Related: A Meditation: Climbing Jacob's Ladder

If you realized I AMness, it is important to progress in terms of the Four Aspects of I AM and the Two Types of Nondual Contemplation after I AM.

Four Aspects of I AM

Many people get stuck in the initial I AM realization without much progress for decades. Fortunately I was able to progress relatively quickly (8 months from I AM realization to non-dual and anatta) compared to Thusness and many others that I know, who got stuck for decades due to a lack of good pointers and directions for progress from experienced teachers.

For progress after I AM realization, Thusness taught me about the deepening of the "I AM" in 4 aspects: 1) the aspect of impersonality, 2) the aspect of the degree of luminosity, 3) the aspect of dissolving the need to re-confirm and abide in I AMness and understanding why such a need is irrelevant, 4) the aspect of experiencing effortlessness (Thusness: any form of clinging, be it Self/self or Presence, will prevent a practitioner from correctly experiencing 'effortlessness')

By focusing on these four aspects of I AM, then later going deeper into the two types of nondual contemplations, I was able to make swift progress into non-dual and anatta realization.


  • 01 The Aspect of Impersonality;

This is the case when practitioners experience that everything is an expression of a universal cosmic intelligence. There is therefore no sense of a personal doer... rather, it feels like I and everything is being lived by a higher power, being expressed by a higher cosmic intelligence. But this is still dualistic – there is still this sense of separation between a 'cosmic intelligence' and the 'world of experience', so it is still dualistic.

Soh experienced impersonality after the I AM realization, however some people experience it before I AM realization. Some of the Theistic Christians may not have I AM realization (it depends - although many Christian mystics including Jesus Christ (https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/12/jesus-christ-cosmic-consciousness-alan.html) himself have pointed out the I AM realization), however through their surrendering to Christ, they can drop their sense of personal doership and experience the sense of 'being lived by Christ', as in Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.". This is an experience of impersonality that may or may not come with the realization of I AM. And as Sailor Bob Adamson said, "That separate entity, the belief in that entity or person, has never done a damn thing! It never can and never will. You must realize that you have been lived. That body-mind that you call 'you' is being lived, and it is being lived quite effortlessly. As Christ said, 'Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit to his stature?' That separate entity can’t do a bloody thing."

It should be noted that impersonality is not just an experience of non-doership. It is the dissolving of the construct of 'personal self' that led to a purging of ego effect to a state of clean, pure, not-mine sort of "perception shift", accompanied with a sense that everything and everyone is being expressions of the same aliveness/intelligence/consciousness. This can then be easily extrapolated into a sense of a 'universal source' (but this is merely an extrapolation and at a later phase is deconstructed) and one will also experience 'being lived' by this greater Life and Intelligence.

Impersonality will help dissolve the sense of self but it has the danger of making one attached to a metaphysical essence or to personify, reify and extrapolate a universal consciousness. It makes a practitioner feel "God". At this phase it is good to focus on this impersonal and universal aspect of consciousness, but beware of the tendency to extrapolate.

“...Next — and remarkably there is a next — we become aware of the other side of I Am, of the source from which it arises, within a stillness of surpassing quality. We see our I as a knot that blocks off the depths, a knot that makes itself the source of our will, intentions, choices, and decisions, including the intention to meditate in this moment. Gradually we loosen the knot until it gives way, until I let go entirely of being myself, of being my own source.

Until this point, our ascent has been into the depths within us. But always we have remained at the core of the experience, with the experience outside of us, of our core. Now we must empty that very core and open to what is deeper than our innermost center. We ourselves become the outside to the Sacred Will of the World, Who is our Source, and let that Will come through us, as us.

We inwardly prostrate ourselves, begging for reconnection, begging to become a part of that Greatness. Silently and wholeheartedly calling out to the Ultimate, completely and utterly opening the very kernel of who we are, we reach beyond the world of sacred light, into the unbounded emptiness, which is also an overflowing fullness, an intimacy with all, with the All.

This is the Sacred Will of the World,
Of Whom I am now a particle,
Who lends me the will to be myself,
Who lends me my I,
Who is my very Self,
Whom I hope to become able to serve by emptying myself unconditionally,
In Whom we are all united,
And Who continuously creates and sustains this universe in love.


This ultimate stage of the meditation comes only as an act of grace from Above. It lies well beyond our ability to make happen, although our emptiness, our surrender, and our love are necessary. Attempting to enter      here, prayer may help. If you are so inclined, silently repeat one of God’s names, one close to your heart, one that both expresses your yearning and brings you peace.

In closing the meditation, we climb back down Jacob’s Ladder to return to our daily life, though somewhat changed inwardly. We come, in turn, back to the sacred light, back to the cognizant stillness of consciousness and the presence of I Am, back to sensation and relaxation, and thus back to the base of the ladder. We rest in awareness as the meditation settles in us.” - Joseph Naft, A Meditation: Climbing Jacob's Ladder, https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/12/good-for-different-phasesaspects-of-i.html

“I AM the Tree of Life within you. My Life will and must push forth, but It will do it by gradual and steady growth. You cannot come into your fruitage before you have grown to it. Remember, My Life is all the time building you up into the perfection of health and strength and beauty, that must express outwardly as It is even now expressing within. You who have begun to realize I AM within, but have not yet learned to commune with Me, listen and learn now…

...Yes, this cell consciousness is common to every cell of every body, no matter what its kind, because it is an Impersonal consciousness, having no purpose other than doing the work allotted it. It lives only to work wherever needed. When through with building one form, it takes up the work of building another, under whatever consciousness I desire it to serve.

Thus it is likewise with you. You, as one of the cells of My Body, have a consciousness that is My Consciousness, an intelligence that is My Intelligence, even a will that is My Will. You have none of these for yourself or of yourself. They are all Mine and for My use only.

Now, My consciousness and My Intelligence and My Will are wholly Impersonal, and therefore are common with you and with all the cells of My Body, even as they are common with all the cells of your body.

