Christian, I see all phenomena like rainbow, they appear but are empty.  Neither exist nor not exist, they are free from extremes.

As for the word “exist”, I reserve it for “svabhāva”.  To exist is to possess essence or substance.  Essence means phenomenon possessing characteristic or not brought about by causal process or capable of standing by itself.  Substance means irreducible constituents of reality can be found.
Malcolm wrote:

The Uttaratantra states:
Unconditioned, effortless,
not realized through other conditions,
endowed with wisdom, compassion and power,
buddhahood is endowed with two benefits.
But what does this really all mean?

When we examine Asanga's comments on this, he states:
When these are summarized, buddhahood is described with eight qualties. If it is asked what those eight qualities are, they are unconditioned, effortless, not realized through other conditions, wisdom, compassion, power, the abundance of one's own benefit and the abundance of others' benefit. [Buddhahood] is unconditioned because it is the nature of lacking a beginning, middle and end. It is called "effortless" because peace is endowed with the dharmakāya. It is not realized through other conditions because each person must realize it for themselves. It is wisdom because those three things are realized. [Buddhahood] is compassionate because [the Buddha] shows the path. It is powerful because it is free from suffering and affliction. The former three [unconditioned, effortless and not realized through other conditions] are for one's own benefit; the latter three [wisdom, compassion and power] are for others' benefit.

In that regard, the conditioned is fully understood as arising somewhere, and also understood as abiding and perishing. Because those do not exist [arising, abiding and perishing], buddhahood itself is unconditioned without a beginning, middle and an end. This is seen as a differentiation made through the dharmakāya. Because all proliferation and concepts are pacified, [buddhahood] is effortless [lhun gyis grub]. Buddhahood is not realized through other conditions because it is realized through wisdom oneself produced. Here, udayo [to produce] is not the arising of a desire for realization. As such, the tathāgata is unconditioned due to the truth, out of the characteristics of non-engagement, all the activities of the buddha effortlessly engaged in without impediment and without interruption for as long as samsara exists
So let us parse this out a little bit.

Asanga states in his commentary on the Uttaratantra:
...the conditioned is understood as arising somewhere, and also understood as abiding and perishing. Because those do not exist [arising, abiding and perishing], buddhahood itself is unconditioned without a beginning, middle and an end.
Buddhahood is unconditioned because the trio of arising, abiding and perishing are false. Not because in contrast to things that arise, abide and perish, buddhahood does not arise, abide and perish.

Buddhahood however has a cause, as he writes:
Buddhahood is not realized through other conditions because it is realized through wisdom oneself produced.
Buddhahood is also effortless, because, as he writes:
...all proliferation and concepts are pacified, [buddhahood] is effortless [lhun gyis grub]...As such, the tathāgata is unconditioned due to the truth; and from the characteristics of non-engagement, all the activities of the buddha are engaged in effortlessly [lhun grub], without impediment and without interruption for as long as samsara exists
As for tathāgatagarbha always existing in the continuums of sentient beings; if you think somehow tathāgatagarba is something other than or different than a sentient beings mind, there there is a fallacy of the tathāgatagarbha being something like an atman. But there is no atman in the tathāgatagarbha theory, not really. the supreme self, (paramātma) is explained very clearly in the Uttaratantra:
The supreme self is the pacification of the proliferations of self and and nonself.
But what does this mean? Asanga adds:
The perfection of self (ātmapāramitā) is known through two reasons: due to being free from proliferation of a self because of being free from the extreme of the non-buddhists and due to being free from the proliferation of nonself because of giving up the extreme of the śrāvakas.
He explains further:
From cultivating prajñāpāramita in order to turn away from seeing the five addictive aggregates as self, the non-existent self in which the others, the nonbuddhists, delight, one attains the result, the perfection of self. In this way all the others, the nonbuddhists, accept natureless things such as matter and so on as a self due to their being deceived by a characteristic of a self according to how those things are being apprehended, but that self never existed.

The Tathāgata, on the other hand, has attained the supreme perfection of the selflessness of all phenomena through the wisdom that is in accord with just how things truly are, and though there is no self according to how he sees things, he asserts a self all the time because he is never deceived by the characteristic of a self that does not exist. Making the selfless into a self is like saying "abiding through the mode of nonabiding.
There are some people who, ignoring the Nirvana Sutra's admonition to rely on the meaning rather than on the words, fall headlong into eternalism, unable to parse the Buddha's profound meaning through addiction to naive literalism.

