Below is a compilation of some of Thusness's writings over the years about the practice after anatta realization, and the warnings against a nihilistic neo-Advaitin doctrine of 'no practices'. I personally like Daniel M. Ingram’s book title – ‘Mastering the Core Teachings of Buddha’ (a highly recommended book), as well as his criticism of the neo-Advaitin nihilistic doctrine with an article formerly title Why The Notion That You Cannot Become What You Already Are is Such Bullshit (now renamed as 'The “Nothing To Do” and “You Are Already There” Schools').

I think Daniel's book title is very much in line with the teachings of the Buddha, which presents the path very pragmatically and practically, as the Mastery of sila, samadhi and prajna (morality, concentration and wisdom) for liberation. The teachings of Buddha are not meant to be some arm-chair philosophy but a very practical manual for us to free our minds from suffering and attain true peace and happiness, which we have to put into practice. The Buddha made it clear that through no other way than by practicing the noble eightfold path (which is summarized as the three trainings just mentioned) can we achieve liberation. We should keep that in mind.


"After this insight, one must also be clear of the way of anatta and the path of practice. Many wrongly conclude that because there is no-self, there is nothing to do and nothing to practice.  This is precisely using "self view" to understand "anatta" despite having the insight. 

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


"People that have gone into the nihilistic understanding of 'non-doing' ended up in a mess. You see those having right understanding of 'non-doing' are free, yet you see discipline, focus and peace in them.

Like just sitting and walking... whatever they endeavor. Fully anatta."


In my opinion many of our great aspirations and high views turn empty talks easily. After the direct insight of anatta, it opens the gate that allows one to experience effortlessly all sensations that arise without duality, without fear, without doership and without ownership. Many are unable to see the "Whys" and "Hows" of "directness" so don't waste your insights that have given the opportunity in this life. Train yourself to do that with sincerity and dedication first. Then you will be fully in touch with your original purity; you will be genuinely in touch with peace and openness.


We need to have time to practice and be focused otherwise very soon we will realized we have wasted this life.


I did tell him to visualize light and practice breathing with full no-self anatta insight intact.

The purpose of visualization and to have a prolong period of practice focus on breathing with anatta insight intact is to allow him to have glimpses of the relationship between visualization, concentration and the 3 states.


I do not want you to get into too high views and lose touch with genuine and simple practice.

If we want to experience fully and have genuine peace, be very sincere in sensing all your sensations for pretense, blames, rejections and contractions... ...don't rush...slow down your thoughts and scan all your sensations for these...see all these traces...see all these come from the "I"s and "mine"s...develop a strong willingness to let go with your insights of anatta. If you can for a brief moment be free from the conceit of I, the craving of mine and the background of I AM, that moment you are respectable even to the gods.

Someone asked me for book recommendations.

Not in any particular order -

General Buddhadharma

Buddhism Is Not What You Think by Steve Hagen (see some excerpts in
Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen 
What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula

Mindfulness Practice/Meditation

Meditation Now or Never by Steve Hagen
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Sun My Heart: Reflections on Mindfulness, Concentration, and Insight by Thich Nhat Hanh

On Theravada/Vipassana

Mastering the Core Teachings of Buddha 2nd Edition available in hardcopy for purchase, or online for free:
The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, translated by Bikkhu Nanamoli and Bikkhu Bodhi
"Udana" and the "Itivuttaka": Two Classics from the Pali Canon by John Ireland -- Bahiya Sutta is in this
The Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic with Annotations Paperback –  by Gil Fronsdal
The Breakthrough by Ajahn Amaro

On Zen

Flowers Fall by Hakuun Yasutani
The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing by Ted Biringer
Zen Cosmology by Ted Biringer
Living By Vow by Shohaku Okumura
Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen by Bernie Glassman
Hakuin on Kensho: The Four Ways of Knowing, Edited with Commentary by Albert Low
Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist by Hee-Jin Kim
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
Hearing with the Eye: Photographs from Point Lobos by John Daido Loori

On Mahamudra

Clarifying the Natural State by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal  (some excerpts in
Essentials of Mahamudra by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche
The Royal Seal of Mahamudra by Khamtrul Rinpoche III (some excerpts in
Mahamudra: The Moonlight -- Quintessence of Mind and Meditation by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal

On Dzogchen

Buddhahood in This Life by Malcolm Smith
(also check out the interview at

The Self-Arisen Vidya Tantra (vol 1) and The Self-Liberated Vidya Tantra (vol 2): A Translation of the Rigpa Rang Shar (vol 1) and A Translation of ... (vol 2) (The Seventeen Dzogchen Tantras)
by Malcolm Smith

On Madhyamika

How to See Yourself As You Really Are by Dalai Lama
The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way by Nagarjuna/Jay Garfield
Introduction to the Middle Way: Chandrakirti's Madhyamakavatara with Commentary by Ju Mipham
Ocean of Reasoning: A Great Commentary on Nāgārjuna's Mulamadhyamakakārikā by Tsong khapa, Translated by Geshe Ngawang Samten and Jay L. Garfield

On Jamgon Mipham (Madhyamika/Mind Only/Dzogchen/etc)

Jamgon Mipham by Douglas Duckworth

On Chittamatra/Yogacara

Distinguishing Phenomena from Their Intrinsic Nature with Commentaries by Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham (The Dharmachakra Translation Committee)


A New Buddhist Path by David Loy

The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation Through Hearing In The Bardo by Chogyam Trungpa (Author), Francesca Fremantle (Author)

Books for People Seeking Self-Realization (Realization of I AMness) and/or are Practicing Self-Inquiry

My e-book has a chapter on Self-Inquiry:

All books by Eckhart Tolle (perhaps start with The Power of Now)

All books by Ramana Maharshi

All writings/books by Ch'an Master Hsu Yun 

All books by John Wheeler

Advaita Vedanta

Standing as Awareness: The Direct Path by Greg Goode
The Direct Path: A User Guide by Greg Goode
After Awareness: The End of the Path by Greg Goode

Anything by Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj


Anything by Tony Parsons
Perfect Brilliant Stillness by David Carse

Comments: Neo-Advaita is good at pointing out nondual ala Thusness Stage 4 and in Tony Parsons' case more like Stage 5, but I do not agree with their 'nothing to do' philosophy and neglecting conditionality/karmic propensities.

And as Thusness wrote before, "People that have gone into the nihilistic understanding of 'non-doing' ended up in a mess. You see those having right understanding of 'non-doing' are free, yet you see discipline, focus and peace in them.
Like just sitting and walking... whatever they endeavor. Fully anatta."

Christian Mysticism

Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic by Adyashanti 
Days of Awe and Wonder: How to Be a Christian in the 21st Century by Marcus J. Borg


The Wonder of Presence and The Silent Question by Toni Packer


An ex-Zen successor-in-line of Zen Master Philip Kapleau, Toni was later influenced by anti-authoritarian/iconoclastic spiritual teacher J Krishnamurti and left her tradition. She founded the Springwater Center. Toni Packer was able to express the non-dual insight of anatta well along with mind-body drop. Like J. Krishnamurti, she placed emphasis on 'choiceless awareness'.

However, besides the great insights expressed in her book, my main criticism of her approach is similar to what Thusness wrote before,

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

Related: Bahiya Sutta, Dispassion and Spontaneous Perfection
Practice Before AND After Anatta
Non-Doing and Actualization

Someone held the view that through quantum physics, somehow our 'mind' is able to (somewhat magically) change the course of global events like global warming, simply through some kind of positive or more enlightened projection (reminds me of teachings like The Secret). His views are influenced by his study of quantum physics and use of psychedelics. I had a back and forth exchange with him.

In his last mail to me he wrote, 

"Right, it is neither chosen nor random, but the result of conditions. The question is, are these conditions fundamentally separate from and external to mind? Wouldn't a full Buddha be able to know them directly and completely? And in that moment of knowing, isn't there the possibility of change?

You've already taken so much time to help me, so thank you. No need to answer my questions above. I'll practice more and let the answers come."

I just sent the following reply:

As Thusness wrote before, “what appears cannot be said to be mind nor other than mind.” You will know this only later in your path, like when you get to Thusness Stage 5 and 6.

