Join the Awakening to Reality Facebook Discussion Group at

This is a facebook group based on the blog Awakening to Reality. For newcomers who are new to the blog, please read this article for a basic understanding of what this group is about and the terms we use: Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Enlightenment

Any member of this group can invite anyone who might benefit from joining this group.

The purpose of this discussion group is to facilitate any discussions about the contents of the blog. Also, if anyone has questions, or requests for any guidance, my hope is that someone else more experienced can serve as a guide to him/her.

I am in part inspired by what Liberation Unleashed has been doing - direct pointing has successfully led many people to have certain breakthroughs in their realization. Due to time constraints I am unable to do personal 1 on 1 pointing and guidance for everyone who contacts me through the blog, but I trust that many in this group have the capacity to help others who need help.

I was heartened to hear from Angelo Gerangelo (who personally went through similar progression i.e. I AM to non dual and anatta) today, who told me that someone he knew "...took 20 years to break Mu. That’s 20 years to I Am. I personally think that cannot be blamed on the student but on the clarity of the teaching. If someone wants to wake up and is willing to work at it sincerely I take 200% responsibility to show them exactly how it is possible. That’s on me. Doing the work is on them."

It is thus my wish that this group serve as a place to facilitate any sort of constructive discussions that can be of benefit to one's spiritual growth.

However, unlike Liberation Unleashed, the scope of this group is *not* limited to direct pointing only, as other forms of discussions related to the blog contents are also welcome.

Another point - earlier on Piotr wrote about keeping this group focused on direct pointings to anatta, dependent origination and emptiness - although those are certainly part of the 'scope of discussions' for this group. I'm going to broaden the scope of this group a bit, to include everything the blog talks about, including self enquiry and I AM realization, and other topics like karmic tendencies, so on and so forth.

Rules -

As a general guideline only: Please keep discussions constructive, try to keep idle talks to a minimum, and it is a rule that no personal attacks are welcomed here (please be kind to each other).


Lately more people have been contacting us. I just wrote to someone who wanted to meet up with Thusness and I:

That should get you started. Any further discussions it will be best if we can take it to 😊

Also, I do not buy into the old model of guru. I do not buy into the model that teaches a need for “surrendering to the guru”. Some people find that helpful, that’s fine, but it is not necessary for enlightenment. I prefer the modern (actually not so modern – it is so even in the days of early Buddhism) model of spiritual friendship as explained by Greg Goode:

Which is also why the Awakening to Reality group is a good one, as Daniel M. Ingram wrote:

"the collective wisdom of a group of strong practitioners at various stages and from various traditions and backgrounds is often better than following one guru-type".

I am not a teacher, and Thusness does not wish to teach. We are people with a busy life and job/work/friends/family. We do not hold teachings, satsangs, meet ups (Thusness has not participated in any spiritual gatherings for many years and only meets me a few times a year), retreats, and so on. We are not monks nor do we work at a spiritual organization to propagate teachings. It is not realistic given our circumstances to be in frequent contact with “followers” and to be giving personal guidance to others. Hence, an online community of like-minded practitioners (some of whom are deeply realized and have gone through similar realizations) is more helpful in this case.

Just now while jogging.. while looking at the trees I suddenly recalled some of my peak experiences of PCE (Pure Consciousness Experience) many years ago, even before anatta was realized in 2010.. (although anatta realization was a crucial key that made this all effortless and natural) the wow factor that arise from the marveling at the wondrous and magical quality of everything and it occurred to me that the wondrous and magical quality is very much present as very vivid actuality of all forms even now except without the aspect of astonishment as it has become a natural quality of experience. It is all so naturally magical, marvelous, and wondrous like I am literally living in a paradise, but without any 'fireworks' or sense that some special event is happening. It is an all-encompassing (and non-metaphysical/non-ontological/non-subjective) Pristine/Pure Awareness completely devoid of a center or boundary, devoid of a self/Self/agent/perceiver/doer/be-er radiating as none other than the very textures and colors and sounds and sensations from moment to moment. The actuality of everything, trees, sky, ground, people, things and events, are revealed in each moment as magical, wonderful, marvelous, alive and vivid beyond description as in being magical and wondrous like actually living in a fairy-tale like paradise without the slightest trace of a self/Self, agent, doer, be-er, being, or the slightest division of a subject and object. Everything (colors/smells/sounds/sensations/touch/thoughts) has a sparkling intensity and brilliance of aliveness that simply stands out.

