Posted by: Wei Yu
(Written by Thusness/PasserBy)

NOTE: The stages are nothing authoritative, merely for sharing purposes. The article On Anatta (No-Self), Emptiness, Maha and Ordinariness, and Spontaneous Perfection is a good reference for these 7 phases of experience. The original six stages of experience has been updated to seven stages of experience, with the addition of 'Stage 7: Presence is Spontaneously Perfected' for readers to understand that seeing the nature of reality as the ground of all experiences which is Always So, is important for effortlessness to take place.

Based on: http://buddhism.sgforums.com/?action=thread_display&thread_id=210722&page=3

(First written: 20th September 2006, Last Updated: 27th August 2012)

Stage 1: The Experience of “I AM”

It was about 20 years back and it all started with the question of “Before birth, who am I?” I do not know why but this question seemed to capture my entire being. I could spend days and nights just sitting focusing, pondering over this question; till one day, everything seemed to come to a complete standstill, not even a single thread of thought arose. There was merely nothing and completely void, only this pure sense of existence. This mere sense of I, this Presence, what was it? It was not the body, not thought as there was no thought, nothing at all, just Existence itself. There was no need for anyone to authenticate this understanding.

At that moment of realization, I experienced a tremendous flow of energy being released. It was as if life was expressing itself through my body and I was nothing but this expression. However at that point in time, I was still unable to fully understand what this experience was and how I had misunderstood its nature.

Stage 2: The Experience of “I AM Everything”

It seemed that my experience was supported by many Advaita and Hindu teachings. But the biggest mistake I made was when I spoke to a Buddhist friend. He told me about the doctrine of no-self, about no ‘I’. I rejected such doctrine outright as it was in direct contradiction with what I had experienced. I was deeply confused for some time and could not appreciate why Buddha had taught this doctrine and worse still, make it a Dharma Seal. Until one day, I experienced the fusing of everything into ‘Me’ but somehow there was no ‘me’. It was like an “I-less I’. I somehow accepted the 'no I' idea but then I still insisted that Buddha shouldn't have put it that way...

The experience was wonderful, it was as if I was totally emancipated, a complete release without boundary. I told myself, “I am totally convinced that I am no longer confused”, so I wrote a poem (something like the below),

I am the rain
I am the sky
I am the ‘blueness’
The color of the sky
Nothing is more real than the I
Therefore Buddha, I am I.

There is a phrase for this experience -- Whenever and wherever there IS, the IS is Me. This phrase was like a mantra to me. I often used this to lead me back into the experience of Presence.

The rest of the journey was the unfolding and further refining of this experience of Total Presence, but somehow there was always this blockage, this ‘something’ preventing me from recapturing the experience. It was the inability to fully ‘die’ into total Presence..

Stage 3: Entering Into a State of Nothingness

Somehow something was blocking the natural flow of my innermost essence and preventing me from re-living the experience. Presence was still there but there was no sense of ‘totality’. It was both logically and intuitively clear that ‘I’ was the problem. It was the ‘I’ that was blocking; it was the ‘I’ that was the limit; it was the ‘I’ that was the boundary but why couldn’t I do away with it? At that point in time it didn’t occur to me that I should look into the nature of awareness and what awareness is all about. Instead, I was too occupied with the art of entering into a state of oblivion to get rid of the ‘I’... This continued for the next 13+ years (in between of course there were many other minor events and the experience of total presence did occur many times, but with gaps a few months long)…

However I came to one important understanding –
The ‘I’ is the root cause of all artificialities, true freedom is in spontaneity. Surrender into complete nothingness and everything is simply Self So.

Stage 4: Presence as Mirror Bright Clarity

I got in touch with Buddhism in 1997. Not because I wanted to find out more about the experience of ‘Presence’ but rather the teaching of impermanence synced deeply with what I was experiencing in life. I was faced with the possibility of losing all my wealth and more by financial crisis. At that point in time I had no idea that Buddhism is so profoundly rich on the aspect of ‘Presence’. The mystery of life cannot be understood, I sought for a refuge in Buddhism to alleviate my sorrows caused by the financial crisis, but it turned out to be the missing key towards experiencing total presence.

I wasn’t that resistant then to the doctrine of ‘no-self’ but the idea that all phenomenal existence is empty of an inherent ‘self’ or ‘Self’ did not quite get into me. Were they talking about the ‘self’ as a personality or ‘Self’ as ‘Eternal Witness’? Must we do away even with the ‘Witness’? Was the Witness itself another illusion?

There is thinking, no thinker
There is sound, no hearer
Suffering exists, no sufferer
Deeds there are, no doer

I was meditating on the meaning of the above stanza deeply until one day, suddenly I heard ‘tongss…’, it was so clear, there was nothing else, just the sound and nothing else! And ‘tongs…’ resounding… It was so clear, so vivid!

That experience was so familiar, so real and so clear. It was the same experience of “I AM”… it was without thought, without concepts, without intermediary, without anyone there, without any in-between… What was it? IT was Presence! But this time it was not ‘I AM’, it was not asking ‘who am I’, it was not the pure sense of “I AM”, it was ‘TONGSss….’, the pure Sound…
Then came Taste, just the Taste and nothing else….
The heart beats…
The Scenery…

There was no gap in between, no longer a few months gap for it to arise…
There never was a stage to enter, no I to cease and never had it existed
There is no entry and exit point…
There is no Sound out there or in here…
There is no ‘I’ apart from the arising and ceasing…
The manifold of Presence…
Moment to moment Presence unfolds…

Comments:

This is the beginning of seeing through no-self. Insight into no-self has arisen but non-dual experience is still very much 'Brahman' rather than 'Sunyata'; in fact it is more Brahman than ever. Now "I AMness" is experienced in All.

Nevertheless it is a very important key phase where the practitioner experiences a quantum leap in perception untying the dualistic knot. This is also the key insight leading to the realization that "All is Mind", all is just this One Reality.

The tendency to extrapolate an Ultimate Reality or Universal Consciousness where we are part of this Reality remains surprisingly strong. Effectively the dualistic knot is gone but the bond of seeing things inherently isn't. 'Dualistic' and 'inherent' knots that prevent the full experiencing of our Maha, empty and non-dual nature of pristine awareness are two very different 'perceptual spells' that blind.

The subsection "On Second Stanza" of the post "On Anatta (No-Self), Emptiness, Maha and Ordinariness, and Spontaneous Perfection" further elaborates this insight.
Stage 5: No Mirror Reflecting

There is no mirror reflecting
All along manifestation alone is.
The one hand claps
Everything IS!

