Posted by: Soh

Ven. Jinmyo Renge osho-ajari:…/touchstone-10-serenity-not-special

Self-image -- or the process of contraction that gives rise to a sense of self -- would much rather think about what's going on than really engage in what is going on. This is because through contraction, the sense of a 'self' sets itself up as the 'knower' of experiencing, as a some 'one' who is separate from what is being experienced.

When you sit zazen you can see this process of contraction and separation quite easily. You might begin by following the instructions to stay with the sensations of the breath and body, to open to seeing and hearing and pay attention to where you are and what is going on. But a few minutes later, you begin to drift into a storyline, in which the sense of self can seem to be at the center of the storyline.

In zazen, again, and again, when you come back to the breath and body, and refresh your practice, you see the storylines fall apart because there is no "one" at the center of experiencing. There is just this moment and the details that present themselves as the exertion of this moment which are constantly changing. Our practice is to release contraction, and instead of recoiling, learn to meet experiencing as it actually is. This is why we begin with this very simple practice of sitting cross-legged in the posture of zazen, opening attention to all of the sense fields instead of ignoring them to pursue internalized states and stances. And this is why, when we practise Anapanasati, or mindfulness of the breath, we come back to the touchstone of the breath, we mark the moment with the touchstone of this breath. We touch the breath and ground ourselves in this moment.

Sitting here right now, there are so many sensations that you could be noticing. You might have sat in this same room countless times before, and everything around you might seem to be as it usually is. But is it? You have never experienced this moment of experiencing before. This is ALL new. What does it feel like to be sitting here? I mean bodily? What sensations are you noticing? Your hands rest in the Dharmadhatu mudra, thumbs touching. Feel your hands. There are 48 named nerves in each hand, which includes 3 major nerves, 24 named sensory branches and 21 named muscular branches. That's a LOT of nerves and they're all working, all relaying information, moment after moment. And that's just one range of sensation. There are others.

You might sometimes think that it's easier for you to experience the ‘benefits' of practice in your informal practice. That's because things are more on your terms when you are not sitting. When you are sitting, you will often tend to get bored; you'll want to propagate storylines and states just to have something to lose yourself in. Or you'll want to try to attain some sort of ‘special state' to make yourself feel better, so that you can feel as though something is happening. There's nothing in any of that. This is what happens when you allow yourself to follow that basic sense of poverty that I referred to earlier.

When you are sitting on the zafu, open attention to the richness of experiencing presented by Samantabhadra. You have never been here. You have never breathed this breath or heard these sounds or felt these sensations. The beginning and the end of the Path meet at the touchstone of this moment of this breath, so feel the breath, and use the touchstone as a place from which to open to the richness and wholeness of experiencing.
Posted by: Soh

