"When one says mind or basis or clarity or presence, it is only conventional expression. If we mistaken there is anything to grasp or anything beyond or ineffable, it is immediately mistaken. However if we just stop there it becomes nihilistic. Because the purpose is to allow one to clearly and fully realize, feel and taste the moment to moment of manifestation. To clearly see and understand the nature of what is felt, seen, taste, heard and thought. It is not only no seer, but in the seen just the seen. However in the seen just the seen can be seen as a form of focus shamatha concentration. Therefore I always say it is the natural state."

Do not aspire to great realization. Great realization is everyday tea and meals.

—Dogen Zenji, Shobogenzo Gyoji
Mason Spransy:

When the perception that there's something "behind" phenomena - either in the front (as a witness) or in the back (as an object) - falls away, phenomena are no longer appearances but become immediately the things themselves. Their suchness is what they are. Nothing is hidden. This visual appearance of a teacup or a couch IS the teacup or the couch. Because nothing is represented in the arising of colors and sounds, consciousness is identical to reality itself. This is what it means to directly taste things. 

Wouldn't it be nice, when eating a strawberry, to go beyond the tongue and taste the strawberry's true essence? Well, actually the tongue cannot taste. The tongue is powerless to make anything like "taste" happen; the tongue, too, lacks support. When the tongue touches the strawberry, every texture and flavor of the strawberry is the simultaneous knowing of every texture and flavor of the strawberry's essence.

Because the ten thousand things lack true essence, everything in the entire universe becomes immediately the essence of itself. There is only one taste in the whole of the cosmos, and that taste is what we call "the cosmos." Allow everything to completely dissolve into the texture of suchness, and infinite essences come forth to proclaim the one teaching: there is no essence in the entire world.


I like writing verse to express and clarify my insights, especially in the few hours proceeding a breakthrough or opening. Here is one which expresses what I discovered today.

Unhindered, reality-less,
I go about my business.
Suchness does not know
the rain outside my window.
Naturalness prevails,
happening, happening.
The happening is no occasion
to conceive of anything existing;
the disappearing is no time
to think of anything lost.
Only see that ceasing things
were never really real;
Only see that happenings
are bubbles made of air.

My Comments: Mason's post reminded me of Dogen somehow -


“The ways of viewing mountains and waters are different depending upon what kind of beings we are. There are some beings that view water as a jewel. However, this does not mean that they view a jewel [for human beings] as water. How do we see what they view as water? What they see as a jewel is what we see as water. Some beings see water as wondrous flowers. But they do not use flowers [for human beings] as water. Hungry ghosts view water as raging fire or as pus and blood. Dragons and fish view it as a palace or a lofty building. [Some beings] see it as the seven treasures or the mani jewel. [Others] see it as a forest or walls, or as the dharma nature of immaculate liberation, or as the true human body, or as body as the form and mind as the nature. Human beings view it as water. And these [different ways of viewing] are the conditions under which [water] is killed or given life.

Thus the views of different beings are diverse depending upon their karmic conditions. We should question this for now. Should we think that each being views one and same object in different ways? Or do all kind of beings make a mistake when we see that various different forms we see as one and same objects? We should inquire further on the top of our efforts of inquiry. Therefore, our practice/realization as engaging the Way should not be only one way or two ways. The ultimate realm has onethousand or ten thousand of ways."


Mason Spransy
4 hrs

Everything that comes through the six sense doors is Wisdom.
4You, John Tan, Alejandro Serrano and 1 other
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy Everything has total causal power. The entire universe is completely supported. Nothing has causal power, therefore everything is causal power itself. Inexorableness is the subtance of all things.
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy Only now does it make sense to me. Reality is totally coherent. It is not a mystery when you Know.
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy The Mind of God, contiguous with omniscience. See it for yourself.
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy I know everything without needing to know a single thing.
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy If there is any taste of not-knowing left in your entire body or mind, you do not know the natural state.
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy Wow. Those who say enlightenment is not fireworks are wrong. They are very, very, very fucking wrong. Everything in the ten directions has always been nothing but fireworks.
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra has not deceived me. He has not deceived me! All things in the ten directions, utterly without end, are bodhisattvas pouring milk into the cycle of suffering beings.
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy See it! See it! Your very substance is all things in love with one another! Be ecstatic! Raise your ordinary body into the state of bliss! Nothing has changed at all, but don't you want to see this? Don't you want to see it, if for no other reason than perfect bliss?
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy The whole universe - the True Human Body
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy If Knowing were not already Omniscience, how could it be Knowing?
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy Apply the same directness of anatta with six sense doors to emptiness itself - and you will know everything.
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy Now it is utterly clear. The entire universe is my own radiance.
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy Just this taste of water - I've swallowed you!
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy Wisdom is sooo easy. It is simply there. It is the treasure trove of perfect infinity, cartesian space made identical to the Sky of phenomena!
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy Cold is the whole universe. Hot is the whole universe. Delusion is the whole universe. Enlightenment is the whole universe. Every single duality resolved, every single phenomenon known. This basic human mind, identical to the very essence of space!
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy Intensity of nondual is soooooooo far beyond what I imagined possible.
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy Now I know the place of no cold and heat!
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy Soh Wei Yu I wish there were some way to express my gratitude. But all I can do is slap my damn thigh. HA!
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy I have seen my own nature. Whoever would claim less than this to be kensho is wrong.
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Mason Spransy
Mason Spransy Realization is an experience. Experience is realization. That's all you need to know.
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Thusness wrote in 2012/2013:

In ignorance, there is hearer hearing sound.
In anatta, in hearing, only sound.
Yet sound has no true inherent nature (empty),
It is an activity and is that very activity called “hearing”.
Both “hearing and sound” are pointing to the same activity.
Only when seen to have true existence on either side does confusion arise.

In Madhyamaka Emptiness, reification is seen through.
Yet the experiential state of freedom from reification is not expounded.
However one can have a taste of that freedom from arising insight of anatta since anatta is precisely the freedom from reification of Self/self (First fold Emptiness).
In anatta, seeing is simply the full scenery, in hearing only sound…
thus, always only lights, shape, colors, sounds, scents… in clean purity.
Emptying the object further (second fold) is merely dissolving subtle bond of “externality” that creates the appearance of true existence of objects outside. When “externality” is deconstructed, it is effectively a double confirmation of anatta…
…innerly coreless and outwardly empty, all appearances are still simply sound, lights, colors and rays
In thorough deconstruction, as there is no layer that reifies, there is no conceptuality. Therefore no complication, no confusion, no stains, no boundaries, no center, no sense of dual..
no sense of activity…just self arising.
All collapse into a single sphere of natural presence and spontaneous simplicity.
Whatever appears is
neither here nor now,
Neither in nor out,
Neither arises nor ceases,
In the same space…
non-local, timeless and dimensionless
Simply present…

To Jax:
The place where there is no earth, fire, wind, space, water…
is the place where the earth, fire, wind, space and water kills “You” and fully shines as its own radiance, a complete taste of itself and fully itself.

