Posted by: Soh
Judith Blackstone, 'The Empathic Ground':
"Although nondual realization is considered, in Asian spiritual traditions to be an advanced level of spiritual attainment, I have found that for many people it is easily accessible. It is important to understand that nondual realization is a process. Complete nondual realization is said to be extremely rare, if it is possible at all. But an initial realization requires between one and three years of consistent practice intention."

I saw this quote in your forum thread Any living enlightened Master? I wonder why you quoted it, it doesn’t seem relevant. Nevertheless with the recent insight into anatta, I am sure you no more concur with Judith Blackstone that “Complete nondual realization is said to be extremely rare, if it is possible at all.” In fact not only is complete non-dual possible, it is simply the beginning. In the realm of no-mind, all experiences are implicitly non-dual and effortless. This should not be a mystery to you by now.

The purpose of bringing up Judith Blackstone quote is not to boast about one’s achievement but to convey an additional point in practice. That is in addition to experience and realization, you have to embrace the ‘right view’. I have mentioned to you in the article Realization and Experience and Non-Dual Experience from Different Perspectives, I will re-iterate it here:

To mature this realization, even direct experience of the absence of an agent will prove insufficient; there must also be a total new paradigm shift in terms of view; we must free ourselves from being bonded to the idea, the need, the urge and the tendency of analyzing, seeing and understanding our moment to moment of experiential reality from a source, an essence, a center, a location, an agent or a controller and rest entirely on anatta and Dependent Origination.

Therefore despite the clear realization and right experience, seamlessness and effortlessness of non-dual experience will not be smooth without ‘right view’. The reason though obvious is often overlooked; if deep at the back of a practitioner’s mind he still hold the dualistic and inherent view, how is it possible to have seamless and effortless experience of in seeing, just scenery; in hearing, just sound? How unreserved, open and seamless can a practitioner be in transcending the self altogether into the transience? Hence equip oneself with a view that can integrate with the realization and experience, it will help practitioners progress more smoothly. Understanding the impact of view in practice is what I find lacking in many of your posts. You may want to look into it.

With regards to the attachment of view, it does not apply to practitioners that have gone pass certain phases of insights. Practitioners after certain phases of insights are constantly abolishing ground and are clear that whatever pith instructions and views are merely provisional. There are masters that caution practitioners and there are students that parrot their masters’ advices, so do not follow blindly. In fact if understood correctly every deepening of view is a giving up. In the case of anatta, it is the total elimination of Self.
"Bhikkkhus, as purified and bright as this view is, if you covet, cherish, treasure and take pride in it, do you understand this Dhamma as comparable to a raft, taught for the purpose of giving up [i.e. crossing over] and not for the purpose of grasping?" "No, venerable sir." "Bhikkhus, as purified and bright as this view is, if you do not covet, cherish, treasure and take pride in it, would you then know this Dhamma as comparable to a raft, taught for the purpose of giving up [i.e. crossing over] and not for the purpose of grasping?" "Yes, venerable sir."

Coming back to your practice, there are 3 experiences that you should be familiar:

1. Frequent occurrences of mini absorption states in sensory experiences of the 6 entries and exits.

2. Getting grounded in the ‘here and now’.

3. Occasional brief moment of experiencing oneself being transcended into ceaseless activity (This is the beginning of maha interconnectedness aka 一合相 according to your dharma grand master).

I would like to hear from you the followings:

1. How is 1,2 and 3 related?

2. What in your own opinion is your next natural progression?
In your Taiwanese teacher's reply, he pointed out to you about seeing the equality of all dharma and all appearances. Is this your next natural progression? If in a flash moment you are able to intuit what your Taiwanese teacher is pointing at, then all gaps are filled and transmission beyond verbal inadequacies is attained; otherwise there is no rush for experience and realization. The mind has not given up enough to rid itself of artificialities to intuit what that is plainly simple, gapless and direct.

Whatever arises dependently originates.
Life is so, Death is so.
This is so, That is so.
Here is so, Now is so.
Therefore no life, no death, no this, no that, no here, no now.
No Self to create the hierarchy to complicate matters.
Marvellously simple, primordially pure.
Diverse yet equal!

