Posted by: Soh
BR wrote: ""in deep sleep only deep sleep, just like in the seen only the seen."What then, is deep sleep? A gap in reality? An absence or non-existence?"

An absorption in a state of nothingness or oblivion.

The Abhidhammic tradition calls this state 'resting in bhavanga citta'. If you want to read more:


BR wrote: "So when things are absent, what is there? Does reality pop in and out of existence? This is the same question as above, since, in my experience, "when all things are absent" and "deep sleep" amount to the same thing."

One who realizes anatta is not afraid of 'fading away', every moment, not just in particular states.

As Thusness told JonLS (Din Robinson) in 2007:

Originally posted by JonLS:
Because we're too busy identifying with thoughts and feelings in the mind and body.
And also busy identifying with the "I Am". The worry has now come to it. Dissolve and passaway, fade out of existence! So be it!

Why can't we fully appreciate our perfection?
Fade away and appreciate "no where". Sleep well!

Greg Goode wrote:

"Stian, cool, get into that strangeness! There is a certain innocent, not-knowing quality to strangeness that counteracts the rush to certainty, the need to arrive, to land.

I still don't get your "no compromise" point. Can you rephrase it, but without the words "between" or "compromise"?

Anything can be denied. And is. There is one prominent Advaita teacher that I like who likes to say "You can't deny that you are the awareness that is hearing these words right now."

This kind of gapless continuity, so prized in Advaita, is readily denied in other approaches to experience:

you. can't. deny. that. you. are. the. awareness. hearing. these. words. right. now.

I remember feeling during one retreat, just how many ways that this could be denied. From a different model of time and experience, there are gaps and fissures all over the place, even in that sentence (hence. the. dots). Each moment is divided within itself, carrying traces of past and future (retention and protention). The first "you"-moment and the second "you"-moment are not necessarily experienced by the same entity. Each "I" is different. Entitification itself is felt as autoimmune, as divided within itself, and any "gaplessness" is nothing more than a paste-job.

Not saying one of these is right and the other wrong. Just pointing out how something so undeniable can readily be denied!


BR wrote: ""Then "Awareness" is always only manifestation and nothing hidden, nothing intrinsic, there is nothing 'unmanifest' about it."

I see that. That was already the way I understood Awareness. The idea of the separate witness was "smelly" to me. During manifestation, awareness is just the manifestation - there is no place for awareness to be. But when appearances subside, something must remain, appearances must fall "into" something. No? Awareness remains as the potential for experience, like light, invisible in itself, but allowing objects to be seen."

In the Buddhadharma, Consciousness does not exist inherently, in and of itself. So while you may say consciousness is a potential, it is a potential that isn't actualized apart from causes and conditions. This is different from the Advaitic notion that Awareness or Consciousness exists in and of itself independently regardless of the coming and going of conditioned states. In that case, it is already 'inherently self-existent' changelessly all the time, and is not purely 'mere potentiality'.

All the dependencies are totally exerting this manifestation, and 'consciousness' is merely this total exertion. For example, when walking, the entire scenery, wind breeze, and so on, are the total exertion of the various activities -- such as walking. Your walking actualizes that new moment of manifest-consciousness (vision-consciousness, auditory, tactile, etc), your sitting actualizes it, the bird singing actualizes the manifest consciousness, and so on.

And being that everything merely dependently originates, has anything ever been created? For something to be created, there would have to be a substantial entity being born within/besides the appearance. An appearance in and of itself does not imply substantial existents, like a dream does not imply real entities, but if the appearance somehow reference something with core and substance then it would be. Likewise, a mirror reflection never implied that something comes existence inside the mirror, that could stay in existence inside the mirror and then cease to exist later. We know that a mirror reflection is a momentary reflection as the total exertion of all dependencies, but no entity is ever being born. When we walk by the side of a lake, the reflection of the moon moves (totally exerts) along with our movement, obviously nothing is born inside the lake (otherwise it would be static, independent, fixed at one location).

Could the same be true for all other appearances in life? When we see red apple, is there really an 'apple' or 'redness' existing in and of itself somewhere, or merely a totally-exerting/dependently-originating appearance that is a momentary unborn shimmering? (even to call it 'momentary' is merely conventional, as there is no foundational, indivisible, substantially existing moments as posited in Abhidhamma)

By directly apperceiving the nature of 'reflection' (all appearance), the unborn nature of empty-clarity-totalexertion-display is unveiled.

