Carlus Sego's Breakthrough. Read from last page from bottom to top

https://app.box.com/s/oe446dqz31lgfb5xfv3c8bg9ulda5zqz

Thag 1:49  Rāmaṇeyyaka

Even with all the whistles & whistling,
the calls of the birds,
this, my mind, doesn’t waver,
for my delight is in
oneness.


.............

Jui asks: (? Question about samadhi)

John: actually what is more important is that background is completely gone. Then when the background is completely gone, you do not have a behind, only the sound. Then your experience becomes most direct, cannot be more direct. Then when you hear the basketball sound, bum bum bum.. only. You understand what I mean? Initially even if you have seen through, there will always be a tendency – you and the basketball. I ever went through a period where I thought that I will not have that problem anymore. After about three months later, it comes back. Then I wondered why does it come back after I have seen through? Then after that, the tendency (comes back?). for yours (me/Soh) it is quite clear, because lucid dream until one can control the three states, it is quite deep already. After the initial insight one needs 4-5 years to have that kind of calibre, you see? So some people are different. So it is sufficiently deep into the mind body tendency. For me, three months after (?) it has a dual sensation, then after still a period (?) after.

Jui: I always hear people say when you see one object you are like the object… but in my experience…

John: In your experience now, your self at the behind will be gone. But you are unable to reach completely mind to object (one pointedness). But your behind disappears. But to zhuan zhu yi ge (be absorbed in one [object]) you are unable to reach, that requires Samadhi state. That is, that behind is gone, but you are one pointed into one object, then with view you will experience maha experience, total exertion. He (me/Soh) is also the same, the behind is gone, no more self, only the sound but there is no self, there is just this, there is just that. That is because the insight has arisen but concentration (?) my way is different. Before insight of anatta I had decades of practicing meditation, then I AM, then meditation, then I AM. My practice is like that. (?) but for you guys, you see clearly first, the behind is gone and your experience becomes very clear and vivid and yet you are unable to concentrate. So you must understand that concentration is different. Peacefulness and releasing is (different), clear vivid awareness is also different. It requires different insights and practice. You still have to meditate, it is impossible that (?) you should be in this stage, you are very clear, the click click sound is felt to be very vivid, then one day you will have total exertion feeling, but you must practice releasing and concentration. When the mind is discursive and wandering, you need practice. your mindfulness/thought needs to be practiced. You need to have a stillness/Samadhi. (to me/Soh) Your stillness is still not enough. Your mind is still having thought after thought, you are unable to have stillness. But your insight is able to reach no self. You are still unable to reach stillness and releasing. It is not a matter of saying then you can reach it, it requires practice.

(Comments by Soh: before my realization of anatta I would do samatha and enter into jhanic bliss [samadhi bliss but not resting in nature of mind], afterwards it is more towards the bliss of no-self luminosity, yet samadhi is still vital)

Me: best way is to practice vipasssana?

John: Vipassana … when it becomes non conceptual and non dual, it is even more difficult like for you, your insight is there, there is no self, yet when you sit you are unable to reach it. Because you need to focus. You need to focus your breath, (otherwise?) unable to reach it. For normal people they are able to reach it even easier. For you it is somewhat more difficult. So I always tell you, for example, for you and him the way of entering is by clear luminosity… feel as clear as possible. For example when you breathe, feel your breathe entirely. So you feel very very clear, just this breath you know. Then you feel the vividness. It is easier to enter this way.

Me: so you are advising Anapanasati?

John: yes of course, then you do many times. But when you do many times you are not counting. Don’t count. Just feel the entire sensation of the breath. You are just that sensation of your breath. Then you are so clear with your entire breath. That whole aircon that touches your nostrils, then going into your lungs. It is just this sensation. This is what we call breath. So you keep on doing. You are very aware of it. Actually it is not you are very aware of lah. This is what I call awareness and the whole thing is awareness, there is no somebody awaring. It is just breath. Then slowly you will have this (Samadhi?), you need to keep doing. 



.............




Also see: Right Samadhi


Many people have a very warped understanding of the so called "highest teachings" such as Dzogchen and Mahamudra, thinking that these teachings allow us to bypass or skip meditation training, or that it does not require "practice" and "meditation". This cannot be further from the truth.

