Robert Dominik practices Dzogchen, manages and teaches meditation (website and contents are in Polish). In his words, "...After coleading a meditation workshop with one of Trungpa's close students and getting permission from one of Dharma Ocean senior teachers to do classes and workshops on Somatic Meditation I started to do classes and workshops in my free time (afterhours). My partner got permission to work with Genpo Roshi's Big Mind method - she is also a therapist and a coach. Apart from that we had experience in Tantra, meditation for couples and other forms of meditation practice so we've decided to cooperate and work on our own programs (mostly on meditation, somatic practice and relationships). And it sort of developed from there - the feedback was very good..."

Robert Dominik wrote:

"No self. Never was. Only mistaken way of seeing experience due to attributing selfhood to dependent interplay of 18 dhatus."

So not long ago I've reached a milestone in my practice. I related it then to Soh Wei Yu with the above words. Here's the rest:
"Colors, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations and mental objects rolling on."

"These too lacking substance - coming and going does not appen, nothing truly arises, abides or ceases, compounded and uncompouded dharmas do not exist on their own. Even movement is just an illusion due to mistakenly construing on the basis of different moments - which also lack essence. Yet everything is wondrously and magically appearing - circumstances and conditions. Everything is perfely luminious but it is impossible to find any observer, any background or any essence in or outside of display."

The rest is mostly a convo on how did the insight happen and so on. It is worth quoting the following:

"I am confident that it's impossible for there to be any self nor reality to the illusion so there is no idea like "this might arise again" because there never was a self to begin with..."

As promised I would prepare some journal entry about it. Hence I've written this text. Before the above happened I had some exchanges with Soh and Thusness concerning practice. After a Dzogchen Bon retreat which I've attended I had a powerful experience which also was a milestone in terms of my own Dzogchen practice (it was a precise taste of selfliberation of thoughts - and true enough after that event many pointers from Soh and Thusness made experiental sense like: for example how would it feel if there was no thinker of thoughts etc). However after relating it to Soh Wei Yu he considered it to be a No-mind experience. The fact is that there was no clarity about no-self being a seal. I started contemplating pointers from Soh and Thusness and in the background of my own practice there was this remembering that Anatta is a seal. This slowly shifted my focus from trying to achieve states of suspending duality to penetrating into the actual nature of experience. I've also had a few powerful endorsements for this type of shift from Dzogchen sources that I was reading at the time. Thusness also noted in one convo that it would be worthwhile if I worked on Metta a little bit. Interestingly enough my biggest problem with actualising that the Anatta is a seal was the tendency to experience contraction and stress while interacting if people. I'd then be under the impression that "a sense of self is arising again". So a wrong view persisted and one of its marks was big dichotomy between meditating in solitude and interacting with people. The funny thing is that I was going through a Reggie Ray program called Awakening the Heart which mostly deals with somatic ways of cultivating relative Bodhichitta (4 immeasurables, tonglen, maitri and karuna etc.) and studying relative Bodhichitta section of Namkhai Norbu's training program. These helped me to relax while interacting with people and help me open up a little bit, improve my behavior and attitude etc. This was an important factor in developing my practice.

The breaktrough itself happened during an 8 day retreat. With my partner we were practising together the NN's program I've mentioned. We dedicated the first 3 days to the secondary practices of samten (based on Shantideva's Bodhisattvacharyavatara - the section on the Fifth Paramita). This had prepared a fertile ground for the insight to happen and was a kind of a culmination of my work on Metta etc.
Then we had 5 days dedicated to contemplating the absence of independent identity. 1 day of working on emptiness of self and 4 days of working on emptiness of phenomena. 4 x 2 hours each day + lots of extra studying/reading (Pali Canon: Yamaka Sutta and Aggi-Vachagotta Sutta on the first day; Nectar of Manjushri's Speech - a commentary on Bodhisattvacharyavatara and notes on Bodhisattvacharyavatara by A. Wallace for all 5 days; Sun of Wisdom by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso during the 4 days devoted to emptiness of phenomena).