I AM the directing Intelligence of All, the animating Spirit, the Life, the Consciousness of all matter, of all Substance. If you can see it, You, the Real you, the Impersonal you, are in all and are one with all, are in Me and are one with Me; just as I AM in you and in all, and thereby am expressing My Reality through you and through all.

This will, which you call your will, is likewise no more yours personally than is this consciousness and this intelligence of your mind and of the cells of your body yours. It is but that small portion of My Will which I permit the personal you to use. Just as fast as you awaken to recognition of a certain power or faculty within you and begin consciously to use it, do I allow you that much more of My Infinite Power.

All power and its use is but so much recognition and understanding of the use of My Will. Your will and all your powers are only phases of My Will, which I supply to suit your capacity to use it. Were I to entrust you with the full power of My Will, before you know how consciously to use it, it would annihilate your body utterly.

To test your strength and more often to show you what the misuse of My Power does to you, I at times allow you to commit a sin, so-called, or to make a mistake. I even permit you to become inflated with the sense of My Presence within you, when It manifests as a consciousness of My Power, My Intelligence, My Love; and I let you take these and use them for your own personal purposes. But not for long -- for, not being strong enough to control them, they soon take the bit in their teeth, run away with you, throw you down in the mire, and disappear from your consciousness for the time being.

Always I AM there to pick you up, after the fall, although you do not know it at the time; first straightening you out and then starting you onward again, by pointing out the reason for your fall; and finally, when you are sufficiently humbled, causing you to see that these powers accruing to you by the conscious use of My Will, My Intelligence and My Love, are allowed you only for use in My Service, and not at all for your own personal ends.

Do the cells of your body, the muscles of your arm, think to set themselves up as having a separate will from your will, or a separate intelligence from your intelligence? No, they know no intelligence but yours, no will but yours. After a while it will be that you will realize you are only one of the cells of My Body; and that your will is not your will, but Mine; that what consciousness and what intelligence you have are Mine wholly; and that there is no such person as you, you personally being only a physical form containing a human brain, which I created for the purpose of expressing in matter and Idea, a certain phase of which I could express best only in that particular form.

All this may be difficult for you now to accept, and you may protest very strenuously that it cannot be, that every instinct of your nature rebels against such yielding and subordinating yourself to an unseen and unknown power, however Impersonal or Divine.

Fear not, it is only your personality that thus rebels. If you continue to follow and study My Words, all will soon be made clear, and I will surely open up to your inner understanding many wonderful Truths that now are impossible for you to comprehend. Your Soul will rejoice sing glad praises, and you will bless these words for the message they bring…

...The proof of this is, man does not and cannot breathe of himself. Something far greater than his conscious, natural self lives in his body and breathes through his lungs. A mighty power within his body thus uses the lungs, even as it uses the heart to force the blood containing the life it drew through the lungs to every cell of the body; as it uses the stomach and other organs to digest and assimilate food to make blood, tissue, hair and bone; as it uses the brain, the tongue, the hands and feet, to think and say and do everything that man does.”

- The Impersonal Life by Joseph Benner


“When we move from "I AMness" and mature the deconstruction of personality, we experience God-Like qualities. Seeing everything as one manifestation of 'One Life' and Presence being the same for everyone.

...just the isness without the individuality.  Once this individuality is gone (Whether permanently or temporary), you will intuit that all as sharing the Source or as Manifestation of this Source.  But that is not non-duality.  That is impersonality. :)  That is why you need to experience that too.” - John Tan, 2009

“(6:06 PM) AEN:    Eckhart Tolle: "Ultimately nothing is yours. you are giving energy because that energy whatever form comes from the source of all energies. all energies derives from one's source. so you allow yourself to be a vehicle in which this energy flows out into the world, and then the sense of me, the doer, isn't there,
and the sense that there is a poor person that i am helping isn't there either. so there is simply the process that happens through you. and that is the non egoic way, and to be of service is a beautiful practice because the ego is out of the way, and through
(6:06 PM) AEN:     that you realize you don't own anything ultimately, and the energy is not yours, it's universal energy that comes through."
(10:14 PM) Thusness:    In layman term yes
but what is this energy
(10:15 PM) Thusness:    anyway, where you get this quote from?
(10:15 PM) AEN:    i just watched a video by eckhart tolle just now, quoted from there
recent talk
(10:16 PM) AEN:    the energy is simply life?
(10:16 PM) Thusness:    icic... seems like he has moved from "I AM" to the "impersonality"
(10:16 PM) Thusness:    there is always only life expressing, no you.” - June 2010

