Posted by: Soh

Note: You can also see my complete journal of self-discoveries at
Originally posted by simpo_:
Hi Beautiful951,
Firstly, I will like to state that I am still learning so can only share from my own opinion. Please read with a pint of salt.
Emptiness is not a belief but an insight that can be borne from experience. It is better to experience it for oneself as before and after the insight, it can still be 'unbelievable' for the mind. Emptiness is quite hard to experience and usually the realisation of no-self comes before emptiness.
As mentioned, no-self will be easier to realise. I will describe the insight of  no-self/egolessness generally here. When doing insight meditation one may realise that the sensory experiences (including mental formation/thinking) are arising and passing away independently of one another. That is, seeing is seeing, hearing is hearing, thinking is thinking and they are all flowing independently. With that observation, one will realise that there is no self holding all these sensory experiences together.  Self that we originally assumed, is just these sensory experiences arising and passing away and the attention focusing on them.
As for emptiness, it requires a deeper penetration into consciousness. Emptiness reveals that everything is not physical and solid at all... but are 'holographically united'. There is no way to accurately describe it as it is not the way a mind unaware to it will think. Like the first insight of no-self, emptiness is a paradigm shift... towards ever clearer seeing of the truth of Reality.
Please understand that seeing emptiness is not end of story. At least, not for my case. I am currently working on the remaining defilements. This doesn't meant that i will need to forcefully remove them. Forceful willing will only result in suppression. Rather, the 'method' is to be aware of and be equanimous to whatever that is arising in order for them to pass away naturally. This 'aware of' is not as easy as it sounds.
Thanks for the sharing...

I was reminded of Bahiya Sutta while you said 'seeing is seeing'...

In the seen, there is only the seen,
in the heard, there is only the heard,
in the sensed, there is only the sensed,
in the cognized, there is only the cognized.
Thus you should see that
indeed there is no thing here;
this, Bahiya, is how you should train yourself.
Since, Bahiya, there is for you
in the seen, only the seen,
in the heard, only the heard,
in the sensed, only the sensed,
in the cognized, only the cognized,
and you see that there is no thing here,
you will therefore see that
indeed there is no thing there.
As you see that there is no thing there,
you will see that
you are therefore located neither in the world of this,
nor in the world of that,
nor in any place
betwixt the two.
This alone is the end of suffering.” (ud. 1.10)


My own comments:

Non-duality is very simple and obvious and direct... and yet always missed! Due to a very fundamental flaw in our ordinary dualistic framework of things... and our deep rooted belief in duality.

In the seen, there is just the seen! It is completely non-dual... there is no 'the seen + a perceiver here seeing the seen'.... The seen is precisely the seeing! There is not two or three things: seer, seeing, and the seen. That split is entirely conceptual (though taken to be reality)... it is a conclusion due to a referencing back of a direct experience (like a sight or a sound) to a centerpoint. This centerpoint could be a vague identification and contraction to one's mind and body (and this 'center of identification within the body' could be like two inches behind your eyes or on the lower body or elsewhere), or the centerpoint could be an identification with a previous nondual recognition or authentication like the I AM or Eternal Witness experience/realization. It could even be that one has gained sufficient stability to simply rest in the state of formless Beingness throughout all experiences, but if they cling to their formless samadhi or a 'purest state of Presence', they will miss the fact that they are not just the formless pure existence but that they are/existence is also all the stuff of the universe arising moment to moment... And when one identifies oneself as this entity that is behind and separated from the seen, this prevents the direct experience of what manifestation and no-self is.

But in direct experience it is simply not like that: there is nothing like subject-object duality in direct experience.... only This - seen, heard, sensed, cognized. Prior to self-referencing, this is what exists in its primordial purity.

So, in the seen, there's just That! Scenery, trees, road, etc... but when I label these as such, instead of putting a more subjective term such as 'experiencing'.... they tend to conjure images of an objective world that is 'out there' made of multiple different objects existing in time and space separated by distances.