Here are the words from Lopon Malcolm, a qualified dharma teacher who was asked by his Dzogchen master, Kunzang Dechen Lingpa to teach Dzogchen -


Malcolm (Loppon Namdrol) wrote:
    Rongzom makes the point very clearly that Dzogchen practitioners must develop the mental factors that characterize the first dhyana, vitarka, vicara, pritvi, sukha and ekagraha, i.e. applied attention, sustained attention, physical ease, mental ease and one-pointedness. If you do not have a stable samatha practice, you can't really call yourself a Dzogchen practitioner at all. At best, you can call yourself someone who would like to be a Dzogchen practitioner a ma rdzogs chen pa. People who think that Dzogchen frees one from the need to meditate seriously are seriously deluded. The sgra thal 'gyur clearly says:
    The faults of not meditating are:
    the characteristics of samsara appear to one,
    there is self and other, object and consciousness,
    the view is verbal,
    the field is perceptual,
    one is bound by afflictions,
    also one throws away the path of the buddhahood,
    one does not understand the nature of the result,
    a basis for the sameness of all phenomena does not exist,
    one's vidya is bound by the three realms,
    and one will fall into conceptuality
    He also added:
    Dhyanas are defined by the presence or absence of specific mental factors.
    The Dhyanas were not the vehicle of Buddha's awakening, rather he coursed through them in order to remove traces of rebirth associated with the form and formless realms associated with the dhyanas.
...
    Whether you are following Dzogchen or Mahamudra, and regardless of your intellectual understanding, your meditation should have, at base, the following characteristics:
    Prthvi -- physical ease Sukha -- mental joy Ekagraha -- one-pointedness Vitarka -- initial engagement Vicara -- sustained engagement
    If any of these is missing, you have not even achieved perfect samatha regardless of whether or not you are using an external object, the breath or even the nature of the mind.
    ...
    Even in Dzogchen, the five mental factors I mentioned are key without which you are really not going to make any progress.

...

Samadhi/dhyāna is a natural mental factor, we all have it. The problem is that we naturally allow this mental factor to rest on afflictive objects such as HBO, books, video games, etc.

Śamatha practice is the discipline of harnessing our natural predisposition for concentration, and shifting it from afflictive conditioned phenomena to nonafflictive conditioned phenomena, i.e., the phenomena of the path. We do this in order to create a well tilled field for the growth of vipaśyāna. Śamatha ultimately allows us to have mental stability and suppresses afflictive mental factors so that we may eventually give rise to authentic insight into the nature of reality. While it is possible to have vipaśyāna without cultivating śamatha, it is typically quite unstable and lacks the power to effectively eradicate afflictive patterning from our minds. Therefore, the basis of all practice in Buddhadharma, from Abhidharma to the Great Perfection, is the cultivation of śamatha as a preliminary practice for germination of vipaśyāna.

Also see: Fearless Samadhi

Ud 2:10 Bhaddiya Kāḷigodha (Kāḷigodha Sutta)