During the first day I've lost all doubt regarding there never being a self (note: all the insights that I express are actually shared by my partner). We contemplated and pondered questions which CHNNR suggests in his program (which come from instructions from Meditations on Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Patrul), which are basically questions to contemplation like - is Self the same as Body, Speech and Mind or is it something different, what is its origin and so on.
Nectar of Manjushri's Speech was helpful becasue it completely demolishes notion of ultimate, eternal self of Samkhya/Advaita type. The key element was deconstructing the self into 5 skandhas, 12 ayatanas and 18 dhatus. Before this retreat I briefly studied a little bit of Ornament of Abhidharma by Chim Jampaiyang (only the beginning though). It helped me to establish some genuine understanding of what is the purpose of skandhas, ayatanas and dhatus as a teaching tool and made me familiar with them. I deconsructed the whole field of experience. It was impossible to find any self within this field and it was impossible for the self to be somewhere outside (classification of phenomena from abhidharma is troughrough and does not leave anything out). This led me to a Bahiya Sutta type of insight with the taste of "in the seen there is only the seen". I knew about Bahiya Sutta before and tried to employ it but somehow my attempts were hijacked by the wrong view of 'entry-exit'. I was trying to achieve and experience and force 'a Bahiya way of seeing' instead of actually contemplating the nature of experience. Subtle mistake that sets worlds apart. Anyhow the deconstructing of the self gave me unshakeable confidence in lack of selfhood. The insight into lack of self left me at ease - without the feeling of struggle. However there was still intuition that this too is pretty shallow compared of what is going to happen (though very deep insight when compared to what mostly passes as enlightenment in most nondual circles).
The next 4 days was a pretty throughrough contemplation on emptiness of the 5 aggregates. We worked progressively with body and form (1st day of the 4), vedanas (feeling/sensation; 2nd day), mind/consciousness (3rd day), perception and mental fabrications (4th day). Our analysis culminated in uncompounded dharmas and emptiness itself. We've progressively gained total confidence in emptiness of all phenomena. There is no sense in describing the whole process in details but I think there were a few key moments:
  • while contemplating the body the questioning moved to "where is the body now?" and then to "what is here?" and "what is now?". We've analysed where is the body located and saw that all points of reference are relative and without them there is no any "here" and that "here" is only afterthought attached to bodily orienting mechanisms. "Now" was dropped after seeing that without Past (being already gone) and without Future (not yet arisen) it is impossible to designate any "Now". It is impossible to pinpoint such a thing and the absurdity of looking for such reference points in the mere flow of appearances was seen completely. This resulted in a complete and utter ordinariness. Like this is more familiar than something familiar. When you have a feeling or memory of something familiar from childhood... but even more basic and primal. Completele lack of any artificialness - though the intensity of clarity and vividness dwarfed anything that I have ever experienced on psychedelics xD (though without HPPD or hallucinations) or with meditation before.
  • while contemplating the vedanas there was a moment of having an insight that it is impossible to pinpoint pleasure or pain. I then started strongly pressing my finger and a nail into my body to check where the "pain" is but I couldn't pinpoint its reality.
  • Vajra Cutter turned out to be a powerful tool of deconstruction that helped me see that arising and ceasing are impossible.
  • Even space... before the retreat I had a subtle tendency to reify spaciousness and openness into a really existing space. I've noticed that reality to space is only attributed on the basis of phenomena that seemingly are placed in it. Without objects and elements in space one couldn't find it.

So there is no shred of doubt about lack of selfhood and insubstantiality of phenomena.
The funny thing is that before I had an intellectual understanding of some of the aspects of emptiness teachings (in some regards as far as couple of years ago) but these have never penetrated me to the core. Somehow practice in my case was mostly chasing peak experiences of no-mind and having some theory of emptiness. What was lacking in my case was a mixture of factors with most important being:
  • strong routine of meditation - because of not being embodied in the past and not having sufficient meditative introspection I'd turn what I'd intellectually learn on Anatta and Emptiness into a an object of knowledge. This changed in the past. This lack made me miss the opportunity to fully benefit from anatta and emptiness teachings when I first came into contact with them.
  • throrough approach - in the past I would be satisfied with mere "yeah that makes sense" or assuming that I get it because I understand the words. I'd also generalise some glimpses and shreds of understanding to whole of the experience field. But I've never so systematically and precisely worked on discerning the meaning as in the last couples of months. Instead before that I'd just collects bits of pointers and try to latch them onto my peak experiences if that makes sense.
  • critical thinking - actually I've developed a tendency to just assume many teachings that come from Buddhadharma are true. I'd then try to parrot these. Or if somebody more experienced told me that teachings say x or y then I'd be hesitant to express doubts or questions.

It's been almost a month from the said insight. I've noticed some effects but mind you this can be attributed to having a strong routine of daily practice (2 hours a day + regular retreats lately; not to mention that I work in mindfulness business so much of my work is meditating with clients and instructing them in meditation). In any case these include:
  • surge in clarity - the experience most of the times feels like enhanced with drugs in all the positive ways. There is heightened vividness - everything is more sharp and more colorful at the same time. Color, sounds, smells feel more rich.
  • magical illusion - there is quite effortless feeling of everything being a magical display. Whenever I stop concentrating on a given task - it seems to be obvious.
  • increased pain resistance - for example I have a migraine problem - the migraine attacks are less of a nuisance nowadays and I feel like I can cope with them better as pain is just an empty feeling.
  • thoughts seem less problematic - in the past there was attachment to nonthought states in meditation. In general though I have less thoughts nowadays than I used to have (I was a classical overthinker).
  • ease and acceptance towards what happens; general trust in the process of life; increased self-confidence (in the sense of having more confidence in my movements and actions) and honesty (in the past I was quite a manipulative person)
This does not seem final and there is still A LOT more way to go with regards to my practice. It doesn't seem like I can bend spoons or walk through walls. The spontaneous perfection aspect still seems like it has to go through refinement and cycles of insight. My dream awareness definetely would use an improvement
So that's it I guess All te best to you guys and I hope somebody finds this helpful Will be grateful for any useful comments
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