Lastly, it is interesting to get know something about Dzogchen however the jargons and tenets are far beyond me.
Just wrote due to a sudden spurt of interest, nothing intense.
Thanks for all the sharing and exchanges.
Mason Spransy: Soh Wei Yu, I want to first of all say that your (and Thusness's) writings have been instrumental in my own spiritual development over the years, in particular with regards to going further than the I AM realization. Later I was pointed to the correct way of reading suttas, thanks to Stian, where I believe the authentic meaning of total, unsurpassable Awakening is made radiantly clear. I don't even think the Mahayana emptiness teachings approach the profundity of the twelve-link analysis, but that's a discussion for another day, as I clarify and refine my understanding of those teachings and their relationships.

I do want to bring up something to get your take on it. In my opinion, the I AM is not in fact a realization, or a stage of enlightenment, but is simply delusion through-and-through. Yes, the space between thoughts is an empty radiance, but nothing at all like the empty radiance of dharmakaya - in other words, the empty radiance which is the nature of all phenomena. No space between thoughts or anything else is required, because reality has always been nothing but the basic space of emptiness.

You say that one should first attain the I AM and then proceed to anatta, DO, and emptiness. And furthermore this is presented on your blog as a stage of awakening, continuous in some sense with the rest of the path to full awakening. While I agree that one should explore the perception of unbounded consciousness, there is no reason to ever mistake it as anything more than another perception which arises and ceases. In fact, the only good reason to attend to such a perception in the first place is to understand it in terms of dependent origination. Seeing the dependently originated, fabricated nature of luminous Presence can incline one's mind to the deathless element. And of course the deathless should never ever be confused with Presence, because the deathless is only deathless because it is birthless - it is impossible to die when there is no conception of "I am." That's why it is called the unprovoked awareness release; nothing needs to change or happen because everything is originally pure, having nothing to do with a self or self's.

This plays into another disagreement I have with your writings, which present Awakening as something happening in stages. In my view, there is only one Awakening, which is called arahantship in Theravada and Buddhahood in Mahayana. Stream-winners, once-returners and non-returners are all described in the suttas as being "headed" towards Awakening, not partial awakenings. In the sutras, Bodhisattvas up to the twelfth bhumi are said to perceive buddha nature as if through a veil. Of course this might seem to be a semantic issue, but it's important due to the nature of Awakening as unprovoked. Awakening is what Buddha described as the "steep drop off" on the gradual path. If Nirvana is not the total, permanent cessation of suffering then it isn't anything at all but an arising and passing phenomenon. It's extremely important to understand this, though it does raise the bar considerably. It's not clear to me that any awakened people walk the earth today.

Now, I do believe that the stages on your blog represent refinements of view, but there is no reason to ever "code-switch" between different levels of views, in my opinion. Simply point people to the correct view as best you can - that's all the Buddha ever did, because he knew that if he taught a wrong view it would eventually lead to states of deprivation and immense pain. People who "realize" luminous Presence are reborn in kind with their clinging thereto, and without right view to guide them, they'll take on coarser and coarser rebirths eventually, as lost in samsara as ever. Again, I'm not saying to throw the baby out with the bath water. Tracing thoughts to their source as a method to experience the perception of unbounded consciousness is perfectly valid, but it can be done in a way that totally aligns with right view (anatta, DO, emptiness). Simply understand from the beginning that it is a perception and not your true state. Understand from the beginning that your true state cannot be an experience that comes and goes, full stop.

Furthermore, it needs to be understood what, exactly, is going on when we conceive of "self" in the first place, or for that matter "existence" and "non-existence." We have to penetrate the dependently arisen nature of entity-hood. Not only the fact that it is dependently arisen, but *how*, precisely, it dependently arises. Only with such an understanding can we have a correct idea of full awakening. Only by grasping the arising of birth can we truly understand what it means not to be born. And it all comes down to craving. Craving for sensuality, craving for existence, craving for non-existence. There is no cessation of conceit without the concomitant total cessation of craving and clinging, including any craving for form or formless perception. This is why the four noble truths don't ever mention a self. Instead, it talks about craving and clinging, which are the actual basis for selfing. Anatta is a helpful perception for the ending of craving, but it is a perception, albeit one which reflects the actual nature of things. Seeing anatta truly, craving disappears, being itself dependent on ignorance. The cessation of craving is the true and only deathless element.

Anyways, I would love to hear your take on these issues. And, though it goes without saying, I have boundless gratitude to you for helping me along a path which I do actually believe will make this my last birth.

P.S. You might find it interesting to compare Thusness' seven stages with the seven steps taught by the Buddha in the Sanna Sutta here:
Sañña Sutta: Perceptions
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LH: It may sound naive,but I would like to hear your view on evolution of self consciousness.
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Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu This is a long post so I will need time to go through each point.

You said "I AM is not in fact a realization, or a stage of enlightenment, but is simply delusion through-and-through."

This is not true. What I call I AM realization is in fact, the unfabricated Presence of the Mind aspect. It is the realization that mind is Luminous by essence, whether or not defilements are present. There is doubtless certainty of the aspect of Presence-Awareness, and one no longer feels that it can ever be lost (I no longer felt that I could lose Awareness/Presence/Witness from that point on, and it was no longer a maintenance thing that required access to a state of no-thought). However at the I AM phase, it is only realizing the luminous essence of one sense door (the Mind aspect), and it has not extended to other senses (as in nondual and anatta)

It is realizing the conventional nature of mind, not the ultimate (empty) nature of mind, as Dalai Lama distinguished in his article

Even though mind (whenever mind appears) is always luminous by essence like seawater is always salty, it does not mean that mind is an unconditioned, static Self or entity, unchanging and independent of conditions. The saltiness of seawater does not exist independently and cannot be found apart from the instantiation/manifestation of seawater or tasting seawater, which is conditioned, impermanent and empty. One can realize the conventional nature of mind and misapprehend its ultimate nature (instead of apprehending its empty nature, one conceives inherent existence).

I AM realization is not merely an experience, and it is not merely a state of witnessing.

As Thusness said in 2011:

(5:08 PM) Thusness: what is "I AM"
is it a pce?
is there emotion
is there feeling
is there thought
is there divison or complete stillness?
in hearing there is just sound, just this complete, direct clarity of sound!
so what is "I AM"?
(5:10 PM) Soh Wei Yu: it is the same
just that pure non conceptual thought
(5:10 PM) Thusness: is there 'being'?
(5:11 PM) Soh Wei Yu: no, an ultimate identity is created as an after thought
(5:11 PM) Thusness: indeed
it is the mis-interpretation after that experience that is causing the confusion
that experience itself is pure conscious experience
there is nothing that is impure
that is why it is a sense of pure existence
it is only mistaken due to the 'wrong view'
so it is a pure conscious experience in thought.
(5:13 PM) Soh Wei Yu: oic..
(5:13 PM) Thusness: not sound, taste, touch...etc

(1:01 AM) Thusness: pce is about direct and pure experience of whatever we encounter in sight, sound, taste...
the quality and depth of experience in sound
in contacts
in taste
in scenery
has he truly experience the immense luminous clarity in the senses?
if so, what about 'thought'?
when all senses are shut
the pure sense of existence as it is when the senses are shut.
then with senses open
have a clear understanding
do not compare irrationally without clear understanding

And in 2009 he wrote (before my I AM realization):

1. On Experience and Realization

One of the direct and immediate response I get after reading the articles by Rob Burbea and Rupert is that they missed one very and most important point when talking about the Eternal Witness Experience -- The Realization. They focus too much on the experience but overlook the realization. Honestly I do not like to make this distinction as I see realization also as a form of experience. However in this particular case, it seems appropriate as it could better illustrate what I am trying to convey. It also relates to the few occasions where you described to me your space-like experiences of Awareness and asked whether they correspond to the phase one insight of Eternal Witness. While your experiences are there, I told you ‘not exactly’ even though you told me you clearly experienced a pure sense of presence.

