This is a reminder that if you are interested in Arcaya Malcolm Smith's teaching on Dzogchen - Dzogchen Retreat with Arcaya Malcolm - please sign up now. Registration for TWS online retreat closes in 2 days, Aug. 7th.

I can't say everyone is going to resonate with these teachings, since it depends on one's proclivities, etc. But personally, John Tan and I find what Arcaya Malcolm Smith teaches to be highly resonating, so both of us will be attending the online retreat.

I have just updated this page which contains a collection of some of Malcolm's writings concerning the view of Dzogchen: Clarifications on Dharmakaya and Basis by Loppön Namdrol/Malcolm

[12:16 AM, 8/5/2020] John Tan:

[12:17 AM, 8/5/2020] John Tan: I like guy newland.
[12:18 AM, 8/5/2020] John Tan: Dzogchen, madhyamaka from Nyingma perspective...he choose mipham beacon of certainty
[12:19 AM, 8/5/2020] John Tan: Go watch
[12:34 AM, 8/5/2020] John Tan: Damn happy listening to this youtube

[9:09 PM, 8/4/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Just saw this in chnn book [Crystal and the Way of Light]:

we could even go so far as to say that, essentially, in Dzogchen, the Base is the primordial state, the Path is the primordial state, and the Fruit is the primordial state—and that there is thus a perfect continuity between them in that they all refer to the same thing: the true condition of the individual and the universe.
[11:34 PM, 8/4/2020] John Tan: Yes.
[11:37 PM, 8/4/2020] John Tan: Practice as if you r buddha but u r not yet Buddha.
[11:38 PM, 8/4/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
[11:41 PM, 8/4/2020] John Tan: I think U pasted to me right?  Something like result is taken as the basis.
[11:42 PM, 8/4/2020] John Tan: So not from the view that life is impermanent, no-self and suffering.
[12:14 AM, 8/5/2020] Soh Wei Yu: What do u mean
[12:14 AM, 8/5/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Oh taking buddha nature rather than impermanence no self suffering as basis and path of practicing?
[12:15 AM, 8/5/2020] John Tan: Yes
[12:34 AM, 8/5/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Do you mean these excerpts by Malcolm:

There are two ways be free of grasping: regarding all things as impure and rejecting them as such (Hinayāna and common Mahāyāna), and regarding all things as pure and accepting them as such. The latter method more rapid, but requires special methods, so that it is not merely an intellectual posture.


In sūtra there is no antidotal method of conceiving the appearance of things as pure which are typically conceived by ordinary sentient being as impure. Emptiness, in sutra, is provided as cure for this, in terms of nature, but not in terms of appearance. Vajrayāna address both nature and appearance; sūtra only addresses nature, not appearance.


In common Mahāyāna, like Hinayāna schools, relatively speaking, phenomena, other than path dharmas, are still compounded, suffering, and not-self, and hence impure. Their ultimate nature, emptiness, is pure.

In uncommon Mahāyāna Secret Mantra, phenomena are rendered pure through special methods which change our attitude towards phenomena.
[12:34 AM, 8/5/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Ok
[12:35 AM, 8/5/2020] John Tan: Yeah

For Chinese readers only:

Recently compiled more articles (almost 130 pages) I previously didn't add to the document by Zen Master Hong Wen Liang -

For the full updated list of Zen Master Hong Wen Liang's writings (hundreds of pages), see
A common misunderstanding is that Buddha taught "life is suffering". As Alan Smith pointed out, there is often an overemphasis on  suffering, but actually in Buddhism, there is only suffering when there  is appropriation and clinging. To be clear: Buddha has never said "life is suffering", however, he did teach right from the beginning in his first discourse on the four noble truths that "appropriated aggregates are suffering", and by appropriated I mean tainted with I-making and mine-making.

In the Pali suttas, clinging and appropriation are not equated with the sheer aggregates ( ), and as Stian mentioned, he thinks aggregates are almost never mentioned in the sense of 'sheer aggregates' in the Pali canon. I think you get glimpses of how are 'sheer aggregates experienced by Buddha/arahants' in scriptures like Bahiya Sutta and Kalaka Sutta. In any case, the appropriation is what causes suffering, and the end of appropriation is the end of suffering.

