
The Sun My Heart
Peace Is Every Step
No Death, No Fear
Breathe! You Are Alive

Toni Packer: 
Topic: Awareness Practice, Anatta
The Silent Question: Meditating in the Stillness of Not-Knowing
The Wonder of Presence: And the Way of Meditative Inquiry
The Light of Discovery

Tony Parsons:
Topic: Advaita
Nothing Being Everything
All There Is
The Open Secret

U.G. Krishnamurti
The Mystique of Enlightenment (Part Two)
Available for reading here:

Venerable Yin Shun
Topic: Buddhism

The Way to Buddhahood

Walpola Rahula
Topic: Buddhism

What The Buddha Taught 
Posted by: Soh
Yet another well-written Non-Duality model by Dharma Dan in relations to the four paths. In contrast to the previously posted one, The Non-Duality Models of Enlightenment by Dharma Dan, this one is an older model and uses more 'Mahayana' terminologies and way of expression.
Author's website:


This model is based upon the phrase in the Heart Sutra “form is emptiness, emptiness is form.” To my knowledge, this model is not found in quite this presentation anywhere other than here, nor has it ever been related to the Four Path model of the Theravada in the way that follows. The inspiration for using this phrase comes from a wonderful chapter in Chogyam Trungpa’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism called “Shunyata.”

I present this somewhat novel model here because it focuses on real insight directly and treats any emotional benefits of this as side effects. Further, there are often too many cycles of insight before arahatship, making the four path model troublesome. This phenomena of too many cycles (which I will sometimes call “paths” with a lowercase “p”) between each of the Four Paths gets worse as one works towards final awakening. As Bill Hamilton put it, and I have learned the hard way, “The arahat fractal is vast.”

This model does not reinforce fascination with content, nor with life denying ideals or limited emotional range models in the way that the traditional Four Path Model often does. It does not tempt one to count paths. It keeps the focus on precise inquiry into the truth and one’s experience of it or lack thereof.

This model basically says that enlightenment is about direct insight that progressively reveals something different in the relationship to the field of experience and gradually allows things in it to be held in their proper proportion. However, as to the specific implications of this increased clarity and more realistic perspective as regards behavior or how emotions manifest, all bets are off.

We will begin with the obvious statement that “form is form.” By form, I mean all mental and physical phenomena, i.e. the world of sensations as we know it. Saying that “form is form” is like saying that “sensations are sensations” or “experience is experience.” There is nothing all that profound about this understanding, and all living creatures know this. This is the state of understanding before stream entry. It is valid within its scope, and this should not be forgotten. The laws of the world are the laws of the world, and these must be acknowledged and respected, as must the beings that live in that world.

By clearly investigating form, one eventually comes to the understanding of the stream enterer, that “emptiness is emptiness.” Unlike those that are unenlightened, one who has attained first path, that of stream entry, has directly understood in some completely inexplicable way what is meant by “emptiness” in terms of the non-experience of “ultimate reality” that results from entering Fruition through one of the Three Doors. However, while the stream enterer may have some intellectual clues about the “relationship” between emptiness and form due to the ways the Three Doors present, they have no obvious direct experience of it when experiencing almost all sensations. Correlations between this model and the Four Path model begin to break down during the middle two Paths.

Thus, the meanings of interdependence, dependent arising and particularly non-duality will still be somewhat mysterious to them, though in some intuitive way they will have a deeper understanding of these than someone who is unenlightened. Second path is a step higher in terms of the Four Path map, but it brings no huge improvements in the understanding of these things from the point of view of this model. The phenomenal world still generally seems perniciously “dual” for both those of the first two paths. At both first and second path, Nirvana is largely seen as something beyond all of this, an inconceivable discontinuity. However, it seems to have little to do with most of the sensations of the world except that it is “found” in the attainment of Fruition beyond experience and the sensate universe. It can be frustrating that the refuge seems to be found largely outside the universe in some non-experience, and there is a growing sense that true freedom must somehow be found in the world however it manifests. Precise inquiry into the true nature of sensations continues as before.

The next understanding that comes is that “form is emptiness.” This might be thought of as the understanding of those of third path, as the attainment of this understanding does some serious damage to the illusion of a separate watcher or self, i.e. to the illusion of duality. However, it is very appropriate here to reiterate the truth of the joke being made by the phrase “Twelfth Path.” There may be a lot of cycles of insight and fascinating stuff that goes on between stream entry and the dawning of the understanding that “form is emptiness.” In exactly the same way, there may also be many new levels at which this may be understood before the work is fully done. Thus, counting paths doesn’t work well when using this model beyond first path.