“Session Start: Saturday, 5 June, 2010

(11:27 PM) Thusness:    certainty of being when you focus on the 4 aspects till the peak and with right understanding, you will also have the same experience as anatta and emptiness. when you felt that the will of the source becomes your will, you become life itself, that is the same experience. actually all is the same experience except that buddhism provides the right understanding. in the experience of "I AM" and the article you posted about the divine, what is the peak of experience phase?
(11:48 PM) AEN:    which article about divine?
Hmm im not sure
(11:49 PM) Thusness:    the article about the source after "I AM"
(11:50 PM) AEN:    is it like the 'sacred will of the world'
i mean the peak of experience
(11:51 PM) Thusness:    after glimpses and realization of the source, when the divine will becomes your will. you must be able to experience every manifestation as the grace of divine will. so must understand this in terms of direct experience and right view. :) i will talk to you when we meet. do you know why there is the sensation of a 'divine will'?
(11:57 PM) AEN:    bcos the sense of self is being let go... and its seen that everything is spontaneously arising from the source
(11:58 PM) Thusness:    and what is this 'source' that seems to be doing the work?
(11:59 PM) AEN:    consciousness, life?
(11:59 PM) Thusness:    isn't "I AM" the consciousness?
(12:00 AM) AEN:    ya but at the beginning it still feels like an individuated sense of presence... but then later its seen as more impersonal, like everything is merely the expression of the source
(12:00 AM) Thusness:    first you must understand the separation is due to dualistic thought, thought separates. do you know what is the 'divine' will? the sensation due to "the sense of self is being let go... and its seen that everything is spontaneously arising from the source" causes the 'divine will'
(12:02 AM) AEN:    oic..
(12:03 AM) Thusness:    what is the divine will?
(12:03 AM) AEN:    it means its happening due to the divine source, nothing is happening due to an individual will/agent/doer
(12:04 AM) Thusness:    when someone hit the bell, anything due to divine will?
(12:05 AM) AEN:    its also divine will bcos there is ultimately no separate person who acts, and no separate person who experience.. everything is manifested by the divine will... including every action that is spontaneously arising
(12:05 AM) Thusness:    when someone hit the bell, anything so divine?
(12:05 AM) AEN:    it’s a manifestation of consciousness
(12:05 AM) Thusness:    no good no good. because of the lack of understanding of your nature. your nature is empty. what is this divine will? it is just DO [dependent origination]. because we think in terms of entity and the 'weight of this dualistic and inherent' tendencies makes us feel separate and inherent. instead of seeing 'DO', we see it as divine will. not knowing empty nature, we mistaken DO for divine will. not knowing no-self nature, we thought we are independent. when no-self is fully experienced and insight of anatta rises, you do not feel source as separated from 'you'
there is merely manifestation, empty luminosity. empty as in DO and therefore does not require 'divine will', yet all manifests due to empty nature, effortless and spontaneous. there is conditions that are required for manifestations. a 'divine will' is not necessary
(12:11 AM) AEN:    icic..
(12:12 AM) Thusness:    when a practitioner realizes no-self and anatta insight arises, he clearly sees conditions. there is no divine will to listen to, but whenever condition is, manifestation is. slowly understand this.  do not see DO as something dead. see it as direct manifestation of your breathe just like you experience everything as the grace of this divine will. feel this grace of life everywhere. letting go of yourself completely and feel this life
(12:18 AM) AEN:    oic.. i am writing my experience to lzls lol
(5:36 PM) Thusness:    Lol.  In Chinese

(6:12 PM) Thusness:    the second experience is more of 天地同根,万物同体. (tian di tong gen, wan wu tong ti: heaven and earth have one root, ten thousand phenomena have the same substance)
(6:12 PM) Thusness:    clouded by '我相' (wo xiang, self image, egoity)
(6:12 PM) AEN:    what do you mean
(6:13 PM) Thusness:    means the second experience is more of a realization on the same source.
much like ?
(6:13 PM) AEN:    oic..
why you said clouded by wo xiang
(6:15 PM) Thusness:    ?  (xiang, image) is simply a construct.  That is from a dualistic point of view, being 'connected' must always be the case.  When you de-contruct personality, you merely discover. a practitioner must also be aware of the 'weight' of these constructs. from an empty point of view, when the tendency is there, it is also not right to say that the interconnected state is always there, always the case.  Obviously 'you' are not 'connected'. when the 'construct' is strong, there is no such experience or when the 'personality' is there, there is no experience of '万物同体' (everything has the same substance/source).  Or 'personality' is that very experience of individuality and therefore cannot have any experience of same 'source'. get it?
(6:19 PM) AEN:    ic.. ya
(6:19 PM) Thusness:    the former does not realize the causes and conditions for any arising. when we say it is always 'there' we are having 'absolute view'.  If we cling to that, then that will prevent clear seeing.  So what is the experience of 'individuality' like?  it is the very experience of what practitioner before the 'connection' feel and understand. that is a state of reality, cannot be said to be determined or not.
(6:21 PM) AEN:    oic.. what you mean by that is a state of reality cannot be said to be determined or not
(6:22 PM) AEN:    hmm i think i get what you mean. so one must deconstruct the individuality otherwise there is no feeling of connection
(6:22 PM) Thusness:    yes. for personality is the very state of individuality. what i want you to understand is not to have a pre-determined state.
(6:26 PM) AEN:    ic... that means according to conditions we experience the connection, but its not always there?
(6:27 PM) Thusness:    yes it is better to understand that way

(6:28 PM) Thusness:    now when you experience certainty of being, you only experience the undeniability of your existence. doubtless, certain and present. but being connected to the source is different. it will also determine your later phase of practice. if you are attached to the Presence, what happened?
(6:31 PM) AEN:    hmm. you mean when you are attached to Presence you will have difficulty seeing the connection?
(6:31 PM) Thusness:    you wanted the state of Presence to transcend to the 3 states (waking, dreaming and sleeping) for you are only interested in that Certainty of Being. whereas when you realized the source, you don't do that. you are surrendering much like the christian. you are devoting. nothing is important besides serving the divine. sustaining the state of presence and devoting to a divine source is different. you sleep when it is time to sleep. whatever thy will is. in Presence, you still think of control, in surrendering, you realized you are being lived. Awareness is being done. it is almost the opposite, but then there is also the integration
(6:35 PM) AEN:    oic.. Actually i think if we let go of control completely the presence is also naturally there, there is no need to try to control presence
(6:36 PM) Thusness:    if you think that, that becomes a hindrance
(6:36 PM) AEN:    oic how come
(6:36 PM) Thusness:    coz you are torn in between. you are serving 2 masters. :P Presence and source. but then there is also the integration where divine will becomes your will. then in jacob ladder meditation, after realization and experience of the grace, it must be found everywhere. therefore you return to phase 1 of the ladder with new understanding. you are directly and intuitively experiencing all manifestations as the expression of life. where you and the divine become one, where phenomena and the divine becomes indistinguishable, as transient, as inner and outer world
(6:40 PM) AEN:    oic..
(6:40 PM) Thusness:    however that is because we are trying to express and understand this in an inherent and dualistic way. we speak in such a way because we are using a dualistic paradigm.  and the experience seems difficult to reconcile and become seamless. so you must arise insight. you realized, what you call Self/self is just a label. this is very difficult to understand. then you are not trapped in 'reconnection' or surrendering.