People not familiar might on first glance think I am describing some special altered state of consciousness unnaturally induced through the ingestion of a psychedelic drug or through some intensive meditative or yogic technique, but I can assure you this is now my everyday and every moment sober, natural, spontaneous and effortless state of experience.

This aspect of a PCE or an Actual Freedom is quite well by the Actual Freedom teachings (which I have been revisiting recently while helping to write the Awakening to Reality guide), except I would not make ontological statements about the physical universe as I do not have notions of inherent existence with regards to a physical universe out there. The infinitude (boundlessness) of the universe participating in this very spontaneous breathing and activity is experientially actualized as a state of total exertion, with no sense of solidity or inherency involved, therefore I am free from any such views as rejected by the Buddha in the Culamalunkya Sutta as I do not make ontological assertions of some eternal and infinite universe that inherently exists out there, nor is there the slightest sense that a soul exists at all.

Then it also occurred to me that those very familiar with anatta shouldn’t be unfamiliar with total exertion and conditionality (though the view aspect of dependent origination seems missing in teachings like AF), for there is thoroughgoing and cosmic relativity (as in a completely seamless activity that is conventionally expressed as relative origination) in anatta without the slightest trace of an Absolute. It is in this sense of total exertion and thoroughgoing relativity and exertion where the entire universe is participating in every single activity including jogging and breathing, that teachings like Hua-Yen makes sense, however I have to say that I do not have the slightest trace of a metaphysical reality, a noumenon, a Being or a framework of that sort in my consciousness, as my state of consciousness is constantly completely devoid of a self or a Self. And this is why when writings surface recently about noumenon/phenomenon, being, etc, I have to say, those terms resonate with my earlier stages of realisation but my current state is nothing of that kind, there is nothing like that in anatta.

A thought did cross my mind just now -- if Actual Freedom's Richard reads Zen Master Dogen's teachings, he might find some of them resonating, but I did not find any reference to Zen Master Dogen's works in Actual Freedom's website. E.g.

This state of consciousness is devoid of affective emotional imposition on the purity and perfection of the experience. Everything is clean, perfect, wonderful, marvelous and alive, without the additional layer of obscurity that consists of the solidifying of a self/Self with its incumbent habitual (or what Richard calls "instinctual") affective reactions, emotional reactions. For example just now while listening to the baby crying, the crying is incredibly "actual" just as the trees and rivers and buildings are "actual" - not in the sense that they are felt as solid, physical and inherently existing, but "actual" in the sense of vividly manifesting in a completely "pristine" and "unsullied" state, the complete actuality of sound unobscured by any trace of emotional or mental reactions, in actual fact completely unsullied by the slightest trace of subjectivity -- only the crying just as it is, vividly heard, with no self/Self or passions or aversions whatsoever.

And this is how the teachings of Buddha in Bahiya Sutta, and its related Malunkyaputta Sutta leads to complete liberation --

"Then, Malunkyaputta, with regard to phenomena to be seen, heard, sensed, or cognized: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Malunkyaputta, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."

"Knowing an idea — mindfulness lapsed — attending to the theme of 'endearing,' impassioned in mind, one feels and remains fastened there. One's feelings, born of the idea, grow numerous, Greed & annoyance injure one's mind. Thus amassing stress, one is said to be far from Unbinding. Not impassioned with forms — seeing a form with mindfulness firm — dispassioned in mind, one knows and doesn't remain fastened there. While one is seeing a form — and even experiencing feeling — it falls away and doesn't accumulate. Thus one fares mindfully. Thus not amassing stress, one is said to be in the presence of Unbinding."