That said, the concept of Nirvana now seems to generally apply to the phenomenal world as well as the attainment of Fruition, though there is still something clouding the waters. Those of third path will have a direct understanding of what is meant by non-duality, the “intrinsic luminosity” of phenomena and of “interdependence” that is far more direct and clear than the somewhat intuitive understanding of those of first and second path. This holds up quite well until they get into another progress cycle.

The primary benefit of attaining third path is that when the mind stops laboring under the gross aspects of the illusion of a dualistic split (of a subject and an object, an observer and the observed) the mind does not produce nearly so much noise related to fundamental attraction (trying to get to the other side of the imagined split when the other side seems pleasant) and fundamental aversion (trying to get away from the other side of the imagined split when the other side seems unpleasant).

Since it is not producing so much useless noise based upon the illusion of duality, this reveals very significant levels of fundamental peace, balance and clarity. It is a bit like the increased performance of a computer that results from stopping useless processes that were running in the background. Thus, we begin to see some hints of the tenuous relationship between the non-duality models and the limited emotional range models. The weird thing is that the more one pays attention, the more the emotional range seems to grow.

A person of third path, that is, an anagami or “never returner”, (however many insight cycles it took to “get there” and assuming this point can be clearly defined, which is dubious) has eliminated or overcome “fundamental attraction” and “fundamental aversion” (in non-duality terms) to ordinary phenomena. This is because, when experiencing most sensations, particularly when not in meditative states of high clarity, the sense of a separate self or duality may seem to be largely absent or often exceedingly subtle to those of third path. They simply no longer make this false imputation from most sensations. This is a radical shift in understanding, and is one of the reasons why going from second path to third path is often found to be much more difficult than going from first path to second path. It requires great deal of trust in reality as well as a fairly new realm of understanding. Paths that emphasize “surrender to the will of God” might well have an easier time with this transition. Simply emphasizing the Third Characteristic, that all things simply happen on their own, works just as well.

Those of “third path” do have gaps in their understanding, and there is still a largely subtle process of the mind creating artificial dualities that may become more obvious during moments of high clarity. There is still a subtle but illusory sense that there is a peaceful and clear “this” or separate self that is not being perturbed most of the time by “that,” i.e. the world.

Ironically, the benefits of this level of understanding and the subtlety of the remaining illusion of duality can be the primary impediments to further progress. The mind of those of third path may attach to (try to solidify and then pretend it is self, the property of a self, or created by a self) such things as panoramic perspectives, mental silence, peace, clarity, the sometimes seemingly complete sense of non-duality, and that sort of thing. It is still trying to section off a part of reality as separate, realized and in control, and at these higher levels of awakening can do so in increasingly sophisticated and seductive ways. It becomes progressively harder to see what needs more work and easier to rationalize gaps in understanding once they are seen. On the other hand, there are few new tricks left that the process of creating the illusion of duality can throw at an anagami, and what is left to do is basically a question of learning the same old lessons again and again for a new set of subtle sensations and qualities of experience. Clear investigation of the sensations that make up reality is still highly recommended, as always. Did I mention that the large number of full, new and complete progress cycles from this stage to the next might surprise you? I hope so.

Finally, arahats understand that “emptiness is form.” Nirvana is found in samsara, in the midst of the phenomenal world, as well as in the attainment of Fruition beyond the phenomenal world. This is what is meant by removing the “last veil of unknowing.” They understand that it is form that is empty, that some illusory sense of a split off peacefulness or island of imperturbability was never true or realistic refuge. All of these phenomena are already empty and always have been. This is the great cosmic punch line: all of this transience turns out to have been it all along. Not only was form empty, but emptiness was actually form. The split is gone.
Posted by: Soh
"...And with that, the entire world self-liberates, because there is simply no "me" to expect anything of it, to make demands of it, to claim to know how any of it works. Freed from the stranglehold of thought, freed from the burden of "me and all my problems", there is a great ease which permeates everything. Freed from goals and meanings, every moment is a goal in itself, everything is intrinsically meaningful, because every moment is all there is, or ever was. Freed from self-consciousness, everything is permissible and consequences are not even possible. And there may still be pain and anger and sadness, but this happens for nobody, and so it doesn't matter anymore (since there's simply nobody here to whom it could possibly matter!). There's pain and anger and sadness, but they don't belong to anyone. And so, since nobody is claiming them, they just dissolve of their own accord, in their own time.