You realized there is no-self (Soh: Thusness Stage 4 and 5). whatever experienced is vividly present and aliveness everywhere because what that 'blocks' is no more there through the arising insight. now how clear are you in directly experiencing sensation? in experiencing sound, color, sight, taste? the mind at present is more interested in the behind reality. so anatta transform the experience of individuality through insight, clear seeing. there is a difference in saying what you call Awareness has always been sight, sound, the scent of fragrance… and there is Awareness and there is sound, sight, taste… when you see and mature your insight of anatta, it is realized that wrong view is what that is causing the problem. however after that, you must practice directly
(6:48 PM) AEN:    what do you mean practice directly
(6:48 PM) Thusness:    means you don't think theoretically too much after the arising insight of anatta, there is a difference between thinking that a Weather truly exist and the changing clouds, the rain exist inside weather. get it? so when you took that to be real, it creates the problem of reification and intensifying the inherent existence of Self. if there is no-weight to the constructs, then there would be no problem. unfortunately, constructs are like spells. :)
(6:51 PM) AEN:    oic..
(6:52 PM) Thusness:    do you get what i meant? just experience first. feel this aliveness everywhere. in other words, what you realized is beyond ? (xiang4: form), but you do not understand the impact of ? (xiang4: form). anyway you can send your article to your lzls for comments. :)” - June, 2010 

“There is a vast impersonal natural intelligence which is living you, or rather, it IS this life, this breathing, this walking, this drinking... this life of the universe, of the earth spinning, .... all an interconnected play of Dharma, of total life, intelligence, and awareness. The only blockage is simply this sense of an 'I', someone who controls will and dictates actions in life.

If you think that I am sounding like an advocate of 'God', I have to reiterate that this so called 'God' or intelligent Mind is empty of its own existence apart from Dharma, is not something changeless and independent, and is not some sort of source acting behind the scenes or pulling the strings. Because this vast impersonal intelligence is so magnificent, powerful and impersonal, it can give the impression that we are all just the dream or expression of a Universal Mind of God, and if we follow this 'personification' and 'reification' we may start to think whether we are living in a matrix, a dream of Shiva for no other reason than his own enjoyment. But we are not the play or lila of a Brahman, there is no need to personify or reify this at all. This intelligence IS the miracle of manifestation. The divine has no face of its own, and yet every face is the face of divinity. There is no I, no perceiver, or a controller of this spontaneous intelligent happening. Living this is living in complete ecstasy and joy born of this total intelligence, life and clarity.” - Soh, 2015, Vast Impersonal Intelligence (Note that I wrote this post-anatta insight, therefore there is no more reification of this impersonal intelligence into universal consciousness)

“When we move from "I AMness" and mature the deconstruction of personality, we experience God-Like qualities. Seeing everything as one manifestation of 'One Life' and Presence being the same for everyone.

...just the isness without the individuality.  Once this individuality is gone (Whether permanently or temporary), you will intuit that all as sharing the Source or as Manifestation of this Source.  But that is not non-duality.  That is impersonality. :)  That is why you need to experience that too.” - John Tan, 2009

  • 02 The Intensity of Luminosity

The degree of luminosity refers to feeling with entire being, feel wholly and directly without thoughts. Feeling 'realness' of whatever one encounters, the tree bark, the sand, etc. As with Impersonality, one may experience this even before the I AM realization. I (Soh) did. However one should practice to experience this aspect further after the I AM realization. This will also serve as one of the conditions for further non-dual insight. (You will also need to engage in nondual contemplation - https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/12/two-types-of-nondual-contemplation.html  - see below)

This aspect will come by practicing Vipassana, see John's Vipassana - https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/12/thusnesss-vipassana.html  and Vipassana - https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/09/vipassana.html

“It will be advisable to take a step back to re-visit and re-experience each of the 6 sense doors. To cultivate a little on the aspect of being 'bare' for all the senses. Experience as much vividness as possible and have clarity on the luminous aspect of awareness first. Touch, taste, smell and sound… are all equally vivid as compared to seeing. Experience the texture and fabric of awareness. The rest of the conditions that give rise to no-self will come later. :) There is no ‘willful’ entrance into non-duality, create enough conditions, that’s all. :)” - John Tan, 2007

“When we experience Awareness directly without using our thoughts, everything is experienced as having a magical, alive, shimmery, fresh, amazing and blissful quality to it. Life is not the 'boring and ordinary' as the mind interprets it, even the most ordinary things (such as eating, walking, etc) just feels awesome. You will be naturally attracted, pulled towards the pristine awareness than to stressful thoughts. The ego will melt in the wonder and majesty of awareness.” - Soh, 2009

“I was awakened by the chirping of a bird outside the window. I had never heard such a sound before. My eyes were still closed, and I saw the image of a precious diamond. Yes, if a diamond could make a sound, this is what it would be like. I opened my eyes. The first light of dawn was filtering through the curtains. Without any thought, I felt, I knew, that there is infinitely more to light than we realize. That soft luminosity filtering through the curtains was love itself. Tears came into my eyes. I got up and walked around the room. I recognized the room, and yet I knew that I had never truly seen it before. Everything was fresh and pristine, as if it had just come into existence. I picked up things, a pencil, an empty bottle, marveling at the beauty and aliveness of it all.

That day I walked around the city in utter amazement at the miracle of life on earth, as if I had just been born into this world.

For the next five months, I lived in a state of uninterrupted deep peace and bliss. After that, it diminished somewhat in intensity, or perhaps it just seemed to because it became my natural state. I could still function in the world, although I realized that nothing I ever did could possibly add anything to what I already had.