Effectively Phase 4 is merely the experience of non-division between subject/object. The initial insight glimpsed from the anatta stanza is without self but in the later phase of my progress it appeared more like subject/object as an inseparable union, rather than absolutely no-subject. This is precisely the 2nd case of the Three levels of understanding Non-Dual. I was still awed by the pristineness and vividness of phenomena in phase 4.

Phase 5 is quite thorough in being no one and I would call this anatta in all 3 aspects -- no subject/object division, no doer-ship and absence of agent.

The trigger point here is the direct and thorough seeing that 'the mirror is nothing more than an arising thought'. With this, the solidity and all the grandeur of 'Brahman' goes down the drain. Yet it feels perfectly right and liberating without the agent and being simply as an arising thought or as a vivid moment of a bell resounding. All the vividness and presence remains, with an additional sense of freedom. Here a mirror/reflection union is clearly understood as flawed, there is only vivid reflection. There cannot be a 'union' if there isn't a subject to begin with. It is only in subtle recalling, that is in a thought recalling a previous moment of thought, that the watcher seems to exist. From here, I moved towards the 3rd degree of non-dual.

The Stanza One complements and refines Stanza Two to make the experience of no-self thorough and effortless into just only chirping birds, drum beats, footsteps, sky, mountain, walking, chewing and tasting; no witness whatsoever hiding anywhere! 'Everything' is a process, event, manifestation and phenomenon, nothing ontological or having an essence.

This phase is a very thorough non-dual experience; there is effortlessness in the non-dual and one realizes that in seeing there is always just scenery and in hearing, always just sounds. We find true delights in naturalness and ordinariness as commonly expressed in Zen as 'chop wood, carry water; spring comes, grass grows'. With regards to ordinariness (see "On Maha in Ordinariness"), this must also be correctly understood. A recent conversation with Simpo summarizes what I am trying to convey with regards to ordinariness. Simpo (Longchen) is a very insightful and sincere practitioner, there are some very good quality articles written by him regarding non-duality in his website Dreamdatum.

Yes Simpo,

Non-dual is ordinary as there is no 'beyond' stage to arrive at. It appears to be extraordinary and grandeur only as an afterthought due to comparison.

That said, the maha experience appearing as "universe chewing" and the spontaneity of pristine happening must still remain maha, free, boundless and clear. For that is what it is and cannot be otherwise. The "extraordinariness and grandeur" that result from comparison must also be correctly discerned from the 'what is' of non-dual.

Whenever contraction steps in, it is already a manifestation of 'experiencer-experience split'. Conventionally speaking, that being the cause, that is the effect. Whatever the condition is, be it the result of unfavorable situations or subtle recalling to arrive at a certain good sensation or attempting to fix an imaginary split, we have to treat it that the 'non-dual' insight has not pervaded into our entire being like the way 'karmic tendency to divide' does. We have not fearlessly, openly and unreservedly welcomed whatever is. :-)

Just my view, a casual sharing.
Practitioners up to this level often get over excited believing that this phase is final; in fact it does appear to be a sort of pseudo finality. But this is a misunderstanding. Nothing much can be said. The practitioner will also be naturally led into spontaneous perfection without going further in emptying the aggregates. :-)

For further comments: http://buddhism.sgforums.com/forums/1728/topics/210722?page=6

Comments:

The drop is thorough, the center is gone. The center is nothing more than a subtle karmic tendency to divide. A more poetic expression would be “sound hears, scenery sees, the dust is the mirror.” Transient phenomena themselves have always been the mirror; only a strong dualistic view prevents the seeing.

Very often cycles after cycles of refining our insights are needed to make the non-dual less 'concentrative' and more 'effortless'. This relates to experiencing the non-solidity and spontaneity of experience. The subsection "On First Stanza" of the post "On Anatta (No-Self), Emptiness, Maha and Ordinariness, and Spontaneous Perfection" further elaborates this phase of insight.

At this phase, we must be clear that emptying the subject will only result in non-duality and there is a need to further empty the aggregates, 18 dhatus. This means one must further penetrate the emptiness nature of the 5 aggregates, 18 dhatus with dependent origination and emptiness. The need to reify a Universal Brahman is understood as the karmic tendency to 'solidify' experiences. This leads to the understanding of the empty nature of non-dual presence.
Stage 6: The Nature of Presence is Empty

Phase 4 and 5 are the grayscale of seeing through the subject that it does not exist in actuality (anatta), there are only the aggregates. However even the aggregates are empty (Heart Sutra). It may sound obvious but more often than not, even a practitioner who has matured the anatta experience (as in phase 5) will miss the essence of it.

As I have said earlier, phase 5 does appear to be final and it is pointless to emphasize anything. Whether one proceeds further to explore this empty nature of Presence and move into the Maha world of suchness will depend on our conditions.

At this juncture, it is necessary to have clarity on what Emptiness is not to prevent misunderstandings:

• Emptiness is not a substance
• Emptiness is not a substratum or background
• Emptiness is not light
• Emptiness is not consciousness or awareness
• Emptiness is not the Absolute
• Emptiness does not exist on its own
• Objects do not consist of emptiness
• Objects do not arise from emptiness
• Emptiness of the "I" does not negate the "I"
• Emptiness is not the feeling that results when no objects are appearing to the mind
• Meditating on emptiness does not consist of quieting the mind

Source: Non-Dual Emptiness Teaching
And I would like to add,

Emptiness is not a path of practice
Emptiness is not a form of fruition

Emptiness is the 'nature' of all experiences. There is nothing to attain or practice. What we have to realize is this empty nature, this ‘ungraspability’, ‘unlocatability ’ and ‘interconnectedness’ nature of all vivid arising. Emptiness will reveal that not only is there no ‘who’ in pristine awareness, there is no ‘where’ and ‘when’. Be it ‘I’, ‘Here’ or ’Now’, all are simply impressions that dependently originate in accordance with the principle of conditionality.

When there is this, that is.
With the arising of this, that arises.
When this is not, neither is that.
With the cessation of this, that ceases.
The profundity of this four-liner principle of conditionality is not in words. For a more theoretical exposition, see Non-Dual Emptiness Teachings by Dr. Greg Goode; for a more experiential narration, see the subsection "On Emptiness" and "On Maha" of the post "On Anatta (No-Self), Emptiness, Maha and Ordinariness, and Spontaneous Perfection".