And everything being talked about here is already the case, for all of us (and yes, that includes "you", of course!). Already, there is liberation. Already, there is freedom from it all. Truly, right now, there is nothing more to attain. Thoughts arise, sounds arise, sights arise, feelings in the body arise, but they always already arise for nobody.

And this may be noticed, or it may not; it really doesn't make a blind bit of difference. There's nobody there to notice it, anyway. And nobody would "get" anything from noticing this, even if they could...

~ Jeff Foster


" seems that lots of effort need to be put in -- which is really not the case. The entire practice turns out to an undoing process. It is a process of gradually understanding the workings of our nature that is from beginning liberated but clouded by this sense of ‘self’ that is always trying to preserve, protect and ever attached. The entire sense of self is a ‘doing’. Whatever we do, positive or negative, is still doing. Ultimately there is not-even a letting go or let be, as there is already continuous dissolving and arising and this ever dissolving and arising turns out to be self-liberating. Without this ‘self’ or ‘Self’, there is no ‘doing’, there is only spontaneous arising. Smile"

~ our forummer, Thusness (source: Non-dual and karmic patterns)

"...When one is unable to see the truth of our nature, all letting go is nothing more than another from of holding in disguise. Therefore without the 'insight', there is no releasing.... it is a gradual process of deeper seeing. when it is seen, the letting go is natural. You cannot force urself into giving up the self... purification to me is always these insights... non-dual and emptiness nature...."

~ Thusness

From a pure insight practice point of view, you can’t ever fundamentally “let go” of anything, so I sometimes wish the popularity of this misleading and indifference-producing admonition would decline, or at least be properly explained. However, if you simply investigate the truth of the Three Characteristics of the sensations that seemed to be a solid thing, you will come to the wondrous realization that reality is continually “letting go” of itself! Thus, “let it go” at its best actually means, “don’t give a bunch of transient sensations an excessive sense of solidity.” It does not mean, “stop feeling or caring,” nor does it mean, “pretend that the noise in your mind is not there.”

~ Theravadin teacher, Dharma Dan


...The particular method of Dzogchen is called the Path of Self-Liberation, and to apply it nothing need be renounced, purified, or transformed. Whatever arises as one's karmic vision is used as the path. The great master Pha Tampa Sangye [South Indian Yogin of the 11 century (ed.)] once said: It is not the circumstances which arise as one's karmic vision that condition a person into the dualistic state; it is a person's own attachment that enables what arises to condition him. If this attachment is to be cut through in the most rapid and effective way, the mind's spontaneous capacity to self-liberate must be brought into play. The term self-liberation should not, however, be taken as implying that there is some 'self' or ego there to be liberated. It is a fundamental the Dzogchen level, that all phenomena are void of self-nature. 'Self -Liberation', in the Dzogchen sense, means that whatever manifests in the field of experience of the practitioner is allowed to arise just as it is, without judgement of it as good or bad, beautiful or ugly. And in that same moment, if there is no clinging, or attachment, without effort, or even volition, whatever it is that arises, whether as a thought or as a seemingly external event, automatically liberates itself, by itself, and of itself. Practicing in this way the seeds of the poison tree of dualistic vision never even get a chance to sprout, much less to take root and grow.(p33)

So the practitioner lives his or her life in an ordinary way, without needing any rules other than one's own awareness, always remaining in the primordial state through integrating that state with whatever arises as part of experience -- with absolutely nothing to be seen outwardly to show that one is practicing. This is what is meant by self-liberation, this is what is meant by the name Dzogchen - which means Great Perfection - and this is what is meant by non-dual contemplation, or simply contemplation....

~ Dzogchen teacher, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche


Self-liberation does not mean that a self liberates himself or herself from delusorily valued thoughts or delusory experiences; what it means is that delusorily valued thoughts and delusory experiences liberate themselves spontaneously (which may take place in three main ways). (Source:


Thrangu Rinpoche: "Self-liberation and liberation upon arising are not characteristics of thought; they are what happens when the nature of thought is recognized. So it’s not the case that you either recognize the self-liberation or don’t; self-liberation is the result of recognition. Normally, thoughts are anything but self-liberated. A thought arises, and it takes us over, and that produces another thought, and so on. On the basis of these thoughts, we generate further confused projections, on the basis of which we experience pleasure and pain. Now, when the nature of a thought is recognized, what happens to that thought is very much like, as is traditionally said, what happens when a snake untangles or unties the knots it’s tied itself into. The snake does it itself; no one has to come along and help the snake out. In the same way, when you look at the thought directly, for example, a thought of anger, and you see its nature, then the thought does not generate a further thought; the anger is not prolonged. As soon as the nature is seen, at that moment, the poisonous quality of the anger just disappears and dissolves; and that is self-liberation or liberation upon arising."