So what is lacking? You do not lack the experience, you lack the realization. You may have the blissful sensation or feeling of vast and open spaciousness; you may experience a non-conceptual and objectless state; you may experience the mirror like clarity but all these experiences are not Realization. There is no ‘eureka’, no ‘aha’, no moment of immediate and intuitive illumination that you understood something undeniable and unshakable -- a conviction so powerful that no one, not even Buddha can sway you from this realization because the practitioner so clearly sees the truth of it. It is the direct and unshakable insight of ‘You’. This is the realization that a practitioner must have in order to realize the Zen satori. You will understand clearly why it is so difficult for those practitioners to forgo this ‘I AMness’ and accept the doctrine of anatta. Actually there is no forgoing of this ‘Witness’, it is rather a deepening of insight to include the non-dual, groundlessness and interconnectedness of our luminous nature. Like what Rob said, "keep the experience but refine the views".

Lastly this realization is not an end by itself, it is the beginning. If we are truthful and not over exaggerate and get carried away by this initial glimpse, we will realize that we do not gain liberation from this realization; contrary we suffer more after this realization. However it is a powerful condition that motivates a practitioner to embark on a spiritual journey in search of true freedom. :)
Happiness, Karma and Mind
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Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu As for whether I AM phase can be bypassed, the answer is yes, but one will tend to overlook certain aspects. For example Daniel Ingram's MCTB does not go through I AM (but he lists I AM as one of his pure land jhana of all-pervading Presence/Watcher) before the fourth path, however, as Thusness wrote in 2009,
"An interesting point worth mentioning is about the maps and techniques detailed in Daniel's MCTB (Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha). It is a very systematic way of leading one step by step towards the full integration of the transience. It is also the state of "No Mind" in Zen. Paraphrasing from Kenneth, "once we are familiar with the vocabulary, we are effectively talking the same stuff". That said, I think what lacks in the approach of MCTB is an effective way to allow practitioners to have adequate experience of the vividness, realness and presence of Awareness and the full experience of these qualities in the transience. Without which it will not be easy to realize that "the arising and passing sensations are the very awareness itself." A balance is therefore needed, otherwise practitioners may experience equanimity but skew towards dispassion and lack realization."

This is also the reason why Daniel needed to go through AF practice (between 2011-2014) to bring out the luminosity aspect further even though he had certain insights into anatta in MCTB 4th path (skewing towards the first stanza of anatta than the second).

And this is also why as Thusness wrote in 2011,

"Hi Teck Cheong,

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

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

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


The danger of realizing the luminosity aspect first before anatta and emptiness is that the luminosity will certainly get reified without fail due to ignorance.

Even at the I AM phase, Thusness warned me against extrapolation into a universal self and warned me against reinforcing the view of permanence (even though it does seem like a permanent Self at that time) through mentally repeating and confirming its 'permanence'. Instead, Thusness guided me on the four aspects of I AM and the contemplations on non dual and anatta got me to further stages without getting stuck in the formless.

If there is proper guidance (or at least strong view), the I AM phase is not dangerous, but if there is no guidance, one can indeed get stuck there.
Emptiness as Viewless View and Embracing the Transience
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Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu mistyped: *not merely a state of witnessing
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Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu There are those that have very clear understanding of sunyata, and yet lack direct taste of PCE and luminosity and clear realization of anatta (direct realization of radiance/effulgence in/as transience), and in that case the luminosity must come up in later phases. But for those who went through I AM phase first, there is not much danger of missing out the luminosity aspect of direct realization, and it is just a path of letting that luminosity's taste and nature unfold into complete freedom from fabrication and effortless, spontaneous perfection.

As Thusness also wrote in 2011:

Thusness: now what pegembara said is more like sunyata
Thusness: and emptiness
Thusness: but that is understand
Soh: Ic..
Thusness: understanding
Thusness: it is like dharma dan
Thusness: the intensity of luminosity is not fully appreciated
Soh: Oic but dharma dan does have realization right
Thusness: u don't get what i mean
Soh: Ic
Soh: U mean like the insight is there but not the depth of experience
Thusness: no
Thusness: i mean luminosity
Soh: Oic
Thusness: u r too worried about who is realized and who is not
Thusness: and completely missing the essence of what that is being conveyed
Soh: Ic
Thusness: if no one is there to point out to u, then u can get stuck for a very long period
Thusness: so u must be pay more attention to this
Soh: Stuck in what
Thusness: pegembara lacks the luminosity
Thusness: get stuck in 'not seeing'
Soh: Ic
Thusness: means no penetration in insight
Thusness: pegembara is like having phase 6 understanding
Thusness: but lack the intensity of luminosity
Thusness: and phase 6 direct insight
Thusness: yet u r talking about dharma dan
Thusness: r u going to help dharma dan now?
Soh: Oic..
Thusness: is he writing the blog?
Thusness: u r not attending
Thusness: coz u r so caught up on who has realized what even it is not here
Soh: Ic..
Thusness: so if there is no one to point out to u, how are u to progress with this sort of mindset
Soh: Oic..
Thusness: what must be ur advice to pegembara?
Soh: To look into the intensity of luminosity?
Thusness: in this case, he must have direct pce
Thusness: coz he lacks this
Thusness: for the pces, u must point out what pegembara said
Thusness: but in a skillful way
Thusness: for tarin case, u must penetrate the difference between the agent and the sense of self
Soh: What u mean by point out what pegembara said
Soh: Oic
Thusness: then there is depth of insight of the immediate moment
Thusness: otherwise u r always just pouring out from memory
Soh: Oic
Thusness: means u r not practicing in daily activity
Thusness: u r staying at the conceptual level
Thusness: this is the actual situation and conditions
Thusness: and u apply skillful means accordingly
Soh: Ic
Thusness: also from what pegembara said, u must also realized that from what he said, he has great potential
Thusness: for he brought out several important points
Thusness: i am very busy these few days
Thusness: but think will answer him
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Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu In 2008:
(4:15 PM) AEN: tsultrim serri:
(4:15 PM) AEN: Initiated a file transfer
(4:15 PM) AEN:
(Mind has often been likened to a mirror, but the analogy goes only so far, because mirrors exist and mind doesn't, well let's say that one can touch mirrors. What existence means, particularly at these levels, would be a fruitful topic, but one that i will not cover. Also , mind doesn't really reflect phenomena, it is the phenomena themselves. This is covered further down in these 4 prajnas, but for clarity i thought i should mention that.
(4:15 PM) AEN:
"Thusness' or "suchness" is what one feels with the experience of emptiness. It is a solid sense of being (yes, emptiness has a solid or one could say rich feeling). The luminescence of mind can be compared the the surface of a mirror. If the mirror is dirty it doesn't have a bright surface, and if mind is filled with obscuration its awareness is dimmed. With the experience of emptiness, phenomena become more vivid. It is said in the post that this confirms one's entrance into Zen. In the vajrayana, this vividness of mind is called "osel" in Tibetan, and it is a sign that one has entered the vajrayana. In my experience, this is quite far along the path. To get to this point, one would have to experience egolessness of self, egolessness of other, nondualty, emptiness, and only then luminosity.)
(4:16 PM) Thusness: very good.
(4:16 PM) AEN: from another thread: "Exist is a tricky word in Buddhism. Mind does not exist in the sense of being a thing, but it does exist as well, otherwise how would we be able to see, hear etc.
Having said that, for an individual, there is nothing "outside of awareness." Everything that happens to us happens in our awareness(it's not ours, but so what). Furthermore, we are literally everything that happens in our awareness. There is no self; we are simply the world. if we see a chair in our kitchen, that is what we are at that moment since there is no separation between phenomena and mind. Phenomena are mind and mind is phenomena. smile.gif

