I have seen that when I say "awareness/luminosity is only everything", or "sensation is self-luminous", a doubt or question may arise in some. That questioner may ask then, "What is it that knows the experience of luminosity, but yet itself is never experienced"?
This question is not at all unfamiliar to me, I spent two years in the past practicing self inquiry day and night - who am I? Who is aware? Before birth what am I? Who is dragging this corpse along? To whom is this I-thought occuring? Who is the source? Etc etc (it all comes down to who is the source?). In fact self inquiry was vital for my self-realization (the realization of I AMness).
But there are two points to this:
1. One must realize that the current way of enquiry prevents the practitioner from intuitively realizing the non-arising nature of whatever arises.
The gnosis should not be understood this way such as "beyond", "changelessness", etc - understanding this way does not mean the practitioner realizes "something" superior; instead one is falling prey to his/her existing dualistic and inherent mode of enquiry rather than truly and directly pointing the way of immense intelligence.
2. The second point is that, when all enquiries and views are exhausted, how is it understood?
In other words, the way and system of enquiry already defined what you are going to experience. Therefore the mind must realize and see the futility of such mode of enquiry and any form of establishment.
This is why self inquiry is rejected by Buddha (though I advise it for beginners as it is a very potent, powerful, and direct path to Self-Realization, it is still a provisional method that has to be dropped later for further penetration into anatta, etc) as it is based on a not-so-hidden assumption that a self must exist, so the enquiry reinforces the sense of a subjective knower, it affects and prevents the complete experience of awareness.
As Buddha said in MN2: "And what are the ideas fit for attention that he does not attend to? Whatever ideas such that, when he attends to them, the unarisen fermentation of sensuality does not arise in him, and the arisen fermentation of sensuality is abandoned; the unarisen fermentation of becoming does not arise in him, and arisen fermentation of becoming is abandoned; the unarisen fermentation of ignorance does not arise in him, and the arisen fermentation of ignorance is abandoned. These are the ideas fit for attention that he does not attend to. Through his attending to ideas unfit for attention and through his not attending to ideas fit for attention, both unarisen fermentations arise in him, and arisen fermentations increase.
"This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'
"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will stay just as it is for eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress."
Having said this, I still highly recommend self-inquiry to realize I AMness. And don't be surprised if I talk solely about self-inquiry and I AMness to certain people. Today I still tell my mother to trace all thoughts and perceptions to her Source, I am teaching her to revert her awareness to itself or to her own source to discover her Self. I will only talk about Self to certain people and not talk anything at all about anatta or even non-dual. It may sound contradictory to anatta or emptiness teachings, but nonetheless it will lead to an important realization - that is the luminous essence of mind.
As Thusness puts it in 2009, "When I talk to someone, I have specific purposes. If I want someone to have direct experience of 'I AMness', I will want him to have vivid experience of the 'I AM' Presence, and that includes the wrong understanding of inherent existence. Just like when your teacher is teaching you algebra, he or she cannot tell you about calculus. Similarly when you learn classical physics, the teacher cannot keep telling you about relativity. There is no point to keep telling you about quantum mechanics when you are studying newtonic views, for how are you going to understand quantum mechanics? You start from the newton way of understanding gravity, then slowly followed by relativity. Similarly when you study numbers, you start with discrete numbers - there is no point teaching you decimals or the rate of change, or see things as change. You see things in discrete first. If you keep telling people about wrong stuff under differing conditions, you only confuse people. I never wanted people to understand the ultimate truth, other people will lead them to the right understanding when it is appropriate. So I might talk about Advaita [e.g. I AM/One Mind realization] until the day I die, or about stage 4 to 5 insight and nothing about 6 or emptiness. The approach I employ is strictly dependently originated, it is about seeing the conditions of an individual practitioner, but whether that person understands dependent origination is another matter."
Lastly, another sharing of an excerpt of Buddha's discourse in MN 140:
29. “So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘One should not neglect wisdom, should preserve truth, should cultivate relinquishment, and should train for peace.’