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Anupiyā in the Mango Grove. And on that occasion, Ven. Bhaddiya, Kāḷigodhā’s son, on going to the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, would repeatedly exclaim, “What bliss! What bliss!”
A large number of monks heard Ven. Bhaddiya, Kāḷigodhā’s son, on going to the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, repeatedly exclaim, “What bliss! What bliss!” and on hearing him, the thought occurred to them, “There’s no doubt but that Ven. Bhaddiya, Kāḷigodhā’s son, doesn’t enjoy leading the holy life, for when he was a householder he knew the bliss of kingship, so that now, on recollecting that when going to the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, he is repeatedly exclaiming, ‘What bliss! What bliss!’”
So they went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there, they told him, “Ven. Bhaddiya, Kāḷigodhā’s son, lord, on going to the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, repeatedly exclaims, ‘What bliss! What bliss!’ There’s no doubt but that Ven. Bhaddiya doesn’t enjoy leading the holy life, for when he was a householder he knew the bliss of kingship, so that now, on recollecting that when going to the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, he is repeatedly exclaiming, ‘What bliss! What bliss!’”
Then the Blessed One told a certain monk, “Come, monk. In my name, call Bhaddiya, saying, ‘The Teacher calls you, friend Bhaddiya.’”
Responding, “As you say, lord,” to the Blessed One, the monk went to Ven. Bhaddiya, Kāḷigodhā’s son, and on arrival he said to him, “The Teacher calls you, friend Bhaddiya.”
Responding, “As you say, my friend,” to the monk, Ven. Bhaddiya, Kāḷigodhā’s son, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him, “Is it true, Bhaddiya that–on going to the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or to an empty dwelling–you repeatedly exclaim, ‘What bliss! What bliss!’?”
“Yes, lord.”
“What compelling reason do you have in mind that–when going to the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or to an empty dwelling–you repeatedly exclaim, ‘What bliss! What bliss!’?”
“Before, when I has a householder, maintaining the bliss of kingship,1 lord, I had guards posted within and without the royal apartments, within and without the city, within and without the countryside. But even though I was thus guarded, thus protected, I dwelled in fear–agitated, distrustful, & afraid. But now, on going alone to the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, I dwell without fear, unagitated, confident, & unafraid–unconcerned, unruffled, living on the gifts of others, with my mind like a wild deer. This is the compelling reason I have in mind that–when going to the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or to an empty dwelling–I repeatedly exclaim, ‘What bliss! What bliss!’”
Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:
From whose heart
there is no provocation,
& for whom becoming & non-becoming
are overcome,
he–
beyond fear,
blissful,
with no grief–
is one the devas can’t see.
Note
1. Reading rajja-sukhaṁ with the Thai and PTS editions. The Sri Lankan and Burmese editions have rajjaṁ: “kingship.”


The Wilderness
Arañña Sutta  (SN 1:10)

Standing to one side, a devatā addressed the Blessed One with a verse:
“Living in the wilderness,
staying peaceful, remaining chaste,
eating just one meal a day:
why are their faces
so bright & serene?”
The Buddha:
“They don’t sorrow over the past,
don’t long for the future.
They survive on the present.
That’s why their faces
are bright & serene.
From longing for the future,
from sorrowing over the past,
fools wither away
like a green reed cut down.”




I think some discussions came up recently relating to spontaneous perfection and practice, and i have commented similar things before but i will say it again.

Even after anatta, emptiness, where everything is tasted as nondual luminosity that is empty like reflections, all spontaneously perfected without effort and action, it does not contradict the importance of practice but practice becomes dynamic actualization or practice-enlightenment. Practices are no longer done in order to achieve a future goal because the very act of practicing is the actualization of the spontaneous perfection in the here and now (only conventionally speaking - there is no here and now to be found). The act of breathing, that very breath itself, the chanting itself, the whatever practice you do becomes the total exertion of spontaneously perfected empty presencing... the practice brings forth the simultaneous qualities of shamatha and vipashyana and mind is at peace, still, attentive and sharp and focused not in a contrived way but in a natural state of no mind. Whatever practices that are done, are done for shamatha and vipashyana for this is the sole means of liberation, even if the object of meditation or non-meditation is simply resting as the nature of mind.

Spontaneous perfection and non meditation thus is not the same as the nihilistic understanding of non action and non meditation as if literally one should not meditate or do any practices whatsoever. That becomes neo advaita teaching and unfortunately it seems that many people (the likes of jax) interpret dzogchen and kunjed gyalpo that way turning it into something no different from neo-advaita. Such people will reason that a wild untamed mind is of no harm to some inherently perfect awareness like the clouds never hinder the sky, which in turns reifies a background awareness, negates the influence of karmic propensities and importance of practices and view, etc. Their inherently existing awareness is so ultimate and absolute that it is never touched, affected, harmed nor improved by karmic traces nor actions and efforts (hence they reason, why the need for practices?), but they will never understand that brahman is not more ultimate and cosmic than a single breath or act of sitting, that there is no mirror besides ongoing reflections, an empty presencing no where to reside (Residing as an unstained background or all subsuming ground is just more effort, not true effortlessness). Hence Just sitting, eating, shitting, sleeping becomes both ground and path, and not even a trace of subject and object, meditator and object of meditation arise in that moment of actualization. It is not that there is no practice and enlightenment but they are undivided. This is why I find the soto zen emphasis on practice-enlightenment a useful antidote to such nihilistic neo-advaitic view.