Comments:

Here practice is clearly understood as neither going after the mirror nor escaping from the maya reflection; it is to thoroughly 'see' the 'nature' of reflection. To see that there is really no mirror other than the on-going reflection due to our emptiness nature. Neither is there a mirror to cling to as the background reality nor a maya to escape from. Beyond these two extreme lies the middle path -- the prajna wisdom of seeing that the maya is our Buddha nature.

Recently An Eternal Now has updated some very high quality articles that better described the maha experience of suchness. Do read the following articles:

- Emancipation of Suchness
- Buddha-Dharma: A Dream in a Dream

The last 3 subsections ("On Emptiness", "On Maha in Ordinariness", "Spontaneous Perfection") of the post "On Anatta (No-Self), Emptiness, Maha and Ordinariness, and Spontaneous Perfection" elaborates this phase of emptiness insight and the gradual progress of maturing the experience into the effortless mode of practice. It is important to know that in addition to the experience of the unfindability and ungraspability of emptiness, the interconnectedness of everything creating the Maha experience is equally precious.
Stage 7: Presence is Spontaneously Perfected

After cycles and cycles of refining our practice and insights, we will come to this realization:

Anatta is a seal, not a stage.
Awareness has always been non-dual.
Appearances have always been Non-arising.
All phenomena are ‘interconnected’ and by nature Maha.
All are always and already so. Only dualistic and inherent views are obscuring these experiential facts and therefore what is really needed is simply to experience whatever arises openly and unreservedly (See section "On Spontaneous Perfection"). However this does not denote the end of practice; practice simply moves to become dynamic and conditions-manifestation based. The ground and the path of practice become indistinguishable.

Comments:

The entire article of On Anatta (No-Self), Emptiness, Maha and Ordinariness, and Spontaneous Perfection can be seen as the different approaches toward the eventual realization of this already perfect and uncontrived nature of awareness.
45 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    I understand very little of what Thusness has said. The path that Thusness describes, his insights, are his and his alone.

    And yet there is recognition of truth in the words, not so much from meaning but from the essence of what is said.

    What to do with what has been described?

    Just allow it all to sink in deeply.

    Thank you Thusness and AEN.

    Signed,

    JonLS


  2. Jhananda Says:

    The contemplation upon “Before birth, who am I”, is similar to one of the Advaitan contemplations, such as “who am I?” It also reminds me of the Theravadan practice of anatta. These practices fundamentally collapse the identity; however, when the identity is properly collapsed one should be propelled into absorption (jhana, samadhi), or otherwise the exercise is purely an intellectual one. And indeed we see evidence of that in the following “one day, everything seemed to come to a complete standstill, not even a single thread of thought arise.” This is the second jhana, because the thoughts have come to a standstill.

    However, the individual also says “There is merely nothing and completely void,” while this person may have made it all of the way to the 9th samadhi, we do not find evidence of that, so this “void” is just the void of an empty mind stream.

    Then, the individual says, “I experience tremendous flow of energy being released.” Every stage of samadhi is accompanied by energy. The deeper one goes the more energy one observes. Thus, this is further evidence that the individual arrived at the second jhana. The second jhana is the first liberation, according to the Buddha, and we find indeed this individual felt liberated. “The experience is wonderful, it is as if I am totally emancipated, a complete release without boundary.” But, according to the Buddha there are 7 more. Also, it is understandable that this individual was confused by Buddhist teachings around anatta. It is because few Buddhist teachers understand it. The practice as I understand it is more related to the Advaitan contemplations than a simple rejection of self.

    If I may speculate on “but somehow there is always this blockage, this ‘something’ preventing me from recapturing the experience.” I would say that if the individual would learn meditation that produces jhana and engaged in it every day for a few hours a day, this individual would most probably not only find the above second jhana attainment every day, but will most probably deepen to the third jhana and beyond.

    In section 4 the individual says, he or she hear “‘TONGSss….’, the pure Sound… Then come Taste, just the Taste and nothing else….
    The heart beats…..” This sounds like the individual broke through to the third jhana; however, it does not sound like it was sustained. Again, by learning to meditate skillfully then the individual could sustain the third jhana or deeper on a regular basis.

    Kindest regards,

    Jeffrey S, Brooks
    (sámañña Jhananda)
    the Great Western Vehicle • Mahapacchimayana
    http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/


  3. Hi Jhanananda,

    Thanks for dropping by your comments. I have a somewhat different understanding on how they are mapped to the Buddhist Anatta experience and will thus be sharing my understanding.

    Thusness six stages of enlightenment are short summaries of his gradual insights into the non-dual (aka Anatta/no-self in Buddhism), empty (dependent origination) and self-liberated nature of Buddha Nature. As spontaneous self-liberation is commonly misunderstood, Thusness has always stressed that before the arising of the intuitive insights into non-dual and emptiness nature, it is best not to discuss about it. For the purpose of this comment, I reckon that only the Anatta and the strength of propensity that blinds are relevant and therefore I will just restrict the comments only on these 2 aspects.

    First I do not see Anatta as merely a freeing from personality sort of experience as you mentioned; I see it as that a self/agent, a doer, a thinker, a watcher, etc, cannot be found apart from the moment to moment flow of manifestation or as its commonly expressed as ‘the observer is the observed’; there is no self apart from arising and passing. A very important point here is that Anatta/No-Self is a Dharma Seal, it is the nature of Reality all the time -- and not merely as a state free from personality, ego or the ‘small self’ or a stage to attain. (related article: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/07/bernadette-roberts-interview.html) This means that it does not depend on the level of achievement of a practitioner to experience anatta but Reality has always been Anatta and what is important here is the intuitive insight into it as the nature, characteristic, of phenomenon (dharma seal).

    To put further emphasis on the importance of this point, I would like to borrow from the Bahiya Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.1.10.irel.html) that ‘in the seeing, there is just the seen, no seer’, ‘in the hearing, there is just the heard, no hearer’ as an illustration. When a person says that I have gone beyond the experiences from ‘I hear sound’ to a stage of ‘becoming sound’, he is mistaken. When it is taken to be a stage, it is illusory. For in actual case, there is and always is only sound when hearing; never was there a hearer to begin with. Nothing attained for it is always so. This is the seal of no-self. Therefore to a non dualist, the practice is in understanding the illusionary views of the sense of self and the split. Before the awakening of prajna wisdom, there will always be an unknowing attempt to maintain a purest state of 'presence'. This purest presence is the 'how' of a dualistic mind -- its dualistic attempt to provide a solution due to its lack of clarity of the spontaneous nature of the unconditioned. It is critical to note here that both the doubts/confusions/searches and the solutions that are created for these doubts/confusions/searches actually derive from the same cause -- our karmic propensities of ever seeing things dualistically (also see my other friend Longchen’s article http://www.dreamdatum.com/meditation-spontaneous.html where I posted two of his articles including ‘How is nonduality like?’ in this forum)

    That said, I never doubted the role “concentration & absorption” in spiritual practices. It is also true that the strength of uninterrupted concentration may not be there even for one with insights (especially when one have just begun to have nondual realisations and the insight into emptiness is not yet there), and it has to go hand in hand with their new found insight of nonduality for stability, and also move into various graduation of nonduality. As mentioned earlier, there are no stages/appearances that are purer than any others – every state is equally pure and non-dual in nature. When the mind grasps pure awareness as ‘formless’, ‘thoughtless’, ‘attributeless’, and as the background reality.... the ‘fabric’ and ‘texture’ of pristine awareness as ‘forms’ is then missed.