by James M. Corrigan

Taken from Awareness Is Unlike A Mirror

Filed under Prose
DSCN0053.JPG – Version 2
The allegory of a mirror is often used to help individuals understand what awareness truly is like. It is said that, like a mirror, awareness reflects all manner of things and yet is never affected by what appears.
Unfortunately, there is a grave problem with this allegory that instills a very false understanding of awareness in those that take this allegory to heart. A mirror reflects what is before it, but it also reverses that image. Perhaps we should focus more on the reversal aspect than we do on the reflectivity in that allegory because describing awareness as being like a mirror conveys a completely opposite understanding of awareness from what is necessarily true.
Awareness is not reflective. That would imply a dualism. Instead of its reflectivity, it is its “unaffectedness” that is being focused on in this allegory; but that is contrary to our actual experience and leads to a proliferation of reified “minds” used as explanatory devices to get around the initial error of holding that awareness is unaffected by what appears “in the mirror.” This whole concept of “mind” is a fundamental error.
Awareness is essentially cognizance, not reflectivity. “Essentially” means that this cognizance is the characteristic of awareness that makes it awareness.
Unlike awareness, a mirror is not cognizant of what is appearing in it. The opposite of “cognizant” would be “ignorant,” “oblivious,” and even “unaffected by” and that latter antonym is exactly what this allegory wants to convey, and is touted for conveying—thus this allegory illustrates the very opposite of awareness’s essential character and confuses all that hear it and try to make sense of what is being said!
Awareness is affected by what it cognizes; unlike a mirror that is “unaffected by” its reflections because it is not cognizant of them, awareness is cognizance in essence.
We are told that awareness is unaffected by what appears in it in a misleading effort to convey an important point about what is more properly called “pure presence” and this leads me to the first proof that awareness is affected by what appears:
Pure presence is directly known once cognizance of the now—the now of pure presence—is recognized. This is called “Breakthrough” and the knowledge it brings is called Rigpa. In Dzogchen—the highest teaching in Buddhism—it is pointed out that once we become aware of the now as nothing other than pure presence we are liberated. What is liberated? The cognizant aspect of our nature—awareness—is liberated from absorption in the appearances. Which appearances? Primarily the self we have an emotional (egoic) attachment to (our thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations, perceptions).
This shows that awareness is affected by what appears. How is awareness affected? Three ways: by remaining attentive in approval; by turning away in disapproval; and not paying attention either way when neither approval or disapproval arises. These three affective responses guide what can appear next as the natural display.
The second proof that it is affected is more subtle, relying on a clarification of exactly how awareness arises.
Awareness is not something other than the “presencing” (i.e. naturing) of appearances. It is not a thing. It is not part of a thing. It is not an “aspect” of a process.
Fortunately, the very word itself, with its “-ness” suffix, signals that it is a conceptual abstraction of some characteristic of something, and that is completely wrong in structure—a dead-giveaway that confusion reigns. First, there is no entity to have an aspect, and second, because abstracting awareness away, making it a thing-in-itself (which is the linguistic meaning of “-ness”) completely obfuscates that it is not only the essential character of a  process, it is the only character of the process, thus it is the process—not some aspect of it. This is why when awareness is said to be the “ground” of all that arises a subtle erroneous understanding arises because it is confusing “knowing” for the unknowable.
Effectively, abstracting awareness removes the natural process (from itself), confusing us into thinking that something substantive has been uncovered.
In regard to pure presence, awareness is the wakeful activity of presencing, which is pointed out to us—our first pointing out instruction—as the “knowing” of appearances. This very subtle dualism starts the confusion, which snowballs as we go forward.
Pure presence is not something to be known in a positive sense, and is only recognized via this naturing or presencing of appearances now—the evidence of the reality of presence. Why? Because the essence of pure presence is emptiness—which does not entail awareness in the sense that is meant when used in conjunction with the appearances—what after all would there be cognizance of? Thus the “purity” that is pointed to is the “unknowable” ground state, since nothing positive can be said (or known) about it. But which we may suddenly recognize is the now of all appearances. Appearances are ephemeral and are void of any entity; however, they are evidential—evidence that we can recognize when we suddenly notice the “clearing” of the now (of pure presence) that is the venue of appearing.
“Now” is never affected by what appears. Awareness is always affected by what is appearing because this is the very essence of cognizance, and thus the very essence of the process of naturing (or more literally, awareness is the cognizing of appearances now, limiting and guiding the possibility of what can arise “next,” and this is the sum total of the process).
To conflate awareness with pure presence is a mental crutch, conflating ideas with the unknowable. Expressing “facts” about that to which no facts apply. When recognized, the now is known to be pure presence. But pure presence is not a thing—there is no nature entity—so what could be stained by what appears as cognized?
Thus, the problem is that in making awareness some thing, subtly separating it from the naturing of all appearances, we find the need to prove that it is unaffected by what it cognizes. Yet we know that the essence of this naturing is cognizance; cognizance is not the “nature of the naturing of appearances.” Such a construction is mentation gone wild.
In reality there is no entity; nor are there any entities in the appearances that arise, and these—appearances and reality—are not two things, so why do we make awareness into something that must be kept clean? Perhaps it is only a lack of direct recognition that creates the confusion.
Posted by: Soh

Something I wrote in Dharma Connection:

The sense of the Observer remains very strong even after direct realization of Awareness, in fact, it first becomes the Eternal Witness, then it collapses into a substantial nondualism where Awareness is the source, substratum and substance of all phenomena, in which while experience is non-dual, the view remains dualistic and 'inherent'. That has been the case for me after the I AM realization then the collapse into a single field.