Although conventionally we can say that all appearances are mind (vivid clarity), we do not subsume everything into a ‘Mind’ or assert the ultimacy of ‘Mind’ because ‘Mind’ too is empty no different from ‘Weather’. What we call “mind” also does not exist in and of itself, being a mere label for all the sensory appearances, and even the subtlest formless clear light or sense of AMness is another appearance (seen to be so after anatta), there’s nothing hidden – mind is empty of mind and hence like ‘weather’ when we speak of ‘mind’ there is just the transient appearances. The appearances are completely interfusing of all dependencies and completely alive. The tree is not pre-given realities existing over there waiting for me to reveal or experience its existence, for the green colors of the leaves are the total exertion of my action of walking, my eyes looking at a certain direction, my biological makeup (some other animals do not perceive green or even colors), etc as a seamless activity where ‘consciousness’ is already implied as the vivid luminosity of that whole seamlessly exerting appearance. Furthermore not only is the ‘tree’ not existing inherently ‘there’ by itself, even ‘Consciousness’ does not exist inherently ‘here’ in and of itself independent of conditions – for the respective consciousnesses (which are of six kinds) manifest according to the total exertion of all conditions/dependencies at that moment, which is why Buddha so clearly taught that consciousness is named after its conditions/classified by its requisite conditions (see ) -- hence even consciousness does not exist inherently, independent of conditions or unchangingly, in and of itself.

It is also important to understand that things/appearances are empty not because they are a mental projection like in a dream state or psychedelic state (which can induce a form of lucid dream state) but because whatever dependently originates are non-arising, nothing truly there existing in and of itself -- nothing is truly 'there' with its own Essence, besides an appearance involving the total exertion of all the conditions at that moment. 

There is neither something there objectively (like a tree) nor something here subjectively (like some sort of consciousness reified as an unchanging Self) which exists independent of all the conditions/the whole universe exerting an appearance, and consciousness is simply the vivid self-luminous ‘taste’ or ‘quality’ of that vivid appearance of total exertion. Each condition involved in the exertion themselves are also the seamless total exertion of all dependencies, basically like a net of indra where the dependencies ‘stretches’ throughout the whole universe without seams or end and each single node reflects all node. This is why the taste of Total Exertion is called ‘Maha’, there is a sense of infinitude involved (and Actual Freedom teachings also speaks about this Maha taste of infinitude, except lacking the view of Dependent Origination), where a single breathe or step or any single part of the activity IS the activity of the infinite universe (i.e. dependencies). The point being, everything is the seamless exertion of all dependencies, but it is not by subsuming everything into a single source (like reifying ‘Consciousness’ as an absolute source) nor is it by subsuming everything into Mind. There is not a single trace of ‘I’, ‘me’, or ‘my’ in total exertion when you know (and experience, and actualize) everything has nothing to do with ‘you’ but with infinite and seamless dependencies. There is no more over-emphasis on consciousness nor subsuming everything to ‘my consciousness’.

The Buddha and his aide Ananda have rejected (and Ananda even ridiculed) in the suttas, the possibility of anyone (including for Buddha himself) to know all things all at once concurrently and constantly (see: and ). However the Buddha qualified that he has attained the three knowledges, as shown in the sutta MN71. Also in Kalaka Sutta, he claims to know all the different realms of existences in the cosmos with its various types of beings, but this is not the same as knowing all things all at once concurrently and constantly.

Furthermore, even though the Buddha was able to know these beings and realms, it does not mean he can intervene directly in their lives. If Buddha could do so, he definitely would have saved all sentient beings instantly, made every single person enlightened instantly and made every single sentient being attain Nirvana instantly just by ‘knowing’ them, and saved himself of all the trouble of teaching the dharma tirelessly to sentient beings for 49 years. There is a saying that even the Buddha was unable to save someone who does not have the (karmic, and other) conditions. Also as the Buddha taught, he cannot just relief the suffering of another sentient being by hand, but by showing them their true nature there is liberation. All beings have their karmas and lives to play out, but the Buddha can show the way, and once we take that to heart and practice accordingly, there can be realization and liberation.

By the way, I just found an article I read a decade ago by Stuart Davis on Ken Wilber’s website. There is some similarity here to Buddha’s teaching on karma as simply one of the many conditions involved -

There are many people that I’ve seen who has the mistaken belief similar to ‘The Secret’ or ‘Law of Attraction’ sort of teaching. Intention/thoughts/karma do play an important role in shaping our lives but is far from the only type of condition. One has to be careful not to fall into magical thinking and overlook the various types of conditions involved in any given arising. Our thoughts and karma influence our lives/reality, but it is far from the ‘sole cause of reality’. And likewise neither is ‘Consciousness’.

