Posted by: Wei Yu
This is an important insight to realize. Not singing eloquently about clarity but straight into the quintessence of liberation, unraveling the knot that binds oneself to cyclical existence. Clarity is clarity, what binds us to samsara requires us to have insights into D.O. and emptiness, they are different realizations. We should not get mixed up but we need both.

No essence No existence This joy

by Traktung Rinpoche:
There is nothing more disturbing than dharma’s pure message that is the undoing of identity …. the concrete, existent identity of self, of things, of mind.  There is a nexus of meanings; we call it our lives - adornment of nothingness’ luminosity across emptiness’ expanse. It is our ownmost authenticity without there being any being, or essence or even existence to it at all.

The Greeks felt essence preceded existence. The existentialists felt that existence preceded essence.  Buddha’s great realization disentangles this non-question in the realization of the absence of essence or existence in the unutterable mystery of suchness.  Existence and essence are co-emergent substanceless empty appearing / appearance emptiness.

Let the dharma unmake you, disrobe your habits – even the habit called “me”, unconstruct the suredness you call you. In authentic dharma there is no ground to stand on and that no-ground is the most disturbing fact imaginable. ….  but the same fact which causes the existentialist nausea is unutterable playfulness to the yogi.

my dark unlearnings began
with the innocent speech of leaf fall.


                    snow melt.
                    mud. fallen tree.

                     spins, addled by secret scripts of
                     beetle track, patternings of
                     rainfall, diagrammatic log fire

listening.whole body. mitochondrial scholar stones.

i made a deal with moss and dirt   a

                                                            e d about:

identity decomposed. about. little birds. about.
sky all over closer to here than when and this.

      your lips. memory. how freedom is more
      under than above. measureless.
      complete love.
                                                              - t.k.

Posted by: Wei Yu
A good text explaining dependent origination, emptiness, two truths, etc.

The Twelve Links of Interdependent Origination


The Venerable Khenchen
Thrangu Rinpoche
Geshe Lharampa

Transcribed by

Gaby Hollmann

Translated from Tibetan by

Ken Holmes
Edited by
Kate McDonnell
Namo Buddha Publications
Posted by: Wei Yu

I had an intense peak experience recently, which I revisited some aspects of my previous realizations/experience.

There is a vast impersonal natural intelligence which is living you, or rather, it IS this life, this breathing, this walking, this drinking... this life of the universe, of the earth spinning, .... all an interconnected play of Dharma, of total life, intelligence, and awareness. The only blockage is simply this sense of an 'I', someone who controls will and dictates actions in life.

If you think that I am sounding like an advocate of 'God', I have to reiterate that this so called 'God' or intelligent Mind is empty of its own existence apart from Dharma, is not something changeless and independent, and is not some sort of source acting behind the scenes or pulling the strings. Because this vast impersonal intelligence is so magnificent, powerful and impersonal, it can give the impression that we are all just the dream or expression of a Universal Mind of God, and if we follow this 'personification' and 'reification' we may start to think whether we are living in a matrix, a dream of Shiva for no other reason than his own enjoyment. But we are not the play or lila of a Brahman, there is no need to personify or reify this at all. This intelligence IS the miracle of manifestation. The divine has no face of its own, and yet every face is the face of divinity. There is no I, no perceiver, or a controller of this spontaneous intelligent happening. Living this is living in complete ecstasy and joy born of this total intelligence, life and clarity.

I just found something by Daniel Ingram which pretty much describes it nicely:

"Thus, sensations of effort are just sensations of effort, but imply no fundamental split off entity that is making this effort. It is just a natural product of the interdependent universe. Just so, the sense of a will is replaced with a mysterious sense of absolutely natural causality and a natural, creative “intelligence” that operates in all of this, though the sensations that make up the sense of will continue as before. This is what is meant in the teachings of the twelve links of dependent origination when it says, “With the complete cessation of [fundamental] ignorance, volitional formations cease.” Similarly, sensations of intimacy are just sensations of intimacy and simply imply proximity rather than a separate self. Those of third path know this to some degree, and those of second path can look into this to try to attain the understanding of third path. Arahats have fully understood this."
(note: his definition of 'Arahat' is different from the suttas definition)

Also in moments of peak experience, I see we have to overcome the habitual tendencies of distracted thoughts... means we must be able to completely silent our mind and be able to have no thoughts at all to fully experience the fullness and presence of our six senses without a single trace of thought or sense of self... the trees, the sky, the breeze, everything in its complete intensity without thoughts. I'm not saying thought must be stopped at all moments, but like Eckhart Tolle said, after awakening 90% of his (unnecessary) thoughts just disappeared and thats what make a difference to his life. Without this we will not be able to feel the intensity of total Presence. So meditate and do yoga. Realization alone is insufficient without shamatha. Yes, you can experience anatta even when there are wandering thoughts because it is always already so, but one can never fully appreciate the Presence, total life, intelligence and awareness... it is a whole different level.