    Nevertheless, whatever you commented is important especially for the first 3 (Thusness’s) stages of experience, and in these stages the problem would certainly be the lack of sustained meditation concentration as well as the tendency of trying to grasp intellectually... which is also why Thusness often emphasizes the importance of sitting and meditation plays quite a different role for a non-dualist as there is no more entry or exit point.

    Within the Theravadin tradition, I understand the experience of (Thusness’s) Stage 4 which is the beginning of realising non-duality to be the beginning of the third path/stage of enlightenment (see http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/12/heart-sutra-model-of-four-paths.html
    and http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/07/non-duality-models-of-enlightenment-by.html) and also corresponding in terms of realisations to the beginning of ‘One-Taste’ in the Bodhisattva bhumi models. From here on it is a matter of how deeply the insights of nonduality/nonself and emptiness has penetrated into our consciousness and replaced our dualistic way of knowing due to karmic propensities.

    The author of the two articles (a Theravadin teacher) mentioned above also said in the Heart Sutra Model of the Four Paths regarding the third 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.”, and,

    “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.”

    As to what led to jhanic bliss, I would like to say that regardless of samatha or vipassana practices, true blissful absorptive experiences are the result of dissolution of self and subject-object split. For non-dualists, this blissful absorptive experience takes a form of clarity-absorption which is mentioned in one of the Thusness posts in my friend Longchen’s forum (http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/05/different-degrees-of-non-duality.html). It is difficult to explain and I will not speculate further what that is beyond me. It should also be mentioned however at a deeper level of non-dual realisation, when true spontaneity is realised, and psychological death is complete, one will overcome the tendency of grasping on the conscious and the three states (waking, dream, deep dreamless sleep) becomes one. He will also realise that it is needless to maintain an uninterrupted state of conscious witnessing awareness when the true nature of Awareness is revealed, as Thusness and Longchen have said.

    Lastly, thank you very much for sharing your valuable comments and interpretations here.

    With regards,
    'An Eternal Now'


  4. PasserBy Says:

    Hi Jhanananda,

    Thanks for dropping by your comments. I have a somewhat different understanding on how they are mapped to the Buddhist Anatta experience and will thus be sharing my understanding.

    Thusness six stages of enlightenment are short summaries of his gradual insights into the non-dual (aka Anatta/no-self in Buddhism), emptiness (dependent origination) and self-liberated nature of our pristine awareness. As spontaneous self-liberation is commonly misunderstood, Thusness has always stressed that before the arising of the intuitive insights into our non-dual and emptiness nature, it is best not to discuss about it. For the purpose of this comment, I will only discuss the Anatta and the strength of propensity that blinds.

    Indeed self-liberation cannot be understood before the experience of non-duality and emptiness nature of our pristine awareness. However after the stability of these 2 insights, nothing needs to be said as the ‘mere manifestations of these inseparable characteristics as arising phenomena’ is itself liberation.

    First I do not see Anatta as merely a freeing of personality sort of experience as you mentioned; I see it as that a self/agent, a doer, a thinker, a watcher, etc, cannot be found apart from the moment to moment flow of manifestation or as its commonly expressed as ‘the observer is the observed’; there is no self apart from the arising and ceasing. A very important point here is that Anatta/No-Self is a Dharma Seal, it is the nature of Reality all the time -- and not merely as a state free from personality, ego or the ‘small self’ or a stage to attain. (related article: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/07/bernadette-roberts-interview.html) This means that it does not depend on the level of achievement of a practitioner to experience anatta but Reality has always been Anatta and what is important here is the intuitive insight into it as the nature, characteristic, of phenomenon (dharma seal).

    To illustrate further due to the importance of this seal, I would like to borrow a quote from the Bahiya Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.1.10.irel.html)
    ‘in the seeing, there is just the seen, no seer’, ‘in the hearing, there is just the heard, no hearer’…
    If a practitioner were to feel that he has gone beyond the experiences from ‘I hear sound’ to a stage of ‘becoming sound’ or takes that ‘there is just mere sound’, then this experience is again distorted. For in actual case, there is and always is only sound when hearing; never was there a hearer to begin with. Nothing attained for it is always so.

    Well said! Just a little more emphasis: This is the seal of no-self and can be realized and experienced in all moments; not just a mere concept.
    For a non dualist that has gained sufficient stability, practice takes a very different role. This is due to the thoroughness of seeing through the illusionary views of the sense of self, the entire mechanism that causes the split and the mechanism of how it ‘blinds’. Therefore after knowing the real cause and conditions, a non-dualist cannot resort back to a dualistic approach towards liberation and practice and meditation take very different roles. It becomes instant, dynamic, spontaneous and direct.

    Before the awakening of prajna wisdom, there will always be an unknowing attempt to maintain a purest state of 'presence'. For this is how the dual mind works. This purest state of presence is the 'how' of a dualistic mind -- its dualistic attempt to provide a solution due to its lack of clarity of the spontaneous and emptiness nature of the unconditioned. It is critical to note here that both the doubts/confusions/searches and the solutions that are created for these doubts/confusions/searches actually derive from the same cause -- our karmic propensities of ever seeing things dualistically (also see my other friend Longchen’s article http://www.dreamdatum.com/meditation-spontaneous.html where I posted two of his articles including ‘How is nonduality like?’ in this forum)

    ‘Purest’ because it is the limit of the thought realm; beyond that is inconceivable by the conceptual mind. The mind conjures out this ‘state’ as it cannot penetrate its own depth. It does not allow itself to cease completely.