As a sidenote, I am very blissful these days (not the sort of 'emotional' bliss that is contaminated by self/Self, but always a radiant joyfulness springing up spontaneously as a natural ongoing delightfulness of no-self/no-Self, happy and delightful and smiling very often), today even more so.
I have criticised corrupt gurus and institutions for the abuse they inflict. But going by this, there are endless things to criticise in the world, including the horrors that just happened in New Zealand perpetrated by extremists of ultra right-wing, islamophobic ideology and white supremacy. It is surely worthy of utmost condemnation by any sensible person. This is the horrors driven by a low level state of consciousness called “ethnocentricism” based on the spiral dynamics model, which is a narrow, group-centric identity as opposed to a more encompassing, world centric mindset. It is high time that the world evolve out of childish, infantile and narrow minded low level states of ethnocentric consciousness to embrace a world centric perspective, to focus on the real issues that humanity faces, including issues like climate change which will soon threaten the very survival of civilisation itself. These are all issues that can never be solved if ethnocentricism continues to be the predominant state of consciousness that humanity is in (and unfortunately it still is). Humanity needs to wake up from its slumber.
But still, what I’ve said is looking at these issues on the surface, merely the symptoms of a more fundamental root cause of suffering and affliction. More fundamentally, the root cause of all the horrors in the world is a mind afflicted by the tendencies towards greed, hatred and delusion. In effect, all afflictive activities are dependently originated not from a self or agency but are activities arising in dependence on conditions, particularly a deluded mind that imputes inherent existence on self and phenomena. Cut off the root causes of suffering and you will have peace on earth, a pristine, luminous and pure mind/world completely rid of any sense that “I exist”, any sense of a self/Self, a world where nobody will be seen as enemies as not even the slightest sense of separation remains, and not a trace of hatred and malice remains to be found, let alone violence and murder or the need for these “wayward behaviours” to be policed by laws. Such a world is not fantasy, for many today are living proof that it is possible to live in such purity, via an inner realization and transformation, as I too am speaking from experience. The sufferings and horrors driven by this root cause of ignorance are endless, but all comes forth in dependence on the root cause of ignorance.
And I am saying this not out of desire for self-attention or all that silly nonsense. I have no ambition or the slightest desire to be in some role of being a guru. Instead of elevating the status of myself, it is my very intention to “normalise” and “demythologize” it, as the people who have attained this are mostly very ordinary people like you and me, not some 108th reincarnated avatar of the luminous king of vishnu. The state of awakening is utterly accessible and readily attainable by all and sundry. Widespread awakening in the world is possible and hopefully will come to be in times to come. 
I am against setting up an authoritarian structure, as I hold that truth, freedom and liberation is everyone’s birthright and cannot be monopolised or institutionalised by gurus, forms and structure. I do not wish to be someone selling water by the river. However, the least I can do perhaps, is to point out the river - the possibility of a shift in consciousness. Life is vastly better for oneself and for others when lived from measureless mind/universe rather than the narrow confines of a solid and dualistic world of self and other.
Just like a movie, appearances are dependently originating as formation like burning flames and bubbles without anything coming or going, completely essenceless. Appearances are completely empty and non arising by nature. Seeing this alone liberates. There is no persisting Essence or self/Self anywhere, only dependent formations. Nothing is there, void of substance yet appearing like flames and bubbles. As with a movie, any sense of something or someone coming from here or going there is wrong. It is because we fail to see the nature of dharma (phenomena) as dependent formation that we conceive of phenomena as having essences, as having a life of their own, that could come and go, arise, abide and cease on its own. Has the burning flame came from somewhere, arise, abide, and cease, or is merely an empty dependent formation? You may not attribute some essence to characters in the movie coming from somewhere and going somewhere, but you attribute this to things and persons in real life. Rather see that all phenomena are like burning flame or bubble that manifest on conditions and cease upon cessation or conditions but without anything coming or going, arising or ceasing. If you try to find where they abide, where they go and come from, nothing whatsoever can be found. Appearing but nothing “there”.
Do you say the flame has some Essence that has gone somewhere else when ceased? Do you say some Essence has arrived from somewhere when fire starts burning? No, just dependent formations. All afflictive and non afflictive phenomena roll on in dependence without a persisting Essence, agent, or medium. Yet based on yesterday’s events, certain thoughts or actions take place today, as the continuity of the chain of dependencies. Still it is dependent formation, no self/Self involved.