Tathagatagarbha is just a potential to become a buddha. When we say it is has infinite qualities, this is nothing more nor less than when the Vajrapañjara praises the so called "jewel-like mind":
The jewel-like mind is tainted with
evil conceptual imputations;
but when the mind is purified it becomes pure.
Just as space cannot be destroyed,
just as is space, so too is the mind.
By activating the jewel-like mind
and meditating on the mind itself, there is the stage of buddhahood,
and in this life there will be sublime buddhahood.
There is no buddha nor a person
outside of the jewel-like mind,
the abode of consciousness is ultimate,
outside of which there isn't the slightest thing.
All buddhahood is through the mind...
Matter, sensation, perception
formations and consciousness
these all arise from the mind,
these [five] munis are not anything else.
Like a great wishfulfilling gem,
granting the results of desires and goals,
the pure original nature of the true state of the mind
bestows the result, Buddha's awakening
There is no other basis apart from this natural purity of the mind that is inseparable clarity and emptiness. We can call it whatever we want, but still this fact remains. The Lankāvatara rightly observes that tathāgatagarbha is just a name for emptiness and the ālayavijñāna for those afraid of emptiness. Jayānanda writes that ālayavijñāna is the mind that comprehends the basis, i.e. emptiness. How else can the mind be purified of evil conceptual imputations other than by realizing emptiness? Emptiness free from all extremes is the pure original nature of the true state of the mind, so why bother confusing oneself with all kinds of rhetoric? The mind itself has two aspects, emptiness and clarity, ka dag and lhun grub, and these are inseparable. This inseparable clarity and emptiness is call the ālaya in gsar ma and the basis in Nyingma. This also known as tathagatagarbha when it encased in afflictions, the dharmadhātu from its ultimate side, the ālayavijñāna from its relative side and so on. It really is not that complicated.



Are you making the assertion that use of the term “unconditioned” renders all traditions that use the term compatible? The sugatagarbha doctrine has a few variations, for example, the Lanka equates it with the all-basis consciousness. As I understand the term, tathagatagarbha refers to the union of the mind”s clarity and emptiness. That union is unconditioned, but the mind itself is conditioned. Just this is the “god” ChNN is referring to, and nothing else, since the basis is just this.
Jared K Jones:

I would say that after thorough investigation, there are reasons in terms of philosophy, physics, and direct observation to think that  these sorts of phenomena are not mere descriptive fancy, nor so-called “skillful” lies to gain followers.

For practical examples, look at monks who do Tummo. They generate heat in a part of the body where there is no physical basis for such heat. Then they manipulate that heat at will and move it up the spinal column.

There was also a case of a very old Hindu yogi who attained Samadhi and stopped eating or drinking. He was studied by doctors in a continuous isolation chamber for 10 days, who concluded that - not only was he not dying of starvation or dehydration - he was in great health.

Further, we now have - thanks to the Dalai Lama - brain scans of yogis who have held themselves in the post-death state for several weeks. They didn’t decompose and had brain activity after death for extended periods of time, indicating consciousness when the body is medically dead.

The marathon monks of Mt. Hiei who have committed to the 7 year cycle only eat one small meal a day, a starvation died of 900-1,200 calories, while hiking between 6-16 hours a day. They should be dead, medically speaking.

We also have accounts from modern times like those found in “Yogis of Tibet” where high lamas exhibit extraordinary miracles, like leaving footprints in solid rock.

Milarepa famously did this same demonstration many times for students, to show that the external world is merely a manifestation of mind. When the mind is fully tamed and awakened, the external world is entirely fluid. His handprint - from one of his meditation caves - is attached.

Great masters often also generate relics and signs in the ashes of their funeral pyres: pearls, handprints, pieces of jade, and so on. Having known people through the grape vine who have been involved in the collection of such relics, it is done with the utmost integrity.

When you read Vimalakirti, this is not allegorical or simply a creative narrative, in my view. In relativity, the observer is at the center. Events are different physically for different observers: different numbers of particles, different speeds in time, different sizes, different sequences of events, and so on.

For one observer, x happens first, then y. For another, y first, then x. For another, xy happens at the same time. And in one perspective, neither happens. All four can occur simultaneously with regards to the same so-called “external” thing. This is just Western physics!

So, when Vimalakirti causes the room to expand or mountain chairs to appear from other realms, there is no reason that his should effect the perception of the surrounding people living in the city around him. It’s simply the activity which is possible for a mind which has realized the objects of experience are inseparable from a creative-knowing factor.

Honestly, it took me a long time looking at emptiness, the conventional nature of mind, and modern physics - as well as examples like the above - to say that these things are most likely true. I’m about 80% convinced.


Andersine Thank you! It saddens me to see Buddhists rejecting these ideas based upon our current scientific-materialist mythology.

Stanford professors are literally saying, “Is there a universe when we aren’t looking?”

And saying “Information is what the universe is made of, and information is merely mental. So, the universe is fundamentally mental.”

And we have Einstein saying (paraphrased), “The physical properties of the events depend on the observer, not only the event itself. The event can happen physically in two different ways simultaneously, depending upon two different reference frames.”