(4:22 PM) Thusness: this tsultrim's insight is stage 6.
(4:23 PM) AEN: oic..
(4:23 PM) Thusness: truly good.
(4:23 PM) AEN: icic..
(4:23 PM) Thusness: not many can truly feel the differences.
(4:23 PM) AEN: oic..
(4:24 PM) Thusness: it is only until a certain phase of experience then that clarity comes.
(4:24 PM) Thusness: and often in tremendous in the stability of thoughtlessness... thought almost seldom arise and one becomes the full vividness of arising phenomena.
(4:25 PM) Thusness: is he a dzogchen practitioner?
(4:25 PM) AEN: oic
(4:25 PM) AEN: i think mahamudra
(4:25 PM) AEN: he talks about the four yoga
(4:25 PM) Thusness: ic
(4:25 PM) AEN: "(Yes, this agrees, in my opinion, with "nonmeditation" in the 4 yogas of mahamudra, the last and most fruitional yoga of mahamudra."
(4:25 PM) AEN: oh
(4:25 PM) AEN: and he linked the 4 jnanas to the 4 yogas

(5:19 PM) Thusness: actually what he said about prajna and jhana is quite good. But u have to know that it is not the sort of jhana as in concentration.
(5:20 PM) Thusness: it is the experience of effortlessness in non-dual luminosity.
(5:22 PM) Thusness: There will come a time every day mundane activities, practice and enlightenment is just one substance.
(5:24 PM) AEN: no he said jnana
(5:24 PM) AEN: jnana is more like knowledge
(5:24 PM) AEN: not jhana absorption
(5:25 PM) Thusness: ic
(5:26 PM) Thusness: There will come a time when emptiness becomes so clear and the separation is no more then without the need to recall or remind. The last veil that separates is like permanently gone. Then there is no practice because all moments of arising phenomena is just one practice.
(5:28 PM) AEN: oic..
(5:28 PM) AEN: thats what he means by observing emptiness and 'being' emptiness rite
(5:28 PM) AEN: i mean the difference between it
(5:29 PM) AEN: Initiated a file transfer
(5:29 PM) AEN:
In a post above, i distinguished between the two. I know you asked Matylda, but until she replies, if she does, possibly i could be of help.
Prajna is the tool that sees emptiness. It is actually an expansion of awareness, using awareness in the context of mindfulness/awareness. Awareness gets to a point where it discovers the nature of mind which includes emptiness. At that point, awareness transforms into prajna. There are lesser stages of prajna as well, but i would have to review them.
Prajna has been likened to the mother of all the Buddhas, because through its activity the mind that becomes the Buddha mind is born. Actually, it has always been there, and is unborn, but let's not quibble.
(5:29 PM) AEN:
So, prajna sees emptiness. When first seen, however, one feels emptiness as separate from what has discovered it. There is still a slight trace of dualism. We experience this dualism as a seeking for emptinesss ie there is a seeker and something sought. At the realization of jnana, this duality melts, so to speak, and emptiness exists or doesn't exist without a sense of something observing it. Also, one attains wisdom when emptiness arises, not wisdom about anything, simply being in the state of wisdom. With prajna, one observes that wisdom; with jnana, one becomes it.

(5:35 PM) Thusness: jnana here does not refer to the type of concentration like it said. It is an effortless non-dual luminous experience due to the maturing of prajna.
(5:35 PM) Thusness: I have often said clear until absorbed. Vividness of forms.
(5:37 PM) Thusness: It is the outcome of the clarity of insight due to the dissolving of that tendency to divide. It is natural, not a form of attention or concentration. This should not be misunderstood.
(5:38 PM) Thusness: He mentioned about luminosity is the last fruition stage and one must go through emptiness to realise this stage.
(5:39 PM) Thusness: This is not exactly right. :)
(5:39 PM) Thusness: Advaita Vedanta practitioner will experience the opposite. :)
(5:39 PM) AEN: oic..
(5:39 PM) AEN: but for mahamudra it is like that rite?
(5:39 PM) AEN: theravada also?
(5:39 PM) AEN: like dharma dan
(5:40 PM) Thusness: yes
(5:40 PM) Thusness: it is because of right view
(5:40 PM) Thusness: without the right view, u will experience luminosity aspect of awareness without knowing its empty nature.
(5:40 PM) Thusness: that is more dangerous.
(5:41 PM) Thusness: therefore establishment of right view is most important. Seeds are planted.
(5:42 PM) Thusness: It is better not to experience then to experience the wrong stuff and makes it more difficult to get out of the dualistic experience of Eternal Witness.
· Reply · 20h
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu Also, not trying to critique whatever you said about nirvana which I don't find an issue, but I prefer to call amata 'death-free' than 'deathless' for reasons I explained in

And I like how Geoff defines Nibbana:

"Firstly, nibbāna isn't a "state." Secondly, nibbāna is the cessation of passion, aggression, and delusion. For a learner it is the cessation of the fetters extinguished on each path. The waking states where "suddenly all sensations and six senses stop functioning" are (1) mundane perceptionless samādhis, and (2) cessation of apperception and feeling. Neither of these are supramundane and neither of these are synonymous with experiencing nibbāna."

And in his article:

The nibbana that a learner 'attains' is the permanent cessation of particular fetters associated with the path.
The Deathless in Buddhadharma?
· Reply · Remove Preview · 20h · Edited
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu And yes how 'awakening' is defined depends on person. Sometimes stream enterer~arahant is called 'four stages of awakening'. Sometimes it is used to define arahant/buddha. Certainly, Stage 1 to 4 of Thusness cannot strictly be considered awakening in Buddhist terms, but is awakening in other traditions.
· Reply · 20h · Edited
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu LH: can you elaborate on your question? I do not quite understand.
· Reply · 20h
Mason Spransy:
Mason Spransy: Soh Wei Yu Thank you, sincerely, for your thorough attention to my questions. I'd like to provide a critique from my POV, but I'm realizing now that I don't have I AM realization as you describe it. I am someone who has always been more attracted to anatta, DO, and emptiness. I AM always sounded off to me. But I don't think I'm in any position to critique your view until I know exactly what you're talking about when you talk about I AM.