In other words: thoughts are ok, but you must have 'mastery' over them. Means unnecessary thoughts do not arise.
Posted by: Wei Yu

Posted by: Wei Yu

Even more anatta stuff! By Bill F in DhO. He's here too but never posts.


I relate to a lot of AEN's descriptions and stages. There are some that I can see on the intellectual level, but I can't honestly say that I have realized deeply in a way that has permanently shifted experience, particularly stage 7 (…/thusnesss-six-stag…). I'm feeling tired and lazy, but for the sake of comparison, here goes:

I had worked within the fold of the pragmatic dharma scene for a while. Shortly prior to stream entry it became evident that what I had called "me", this backdrop upon which all experience seemed to reflect and hinge, was not solid and durable, but was instead a composite built from causes and conditions in the field of experience. After stream entry it became impossible to solidify around this idea of an eternal, solid "me", but habitual patterns of thought and reaction could lead to thoughts and behavior not aligned with this insight.

At third path in the pragmatic dharma model it became clear to me that external phenomena in the form of thoughts, mental impressions, sights, sounds, etc. could not be separated into things with inherent solidity. I could look at a face and see it as a fluxing pattern of nondistinct, vividness. I was working with the elderly at the time and the beauty of their faces, and wrinkles was really amazing. This insight is not perfected, perhaps it never will be, but the general pattern is that it continues to infuse more and more areas of experience.

As a point of comparison, having seen the empty nature of self at stream entry, or perhaps even before, does not mean that you will never again think a sentence with the word "I" or constrict around a personal attack. If you've been driving one hundred miles per hour for ten, twenty, or forty years and you suddenly slam the breaks the momentum of the previous years will continue to effect the movement of the car. The next phases in my practice involved a further shift into what zen refers to as One Mind. Alex Weith in his excellent piece on the Bahiya Sutta -Bahiya- writes the following of this phase: "One Mind has often been compared to a bright mirror that reflects phenomena and yet remains untouched by appearances. As discussed with one of Sheng-yen's first Western students, this One Mind is still an illusion. One is not anymore identified to the self-center, ego and personality, yet one (the man) is still holding to pure non-dual awareness (the ox). Having tamed the ox, the ox-herder must let go of the ox (ox forgotten) and then forget himself and the ox (ox and man forgotten). The problem is that we still maintain a subtle duality between what we know ourself to be, a pure non-dual awareness that is not a thing, and our daily existence often marked by self-contractions. Hoping to get more and more identified with pure non-dual awareness, we may train concentration, try to hold on to the event of awakening reifying an experience, or rationalize the whole thing to conclude that self-contraction is not a problem and that suffering is not suffering because our true nature is ultimately beyond suffering. This explains why I got stuck in what Zen calls "stagnating waters" for about a year. " (…/zen-exploration…)

One of the more interesting aspects of this phase is that cycling between the nanas that before seemed a major problem, no longer seemed to be a problem. It was as though some physical instability that had been driving practice for me for those years (five at the time of this phase) seemed gone. Two of the major pragmatic dharma teachers diagnosed me as fourth path at this point, but in truth, I did not find my ongoing experience to match up to Daniel's description of 4th path until several months later. During the next several months I would occasionally have experiences where any sense of an internal observer just vanished. My consistent experience was still that of the non-solid Watcher, empty but in some way separate and reflecting on other empty phenomena. But then suddenly the watcher would be gone, and there would just be experience experiencing itself vividly, no doer, or watcher, simply the sensations manifesting as themselves at all sense doors. Each time I would come out of this state there would be a sense of anxiety, particularly as these experiences began to increase in consistency and duration. Then one day I was walking the dog General R.I.P and I experienced the vanishing of the observer, but with the realization that there had never been a separate observer, dual or non-dual, no watcher, no Self, or self. Experience spoke for itself without any residual observation point. Even self-referential thinking was seen to occur without a landscape from which it projected or landed onto. I documented that experience, and the fall out here, towards the bottom of the page, on January 29: Bill'sNotes (

More than anything else I had experienced this changed the nature of how I understood everything that had happened before and it totally destroyed any sense of my being a meditatior or on a spiritual path or any of that. That being said, I still practice daily for 2-3 hours, but practice is perhaps the wrong word as that implies efforting towards a goal. Things continue to change and deepen and infuse new areas. I went through a dramatic deepening a couple weeks ago, but nothing new was really revealed, just an increase in clarity and immediacy.