    Within the Theravadin tradition, I understand the experience of (Thusness’s) Stage 4 which is the beginning of realising non-duality to be the beginning of the third path/stage of enlightenment (see http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/12/heart-sutra-model-of-four-paths.html
    and http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/07/non-duality-models-of-enlightenment-by.html) and also corresponding in terms of realisations to the beginning of ‘One-Taste’ in the Bodhisattva bhumi models. From here on it is a matter of how deeply the insights of nonduality/nonself and emptiness has penetrated into our consciousness and replaced our dualistic way of knowing due to karmic propensities.

    This is known as the ‘turning point’ in Lankavatara Sutra.


    The author of the two articles (a Theravadin teacher) mentioned above also said in the Heart Sutra Model of the Four Paths regarding the third 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.”, and,

    “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.”

    Great insight by Dharma Dan!

    That said, I never doubted the importance of “concentration & absorption” in spiritual practices. It is also true that the strength of uninterrupted concentration may not be there even for one with insights (especially when one have just begun to have nondual realisations and the insight into emptiness is not yet there), and it has to go hand in hand with their new found insight of nonduality for stability, and also move into various graduation of nonduality. As mentioned earlier, there are no stages/appearances that are purer than any others – every state is equally pure and non-dual in naSSSSture. When the mind grasps pure awareness as ‘formless’, ‘thoughtless’, ‘attributeless’, and as the background reality.... the ‘fabric’ and ‘texture’ of pristine awareness as ‘forms’ is then missed. Nevertheless, whatever you commented is crucial especially for the first 3 (Thusness’s) stages of experience, and in these stages the problem would certainly be the lack of sustained meditation concentration as well as the tendency of trying to grasp intellectually... which is also why Thusness often emphasizes the importance of sitting.


    The first 3 stages are before the arising of non-dual insight and the purpose of sustainability is to create sufficient gap between 2 moments of thoughts to allow the sensation of contrast between conceptual/non-conceptuality for the thinking mind to realize the possibility of going pre-symbolic thereby loosening its stubborn grips of a dualistic framework.
    Sustained bare attention also gave rise to the realization that ‘inner’, ‘outer’, ‘space’, ‘time’ and even ‘body’ and ‘mind’ are all mere constructs. Freeing from these constructs, also give rise to the condition for non-dual insight to arise.
    For the first 3 stages, practice takes the form of striving towards a certain stage of perfection whereas stages 4 onwards, practice moves from ‘efforting’ to natural luminosity and spontaneity.

    As to what led to jhanic bliss, I would like to say that regardless of samatha or vipassana practices, true blissful absorptive experiences are the result of dissolution of self and subject-object split. For non-dualists, this blissful absorptive experience takes a form of clarity-absorption which is mentioned in one of the Thusness posts in my friend Longchen’s forum (http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/05/different-degrees-of-non-duality.html). It is difficult to explain and I will not speculate further what that is beyond me. It should also be mentioned however at a deeper level of non-dual realisation, when true spontaneity is realised, and psychological death is complete, one will overcome the tendency of grasping on the conscious and the three states (waking, dream, deep dreamless sleep) becomes one. He will also realize that it is needless to maintain an uninterrupted state of conscious witnessing awareness when the true nature of Awareness is revealed, as Thusness and Longchen have said.

    Well said! Speak no more and experience fully!
    Rest.


  5. Anonymous Says:

    A similar thing happened to me when I was young (7-8) years old. It occured one day when I had the thought thatmy name was kind of wierd sounding, so I kept repeating by name over and over (and kept on thinking "yeah it's wierd, doesn't even sound like me)...and then BAM!...everything was void, nothing existed, quiet emptiness. It was not a wonderful feeling for a young kid...sort of scary, nothing existed and I brought myself out of the trance. Afterward, I was able to get into this state on command by repeating my name. I can never forget the incident, but I can't do it anymore now that I'm 33 years old. The last time was about 2 years ago when I was half asleep, I went into that state spontaneously for some reason....strange...


  6. Hi anonymous,

    What you experienced sounded to me like an absorption or a jhana, but it is not the realisation of luminosity/pure consciousness/presence.


  7. Anonymous Says:

    Thusness, I understood little of what you have said. LOL. A well-done website though.


  8. John Says:

    HAHA...How can there be anything called EMPTINESS? How can it BE or not BE anything. It's EMPTY! Choose your words carefully and speak not of things that cannot be spoken of. Peace be with you :-).


  9. Hi,

    Emptiness is not a thing, but emptiness is also not a nothing. By saying 'emptiness is not ...' is simply to negate the false conceptions of what the Buddhist teachings on Emptiness is about.

    Shunyata (Emptiness) means whatever appears are empty of independent or inherent existence, be it a sound, a form, or any other phenomena. This is because it is the 'interconnectedness' that give rise to the sound or experience (The person, the stick, the bell, hitting, air, ears, etc, i.e. the conditions).

    Thus, whatever arises interdependently is vividly clear and luminous, but empty of any *independent* or *inherent* existence. This is not the same as nothing or nihilism.

    Nagarjuna:

    Whatever is dependently co-arisen,
    That is explained to be emptiness.
    That, being a dependent designation,
    Is itself the middle way. (Treatise, 24.18)

    Something that is not dependently arisen,
    Such a thing does not exist.
    Therefore a nonempty thing
    Does not exist. (Treatise, 24.19)


  10. John Says:

    Hmm...then I can only comment that the use of the word or at least the translation of it is terrible. When we say something is empty, it is to convey the idea opposite to there being something. Using it to mean the interconnected nature of things is just...stupid man. Excuse me if I sound a bit cynical here. There is too much word play/labeling here that is totally meaningless. Lol...Stages of experience....Hahahaha what stages? There is only the never ending flow.


  11. John,

    all of Buddhist philosophy is method, and not meant to be taken as self-existing. conceptual understanding can only be a vehicle, not an end.


  12. The translation is not terrible because what is important is the the 'unfindability of an essence' in all phenomena phenomena, and that is what emptiness mean.

    Like a red flower that is so vivid, clear and right in front of an observer, the “redness” only appears to “belong” to the flower, it is in actuality not so. Vision of red does not arise in all animal species (dogs cannot perceive colours) nor is the “redness” an attribute of the mind. If given a “quantum eyesight” to look into the atomic structure, there is similarly no attribute “redness” anywhere found, only almost complete space/void with no perceivable shapes and forms. Whatever appearances are dependently arisen, and hence is empty of any inherent existence or fixed attributes, shapes, form, or “redness” -- merely luminous yet empty, mere Appearances without inherent/objective existence. What gives rise to the differences of colours and experiences in each of us? Dependent arising... hence empty of inherent existence. This is the nature of all phenomena.