For me, my breakthrough into the realization of Anatta consisted in challenging and investigating the notion that 'observer', 'awareness', or 'observing' had any reality besides pure perception -- sounds, colours, sensations, etc. Not to look for the observer but to challenge any sense of there being one. Then with the pointers of Bahiya Sutta, I realized that there is no 'awareness' besides manifestation, as in the seeing there's only the seen, and seeing IS the seen, in hearing there's only sound, hearing IS sound... consciousness is manifestation without background. After this, the non-duality of viewer and viewed had persisted effortlessly and no longer remains as some sort of temporary peak experience.
Then through Madhyamika investigation, we further realize how reified conventions are invalid from top to bottom in terms of cause and effect, origination and cessation. This realization is not about the direct intuitive experience of clarity or phenomena as in the case of the I AM realization and then the realization of non-dual and anatta, however, by realizing dependent designation and emptiness, no mistaken view or understanding will arise from the intuitive insight of Suchness either from direct pointing or gradual practices. Even the realization of anatta leading to direct experience of six entries without background, and the realization of the emptiness via dependent designation are different realizations.

But those who only go through Madhyamika investigation without directly realizing Clarity (the initial realization of Mind, aka the 'I AM realization') and then the breakthrough of anatta leading to the direct experience of Suchness in all six entries (as described in Bahiya Sutta, Kalaka Sutta, etc) will also be missing something. For that, a Koan, or self-inquiry will help lead to the direct taste of Spirit/Presence/Existence, or a sutta like Bahiya Sutta will lead to the direct realization of Clarity as phenomena free from the illusion of self/Self.

If we reify and cling to Clarity like the Vedantins, we fall into the extremes of eternalism, and we fail to realize what exactly Clarity is. By clinging to a Mirror, we fail to realize that there is no Mirror besides self-illuminating reflection which is completely alive without a background or reflector or Agent, the wholeness of sound when in hearing sound, the wholeness of scenery when in seeing. That 'I AM' is only one face of Presence or Awareness, the subtlest formless aspect of Mind, falsely reified into something absolute, changeless or into a background, and that same taste of Presence or Clarity is found in all senses and manifestation after anatta. But if we reify and cling to Phenomena, we too distant clarity from its empty nature. Therefore the different phases of insights are crucial and must be pointed out clearly.
Posted by: Soh
I was flipping through a newly translated Mahamudra book, and I love some of the passages I've read so far. Seems like a good book but only managed to flip through a few pages. The book is
The Royal Seal of Mahamudra: Volume One: A Guidebook for the Realization of Coemergence: 1 by Khamtrul Rinpoche III (Author), Gerardo Abboud (Translator)


Here's an excerpt on Self-Liberation:

...Similarly, regarding whatever is in the field of the tactile sense organ,
such things as fabrics that are soft or rough to the touch, this tactile
sensation itself is your own mind. Avoid slipping into grasping or rejecting.
Whether soft or rough, do not try to find the mind anywhere apart
from the softness or roughness itself, but rest at ease right there without
distraction. If a pleasant or an unpleasant feeling arises, recognize it
and rest mindfully.

Likewise all thoughts arising in the field of the mental sense organ—
right or wrong, good or bad, subtle or coarse—are also your own mind.
Avoid liking the right ones and spurning the wrong ones. No matter
what thought arises—good, bad, or neutral; subtle, tangible, or gross—
recognize its identity through awareness and sustain it naturally. If any
fixation arises, such as thinking of this and that in regard to thoughts
of right and wrong, that itself is a fixating thought. So identify that
grasping thought and rest on it at ease. In short, even when it is not the
case of good or bad thoughts but is one of stillness and movement, avoid
making choices. Do not taint with blocking or pursuing. If the mind is
still, relax on the identity of that stillness. When it is dispersed, let loose
in the identity of that dispersion. When still or when anything arises,
relax on that. Keep to the very identity of what occurs, and sustain its
continuity without clinging elsewhere to good or bad.

In fact, no matter what perception of good or bad arises in the six
sense fields—forms in the field of the eyes, sounds in the field of the
ears, smells in the field of the nose, tastes in the field of the tongue,
tactile sensations in the field of the body, or thoughts in the field of
the mind—don’t judge as good or bad, and don’t indulge in likes and
dislikes. Whatever appears, whatever arises, first identify it, then relax
and rest in that state, and finally let it be released by itself.