In your everyday life, you can practice this by taking any routine activity that normally is only a means to an end and giving it your fullest attention, so that it becomes an end in itself. For example, every time you walk up and down the stairs in your house or place of work, pay close attention to every step, every movement, even your breathing. Be totally present. Or when you wash your hands, pay attention to all the sense perceptions associated with the activity: the sound and feel of the water, the movement of your hands, the scent of the soap, and so on. Or when you get into your car, after you close the door, pause for a few seconds and observe the flow of your breath. Become aware of a silent but powerful sense of presence. There is one certain criterion by which you can measure your success in this practice: the degree of peace that you fell within.” - Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

“I was walking through the park on my way home when something happened. Something holy arose from within and took over. I was standing there looking out at the trees and the grass like it was the first time I was seeing them. I was looking at my hands and feeling my body as it moved and I was marvelling at being alive and being in this body. I was acutely aware of being in the world, that I was a separate being in the world. I was enjoying all this as a child would enjoy a new and novel experience. I went over to a tree and grabbed a branch, I touched it softly and then grabbed it firmly, I really wanted to feel the tree, I really wanted to be there with it, to be present, to feel and see and take it all in. I bent down and touched the trunk near the roots, it was very real, very solid to my touch, it felt very alive. I noticed some bare earth around the tree trunk and picked up a chunk and broke it in my hand and watched and felt it crumble and stream through my fingers as it fell down to the earth. I was feeling so primal, so alive, I went around to the other side of the tree where the branches were a little higher off the ground and squatted under the branches near the tree trunk and put my hand on the trunk and left it there. I was feeling the roots and feeling extremely rooted myself in being. I stayed there for a few minutes, the feelings arising were so intense and overwhelming that tears were streaming down my face. Finally I left the tree and moved closer to the bench and sat and watched the crescent moon in the clear blue sky, there was a very bright star right beside it, so bright that I thought it might be the headlight of a plane heading towards me. I sat there and watched this scene and marvelled at life and being alive.

I finally got up and was going to go inside but I had to walk by the sandbox and I was immediately attracted to the sand. I bent down and started letting the sand run through my fingers, feeling the texture of the grains on the skin of my hand. I dug deeply into the sand and noticed that the sand was very damp when you dug down 3 or 4 inches. And then I found a flat stone. I don't know why this was so fascinating but I was like a little child, I would pick up the stone with a handful of sand and squeeze the sand so it would run through my fingers and then I would feel the hard stone pressing against the flesh of my palm and fingers. It was like finding a treasure, I did this over and over again.

I left the sandbox and moved over to a very large pine tree and grabbed on the branches really hard. I gave a really good pull on it and ripped that piece of branch clean off and allowed the needles to run through my fingers as they fell through the ground. I grabbed two branches, and held on really tight like I was holding hands with the pine tree, I looked up at it and was just present with it for a little while. But things were beginning to feel really intense inside of me so I went inside.

I went in the bedroom to change and got undressed, but when I was completely undressed I was drawn down to my knees and I bent very low with my forehead against the carpet. The energy was flowing like crazy inside, it felt like it was all emanating from the gut area. My head was on the carpet and my gut was much higher since I was still on my knees, this felt right as it had so many times before. Energy was flowing from my gut down through my head and out. But the energy also radiated outwards in all directions at the same time, like a sacred sun was shining in my gut. It was extremely intense and overwhelming and continued for at least 15 minutes.

I have no idea what is going on and I don't care. It feels very right and it makes everything sacred, my own body, and everything else in the world. It's almost a mystical experience at times to be alive.

I'm completely filled by this experience, it's overflowing.

I love you.” - Din Robinson

Soh, 2020:

“Someone (Olivier Sandilands) sent me this description and asked me to 'diagnose' it for him. I told him this is what I call intensity of luminosity, check out AtR guide on it. However he has not experienced or realised anatta, so it remains a glimpse. The peak of its intensity is when the sense of self completely dissolves into a state of no mind (no sense of subjectivity), but even then it remains an experience until realisation.

After dissolution of self/Self through realisation of anatman, this intensity of luminosity is experienced all moments at its peak, it is my everyday effortless natural state.

“At noon, after getting up and waiting for the bell to call us up for lunch, I kept an extremely relax and extremely sharp investigation of objects of perception going while sitting on a bench. Opening my eyes, I looked at one of my fellow retreatants walking back to her room. This was astounding. I don't really know how to explain it, but I believe I was experiencing emptiness in real time. It was absolutely clear that there was no past and future in that immediate experience : though she was obviously changing position, her movement was not of time. It was utter immanence, eternity : she was moving, and everything around her was moving ; yet nothing was moving. In fact, she didn't exist, and yet existed more than ever. Something angelic.

I got up, went to get my food. As I looked upon the face of some of my fellow meditators, I was struck by two profound things : first, I was perceiving them in such detail and in such a light, that they appeared like universes, like infinite things which had nothing to do with anything else ; each one of them was a miracle, right here in front of me, indistinct from me, of the same fabric. This brought about deep compassion and love, which moves me to tears now as I write about it. As I was eating, in silence, my visual perception was deepening. It was already quite astounding, in detail and brightness.

But now, looking at my fork, it was starting to really bloom in a crazy way. My forkful of dahl was the most beautiful and rich thing I had ever seen. In fact, as I was letting that develop itself, myself just trying to relax into it, it felt as if visual perception started to open, that I started to dissolve into it ; it felt like something untangled in the back, and that everything got bigger. It felt like a free fall into a world of unexpected richness, of a transfigured nature, timeless, the same as ever, yet totally different, raw, vivid, inescapably rich. In fact, this started to get freaky. I stopped the process. I felt some fear, but it was confined to a tiny perception of my heart beating in the chest. I decided to chill out. But something had flipped. It was this : reality, become REAL. I now understand what realization must mean. Just that : reality become completely real.

For about two hours I explored the premices, walking around the pond, into the forest, etc. It was completely surreal, psychedelic. Visual perception was totally illuminated : every object that had some kind of brightness or movement was emitting intense light in the whole of my visual field. It was like the experience I described earlier, x10, with an added depth to spatial perception that was astounding. Furthermore, I could "freeze" perception on command by stilling it on a particular object, which would start to acquire the same "transfigured" quality I described. The same, yet totally different, totally new, totally immanent : direct perception, pure unfolding of shapes and colors bound by nothing, flux.