3. Is grounding in the ‘here and now’ something to seek after? Relate this to Ted’s article and the article on Stainless. You have written a post about relinquishing attachment to the 'here and now'. The improvement is indicative of the increase in understanding and expression of no-self.

4. How and why does the experience of 一合相 (the experience of interconnectedness) arise and and why only occasionally unlike your non-dual experience?

5. How is your Taiwanese teacher’s reply related to Ted’s article?

Lastly, I want to comment on the following 3 points found in Ted's article "A" is "not-A", "not A" is "A". They are related to the questions above and is a little beyond you at this point in time. Take your time to refine your understanding and experience in army. I will update it along the way.

1. The myriad things advance and confirm the self
2. Kaiin Zammai (Ocean-reflection Samadhi) 海印三昧
3. Do not anticipate, Do not oppose

1. The myriad things advance and confirm the self
Zazen is “mustering the whole body-mind (the whole of existence-time, inclusive of “A” and “not-A”) to look at forms and listen to sounds,” which is described by Dogen as “direct experience.” This “direct experience” is not only hearing, seeing, etc.; it is the arising of an ‘I’.” As in Shobogenzo, Genjokoan, “The myriad things advance and confirm the self.

The whole article would be beautiful without the above texts quoted in bold. This emphasis is no difference from the need to find ground in the ‘here and now’. There is another article posted by you in the blog Genjo Koan: Actualizing the Fundamental Point that in my opinion provides a more accurate translation:
To carry yourself forward and experience myriad things is delusion. That myriad things come forth and experience themselves is awakening.
To study the buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.

If “the myriad things advance and confirm the self”, then practitioners will be leaving trace. This also reminds me of my conversation with Gozen (a Soto Zen teacher) in dharmaoverground:
24. RE: The mind and the watcher
Apr 7 2009, 5:46 PM EDT | Post edited: Apr 7 2009, 5:57 PM EDT
"I AM: Paradoxically, one feels at the same time that one is both essentially untouched by all phenomena and yet intimately at one with them. As the Upanishad says "Thou are That."

1.a. Body and Mind as Constructs: Another way to look at this is to observe that all compound things -- including one's own body and mind -- are **objects to awareness.** That is to say, from the "fundamental" point of view of primordial awareness, or True Self, even body and mind are **not self.**"

Ha Gozen, I re-read the post and saw **not self**, I supposed u r referring to anatta then I have to disagree...:-). However I agree with what that u said from the Vedanta (True Self) standpoint. But going into it can make it appears unnecessary complex.

As a summary, I see anatta as understanding the **transience** as Awareness by realizing that there is no observer apart from the observed. Effectively it is referring to the experience of in seeing, only scenery, no seer. In hearing, only sound, no hearer. The experience is quite similar to “Thou are That” except that there is no sinking back to a Source as it is deemed unnecessary. Full comfort is found in resting completely as the transience without even the slightest need to refer back to a source. For the source has always been the manifestation due to its emptiness nature.

All along there is no dust alighting on the Mirror; the dust has always been the Mirror. We fail to recognize the dust as the Mirror when we are attached to a particular speck of dust and call it the ”Mirror”; When a particular speck of dust becomes special, then all other pristine happening that are self-mirroring suddenly appears dusty.

Anything further, we will have to take it private again. :-)
source : Emptiness as Viewless View and Embracing the Transience

Therefore to see that all dusts are primordially pure from before beginning is the whole purpose of maturing the insight of anatta. The following text succinctly expresses this insight:
...According to Dogen, this “oceanic-body” does not contain the myriad forms, nor is it made up of myriad forms – it is the myriad forms themselves. The same instruction is provided at the beginning of Shobogenzo, Gabyo (pictured rice-cakes) where, he asserts that, “as all Buddhas are enlightenment” (sho, or honsho), so too, “all dharmas are enlightenment” which he says does not mean they are simply “one” nature or mind.