As an aside, I can't know for sure that what I'm writing about/experienced is what AEN and Thusness are writing about. I am just sharing my own experience, and it may not correspond exactly so I'm not making definitive notes as a representative of Thusness and AEN's understanding.


I am glad these things are being discussed. I think an important point would be that just because one is no longer priviledging non-dual experience as being an ultimate reality does not mean that one is prohibited from acting in a way towards living a good life. In my experience, when the idea of the spiritual and Awareness and Ultimate Reality fell away, I was devastated. It was as though what had given my life meaning for so many years had suddenly been taken away, and I had no way to account for all the hours I'd spent practicing, nor the way I had held certain states or practices or insights as being special. It really and truly broke my heart. I could not practice for a while, or even really think about it, as I had no way to configure this new understanding with the way I had constructed practice and life before. That was a bout a year. It was in some ways very dark, and yet I couldn't feel that bad about it somehow.

Gradually I returned to practice, but with a new sense of freedom. Without being tied to ideas of non-duality, self/no self, I was more or less free to pursue whatever I wanted. This might be the brahma viharas. It might be the jhanas. It might be therapy. Or relationships. I might choose to spend a couple hours a day walking outside and not practice at all.

One question that comes up for me is this: Having had a similar experience, how can I be sure that I am not now just creating another model? In other words, the stage of reifying a Super Awareness or Non-duality or whatever it might be, is just the stage before the stage of seeing through all that, and in what ways am I currently cutting myself off from further development? Just some food for thought for myself.



I don't know that there's much there I don't agree with. I do think you are projecting onto me ideas that are not being put forth. All I was stating was that the belief in awareness separate from phenomena, is itself an experience, not to be priviliged, and it is flimsy.

At a certain point in practice it seemed to me that all of my experience, though empty, was being experienced through the filter of empty, lucid, awareness. At a certain point (January 2012) Awareness as Self, Watcher, Primordial Reality, or whatever term we use or don't use to designate a backdrop or landscape for reality that contains that reality, was seen through. It became apparent that that experience of Awareness was simply another appearance, undivided, not happening on any landscape or with any backdrop or source. It was simply the experience and the possibility that it reflected onto something or was born from something was seen to be impossible. The idea of Awareness as backdrop is simply the idea of Awareness as backdrop. It is not symbolic of anything else. The same could be said for the sense of identity. The experience of I or non-self is simply that, with nothing attached, signifying neither the absence of identity nor a separate self who experiences. The sense of self, the sense of awareness, the sense of reflective consciousness is immediate and is not happening against a backdrop, born out of anything, or landing on anything.

I am not trying to build a new model out of this realization. As I wrote above it took me time to integrate this new, and very much unexpected understanding into what I understood my life and practice to be before it happened. It really and totally put me into a new and different place than any insight or change in practice had brought before. After it was integrated there was a great deal of freedom in not being tied to spiritual ideas, or models. That being said, I can not see that this insight could not progressively happen after some reliance and belief on a non-dual backdrop behind experience, as it is precisely seeing through that that is the experience.



I have been practicing Mahamudra for the past few weeks in a systematic way using Reggie Ray's "Mahamudra for the Modern World" as a practical guide. I have also been practicing a form of metta involving simply tuning into the direct sensations of the body (using breath as an anchor) and spreading the feeling of metta through the body. The latter does not involve sending myself or anyone else metta, just submerging into the pleasurable directness of the body, and repeating the word "happy" at the beginning of the out breath. At times the invocation of any word becomes too cumbersome, and it is enough to just bathe in the comfort of the body. This feeling has persisted at times throughout the day so that it seems the practice has begun to take effect on a cellular level. The feeling is at times that of having a new physical body free from tension so that the whole body for hours oozes a sense of release. If you have experienced a deeply pleasant exhale where release seems at the forefront it is as if the deep tissue of the body is doing that in an extended and potent way.
Regarding Mahamudra, Reggie Ray in "Secret of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet" writes, "In the realization of Mahamudra, each phenomenon stands as a proclamation of the inseparability of form (mudra) and emptiness (maha). The form aspect of each phenomenom is the fact that it appears vividly; the emptiness aspect is that it is beyond concept or imagination." Though for me this became evident "in real time" consistently at third path such that no effort was needed to induce the insight, I continue to find variations in how the depth of what has been seen play out in my life and in my reactions.