In Bahiya Sutta ( ), the end of appropriation is equated to the end of suffering, and it is the definition of Nirvana ( ). The first discourse he taught was on the four noble truths and one of his five students attained stream entry then, and the second discourse ( ) he taught was on anatta and all the five monks became arahants.

Now when we come to the Mahayana teachings, all aggregates are taught to be primordially pure and luminous. Does this negate the Pali suttas which says appropriated aggregates are suffering? No, it does not, if understood correctly in context.

Here's some nice clarifications on Dhammawheel:

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Sobhana wrote:
The Buddha sums up his definition of dukkha with: "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering" (pancu­padanak­khan­dha).
What is the meaning and what are the implications?"
"Since "upadana" means "appropriation",
more accurate translation would be "appropriated aggregates are suffering". This implies that suffering continues as long as the aggregates are appropriated, identified with.
Best wishes!
Post by vinasp » Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:10 am
Hi everyone,
I intend to quote some discourses which speak of the cessation of the clinging aggregates, using the alternative term 'sakkaya.'
One problem with this term is that every translator seems to use a different word for it.
Bhikkhu Bodhi uses 'identity', Ven. Thanissaro uses 'identification'.
However, I first need to show that 'identity' does indeed mean the five aggregates subject to clinging, this is stated in MN 44
"Lady,'identity, identity' is said. What is called identity by the Blessed One?"
"Friend Visakha, these five aggregates affected by clinging are called identity by the Blessed One..."
[Bhikkhu Bodhi, MLDB,- MN 44.2]
When I looked on suttacentral I found that they were not using BB's translation for MN 44, but the one that they are using is very good, it is by Anandajoti Bhikkhu.
“ ‘Embodiment, embodiment,’ is said, Noble Lady. What, Noble Lady, is said to be embodiment by the Gracious One?”
“These five constituents (of mind and body) that provide fuel for attachment, friend Visākha, are said to be embodiment by the Gracious One, as follows:
the form constituent that provides fuel for attachment, the feelings constituent that provides fuel for attachment, the perceptions constituent that provides fuel for attachment, the (mental) processes constituent that provides fuel for attachment, the consciousness constituent that provides fuel for attachment...." [ - MN 44]
Clinging is a mistranslation of 'upadana', fuel or nutriment is much better, I prefer 'sustain' because this sustaining is the cause of 'bhava' (becoming or existence), the continuation of the existence of the apparent self.
“These five constituents (of mind and body) that provide fuel for attachment ..."
Should be understood as: “These five constituents (of mind and body) that provide fuel for becoming (bhava).."
See also SN 12.11 where the 'four nutriments' are said to have craving as their source or origin. This is Dependent Origination with the four nutriments replacing clinging (upadana).
Regards, Vincent.


“Yes, upadana-khandha means 'object of clinging' ('aggregate of clinging').
It does not mean a potential object of clinging but it means an object of actual clinging.
Therefore, a lamp is not an upadanakhandha until there is attachment to the lamp as 'my lamp'.
It follows the word compound 'upadanakhandha' can be translated as 'aggregates subject to clinging' or 'aggregates of clinging'.


[11:32 AM, 8/2/2020] John Tan: Tsongkhapa spoke about appropriated aggregates in his lam-rim chen-mo.