John tan also recently wrote, “It is how it is presented. It is important to bring across the point that realization is uncaused or "not made".  But the methods r effective tools and provide the necessary conditions.”

Even if you are a 9th bhumi or 12th bhumi on the verge of full Buddhahood (which is to say the least, very unlikely), practice is important. Heck, even the Buddha himself practices and goes for months long retreats regularly focusing on anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) according to his own words and all the arahants do likewise even though they have “done what is to be done”. The buddha and arahants continue to benefit from practice and meditation. Their practice is practice-enlightenment, an actualization of true nature, not practicing for enlightenment.

...

Thusness:

"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... ...in 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 realize 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.
Longchenpa:

Those who scorn the law of karmic cause and fruit

Are students of the nihilist view outside the Dharma.
They rely on the thought that all is void;
They fall in the extreme of nothingness
And go from higher to lower states.
They have embarked on an evil path
And from the evil destinies will have no freedom,
Casting happy states of being far away.
"The law of karmic cause and fruit,
Compassion and the gathering of merit -
All this is but provisional teaching fit for children:
Enlightenment will not be gained thereby.
Great yogis should remain without intentional action.
They should meditate upon reality that is like space.
Such is the definitive instruction."
The view of those who speak like this
Of all views is the most nihilist:
They have embraced the lowest of all paths.
How strange is this!
They want a fruit but have annulled its cause.
If reality is but a space-like void,
What need is there to meditate?
And if it is not so, then even if one meditates
Such efforts are to no avail.
If meditation on mere voidness leads to liberation,
Even those with minds completely blank
Attain enlightenment!
But since those people have asserted meditation,
Cause and its result they thus establish!
Throw far away such faulty paths as these!
The true, authentic path asserts
The arising in dependence of both cause and fruit,
The natural union of skillful means and wisdom.
Through the causality of nonexistent but appearing acts,
Through meditation on the nonexistent but appearing path,
The fruit is gained, appearing and yet nonexistent;
And for the sake of nonexistent but appearing beings,
Enlightened acts, appearing and yet nonexistent, manifest.
Such is pure causality’s profound interdependence.
This is the essential pith
Of all the Sutra texts whose meaning is definitive
And indeed of all the tantras.
Through the joining of the two accumulations,
The generation and completion stages,
Perfect buddhahood is swiftly gained.
Thus all the causal processes
Whereby samsara is contrived should be abandoned,
And all acts that are the cause of liberation
Should be earnestly performed.
High position in samsara
And the final excellence of buddhahood
Will speedily be gained.
(Maha Ati = Great Perfection/Dzogchen)

John Tan a week ago: 

"There is no self. If there is a split between self and other, then training of self is in understanding otherness. If you are to practice forgoing ego, you are essentially practicing full opening when meeting situations, events and otherness." 

I then sent John Tan the Maha Ati text by Chogyam Trungpa (I know he is a teacher who had issues with conduct and controversies, but sometimes you can write something well without fully living it)

Download the text here: https://app.box.com/s/xegntds90q29m5a5f0nbeuiq9u4d6u4r


John Tan replied "Quite good"
Lopon Malcolm:

“In the basis (Tibetan: གཞི, Wylie: gzhi) there were neutral awarenesses (sh shes pa lung ma bstan) that did not recognize themselves. (Dzogchen texts actually do not distinguish whether this neutral awareness is one or multiple.) This non-recognition was the innate ignorance. Due to traces of action and affliction from a previous universe, the basis became stirred and the Five Pure Lights shone out. When a neutral awareness recognized the lights as its own display, that was Samantabhadra (immediate liberation without the performance of virtue). Other neutral awarenesses did not recognize the lights as their own display, and thus imputed “other” onto the lights. This imputation of “self” and “other” was the imputing ignorance. This ignorance started sentient beings and samsara (even without non-virtue having been committed). Yet everything is illusory, since the basis never displays as anything other than the five lights.”

Kyle Dixon:

“I’m obviously preferable to the Dzogchen system because I started there and although branching out, my primary interest has remained there. But I do appreciate the run-down of avidyā or ignorance in the Dzogchen system because it is tiered and accounts for this disparity I am addressing. 