You see, once you realize Dependent Origination and actualize it as Total Exertion, there is no more singling out of one factor, one condition, no more exaggeration of anything as being some kind of sole cause of something. Not 'my thoughts' nor even some ultimate 'Divine Consciousness' can be attributed as some ultimate and sole cause of everything. Instead there is just total, seamless dependencies and exertion from moment to moment, which is wondrous in its own way. Each factor is equally important as any and all factors in contributing to an arising, just like each finger in a palm contributing to the exertion of hand grasping object. None of these factors -- Intention, or Consciousness, can be singled out as some sort of 'Agent' or 'Controller', there's simply the play of conditionality, empty phenomena rolls and knows according to conditions without an agent, doer, or knower.

Ken Wilber is good at pointing out the fallacy of magical thinking that egocentric intentions alone can create miracles, however he’s fallen into another fallacy of treating life as the lila (play) of the Divine (Consciousness). After Anatta, Emptiness and Dependent Origination, even that is no longer seen to be the case. (Ken Wilber is at Thusness Stage 4, whereas anatta, emptiness and D.O. is Thusness Stage 5 and 6)

As Thusness wrote in 2004 and 2006,

“Buddhism is nothing but replacing the 'Self' in Hinduism with Condition Arising. Keep the clarity, the presence, the luminosity and eliminate The ultimate 'Self', the controller, the supreme. Still u must taste, sense, eat, hear and see Pure Awareness in every authentication. And every authentication is Bliss.”
“there is another danger about just having the experience of our luminosity and anatta without placing emphasis on our emptiness nature. life becomes just a manifestation of the divine. the divine becomes like damn great... actually the divine cannot do that is why there is never an 'I'.  and action is karma. and unwholesome action results in suffering. this must be known”
(Commenting on Ken Wilber in 2006:) “Though non-duality is experienced, it is not thorough. He sank back to a source and ding dong in between. Is there Witness without conditions? Are there moments of manifestation without conditions where Witness is experienced? If there is, then it is a game. If not, then know the truth of Dependent Origination. There is a stage 6. The nature of Presence is empty.”

Ken Wilber nonetheless has written a lot of good stuff in his books (and I have read a couple of them), like this from “Integral Meditation: Mindfulness as a Way to Grow Up, Wake Up, and Show Up”:

“…As with the Archaic, very few adults today remain totally at this Magic stage of development. It was quite common 50,000 years ago, but subsequent evolution has made it a rather junior level of overall development in today's world, and so again it is usually found, when at all, in instances such as patients with Alzheimer's or various types of brain damage, some extremely disturbed people, and so on.

On the other hand, mild aspects of this stage remain in adults who display superstitious, magical thinking, such as beliefs found in Voodoo and Santeria where, if you make an image of a person in the form of a doll, and stick a pin in that doll, it will actually damage the real person -- a holdover of this stage's magical thinking, in which all you have to do is wish something and it will magically come about. (Because self and environment, subject and object, thought and things, are still poorly differentiated, then to manipulate the thought or image of a thing is to directly affect that thing itself. Magic!) Every 3-year-old thinks this way - and so they will imagine that if they hide their head under a pillow so that they can't see anybody, then behold! magically, nobody can see them either - much to the amusement of adults looking at the kid's rear end sticking in the air while its head is under the pillow.

These examples also point out that some of the ‘narrative’ forms of religion that we talked about earlier are holdovers from this early Magic period in our evolution, because they take quite literally the miraculous stories in the Bible, for example (such as Moses parting the Red Sea). Even to this day, some adults are attracted to magical elements in their religion – they likely got involved with the religion in the first place because they are drawn to acts like magically walking on water, raising the dead, making the blind see, turning water into wine, and multiplying loaves and fishes. The religious practices of some sects might include things like handling live poisonous snakes, with the belief that their faith will magically protect them. (Unfortunately, a leader of one of the largest of these sects recently died, in his early 40s, after being bitten by a rattlesnake in one of these rituals.) And some present-day spiritual approaches, such as those described in The Secret and What the Bleep Do We Know? Contain a heavy dose of this magic, which appeals, as we will see, to what’s called the egocentric or self-aggrandizing aspect of ourselves. This fantasy magic is a hidden map in much of the ‘law of attraction’ and several other New Age notions.

