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Experience and Actualization of Anatta

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 John Ahn
March 8

It is a bit chilly outside today and I do not want to go outside. So I would like to share a bit on anatta and what I have been going through:

In my experience so far, there is a great distance between the initial insight into anatta and its actualization. I would say much of the difficulties actually come from the latter phase.

There are a few groups I have seen online that have shared the experience of selflessness but mostly, I realize now, they are talking about impersonality. So either physicality or divine consciousness becomes the direction of development. Anatta is not like that..its is truly the full emergence of the scenery that is the sound, sensation, taste, vision, etc. When inner and outer begin to dissolve, all appearances begin to share an equal taste of direct pristiness. Pristiness as in, this very sound, it has no past, future, or context..even the understanding of dependent origination does not escape this direct pristiness, let alone pure consciousness.

Anatta is great simplicity. There is no need to elaborate so much on its workings or its larger implications. Just this sound...that is enough, and one will not experience anything truer. Make your entire being like the sound of the bird chirping...direct, ephemeral and without center. It is a magnificent scenary painting itself effortlessly .

The main difficulties of fully actualizing this realization come from latent tendencies. You can actually view much of spirituality in this context of getting rid of impulses that have been engraved into you body, mind, energies, emotions due to the ignorance of selfhood. And these bonds run deep. The so called direct path groups who justify all modes of livelihood by saying its anyway just a selfless workings of the universe, expressions of divinity, etc...do not have an understanding or experience of anatta, or the intellect has twisted it. The more apparent anatta becomes, the stronger one will begin to feel the dualistic bonds. Since when it is the mere scenery..how can it desire? How can it posess? Simply sit, and the magnficence is there, simply walk, and it is such a subtly beautiful play of movement, the ground, the air.

Yet then the impulses come in many forms and with such strength. The scenery often becomes an unconscious drive to posess and to achieve. And the knowing is there that these are remnants of the past, now more amplified than even before, because the floodgates are being opened up as self control dissolves into naturalness. And here one faces troubles...how should I cope with the urge of the senses? These defilements? This ugliness? And it is ugliness all the way through. Do not justify them via the mind. When the sublimeness of mere scenery begins to soak all experience...the whole egoic story begins to look really ugly. But it still comes...heh..from very deep within the sense of purpose and desire (for anything) is carved in there. It is what drives anyone to move and act, otherwise, simply sitting..directionless..complete.

And the ugliest of all is the effort towards buddhahood. I want to become a Buddha! Lol. Really, the sky is more Buddha than a statue or a picture. This chair is more of a temple then anywhere else.

Letting these bonds work themselves out, while not deviating from the realization of anatta, is my current path. And it will take a lifetime since that bond..it is what drives our lives in one direction over another. But always, every action should be to dissolve purpose and direction. Fulfilling one`s destiny or whatever, is to release oneself these self imposed purposes...until one can become like the winds and the sun, where nothing is done but everything is accomplished.

Anyway..some sharings...
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    You, Michael Zaurov, John Tan, Tan Jui Horng and 21 others like this.
    John Hooper Beautifully said, but do not presume to know the future. The unfolding is in accordance to that which is, there is no time, nothing to work out, no process, not really.
    March 8 at 10:14am · Like · 1
    Stuffs RedTurtle Thanks for that very awesome
    March 8 at 10:39am · Like
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland When inner and outer begin to dissolve, all appearances begin to share an equal taste of direct pristiness. Pristiness as in, this very sound, it has no past, future, or context..

    direct, ephemeral and without center.

    [the whole egoic story] is what drives anyone to move and act, otherwise, simply sitting..directionless..complete.

    every action should be to dissolve purpose and direction.
    March 8 at 11:11am · Edited · Like · 2
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland I really like this, John, thanks for sharing.

    There's something I wonder about. I've discussed it in the past with Soh, but I don't think that was a fruitful discussion.

    I wonder about "contact", one of the links in DO, which is also relevant in other crucial teachings in the Pali canon (not just DO).

    It seems to me that for some period in Gotama's personal teaching, there was a great emphasis on 'contact', when it was considered to be the hub or main focal point of bringing dukkha to an end.

    In my (non-)experience, there is a "perceptual"* threshold beyond which 'contact' ceases. The structuring of external and internal fades, and with it fades any sense of a meeting of the two.

    When I read your post, I recognize what you are talking about, and it seems to me (and this was also the case in my discussions with Soh), though I could be wrong, that what you are expressing still retain structures (like the senses) that leads to 'contact'.

    You emphasize the pristineness of qualia (sensory impressions), which entails "impressionability", or "surface tension", where "a sight is seen" or "a sound is heard". Have you gone beyond this? Maybe my reading betrays your experience.

    Just some ramblings...

    * In quotes because this is beyond what is called perception in the doctrine.
    March 8 at 11:37am · Edited · Like
    John Hooper Perhaps I do not understand correctly, but there is never actually a point at which any "real" contact occurs through the senses, there is only a threshold that when met triggers a concept of "something" which is entirely the mind, and conceptual. This "something" is not real in the sense of having dependent existence.
    March 8 at 11:32am · Like
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Maybe this is helpful?

    Contact
    44. Saying, "Good, friend," the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta's words. Then they asked him a further question: "But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view... and has arrived at this true Dhamma?" — "There might be, friends.

    45. "When, friends, a noble disciple understands contact, the origin of contact, the cessation of contact, and the way leading to the cessation of contact, in that way he is one of right view... and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

    46. "And what is contact, what is the origin of contact, what is the cessation of contact, what is the way leading to the cessation of contact? There are these six classes of contact: eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact, mind-contact. With the arising of the sixfold base there is the arising of contact. With the cessation of the sixfold base there is the cessation of contact. The way leading to the cessation of contact is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view... right concentration.