Also, as Thusness wrote in 2012:

5/11/2012 4:36 PM: John: Understanding in terms of potential is ok and good
5/11/2012 4:38 PM: John: Beyond this explanation it has to be understood as mere imputation, ultimately no cause, no potential.

And I wrote earlier this year:

"Emptiness of the "I" does not negate the "I".
    We can agree that we can substitute 'I' with 'Self' in that sentence ?"

    Yes. "Self" as a convention is not a problem, it is only problem when "Self" is taken as truly existing - as independent, changeless, hidden/ghostly something with self-existence.

    For example, when we talk about "Seeing", one realizes that "Seeing" is just a convention and is just a label for the shapes and colours/the scenery, etc, i.e. "Seeing" is empty of being some hidden, ghostly entity existing in and of itself, rather it is a label for the manifestating transience/interdependencies.

    In hearing, there is no independent hearing or hearer, hearing is just the vivid sound...

    In "Self", there is no truly existing "Self" but is just a label collating the five aggregates...

    In "Weather", there is no truly existing "weather" in and of itself but "weather" is just a label collating the wind, the blowing, the shapes and colours of the blue sky, the darkening, raindrops falling... You do not search for 'weather' or conceive of 'weather' as being some sort of changeless/self-existing source, substratum or container for rain to happen, etc... you realize and penetrate its conventionality and see directly the entire workings in action.

    In "Awareness", there is no changeless/independent "Awareness" in and of itself or existing as some sort of container but "Awareness" is just a label collating the self-luminous transiency that are dependently originating...

    In "Body", there is no truly existing container with substantial shape or boundaries but merely vivid and flickering bodily sensations...

    Same applies for "Buddha-nature", etc etc.

    Even "physical universe"/"matter"/etc is analyzed that way: “In the Pali literature, the mahabhuta ("great elements") or catudhatu ("four elements") are earth, water, fire and air. In early Buddhism, the four elements are a basis for understanding suffering and for liberating oneself from suffering. The earliest Buddhist texts explain that the four primary material elements are the sensory qualities solidity, fluidity, temperature, and mobility; their characterization as earth, water, fire, and air, respectively, is declared an abstraction—instead of concentrating on the fact of material existence, one observes how a physical thing is sensed, felt, perceived.[8]"” (Wiki)

    The convention is OK if understood as mere collating convention, the problem lies in reifying an eternal, changeless, truly existing X (Self/Awareness/etc etc).


BR wrote: "Even formless presence in the gap between thoughts or when five senses are shut, a pure Mind presence-awareness, that too is fully manifest and empty of intrinsic existence."

I don't think so, but is it possible that when you refer to awareness, you're referring to the waking state consciousness that vanishes during deep sleep or anesthesia? That I'd agree it's empty and transient, just regular manifestation. But that which witnesses the coming and going of experience, of consciousness even, how can that come and go or be dependent on causes? What would witness THAT in order to claim knowledge about it?

The realization of anatta is realizing that Awareness is not 'The Witness' behind everything, the 'Witnessing' (which is not denied), is merely and always only 'manifestation'. It has no independent, separate, changeless existence apart from manifestation in the same way as 'weather' has no independent, separate, changeless existence apart from the everchanging manifestation of colours and sensations we call wind blowing, rain drops, etc. And then we realize those very manifestation which we call colours, sensations and so forth, those too are mere unborn total exertions.

The same goes even for so called the formless witnessing awareness, even that too is realized to be empty of self/Self behind/besides/within/in-between those instantiations or manifestations (of formless consciousness).

As pointed out -- in the Direct Path (Atmananda style), deep sleep is not an object to which the Witness watches, rather, deep sleep IS the witnessing awareness itself, there is no duality whatsoever. The same goes for dream and waking state. Although the Atmananda path establishes oneself as the Witness in the beginning, the duality of the Witness and witnessed collapses after all those investigations. Therefore, the position or reference-point of the 'Witness' is also seen through and deconstructed in Direct Path.

However Buddhism would investigate and deconstruct that in a different way, in a non-subsuming way, non-reductionist manner, by realizing the dependent origination and insubstantiality of X (whatever the subject or object is being investigated), not by subsuming one pole to another (subject to object, or object to subject).