[11:32 AM, 8/2/2020] John Tan: Mmk [Mūlamadhyamakakārikā] also

Re: The 3 marks of what, exactly?
Unread post by vinasp » Sun May 21, 2017 11:55 am
Hi everyone,
"Bhikkhus, form is impermanent, feeling is impermanent, perception is impermanent, volitional formations are impermanent, consciousness is impermanent....." SN 22.12
“Bhikkhus, form is suffering, feeling is suffering, perception is suffering, volitional formations are suffering, consciousness is suffering....." SN 22.13
“Bhikkhus, form is nonself, feeling is nonself, perception is nonself, volitional formations are nonself, consciousness is nonself....." SN 22.14
These may appear to be talking about the five aggregates, but I think that the five clinging aggregates are meant. All three continue in this way:
"Seeing thus, bhikkhus, the instructed noble disciple experiences revulsion towards form, revulsion towards feeling, revulsion towards perception, revulsion towards volitional formations, revulsion towards consciousness. Experiencing revulsion, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion his mind is liberated. When it is liberated there comes the knowledge: ‘It’s liberated.’ He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.’”
Clearly, the aggregates mentioned at the start are those of an unliberated individual.
Another possibility is that 'form is suffering', and the rest, are not meant to be understood as ontological statements, but as how these things should be regarded. This explains 'seeing thus' as what leads to liberation.
Actual form is experienced, but the 'form aggregate' may mean a habit of regarding form in the wrong way, as permanent, a source of pleasure, and in relation to a self. If so, then the form aggregate will vanish when seen in the right way.
It seems that the discourses do not always make an explicit distinction between the aggregates and the clinging aggregates.
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, while not entirely rejecting the distinction, follows the Abhidhamma and Commentaries, arguing that the Arahant is still described by clinging aggregates.
Perhaps we should assume that almost all teaching on the aggregates is about the five clinging aggregates.
Regards, Vincent.


Also related:


"The eye is not the fetter of forms, nor are forms the fetter of the eye. Whatever desire & passion arises in dependence on the two of them: That is the fetter there. The ear is not the fetter of sounds... The nose is not the fetter of aromas... The tongue is not the fetter of flavors... The body is not the fetter of tactile sensations... The intellect is not the fetter of ideas, nor are ideas the fetter of the intellect. Whatever desire & passion arises in dependence on the two of them: That is the fetter there." -- Buddha, SN 35.191 (PTS: S IV 162) 

"My son, we are not bound by appearances; we are bound by our clinging to them." - Tilopa to Naropa

"The five senses arising with their objects are unimpeded radiance.
What is born from not grasping at objects is the unborn basic state.
Attachment to appearances may be unceasing but reverse it: meditate naturally settled.
Empty appearances arising free from the intellect is the path of natural expressions.
Do not see appearances as problems, let go of clinging.
There will come a time when you will arrive in the valley of one taste meditation." - Yang Gönpa
John Tan sent me the Aspiration Prayers of Mahamudra by the 3rd Karmapa today and said "I like Mahamudra... beautifully expressed"

"All is mind must also be deconstructed by DO and emptiness.

Otherwise you end up subsuming.  When practitioners express all is mind, they are not to be taken literally, they are expressing a deep non-dual experiential taste.  Not as a view.

We go through all process of deconstructions and taste the luminous appearances then adopt the view of DO [dependent origination] and emptiness for the conventional world.

That is why DO and emptiness is the enlightened view."

"[9:09 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: I understand what dzogchen meant. Imo,  DO and emptiness is the spontaneous presence and natural perfection expression in the conventional world. (Soh: also related, Dzogchen, Rigpa and Dependent Origination )
[9:14 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: But I do not know dzogchen so no comment. 

It is just how I see. The beauty of DO and emptiness in expressing the luminous appearance for the conventional world."

- John Tan, 2020

"[8:16 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: It is the direct taste that is important.
[8:18 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: In the direct taste freeing of the background, what is left is the obviousness.
[8:21 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: The luminous display is free from all elaborations.  Neither mind nor not mind, phenomena nor not phenomena.

So can one b free from all proliferations and see clearly this luminous display and how is this to b expressed comventionally?
[8:22 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: Post all these deconstructions, do u still need to talk about mind at all?  Do u still see object?"

"[8:25 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: That is not important imo
[8:26 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: It is how the mind is freed from all proliferated views or religions or any form of conditioning first.
[8:28 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: The freeing is most crucial but not discarding the validity of how they provide explanations for the functioning of the world.
[8:28 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: So first in anatta, the deconstruction of the background self. That perhaps is the most important deconstruction.
[8:31 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: Then we look at object, how do we even come to the idea that phenomena possess characteristics at all?  Why  redness seem to stick to a red flower?
[8:36 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: Then we look deeper into duality and look at how the dualistic structure is constructed...we see objectivity and subjectivity, do we clearly see and understand that the very feeling of objectivity can only arise because of an innate feeling of subjectivity?  Can we feel this understanding in our bone and marrow or just a knowledge?  The idea of self and other...this deep conditioning is often over look.
[8:37 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: Like no suffering, no no suffering...
[8:39 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: Then when we picks up all these conventions, views,  we have no issues with them for they provide a way of explaining and accounting how the world and universe functions.  How well they explain the world.
[8:41 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: U can see how the world is totally make up of energetic vibration also and practice accordingly as long the path can guide u and it works and functions, but ultimately empty."