~ Thrangu Rinpoche, "Pointing Out the Dharmakaya"


The Great Undoing

When disturbing mind states are simply left unrejected and unaltered, it is seen that they undo themselves naturally, without effort or struggle. It is seen that all states, all experiences whether labeled as positive, negative or neutral are forever undoing and resolving themselves, moment by timeless moment.

Self-Liberation Upon Arising

To practice is to realize that no practice was ever necessary.

To rest is to see that everything is always and already naturally at rest.

To maintain awareness is to see that awareness is self-maintained.

To allow everything to be as it is is to see that all things self-liberate upon arising.

- John Astin
Then the venerable Sariputra said to the goddess, "Goddess, how long have you been in this house?"

The goddess replied, "I have been here as long as the elder has been in liberation."

Sariputra said, "Then, have you been in this house for quite some time?"

The goddess said, "Has the elder been in liberation for quite some time?"

At that, the elder Sariputra fell silent.

The goddess continued, "Elder, you are 'foremost of the wise!' Why do you not speak? Now, when it is your turn, you do not answer the question."

Sariputra: Since liberation is inexpressible, goddess, I do not know what to say.

Goddess: All the syllables pronounced by the elder have the nature of liberation. Why? Liberation is neither internal nor external, nor can it be apprehended apart from them. Likewise, syllables are neither internal nor external, nor can they be apprehended anywhere else. Therefore, reverend Sariputra, do not point to liberation by abandoning speech! Why? The holy liberation is the equality of all things!

Sariputra: Goddess, is not liberation the freedom from desire, hatred, and folly?

Goddess: "Liberation is freedom from desire, hatred, and folly" that is the teaching of the excessively proud. But those free of pride are taught that the very nature of desire, hatred, and folly is itself liberation.
~ Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra
"Good sons, all hindrances are none other than ultimate enlightenment. Whether you attain mindfulness or lose mindfulness, there is no non-liberation. Establishing the Dharma and refuting the Dharma are both called nirvana; wisdom and folly are equally prajna; the method that is perfected by bodhisattvas and false teachers is the same bodhi; ignorance and suchness are not different realms; morality, concentration and wisdom, as well as desire, hatred and ignorance are all divine practices; sentient beings and lands share the same dharma nature; hell and heaven are both the Pure Land; those having Buddha-nature and those not having it equally accomplish the Buddha's enlightenment. All defilements are ultimately liberation. The reality-realms's ocean-like wisdom completely illumines all marks to be just like empty space. This is called 'the Tathāgata's accordance with the nature of enlightenment.' "

~ The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment



Hi Longchen,

Not only that. This work by Padmasambhava is truly deep and profound; it discloses the self-liberating aspect of our intrinsic nature. It is especially important for you now.

At that time when you posted the thread of non-dual and karmic pattern,, the condition is only right for understanding 'the strength of karmic propensities’, as such, this aspect was not disclosed. Instead, the second door of impermanence was introduced and it was introduced with the purpose to complement the no-self experience you had in order to give rise to this insight of “Self-Liberation”. The sole purpose of the practice of the second door of impermanence is for this insight to arise.

I was reading some commentaries about this work, I was disappointed; and with all due respect, I must say it is terribly distorted. The commentator has transformed this great work of Padmasambhava to an Advaita or neo-Advaita teaching. Self Liberating nature of our pristine nature is not to posit naked-awareness as a background where “all thoughts arise and subside’ and the background is not affected by this transient nature of thoughts, it remains constant, changeless and unmoved. ‘Self liberation’ should never be taken to mean this.

There is no Awareness apart from the arising and ceasing of thoughts and yet thought spontaneously arise and subsides in its own accord (self-liberating). It liberates at that very moment of ‘passing away’ (the practice of second door) without the need of effort, simply so. From moment to moment it is so. Thus comes and thus goes. This is its emptiness nature. The emptiness nature liberates instantaneously. By simply so, it is spontaneously self-perfected.

