Posted by: Soh
John Tan Hi David, thanks for sharing.

First there is the direct apprehension of Clarity/Awareness.

Next is recognizing the apparent separation of clarity and appearance caused by a seeming perceptual knot.

Then there is resolving of this separation and what’s left is appearances / phenomena / cognized, seen, heard, tasted, smelled and sensed

It is interesting that the resolving of the separation for your case is not by way of subsuming into an all-encompassing non-dual awareness/space; however the overcoming of the center/agent can arise (from my experience) by:

1. By a prolong training in a state of no-mind.

2. Seeing through the center that the center has always been assumed, it is extra. In reality it does not exist.

3. Seeing through that the fundamental nature of the perceptual knot itself

4. A combination of above

Do you overcome the center by any of the above or by a different approach?

David Vardy Nice to meet you John. Looking back ( I was a slow learner. This is over a thirty year period). The first insight was associated with Taoist Yoga/Meditation performing the small microcosmic orbit. I had developed a lot of Chi over the years and when that orbit opened there was a hyper aware state, one of complete calmness and clarity. A feeling where everything just dropped. It wasn't until another decade or so when I was standing in line at an ice cream stand and a little girl turned around and looked up at me. In that moment she seemed as if she didn't see me, was looking straight through me. It was huge to say the least, brought me literally to my knees. The event left me feeling as if I had a hole in my forehead for about 2 months, experiencing headlessness all along. Deconstructed were the opposites, particularly inside and outside. You could say that from that day with that girl automatic continuous deconstruction was going on henceforth. There was no getting around it, even when exhausted. It's difficult retracking in such a short space here, but subsequently there was the experience of Anatta. This was incredible in light of the fact it hadn't been spelled out to me and having left the Chan tradition well before advancing in it I was kind of at a loss, not experientially, there was no doubt there, but how to talk about it. I had pretty much been seeing from the I AM position prior to this. Prior to Anatta it was as if my backside was an infinite expansive potential, the front being purely phenomenal. This destroyed the backside. What had been imagined to be non-dual was seen not to have been the case at all. The notion of absence being on the backside was now gone. The idea of no-self prior to Anatta was really just self as Absence, but still holding onto a conceptual absence you could say. There was still a center. Experiencing Anatta in my case, coincided with seeing DO. Prior to Anatta, phenomena seemed to be hyper real, substantiated as you say? In the moment of Anatta, the packed nature of phenomena as a unitary seeing having no inherent qualities was clear. Emptiness of both sides was clear in the same moment, and fortunately continued as a heightened Samadi like experience for months after the initial introduction.
June 25 at 1:28pm · Unlike · 3


David Vardy There is a physical component to this. Here, the experience occurring with the insight coinciding with seeing the packed nature of sensing is also a packed feeling in the brain. Every space is filled. I call it the 'stuffed animal' effect. The center is squeezed out by seeing itself. It's as if by virtue of occupied receptors, the play of opposites is cancelled out, not intellectually but physically. And that which is cancelled is who you've been featured imagining yourself to be. There has been no one there but the play of opposites in a hyperactive fashion. The essence of quietude is the absence of that play.
June 25 at 1:51pm · Like


John Tan Hi David,
Nice meeting you too and thanks for sharing your experiences…felt a little nostalgic after knowing your Taoist background.
Your description of the little girl’s stare is beautiful. The stare cuts through not only one’s discursive thoughts but also pierces through the living Presence (the first level of koan of one’s original face) and right into the fundamental essence of anatta. Even from your mere description, there is still the wordless transmission of headlessness that penetrates deep into one’s bone marrow and boils the blood. The stare preserves the lineage that is beyond words. Thank You.
For me, the initial insight of anatta was mainly what I have stated in scenario 2 -- seeing through the center that the center has always been assumed, it is extra. In reality it does not exist.
Up until this point of anatta, I was very much a non-conceptual advocator, less words more experience. I have heard of the word “Kong 空”(Emptinesss) numerous times but never exactly know what it truly meant. The idea of Emptiness struck me probably “2 years later when I came across the chariot analogy of the Buddhist sage Nāgasena. There was an instant recognition that the analogy is precisely the insight of anatta and anatta is the real-time experiential taste of the “Emptiness” in relation to self/Self except that it is now replaced with “chariot” in the example.
The insight was huge and I began to re-examine all my experiences from the perspective of "Emptiness". This includes mind-body dropped, the impression of hereness and nowness, internal and externality, space and time...etc. Essentially a journey of deconstruction, that is, extending the same insight of anatta from the perspective of emptiness to all phenomena, aggregates, mental constructs and even to non-conceptual sensory experiences. This led to the taste of instant liberation at spot of not only the background (self) but also the cognized, seen, heard, tasted, smelled and sensed without the need to subsume either subject into object or object into subject but liberates whatever arises at spot.
The deconstruction process reveals not only the taste of freedom from freeing the energy that is sustaining the constructs (in fact tremendous energy is needed to maintain the mental constructs) but also a continuous formation of a perceptual knot that blinds us in a very subtle way and that relates to scenario 3 -- Seeing through the fundamental nature of the perceptual knot itself. Seeing the nature of perceptual knot involves in seeing clearly certain very persistent and habitual patterns that continues to shape our mode of knowing, analysis and experience like a magical spell. The perceptual knot is the habitual tendency to reify and Emptiness is the antidote for this reifying tendency.
The journey of emptying also convinces me the importance of having the right view of Emptiness even though it is only an intellectual grasped initially. Non-conceptuality has its associated diseases…lol…therefore I always advocate not falling to conceptuality and yet not ignoring conceptuality. That is, strict non-conceptuality is not necessary, only that habitual pattern of reification needs be severed. Perhaps this relates to the zen wild fox koan of not falling into cause and effect and not ignoring cause and effect. A koan that Hakuin remarked as "difficult to pass through".
Not falling, not ignoring.
A word different, a world of difference.
And the difference causes a wild fox for five hundred lifetimes!
A long post and time to return to silence.
Nice chat and happy journey David!
June 26 at 1:33am · Edited · Unlike · 9