"[10:32 AM, 7/25/2020] John Tan: The only truth is to see the emptiness of the conventional.  Equipoise strictly speaking is free from all elaborations.  That is exactly the experiential insight and taste of anatta, in the seen just the seen, therefore no seer, no seeing, nothing seen.

[10:38 AM, 7/25/2020] Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
[10:42 AM, 7/25/2020] Soh Wei Yu: like kalaka sutta

For anyone interested in Dzogchen, there is an upcoming online Dzogchen teaching retreat with Arcaya Malcolm. 

Just like to let readers of this blog know.

When I met Arcaya Malcolm for a dinner in California last year with (his student) Kyle Dixon, he invited me to attend his teaching retreat at Santa Fe this year. Alas, that couldn’t happen because of covid.

But I am also glad it is an online teaching event now since it means more people can access and receive those teachings.

For those interested you can also join Ask the Arcaya facebook group

And read through these books which serves as introductory reading prior to the retreat

“Crystal and the way of light, by my teacher, Chogyal  Namkhai Norbu. As well as his Dzogchen, the self-perfected state.” - Arcaya Malcolm


On the credentials of Arcaya Malcolm:

Did three year retreat, given title Arcaya by Khenpo Migmar Tseten. According to Khenpo, it is a higher title than “lama” in the Sakya school.

One of his Dzogchen teachers, Kunzang Dechen Lingpa, who completed the Dzogchen path and attained full awakening or rainbow body, asked Arcaya Malcolm Smith to teach Dzogchen to others.

Arcaya Malcolm Smith now has a sangha. 

Also, from

“Ācārya Malcolm Smith met the Dharma in 1989. His principle gurus are H.H. Sakya Trichen, the late Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, and the late Kunzang Dechen Lingpa. He is a veteran of a traditional three-year solitary Tibetan Buddhist retreat. He is a translator and has several published and forthcoming translations with Wisdom Publications. Malcolm was awarded the Ācārya degree by the Sakya Institute in 2004, and graduated in 2009 from Shang Shung Institute’s School of Tibetan Medicine.”


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Robert Dominik Tkanka
Malcolm is experienced (including traditional 3 year retreat, many years of Trekcho and Thogal practice), knowledgeable (already translated 4 of 17 Dzogchen Mennagde Tantras) and careful about the right view. This teaching is going to be on Trekcho with a possible follow up on Thogal for those interested.
· Reply
· 20h · Edited
Robert Dominik Tkanka
The retreat is
both for seriously interested newcommers and old time practitioners.
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· 20h
Tyler Jones
I don't see anything about direct introduction being given or being a prerequisite.
· Reply
· 20h
Robert Dominik Tkanka
Will be given on the first day (afternoon session).
· Reply
· 49m
Soh Wei Yu
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Only two days attendance is compulsory and for a specific timing
The other days you can watch the video within 24 hours
· Reply
· 4h
Robert Dominik Tkanka
Soh Wei Yu
even longer. Malcolm decided the videos will be available until the end of retreat + couple more days.
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· 48m
Soh Wei Yu
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Robert Dominik Tkanka
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· 29m


Writings by Arcaya Malcolm:


The Heart of All Paths

Dzogchen is the heart of all paths, whether of samsara or nirvana, and is the truth that everyone is trying to discover. What is Dzogchen? We all know the answer to that question -- it is our real condition. 

Everyone, no matter what religion they belong to, is trying to discover the truth. That truth exists in the heart of every single sentient being. So when you discover that truth, there is no need to remain locked in the limitations of "Buddhist" and "non-Buddhist". 

Limitations are what cause all the suffering in the world. 