Sentient mind however posit a ‘self’ and holds. Whether the “thought” is good or bad, it attempts to do something to change, whatever direction it goes either good or bad, all is ‘doing’ (karma) and prevents the liberating nature. However without the experience of no-self (Buddhism non-duality not Adviata non-dual), one can never understand this intuitively.

Do read with a reverent heart. Homage to Padmasambhava...

UPDATE: Thusness warned that one should never talk about spontaneous arising and self-liberation before the insights of Non-Duality and Emptiness. Only when Non-duality and Emptiness is realised, can spontaneous arising be comprehended.

What I meant is there is no actual benefit in terms of practice before non-dual experience and insight into our emptiness nature. We cannot talk about self-liberating nature from a ‘dualistic’ and ‘inherent’ standpoint; at least from the perspective of Buddhism or from an experiential point of view. It is pointless to keep talking about it because it will only lead to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. However at certain point of our practice, the ‘already is’ is important because as what Longchen has expressed in his post:
“Yes, there are some challenging situations to non-dual presence. I will share it on the forum..
In my case, nondual is easier to experience when there are bodily movement. This is when i am walking or eating. The mind rest and just feeling the sensations.
However, when thinking kicks in... it is not so easy. This can be liken to a dog trying to bite its own tail. The habitual tendency to let go of these thoughts becomes the arising of the dualistic perception. 'Let go' becomes the very effort. and a loop cycle ensues. However, there are also time when the 'let go effort' drops and restfulness follows. ... and one wonders just how silly the 'let go' effort is. LOL.
The guess is that one must sustain a 'deeper' level of 'knowing' non-efforting.... that cannot be sought after.”
It is the very insight of “already is” that will lead to ‘effortlessness’. Expression of 'what already is' is not to proclaim about one’s insight or attainment but rather to bring across to practitioner that the ‘key’, the ‘antidote’ to clear the ‘hurdle’ of effortlessness of sustaining non-dual presence lies in the ‘already is’, i.e, after the right understanding of our non-dual and non-inherent nature; and this understanding must take place in our inmost consciousness.
Posted by: Soh
Update: links updated, comments updated

Here is my attempt at summarising some of the points from a discussion with Thusness, as well as being a reply to someone's question in my forum.

Update: BTW, there's another very interesting discussion I had with a guy called 'AndrewPKYap' who is as of now at Stage 4 (Presence as Mirror Bright Clarity) according to Thusness's Six Stages of Experience. Here is the link:

I believe the discussion with AndrewPKYap should make it very clear what is the difference between Stage 4 and 5, as well as to elaborate on the Emptiness nature of all phenomena.

--------------- parts updated after corrections by Thusness)

...J. Krishnamurti said, In the gap between subject and object lies the entire misery of humankind.

The fundamental point here is that, without liberating from the basic dualistic assumption of subject-object, you will always be trapped in tanha (desire), and the 2nd noble truth states that tanha (desire) causes suffering (such as lack, fear, anxiety, and dissatisfaction, etc).

What kinds of desires? There are three kinds. Desire for sense pleasure (kama tanha), desire to become (bhava tanha) and desire to get rid of (vibhava tanha).

The problem is that when we desire something, lets say sense pleasure, the more we seek, the wider we split the subject and the object (and as you know there really is no subject apart from object), the more painful and dissatisfactory it is. We then become discontent with life as it is, we cannot see that what is arising now is already self-perfected as it is, we cannot see that all there is is simply conditioned arising -- and a perfect expression of our primordial nature, our Buddha Nature.

Similarly, if something unpleasurable arises, we try to widen the gap between subject and object, we try to shut off, manipulate, get rid of the undesired object from a phantom subject (you) which will not work because there is really no such thing as a subject-object split. And because it can never be done, the more you try to avert it, the more suffering and dissatisfaction you experience.

Comments by Thusness on the paragraphs above:
Yes, it is the split, the separation that causes suffering as well the arising of desire. Without the insight that there is no-split, the mind continues to divide. Desire is an inner deficiency of the mind created to bridge the gap of separation.
In reality, there only is the universe manifesting as it is in itself, conditioned arising, a mere happening that happens to no-one. Whatever arises at that moment, is as it is. If pain arises, it is not 'your pain' from 'your body'. The universe is pain and it is happening to no one because there is no self apart from manifestation.