"If you understand what I just wrote above, then you'll also see why 'what it is made of' does not apply since there is nothing besides/behind/within/apart from the very manifestation."
Yes, but the manifestation has to be made of something, right? I understand that, visually, for example, redness is not a quality of the apple; redness IS the apple. But redness has to me made of something. Goode's and Spira's direct path would say redness is just seeing, which is just awareness. Different names for one same substance.

Redness may be a temporary manifestation, but it exists, right? It is experienced - or it is experience. As what does it exist? Redness, when vanishes, cannot fall into oblivion, it must dissolve IN something or AS something - like a wave disappearing in water, or a dream-mountain dissipating into the dreaming consciousness.

I know you said that there is an ultimate truth, but not an ultimate reality, but what are the ordinary experiences made of? It feels like according to this view all is happening in mid air - or not even that! The conventional view is that an apple is made of atoms. The Vedantic view is that an apple is made of experiencing or awareness. I feel like I'm repeating the same question of a few hours back, but the Buddhist view is...?

Buddhadharma (at least in the Middle Way view) is a completely non-reductive and non-subsuming path. It is a non-affirming negation*. For example, we do not refute 'Apple' by reducing it to, or affirming, an underlying substrate such as 'Awareness'. When we see the emptiness of 'X', we realize there is nothing behind/besides/within the appearance to which those appearance can be imputed as characteristics belonging to an entity ('redness OF The Apple'), and those appearance are fundamentally non-arising. But we do not subsume them into an underlying, inherently existing substrate.

By realizing the emptiness of X, we do not posit the non-existence or nothingness of everything, nor do we posit the existence of something more fundamental or foundational. Rather, by realizing the emptiness of X, we directly taste the total exertion of the dependencies, functionality, appearance of which X is conventionally/nominally designated upon. X cannot be established in them nor apart from them inherently, but dependent on those functions/appearance/dependencies, a nominal convention is designated like a placeholder. (Same as 'Weather')

Buddhadharma leaves nothing uninvestigated, therefore, even 'Awareness' is to be investigated in the same light -- could 'Awareness' be inherently existing, or could it be like 'Weather'? Could it be like what Bahiya Sutta described? This is not to deny 'Awareness' (just like we wouldn't deny 'Weather'), but only its inherent existence. If Awareness is inherently existing, then container metaphors such as 'everything is manifesting within Awareness and subsiding back to it, while Awareness remains unchanged' would make sense. However, if Awareness is only conventionally designated as such like weather, would that make sense? Do you say 'rain and clouds arise and subside within Weather, while Weather remains unaffected'? Sure, we aren't denying the conventional efficacy of Weather here, but does Weather exist apart from rain/wind blowing/etc (or within them) as a truly existing container? To say that Weather 'exists' inside the rain would likewise be superfluous... the entire notion of 'existence', 'non-existence' can be penetrated. What is conventionally designated is empty of real existence, is merely inferential and not referential.

When Anatta is directly realized -- in the seen only the seen, no 'you' or 'seer' or 'seeing' in/apart/besides/behind the seen, (and likewise for the heard/sensed/cognized/etc), then everything is revealed to be a self-luminous play. The luminosity is not posited to be a container behind or underlying things, any more than 'weather' is understood to be a container behind or underlying the rain and rolling clouds, etc. Rather, directly taste the intense aliveness and luminosity of 'only the seen (and the heard, the cognized)' without any intermediary or center or boundaries! In the same way when we see through the veil of our imputed inherency of 'weather', we will see/hear/touch the very appearance of life which we conventionally label 'weather'. Weather cannot be found within nor apart from those appearance (the sensation of 'breeze' being felt, the sound of rain dripping, the grey patches of vision) which is basis of designation. Self, Awareness, Mind, Body, are also deconstructed through insight in this manner. After this, look into total exertion and the non-arising of that.

*Malcolm Smith (Loppon Namdrol):
"The great 11th Nyingma scholar Rongzom points out that only Madhyamaka accepts that its critical methodology "harms itself", meaning that Madhyamaka uses non-affirming negations to reject the positions of opponents, but does not resort to affirming negations to support a position of its own. Since Madhyamaka, as Buddhapalita states "does not propose the non-existence of existents, but instead rejects claims for the existence of existents", there is no true Madhyamaka position since there is no existent found about which a Madhyamaka position could be formulated; likewise there is no false Madhyamaka position since there is no existent found about which a Madhyamaka position could be rejected."