    As you've seen, there is no 'The Flowerness' seen by a dog, an insect or us, or beings from other realms (which really may have a completely different mode of perception). 'The Flowerness' is an illusion that does not stay even for a moment, merely an aggregate of causes and conditions.

    Lastly, reality is a never ending flow, but you can either live in that never ending flow in suffering and ignorance, grasing and self-contraction, or be liberated by insights.


  13. John Says:

    I believe conceptual understanding ends the notion of an individual "I." From then on the Path towards true enlightenment is absolutely irrelevant. Some will get there through Buddhist methods. Or some will get there by playing the violin. Or some will get there in death. I think it all depends on how much tendencies the ego has built up in the past.


  14. John Says:

    "Dependent arising... hence empty of inherent existence."

    See it has to be empty OF something. Just putting the word emptiness has no value. You're borrowing words that were not intended for the use of describing certain experiences. It just sure as hell confuses people because they will try to put in context the word "empty." You can even say there is only "fullness." Because everything is dependently arising, everything is "full."

    You can only flow with the current. Expecting it will somehow cure your suffering is itself a suffering. Only when there is no one to observe any insights can there be true cultivation of any sorts. Insights are something you become. Not something you see and theorize about.


  15. There is only the current, no flowing with the current. When there is no one to observe any insights, the ground is already understood as the path, there is no cultivation. Therefore in Heart Sutra it is stated that there is no attainment. Insight is also not something you become, insight is awakening to what already is and there is no 'you' becoming anything, there is only what already and always is.

    Thanks for sharing your valuable comments. :)


  16. John Says:

    There is only the current, no flowing with the current = you can ONLY flow with the current.

    When there is no one to observe any insights, the ground is already understood as the path, there is no cultivation = From then on the Path towards true enlightenment is absolutely irrelevant.

    Insight is also not something you become, insight is awakening to what already is and there is no 'you' becoming anything, there is only what already and always is. = I believe conceptual understanding ends the notion of an individual "I."

    I seems like there was a misunderstanding when I wrote that "Insight" is something that you become. We agree on these concepts. So what's all this nonsense about different stages. This lengthy discourse on emptiness, it is all useless jargon.


  17. A 'You' flowing with the current is the cause of suffering. Although you see stages as useless jargon, others may find it appropriate. You hold onto an ultimate view, but what I see is a dependently originated view, simply skillful means. Lastly, awakeness is important, not concepts.


  18. John Says:

    I bow to your compassionate efforts. :)


  19. Anonymous Says:

    Thusness,
    Did you totally give up eating meat before you started on these 7 stages of enlightenment?


  20. Hi,

    No, Thusness is not a vegetarian. Many enlightened Tibetan and Theravada masters are also not vegetarians. Thusness has been a businessman for many years and it is hard for him to avoid meat and business entertainment.

    However, he did speak about benefits of vegetarianism. He told me years ago that diet is important and at one stage one will want to be vegetarian, however he still ate meat due to some circumstances. Vegetarianism will help a lot and his meditative experience told him he had to, and that fasting too is important. A lot of people do not know this. There is a bodily transformation, a crystal clear feeling, especially during/after the stabilization of non-duality in all three phases (waking, dreaming, deep-sleep). Thusness speculates that this is the cause of 'sariras' ( http://buddhism.sgforums.com/forums/1728/topics/366959#post_9218519 ) or the crystal like relics that Buddha and awakened disciples left after their parinirvana. Deep sleep (a natural non-dual samadhi) becomes crucial, however the need for sleep will also be reduced to lower than 4 hours per day.

    And anyway, vegetarianism is particularly emphasized in the Chinese Mahayana texts (e.g. Lankavatara Sutra, Mahaparinirvana Sutra, etc), because of the practice of Great Compassion in the Bodhisattva path. Therefore it is highly recommended. But I would not go to say that you must be a vegetarian to have those experiences stated. There is no such requirements to realise the nature of mind.


  21. Rar Jungle Says:

    is it a better experience being fully enlightened, compared to lesser degrees of enlightenment, and ignorance?
    right now i am pretty sure i am not very enlightened. actually now i am only surrendered to the fact that i don't want to surrender to whatever is. i have developed this crazy notion that practices of meditation and such are only further resistance to what is. my theory is that all practice should be as effortless as play. so now i wait and watch, and play in whatever ways come naturally to me. most of the time i experience misery and separation.


  22. Hi Rar Jungle, the 'degrees of enlightenment' means increasingly fewer perceptual distortions of reality. Reality always already IS, but there is usually a process of deconstructing the veils (the inherent and dualistic tendencies) through insights. So yes it is 'better' in that sense there is fewer distortions, veils, more freedom, etc.

    Meditation and 'surrendering' aren't opposed to each other. Also, there are many types of meditation, so I do not know what idea of meditation you have in mind.

    One of the main Buddhist meditation practice (which is really not limited to sitting) is the practice of mindfulness. You can read about it in this article: http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe13.html

    Separation is never actual, but due to the lack of insight into the nature of reality, we are bonded by the mental construct of separation. Lifting the sense of separation permanently requires insight, realization into our true nature. It is not that we 'enter into a state of oneness', it is not about an induced experience, rather it is that we realize that there is no duality to begin with. Misery is also related to the sense of separation.


  23. Here's a good article from a good book 'Meditation Now or Never' by Steve Hagen at http://sgforums.com/forums/1728/topics/341463#post_8689503


  24. Island Girl Says:

    I just wanted to leave a note of thanks to you for your blog.

    I came across it via a link in a discussion on newbuddist.com regarding Eckart Tolle. Tolle mentioned in a lecture that he was thinking of retiring, and I found that "thought" odd or contradictory for someone who claims to be fully in the "now". This prompted me to search on Tolle's connection with Buddhism, and if Tolle is or is not enlightened (in a Buddhist sense).

    Anyhow, I am fairly new to formal mindfulness meditation practice, although in some odd way, I feel I've been practicing most of my life, and maybe much has arisen through many years of yoga practice. I see clearly that I am in Stage 3, and have been asking how to rid myself of this "I", this wall that keeps me from being in the flow of experience, of being. I now understand through reading your article, at least logically, what removal of this wall should feel like, and that it is the right question to have. Did you arrive at Stage 4 through intellect, meditation, or heart/feeling? I look forward to reading more of your posts. Namaste :)


  25. PasserBy Says:

    Hi Island Girl,

    Tolle may want to retire from his business and focus more on his spiritual development which is not exactly a bad thing.