As such, do you have any pointers for someone who is quite steeped in emptiness but without enough understanding of luminosity? Is there a particular advantage or disadvantage which I should take into account coming from my own insight into emptiness?
· Reply · 2h
TJ: Soh Wei Yu thank you for your replies to Mason. You posted them shortly after I had an unshakable conviction of the importance of luminosity on the path, rather than trying to go straight for anatta/emptiness, which I have sometimes tried to do. The quotes from Thusness cleared up a confusion I didn't even know I had until it was cleared up.
· Reply · 1h
Mason Spransy:
Mason Spransy: So I've been investigating this a bit and already it's as if a veil has been removed. Vividly unspeakable suchness of totally pure, utterly pristine original mind. Wonderful.
· Reply · 1h
Mason Spransy:
Mason Spransy: The I AM is not I AM but the AM of just this touch and sound. The AM of this touch and sound is too luminous to have a nature or substance. The depth of the drop is the height of the moon. The emptiness of awareness is the measure of its pristine clarity. Timeless, unarising and unceasing suchness of all phenomena is precisely the transient, radiant clarity which has nothing at all to do with existence or non-existence.
· Reply · 1h
Mason Spransy:
Mason Spransy: Bliss is unnecessary, because the nature of mind is bliss. The sound of a bell is not bliss, and therefore, the sound of a bell is ultimate bliss. No need to add anything whatsoever to just this natural way of being, just this cool and radiant naturalness which is identical with the ten thousand things, unmediated by conceptual proliferation.
· Reply · 1h
Mason Spransy:
Mason Spransy: I've been using Hakuin's method, "what is the sound of one hand?" to see this.
· Reply · 1h
Soh Wei Yu
Soh Wei Yu MS: good descriptions :)

As you are already having nondual taste of all phenomena as one's radiance, just let it unfold naturally, and intensity becomes clear when the center is completely severed in 'no cold and heat'*, and its intensity can further expand many-fold into an oceanic state ( ).

Thusness wrote to Pegembara in 2011:

"Not so much of becoming disillusioned; rather with the maturing of this view, the mind releases itself from any forms of 'holding'.
There are 2 additional points that I think are important:
1. Anatta is not Sunyata
2. Although whatever arises is empty of inherent essence, it must also be understood that it is vividly clear, present and luminous. The passing scent, the taste, the scenery, the arising sound, the arising thought...these magical appearances are themselves primordially pure, they are the Dharmakaya."

*No Cold and Heat:

Where There Is No Cold or Heat

A monk asked Tozan, “When cold and heat come, how can we avoid them?”
Tozan said, “Why don’t you go to the place where there is no cold or heat?”
The monk said, “What is the place where there is no cold or heat?”
Tozan said, “When it’s cold, the cold kills you; when it’s hot, the heat kills you.”

This is not advice to “accept” your situation, as some commentators have suggested, but a direct expression of authentic practice and enlightenment. Master Tozan is not saying, “When cold, shiver; when hot, sweat,” nor is he saying, “When cold, put on a sweater; when hot, use a fan.” In the state of authentic practice and enlightenment, the cold kills you, and there is only cold in the whole universe. The heat kills you, and there is only heat in the whole universe. The fragrance of incense kills you, and there is only the fragrance of incense in the whole universe. The sound of the bell kills you, and there is only “boooong” in the whole universe…

~The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing, Ted Biringer

Thusness: The place where there is no earth, fire, wind, space, water…
is the place where the earth, fire, wind, space and water kills “You” and fully shines as its own radiance, a complete taste of itself and fully itself.
The Unbounded Field of Awareness
· Reply · Remove Preview · 1m
by Jamgon Mipham