Now, this infantile word-magic is quite different from actual paranormal capacities, such as real ESP, precognition, or telekinesis, or the value of a strongly held intention in achieving one’s goals. Strictly controlled scientific experiments have demonstrated, beyond a reasonable doubt, that some of these capacities are indeed very real.* But the success at these paranormal capacities seem to dramatically go down when the person is motivated by purely selfish, egocentric, narcissistic or power drives. There’s a big difference between fantasy magic and real psychic capacities, so do keep that in mind.”
Anyway, the article I was talking about, by Stuart Davis for Ken Wilber’s site:

(Editor's note: Be sure to tune into Integral Naked next Monday (March 19) to hear Ken's own thoughts about The Secret, as well as the much-anticipated debut episode of a new season of The Stuart Davis Show!  ~cwd)

by Stuart Davis (cross-posted from 

The Secret. It's all the rage. The book and movie have garnered the enthusiasm of millions. Everyone from Oprah to Montel is extolling Rhonda Byrne's spiritual juggernaut. The premise of The Secret is simple; The Power of Attraction. Like attracts like. What we think, what we feel, acts as a magnetic signal, attracting its correlate from the Universe. The Secret says our thoughts and feelings manifest that which we desire. In fact, according to the teachers of the Secret, this works 100% of the time, for 100% of the people who use it. The Universe responds to our wishes, providing whatever we desire. This is because "we create our own reality", and The Secret says science confirms this.
As with most things, The Secret is a Good news / Bad news scenario. First, the good news. The secret is (partly) true. Our thoughts and feelings are of consequence, and positive thinking and feeling can significantly characterize our experience of reality, even influence the way reality unfolds. The Secret cites everyone from Martin Luther King to Einstein as examples of people who knew--and employed--The Secret. Martin Luther King had a dream. Einstein said God doesn't play dice. And so on.
The Secret uses valid (but partial) suppositions such as:
Our thoughts and feelings are powerful
and inflates them to a Kosmic (and false) scale, giving us: "Our thoughts are the most powerful things on Earth."
The secret takes a statement like:
Thought can influence reality
and amplifies it to: "Thoughts create reality." Not just any thoughts, but YOUR thoughts.
(By the way, are you a rape victim? I guess you created that reality with your thoughts. Was your family member killed in Iraq? I guessed you created that experience for yourself so you could learn from it. Wow. You are one sadistic cat.)
The Secret takes a truth like:
The Self is one with the Universe
and then immediately inserts the wrong self: The Ego.
Throughout, The Secret conflates ego (the frontal structure, personality) with Self (an unbounded, unlimited reality which transcends but includes all qualities). In doing so it engineers an unabashed Spiritual Narcissism. Ego is God. The vicissitudes of your ego, its preferences, its unresolved cravings, become the vestments in a regressive ritual. See? It's MAGIC. You cast a spell, voila, the Universe responds. Cuz you're God. Why exactly an entity that IS everything would need more is not clear, why a Divine Being that is all powerful would need to appeal to another power is perplexing, but.. To cement this Kosmic Delusion, The Secret hypnotically repeats "The Universe" and "Your thoughts, your feelings" until the two are braided into a phantasm that places your Ego squarely in the Center of Reality, in control of all that comes in and out of being. What do you want to do with your Divine Power? Free all sentient beings? Awaken every sister and brother from the Dream? Dissolve the source of suffering? No. You want cars. And girlfriends, and boyfriends, and a new red bike and a big new house.
The Secret snags the self by flattering it into masquerading as the Self. As an egomaniac, I can attest to the efficacy of that strategy. And also to its disastrous results.
Allow me to pause for a confessional tangent. Before you think I am positioning myself as some spiritual fundamentalist who thinks materialism is bad and "spirituality" is good, let me set things straight. Me, Stuart Davis? I LOVE money. I LOVE sex. I want a new house. I'll take a shiny red bike. I want to be rich, powerful, and successful. And I do not apologize to anyone for that. I think the ego is good, I think it's games are legitimate and should be engaged. You know what else? I want YOU to be rich. I want YOU to be successful, powerful, and have every wish in the circus of your imagination brought into reality. As long as we're not hurting anyone else, I say let's go to town. I am the first to stand up and shout "THE EGO IS NOT EVIL!! THE EGO IS NOT BAD!! IT HAS GOTTEN A SHITTY DEAL FROM SPIRITUALITY! LET THE EGO BE WHAT IT ITS!!!" In fact, the ego is quite literally one of the most astonishing miracles to occur in the history of Universe. No joke. Celebrate it. It's time we ended the spiritual war with the ego, include it as another facet of the Beauty in our Being. Why would we leave anything out? The self counts. The ego matters.