I spent the last couple of weeks using shamatha to heighten enjoyableness and clear seeing, and am now mostly in a phase where I am practicing the somatic metta (not a mahamudra teaching, though similar to vajrayana tonglen in some ways), shamatha without an object, and investigating the nature of thoughts.

In the practice of shamatha without an object one returns again and again to the undivided, ununified, knowing, natural aspect of reality. Though it is referred to as the "natural state" or "emptiness of mind" what's left in the practice is what remains when thoughts that would take one outside of the direct immediacy of reality have been let go. What remains is the immediacy of reality, totally at rest. The more I practice in this way the more evident that direct, restful, non-separate nature of reality becomes my reality, and the less pull there is from thoughts that, if grasped onto, obscure this naturalness.

The other practice I have been useing frequently is the practice of investigating thoughts. There are a variety of instructions, but basically it begins with resting in the natural state, allowing thoughts to arise, and investigating from the innocence of the natural state. In this practice it becomes apparent that thoughts upon their arising are just blips of energy, inseparable from naturalness. Writing of Mahamudra using the analogy of a child visiting a colorful temple, Trungpa Rinpoche writes, "He sees all kinds of magnificient decorations, displays, rich colors, vividness of all kinds. But this child has no preconceptions or any concept whatsoever about to begin to analyze...The experience is all pervasive. At the same time, it is perhaps somewhat overwhelmingly pleasurable." There is the experience when practicing in this way of seeing thoughts as beautiful patterns of energy, arising and dying of their own accord. To further the analogy, if you have ever lay on the ground on a winter night when it is snowing and looked up into the sky, mostly there is the all pervasive peacefulness of the limitless dark above, and out of the dark flashes of pristine light. One may begin to conceptualize the snowflake, think about the weather, what time it is, when to be home, but the nakeness of the experience remains unblemished when seen directly.

To clarify the analogy above, I am not suggesting a non-dual watcher gazing into the sky of emptiness. Rather, "I" am an empty thought, the same as a star erupting and dying, and in direct experience there is only the nakedness of sky and snow.


Though it is tempting to think of awakening as binary, an on/off switch that once encountered is complete, my own experience is that it is more gray scale. It is true that there are insights that once seen, can never be unseen, and that in the seeing perception changes clearly in a permanent, effortless, no need to induce anything sort of way. None the less, within that transformation there are still moments of dullness or narrowing that obscure the lucidity of luminosity and emptiness.
Inspired by reading Droll's recent postings, and former practice logs from a few years ago I have again begun incorporating the process of grounding. Formally influenced by Kenneth Folk's method of grounding emotions in the body, I spent a serious chunk of practice time keeping an almost constant thread of awareness on the body, watching for pockets of reactivity and then feeling into them. This resulted in a shift in a way that emotions presented. It did not stop them, nor was that the intent. Rather, it was that the energy of the emotions became more clear, lucid, richer and in some subtle way pleasurable, while the story lines themselves that would normally occur as a result of disassociating from that initial spark of energy, became signifigantly less pronounced and elaborate. This process has continued to deepen in subtle ways in the intervening years. As a side note, I don't like the word grounding, and its implications, and my own experience is that it is intimacy with the arising of energy in the body. In being with the body in direct experience the boundaries of skin are not obvious, and it is impossible to tell where the body begins and ends. Similarly emotions when seen in direct experience as arising energy, when neither grasped onto nor consolidated into story, are without border or definite shape. Dzogchen master Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche spoke about the experience of empty, knowing as "space suffused with sunlight", and it is a good description of the immediacy of the practice.