But no, the Buddha says: in the seen, just the seen! There is no thing 'here' (apart from the seen).... nor something 'there' (as if the seen is an objective reality out there). From the perspective of the logical framework of things, the world is made of distance, depth, entities, objects, time, space, and so on, but if you take away the reference point of a self... there is simply Pure Consciousness of What Is (whatever manifests) without distance or fragmentation. You need at least two reference points to measure distance... but all reference points (be it of an apparent subjective self or an apparent external object) are entirely illusory and conceptual. If there is no 'self' here, and that you are equally everything... what distance is there? Without a self, there is no 'out there'...

The seen is neither subjective nor objective.... it just IS....

There is pure seeing, pure hearing, everything arising without an external reference other than the scenery being the seeing without seer, the sound being the hearing without hearer (and vice versa: the hearing being just the sound, the manifestation).

But even the word 'hearing', 'seeing', 'awareness' can conjure an image of what Awareness is.... As if there is really an entity called 'hearing' or 'seeing' or 'awareness' that remains and stays constant and unchanged.

But.... if you contemplate on "How am I experiencing the moment of being alive?", or, "How am I experiencing the moment of hearing?", or "How am I experiencing the moment of seeing?" or "How am I experiencing the moment of being aware?"

All the bullshit concepts, constructs and images of an 'aliveness', a 'hearing', a 'seeing', an 'awareness' simply dissolves in the direct experiencing of whatever arises... just 'seeing is seeing, hearing is hearing, thinking is thinking and they are all flowing independently', with 'no self holding all these sensory experiences together'.

If readers find my explanation a bit too hard to grasp, please read Ajahn Amaro's link because he explains it much better than me.
6 Responses
  1. Cyclops Says:

    Thank you, AEN. I'm seeing this ever more clearly.
    It comes in flashes -- whoosh! No one here, no thing there, just "this"! It's thrilling and so obviously true. Yet the habit of reification still operates.

  2. Hi Cyclops, sounds like good progress.

    At this point, Thusness/PasserBy's advise in the comments section of may be helpful:

    "Indeed Buddha Bra,

    At first 'effort' to focus on experiencing on the vividness of 'sensation' in the most immediate and direct way will remain. It will be 'concentrative' for some time before it turns effortless.

    There are a few points I would like to share:

    1. Insight that 'anatta' is a seal and not a stage must arise to further progress into the 'effortless' mode. That is, anatta is the ground of all experiences and has always been so, no I. In seeing, always only seen, in hearing always only sound and in thinking, always only thoughts. No effort required and never was there an 'I'.

    2. It is better not to treat sensation as 'real' as the word 'real' in Buddhism carries a different meaning. It is rather a moment of vivid, luminous presence but nothing 'real'. It may be difficult to realise why is this important but it will become clearer in later phase of our progress.

    3. Do go further into the aspect of dependent origination and emptiness to further 'purify' the experience of anatta. Not only is there no who, there is no where and when in all manifestation."

  3. respire Says:

    Hi An Eternal Now!
    Could you define "seal" in:
    "Insight that 'anatta' is a seal and not a stage must arise to further progress into the 'effortless' mode"
    Very, very thankful in advance as this is the step needed now for further progress as far as "I" am concerned...

  4. Wei Yu Says:

    Means it is always so, it is the nature of mind/experience to be empty of an agent, subject, I, sensor, seer, feeler, hearer - in seeing always only the seen, no seer, in hearing always just sound, no hearer.

    It is not the case that at a certain point in time you experience no-self. That dissolution of sense of self is merely a peak experience. It is another thing to realize the 'always so' case of anatta as a seal.

  5. Wei Yu Says:

    "That dissolution of sense of self"

    to clarify:

    Dissolution of sense of self before realizing anatta is a temporary peak experience. After realization it becomes quite effortless and natural.