    As for phase 4 insight, it must come as a form of direct insight. Although I started from contemplating the stanza on “sound, no hearer” during meditation, the ‘eureka’ factor is not an intellectual progress. It is an immediate direct insight of an obvious truth that has always been there.

    An important factor that prevents a practitioner that has realized the “I AMness” from being in the flow of experience is the attachment of the “I AM” as the ‘purest identity’. Practitioners are often overwhelmed and cling to that experience of pure sense of existence as ultimate. This will prevent one from experiencing the same taste of Presence in the flow of phenomenality.

    Recently An Eternal Now has some interesting insights of bringing Presence to the foreground. I think it will be good for him to share his practice notes in the blog. He is serving his army now. Will tell him to update it on the blog.

    Happy journey :)
    PasserBy


  26. StepVheN Says:

    Ahh yes someone else who gets it. Stop by and chat sometime , this is great stuff

    http://burningtruedotcom.blogspot.com/


  27. Anonymous Says:

    Having come from an unhappy family, happiness was the jewel of attainment for me but I was lead to investigate the "What am I?" process of Advaita for many years without much success. Now I have found the happiness I always wanted in plain old simple psychology and the direct, immediate, here & now process of simply deciding to be happy just as I am right now. No waiting, practicing, guruing, studying, meditating, reading, listening, exotic states, no-mind, no-I, no mystical, mysterious, magical, out of body, Silence, Void, or other wondrous stuff. Just the simple decision to be happy - now and not unhappy. Not that I wasted a lot of time and energy on Advaita but somehow just being happy at will right now is good enough for me and way superior to all the mystical things that never made me happy for very long. Now I can be happy and when it leaves (as all those magical states did) I can get it back right now by deciding to have it back unlike those mystical states that seem so distant once they're gone. It's such a relief to know that I have control of my condition instead of waiting, hoping and wishing for 'enlightenment' and 'liberation' etc. to somehow magically return.


  28. PasserBy Says:

    Yes. Forget about enlightenment and liberation.

    Be as u r now.

    Be contented and remain entire.

    Happy Journey!


  29. StepVheN Says:

    Problem with that passerby is that the self is still intact, so that would in fact be an awful idea


  30. From the perspective of no-self, yes you are right StepVheN. But not from a dependently originated view.

    E.g. when I was practicing self inquiry to experience the "I AMness", Thusness did not disturb me about no-self. Instead he told me what are the appropriate experiences I may have and the various aspects of it.

    He talks about no-self only when I ask him about it and my conditions are there. The approach has always been so.


  31. Using this opportunity to 'promote' my own e-journal/e-book to readers here - my e-journal details my personal progress of insight, which is in many ways similar to the way those insights unfolded for Thusness (except this is a very long document containing over 300+ pages at the moment, while Thusness's 7 stages are a very condensed account of his path/progress):

    http://www.box.net/shared/3verpiao63

    p.s. I am not at the end of the path and though certain crucial insights have arisen, they continue to be refined in subtle ways and I will continue to update the document time to time.


  32. nicolas Says:

    Hello
    after reading a lot on this blog, on KFD and Dharma overground, I am amazed by the level of attainement of the folks around these sites. Yet i have a few questions
    as i am a scholar in tibetan studies i read a lot of mahayana vajrayana material. And there is one thing which preponderant in these trends of buddhism which is bodhicitta. At one point or another great vajrayana or mahayana masters experience free flowing compassion for all living beings. And it's all the time being describe as the very basis and the very goal of their practice.
    But in all these websites i talked earlier it looks like compassion is only a footnote in theory and in practice. So why is that?
    Is there a place for it, or as the self is dissolving feelings of any kind too, do we end up just being "harmless and happy" as AF pepole state?

    My second question would be about the tantric practice: prostration, recitation of mantra, empowerment, and deity yoga.
    this is never being discussed as a map model and as how it would match or not the others maps we already have. I wonder if it's because there is a vow of secrecy on this practices or it's just because there is a lack of advanced lay practitioners who could for example describe the experiential results of such practices.
    In my reading i've found out that oftenly great masters of mahamudra and dzogchen still practice regularly creation and achievemnt phase yoga.
    Anyway thanks for reading, i'de be happy to read your answers, i'm sorry for my english as i'm french


  33. Hi nicolas, I don't know too much about DhO and KFD - my understanding is that they are skewed towards the Theravada tradition. Most of the practitioners are into Theravada even though they are quite open minded towards all traditions - they are a practical, pragmatic, non-dogmatic group of people.

    You can have realizations but the aspiration to attain Buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings is another thing - only when you aspire to Buddhahood for sentient beings and give rise to compassion for all beings are you considered on the Mahayana path. Otherwise one can have realizations up to the 6th bhumi but then is contented with personal liberation/nirvana. That is my understanding.

    I'm sure there are also a minority of Mahayana and Vajrayana practitioners there who emphasize bodhicitta (even though they did not post it) and tantric practices.

    For example, there was an experienced practitioner by the name of Hokai, who was a tantric/Shingon teacher. He used to be active in the old DhO but I think he no longer posts there.


  34. PasserBy Says:

    Hi Nicolas,

    Although I do not hold on tightly to an altruistic view but yes I believe when a practitioner fully actualized the view of 2 fold Emptiness, there is this free flowing compassion for all living beings. For lay practitioner, this aspect is not thoroughly manifested but for some great vajrayana or Mahayana masters, we witness such compassions. I do not see ‘Bodhicitta’ as a goal but rather as a natural quality of a sincere practitioner that has actualized the view of Emptiness.

    As for your second question, I will divide it into 2 parts.

    First is the stabilization of our experience and insight of anatta. When we mature the insight, there is just the mere activity that is going on, no self. In prostration, there is just the prostration. In recitation of mantra, there is just the recitation, the sound, the mantra.

    Second, I think empowerment and deity yoga work at a different level. In meditation, there is this state of consciousness that when we calm our mind sufficiently and relax the mind and body, whenever we think, it comes in terms images and visions instead of words. It is like a dream state or trance state but the mind is still lucid. I believe the teaching of deity yoga is working at this level of consciousness. There are certain group of practitioners that finds it difficult to contemplate our nature but is strong in visualization and quick to enter in such state of consciousness. This practice will suit them better in my opinion. However working at this phase of consciousness has profound impact on our ordinary waking state of consciousness. It is advisable to seek guidance from qualified masters. As I am not a vajrayana practitioner, I do not think I am able to contribute much on this aspect. :-)


  35. By the way just to add on to Thusness's comment - there was a discussion on tantric method and how it correlates experientially, in one of the older Hurricane Ranch conversations. It was Hokai who was explaining it and Dharma Dan was also participating in the discussion.