Anything falling short of this realization cannot be said to be Buddhist's enlightenment and it is also what your Taiwanese teacher Chen wanted you to be clear when he spoke of the "equality of dharma" as having an initial glimpse of anatta will not result in practitioners seeing that phenomena are themselves primoridally pure.

2. Kaiin Zammai (Ocean-reflection Samadhi) 海印三昧

The Libya war, Japan earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear crisis have caused much turbulence to the world and its economy. The past few weeks have been a difficult period to cope (in business). It is a very tough period for those businessmen having businesses that are closely linked to Libya and Japan and I can understand the fear, anger and frustrations in them. I have friends that are badly affected but amid this difficult time, let us also not forget that thousands of lives have been lost and tens of thousands more are still suffering now…

I sincerely hope that all beings in this crisis be free from danger, mental and physical suffering .....

The term ‘Ocean-Seal Samadhi (海印三昧)’ seems to originate from Flower Adornment Sutra. I am not familiar with flower Adornment Sutra and therefore know very little about 海印三昧. When Amitayus48 first posted an article about 海印三昧 by 宣化老和尚 in your forum, I did an internet search on 海印三昧 (in Chinese characters) and what I gathered were the explanations (in Chinese) by many masters from non-dual substantialists perspective. It was quite a disappointment.

That which rekindled my interest in Ocean-Seal Samadhi is the following description:
The Buddha said, "It is just the dharmas that combine to form this body. When it arises, it is simply the dharmas arising; when it ceases, it is simply the dharmas ceasing. When these dharmas arise, [the bodhisattva] does not state, 'I arise'; when these dharmas cease, he does not state, 'I cease'." "In prior thought moments and subsequent thought moments, the moments do not relate to each other; in prior dharmas and subsequent dharmas, the dharmas do not oppose each other. This is called the the ocean seal Samadhi.

I wonder where Dogen got this wonderfully expressed quote but I am unable to locate it in Flower Adornment Sutra. The quote appears to be a piece-together from two different sutras -- Vimalakirti Sutra and (Zen Grand Master) Hui Neng Sutra. If that is the case, Ted is right in saying that Dogen has indeed creatively shed new light into the profound meaning of 海印三昧.

In my opinion the quote is not about an expression of a perfectly transparent and clear state of mind where object and subject collapsed into an undifferentiated oneness reflecting myraid forms. This would just simply be a non-dual state; rather it is a perfection in insight of seeing what that is truly happening in this instantaneous moment of suchness. The myriad forms are presenting themselves in plain simplicity and the myraid forms have always been what we called ‘mind’. The texture, the fabric, the shape, the vivid colors, the myraid appearances in primordial purity has always been 'mind' itself! Yet do not mistake that 'mind' is the one substance that made up the myraid forms for this is a distorted inherent view. It is simply a label denoting this instantaneous moment of vivid arising that entails the total exertion of the universe. This 'total exertion' is not by way of 'effort' and no amount of 'effort' will lead to 'total exertion'; this 'total exertion' is by way of realizing the 2 fold empty nature of whatever arises.

Therefore To study the mind is to study the myriad forms. To study the myriad forms is to study the dependently originated appearance at this instantaneous moment. To study this instantaneous moment is to understand the full exertion of the 'interconnected universe' and this full exertion is expressed without reservation as this vivid moment of arising sound...this breath...this passing thought...this obviously clear scenery...


Instantly Gone!

3. Do not anticipate, Do not oppose

The previous section is essentially realizing that the "Ocean" is something extra, in actuality it does not exist. However the arising insight of "no agent" does not naturally lead to the realization that:

“A preceding thought-moment and a succeeding thought-moment do not anticipate each other; a preceding dharma and a succeeding dharma do not oppose each other."

You have written a post relating to this matter where you spoke of the difference between the first and second stanza. I think it is more relevant than seeing it as the total exertion in an instantaneous moment as presented by Ted. This arising moment of myriad appearance is the full embodiment of past, present and future 'total exertion', hence "existence-time" is an invaluable insight but relates more to the experience of maha.