Clinging and afflictions subside in actualizing this as there cannot be any sort of grasping at what is completely without Essence or self-existence. But this liberation does not come from the illusion-like experience but from the complete release of any notion of Essence.. the taste is illusion like but it is the release of Essence that is liberating. Just like it is not the experience of PCE/pure consciousness experience or a state of no-mind (which can simply be peak experiences) that liberates but the release of self/Self from realization of anatta that is liberating.

Seeing this requires us to see the right relationship between experience, view and realization, and not skewing to one aspect.
I mentioned earlier that I will write something about dull nondual experience and realising the Presence or the Heart.

There is something tremendously alive, intelligent, a quality of pure Presence and that is nothing inert but intensely luminous (not in the sutric definition of purity and emptiness) but in the sense that the intensity of our cognizant mind evokes the sense of powerful radiance and illumination but without any separation between an illuminator and the illuminated, with absolutely no agent/perceiver/doer involved. It can evoke the sense of a radiance that is so intense that it completely outshines all visual darkness of night and brightness of the sun. This Presence is mystically alive, wondrous and magnificent, “more real than real”, and the complete opposite of an inert or merely some dull state of non conceptuality and absorption.

This outshining of Presence-Awareness is not about some hidden invisible background existing behind manifestation (which will be perceived this way at the I AM stage) but is vividly manifest or “Presencing” (Presencing is a better word than Presence as it is not a static background or entity and none other than the dynamic stuff of transience) as the very “realness” or “vividness” of any appearance/display, color, sound, scent, touch, taste, thought, as if everything comes alive and there is something very wonderful and beautiful about it. The brilliant light of Presence-Awareness is none other than the body-mind-universe which when deconstructed and freed from self/Self/physicality is experienced as spheres of vivid light, colors, sounds, and sensations.

This luminosity is also not merely a heightened state of clarity as I explained:…/luminosity-vs-clar…

“Someone asked me about luminosity. I said it is not simply a state of heightened clarity or mindfulness, but like touching the very heart of your being, your reality, your very essence without a shadow of doubt. It is a radiant, shining core of Presence-Awareness, or Existence itself. It is the More Real than Real. It can be from a question of "Who am I?" followed by a sudden realization. And then with further insights you touch the very life, the very heart, of everything. Everything comes alive. First as the innermost 'You', then later when the centerpoint is dropped (seen through -- there is no 'The Center') every 'point' is equally so, every point is A 'center', in every encounter, form, sound and activity.”

There is a wide variety of methods to bring oneself to an abrupt stoppage of concepts and a face to face encounter of Pure Presence. All sorts of ways actually, some are safer and some are a bit more risky. For example Thusness, I, Ramana Maharshi, Ch'an Master Hsu Yun and many others have awakened through self-enquiry and we are exponents of the method of self-enquiry. Sim Pern Chong awakened to the I AM through breath meditation. Some get awakened through a mere pointing out by a teacher. Some awakened through yogic, tantric, kundalini paths. Ram Dass, David Carse and others have had their initial realization of the Heart-essence through the use of psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms, ayahuasca, 5-MEO-DMT, LSD, and so on. (I am not advocating the use of drugs here, just stating that some people have used them with such results) There are many other methods and koans I did not mention.

And yet, many have awakened through a simple shout by a Zen Master or a Dzogchen Master. A sudden unexpected KATZ! or a PHAT! of a Zen and Dzogchen master brings one into the immediate thoughtless face-to-face encounter of the luminous heart-essence. At that moment, you just shift out from all that nonsense and garbage in your head into just that instance of being blanked out into Presence. It is not an inert trance but an alert, alive and yet thoughtless state of Presence. Try it!
But whatever method one uses to introduce that initial glimpse and taste of Presence, it is always through the deepening of insight into non-dual anatta that brings that taste to effortless uncontrivance and full-blown maturity in all encounters and manifestations.