There are two or three levels of ignorance which are more like aspects of our delusion regarding the nature of phenomena. The point of interest in that is the separation of what is called “innate” (or “connate”) ignorance, from what is called “imputing ignorance.”

The imputing ignorance is the designating of various entities, dimension of experience and so on. And one’s identity results from that activity. 

The connate ignorance is the failure to correctly apprehend the nature of phenomena. The very non-recognition of the way things really are. 

This is important because you can have the connate ignorance remain in tact without the presence of the imputing ignorance. 

This separation is not even apparent through the stilling of imputation like in śamatha. But it can be made readily apparent in instances where you awaken from sleep, perhaps in a strange location, on vacation etc., or even just awakening from a deep sleep. There can be a period of moments where you do not realize where you are right yet, and then suddenly it all comes back, where you are, what you have planned for the day, where you need to be, etc., 

In those initial moments you are still conscious and perceiving appearances, and there is still an innate experience of the room being external and objects being something over-there, separate from oneself. That is because this fundamental error in recognition of the nature of phenomena is a deep conditioning that creates the artificial bifurcation of inner and outer experiential dimensions, even without the activity of imputation.”
If you say that the nature of all thoughts is total voidness without arising or cessation, you take voidness too literally and fall into the extreme of nihilism. What they are is vividness that leaves no trace; whose nature is without arising, cessation, or duration; and which cannot be identified as having this colour, that shape, etc.

If you realise this much, you have developed a little understanding. Furthermore, you must recognise that they cannot be identified as this or that, and do so without thinking conceptually, "They cannot be identified as this or that." And without any grasping or contradiction in your mind between the vividness and the voidness of thoughts, you must recognise that thoughts arise and subside simultaneously, like a drawing on water.

In addition, you must gain the insight that there is not the slightest difference in nature between thought and its object, between the settled mind and the moving mind, between past mind and present mind, and so forth. They are all by nature clear, brilliant awareness.

When you draw a thought in for investigation, or if it disappears, it is not that it has gone into clear voidness, nor that such voidness has been left in its wake. Rather, the thought that arises all of a sudden is itself clear voidness. When you realise or gain this insight, then you have recognised the nature of thought.

There is not even the slightest difference between the non-conceptual state and the state of true insight into the triad of dynamic thought, settled mind, and thought's nature as clear, void, and brilliant. To distinguish between these is an interpolation of the mind that does not recognise them.

—Wangchug Dorje, 9th Karmapa (1556-1603), "Mahāmudrā: Eliminating the Darkness of Ignorance"
Robert Dominik practices Dzogchen, manages http://www.tkanka.eu and teaches meditation (website and contents are in Polish). In his words, "...After coleading a meditation workshop with one of Trungpa's close students and getting permission from one of Dharma Ocean senior teachers to do classes and workshops on Somatic Meditation I started to do classes and workshops in my free time (afterhours). My partner got permission to work with Genpo Roshi's Big Mind method - she is also a therapist and a coach. Apart from that we had experience in Tantra, meditation for couples and other forms of meditation practice so we've decided to cooperate and work on our own programs (mostly on meditation, somatic practice and relationships). And it sort of developed from there - the feedback was very good..."


Robert Dominik wrote:

"No self. Never was. Only mistaken way of seeing experience due to attributing selfhood to dependent interplay of 18 dhatus."

So not long ago I've reached a milestone in my practice. I related it then to Soh Wei Yu with the above words. Here's the rest:
"Colors, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations and mental objects rolling on."

"These too lacking substance - coming and going does not appen, nothing truly arises, abides or ceases, compounded and uncompouded dharmas do not exist on their own. Even movement is just an illusion due to mistakenly construing on the basis of different moments - which also lack essence. Yet everything is wondrously and magically appearing - circumstances and conditions. Everything is perfely luminious but it is impossible to find any observer, any background or any essence in or outside of display."

The rest is mostly a convo on how did the insight happen and so on. It is worth quoting the following:

"I am confident that it's impossible for there to be any self nor reality to the illusion so there is no idea like "this might arise again" because there never was a self to begin with..."