And the problem of clinging to a desired object then becomes that it is ultimately impermanent, and there is no way that a 'subject' (which never existed) can grasp onto the 'object', since it is empty and ungraspable (utterly transient and ephemeral), being merely only conditioned arising, the aggregation of causes and conditions, and having no reality apart from it.

If you see a colourful flower and a dog and an insect too sees it, you and the dog and the ant are not going to see the same things. The dog is only going to see black and white. Why? Because the nature of the flower is Empty -- there is no graspable 'Essence of Flower' or the 'Flowerness of the Flower' -- Flower is empty of any inherent existence, being only conditioned arising, merely the aggregation of causes and conditions, and having no reality apart from it!

Comments by Thusness on the paragraph above:
This is refining the non-dual experience with the emptiness nature of our awareness from a Buddhist perspective. It will reduce the ‘grasping’ of self significantly if experienced intuitively. That said, we should also bear in mind that the purpose of expounding the emptiness nature of any arising is to realize that the ‘transients’ are really our very Buddha nature. Ultimately ‘emptiness’ is still a ‘raft’ that must be discarded. Practice must enable us to experience the ‘the most real of the appearances’ -- the full vivid aliveness yet empty at that moment. This is the luminous aspect of practice.

Just to illustrate a little on the example of 'flowerness':

There is no ‘the flowerness’ seen by a dog, an insect or us. ‘The flowerness’ is an illusion that does not stay even for a moment, merely an aggregate of causes and conditions. Analogous to the example of ‘flowerness’, there is no ‘selfness’ serving as a background witnessing either -- pristine awareness is not the witnessing background. Rather, the entire whole of the moment of manifestation is our pristine awareness; lucidly clear, yet empty of inherent existence. This the way of ‘seeing’ the one as many, the observer and the observed are one and the same. This is also the meaning of formlessness and attribute-less of our nature.

How does a dualistic mind see it?
A dualistic mind understands differently. A mind that is dualistic is quick to objectify ‘formlessness and atribute-less’ into an empty-invisible-v
oid entity observing transients manifestation. It ‘dualifies’ form from formlessness and attempts to separate from itself. This is not ‘I’, ‘I’ am the changeless and perfect stillness behind the transients appearances. Therefore ‘impersonality’ appears cold and lifeless. But this is not the case for a non-dual practitioner in Buddhism. For him/her, the ‘formlessness and attribute-less’ is vividly alive, full of colors and sounds. ‘Formlessness’ is not understood apart from ‘Forms’ – the ‘form of formlessness’, the texture and fabric of awareness. They are one and the same.
Whatever arises is the whole universe manifesting as that moment. Know that the universe is giving its very best for this moment to arise. All conditions and causes are just right for the birth a moment of manifestation. When this is understood, the 'conditioned arising' is really unconditioned, all spontaneously arise.

If we can understand the the nature of the object we are seeking is in essence empty of any inherent existence, being merely conditioned arising, and that the subject-object relationship is false, there will be complete resting and contentment in the moment of arising. You will not fall under the false dualistic relationship of a 'subject' trying to manipulate the 'external universe', trying to get away from or stop/manipulate what is presently arising, trying to get something better than what is here, trying to shut off yourself from the world, etc.

It is seen that all there is is conditioned arising -- that what you are is simply the scenery, sound of bird chirping, sound of keyboard typing, words appearing on the screen.. there is no observer apart from the observed. As Buddha said, in seeing, only the seen, no seer. In hearing, only the heard, no hearer. (this goes for all other six senses including thinking) And the seen, the heard, the felt, the thought, the taste, all are simply conditioned arising that is empty of any fixed forms, shapes, attributes, etc. Emptiness that has a luminous heart giving rise to infinite potentiality. And that is your nature.

So Buddha Nature is not one! There is no 'The Absolute' but all moments are a reality/'absolute' in itself! (just like there is no 'Essence of Flower', only conditioned manifestation according to causes and conditions) Because Buddha Nature really is the manifold -- the whole universe, everything, as conditioned arising that is empty and never fixed, everchanging. Yet it is not many either! Because all that is inseparable in One Taste, being all the manifestation of our pristine awareness, and being an inseparable wholeness, also known as One Reality or One Mind but really it does not have a single nor multiple realities because its nature is empty. (See the recent topic, the last few posts, A nightmare)

There are lots of various descriptions of our Buddha Nature -- all pervading, brighter than a thousand suns, mirror-like, indestructible. And all conditioned arising is an expression of the unconditioned Buddha Nature. All that is arising is the Buddha. They are all your pristine awareness at that moment with its nature empty -- never the same and never remain (having no existence and reality apart from conditioned arising), nothing apart from the crystal clear manifestation of appearances. Completely and fully real and gone.