Emotionnally, I felt a mix of elation, incredulity, great amusement and mild background panic. What the hell was that ?? I skipped meditation to go lie down. Was this a side effect of my ear infection ? Was it the first phases of a visual migraine ? Have I gone nuts ? None of these... I talked with another meditator in the hallway of one of the buldings. The best way I can describe it is : it was like a conversation on mdma. The kind where one is both profoundly calm, at ease in a supernatural way (nothing can touch me), yet extremely sharp, loving and energetic. Visual perception was so sharp, in particular, any reflecion in the field of vision, particularly the periphery, was perceived as a glowing neonish light. The face of that man was beautiful to look at : shimmering with light, detailed, with a background sense of eternity infusing the whole of perception... Man. Powerful."”


  • 03 Dissolving the Need to Return or Abide in I AM

There are two tendencies after I AM realization which are pitfalls that prevent effortless and total Presence, although the second is more helpful than the first:

Attempting to re-confirm the ever-presence of Awareness through reasoning
Attempting to abide in Presence

Dissolving the need to re-confirm is important as whatever is done is an attempt to distance itself from itself, if there is no way one can distant from the "I AM", furthermore the attempt to abide in it is itself an illusion.

However, abiding in presence is a form of meditative practice, like chanting, and leads to absorption. It can result in the oceanic experience. So although it is a pitfall that prevents effortless and non-dual experience of Presence (this requires deeper insights) and is a form of efforting, abiding in Presence through samadhi is a form of development after I AM realization. But once one focuses on the 4 aspects discussed here, one will have that experience of oceanic Presence too.

On the other hand, attempting to re-confirm the ever-presence of Awareness through reasoning (reasoning to oneself that Presence-Awareness is always here regardless of what experiences arise) is a retrogression from the I AM realization (which is direct certainty without inference), instead of any kind of development. The following conversation explains why.

Conversation with John Tan while Soh was in his I AM phase:

“John Tan: what is the difference before and after the realization of "I AM"?
Soh: a non conceptual certainty that does not come from inference, words, concepts
*certainty of being
John Tan: This certainty is unshakeable at that moment of realization.
Complete, Done, Still, Perfect, Pure, non-dual , Non-conceptual, primordial
Soh:    yea
John Tan: Yet it doesn't seem 'there' anymore. Though intuitively it can't be lost, but this clarity despite the realization does not stay.
Soh: yeah..
John Tan: why so?
Soh: Because of conceptual thoughts... the I AM experience is a non conceptual direct authentication, just abiding as that
John Tan: why does conceptual thought arise?
Soh: By habit mostly
John Tan: now... have you seen through the illusion and power of 'thoughts'?
Soh: I can see that thoughts are illusory... yet when I get lost in thoughts it still seems real and powerful. That’s why suffering still arise
John Tan: I remember reading something you said you read somewhere.. that the only problem is 'thought'. Because it becomes a 'reality' to the mind. Suggestion is very real to the mind to consciousness, so how does problem arise? This is important… if you can't understand this, it is difficult for you to progress and understand deeper. You cannot have 'problems' if you do not react to the content of 'thoughts'...
Soh: yeah.. we invest meaning and invest identity to our thoughts. I wrote about 'What's wrong with right now unless you think about it?'. It’s when we label and give meaning to things that there are problems, otherwise there are just wordless vibrations, even thoughts are wordless
John Tan: yes, and problems includes confusions. Now in the direct mode, is there confusion?
Soh: no
John Tan: Is any explanation needed?
Soh: no
John Tan: Is any re-confirmation needed?
Soh: no
John Tan: Now if I were to ask you about source, is there any differentiation in that mode? You do not differentiate between source or you. There is no such differentiation… but when you are out of that mode, you  seek explanation. You attempt to re-confirm, and your way is by explaining to yourself. This very act itself already distant itself from the direct and immediate mode. Get it? You made the mistake after the realization of "I AM". So does Mr. T. There is no why, no because,...no matter how logical it sounds, how much sense it makes, it is irrelevant, and from that [Soh: i.e. when comparing the logical reasoning process to direct realization] quality of experience in your realization, it is completely off the mark…
...actually ramana maharshi only tell you to abide in the Self. There is no explanation, just the abiding. However, that is not the way though it is better than explanation… hahaha.
Is surrendering a form of 'explanation'?
Soh:    no
John Tan: It is just a quality of non-dual experience... a direct, immediate, non-dual, pure and non-conceptual experience that is still, complete and entire. Nothing matters in that mode. It is not about reading or no reading. If I don't explain to you, how are you to know? It is about getting into that mode and not falling into the trap. If you want to re-live the experience, you cannot approach that way. Read my article on anatta ( http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2009/03/on-anatta-emptiness-and-spontaneous.html ), I have already said it must be a more direct mode. In hearing, just sound, this is an experiential fact. You may describe the experience, you do not ask why in hearing, just sound. Or in hearing there is just sound because..... this and that… get it?”

As John Tan also wrote in 2009, “...Awakening to the ‘Watcher’ will at the same time ‘open’ the ‘eye of immediacy’; that is, it is the capacity to immediately penetrate discursive thoughts and sense, feel, perceive without intermediary the perceived. It is a kind of direct knowing. You must be deeply aware of this “direct without intermediary” sort of perception -- too direct to have subject-object gap, too short to have time, too simple to have thoughts. It is the ‘eye’ that can see the whole of ‘sound’ by being ‘sound’. It is the same ‘eye’ that is required when doing vipassana, that is, being ‘bare’. Be it non-dual or vipassana, both require the opening of this 'eye of immediacy'”.


  • 04 Effortlessness.

Any effort to sustain a state of Presence is contrary to the self-shining and spontaneous nature of Presence. But this aspect will require further insights (into non-dual, anatta and empty nature - http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html) to unfold and mature much further.

Third and fourth point is especially clear after realization of anatta (No-Self, as elucidated in the latter part of this document):

“There is no one who has ever known the essence of awareness. There is no one has ever rested in the presence of awareness.  Such is only concept and concept can not cross the threshold of wisdom.

Expanse and eveness are their ownmost and admit no one, no realizer, no Buddha, no being ........  no one can enter therein and yet not only is no one excluded but no thing no time no presence has ever strayed or wavered from ……..

Identity does not rest within but resolves….. and the absence of all conceptuality 'about' is known as absence of identity of beings of Buddhas. Devoid of reification, within this eveness, all appearances, all bodies, all thought abides non-other than ownmostness’ uncompounded and uncontrived essence.