I also have to say: The ego is not the Self.
The Secret is selling tools that supposedly fulfill wishes, dreams, desires. But WHOSE wishes? What LEVEL of desire? What DEPTH of dream?
Well, here's what sucks about The Secret: There are many levels of self, but only one which THINKS, and that's the Ego. Thinking, feeling, thinking, feeling, these two conductors are the hub for all The Secret espouses, and sadly thoughts and feelings (while important and valid) come from an extremely shallow dimension of the self. Because of this, the Secret deeply, sadly, entangles us further into suffering instead of liberating us from it. The source of suffering is delusion--the illusion of separateness. It gives rise to craving, longing, desire. It's the illusion that we lack something that sends us on the Odyssey of Acquisition.
The Secret gives us a cure that's worse than the disease. The cure for craving is controlling craving. The solution to hunger is famine. The Secret speaks to materialism, narcissism, and other afflictions of self by sanctifying them, exalting them. Rather than liberate us from the Source of Suffering, The Secret reinforces it. It anchors us in the shallowest level of our self (the Ego) and consecrates its preferences, its fantasies.
When someone asks you what you want, before you answer, ask yourself What level of me are they asking? What level of me am I going to respond from? If I had all the power to wish for anything in the Universe, what would I wish for? Who am "I" anyway?
It is dangerous to insert the ego in the place of the Self--the highest Self, the deepest Self, the one that is without a beginning or end. The ego--the subject--is a boundary. It identifies itself by what is inside or outside of it. Whatever is outside of the subject is an object. The small self is a dynamic aggregate of qualities and preferences, locating itself anew in each moment through a calculus of these subject / object distinctions ( I am this, I'm not that, I like this, I don't like that, I want this, I don't want that, this is me, that is not). The self depends entirely on boundaries.
Self, on the other hand, has no boundary. Self has no "other". It cannot be reduced to any particular qualities or characteristics, but all qualities and characteristics rise and fall within it. Self includes vertical and horizontal coordinates that stretch as deep and wide as the Universe itself. It is true that all Reality arises from and dissolves into the Self. Not the ego, not the personality, not an individual, but the Self -the Groundless Ground of all Reality.
The ego is defined by preferences, identified by desires, determined by boundary.
The Self has no preferences, no desires, no lack, no inside, no outside. It includes all preferences, but is not defined by them. Desire arises within it, but it is not identified by it. Every imaginable boundary forms and dissolves within the Self, but never parses its not-two not-one Nature. This Self--the entire seen and unseen Kosmos--is the native endowment of every human being. Our greatest depth is without bottom.
The good news: You can have your cake and eat it too. You don't have to disown your self to be your Self. You have an ego. You are the Universe. But don't confuse the two, and don't let anyone else confuse them for you.
I have an ego, and it has desires, and it's healthy and appropriate for that level of my being to seek fulfillment. My thoughts are powerful, and my feelings matter. But the Universe does not reconfigure reality to accomodate the personal preferences of my ego, my frontal structure, every time an impulse comes through my reptilian brain stem. That is not just narcissism, its KOSMIC narcissism, and that is what the Secret is selling. Kosmic narcissism, spiritual materialism of the WORST kind. First, by ensnaring me in my own ego with the promise of release, liberation from desire (while addicting me to it) and second by getting me to forfeit my Self for my self. Since my ego is now Divine, since my frontal structure is now Infinite -Stuart Davis is God- why on Earth would I ever bother with finding my Self? Actual awakening requires real development, years, decades of practice and evolution. Continually moving my Subject through ever-expanding, ever-inclusive transformations takes TIME and TROUBLE. Of course there is no such thing as time, but authentically realizing that takes time. Of course there is no such thing as suffering, but profound recognition of that Fact is exquisitely painful.