BR wrote: "Sorry if I'm being a tough nut to crack, or maybe this is an intellectual struggle that is pointless when direct seeing happens. But I find that these intellectual refinements really help in dissolving the mental structures that filter our perceptions.

In fact, please don't think that I'm totally lost in my head. Aha! In fact, after asking you "who are you", a few hours back, I started pondering on the absurdity of the question and a very interesting experiential clarity opened up. The feeling of self briefly dissolved (nothing spectacular) and the I-lessness of experience became quite obvious.

Sometimes, reading your comments, I just feel a bit lost as to what to do, what practice is there for this kind of stuff. I know that you've mentioned repeatedly the Bahiya sutta and self-enquiry, but I don't know where exactly I'm supposed to put my feet on. I've read the sutta, and I think I get the main point of it, and self-inquiry (or investigation of experience) is something I've been doing for a few years now.

My knowledge about Buddhism is quite modest compared to what I've been seeing in your groups and forums, so I'm wondering if your path is a traditional one that follows a certain number of steps, or if it something a bit more abstract or alternative to the conventional curriculum...

I have a certain amount of experience and insight, mainly through Advaita, but I'm quite open to the possibility of investigating Awareness, the supposed ultimate reality. I'm just not 100% sure where the road actually is. I have your e-book, but I haven't managed to read it yet.

Please excuse me if all this is made clear there. In fact, I've been longing to find a teacher who could walk me to the end of the path. The desire to realize the truth is growing ever stronger and it's not easy to know where the road is..."

Which path of investigation to take is entirely up to you, if it helps, go for it -- if you find Direct Path and Advaita investigations helpful for you then why not try to apply it and see where it takes you? And then, if you feel like investigating into anatta and emptiness, go into it... see where it takes you. I understood anatta and emptiness intellectually for 8 years, but my first 4 years was spent practicing Advaita, self-inquiry and so on.

Why is that so? My Chinese Buddhist tradition where I came from was Awareness-teaching based, so that is one source of influence, so did other contemporary authors like Eckhart Tolle, and teachers like Ramana Maharshi and the other Advaitin/Neo-Advaitin teachers. Thusness did not tell me to practice self-inquiry straight away (at first he was advising more on Vipassana), in fact it was only about 4 years after he met me that he advised that I do self-inquiry, since I was very much into the Awareness teachings. Then when I'm done with self-inquiry due to doubtless self-realization, I looked further.

That being said, I think Thusness is advising more on Awareness realization for beginners lately. He wrote to someone in 2011:

Hi TC,

What you described is fine and it can be considered vipassana meditation too but you must be clear what is the main objective of practicing that way.  Ironically, the real purpose only becomes obvious after the arising insight of anatta.  What I gathered so far from your descriptions are not so much about anatta or empty nature of phenomena but are rather drawn towards Awareness practice.  So it will be good to start from understanding what Awareness truly is.  All the method of practices that u mentioned  will lead to a quality of experience that is non-conceptual.  You can have non-conceptual experience of sound, taste...etc...but more importantly in my opinion, u should start from having a direct, non-conceptual experience of Awareness (first glimpse of our luminous essence).  Once you have a ‘taste’ of what Awareness is, you can then think of ‘expanding’ this bare awareness and gradually understand what does ‘heightening and expanding’ mean from the perspective of Awareness. 

Next, although you hear and see ‘non-dual, anatta and dependent origination’ all over the place in An Eternal Now’s forum (the recent Toni Packer’s books you bought are about non-dual and anatta), there is nothing wrong being ‘dualistic’ for a start.  Even after direct non-conceptual experience of Awareness, our view will still continue to be dualistic; so do not have the idea that being dualistic is bad although it prevents thorough experience of liberation.

The comment given by Dharma Dan is very insightful but of late, I realized that it is important to have a first glimpse of our luminous essence directly before proceeding into such understanding.  Sometimes understanding something too early will deny oneself from actual realization as it becomes conceptual.  Once the conceptual understanding is formed, even qualified masters will find it difficult to lead the practitioner to the actual ‘realization’ as a practitioner mistakes conceptual understanding for realization.
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