So when one has access to a state of nondual, one should ask whether it is dull and inert or suffused with a powerful sense of Presence. After anatta this Presence is no longer seen as a background but vividly shining forth as the manifold dynamic and seamlessly interconnected display, and the play of dharma and dependent origination is something which is alive, not just inert and mechanistic as someone wrote. All the qualities of I AM - infinite like space, powerful Presence, Luminosity, Clarity, Vitality and Intelligence are effortlessly experienced without contrivance, and furthermore no longer seen as something hidden behind but fully manifested from moment to moment activity and the sense of cosmic Impersonality which was once experienced as being lived through a reified cosmic intelligence is now experienced as the total exertion where a single activity is the exertion of the Whole - an activity that is seamlessly connected and coordinated with the entire Whole, a spontaneous exertion of the Whole of seamless dependencies. In other words all the taste of Presence similar to the I AM, including all the four aspects of I AM and the experience of anatta as requisites are fully present in the experience of Maha suchness, which is an experience of greatness beyond measure, where even a single breath feels cosmic and limitless.

"The purpose of anatta is to have full blown experience of the heart -- boundlessly, completely, non-dually and non-locally. Re-read what I wrote to Jax.

In every situations, in all conditions, in all events. It is to eliminate unnecessary contrivity so that our essence can be expressed without obscuration.

Jax wants to point to the heart but is unable to express in a non-dual way... for in duality, the essence cannot be realized. All dualistic interpretation are mind made. You know the smile of Mahākāśyapa? Can you touch the heart of that smile even 2500 yrs later?

One must lose all mind and body by feeling with entire mind and body this essence which is 心 (Mind). Yet 心 (Mind) too is 不可得 (ungraspable/unobtainable).. The purpose is not to deny 心 (Mind) but rather not to place any limitations or duality so that 心 (Mind) can fully manifest.

Therefore without understanding 缘 (conditions),is to limit 心 (Mind). without understanding 缘 (conditions),is to place limitation in its manifestations. You must fully experience 心 (Mind) by realizing 无心 (No-Mind) and fully embrace the wisdom of 不可得 (ungraspable/unobtainable)." - John Tan/Thusness, 2014
Angelo Gerangelo just shared in the new group Awakening to Reality

    Angelo Gerangelo Hi 🙂 I wrote this a while back. May be helpful may not. I think it’s too long so I will post in two parts.

    I have no idea who might find this useful or want to read it at all. You could say that I actually can’t find “anyone”, anymore than I can find a “my self” apart from the flow of phenomenality.

    When self is out of the way then the field of phenomenal activity informs Itself. There is only luminous self-manifesting presence. This all-encompassing absorption which manifests as color, movement, sound, bodily sensation, texture, taste and smell has no “outside.” In and of itself it is complete, self evident, spontaneous, and undeniable. It is also void of substance, identity, solidity, continuity, purpose or meaning.

    This is what is meant by Dogen’s “when one side is illuminated the other side is dark.”

    To the content-addicted mind this may sound unappealing. However, in direct experience this is blissful, profoundly peaceful and “right” in a way that nothing in the concept-identified world of “me, my life, my problems, my past and my future” even comes close to.

    It is also stateless, natural, and not “of time,” meaning there is no appearance of it coming or going, arising or subsiding. There is a deep intuition that “this is it,” however there is no longer anyone to hold that intuition.

    For example the direct experience of a single color is the culmination of all that Is and it’s underlying unmanifest potentiality, coming forth in and as that color. In this, the intuitive knowing of interconnectedness arises as a gut level instinct. This color “event” is distinct, pristine and has no remainder. The seeing is intrinsic to the color itself and thus the color cannot be said to be an object of seeing.

    The above is true of all sense modalities (five gates).

    This vivid aliveness is experienced as the maximum exertion of the cosmos coming forth to bring about this exact quantum event. This is the ecstasy of coming into Being, not as a discrete entity experiencing a world of phenomena, but as the phenomenon itself.