A bird is chirping happily outside... just that sound. The whole universe is just that sound. Completely real, but never staying... gone as it arises. Merely a conditioned manifestation that is empty.

Comments by Thusness on the paragraph above:
An extra point:

Here the highlight must not only be the empty nature of ‘sound’ alone, that luminosity as ‘sound’ must similarly be emphasized. When we stripped-off the symbolic representation of ‘bird’, ‘chirping’, ‘outside’, ‘eyes-organ’, ‘ears-organs’, ‘senate reality’ and merely experience in bare, this is the meditative state of intuitively knowing that quality of being luminous in oneness. Oneness as there is nothing to divide when devoid of these symbolic layering. The depth of the crystal clarity of that pure experience – ‘chirping’ is not what language can convey. The point here is not to bring about a scientific study on the topic of qualia but to have a direct feel of the full absorption in the delight of that clear-luminosity of ‘sound’. It is the ‘depth and degree’ of absorptive-clarit
y yet non-staying that is most important; not the symbolic understand of meanings.

It may be a good prompt at this juncture to ask "Is remaining ‘in the mode that is free of symbols’ the only way to experience non-duality?"
Just like patterns of clouds appearing in the sky -- they are all conditioned arising.

...We call it weather, but what is it really? Wind. Rain. Clouds slowly parting. Not the words spoken about it, but just this darkening, blowing, pounding and wetting, and then lightening up, blue sky appearing amid darkness, and sunshine sparkling on wet grasses and leaves. In a little while there'll be frost, snow and ice covers. And then warming again, melting, oozing water everywhere. On an early spring day the dirt road sparkles with streams of wet silver. So—what is weather other than this incessant change of earthly conditions and all the human thoughts, feelings and undertakings influenced by it? Like and dislike. Depression and elation. Creation and destruction. An ongoing, ever-changing stream of happenings abiding nowhere. No real entity weather exists anywhere except in thinking and talking about it....

...Now, is there such an entity as me or I? Or is it just like the weather—an ongoing, ever-changing stream of ideas, images, memories, projections, likes and dislikes, creation and destruction, that thought keeps calling I, me, Toni, and thereby solidifying what is evanescent?...

...How are we to come upon the truth if separateness is taken so much for granted, feels so commonsense?
The difficulty is not insurmountable. Wholeness, our true being, is here all the time, like the sun behind the clouds. Light is here in spite of cloud cover.
What makes up the clouds?...
(see Emptiness and No-Self)

All gain and loss is also simply that -- conditioned arising. The sense of a 'controller' is let go of, no 'self' is in control. This does not mean we will no longer work hard to get good exam results (we can still work for the best), it just means that gain and loss must be seen as conditioned arising. Furthermore, all actions become effortless.

Comments by Thusness on the paragraph above:
Once the sense of self is dissolved, there is totality of action and practice is about this totality in action. There is no question of effort; the only effort comes from the sense of ‘self’. When ‘non-dual and empty’ is fully experienced in our cells and flow in our blood like how dualistic-propensities have so deeply tainted the 5 aggregates, action becomes effortless.
More comments by Thusness on the paragraph above:
The understanding 'of arising as yuan' (yuan = conditions) must be factored to all aspects of our lives. Applying this insight to the six stages of my experiences, you must see them not as indications of stages at all. There are no higher or lower stages, all merely serves as conditions for ‘new insight’ to arise. A practitioner may start from training himself to ‘witness’ the empty nature of phenomena (stage 6) yet still having a clear distinction of observer and observed being dual; but the gradual loosening of ‘solidity’ of all internal or external phenomena having no inherent existence will slowly leads to the non-dual experience.
Practice is about losing oneself and all merely happens as if 'you' never existed. One must eventually undergo a complete psychological death, and be completely dead in the living. As the saying goes -- die before you die. At that moment, deep dreamless sleep where the self completely subsides, is no longer different from conscious state. There is no more attachment, no more unwillingness to completely relinquish the 'self', no more grasping to the need to 'exist' consciously. One requires fearlessness to dissolve this habit of 'self-preservation'... and when that is done, samatha and insight becomes one.