In Reggie Ray's Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body, he writes "When we remain within the body and are thereby able to remain open enough to allow the process of emotions to unfold, we make the starling discovery that the the so-called "neurotic emotions" are not inherently neurotic at all. The neurotic emotionality -the self-absorption or twisted reaction that happens with us- is not a result of the emotions at all, but rather of our attempts to get control of them, to short circuit their own natural, in-born process, and to prematurely come to closure about them. This discovery, which we make over and over in working with subtle as well as highly charged emotional states, can be experienced as astonishing, moving and deeply inspiring". What this has looked like for me recently is that when the subtle changes of energy that would normally lead to disassociating from the immediacy of the energy -by conceptualizing the energy into a story or simply a narrowing but nonverbal change in attention- are remained with in an intimate way the story line does not begin and there is just the energy, fluid, transparent, immediate and lucid. So my practice has been continued somatic metta, shamatha without an object, and the practice of feeling into the body and remaining with the immediacy of the changing energy. It has been rewarding, and I am trying to remain without ideas about where it will go.


Not much to add here, but for the sake of consistency why not:

What became interesting to me recently was the subtle sense of presence, that can be felt attentionally or somatically as a narrowing. Mostly for me I experience it in the gut. I have been playing around with the feeling of how it is that this sense of presence comes to be, locating the narrowing in the immediate directness of experience.

At other times it is just sitting in effortlessness. This is non-meditation. No focus. Just sights, thoughts, sensations. No intention. No intention to have no intention.

At other times it is just returning again and again to the immediacy of experience.

I also am continuing with the metta practice as before. Some times it is "may this body be happy", but more recenlt it has become "may love (on the inbreath), love this body (on the out-breath)"
There are more sustained periods where the attentional focus seems not to shift at all. It is interesting to practice metta from this place. It's nice in a way, but also doesn't seem to do much.


Without agency, there is no one to meditate. Meditation then becomes simply the effortless experience of aliveness, experience, thoughts, sights and sounds. The experience of life released of the pressure of navigation justifies itself in its nakenedess.

Having seen this before, I know that intention can and does arise again, and in the intention, just the intention, though clarity waxes and wanes.


Had an experience two weeks ago where the practices I had been doing intensively for the previous two months seemed to culminate. It was not the experience of anything new, rather the immediacy of thinking became apparent in a way it had not before such that thoughts seemed to be unraveling in direct, immediateness with the same clarity as the perception of the external world. Due to the immediacy of it all thoughts were thoughts, but were experienced more like physical energy, and were brief, and somehow pleasant in their duration.

I have lately been working with familiar methods to some extent, but putting more focus on locating the "where" of transient phenomena (thoughts/feelings). There can at times be the vague sense of location related to thinking. Often this is the sense that a thought or feeling is located in the area of the body where the sensations occurring along with the thought or sensation are. In looking directly into the experience the mental impressions reveal themselves to be empty, without a fixed position, neither divided or inside but separate from the seamless landscape of experience, but existing as a seamless movement of the field of experience.


I don't know if there is a good way to maintain awareness while thinking if this suggests that the thoughts are playing themselves out and you are aware of it. In my experience prolongued conceptual thinking only occurs when I am disassociated from thoughts in their immediacy. In being with the immediacy of thoughts they reveal themselves as explosions of energy, and quickly die. If a thought has been going on and attention inclines to looking directly at the thought it seems to vanish. Most of the dullness in my experience anymore comes from moments where there is just some habitual, neutral thinking going on at a low hum below the surface.
Mahamudra practice regarding thoughts involves looking at thoughts from a place of emptiness as though looking at the surface of a still pond and watching for a ripple to appear in a very intense way. Conversely there is the practice of relaxing the focus and allowing the thoughts to do whatever they may as though watching from sidelines in appreciation of the wild, energetic nature of thinking. The analogy that is given is like watching children play from the side without interfering.


John Wilde wrote:

Only that which is delineated is impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-me/not-mine/not-self. The totality -- by whatever name -- never is. (And there's no place from which to evaluate it as such, nothing to compare it against).

Bill replied:

The delineation is the totality. Thinking that it is somehow different, or apart from, separate, is uneccesary confusion and the result of separating the two and creating borders where there need not be any. Even this separating is only experience manifest. Look closer into the looker who is able to perceive the perfection of the totality, as well as the experience of the totality itself. That or just spend a lot of time resting attention on the direct experience of the body, which is really just a fancy way of saying the immediacy of experience.

Not Tao: Why make bold proclamations that refute the understanding of others and then ignore any criticism when others try to engage you on the post you created. I believe you won't respond to this as criticism of others, and avoidance of their responses seems to be the name of the game, but it's a pretty slimey way to operate.