David Vardy Thank you John. This is a real pleasure. It’s like having a first flush cup of Tung Ting after a few years of drinking Lipton. This feels similar to when Soh happened to pop up in another forum that I was in. What he said then, and continues to say, is perennially refreshing.
“This led to the taste of instant liberation at spot of not only the background (self) but the cognized, seen, heard, tasted, smelled and sensed without the need to subsume either subject into object or object into subject but liberates whatever arises at spot.”
Functioning, in the absence of clinging as it were, seems to be self-consuming much like a fire burning, the fuel being what appears to be arising. Whatever arises is consumed by the very nature of the activity itself. What we’re featured doing it seems is making ‘still lifes’ (reification) out of the flames, assumed to be living as such, but only in memory. When this functioning isn’t appearing against a background, and there can only be a conceptual background, then what pops up only survives as long as it’s noticed. If there was anyone to be continuously surprised by all this, slack jaw would probably be an ongoing problem.....lol
For many years, 23 to be exact, I worked in a small kitchen of my restaurant. We had two windows looking into the dining room including a distant view of the street in front of our restaurant. I remember to this day, the first impact of seeing people walking by in the street, disappearing stage left, disappearing stage right, appearing from stage left, appearing from stage right. What was a surprise back then, slowly became a virtual matter of fact. There just isn’t a way to create a story of what’s happening to those people, do they have lives, where do they go, what happens to them. etc. in the absence of a background. In many ways, this is just about seeing things as they arise in the absence of stories. What can’t be described is the utter simplicity of it, and in one sense, it’s the one thing that isn’t required because, in fact, that’s all that’s happening.
This then translates to our daily ‘lives’. When someone shows up who you haven’t seen for sometime you ask out of genuine curiosity how they’ve been, what’s been happening because they’ve simply been out of mind and out of sight, not asking out of mere habit.
So long as there’s reification, deconstruction is required. The nature of deconstruction can at first be tedious, but eventually it just becomes what has to happen. There’s no getting around it. When it becomes as natural as a fire burning, then we can trust that what’s happening is what’s happening and their need not be concern for outcomes, a future, a past, whatever. It’s not different from experiencing a wound heal. Patience I’ve discovered has been my best friend. Sometimes these things feel as if they can take an eternity....lol When it’s understood that the undercurrent is far stronger than whatever is appearing at the surface, we give in to the current.
June 26 at 1:43am · Edited · Unlike · 3


John Tan Hi David, I see that u r expressing what I called the +A and –A of emptying.
(+A)
When u cook, there is no self that cooks, only the activity of cooking. The hands moves, the utensils act, the water boils, the potatoes peels …here there is no room for simplicity or complications, the “kitchen” went beyond it’s own imputation and dissolved into the activity of cooking and the universe is fully engaged in this cooking.
(-A)
30 years of practice and 23 years of kitchen life is like a passing thought.
How heavy is this thought?
The whereabouts of this thought?
Tastes the nature of this thought.
It never truly arises.
June 26 at 8:43am · Unlike · 8


David Vardy Hi John - Well said. The kitchen is full of metaphors, but once beyond metaphor and measure, there's nothing quite like it. I use to refer to it as being a 'corner of a wall-less room'.
June 26 at 11:25am · Like · 1

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