We cannot change the world for others, but we can change the world for ourselves. The only way to do this is to evolve beyond the limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race, and tribe. If we go beyond these limitations through discovering our primordial potentiality, then we are participating in changing the world.

As we have seen, for example, the six liberations are not just for Buddhists -- you don't have to make someone a Buddhist in order to sing Song of the Vajra for them, for example, or recite the Aspiration of Samantabhadra -- any sentient being who hears these sung or recited will have a seed of future liberation planted in their continuum, thos grol (liberation through hearing). You don't have to make someone a Buddhist to give them some myong grol (liberation through taste), or give them a btags grol (liberation through wearing), or show them some image that is a mthong grol (liberation through sight), or give them some incense which is a specially formulated dri grol (liberation through smell), etc. 

Of course I am a Buddhist. But where I used to be a Buddhist before I was a Dzogchen practitioner, now it is other way around. This is not because of some intellectual trip. This is based on my practice of Buddhism and Dzogchen for 20+ years now. 

I can see really clearly that we need to go beyond Buddhist provincialism. We even complain about sectarianism among Buddhists. We also war with each other about such things whose Karmapa is the real one; which is better, gzhan stong or rang stong; is yogacara as high as madhayamaka or not; is Theravada Hinayāna or not; is Mahāyāna or the tantras the real teaching of the Buddha or not. If we do not go beyond these kinds of petty intellectual differences, we will never survive as a species and we will continue to destroy ourselves. 

In the end it honestly does not matter much whether we put our faith in Jesus, Krishna or Buddha. There is no perfect faith that leads to liberation. The only thing that leads to liberation is knowledge of our true condition. When we know that state, we don't have need of faith since now we have certainty. 

We do not need to ecumenically pretend that all paths lead to the same place. All we need to understand is that everyone is searching for the same thing, the peace and happiness that springs from freedom. We can overcome all our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe just by maintaining presence and awareness of this fact. 

When we have overcome our own limitations regarding religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe, then we can work with any circumstances. If one is attached to some limitation, there is no way one can work well with circumstances. One can only work with circumstances by seeing what one's limitations are.

When we overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe then we are more free. We are more free to celebrate life, sorrow at death, wonder at creation, we are more free to enjoy our lives and the lives of others. 

When we overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe we are more free to celebrate the threatening "other", to celebrate the beauty of human diversity and difference, which is the strength of our species. 

When we overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe we are more free to act wisely, to cherish this beautiful planet we live on and all the richness of life, the plants, the animals, the rocks, minerals, oceans, mountains, rivers, and lakes it offers us. 

When we overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe through knowing our own state through personal experience the universe and all the beings in it are revealed as an astonishing panoply of spheres of light and color, sound, lights and rays that has no boundary nor center. 

When we overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe through knowing our own state just as it is, we have no need to ensure any creed, no need to confirm any ideology, no need to control anyone or anything -- we can let the free be free as they have been all along whether they know it or not. 

When we overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe thorugh direct and perfect knowledge of our own state, then, if we have the capacity, we can introduce others to their own state without regard to religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe. 

If, for example, Dzogchen teachings are only for Buddhists, how can we ever hope to overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe? How can enforcing limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe ever be useful in the project of overcoming our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe?

Dzogchen teachings are for all who are interested. Because the ancient peoples of Zhang Zhung and Tibet were interested in Dzogchen, Dzogchen spread there before the formal advent of Buddhism in that country. Originally Dzogchen was not a formal part of Buddhism. It spread through a very small lineage of practitioners. This group of practitioners, beginning with Mañjuśrīmitra, saw that Dzogchen was the essence of what the Buddha was trying to communicate. So they spread it slowly. Later, because Padmasambhava, Vairocana and Vimalamitra brought it to Tibet and some Tibetans too understood it was the essence of the Buddha's teaching, they kept it in secret and it slowly spread among Tibetans. Then, in the 11-12th century, when the Nyingmapas gained self-awareness as an independent school, they adopted Dzogchen as their official "position" in competition with the new translation trends and incorporated it into their school. But by this time, Dzogchen had completely died out in India. But Dzogchen, as is proven by its presence in Bon, is not strictly the provence of Buddhism. Though the Bonpos revised their teachings to bring them into line with Buddhist teachings, Zhang Zhung Nyengyud is an authentic line of Dzogchen intimate instruction that do not depend on Garab Dorje. Therefore, in the same way that early masters of Dzogchen were free from limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe and taught Dzogchen to whoever came to them, we should also endeavor to overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe. 