The four great logical arguments of the Middle Way are:
  1. The investigation of the cause: the Diamond Splinters
  2. The investigation of the result: refuting existent or non-existent results
  3. The investigation of the essential identity: ‘neither one nor many’
  4. The investigation of all: the Great Interdependence
1. The Investigation of the Cause: the Diamond Splinters
i. Refutation of Production from Four Extremes
Production from Self
On a mere conventional level, it is indeed true that an effect is produced from a cause, but, if investigated on the ultimate level, production cannot be observed. If production capable of withstanding logical analysis did exist, it must necessarily be a production by means of one of the following four extremes: self, other, both or neither (or causeless). But these are unreasonable.
As it is said in the Root Verses of the Middle Way:
Not from self, not from other,
Not from both and not from neither—
Not for any entity at all anywhere,
Is there ever any production.
Why? For a thing to be produced from itself is illogical, because once something exists with its own particular identity, it is pointless for it to arise once again. It is like a child that has already been born and is not born again. If a seed, for example, were produced over again, it would be produced again and again without end. There would be no opportunity for the development of the other stages, such as the sprout, the stalk and so on.
According to the Saṃkhyas who assert self-production, in the same way that different manifestations, such as vases, can be created from the single nature of clay, seeds and so on are of a single nature, and abandon their seed-like manifestation as they are transformed into the manifestation of a sprout. If it is claimed that the various stages such as those of the seed and sprout are one, in spite of the fact that they have distinctions in terms of existing or not existing presently, colour, shape and so on, then that is open to invalidation by consequential reasoning, since it would follow that fire and water, or virtue and evil, must also be one.
You might think that a seed and sprout are not equivalent to fire and water because they belong to the same continuum. Yet a “continuum” is merely an imputation based on the uninterrupted resemblance of momentary phenomena, and does not really exist.
As it says in the Introduction to the Middle Way:
If one supposes that what has already been produced is re-produced,
Then the actual arising of a sprout and so on will never be discovered.
The seed would go on reproducing itself until the end of the world.
For you, there can be no difference between the seed as the active cause
And the sprout in terms of shape, colour, flavour, capacity or ripening.
If this seed of yours is no different from the sprout,
Then whilst the seed exists, there is nothing one might call ‘sprout’,
Or else, since they are identical, whilst the sprout exists
How could that [i.e. the seed] be apprehended? It is untenable.
Only once the cause has disappeared does one see the effect,
So the claim that they’re the same is rejected even by the world.
It is not only according to treatises, but also the direct experience of worldly beings that the effect follows the disappearance of the cause, and so since even they would not accept the cause to be the same as the effect, self-production does not exist on either of the two levels of truth.
Production from Other
You might agree that production from self is illogical, and think that just as a child is born from its mother and a sprout is produced from its seed, production can only occur from something ‘other.’ It is indeed true that cause and effect are labelled as ‘other’, but this is not a self-production that can be proven logically.
If the cause were proven to be inherently different from the effect, then the effect would not need to depend on the cause, and both would be equal in terms of their capacity. While something exists, it is unnecessary for it to be produced from something else, just as two people who have already been born are not dependent upon one another.
If one thing were to arise from another, it would follow that anything could arise from anything else, like darkness arising from a butter lamp and so on, given that there is no difference in terms of their being other.
It is said [in the Introduction to the Middle Way]:
If things could arise on the basis of something ‘other’,
Well then, thick darkness should come from flames.
For the cause and effect to be entirely ‘other’,
Is never feasible.
If the cause and effect were entirely other,
Causes would be just the same as non-causes.
Then you might say, “In the case of anything truly different such as light and darkness and so on, cause and effect would be unpredictable. But seeds and sprouts and so on have an uncommon acting causal relationship of influencer and influenced, and so the preceding cause produces a subsequent effect. And so there is no question of anything arising from anything else, like darkness from flames and so on.”
Then, it is said [in the Introduction to the Middle Way]:
You do not accept that barley, stamens, Kimshuka and so on
Can produce a rice sprout, because they lack the capability,
They are not within the same continuum, and are not similar.
It is the same for the rice seed, we say, because of being ‘other’.
In the same way that barley and flowers, stones and so on cannot be included within the same continuum as the cause of a rice sprout or be said to be of ‘similar type’, so too, the barley seed and its sprout, if they are established as truly ‘other’ from the perspective of ultimate analysis, cannot ultimately belong to the same continuum.
Even though this does not affect the ultimate conclusion that it is wholly unacceptable for a thing’s own producers to belong to its same continuum, it is acceptable to classify a producer as belonging to the same continuum on the conventional level, based on the ultimately incontrovertible point that things are not inherently ‘other’, but arise in interdependence.
Moreover, since at any given time, either the seed or the sprout will be non-existent, having not yet arisen or already ceased, how could it be feasible for them to be ‘influencer’ and ‘influenced’. These are mere imputations.
“Although the seed and sprout do not exist at the same time, there is no fault because they arise and cease like the up and down movements of a pair of scales.” If this is your claim, then while the seed is ceasing, it is approaching destruction and although it exists in the present, it does not remain in the next instant. And the sprout, while it is in the process of arising, is approaching production so it does not exist at the same time as the seed. So there never could be any contact between the two, and the example of the scales is meaningless.
The Introduction to the Middle Way says:
If the eye consciousness already exists as other than its own simultaneous producers,
Such as the eye and the co-emergent perception and so on,
What need is there for it to be produced?
If it does not exist, then the faults of this were already explained.
If eye consciousness already existed as something other than its own producers such as the eye faculty and the visual object and so on, and also it’s concurrent mental states such as sensation and perception, then there would be no need for its production. If it did not exist already, then these could not be something ‘other’.
Therefore, the mind and mental states and the four elements that exist at the same time are merely labelled as causes and effects, whilst if the mind and mental states and so on were produced inherently as something truly ‘other’, that would entail the faults already described.
So, regarding production such as that of the sprout from the seed, the Ācārya Nāgārjuna said:
From a seed that is destroyed or intact,
The sprout is not produced,
So you taught that all production
Is just like magical creation.
As it is said, the appearances of dependent origination cannot withstand logical analysis, and when investigated using reasoning that inquires into the ultimate, not even the slightest so-called ‘production’ may be observed. Yet, when left unanalyzed, just like the appearances during a dream, a sprout appears to be produced from a seed. This is simply the way in which the conventional is presented.
Similarly, at a merely conventional level, the continuum of similarity is said to remain and cease, but ultimately, since no arising is observed in the beginning, there can be no true ceasing at the end nor any abiding in the interim. Thus things are devoid of arising, dwelling and ceasing.
Therefore, appearances—when viewed from the perspective of the non-paradoxical unity of the two truths—are just like the examples of an illusion, dream, city of gandharvas, reflection of the moon in water and so on.
When analyzing in this way, using ultimate reasoning, because of the crucial point that all phenomena lack inherent existence, seeds and sprouts and so on cannot be established as having any essential identity, whether as truly identical, ‘other’ or whatever.
Others (the proponents of real entities within the Buddhist tradition) may say: “Although the other three types of production—self-production and so on—may be refuted, if we do not accept production from other, won’t we be contradicting the normal conventions of the world, such as the fact that sprouts arise from seeds and butter from curd?” There is no contradiction. In reality, if we apply reasoning, then not only at an ultimate level, but also conventionally speaking, arising is never really observed. If production were observable and proven conventionally, then it would follow that conventionally true phenomena such as the aggregates and elements would become immune to ultimate analysis. It would also follow that ultimate or truly existent arising would not be refuted. And it would follow that the equipoise of noble beings would become a cause for destroying previously existent conventional phenomena, which would lead to the extreme of deprecating the existent by labelling it non-existent. In any case, what is claimed is not possible.
In short, from the perspective of ultimate analysis, no phenomena whatsoever may be observed that are established as genuinely existent, whilst from the perspective of reasoning inquiring into the conventional, things are observed. That these two points are consistent, and established as a single reality is the assertion of the followers of the Middle Way beyond extremes.
Yet those who speak of real entities disagree, for they consider emptiness and dependently originating appearance to be mutually opposed. They believe that whatever is refuted by ultimate analysis must be completely non-existent even on a conventional level, just like the horns of a rabbit. Or else, that whatever exists conventionally, such as pillars and vases, could never be refuted by ultimate reasoning. They conceive of some independent object of negation separate from the conventional phenomena that are the basis of negation and they consider emptiness—which for them is the refutation of a separate phenomenon called “true existence”—and appearances, the basis for that refutation, to be directly opposed to one another, like the total non-existence of the horns of rabbits and the real existence of the horns of cattle. Asserting this to be a unity, by mentally ‘binding’ these two to an entity such as a vase is tantamount to claiming that emptiness is an affirming negation, and in the end it does not even go beyond the views of the proponents of true entities. This point has already been well made by the great logicians of the past.
Production from Both