What is talked about when we speak of the essence of awareness is not mere intellectualization, abstract philosophizing but is directly realized in the unutterableness of contemplative practice's deep and concept free eveness.

One does not come to abide in this realization. The fact that there is no such one at all is realized long before the eveness of essence is known. One does not come to abide in this state but instead realizes that in fact no-thing has ever strayed from it.

When this is realized then body and mind are informed by, and animate the truth of  ………” - Traktung Rinpoche (from recent talks on ineffability)

“Hi AEN,

I do not usually reply people about spiritual stuff but I sense the confusion in Mikael's mail to you.

It is advisable to correctly point out to him that there is no short cut to direct path.

In the most direct path, Awareness is already and always at rest.  In the most direct path, whatever manifests is Awareness; there is no "in Awareness" and there is no such thing as going deeper in Awareness or resting in Awareness.  Anything "going deeper" or "resting" is nothing direct.  Nothing more than the illusionary appearances of 'hierarchy' caused by the inherent and dualistic tendency of understanding things. 

It is more 'gradual' than 'direct'.  Therefore have the right view first before we talk too much about the direct path so that we do not fall into such views.   Next clearly understand the cause that blinds us then have direct authentication of our pristine nature so that we will not be misled.

By the way, non-discrimination does not deny us from clear discernment.  An enlightenment person is not one that cannot differentiate 'left' from 'right'. :)” - John Tan, 2009

“The 4 aspects are simply guiding and allowing the mind to get prepared for anatta. Look into the four aspects (Soh: and compare it to Anatta) and you will understand.” - John Tan, 2019

-------------
Someone asked, "I often hear people saying that more than a decade has passed between the I AM realization and the subsequent ones. It's very often between 10 and 20 years. Does that mean that there's a sort of maturation process happening very slowly after the first realization? I just wonder if I'm stuck or whether I will make progress"


I said,


"Yes it is common for people to get stuck at I AM for 10-20 years, that's the case for Thusness and many others.
But for me, it took me only 8 months from initial I AM realization to anatta. This is because I had pointers from Thusness. It is possible to progress much faster when there are certain pointers and directions, and I think this blog will quicken your progress."

The same person realized I AM but was facing this issue,

"Though I sort of do feel stuck right now, I have difficulty finding interest in anything, including spiritual matters. I find that everything is hollow and without meaning, and for some reason I keep settling into a sort of zombie mode where I just do things automatically without really caring. It doesn't feel right, but I don't have the willpower or energy needed to get myself out of it.
I don't know if this sounds familiar, is this also just a stage, or have I gone wrong somewhere along the way?"


I said,

"In my blog the latest post on book recommendations there is a link to the Four Aspects of I Am and in it one of it is the intensity of luminosity. And I put an article there describing the intensity of luminosity. You should practice that and the joy will come. You will marvel at the aliveness of simple things like the blueness of the sky, the colours of flowers and having a simple meal, the tastes. Everything becomes imbued with a sense of magnificence and significance and awe, rather than dullness and meaninglessness. If you realized The I Am then you should practice all four aspects and do the Two Types of Nondual Contemplation. That is the way to progress.

It is also possible to fall into the dark nights in the I Am phase like what happened to Suzanne Segal. The four aspects and Two Types of Nondual Contemplation after I AM leading to nondual insight is the remedy
http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/12/dark-night.html
"


Another person said, "Im curious what was the drive for you to look any deeper? I seem to be content where i am..and it seems to be that a certain level of discontentment would need to be present in order to want to go further. What are your thoughts?"

I replied, "Once the I AM is realized, I'm guided by the taste of a pure, original, primordial, non-conceptual and non-dual luminous state of existence.

To bring it into natural, effortless, full-blown spontaneous perfection and intensity in all experience, manifestation, activities, the way I found out (thankfully not very long process due to pointers by Thusness) is through deepening of insights into nondual, anatta and emptiness."

-------------

After the maturity of anatta insight and twofold emptiness, eventually there is effortless, ongoing and intense experience of "everything as Self", "As in that experience of I AM powerfully present at this moment", "As if like Awareness clear and open like space, without meditation yet powerfully present and non-dual. Where the 4 Aspects of I AM are fully experienced in this moment. This experience will become more and more powerful later yet effortless and uncontrieved. How so? If it is not correct insights and practice, how is it possible for such complete and total experience of effortless and uncontrieved Presence be possible?". "Indeed and this is being authenticated by the immediate moment of experience.  How could there be doubt abt it.  The last trace of Presence must be released with seeing through the emptiness nature of whatever arises. After maturing and integrating ur insights into practice, there must be no effort and action.... The entire whole is doing the work and arises as this vivid moment of shimmering appearance, this has always been what we always called Presence." "Yes and u should in all moment of 6 entries and exits experience all coming together for this moment to arise....this will dissolve all senses of holdings and will lead u effortless and maha experience of suchness effortlessly", "interpenetration, open, boundless, effortless and uncontrieved." (Thusness, 2012)


-------------


Here's a good post on 'the degree of luminosity' by a friend 'JonLS'/'Din Robinson' or 'Amadeus':

I was walking through the park on my way home when something happened. Something holy arose from within and took over. I was standing there looking out at the trees and the grass like it was the first time I was seeing them. I was looking at my hands and feeling my body as it moved and I was marvelling at being alive and being in this body. I was acutely aware of being in the world, that I was a separate being in the world. I was enjoying all this as a child would enjoy a new and novel experience. I went over to a tree and grabbed a branch, I touched it softly and then grabbed it firmly, I really wanted to feel the tree, I really wanted to be there with it, to be present, to feel and see and take it all in. I bent down and touched the trunk near the roots, it was very real, very solid to my touch, it felt very alive. I noticed some bare earth around the tree trunk and picked up a chunk and broke it in my hand and watched and felt it crumble and stream through my fingers as it fell down to the earth. I was feeling so primal, so alive, I went around to the other side of the tree where the branches were a little higher off the ground and sqatted under the branches near the tree trunk and put my hand on the trunk and left it there. I was feeling the roots and feeling extremely rooted myself in being. I stayed there for a few minutes, the feelings arising were so intense and overwhelming that tears were streaming down my face. Finally I left the tree and moved closer to the bench and sat and watched the crescent moon in the clear blue sky, there was a very bright star right beside it, so bright that I thought it might be the headlight of a plane heading towards me. I sat there and watched this scene and marvelled at life and being alive.