    This is precisely what is meant in the ninth oxherding picture by “the river flows tranquilly on and the flowers are red,” as well as, “the water is emerald, the mountain is indigo...”

    Released of the burden of a subject, a watcher, or an experiencer, phenomena are seen to be absolutely free by nature.

    In this freedom the flow of phenomenality is infinite in degree, quality and potential.

    The mark of this freedom is transience. This is where description really falters. No conceptual paradigm of transience can communicate transience.

    Conception is largely about description, which is the referencing of something in one’s previous experience and saying “it’s like that,” or “it’s like that only with such and such difference.”

    Transient nature contradicts this conceptual tendency on a moment to moment basis. Not only is there no “before” to compare present experience to, there is no background against which experience can be compared.

    Indeed what is being discussed here is not in the realm of experience, but rather is experience-less. To put it simply, “this isn’t like anything, it is exactly as it is.” This is why terms such as “is-ness,” and “such-ness” are used.

    Even to point to constant flux, endless change is not quite right. To notice constant change there must be a background or a standpoint of comparison, which cannot be found.

    So the use of conception, pointing, description to “get at” transient nature is very slippery business. The following may or may not be helpful.
  • Angelo Gerangelo The most basic movement of consciousness is simple reflection, as if taking a picture with a camera of what seems to be happening in the sensory world. This is pre-conceptual and operates at a very fundamental layer of processing but if it could be made into a statement, this snapshot would say something like “oh this is how it is, this is the nature of reality.” I would call this the fundamental unit of “frame” or “view.”

    Only after the collapse of frame is transient nature experienced as natural and is expressed as infinite-degree freedom.

    It is imperative here to clarify that what is meant by view or frame in this context is not referring to mere opinion or belief. An opinion or belief can be examined at the conceptual level. This can indeed be quite profitable at earlier stages of realization “Who am I?” However in deeper stage realization this fundamental tendency toward frame can and often does go completely unnoticed. It underlies our most basic tendencies, motivations, assumptions. It is the foundation upon which the entire identity construct is built. This includes personal identity (before kensho or what some call “I Am” awakening), as well as the much more subtle identification with consciousness, universality, pre-conceptual experience that almost always occurs after awakening.

    The challenge is that the contrast between concept identification (pre awakening) and subtle identification with unbound consciousness, universality, the absolute (post awakening), is often so dramatic that it can be mistaken for enlightenment (anatta), and the remaining identification can be completely overlooked. This manifests as the belief “all there is is awareness,” like a constant state of watching with no watcher. We can become convinced either overtly or unconsciously that we have arrived.

    To further complicate the issue, we may have further realization beyond initial awakening where the illusion of subject/object division collapses and yet frame remains very much intact. This can become a “pseudo-completion” and lead to all kinds of subtle but profound distortions.

    More commonly we subtly suspect that the process of realization has not completed itself, but have no clue how to proceed. We often find that many of the drives that motivated us to awaken initially have subsided. We also often find that the approaches to practice that worked previously do not seem to have the same effectiveness or suddenly don’t feel relevant in the ways that they used to.

    So what to do? Well because the sense of being a watcher, a doer, and a volitional agent are built on top of and are thus effects of frame, we must investigate in a specific way so as to avoid remaining in a subtle watcher/doer frame unknowingly.

    Firstly an investigation of the nature and function of frame can be helpful. This investigation should be conducted in as direct a way as possible. What I mean is that the functioning of frame will never cease by mere understanding, conceptualizing etc. Having a conceptual framework can be a good jumping off place but the inquiry must be non-conceptual, direct and with the innocent curiosity of a child. As Christ said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    Returning to the snapshot analogy, the reflective mind (consciousness) takes snapshots of sensory input on an ongoing basis and uses these snapshots to construct a frame which is used as the foundation for “how things are.” This tendency to construct and maintain an objective reality through frame has tremendous momentum. It begins as a small child as we become self aware in the most fundamental way somewhere between the first and second year of life. In early childhood this frame tendency is intermittent, but over time it starts to feel quite solid. This solidity is experienced as continuity (self and world in time). This continuity is fundamental to who we think we are and how we think the world is. By early adulthood it has typically become so solidified that most people would consider it absurd to even question. To question the assumption that I am a choice maker moving through a world called ‘my life,’ in which I solve problems and I have a distinct past and a future that I’m creating, would be akin to insanity in the context of what we consider normal human experience.