    47. "When a noble disciple has thus understood contact, the origin of contact, the cessation of contact, and the way leading to the cessation of contact... he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view... and has arrived at this true Dhamma."

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.009.ntbb.html

    "'The six classes of contact should be known.' Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises consciousness at the eye. The meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises consciousness at the ear. The meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises consciousness at the nose. The meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises consciousness at the tongue. The meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises consciousness at the body. The meeting of the three is contact. Dependent on the intellect & ideas there arises consciousness at the intellect. The meeting of the three is contact. 'The six classes of contact should be known.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said."

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.148.than.html
    March 8 at 11:34am · Edited · Like · 1
    John Hooper Thank you, now I understand. There is dependence on three things. the form, the sense, and the consciousness. Yes, thank you, very clear.
    March 8 at 12:02pm · Like · 1
    Viorica Doina Neacsu Lovely sharing John, from your heart... Thank you
    March 8 at 5:30pm · Like
    Wei Yu Very well written.. posted in my blog
    March 8 at 7:21pm · Like · 2
    Thomas Arta Very nicely written, John. Simplicity and depth. Thank you for sharing.
    March 8 at 8:01pm · Like · 2
    John Ahn Hey Stian Gudmundsen Høiland, I think you may be referring to what happens when a certain insight arises that the usual way of perceiving are actually impressions left in the mind in the form of structures and symbols. Realizing this, one focuses on abandoning the world of symbols and without this filter the sense of perceiving something is not even there at all. So if one sits in meditation like this...a sense of absorption in non perception can happen..there can be a strong sense of disassociation and dispassion,and even the sense that the world out there is not even there at all.
    March 8 at 9:43pm · Like · 4
    John Ahn That is not necessarily what I am sharing above...anatta experience and insight is more about eradicating the structure of watcher, doer, and agent..and along with it the subsequent structures of in, out, here, there, this, that, now, then, etc. Its not about entering a state through realization, but recognizing the many fetters that repeatedly impede the weightless way in which all appearance manifest, hence it is a seal...just that the way we experience normally is totally out of sync. If we just focus on the nongraspable and unperceivable nature of phenomena, we miss the display of anatta, and unconsciously try to rest in dispassioned states of being. Here, the dynamism of appearances is lost.

    So anatta is not just about entering into non perception by dropping impressions..although it can be said that way too..but becoming totally expressive.

    A bit unrelated...but I often wonder what exactly is the "practice" of anatta, because it is hard to get lost in trying to make experience anatta, like trying very hard to hear the sound as just sound. Lol..for me this doesnt really work, just gives me headache, because at a certain point effort becomes an impediment. As for now, I find it helpful to be just mindful of the subtlest dualistic tendencies that arise..in action and thoughts...and a quick reminder is sufficent for that "taste" to soak deeper into experience. So the initial taste of no mind is really a treasure and hence the emphasis on meditation.
    March 8 at 10:01pm · Edited · Like · 4
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland I'm critical to what you have commented, but going by the OP it sounds to me like you have good momentum. I can only suggest that you look more closely at what I am suggesting.

    Maybe this is helpful:

    CONTACT: the Pali word phassa comes from the verb phusati (to touch, sometimes used in the sense of to arrive at, or to realize), from which also comes the word photthabba (tangible, the object of the Fifth Base in oneself, namely, body-sensitivity). But here it is generalized to mean contact in the sense of presence of object to subject, or presence of cognized to consciousness, in all forms of consciousness. It is defined as follows: "Eye-consciousness arises dependent on eye and on forms; the coincidence of the three is contact (presence), and likewise in the cases of the ear, nose, tongue, body and mind. Failing it, no knowledge, no consciousness of any sort whatever, can arise at all." This fundamental idea is sometimes placed at the head of lists of things defining Determinations (q.v.).

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanamoli/wheel017.html

    Consider that contact is to cease.

    Also check out:

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.15.0.than.html
    March 8 at 11:29pm · Like · 1
    Stuffs RedTurtle Stian Gudmundsen Høiland,
    Do we actually really experience contact or just a mental impression taken as contact?
    I'm thinking about burns, and pain being relative...
    I've only hit access concentration, and have been doing a lot of noting, but without guidance it's hard to know if I'm fooling myself
    March 8 at 11:35pm · Like
    Stuffs RedTurtle Sorry I ask so many questions
    March 8 at 11:39pm · Like
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland Mind is the forerunner.

    That said, reducing 'contact' to "mental impression" may suggest a misunderstanding. The eye contacts forms (color-&-shape), and the ear contacts sounds. The thinking-mind contacts thoughts.

    Preceding these is mind.

    "These" we could say are 'structures'. The senses and their objects are also 'structures'. It is tempting to say "mental structures", but this is misleading in that it's a little too reductive or simplistic.
    March 9 at 12:17am · Edited · Like · 1
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland It occurred to me that maybe my comment wasn't very helpful to you, Stuffs.

    In doing vipassana, these words are not so important, they are not the main thing. In vipassana you are supposed to discover for youself, by knowing and seeing, how your experience works. When you practice, trying to confirm things like "eye contacts forms" or "mind is the forerunner" will get in the way of you actually seeing this for yourself. You'll be looking to confirm what you have learned, not seeing for yourself, and seeing for yourself is what vipassana is.

    When you have seen for yourself, quite suddenly the whole teaching unlocks. Enormous confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha arises. Then you might start to cry quietly to yourself when you read the Buddha's words.
    March 9 at 12:23am · Edited · Like · 2
    Stuffs RedTurtle Ah, thank you.. I was definitely over complicating something I read..
    Thanks for that last post, because that has definitely become an issue

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