The Saṃkhyas who speak of primal substance and an almighty god assert production from both self and other, but this carries the faults mentioned in both the earlier positions. As it is said [in the Introduction to the Middle Way]:
Production from both is inherently unreasonable,
Because it would entail the problems already explained.
So, this position is unacceptable from the perspective of either of the two truths.
Production without Cause
As for the assertion that there is no arising from self, from other or from both, but that there could be production without any cause, it is said [in the Introduction to the Middle Way]:
If the world were devoid of any cause, then it might be apprehended
Like the fragrance and colour of a blue lotus in space,
Yet this world is apprehended in all its rich variety,
And so, just like one’s own mind, it should be known to arise from causes.
This has already been refuted in more detail above, in the context of the philosophical schools,[1] where it was shown how it entails either permanent existence or non-existence.
In this way, when analyzing properly using the logical arguments that refute production from the four extremes of self, other, both and neither, no phenomenon whatsoever may be seen to arise in the beginning, and therefore to possess the other features of remaining in the middle or ceasing in the end. And so the conceptual elaborations of the eight extremes[2] such as ultimate arising and so on are pacified with regard to these unceasing mere relative appearances, and this should be understood as the unity of appearance and emptiness. This is taught more elaborately in the Introduction to the Middle Way.
ii. The Refutation of Production from Four Alternatives
When analyzed, production can not be established as occurring in any of these four possible ways:
  1. Several causes producing a single result
  2. Several causes producing several results
  3. A single cause producing several results
  4. A single cause producing a single result
You might think that it is only possible for several distinct causes, such as the object of a visible form, the unimpaired sense faculty, the immediately preceding mental attention, an unobstructed appearance and accommodating space, to produce the result of a single visual consciousness.
In which case, since several distinct causes produce only a single result, the object, faculty and so on do produce the visual consciousness, but it must follow that there can be no other cause for its singularity. Similarly, as long as a single cause is incapable of producing a single effect, there is no cause for singularity or plurality, one-ness or many-ness. And since there is no knowable phenomenon that does not fall into either category (of one or many), whatever is singular or plural must either remain that way forever or never come into being at any time or place. This is because there is no cause for being singular or plural.
You might think that several causes produce several effects, the immediate intention of wishing to look producing the visual consciousness of a mental nature, the support of the eye faculty producing the apprehension of the object, and the apparent object such as a vase producing its own particular mental features. In that case, since it would be produced by these various causes, it would have the various features just described, such as having a mental nature and so on, and so that eye consciousness would become many, equal in number to its aspects described above. If that is accepted, then the resultant visual consciousness is not produced by these causes such as the intention and so on. The particular aspects such as the mental nature, the endowment with the features of the object and so on are produced individually, but the one who possesses these aspects, the visual consciousness itself, has no cause and is therefore not produced by anything.
You might respond by saying that the apprehension of the object and the other aspects are not separate, in the sense that they are nothing other than consciousness. But then it would be meaningless to call this “several causes producing several effects”. It becomes “several causes producing a single effect”, and the problems involved in such an assertion, i.e. because one and many are uncaused, things must be either permanently existent or non-existent, have been explained above.
You may think that there is still no fault because the aspects and the possessor of these aspects are of the same essential identity, and only labelled as separate based on conceptual distinctions. In that case, the causes such as attention, would perform their function for the conceptual distinctions, the imputed phenomena such as the mental nature and so on, but the substantially existent consciousness itself would not be produced by any cause, and so consciousness would be causeless.
If you claim that the essential identity of the effect is one, but its aspects are multiple, then this leads to the fault of the qualities being separate from that which possesses them.
You might consider that the single cause of a blue flower produces several effects, such as that flower’s own subsequent ‘similar type’ and the visual consciousness of sentient beings, for example. The question is: does that cause, i.e., the flower, perform this production by itself exclusively, without relying on any other factors, or is it done together with other assisting factors, such as the faculties? In the first case of production by itself alone, since it would not be able to produce a plurality, this implies causeless production. Similarly, since one cause also can not perform the function of producing one effect, then it follows that the single and the multiple must both lack causes, and once again there is the fault of production occurring without any cause, as explained above.
If the object, like the blue [flower], produces the visual consciousness in dependence on other causes, such as the appearance, sense faculty, attention and so on, and you say that it has been produced by other causes as well, the result will cease to be singular, because it will possess several features or qualities that have been produced by the various causes, such as the object, faculty and attention.
Then, it might be said that a single cause only produces its own single result. If that were the case, then since a cause such as the eye faculty could only produce the result of its own subsequent ‘resemblance’, and could never perform the function of producing anything else, such as a visual consciousness directly apprehending an object, there would be no cause for beings’ visual or audial consciousnesses and so on, and so these effects would be impossible, with the absurd consequence that everyone would be deaf and blind.
As it says in the Two Truths of the Middle Way [by Jñānagarbha]:
Several things do not produce just one thing,
And many things do not create a multiplicity.
One thing is not produced by many things.
And from a single thing, a single thing is not produced.[3]
This was stated in accordance with such reasoning.
Moreover, other arguments might be given in response to one who asserts that several causes, such as the appearance, faculty and attention, give rise to a single result, such as visual cognition. [For example,] even if it is granted that the resultant eye consciousness does not have several qualities and is singular, it is impossible for any knowable phenomenon to be truly singular, as in the case of a visual consciousness devoid of its accompanying mental states, such as the ever-present states and so on.
You might think that many causes produce many effects, but then since it would be impossible for several causes to produce only a single effect, it would be quite meaningless to speak of a gathering of several causes. When singular phenomena cannot be established, the ‘many’ that they go together to produce will not be established either, and will not exist.
The assertion that one cause produces several effects is also unsound, since it presupposes a single cause that cannot be divided into parts, and this is impossible. It can be seen that a single cause such as a seed would be incapable of producing its effect, the sprout, without relying upon other conditions, such as earth, water, warmth, time and so on.
It is also not the case that a single cause gives rise to a single effect, since this is contrary to direct experience, namely the successive production of a variety of effects like the sprout, the flower, the fruit and so on, from a variety of causes and conditions such as the seed, water, fertilizer, heat, moisture and so on.
Therefore, when thoroughly examining, a truly singular phenomenon that lacks a plurality of features or qualities cannot be established at all, whether as a causal or resultant entity. And without any such singular phenomenon, then the plural too, which must necessarily be composed of the singular, must also be non-existent.
Nevertheless, in the case of a thing such as a sprout, even though it consists of several parts such as its colour and shape and so on, they are still labelled as one thing, i.e. a sprout, based on their similarity of type and so forth. And also in the case of a single phenomenon such as a particle, when dividing it according to its features, such as substance and direction, it is labelled as multiple. Yet it is simply through the power of dependent origination or ‘dependent definition’, that these are conventionally designated as causes and effects. When analyzing with ultimate reasoning, they cannot be established according to any of these four alternatives of single, multiple, etc., and therefore since these conventional entities do not withstand investigation, they should be understood to be just like the appearances during a dream.
Although this reasoning is sometimes called “the investigation of both the cause and the effect: refuting production according to the four alternatives” thus giving a total of five great logical arguments—and ultimately there is no real contradiction in explaining it that way—it seems reasonable to include it within the category of investigation of the cause, so that there are a total of four great logical arguments.
There are also other arguments which investigate the cause, effect and identity, such as, for example, the division into the three times of past, present and future, i.e., the result that was produced in the past has already arisen and has now ceased, so it is not produced. The result of the future has not yet arisen in the present, and so it is not produced. And finally, the present result has already been established as its own identity and so it would be meaningless for it to be produced again.
2. The Investigation of the Result: Refutation of Existent or Non-Existent Production
This is divided into an actual explanation and elimination of doubts.
i. Actual Explanation
Regarding the effect that is produced, if one examines whether it is an existent effect that arises or a non-existent one, or one that is both or neither, the Introduction to the Middle Way says:
If it is something existent, what need is there for its production? But if it does not exist, what could be done to it?
If it is both [existent and non-existent], what can be done? And if neither, what can be done?
If you consider that the result to be produced is something existent which develops, this is unreasonable. Why? If it is existent, then it must exist having already established to its own identity as a sprout and so on, and being existent, it would be unnecessary for it to be produced anew. It is just like a grain of barley, which, having ripened once, does not need to ripen all over again. If something already existent still needed to be produced then that would lead to the fault of production continuing ad infinitum.