    Even with later stages of realization we don’t appreciate the breadth and magnitude of the binding nature of frame until it ceases (anatta).

    So to “get under” frame we must become very clear on the basic units of its construction. This must take place in direct experience only. A mere conceptual understanding will be useless at best and a distraction and hindrance at worst.

    So start to become familiar with these “snapshots.” To do this it is imperative that we spend time directly investigating the sensory phenomena. There are many ways to do this but the key is to look directly, closely, sincerely and repetitively.

    For example: As a color, shape or movement (visual phenomenon) is perceived we should directly investigate its nature without thought. When we do this earnestly we will begin to see the point at which the snapshot is taken. We will see where the direct experience of that color becomes “red” or “red shirt.” We will begin to see where that direct experience of red, when the eyes are closed becomes a mental image of what was previously viewed. These are two examples of thought-reflection (snapshot). One is conceptual (verbal/words/labels), the other is non-conceptual (visual/image).

    Begin to clearly perceive the difference between direct sensory experience and reflective consciousness in this way.

    Do not reject either experience just see them for what they are.

    Similarly when sound is heard, simply experience it directly. Notice the difference between direct experience and the thought that follows that labels that experience. Furthermore recognize that only a thought following direct experience of a sound can state or suggest the presence of someone who heard that sound.

    In this way we begin to perceive sound as it is. We start to experience the no-thingness of it (you can never actually find it in real time bc it’s gone as soon as it’s there). At the same time we start to experience the non-dual (no subject object) aspect of it. This is the direct, all encompassing, “just this” aspect.

    As you clarify both of these “sides” of the direct sensory phenomena there will be clearer and clearer direct knowing that there is no seer, no listener, no sensor, there is only hearing, seeing, sensing. In addition each sensory “event” will clearly be realized as interconnected, complete, vivid and “with maximum absorption.”

    As this is clarified over and over the sense of a doer, seer, hearer, perceiver will begin to fade as it is only found in a thought, never in the phenomena.

    As my zen teacher used to say years ago, “at some point, the mountains, rivers and flowers simply replace you.”
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  • John Tan Angelo, is this ur daily experience now?
  • Angelo Gerangelo John Tan it feels odd to call it an experience however I’d say yes. It’s more simply a way of pointing to the natural phenomenal world as experienced through/by/as the senses. There’s a completely indescribable sense to everything as well. The best way I can say is that there is no “way that things are.” Constant flux so the moment I describe anything it’s already gone. Even the sense of wanting to describe everything here is momentary and based on conditions (this conversation) and is dissolving as it is forming. There’s no sense of having arrived indeed the vessel through which one could say to have arrived or left is only a momentary appearance.

    The transient nature again just defies explanation but I could liken it to this. It’s as if one were walking down a lighted hallway and only the section of hallway that you are in is illuminated. As if the lights turn on and then off again as you walk past. Only there’s no you walking and no hallway only the lights creating appearances of movement and phenomena in that section. The lights in that analogy are the sensory phenomena. Just vivid direct experience self-experiencing.

    Further it seems to quite paradoxically become more and more solid/physical. The physicality of body/world is experienced as interpenetrated with the “realization.” Like a mountain of emptiness, universe walking, talking, sitting, working. The more I write the more I realize this defies description.

    There is value to the precision of description/language in describing stages of realization etc. personally I’m only interested in that insofar as it helps others who genuinely want to wake up to the deepest truths. With that said there can also be subtle fixations on precision of descriptions etc. There is of course a whole other side to realization that is totally instinctual, mysterious, unknowable. The innocence, vulnerability, wonder and awe cannot be overlooked, particularly if we are going to carry this into daily life as usual. I would never say anything is complete here, I am in awe moment to moment and learn from everyone and everything. It is literally impossible to have a sense that “I am liberated but others aren’t.” In a very real way all thatcis seen is Buddha nature. So if I speak to someone in process of awakening this is how I see them. They are both awakening process and Buddha nature. Those cannot be divided out. Not sure if that is helpful.