  36. nicolas Says:

    Thank you both for your answers.
    If i can use a bit more of your time and knowledge i have another question.
    Actually Free people have stated that they can't access anymore the dhyanas they used to ( see Tarin and Trent comments on DHO) ; and as you correlate actual freedom with THusness 5th stage, do you also can't access dhyana (lacking attention wave)?.

    If yes do you consider your stage of realisation as one the buddha went through? and if yes, as the Buddha had access to all the dhyana until his parinirvana how is it possible?

    thank you very much for taking the time to answer
    Cordially
    Nicolas


  37. Anonymous Says:

    I asked Thusness, here is his reply: "I am unfamiliar with their terminologies. :)
    If he is talking about a state of absorption, then no.  One can still have access into it and must access into it.  This is like what you r currently having intermittent mini Samadhi in ur daily experiences due to the direct, gapless experience of the transience.  In fact as I told u many times, ur insight has run ahead of ur samadhi, U should refine this aspect but the practice will be different.  The state of Samadhi is not related to concentration, rather it is a form of resting in the natural state with deep clarity of our anatta and dependently orginated nature.  It is a natural ‘oneness’ with whatever that comes into contact. 
     "


  38. Cyclops Says:

    At the beginning of the article it says: "The stages are nothing authentic." Surely Thusness means "nothing authoritative," not "nothing authentic"! It wouldn't be worth reading if it wasn't authentic.

    AEN, I suggest that you make this small change, to prevent misunderstandings.

    I'm thrilled by the depth and, yes, authenticity of everything I'm finding on your blog.

    Cyclops


  39. Thanks for the suggestion, will change the wordings :)


  40. 2 cents worth...
    So many words to read, like the world so many ideas.
    Perhaps practicing what is shared through religions or any practice is a PROCESS, a way or ways to the point.
    It is not easy to explain or tell that which is, from experience, or perhaps I am just not well equipped to explain. But, by educating on the PROCESS and by DOING it, the student or practitioner will reach there by themselves.
    And I read that you are going to have an ebook, congratulations. Be aware that in another time period here in this world, there are stuff not taught openly as you can observe what happened to religions and other practices. Many factors led to what it is now, at least with the fragments, a sincere practitioner will reach their desired goal eventually.
    Nonetheless good effort on your part in your attempt to share.


  41. Anonymous Says:

    So many words; such categories


  42. Hmm actually I think Thusness did an amazing job at writing down his path of insights in such a short and concise way.


  43. Unknown Says:

    Interesting but I see a lack of mention of instictual passions such as anger , lust etc

    After stream-entry one realizes that there is no-self. one is just like a car is. There is a car but that is just a mental construct - actually there are only interdependent parts giving the impression of a soild new thing called car. Same is the human mind-body - there are only interdependent parts.

    But the question occurs - having seen that there is no-self (at stream entry ) then why .is the feeling of self still arising ? The answer immediately comes - the feeling of self that arises is because of the habitual tendencies ( which Richard from AF has much better named it as instinctual passions ) and thus one MUST go about eliminating these instinctual passions and only then and only then can the feeling of self stop arising.


  44. Yes Unknown,

    Habitual tendencies continue to surface after initial insight and that can only go after even further developments of insight and tranquility in tandem tuned towards the uprooting of latent tendencies.

    In my experience, those afflictions have sort of seemingly disappeared in direct NDNCDIMOP or PCE which is effortless and perpetual, but one must never be so deluded as to think the tendencies are no longer there and no longer surface.

    However, I do not believe Richard has overcome those latent tendencies.

    As I wrote in my currently-61-pages article Actual Freedom and Buddhism - http://www.box.net/shared/sbyi64jrms

    "...He also mentioned that in practice, one should be sincere about tendencies because it conveys the deeper disposition. For example, when I asked Thusness for his opinion on Richard’s self-confessed habit of smoking, active sex-life, etc, he talks about them as examples of ‘deeper disposition’ that will not be removed even after maturing the insight of anatta.

    In fact according to Buddha’s standards, if you are still having sex and smoking, you cannot by definition be an arhant since you have already transgressed 2 out of 9 principles (the third and the fifth) that an Arhant cannot transgress due to the complete end of fermentations and the ‘deeper dispositions’ and any subtle cravings that Thusness spoke of. (see http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an09/an09.007.than.html) By Buddha’s standards (the commentaries, and the modern masters, and Daniel Ingram all have different standards. The Buddha, in particular, taught the Fetter Model: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sot%C4%81panna , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sakadagami , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An%C4%81g%C4%81mi , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arahant). Having a realization of Anatta does not mean you have ended the deeper dispositions.

    Although it does seem that in this clean apperception, it appears untainted by any sense of a self/Self or any emotions, it is direct, immediate, experience of the senses in its purity without being sullied by any kind of afflictions. Yet this does not mean that tendencies and habits indicative of craving (though may not manifest in the form of vivid emotions of lust, etc) are still surfacing. And as the Buddha said in MN22: “Bhikkhus, that one can engage in sensual pleasures without sensual desires, without perceptions of sensual desire, without thoughts of sensual desire – that is impossible.”


  45. (Continued)


    (Omega Point in DhO, 7/19/12 made a good point on this: "Further, how can anyone say he is actually free if he isn't free from delusion or pseudo-scientific thinking? Nitrous acid mixing with nicotine creates cancer causing dust, which persists for several months and harms anyone it contacts. If being AF equates to being harmless, then how does that jive? Is that selflessness, volitionally carelessness? If it is careless is surely isn't benign, If it is selflessness then it's clearly an ethically neutral selflessness (as how could you justify that harm and claim non-neutrality, one eventually would be left admitting one was too careless to learn or that one is actually not free from ignorance and delusion) and therefor volitionally careless and ergo not benign. Does an ethically-neutral, non-benign, careless-selflessness share that much difference with an inflated sociopath who subtly reifies self and even self-identity as 'flesh and blood human being' in terms of a posteri results? If he is smoking because he is 'free' and not because he actually not-free, then does he intend on smoking? If he intends, what causes the mind to move leading to the smoking behavior? If you say it is because he thinks through and decides on principle, then what caused that thought to arise etc? One eventually sees that neurochemical impulses are to blame. Impulses in this case equates to saying it's cause is instinctual. So if he intends to smoke, he isn't free from instincts, no matter the rationalization proclaimed. If he doesn't intend to smoke then how can he be properly called free, as behavior without intent is tautologically identical to random behavior. ")"