For the purpose of your practice, before going deeply into 'total exertion', it is advisable to first directly experience the 'releasing from the chain (of birth and death)' by realizing that thought moment "do not anticipate each other and dharma do not oppose each other". In my opinion, without this de-linking the chain of thought-moment and seeing that manifestation is continuously springing up non-dually, non-locally and unsupported, the 'Samadhi' of the Ocean-Seal will not be adequately understood.

Also in between ”seeing the Ocean as extra” to directly experiencing the “total exertion in the ceaselessness of this ongoing activity”, a process of maturing the insight of anatta is necessary. By maturing I am referring to the ending of any reification of mind-objects be it "Self/self", "here/now", "mind", "body", "weather"... -- there is no "Self/self", only changing aggregates; no "body", only changing sensations; no “here and now” besides changing phenomena; no "weather" besides changing clouds, rain and sun shines. If this insight can be thoroughly extended to whatever arises then the interconnectedness and total exertion of this moment will become clear and obvious. So much so that when eating an apple, the universe tastes it! -- the full exertion of the apple, the hand, the taste, the throat, the stomach, the everything of everything is completely transcended into this simple action of suchness where nothing is excluded. Here again, do take note that this "total exertion" is not the result of being fully concentrated; it is the natural outcome when practitioners have adequately embraced the 'view' of 2 fold emptiness.

In summary I think this is an excellent article written from deep experiential insight. However the article seems to emphasize more “A” than “not A”. Although there is the mentioning of the “casting off”, it is quickly overshadowed by the emphasis of “total exertion”, the grounding in the “here and now” and the affirming of the ‘Self’ in the arising and ceasing.

“Here” and “Now” are simply impressions formed by the senses. Fundamentally there is nothing truly ”here”, nothing truly “now” and nothing truly “self”. Though the universe (with all causes and conditions) is fully exerting to make this moment possible, it is nothing real. In my opinion the recent post written by Pegembara in your forum provides a good balance to Ted’s insight of “total exertion”.

Just my 2 cents. :)
3 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    OK, I should clarify. I'm simply talking another the insights of form is emptiness and emptiness is form. I guess I've already answered my own questions for myself. Emptiness, non-true existence, allows for things to change, arise and happen. It allows for a "reality", albeit a temporary one. Now if there is a reality, if there is being, there has to be some-thing that can be said to be a "thing." Otherwise, one h, unas to revert to nihilism, because what is present, then? So for there to be a reality which emptiness implies, there must be "things" that have at least enough stability to even be able to be called things. And they have to have some sort of separate, unique identities. So, this means that if there is a reality, if there is form, or being, there must be division and thus time and space are born from emptiness (rather, they are emptiness). So, like I said before, what is present is division, mind and matter, which are basically neither the same nor different. And their difference is their sameness, etc. etc. The insight of anatta (no-mind) revealed multiplicity instead of a singular, overarching consciousness. There is just this multiplicity which is simultaneously present and not present, some-thing and no-thing. Form and emptiness. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my post. Things seem to have worked themselves out lol.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I just had something come to me that further connects this time and timelessness, difference and sameness that I've been contemplating. I feel that I must express it! This relates back to what I said previously about emptiness meaning there must be something present. Which means there must be continuity. The stability of a thing comes from its instability. That is, because things don't truly exist, they can change and interact. And therefore they are interconnected and dependent. Take a lamp, for instance. The lamp is changing all the time so much so that we can't say there is an actual "thing" there called a lamp. It's changing because it is interconnected and dependent. Yet, because it is interconnected and dependent, it never changes. Every time the lamp changes, it stays the same because all past states which the lamp has been made up of are contained in the change. It's change results from everything that it once was, that it was in the past. So everything it once was is not gone, it is still there. Therefore individual things can and do have stability and continuity in that sense. The lamp is changing all the time yet in its change it has never changed. As dogen says, firewood ( at this moment) contains and yet is independent of past and future. Therefore it both has continuity and doesn't. Marvelous, this was just the nature of form/presence and time and timelessness that I was trying to get at! Now I must get some sleep lol.

  3. PasserBy Says:

    ic. Will talk about that in the post. Go get some sleep!