“Well then,” you might think, “It is something non-existent that is produced.” But in that case, it would be impossible to produce. For example, even if someone were to go to great lengths to assemble hundreds of causes and conditions, they would still never be able to produce the non-existent horns on the head of a rabbit.
You might think that the effect, such as the sprout, was formerly non-existent, but is made anew into something existent by the causes such as the seed. It is not so. Since existent and non-existent are mutually contradictory, they could never combine on the basis of a single entity. In terms of actual entities, there are no phenomena whatsoever that were formerly non-existent, and later changed into something existent. Causes and conditions could not transform unconditioned space, for example, into the identity of a conditioned, existent phenomenon.
Thus, simply on a conventional level, effects appear based on causes. Formerly, prior to the gathering of their causes and conditions, they did not appear, and now, when the causes and conditions are assembled, they do. The mind relates these two stages to one another, and then there is the merely conceptual statement, “This did not exist before, but now it is arising!”
Similarly, one mentally relates earlier and later occasions and, in relation to a given phenomenon, thinks, “This existed previously, and then it did not exist.”
Thus, the phenomena that are conventional entities simply appear by the force of dependent origination, and in reality there are no existent phenomena whatsoever that transform into non-existent ones, and there are no non-existent phenomena that transform into existent ones.
It is similar in the case of conditioned formations arising anew and finally ceasing, or the continua of ‘similar type’ remaining and not remaining, the perception of an existent self of the individual or phenomena and the perception of no-self. The explanation is similar to that given in the case of existent and non-existent phenomena. They are all merely appearances on the conventional, relative level, and ultimately, they are empty of their own essential identity. At the level of the genuine nature of things, there is no observation of any features such as the transformation of something existent into something non-existent or non-existent into existent, of any going or coming, arising or ceasing, increasing or decreasing.
ii. Eliminating Doubts
You might wonder how it is that production of results should be asserted, given that neither existent nor non-existent effects are produced, and that, aside from these two, no third mode of production is possible. It is asserted that the arising of effects is nothing other than the undeceiving appearance of dependent origination, and when analyzed as to whether it is existent or non-existent, it is not established in any way whatsoever, but is just like the example of a magical illusion and so on.
It is impossible for a knowable phenomenon to be both existent and non-existent since these two are directly opposed to one another. And it is also impossible for a phenomenon to be neither existent nor non-existent, because it is impossible for there to be some third option in between these two directly opposed positions.
“Well then,” you might think, “just as it is impossible here to have the option of neither, there can not be this option of ‘neither’ in the context of freedom from conceptual elaboration of the four extremes, such as existing, not existing and so on.” And, you might think, “Just as in the assertion made without specifying ‘not existent and not non-existent’, it is impossible for there to be a third option between direct opposites, so the natural state can be understood through the two negations, and there is nothing meaningful in defining what ‘nothing whatsoever’ means. Thus, apart from the rather deceitful position of asserting nothing at all, our own tradition does not make any kind of definite statement about how things are.” This might be how spiritually immature beginners think it is, but it is not like that at all.
As long as one still maintains a basis for conceptual reference, there can not possibly be an apprehension that does away with the four extremes altogether. Therefore, whatever assertions are made by applying particular distinctions—like saying, “There is no snake in this house, but there is a vase”—they are conceptual references involving particular conceptual ideas, and so they are not beyond the realms of ordinary conceptual thought. In the actual state of simplicity, in which all conceptual focus has subsided, there are no assertions or conceptual references whatsoever with regard to the four extremes. Even so, it is quite unlike the dull confusion of not having realized ultimate reality, or a state of unconsciousness. It is a state difficult to express by words or through examples, that is—as it says in Rāhula’s _Praise to the Great Mother Prajñāpāramitā_—beyond words, beyond thought and beyond description. It is simplicity that is discerned by means of one’s own individual awareness, in which all doubts have been cut through: a non-conceptual primordial awareness free from dualistic perceptions, but naturally luminous like the shining sun.
3. Investigation of the Essential Identity: ‘Neither One Nor Many’
To begin with, there is an analysis of the essential identity of all conditioned and unconditioned phenomena to determine whether or not there is true singularity. In the case of those conditioned phenomena of the five aggregates possessing physical form, there is a division into above, below, the cardinal and intermediate directions and the centre. Through this, it can be seen that, for something such as a vase, singularity is simply a conceptual notion applied to the various features that are the basis for such an imputation. True singularity is not established, and the same applies in the case of its component parts. The body and the limbs are also divided into parts in the same way.
In short, all that possesses physical form and is composed of material particles may be broken down to its basis, which is the infinitely small particle. And, according to the logic explained before, for that most subtle particle to be surrounded by particles in the various directions, it must have sides, which means it must have parts, and so on, in an infinite regression. If not, then however many subtle particles are gathered together, they could never grow any larger. Thus, all phenomena with material form lack true singularity.
In addition, the eight or the six collections of consciousness can not be established as truly singular since they consist of various cognitive acts and mental states, take various features as their focus, and arise in different forms from the gathering of the four conditions, and then cease.
By analyzing everything that has the nature of arising and ceasing deriving from its own causes, even the subtlemost indivisible moment can not be established, and so all phenomena included within mind and matter lack any true singularity. As for non-concurrent formations, they are simply imputations made upon the ‘occasion’ of mind and matter, and so they lack any essential identity. Unconditioned phenomena are imputations made with regard to the eliminated aspects of objects of negation, and are also lacking in any essential identity.
In short, all conditioned and unconditioned phenomena can not be shown to have any true singularity, and since this is not established, plurality that is made up of what is singular must also remain unestablished. And so, since there is no mode of true existence aside from being truly singular or plural, it must follow that individuals and phenomena are proven to be without inherent identity, just as it is explained more elaborately in The Ornament of the Middle Way.
4. Analysis of All: The Logical Argument of Great Interdependence
All phenomena do not come into being through their own inherent identity, but as a result of the coming together of causes and conditions, and when there are no conditions they do not arise. Even at the time when they appear, they appear whilst lacking any inherent existence, since they are like reflections, brought about by causes and conditions. Free from any conceptual elaborations such as being permanent or non-existent, going or coming, arising or ceasing or being one or many, they appear whilst lacking true reality.
When evaluating in this way, using reasoning investigating the ultimate in accordance with the actual nature of things, they are found to be mere unfailing dependent arising. Otherwise, if they were truly established in any way, such as arising according to the four extremes or four alternatives, or being existent or non-existent, or permanent or impermanent etc., then that would be inappropriate as an explanation for the conventional, and would result in a deprecation of all conventions.
According to the Middle Way tradition, for whom the unreal illusory appearances of dependent origination and emptiness arise in the same reality, all the conventions of mere appearance are extremely reasonable. This being so, the conventions of the world, as well as the supermundane conventions of the Four Truths, Three Jewels and so on, are all perfectly established.
This king of reasonings, the Great Interdependence, includes all the other types of ultimate logic, such as the Diamond Splinter and so on, because they are all concerned with the seemingly real, unexamined appearances of dependent origination. When analyzed, no causes, effects or essential identities whatsoever can be established. The extensive variations of this logic that investigates the meaning of dependent origination are to be found in The Root Verses of the Middle Way and elsewhere.
Therefore, at the relative level, cause, effect and inherent identity appear in that way, and are labelled with such conventions. Ultimately, causes, effects and inherent identities lack any true nature, being emptiness with the identity of the three doors of liberation. The emptiness in which the two truths are inseparably united like this is the dharmadhātu, the object to be realized through the path of the Middle Way. It is the supreme of all that might be realized, the ‘mother’ of the victorious buddhas and their heirs.
This point concerning equalness in which the truths of appearance and emptiness are indivisible is just like the sphere of space, and is beyond the realm of conceptual thought, unimaginable and inexpressible, yet with non-conceptual wisdom, it can be meditated in the manner of pure self-knowing awareness. During the post-meditation phase, one has the confident certainty that all things appear yet lack true reality, just like the examples of a magical illusion, dream, reflection, magical creations and so on. And, with the wisdom that thoroughly discerns the two truths, one is brought to an undeluded realization concerning all the categories of the ground, path and fruition.
Through comprehending the meaning of emptiness in this way, all the enlightened qualities of the path and fruition of the Great Vehicle will arise.
Taken from Mipham Rinpoche’s Gateway to Learning (mKhas 'jug), with supplementary material from Khenpo Nüden’s commentary.
| Translated and edited by Adam Pearcey, 2005.

  1. i.e., earlier in the text of the mKhas 'jug. See Gateway to Knowledge, Vol I, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1997, pp. 64-5.  
  2. The eight extremes are: arising, ceasing, permanence, non-existence, coming, going, plurality and singularity.  
  3. This is verse 14 of the text. Khenpo Nüden gives the quote with the lines in a slightly different order, but I have followed the original.  

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