This is our own culture telling us it’s non-dual! It’s empty of self-character. The physical matter is empty and only arises with the observer. Time is empty and only occurs from a reference frame.

There is no “past event” which determines what happens now! It’s physically a different universe for all observers. Western physicists at major universities are (quite literally) saying these things.

Interesting book. I glanced through and found some of his description of clear light sleep, clear light dream, dreams of clarity and the different states of sleep to be resonating and well written.
I was having a conversation with someone today (he had some history with various practices, vipassana, actual freedom, and recently came across a famous Thai ajahn, etc) who shared about an experience of dissolving into centerless space. I told him what I call anatta is not just being centerless, it is the effulgence and radiance of the transience. That is, regardless of any realization of no-self, and no matter how centerless one feels or how centerless is one's experience of awareness and so forth... still, anything short of direct realization of the radiance or luminosity as the very stuff of transiency is still not what I call the realization of anatta. (And that too is also just an aspect of anatta, and furthermore not yet into the twofold emptying)

Was reminded of a conversation with Thusness back in Aug 2010 and found some excerpts from the Actual Freedom site:

"(12:22 AM) Thusness: for u, u will not be clear now... what Richard taught has some problem...that focus is in the experience
u should focus on the realization
(12:22 AM) Thusness: the pce is what i told u, bring what u experience into the foreground
(12:23 AM) Thusness: Richard has a very important realization.
(12:24 AM) Thusness: that is, he is able to realize the immediate radiance in the transience
(12:25 AM) AEN: this is like ur second point of anatta in the anatta article?
(12:25 AM) Thusness: yes
(12:26 AM) Thusness: there is nothing to argue, it is obvious and clear.
(12:27 AM) Thusness: however i do not want to focus on the experience
(12:27 AM) Thusness: u need to go through a period of frustration first"