We must not consider the Dzogchen teachings as belonging to any religion, ideology, nation, class, race or tribe. Instead, as practitioners of Dzogchen, we should endeavor to overcome our personal limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe through knowing our real state just as it is. When we know our own state just as it is, we can engage with people wherever they are without ourselves throwing up any barriers of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe. So I suggest it is very important for Dzogchen practitioners, including myself, to overcome any limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe. We already have the means to do this -- we simply need to will to do it. If we ground ourselves in the deep natural transformation that comes from recognizing and integrating with our primordial potentiality, then we can go beyond the limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe. By going beyond these limitations (as well as the limitations of conceptuality, imputation, paths, stages, realizations, attainments, buddhas and sentient beings) through recognizing our own innate state that is originally pure and naturally perfected
, we can move freely through the world and meet everyone and everthing from the authentic space of recognition of great original purity of all that is.
Posted 16th May 2012 by


World Thigle


May the secret treasury of all victors,
the unsurpassed Dzogchen teachings,
spread widely through all dimensions
just like the sun rising in the sky.

Two persons realised anatta recently in AtR group:

Jayson MPaul shared:
Shared with Members of Awakening to Reality
Hello friends. I have been reading the blog for a few years now. It was suggested to me back in 2017 on the DhO, but I wasn't ready for it. Looking back I was definitely in stage 1 and I can trace my way through the first 4 stages. Something dawned on me 2 days ago and all things became unstuck. It became clear to me that every moment is just the thoughts, scenery, sounds. Nothing has ever been obscured! I was trying to find what I was missing but then it dawned that I was missing the fact that "searching for what was missing" is also just thought, sensation, manifestation. I still very subtly believed I was a non-dual awareness having a non-dual experience. I was trying to expand awareness to include more and more sensations. The size isn't the problem, it is realizing that there isn't anything more than just this and digging up subtler and subtler views that support this reification of awareness as a formless thing or ground of all experience. The last couple days have been effortlessly no-mind because all experiences are and always were no-mind. Finally most of the words on your blog speak to my direct experience. Thank you for the pointers! 🙏

Td Unmanifest shared:

Shared with Members of Awakening to Reality
Soh Wei Yu suggested I post something about my experience after our email conversation.
I emailed to thank him and John Tan for their writings, resources, and pointers that have helped me immensely in my progress.
Many years ago I had a powerful, "accidental" I Am experience that compelled me to search for what it was and how to make it permanent. Over the years I have explored many teachers, practices, systems, and techniques. Some more helpful than others.
I actually encountered AtR several years ago via a DhO post, but honestly aside from some of the I Am posts and discussions, none of it made much sense to me. I now know that's due to the fact I was stuck in the I Am phase, yet I thought I was much further along in my progress.
Earlier this year, I rediscovered AtR, and began to read and study the Journal and Guide, along with the associated posts. It all was much clearer to me this time -- maybe I was more ripe for the teachings now 🙂
Realizing I had been stuck in I Am, I followed the recommendations from the guide. The contemplation of "where awareness ends and manifestation begins" was especially helpful and propelled me into a nondual realization. It was all very clear. The luminosity and clarity, descriptions, and experience, all lined up with what was written. It was extremely helpful to have my insights and experiences line up with writings from someone who had been down the path. The insight/shift from no-mind, to anatta was the most powerful, yet ordinary thing. As I said in my email to Soh Wei Yu:
Though the earlier anatta experience shifted to a "no center, no background" emptiness of no-self, there was still a sense of a doer. This current shift/experience has left the doer and the "agencylessness" seems the default view.
Dogen's Uji, and the insights of being-time have also been very powerful for me, along with Tozen's "place where there is no cold or heat," which was recommended by Soh Wei Yu. It's amazing how the suttas and teachers make so much sense now and help clarify and stabilize realization and insight.
Just writing this short post, it's difficult to describe these insights. It makes me appreciate how well the AtR team and other teachers have been able to describe and present the material in a clear way.