    Disclaimer- I don’t stand by anything I say, it’s gone as soon as it arrives 🤣
  • John Tan Yes Angelo, total exertion!

    I like ur description of walking down a lighted hallway.

    Like while walking in a shopping mall, there is no self, just the full fluxing sensations forming the the appearance of the “shopping mall”. Then when entering the car park, the entire fluxing sensations turn into a “carpark”. The taste of this wondrous fluxing appearance is beyond description.

    As for physicality and senses, they are simply conventional designations. In total exertion, all designated boundaries dissolved and the six senses seamlessly inter-permeate each other into one miraculous functioning. In the exertion of seeing for example, it is not only the eyes see; the ears see; the nose sees, the colors see. The entire body-mind-universe marvelously arise as this moment of vivid scenery. In this moment, there is no seer and no seeing, just the beautiful scenery.

    Look, appreciate and dwell deeply into it in non-dual and ask,

    Where is this scenery?

    Unlike sound, taste, thoughts and smell that vanish like evanescent mist, the scenery is vividly and obviously there, but where is it?

    Powerfully present, yet empty like reflection.

    Integrate the two taste and happy journey!

Jon Norris:

Moonbeams of Mahamudra

‘Moonbeams of Mahamudra’ by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal (1511-1587) is one of the central texts of the Kagyu Lineage. When it comes to mahamudra manuals, it ranks in importance just behind the Ninth Karmapa’s ‘Ocean’ texts. For many years, the only English translation we had of this text was the one done by Lobsang Lhalungpa on Long Island back in the 70s under the sponsorship of Dr. Shen. From 1990 to 1995, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche conducted a series of five annual retreats in Big Bear Lake in California during which he gave a page by page reading transmission for this text, and his brilliant lectures are now collected in another marvelous book, ‘Essentials of Mahamudra’.

Most Kagyupas practice mahamudra using the widely popular method known as ‘the five part mahamudra’ which depends heavily on deity yoga (the generation and completion stages of mahayoga and anuyoga). But the Ninth Karmapa’s and Tashi Namgyal’s mahamudra manuals embody the ‘essence’ tradition of mahamudra as found in Gampopa’s earliest presentation. This mahamudra can be practiced independently of deity visualization, and focuses directly on shamatha and vipashyana. The Sixteenth Karmapa (Rangjung Rigpe Dorje) felt that this direct system would be more suitable for the western mind, and I heartily agree.

All these years later, I have become an avid student of Dudjom Lingpa’s dzogchen system as taught by Alan Wallace, and I am quite amazed at the similarities between Gampopa’s essence mahamudra and Dudjom’s quintessential dzogchen. Both systems hinge on mastery of shamatha and vipashyana, moving from recognition of the nature of mind to rigpa and on to spontaneous presence. The only significant difference is that the mahamudra manuals conclude with ‘cutting through’ (khregs chod), while Dudjom’s dzogchen manuals add a subsequent step in ‘direct crossing over’ (thod gyal).

Alan Wallace published Dudjom’s five principle dzogchen texts in a trilogy called ‘Visions of the Great Perfection’, and now we have something new on the mahamudra front as well. Elizabeth Callahan has just finished new translations of both Tashi Namgyal’s ‘Moonbeams of Mahamudra’ and Wangchuk Dorje’s ‘Dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance’, and they are both included in the same volume. This book will be released on March 12th. It won’t be cheap as books go, but it will be the best bargain of your life as liberation goes! Elizabeth translated the original restricted version of Wangchuk Dorje’s ‘Ocean’ manual, and it is superb. She knows her stuff. If I were you, I would pre-order this book and set aside some time in March for the meditation cushion!

~ Ŧoƞpa Ɉoƞ