For us, who have been in beginningless samsara all our lives due to
very strong habits formed long ago, there is no way for thoughts of
passion and aggression not to arise; these thoughts will no doubt occur!
Determined not to slip into delusion, you must identify these thoughts
and let go directly on them. Rest in the state of knowing the nature of
the very thoughts of attachment and aversion.

Lord Gotsangpa said:

"In general, the apparent myriad of phenomena is one’s own
mind. Since phenomena and emptiness have never been
abiding as two separate entities, there is no need to restrain
cognizance within."


"When there is an appearance of a form in the field of the eyes,
that appearance of form itself is one’s mind; the apparent
form and emptiness are not two. By resting gently right on
the form without grasping, subject and object become naturally
liberated. The same applies to sounds, smells, tastes,
textures, as well as mental occurrences: by resting on the
occurrence itself, it becomes self-liberated. That is to say,
instead of meditating on cognizance, by meditating without
grasping right on the outer objects of the six sense perceptions,
the six senses arise as meditation and enhancement
will ensue."

Siddha Orgyenpa said:

"Static or mobile things of the outer world that may be seen,
including any possible inanimate object—such as earth,
stones, mountains, rocks, houses, and estates—or the diversity
of beings, both high and low, in the three spheres of
existence—such as gods and asuras, and those in the three
miserable realms—no matter what is perceived, none of these
things has even a single hair of existence as an outer entity.
They are the natural luminosity arising from the radiance of
one’s own mind.

At the time of practicing this, proceed as follows. When
inanimate things such as earth, stones, mountains, or rocks
appear, don’t go into the fixation of perceiver-and-perceived
in relation to the inanimate object. No matter how it appears,
relax loosely right on it. Avoid tainting it with hopes for good
experiences and fear of bad ones. No matter what appears,
apply the central practice on that itself. Uninterrupted by any
other thought, in that state rest loosely and at ease. Resting
in this way, you do not need to block appearances, try to
accomplish emptiness, or search elsewhere for an antidote. A
vivid union of the inanimate object and awareness is what is
called “using phenomena as the path,” “merging phenomena
and mind into one,” and “seeing the essence of indivisibility.”
By doing so you are capturing the key point of practice.
If you don’t know how to relax right on phenomena in this
way, but instead indulge by means of thought activity in a lot
of corrections intended to improve the situation, phenomena
will not arise as meditation.

Also when seeing any of the six kinds of beings—high or
low, good or evil, happy or sad—whoever it is, practice as in
the case of an inanimate object. Recognize whoever appears,
and in a state of nonmeditation, barely undistracted, rest
loose right on it. By this, phenomena and mind are indivisible.
Do not regard present appearances in terms of fault or
virtue. Avoid fabricating or modifying. Do not taint with the
intention to reject or accomplish. Take them as the practice
exactly as they are."

The method of resting should not be limited just to what we have
seen. Using the six sense perceptions as the path should be carried
out all the time as the main practice. Otherwise, although you may
somehow maintain composure during formal meditation, later when
encountering outer desirable objects of form, sound, smell, taste, or
touch, you will respond with a total lack of determination, enjoy the
sense pleasures in an ordinary way, and slip into delusion. If you turn
the wheel of passion and aggression or hope and fear, the training we
discussed will not show up when needed. You would then be neglecting
the great objective, so the crucial point and main purpose would be
absent. Rather, during the main practice of meditative composure, and
especially at all times, you should learn to use all perceptions as they
are in their own nature.

To use the six sense perceptions as the path has many purposes. The
initial effect is that you will cease to slip under the influence of the six
senses thus giving them free rein, and phenomena will no longer negatively
affect your meditation; later, phenomena will arise as ornaments;
and finally, there will be no duality between phenomena and mind, and
you will have arrived at the expanse of the great pervasiveness of the
Posted by: Soh
12/12/15, 8:23:45 PM: Soh: Sitting on a boat, the boat moving, the vibration and bodily sensation and sound are one formation

12/12/15, 8:23:51 PM: Soh: Suddenly was reminded of

12/12/15, 8:25:52 PM: Soh:

12/12/15, 8:25:58 PM: Soh: They have this app on ipad

12/12/15, 8:26:09 PM: Soh: Seems like total exertion. Lol

12/12/15, 8:28:39 PM: Soh:

12/12/15, 8:28:51 PM: Soh: Interactive Van Gogh painting

12/12/15, 8:33:06 PM: Soh: Like the whole world of solid objects interacting with other breaks down into a seamless inter exertion

12/12/15, 8:33:25 PM: Soh: Or a seamless flow

12/12/15, 8:45:32 PM: Soh: Now on a boat ride back to Bali from Lombok. Hearing the sound of the Indonesian tv when eyes closed... Conventional mind says "it's from the tv". But it's not right to say that the sound is from something other than itself as if tv and sound are separate... It's total exertion. Nor does it arise from itself or without causes and conditions. These ways of arising are impossible ways of arising... In truth what dependently arise is nonarising as they are not arising in the impossible ways of entities interacting and producing each other

12/12/15, 8:47:25 PM: Thusness: Yeah like energy frequencies

12/12/15, 8:55:03 PM: Thusness: Yes...if u going through mmk, u keep investigating until the mind is so familiar that essence view of understanding interconnection, causes and effect, origination , abiding and cessation r not possible but yet u cannot say there is no causes and conditions then ur mind sees how invalid these views then releases itself from these grasping of something is arising, abiding and ceasing or something is interacting ...

12/12/15, 8:56:32 PM: Thusness: Yet this total exertion as in the drawing is like every moment activities after anatta...

12/12/15, 9:01:00 PM: Thusness: Similarly when one dissolve the sense of self into oneness, u will realize he has no fear of death when the center is gone.

12/12/15, 9:01:32 PM: Thusness: Loving life and fearing death has a lot to do with essence view and experience.

12/12/15, 9:05:20 PM: Thusness: This sense of total exertion arises also when I read books and suddenly the entire entire body-mind become in tune with the pointing essence of the ancient masters as if the past and the present r at intermingled ...

12/12/15, 9:06:53 PM: Thusness: Or watching and reading our body system...the sense of self and body disappears into a river stream  of circulation without boundaries

12/12/15, 9:08:48 PM: Thusness: When u r constantly in anatta and total exertion...u will feel that cannot b said to b "u" or "not u"

12/12/15, 9:10:23 PM: Thusness: like for example if u visualize and project an experience ... There is no separation and somehow u know it works ... But as separate entity, there will b doubt...

12/12/15, 9:11:52 PM: Thusness: Or for example like when u bowl, the entire flow or movement is doing the work and there isn't the doubt..only when there is the self then there is the doubt...
Posted by: Soh
  • Taken from Dharma Connection

  • David Vardy
  • David Vardy Fluidity, Illusion-like spaciousness, follows the realization that only pure functioning is what's happening. Knowing this verbing without object or subject eliminates the tendency towards reification. Singular functioning without agent, when realized with absolute conviction, is literally mind blowing. There are no longer 'things' which last, no source, no background. The ground has literally dropped out along with any question of how this might be happening or not happening. The brilliance of suchness lies in the fact it doesn't last.
  • John Tan
  • John Tan Hi David,

    Not only that it does not last and is insubstantial but it is non-arisen.

    Anatta sees through the self (background) and with that freedom from the layer that obscures, everything becomes magnificently clear and real.

    However when we attempt to further deconstruct the foreground appearance, for example, looking clearly at a red flower, where is this "redness" of the flower?

    Outside? Inside? My consciousness or Soh's consciousness or dog's consciousness?

    So clear, vivid and undeniable yet was never truly there. How does what that was "never truly there" disappear?

    Likewise for sound. Hit a bell - Tingsss..non-dually clear and undeniable. Where is this crystal clear sound? Outside? Inside? Soh's consciousness, Albert's consciousness, dog's consciousness? No one sentient being hears the same "tingsss"...

    Look at everything vivid and lurid...touch solid and undeniable...when seen with DO, every intrinsic characteristic can never be found despite being fully present!

    Same applies to sensations, colors, shapes, scent, sound, thoughts...all experiences r like that...empty and non-arising.

    So when background self is negated, foreground appearances become magnificently real, it does not become illusion-like.

    What is the actual taste of negating "A" from the "(inherent) existence" of A?