Authentic spirituality is not a vending machine that spits out cars, lovers, and shiny red bikes. It is not a wand we can wave to avert discomfort, or acquire power. Actual awakening increases intimacy with all suffering (and bliss), everywhere, without exception. It does not remove struggle, but increases our devotion to and stewardship of all Reality.
Again, to be clear: I, Stuart Davis, want to be rich. I want to be comfortable. I want lots of Prada shoes. Hell, as long as my cravings are satisfied, I want that for everyone. That's not bad. I do not apologize for that, and this is not hyperbole.
But call a spade a spade. I work with my ego, but I don't presume the Universe is reinventing itself moment to moment in order to comply with the minutia of my needy personality. There is the self, and then there is the Self. I go to my therapist for one, I go to the Point of All Places for the other.
I, the Self, which also includes Stuart but is not defined by him, was here before Stuart was born, and will be here after he dies. The Self is the end of Suffering, and operates through all discrete agents as a means to Awakening to Reality as it Is. I am that Self. I am radical, absolute freedom. Incorruptible. Immutable. Every imaginable thing is that Self, equally without exception. But not all things equally realize that. Not all beings are equally awake. There is development. There evolution toward what already Is.
The Self is absolute freedom. The self is relative delusion. The Secret is appealing to the relative self and pretending its the absolute Self.
The Secret crowns the Ego as God (I mean, YOU create Reality, isn't that amazing? YOUR THOUGHTS are INFINITELY influential), then makes two disastrous leaps.
#1, Now that you know YOU create your own reality through the spiritual enterprise that is "thinking, feeling", what do you, the Creator, want to create with your thoughts? Wealth. Money, power, influence, status, and the luxury afforded the elite who amass fortunes. The Secret will teach you how. Odd, isn't it, that your self is so spiritual and powerful, but what it chooses to Attract with its Law is money, houses, lovers. Not the liberation of all sentient beings, not relief for every creature, not the cessation of that which is the Source of Suffering (clutching, desire, greed arising from the illusion that there is an "other"), but a refinement of the Source of Suffering. A manipulation of it. The Secret turns Desire and Clutching into a technology you can wield, AND its Spiritual! The cure is worse than the disease.
#2, Since YOU create your own Reality (Oprah went to pains to stress and emphasize this point, and had Rhonda explicitly confirm precisely that phrase: "we create our own reality") you are responsible as the Source of whatever arises in your Reality. Every thing in your experience, you created (merely using thoughts and feelings! Wow). Many of you reading this right now may be astonished to finally understand you gave yourself cancer. You caused yourself to be raped, robbed, murdered, stricken with every malady in the canon of illness, beset with each kind of strife imaginable. The Holocaust? Just something Jews brought on themselves, as they each apparently created their own Reality. The Rape of Nanking? Bad Chinese, with their bad thoughts and feelings, simply created their own reality and thus caused the unspeakable murder of 350,000 innocent children, women, and men. Weird, the Reality people create for themselves, ain't it?
Of course, it's hard to overstate how cruel and insulting such a notion is. The impossibly sick premise that people in such situations create their own Reality is so obviously wrong, so self-evidently false to our basic intuition, that we can almost laugh it off. I mean, we could if Oprah--perhaps the most influential woman in the Western World--hadn't gone to pains to repeatedly emphasize and confirm it with Rhonda Bynre to an audience of tens of millions. Tens of millions of people who literally orient their lives according to these sorts of "discoveries".
There are not just many levels of smaller self (the ego is but one), but different spheres, or dimensions. The Secret is not only selling a shallow dimension of self, but it is also only acknowledges one aspect of self.
The Secret is working in one realm (interior-individual). And it actually does a useful thing in that realm. Positive thought is important. We can change the way in which our thoughts and feelings symbiotically produce healthier behavior. That's good. But there is so much more to the story. We have an inside, and an outside. We are individuals, and we are also social beings. These realms are all part of who we are. All four realms come together at once, they tetra-arise as Reality. No one domain "creates" the others. Each is indispensable. The interior of an individual (where thought occurs) does have correlates in the exteriorof the individual (manifest as measurable biological change). We are beings with an inner and an outer worlds. But Reality is not composed of individuals. We are also collectivebeings, with shared interiors, or inter-subjective domains, such as culture, collective consciousness, and all that goes with the inner Word of We. That shared inner world is complemented by the outer world, the inter-objective domain of Nature, the biosphere, and all that can be seen and observed in corporeal form. These FOUR domains:
*The Interior of an Individual (where thought occurs, for instance)
*The Exterior of an Individual (the body, what can be measured and seen objectively)
*The Interior of the Collective (Culture, invisible features of mutuality, inter-subjective social)
*The Exterior of The Collective (Biosphere, planet, infrastructure, the inter-objective realm)
While The Secret promotes itself as the magic wand for everything, it actually deals with one part of one realm, and misrepresents itself while doing it (by substituting self for Self).
To claim any one of them "creates" the other is a disaster, and unfortunately fairly common occurrence. Any time you find a discipline which FOCUSES on a particular domain (which is good) you find it is tempted or seduced into claiming that ONE quadrant is the only "real" one, or the only "true" one, or the only important one (which is bad). That is another of The Secret's defects.. It takes one realm, one perspective (The Interior of an Individual) and claims it creates all the others. Wow. YOU, your thoughts, create your body. And the biosphere, and the entire culture, and history of the planet, origin of species, all the cities you could visit, all the planets in the Galaxy, all the Galaxies, all the... and so on. And its wrong. Sorry. Your thoughts, your feelings, while being important and valuable, are but two coordinates in one Quadrant.
Your thoughts and feelings are not the Source of Reality, but two of its features. You do not "create" your reality, you participate in it, and in certain circumstances, under particular conditions, you can influence it. And it is good and useful to cultivate that influence, to positively nurture those portions as much as possible, in the interest of love.
Rhonda Byrne's Secret is bad Self-Help masquerading as mysticism. Broadly, "spirituality" can mean anything. So when we say spirituality, what level of spirituality are we talking about? What altitude of awareness are we coming from, what level of "spirit" are we referring to? I'm not saying The Secret is not spiritual. I'm saying it's a very low-level of spirituality masquerading as a high one. What it uses as enticements (become wealthy, get a better job, get a lover) are very telling. It is appealing to a person's desire to attain, achieve, and better their personal station. It is promising you a better STORY. And that is indeed one altitude of spirituality. But it's the bottom, and inflating it can end up keeping people stuck in the cycle of suffering even longer. Because the self is addicted to its STORY. The Self is the end of all stories.
Now contrast The Secret with The Mystery. The Mystery, to me, includes all four domains (inner, outer, individual, collective) and does not privilege one over the other. It engages them as tetra-arising. It includes them as inextricably inter-woven, yet distinct in important ways. The Mystery includes every altitude in every domain, and values each of them, but also understand their differences. The Mystery includes every methodology, every ontology or Way of Knowing, but at also understands what they do, and what they don't do. The Secret is but a method, and it will not set you free from The Story. In fact, it will probably suck you deeper into it. It promises money, power, increased attraction, and tells you it is "spiritual" practice. Your story could become so comfortable, why would you ever forfeit it?
Here is an important question: What level of YOU wants to get rich? What altitude of YOU wants a new house, a better lover, an improved Story?
Here's what I feel is a healthier approach: use the right tool for the right job. The right decoy for the right level. I think it is GOOD to improve our financial station. I think it is GOOD to have an exciting love life. That's why I have a financial adviser. That's why I see a therapist. I need to work on my self. I want to improve my relative reality. But I don't need to invoke "the Universe" or quantum-fucking-mechanics or magical-narcissistic mysticism to do so. It's a LIE and it's misguided as it gets. Fucking bloody hell. Want to find your Self? See Swami Sally. Want to get a new house? A blow job? See Suzy Ormond and Sue Johansen. Stop it with this Secret shit. It's offensive and detrimental to our work in the Mystery.
Perhaps worst of all, until we are truly FREE--free from the Source of Suffering, free from desire, clutching, the assault of our false identities and all their Stories--until we are that FREE, we cannot really be available to help others become FREE. And that my friends, is the hokey pokey.

Stuart Davis