30. “‘The tides of conceiving do not sweep over one who stands upon these [foundations], and when the tides of conceiving no longer sweep over him he is called a sage at peace.’ So it was said. And with reference to what was this said?
31. “Bhikkhu, ‘I am’ is a conceiving; ‘I am this’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall not be’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be possessed of form’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be formless’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be percipient’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be non-percipient’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be neither-percipient-nor-non-percipient’ is a conceiving. Conceiving is a disease, conceiving is a tumour, conceiving is a dart. By overcoming all conceivings, bhikkhu, one is called a sage at peace. And the sage at peace is not born, does not age, does not die; he is not shaken and is not agitated. For there is nothing present in him by which he might be born. Not being born, how could he age? Not ageing, how could he die? Not dying, how could he be shaken? Not being shaken, why should he be agitated?
32. “So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘The tides of conceiving do not sweep over one who stands upon these [foundations], and when the tides of conceiving no longer sweep over him he is called a sage at peace.’ Bhikkhu, bear in mind this brief exposition of the six elements.”
Update: Just found a post by Kyle Dixon (see his other articles here: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.sg/search/label/asunthatneversets) in Facebook which is very relevant to this subject:
Darryl, when one investigates the subject and object, the nature of that alleged dichotomy is what is being investigated. What are the causes and conditions that allow for these designations to be apparent, and what the nature of that seeming subject which is doing the investigation indeed is.
The premise that the investigation itself is doomed from the start because it implies a subject relating to an object isn't allowing for an investigation, it's merely clinging to the initial presupposition that was to be investigated and doesn't even attempt to step outside of that box or play devil's advocate at all.
The process that the emptiness investigation is proposing, allows for the subject and object etc.. to be conventional labels and titles without insisting that they indeed relate to actual objective qualities. And those objective (or subjective) qualities that we assume are being referred to are evaluated and deconstructed to reveal that they actually don't withstand scrutiny.
The governing presuppositions must be addressed as well, for example the statement that an investigated or observed subject must be an object to that which observes it. One would have to really look at these suppositions such as a process of observation, a subject that is observed, the idea that a subject which is observed could simultaneously be a subject and also an object, what constitutes the 'subject', what constitutes the 'object', can the subjects innate knowledge of the known ever be found apart from the known and vice versa etc...
Presuppositions of arising, abiding, falling, the notion that these sequence consecutively in time, time itself, time as memory, time as projected ideation.
The presupposition that an appearance is an arising, that it indeed emerges from an undisclosed and/or unknowable location or state, the idea of that very triad: arising, abiding and ceasing.. being exclusively valid designations when abiding/cessation cannot be found upon the event of an arising, and arising/abiding cannot be found upon the event of cessation. A singular event in general would suggest other events, singular would suggest plural vice versa. Can arising be known, abiding be known, cessation be known.
What is it that performs or is endowed with qualities and characteristics, what is it that performs actions, do we find something apart from the action, do we find something apart from qualities and characteristics, do we even find qualities and characteristics within imputed qualities and characteristics.
When deconstructing ends, did it ever occur, was there indeed something deconstructed or was one's own ideation and projections all that was addressed and assessed. What is left? Does something remain when nothing stood prior, what is the soteriological benefit derived in that release, does a release or liberation happen, that would have to be predicated on bondage having existed before, is removing these notions of both bondage and liberation itself the liberation, deeming bondage and liberation themselves the bondage?
At any rate, the rabbit hole gets deep, and you seem to be resting upon the assumption that your own presuppositions are indeed inherent and infallible. There has to be a ruthlessness to an emptiness investigation, and openness, a burning want and desire.
The type of person that benefits from emptiness investigations is the one who ravenously pours themselves into the process like they're on fire and discovering emptiness will put that flame out. You strike me as a man who enjoys being on fire.
But to each their own!