John Wilde: I think you think I was saying that 'the delineated' is impermanent / unsatisfactory while 'the whole' is permanent / satisfactory. If so, that's not quite where I was coming from. What I meant was that, once you partition anything off and reify it as an object, that which is partitioned off is thereby subject to the 3Cs... as an artefact of the partitioning.Which is to say, the language of limitation (in time, space, knowledge, etc) then becomes applicable to 'it'. (Which is never the case regarding the totality, by definition, because it can't be objectified).
Bill: Yes, I did read you that way, which I guess you are saying was a misinterpretation. I like what you wrote here. Well put.
How are you defining the totality that can't be objectified, and are you saying that it itself is neither permanent nor impermanent? How do you know that you are accurately reading it, and it is not just your subjective interpretation?

John Wilde: Why? I'm not sure what you want me to notice, or quite how it relates...
Bill: I guess I'd need you to clarify the question above, but if you believe that the totality stands apart from conditioned experience like thoughts, and feelings, then this itself is a misperception caused by the believe that there is a separate observer or that thoughts/feelings are somehow an experience separate from the totality. A closer look would reveal that they are not two separate things. Even the thought that they are is just the thought that they are. I'm not being clever. I mean that exactly. The thought or perception of separation is only and totally the thought or perception of separation. In seeing this more clearly the attachment to perfection as separate from one's subjective experience evaporates, and the load is lessened significant

Posted by: Wei Yu
Here is something I wrote today. Cut and pasted from another online discussion. Thought it would go nicely here as well.

No, I'm saying something completely different. I'm questioning your assertion that "at every moment, experience has two components -- (1) appearances (thoughts, perceptions, sensations) which come and go; and (2) awareness, which does not come and go." This, I maintain, is a misunderstanding.

I'm suggesting that there is no experience of awareness. Awareness is always inferred. The experiences you are calling "awareness," however subtle, exquisite, profound, and self-validating, are just experiences, with no more or less claim to Ultimate Reality than an itch, or a thought, or gas pain. I'm suggesting that neither you, nor I, nor anyone else, past or present has ever perceived or apperceived, quasi-perceived, or otherwise-perceived awareness, either personally or impersonally. What people (understandably) mislabel "Awareness" is, in fact, a mental construct, a composite of physical and mental phenomena. I'm suggesting that the next step for you (and anyone who is talking about Awareness) is to grieve the death of your projection. With this understanding, this process of awakening takes a sharp turn into territory we never bargained for and couldn't have anticipated in advance. This is why it's hard, and rare. Most people will not take this step. They will park themselves in their mental constructs, surround themselves with people who believe the same thing, and fail to move beyond their current understanding.


Posted by: Wei Yu
Kyle Dixon wrote in Dharma Connection:

Elgins' understanding of dependent origination (or "interdependent co-origination" as he coins it) errs a bit on the substantial side.
His criticism of Wilber appears to be presented at the beginning of the piece, however further down the page when he begins to make his own clarifications he explores dependent origination and presents his understanding, for example he writes:


"Interdependent: Everything that exists is contingent upon everything else. The totality of the universe is one interacting system of mutual interrelations.

Co-Arising: Beyond horizontal interdependence is the vertical emergence or origination of the entire universe all-at-once. The continuous creation of the cosmos means that all is emerging as a unified whole at every moment.

Therefore, by combining these two words, we recognize the totality of existence is arising all-at-once as an interdependent whole—a fresh creation in its totality at every moment—where everything depends upon everything else. Reality then involves both cascading causality (or “karma”) through time and instantaneous causality in time."


He just seems to be interpreting dependent origination quite literally; as if things are actually originating in dependence upon one another. When in all actuality, dependent origination is a view that is applied to one's experience in order to reveal that origination in fact never truly occurs beyond the scope of conventionality. Elgin appears to be mistaking 'dependent existence' [parābhava] for dependent origination [pratītyasamutpāda].

Although in Elgin's defense he also makes statements like "The Buddha awakened to interdependent co-arising and the insight that there is no solid and enduring reality."... so he seems to understand that dependent origination, in principle, implies a lack of substantiality. Whether that understood implication translates to an actual smooth understanding though, I'm not so sure.