Background
As promised I would prepare some journal entry about it. Hence I've written this text. Before the above happened I had some exchanges with Soh and Thusness concerning practice. After a Dzogchen Bon retreat which I've attended I had a powerful experience which also was a milestone in terms of my own Dzogchen practice (it was a precise taste of selfliberation of thoughts - and true enough after that event many pointers from Soh and Thusness made experiental sense like: for example how would it feel if there was no thinker of thoughts etc). However after relating it to Soh Wei Yu he considered it to be a No-mind experience. The fact is that there was no clarity about no-self being a seal. I started contemplating pointers from Soh and Thusness and in the background of my own practice there was this remembering that Anatta is a seal. This slowly shifted my focus from trying to achieve states of suspending duality to penetrating into the actual nature of experience. I've also had a few powerful endorsements for this type of shift from Dzogchen sources that I was reading at the time. Thusness also noted in one convo that it would be worthwhile if I worked on Metta a little bit. Interestingly enough my biggest problem with actualising that the Anatta is a seal was the tendency to experience contraction and stress while interacting if people. I'd then be under the impression that "a sense of self is arising again". So a wrong view persisted and one of its marks was big dichotomy between meditating in solitude and interacting with people. The funny thing is that I was going through a Reggie Ray program called Awakening the Heart which mostly deals with somatic ways of cultivating relative Bodhichitta (4 immeasurables, tonglen, maitri and karuna etc.) and studying relative Bodhichitta section of Namkhai Norbu's training program. These helped me to relax while interacting with people and help me open up a little bit, improve my behavior and attitude etc. This was an important factor in developing my practice.

Insight
The breaktrough itself happened during an 8 day retreat. With my partner we were practising together the NN's program I've mentioned. We dedicated the first 3 days to the secondary practices of samten (based on Shantideva's Bodhisattvacharyavatara - the section on the Fifth Paramita). This had prepared a fertile ground for the insight to happen and was a kind of a culmination of my work on Metta etc.
Then we had 5 days dedicated to contemplating the absence of independent identity. 1 day of working on emptiness of self and 4 days of working on emptiness of phenomena. 4 x 2 hours each day + lots of extra studying/reading (Pali Canon: Yamaka Sutta and Aggi-Vachagotta Sutta on the first day; Nectar of Manjushri's Speech - a commentary on Bodhisattvacharyavatara and notes on Bodhisattvacharyavatara by A. Wallace for all 5 days; Sun of Wisdom by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso during the 4 days devoted to emptiness of phenomena).

During the first day I've lost all doubt regarding there never being a self (note: all the insights that I express are actually shared by my partner). We contemplated and pondered questions which CHNNR suggests in his program (which come from instructions from Meditations on Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Patrul), which are basically questions to contemplation like - is Self the same as Body, Speech and Mind or is it something different, what is its origin and so on.
Nectar of Manjushri's Speech was helpful becasue it completely demolishes notion of ultimate, eternal self of Samkhya/Advaita type. The key element was deconstructing the self into 5 skandhas, 12 ayatanas and 18 dhatus. Before this retreat I briefly studied a little bit of Ornament of Abhidharma by Chim Jampaiyang (only the beginning though). It helped me to establish some genuine understanding of what is the purpose of skandhas, ayatanas and dhatus as a teaching tool and made me familiar with them. I deconsructed the whole field of experience. It was impossible to find any self within this field and it was impossible for the self to be somewhere outside (classification of phenomena from abhidharma is troughrough and does not leave anything out). This led me to a Bahiya Sutta type of insight with the taste of "in the seen there is only the seen". I knew about Bahiya Sutta before and tried to employ it but somehow my attempts were hijacked by the wrong view of 'entry-exit'. I was trying to achieve and experience and force 'a Bahiya way of seeing' instead of actually contemplating the nature of experience. Subtle mistake that sets worlds apart. Anyhow the deconstructing of the self gave me unshakeable confidence in lack of selfhood. The insight into lack of self left me at ease - without the feeling of struggle. However there was still intuition that this too is pretty shallow compared of what is going to happen (though very deep insight when compared to what mostly passes as enlightenment in most nondual circles).
The next 4 days was a pretty throughrough contemplation on emptiness of the 5 aggregates. We worked progressively with body and form (1st day of the 4), vedanas (feeling/sensation; 2nd day), mind/consciousness (3rd day), perception and mental fabrications (4th day). Our analysis culminated in uncompounded dharmas and emptiness itself. We've progressively gained total confidence in emptiness of all phenomena. There is no sense in describing the whole process in details but I think there were a few key moments:
  • while contemplating the body the questioning moved to "where is the body now?" and then to "what is here?" and "what is now?". We've analysed where is the body located and saw that all points of reference are relative and without them there is no any "here" and that "here" is only afterthought attached to bodily orienting mechanisms. "Now" was dropped after seeing that without Past (being already gone) and without Future (not yet arisen) it is impossible to designate any "Now". It is impossible to pinpoint such a thing and the absurdity of looking for such reference points in the mere flow of appearances was seen completely. This resulted in a complete and utter ordinariness. Like this is more familiar than something familiar. When you have a feeling or memory of something familiar from childhood... but even more basic and primal. Completele lack of any artificialness - though the intensity of clarity and vividness dwarfed anything that I have ever experienced on psychedelics xD (though without HPPD or hallucinations) or with meditation before.
  • while contemplating the vedanas there was a moment of having an insight that it is impossible to pinpoint pleasure or pain. I then started strongly pressing my finger and a nail into my body to check where the "pain" is but I couldn't pinpoint its reality.
  • Vajra Cutter turned out to be a powerful tool of deconstruction that helped me see that arising and ceasing are impossible.
  • Even space... before the retreat I had a subtle tendency to reify spaciousness and openness into a really existing space. I've noticed that reality to space is only attributed on the basis of phenomena that seemingly are placed in it. Without objects and elements in space one couldn't find it.