I finally got up and was going to go inside but I had to walk by the sandbox and I was immediately attracted to the sand. I bent down and started letting the sand run through my fingers, feeling the texture of the grains on the skin of my hand. I dug deeply into the sand and noticed that the sand was very damp when you dug down 3 or 4 inches. And then I found a flat stone. I don't know why this was so fascinating but I was like a little child, I would pick up the stone with a handful of sand and squeeze the sand so it would run through my fingers and then I would feel the hard stone pressing against the flesh of my palm and fingers. It was like finding a treasure, I did this over and over again.

I left the sandbox and moved over to a very large pine tree and grabbed on the branches really hard. I gave a really good pull on it and ripped that piece of branch clean off and allowed the needles to run through my fingers as they fell through the ground. I grabbed two branches, and held on really tight like I was holding hands with the pine tree, I looked up at it and was just present with it for a little while. But things were beginning to feel really intense inside of me so I went inside.

I went in the bedroom to change and got undressed, but when I was completely undressed I was drawn down to my knees and I bent very low with my forehead against the carpet. The energy was flowing like crazy inside, it felt like it was all emanating from the gut area. My head was on the carpet and my gut was much higher since I was still on my knees, this felt right as it had so many times before. Energy was flowing from my gut down through my head and out. But the energy also radiated outwards in all directions at the same time, like a sacred sun was shining in my gut. It was extremely intense and overwhelming and continued for at least 15 minutes.

I have no idea what is going on and I don't care. It feels very right and it makes everything sacred, my own body, and everything else in the world. It's almost a mystical experience at times to be alive.

I'm completely filled by this experience, it's overflowing.

I love you.



...............

Entry in my E-Book:

20th December 2011
All views of self lead to suffering (clinging, effort, seeking, desire, craving, and other forms of suffering). If you were to achieve mastery of samadhi and abide as the I AM 24/7, which can have profound life transforming effects, nonetheless you cannot overcome the subtle clinging and achieve liberation. Even if you sit in samadhi bliss all day, this is not the same as liberation - as Buddha left his previous teachers who were masters at samadhi and had their own insights. When you achieve higher insights, your clinging lessens and disappears, your effortlessness increase. You also see how deeper insights are a natural progression of your original experience - the I AM is not denied, but now experienced in all manifestations in all conditions, effortless and spontaneous, without any attempts to re-confirm or any effort needed to sustain any experience. As I told Thusness: I just realized that the four aspects of I am are not just four aspects of I am They are also four aspects of non dual
442
Four aspects of anatta Four aspects of shunyata Etc Those four aspects are refined in every phase as an example: seeing through the need to abide in non dual and dropping it - notice the tendency to reconfirm nondual by giving rise to thoughts like "the sound is as much you as the thought", seeing how ridiculous it is when always already in seeing just sound, in thinking just thought, all thoughts to reconfirm nondual arise due to falsely perceiving there to be a self to be nondual with "that" which turns into one mind and worse still it presumes there to be a subtle split that needs to be resolved when that notion of separation is entirely illusory. The entire movement to become nondual is illusory when anatta is fully seen and all self notions are dropped Intensity of luminosity in non dual - peak is in "no cold no heat", no mind, pure transparency, luminosity as textures and shapes and forms and all details of manifestation Effortlessness - when all latent views are replaced with right views then there's effortlessness of nondual Impersonality - even in nondual and anatta, impersonality must be matured Etc... Thusness replied me, This I have told u. I have told you that later you will understand. (though I didn't remember him telling me - not that he didn't as I'm sure he has, but when I heard it then, I probably didn't understand it at all) He also said, U must also understand that the four aspects are conveyed to you so that in the event you got lost In "I Amness", they can lead you back to the deeper insight of anatta n DO. So as you can see, each arising insight leads to greater freedom and liberation, greater effortlessness, greater bliss.
…..
443
I believe the Buddhahood is the ultimatum of spirituality. Why do I believe? Because I have no direct knowledge of Buddhahood. I have not experienced Buddhahood. But I have faith in Buddha, partly due to confidence from my direct experience - how it completely lines up with what the Buddha taught, how deep and profound was Buddha's insights... that by inferrence surely, what the other stuff I've not seen but have been said by Buddha, must be true too. However what I do know from experience (without any need of inference) is this: as my insights progressed, there is deeper freedom experienced, deeper liberation experienced, greater effortlessness, greater clarity, lesser clinging, lesser afflictions, etc etc... greater insight into the nature of reality. Therefore this is of course a very obvious progress in my path. And I say - without anatta, emptiness, etc, you cannot achieve maximum effortlessness, maximum clarity, trueliberation, etc. Even in I AM due to belief in purest identity of I AM it is clung to tightly and practice aims at achieving 24/7 abidance in a purest state of presence - a form of contrivance and effort. In non-dual, though lesser effort and greater seamlessness with the manifold manifestation, still there can be subtle habit to reconfirm a source, an attempt to be nondual, etc, which are again subtler but still present effort, clinging, ignorance. And so on... so as I said, greater freedom, lesser effort, greater clarity, greater bliss, lesser clinging, lesser suffering, lesser afflictions (in their various forms)... greater results with the deepening of insight into the way things are. Which is why this is worthwhile for me. This is why while there is no strict one-for-all linear hierarchy of things, it does not mean there is no observable progress. Ultimately, all Buddhist paths that aims at liberation, i.e. the total ending of suffering, clinging, craving, etc must lead to twofold emptiness, to the qualities mentioned above. Believe me - or not, I am only stating my experience, just see for yourself.

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