TD Unmanifest:

I got stuck in I AM for a long time due to clinging to dissociation and the experience as Soh mentioned above. The focus was almost entirely on the mind. When I shifted to other sense doors (hearing in particular) something "popped" and the nondual experience moved from mind to body to everything (not really the best description, but the only way I can think to explain it). Contemplation on where the nondual Self ended and manifestation begins shifted my experience again, and began the process to a taste of no-mind then to annata.

The issue wasn't the dissociation, it was the clinging to the experience that was taken to be something more transcendental than it was. This stuff is hard to explain, so hope that makes some sense 🙂

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“[3:29 PM, 6/25/2020] John Tan: Thought of how to explain the difference in anatta and advaita nihilism.

[3:40 PM, 6/25/2020] John Tan: When a person in ignorance, why is he so blinded? If there is no I, shouldn't him be already free?


Sentient being: if there is no I in ignorance, then you are therefore free.


Anatta: There is no I in ignorance, you are precisely THAT ignorance, therefore fully and entirely blinded.


What anatta insight is telling us is the "I" and "ignorance" are the same phenomenon. This also tells us that even when in ignorant, there is complete and effortless non-dual experience, anatta is a seal.



[2:52 PM, 6/27/2020] Soh Wei Yu: The Beauty of Virtue


Thought  is  movement  between  “what  is”  and  “what  should  be.”  Thought  is  the  time  to  cover  that  space,  and  as  long  as  there  is  division  between  this  and  that  psychologically,  the  movement  is  the  time  of  thought.  So  thought  is  time  as  movement. Is there time as movement, as thought, when there is only observation of “what is”? That is, not observation as the observer and the observed, but only observation  without  the  movement  of  going  beyond  “what  is.”  It  is  very  important  for  the  mind  to  understand  this,  because  thought  can  create  most  marvelous images of what is sacred and holy, which all religions have done. All religions  are  based  on  thought.  All  religions  are  the  organization  of  thought,  in  belief, in dogma, in rituals. So unless there is complete understanding of thought as time and movement, the mind cannot possibly go beyond itself.


We  are  trained,  educated,  drilled  to  change  “what  is”  into  “what  should  be,”  the  ideal,  and  that  takes  time.  That  whole  movement  of  thought  to  cover  the  space  between  “what  is”  and  “what  should  be”  is  the  time  to  change  “what  is”  into  “what  should  be”—but  the  observer  is  the  observed,  therefore  there  is  nothing to change, there is only “what is.” The observer doesn’t know what to do with  “what  is,”  therefore  he  tries  various  methods  to  change  “what  is,”  controls  “what is,” tries to suppress “what is.” But the observer is the observed: the “what is”  is  the  observer.  Anger,  jealousy,  are  also  the  observer;  there  isn’t  jealousy  separate  from  the  observer—both  are  one.  When  there  is  no  movement  as  thought  in  time  to  change  “what  is,”  when  thought  perceives  that  there  is  no  possibility of changing “what is,” then that which is—“what is”—ceases entirely, because the observer is the observed.


Go  into  this  very  deeply  and  you  will  see  for  yourself.  It  is  really  quite  simple.  If  I  dislike  someone,  the  dislike  is  not  different  from  the  “me”  or  the  “you.”  The  entity  that  dislikes  is  dislike  itself;  it  is  not  separate.  And  when  thought  says,  “I  must  get  over  my  dislike,”  then  it  is  movement  in  time  to  get  over  that  which  actually  is,  which  is  created  by  thought.  So  the  observer—the  entity—and  the  thing  called  “dislike”  are  the  same.  Therefore  there  is  complete  immobility. It is not the immobility of being static, it is complete motionlessness and therefore complete silence. So time as movement, time as thought achieving a result, has come totally to an end, and therefore action is instantaneous. So the mind has laid the foundation and is free from disorder; and therefore there is the flowering and the beauty of virtue. In that foundation is the basis of relationship between you and another. In that relationship there is no activity of image; there is  only  relationship,  not  one  image  adjusting  itself  to  the  other  image.  There  is  only “what is” and not the changing of “what is.” The changing of “what is,” or transforming of “what is,” is the movement of thought in time.