Conclusion
So there is no shred of doubt about lack of selfhood and insubstantiality of phenomena.
The funny thing is that before I had an intellectual understanding of some of the aspects of emptiness teachings (in some regards as far as couple of years ago) but these have never penetrated me to the core. Somehow practice in my case was mostly chasing peak experiences of no-mind and having some theory of emptiness. What was lacking in my case was a mixture of factors with most important being:
  • strong routine of meditation - because of not being embodied in the past and not having sufficient meditative introspection I'd turn what I'd intellectually learn on Anatta and Emptiness into a an object of knowledge. This changed in the past. This lack made me miss the opportunity to fully benefit from anatta and emptiness teachings when I first came into contact with them.
  • throrough approach - in the past I would be satisfied with mere "yeah that makes sense" or assuming that I get it because I understand the words. I'd also generalise some glimpses and shreds of understanding to whole of the experience field. But I've never so systematically and precisely worked on discerning the meaning as in the last couples of months. Instead before that I'd just collects bits of pointers and try to latch them onto my peak experiences if that makes sense.
  • critical thinking - actually I've developed a tendency to just assume many teachings that come from Buddhadharma are true. I'd then try to parrot these. Or if somebody more experienced told me that teachings say x or y then I'd be hesitant to express doubts or questions.

Aftermath/effects
It's been almost a month from the said insight. I've noticed some effects but mind you this can be attributed to having a strong routine of daily practice (2 hours a day + regular retreats lately; not to mention that I work in mindfulness business so much of my work is meditating with clients and instructing them in meditation). In any case these include:
  • surge in clarity - the experience most of the times feels like enhanced with drugs in all the positive ways. There is heightened vividness - everything is more sharp and more colorful at the same time. Color, sounds, smells feel more rich.
  • magical illusion - there is quite effortless feeling of everything being a magical display. Whenever I stop concentrating on a given task - it seems to be obvious.
  • increased pain resistance - for example I have a migraine problem - the migraine attacks are less of a nuisance nowadays and I feel like I can cope with them better as pain is just an empty feeling.
  • thoughts seem less problematic - in the past there was attachment to nonthought states in meditation. In general though I have less thoughts nowadays than I used to have (I was a classical overthinker).
  • ease and acceptance towards what happens; general trust in the process of life; increased self-confidence (in the sense of having more confidence in my movements and actions) and honesty (in the past I was quite a manipulative person)
This does not seem final and there is still A LOT more way to go with regards to my practice. It doesn't seem like I can bend spoons or walk through walls. The spontaneous perfection aspect still seems like it has to go through refinement and cycles of insight. My dream awareness definetely would use an improvement
So that's it I guess All te best to you guys and I hope somebody finds this helpful Will be grateful for any useful comments
Geovani Geo's insight shared in Awakening to Reality group