    Only when foreground appearances r negated of it's existence, then experience becomes cannot be otherwise. For everything clearly appears but when seen with the eyes of dependent arising, it is never truly is just illusion-like (not that it wants to b named that way) :P

    Seeing dependent arising is amazing!
    Whatever appears is non-arisen; indestructible by being not real and phenomena links without being "connected".
    Everything simply turns magic!

    Good night!
  • David Vardy
  • David Vardy Beautifully said John. Thank you.
  • Neony Karby
  • Neony Karby "phenomena links without being "connected"."
    Please elaborate a little on this John Tan , as 'disjointed' is a word often used and smells a little of what you say here.
    Great thread.
  • Lisa Kahale
  • Lisa Kahale So perfect. Thanks for re-posting this, Soh Wei Yu.
  • Soh Wei Yu
  • Soh Wei Yu Hi Neony Karby I had a related conversation with John Tan last month:

    John Tan

    12/3, 12:55am
    John Tan

    Is this current thought free from the previous thought? Does the previous thought meet the current thought? Is this present thought completely free or completely determined by previous thought? U can understand "conditionality" by observing this, the nature of thoughts and nature of experience. Conditionality is neither determinism nor free is the middle path, the "cause and effect" of Buddhism.
    John Tan
    12/3, 12:59am
    John Tan

    So don't look elsewhere, look directly into ur experience.
    Soh Wei Yu
    12/3, 1:20am
    Soh Wei Yu

    What is cause and effect with inherency? --> u mean without
    John Tan
    12/3, 1:20am
    John Tan


    If we continue to look for the carrying medium between 2 moment of thoughts, profound insight of anatta will not arise and non-locality will not dawn. Our mode of perception will be obscured by the inherent way of understanding things.
    Soh Wei Yu
    12/3, 1:29am
    Soh Wei Yu


    its like listening to music... the previous note never 'caused' the current note... yet without the previous note the current note will not be played. its conditioned arising but without causal agent

    is that right?
    John Tan
    12/3, 1:38am
    John Tan

    Yes. Look into ur experience. It is directly pointing at the nature of experience.

    John Tan
    12/3, 10:45am
    John Tan

    When listening to music, the beautiful music is form from the flowing notes but each note when hit is already gone. How is the music heard? It is said that "music" is a convention designated in dependence on it parts -- the flowing notes. The "music" is empty and non-arising. The notes never really "meet" each other, nvr caused each other yet the current note depends on the previous to be played. So "conditionality" but not a causal agent having the inherent power to effect. What is this telling u abt designation, emptiness, conditionality and dependent arising? They r telling u the nature of experience, the nature of mind.
  • John Tan
  • John Tan Hi Neony,

    It is a practice that I do to integrate dependent arising (conceptual) and non-dual appearance (non-conceptual) to deepen my understanding of the nature of mind/experience. Just a casual blah out of a spur of interest.

    There is something special about seeing dependent arising and applying it to subject, object, action or connection between them…when analyzed, the object of investigation always disappear like a mystical cloud. A sense of wonder never fail to arise whenever what that is so intimately felt to exist when sought cannot be found.

    If we examine “the link” whether conventionally, conceptually or non-conceptually, it always turn fuzzy and blur….

    Like looking at the relationship of a father and son…no physical connection found but the bond is tight and “real”…

    Like long and short…light and darkness…linked but where exactly is the connection…

    Like previous thought and current thought…like sound that is heard by hitting a bell…

    If we examine layer by layer from non-conceptual hearing of a sound and its causal dependencies to the conventional relationship of a father and son…it is always like that…no true concrete solid connection can be established or found yet it is undeniably “linked”.

    We may think what has the mystical arising of sound and its causal dependencies or “tableness” dependent on its parts got to do with the relationship of a father and son…but if we look is actually the same taste.

    We go through again and again until the taste of dependent arising pervades one’s entire experience much like how dualistic and inherent mode of cognition invaded our mind stream. Eventually one begins to intuit the cause of grasping, contrivance and all artificialities is directly related to the seeing of essence in a very subtle way. Purge of seeing essence in subject, object, actions and connections, mind releases itself and experience turns magic, spontaneous and natural.

    Just a casual sharing. Thanks!