When you have come to that point, the mind and the brain cells also become totally  still.  The  brain  which  holds  memories,  experience,  knowledge,  can  and  must  function  in  the  field  of  the  known.  But  now  that  mind,  that  brain,  is  free  from the activity of time and thought. Then the mind is completely still. All this takes  place  without  effort.  All  this  must  take  place  without  any  sense  of  discipline, control, which belong to disorder.


You  know,  what  we  are  saying  is  totally  different  from  what  the  gurus,  the  “masters,” the Zen philosophers say, because in this there is no authority, there is no  following  another.  If  you  follow  somebody,  you  are  not  only  destroying  yourself but also the other. A religious mind has no authority whatsoever. But it has intelligence and it applies that intelligence. In the world of action there is the authority of the scientist, the doctor, the man who teaches you how to drive, but otherwise there is no authority, there is no guru.


So, if you have gone as deeply as that, then the mind has established order in relationship, and understands the whole complex disorder of our daily lives. Out of the comprehension of that disorder, out of the awareness of it, in which there is  no  choice,  comes  the  beauty  of  virtue,  which  is  not  cultivated,  which  is  not  brought  about  by  thought.  That  virtue  is  love,  order,  and  if  the  mind  has  established  that  with  deep  roots,  it  is  immovable,  unchangeable.  And  then  you  can inquire into the whole movement of time. Then the mind is completely still. There is no observer, there is no experiencer, there is no thinker.


There    are    various    forms    of    sensory    and    extrasensory    perception.    Clairvoyance,  healing,  all  kinds  of  things  take  place,  but  they  are  all  secondary,  and  a  mind  that  is  really  concerned  with  the  discovery  of  what  is  truth,  what  is  sacred, will never touch them.


The  mind  then  is  free  to  observe.  Then  there  is  that  which  man  has  sought  through   centuries,   the   unnameable,   the   timeless.   And   there   is   no   verbal   expression  of  it.  The  image  that  is  created  by  thought  completely  and  utterly  ceases because there is no entity that wants to express it in words. Your mind can only  discover  it,  or  come  upon  it,  when  you  have  this  strange  thing  called  love,  compassion,  not  only  for  your  neighbor,  but  for  the  animals,  the  trees,  for  everything.


Then such a mind itself becomes sacred.

 ~ J Krishnamurti, 'This Light in Oneself: True Meditation'

[2:53 PM, 6/27/2020] Soh Wei Yu: reminds me of what you said 'you are the ignorance'

[6:52 AM, 6/28/2020] John Tan: Yes”

p.s. John Tan also said years ago,

"After this insight, one must also be clear of the way of anatta and the path of practice. Many wrongly conclude that because there is no-self, there is nothing to do and nothing to practice.  This is precisely using "self view" to understand "anatta" despite having the insight.  
It does not mean because there is no-self, there is nothing to practice; rather it is because there is no self, there is only ignorance and the chain of afflicted activities. Practice therefore is about overcoming ignorance and these chain of afflictive activities.  There is no agent but there is attention. Therefore practice is about wisdom, vipassana, mindfulness and concentration. If there is no mastery over these practices, there is no liberation. So one should not bullshit and psycho ourselves into the wrong path of no-practice and waste the invaluable insight of anatta.  That said, there is the passive mode of practice of choiceless awareness, but one should not misunderstand it as the "default way" and such practice can hardly be considered "mastery" of anything, much less liberation."

In 2013, Thusness said, "Anapanasati is good. After your insight [into anatta], master a form of technique that can bring you to that the state of anatta without going through a thought process." and on choiceless awareness Thusness further commented, "Nothing wrong with choice. Only problem is choice + awareness. It is that subtle thought, the thought that misapprehend (Soh: falsely imputes/fabricates) the additional "agent"."

“A state of freedom is always a natural state, that is a state of mind free from self/Self. You should familiarize yourself with the taste first. Like doing breathing meditation until there is no-self and left with the inhaling and exhaling... then understand what is meant by releasing.”