From the Actual Freedom site:…/selecte…/sc-relativism.htm
RESPONDENT: How do the qualities of ‘splendour and brilliance’ present themselves AS splendour and brilliance?
RICHARD: Directly ... as splendour and brilliance are intrinsic to the properties of this actual world they present themselves openly where apperception is operating: everything is literally bright, shining, vivid, intense, sparkling, luminous, lustrous, scintillating and coruscating in all its vitality here in this actual world.
RICHARD: As I understand it (I am not a scientist nor have any scientific training) a photometer can measure how bright or brilliant something is in a more precise, reliable and universal way than the eye can sensately determine ... and one can then talk about the brilliance of that something if one wishes to convey to another what one is experiencing (the word comes from the French ‘briller’ meaning ‘shine’).
• ‘brilliance: brilliant quality; intense or sparkling brightness, radiance, or splendour; an instance of this’. (© Oxford Dictionary).
As for the splendour of something (the word comes from the Latin ‘spendere’ meaning ‘be bright; shine’) ... it is related to a brilliant display:
• ‘splendour: 1. great or dazzling brightness, brilliance. 2. magnificence; sumptuous or ornate display; impressive or imposing character; a magnificent feature, object, etc. 3. distinction, eminence, glory’. (© Oxford Dictionary).
Therefore, when I wrote that ‘as [the qualities of] splendour and brilliance are intrinsic to the properties of this actual world’ and that ‘they present themselves openly where apperception is operating’ I am reporting that literally everything is ‘bright, shining, vivid, intense, sparkling, luminous, lustrous, scintillating and coruscating in all its vitality here in this actual world’ ... thus it is not the imposition of subjective attributes (which phrase may very well equate to what you called ‘internal percepts’ in the previous e-mail) that I am talking about.
Rather it is the absence of such subjectively imposed attributes – due to the absence of identity – which reveals the world as-it-is.
RESPONDENT: This is what I meant in my question ‘present themselves AS splendour and brilliance?’
RICHARD: Okay ... incidentally, I do not go about seeing things in terms of their properties, qualities or values (such classifications never occur to me other than when having a discussion such as this) ... I simply delight in the wonder of it all and marvel in the amazing display.
Once experienced apperceptively – as in a pure consciousness experience (PCE) – one will never again settle for second-best.…/selected…/sc-sensation.htm
RICHARD: Yes ... ‘how amazing’ indeed, eh? I am particularly pleased to see you say that you had a ‘clear and unequivocal PCE’ as, of course, I have no way of ascertaining the intrinsic quality of what any body experiences other than what they describe – and I have no intention of setting myself up to be to arbiter of another’s experience anyway – so I cannot adjudge the exact nature of what you experienced. The rule of thumb is to ask oneself: is this it; is this the ultimate; is this the utter fulfilment and total contentment; is this my destiny; is this how I would want to live for the remainder of my life ... and so on. It is up to each and every person to decide for themselves what it is that they want ... as I oft-times say: it is your life you are living and only you get to reap the rewards and pay the consequences for any action or inaction you may or may not do. [...]
Having said that, and I am not inferring anything either way by what I am writing here, it may or may not be relevant to report that one must be most particular to not confuse an excellence experience with a perfection experience ... and the most outstanding distinction in the excellence experience is the marked absence of what I call the ‘magical’ element. This is where time has no duration as the normal ‘now’ and ‘then’ and space has no distance as the normal ‘here’ and ‘there’ and form has no distinction as the normal ‘was’ and ‘will be’ ... there is only this moment in eternal time at this place in infinite space as this flesh and blood body being apperceptively aware (a three hundred and sixty degree awareness, as it were). Everything and everyone is transparently and sparklingly obvious, up-front and out-in-the open ... there is nowhere to hide and no reason to hide as there is no ‘me’ to hide. One is totally exposed and open to the universe: already always just here right now ... actually in time and actually in space as actual form. This apperception (selfless awareness) is an unmediated perspicacity wherein one is this universe experiencing itself as a sensate and reflective human being; as such the universe is stunningly aware of its own infinitude.
In a PCE one is fully immersed in the infinitude of this fairy-tale-like actual world with its sensuous quality of magical perfection and purity where everything and everyone has a lustre, a brilliance, a vividness, an intensity and a marvellous, wondrous, scintillating vitality that makes everything alive and sparkling ... even the very earth beneath one’s feet. The rocks, the concrete buildings, a piece of paper ... literally everything is as if it were alive (a rock is not, of course, alive as humans are, or as animals are, or as trees are). This ‘aliveness’ is the very actuality of all existence – the actualness of everything and everyone – for one is not living in an inert universe.
It is one’s destiny to be living the utter peace of the perfection of the purity welling endlessly as the infinitude this eternal, infinite and perpetual universe actually is.
RICHARD: Put simply: as there is no (subjective) experiencer there is no separation ... no ‘inner world’/‘outer world’.
RESPONDENT: If the images (presumably) are identical in quality, do you see them differently (e.g. in terms of clarity)?
RICHARD: Yes ... and just as the moving picture is visually brilliant, vivid, sparkling, so too is the sound track aurally rich, vibrant, resonant.
• [Richard]: ‘The whole point of actualism is the direct experience of actuality: as this flesh and blood body only what one is (what not ‘who’) is these eyes seeing, these ears hearing, this tongue tasting, this skin touching and this nose smelling – and no separative identity (no ‘I’/ ‘me’) means no separation – whereas ‘I’/ ‘me’, a psychological/ psychic entity, am inside the body busily creating an inner world and an outer world and looking out through ‘my’ eyes upon ‘my’ outer world as if looking out through a window, listening to ‘my’ outer world through ‘my’ ears as if they were microphones, tasting ‘my’ outer world through ‘my’ tongue, touching ‘my’ outer world through ‘my’ skin and smelling ‘my’ outer world through ‘my’ nose ... plus adding all kinds of emotional/ psychological baggage to what is otherwise the bare sensory experience of the flesh and blood body’.
• [Richard]: ‘I am speaking of the immediate perception, of this body and that body and every body and of the mountains and the streams and of the trees and the flowers and of the clouds in the sky by day and the stars in the firmament by night and so on and so on ad infinitum, without the affective faculty existent operating ... which reveals actuality in all its purity and perfection. This applies not only to ocular perception but also to cutaneous perception, to gustatory perception, to olfactory perception, to aural perception ... and even to proprioceptive perception, for that matter. There is no mystery where there is such direct perception of actuality as described ... all is laid open, as it already always has been open just here right now all along, because nothing is ever hidden. One walks through the world in wide-eyed wonder simply marvelling at being here doing this business called being alive on this verdant and azure paradise called planet earth. This is what innocence looks like’.
As immediate, direct perception (sensuous perception) does not involve either the affective faculty or the cognitive function the thinker (‘I’ as ego) and the feeler (‘me’ as soul) do not get a look-in ... hence I call this direct perception ‘apperception’ (perception unmediated by either ‘self’ or ‘Self’). Thus what I am is this flesh and blood body being apperceptively aware (sans ‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul) ... which means that the actuality of the physical can indeed be known, each moment again, day after day.
I do not know if I can put it more briefly or succinctly than this.

"The association of anatta (no-self) to the cessation of thoughts is a due to a lack of insight that anatta is a seal, not a stage of attainment. In thinking there are always only thoughts, no thinker. In fact it is the realization that the continual arising and ceasing of thoughts without a thinker that is precious. The 2 important qualities that must be experienced are non-dual and spontaneity. Thoughts can slow down or even completely ceased but it has nothing to do with the insight of anatta."

- Thusness, 2009
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