"wow --- I have never had that insight before"

Yeah... the fact that dependent origination is meant to specifically reveal non-arising is often missed or overlooked, but that aspect is really the linchpin and salient point that drives the principle home:

"The perfectly enlightened buddhas-proclaimed, 'What is dependently created is uncreated.'"
- Candrakīrti

"Whatever is dependently originated does not truly arise."
- Mañjuśrī

"What originates dependently is unoriginated!"
- Nāgārjuna
Looking at dependent origination as an alleged origination that occurs in dependence upon causes and conditions also helps. Because for something to actually, truly "exist" - it technically must do so separately and independently of causes and conditions. However since nothing can be found to exist separately of causes and conditions, nothing can be found to truly exist.

"That phenomena are born from causes can never be inconsistent [with facts]; since the cause is empty of cause, we understand it to be empty of origination. The non-origination of all phenomena is clearly taught to be emptiness."
- Nāgārjuna | Bodhicittavivaraṇa
Posted by: Wei Yu
This is a clarification to the previous post, Four Levels of Insight into Emptiness

David replied to me:

The singularity of seeing is self evident. The absence of a seer naturally gives rise to the absence of an object (of seeing), the knowing of which is clarity itself.
2 hrs · Like

I (Wei Yu) replied:

David what you're writing is more about non-dual awareness. But there can be different phases in seeing the nature of non-dual awareness.

Non-dual awareness can reveal everything to be Mind as subject-object dichotomy is deconstructed, but this Mind may be seen to be changeless and inherently existing, which is the substantial nondualism of One Mind. Therefore it is said there is no objects, everything is Self/Awareness/etc. The reflection is none other than the mirror, yet the mirror is not its reflections. This is not yet understanding anatta.

Then it can be realized that 'awareness' is none other than the transience, the manifestation, that there is really no inherently existing/changeless Awareness containing, subsuming, or even 'being inseparable with' manifestation, just like the word 'weather' does not exist as something that contains or subsumes the rain and wind and clouds but is merely a convention collating them, empty of being something in itself.

That, is anatta, and any sense of self/Self behind manifestation is seen through. And this is case 1) -- the emptiness of a background. Then one can proceed on to 2), where by zooming into the impermanence and insubstantiality of pure clarity/manifestation, one tastes the shimmering appearance to be fluxing wave-like or cloud-like or water-painting-like patterns, or like what I scribbled down during a journey: "everything is so pure, clean, unfiltered, manifest, clear, just that sensation... consciousness forms/"modulates" (not exactly a good word) like cloud patterns, insubstantial... appears and disappears like a mist".

3) emptiness is directly realized to be the true nature of clarity/manifestation not by zooming into impermanence, but by contemplating Dependent Origination and suddenly it is realized how appearances, like mirror reflections that appear dependently, is really never there. (For example sometimes two of the same faces appear on the 'same mirror' at different locations depending on which eye you use to look at it, which again is due to dependent origination) And what dependently originates is fundamentally non-arising -- uncreated, unborn, never abiding and never ceasing. Zooming into impermanence is unable to remove the fundamental inherent view of seeing 'arising/abiding/ceasing', however it does lead to a taste of the whole field as being insubstantial.

This is where in my previous post it's stated, "But even when it is realized that there isn't any awareness/observer besides the sensations and manifestation and there is no more sense of
duality, one still has yet to penetrate 2 folds. The "absence/emptiness"
of appearance/sensations/dharma will still be understood as some
ultimate true existence (sensations) undergoing the phase of arising,
abiding and ceasing in a flickering instant. The depth of 2-fold
emptiness in terms of insights and actual taste will not be there.
Spaciousness and Illusion-like emptiness will not permeate one's entire
being in actual experience."

Now, in Phase 3, that instant of clarity is realized to be non-arising not by seeing how they momentarily manifests/shimmers for an instant and subsides, but the very presence itself is absence, non-arising, unborn, uncreated, like mirror reflection... the taste of illusory is present in the clarity/appearance without its disappearance, and the illusion of something going through arising/abiding/ceasing is seen through.

4) The realization of non-arising results in an actual taste of everything being illusory appearances, yet it is not like the sort of 'everything is just an illusion, the only reality is Mind/Brahman/Awareness' kind of substantialist view, rather, it is the very vivid non-dual presence itself that we're talking, the very non-dual and luminous display which in all its intense wonder and clarity, is empty and illusory. This is the 'yogic view' of the two truths as one, absence and presence.