"From another thread:
Someone wrote: "If you see awareness as the untouchable ground of being then things can come and go within it but not have their own existence apart from awareness - but awareness can exist without them.
If on the other hand you see appearances as being modulations of awareness then there is a sense in which you could say that awareness is always 'modulating' in one way or another. So in this way of looking there is always awareness and it always has some kind of appearance - because appearance is an essential aspect of being and to suggest that either being or appearance could exist separately would be incoherent."
I think a got the whole thing now!! You see, above, you are still projecting "things" AND an "awareness". Even when you posit an awareness that modulates itself, there is still a notion that somehow there is an Awareness that is subtly different from things. Look at it. Why the need to talk about an Awareness that is OTHER than things, and that modulates itself? Only Awareness is!! The flow of ever changing things is what Awareness is!!!
Many here have had this realization, but every now and then, because of the wrong view, such realization slips away and a background is questioned. There is no background AND a foreground. If you use the word god, then there is only god. NOT god AND his creation. The whole thing downed to me this morning. See?"
"When Soh says that he is not denying awareness, sounded strange to me. But considering the OP line of inquiry, it seems obvious that the "awareness" that soh is not denying is not some OTHER awareness separate from things. But maybe he could have been clearer by explaining that the non-negated awareness he is referring to, is just another name for the flux of phenomena, or perhaps what "buddha mind" means. Certainly it is not some ongoing self-abiding ground awareness."
I said,
"Yes good Geovani Geo. As john tan wrote years back:
“What is presence now? Everything... Taste saliva, smell, think, what is that? Snap of a finger, sing. All ordinary activity, zero effort therefore nothing attained. Yet is full accomplishment. In esoteric terms, eat God, taste God, see God, hear God...lol. That is the first thing I told Jax few years back when he first messaged me 😂 If a mirror is there, this is not possible. If clarity isn't empty, this isn't possible. Not even slightest effort is needed. Do you feel it? Grabbing of my legs as if I am grabbing presence! Do you have this experience already? When there is no mirror, then entire existence is just lights-sounds-sensations as single presence. Presence is grabbing presence. The movement to grab legs is Presence.. the sensation of grabbing legs is Presence.. For me even typing or blinking my eyes. For fear that it is misunderstood, don't talk about it. Right understanding is no presence, for every single sense of knowingness is different. Otherwise Jax will say nonsense... lol. When there is a mirror, this is not possible. Think I wrote to longchen (Sim Pern Chong) about 10 years ago.” - John Tan"
"John Tan wrote in 2012:
"An interesting comment Jax. After realization...Just eat God, breathe God, smell God and see God...Lastly be fully unestablished and liberate God.""
"First, acknowledging it is called recognizing one's nature. Next, we must be decisive about what is recognized. This is more complicated, because who really decides? Is it conceptual mind that settles it? Or is it rigpa itself that decides? or is it your teacher who makes up your mind - "The guru said so, so it must be true"? Or will modern technology validate it for you? Could you go to the Rigpa Lab and check your heart and brain with instruments to decide if your rigpa is fine and fit, if your nonduality is in good shape?

How do you resolve this point? It may be tough to have to immediately endorse your own experience, but we can decide upon it if we feel even 60 percent confident that it's actually rigpa. As the basis for verifying, we use our teacher's words, the words of an authentic scripture, and our own experience. When our state of experiencing rigpa really is rigpa, there is within that an automatic feeling of certainty. To arrive at that certainty you need to give some time to the process, and you also need to have passion. There is a point at which the certainty is built-in, automatic certainty. Once we get to this natural, unshakable certainty, we feel so sure that even if the Buddha himself came before us and said, "Hey, you're wrong, it's not rigpa!" we would thank him for coming, but it would not change our certainty at all. At a certain point the qualities of empty essence, cognizant nature, and unconfined capacity become so utterly obvious that we really know. At this point, we have gained the certainty that whatever occurs in our minds can be freed by itself."

- Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Fearless Simplicity: The Dzogchen Way of Living Freely in a Complex World