David:  "The singularity of seeing is self evident" doesn't necessarily assume, Mind, background, or Awareness for that matter. The functioning itself doesn't necessarily lead to, arise in, or come from anything.
January 10 at 12:05pm · Unlike · 3
Wei Yu: Yes.. of course you're not referring to Awareness as a background or one mind haha... that's very clear from your writings previously. But just shedding some clarity on the differences..
January 10 at 12:06pm · Edited · Like · 3
David:  Much appreciated too......
January 10 at 12:07pm · Like
David:  Only concepts appear and disappear, while the field is always packed and constantly 'modulating' (not exactly a bad word, Soh:)). It's never not packed, Empty yet full. How can emptiness feel full? How can it not? Thoughts stop in their tracks when it's seen there's nothing happening apart from what's happening. Questions? There's no room for them.
20 hrs · Like · 2
Neony: chaser
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Wei Yu: Yet what's happening dependently is nothing happening... just like movie or mirror reflections
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Wei Yu: Emptiness here is not about seeing 'nothing besides happening'... that is just anatta, the first aspect.
9 hrs · Like
Wei Yu: For example, Phase 1 will not result in illusion-like spaciousness. More likely it will result in experiencing foreground as real and magnificent.
9 hrs · Edited · Like
Neony: Please tell me what you mean by 'foreground' and (I suppose) 'background' Soh . I think you did elsewhere, but I can't find it again. Thanks.
7 hrs · Like
Albert: in anatta the witness is seen through so you get foreground PCE as your experience. That could mean a sense of continual nowness as the very sound, smell, taste, thought, sensation, color.

so the collapse of the background leaves the foreground because we still reify a ground. or rather we reify the aliveness and brightness of the present arising.
7 hrs · Like
Albert: i suppose it doesn't even have to be a witness. it could be a sense of background or container. a sense of a reference point here relating to whats out there or even in here based on being another thing.

in an experiential sense it is the bounceback that occurs when we place attention on anything. for instance we hear a sound and instantly there is a bounce back to some vague background where we relate the sound from. and thus construct the hearer.
7 hrs · Like
Neony: PCE??? Albert
7 hrs · Like
Albert: in any case there has to be a union of seeing A+ (positive emptiness aka do) and A- (negative emptiness aka absence).

So that means the very appearance-presencing of say a red water bottle is due to causes and conditions in direct experience. Eye meeting form equals the very appearance.

Which is exactly the absence of presence.

OR one can go about it the other way in which one tries to find an abiding principle and finds a lack and thus concludes its dependent arisen.

Both are used until they are seen to be exactly the same thing
7 hrs · Like
Albert: a pce is a pure consciousness experience.

it is the non-conceptual experience of the immediacy of the present arising. THIS color. THIS sound. This sensation. Absolutely no witness or watcher.

but its a peak experience that people chase without any consideration of how it came about.

the insight into anatta makes the pce mode of experience natural.
7 hrs · Like
Albert: and what is meant by consciousness is appearance. just to be clear.
7 hrs · Like
Neony: Thanks. That's what I call 'Straight, no chaser'.
7 hrs · Edited · Like
Albert: Yes. I think its also called no mind in zen. It's quite easy to move into so to speak if we emphasize not knowing and stick with the bare attention towards appearance.

This would also be the peak of shamatha practice in which directness and simplicity is the goal.

What prevents the pce as a natural state is the self. So simply if we examine where the self is in relationship to say the act of seeing we find a lack and automatically it cuts into a pce.

its almost as if the energy is spent so much on maintaining a sense of self or witness that once that assumption is seen to be false the energy is freed. so in that sense there is no longer a filter with experience. but experience has always been bare, non-conceptual, and vividly present. we just never related to it in such directness. and in fact we couldn't.
7 hrs · Like · 2
David:  Maintaining self might as well be the definition of work. All other work doesn't compare once it's seen what it takes to maintain this fiction.
6 hrs · Edited · Like · 2
Albert: yes its a lot of work. self and suffering is something we do. it isn't something done to us. we are active agents in our hell making.

if we cannot see through the assumptions present then all we can do is study habit and create wholesome habits.

but fundamentally its all bullshit.
6 hrs · Like
David:  " Phase 1 will not result in illusion-like spaciousness. More likely it
will result in experiencing foreground as real and magnificent."....This was very true for me. It was as if the foreground had finally become real, so to speak, almost too real. There was this sense that the absence of a background had given life to the foreground.
6 hrs · Like
David:  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.
5 hrs · Like · 2
John Tan (Thusness): 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)

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!
4 hrs · Edited · Unlike · 4
David:  Beautifully said John. Thank you.
4 hrs · Like · 1