Enlightenment: What It Is And How To Get It

church_hillThe purpose of this essay is to get you to understand Enlightenment – what it is and how to attain it. To attain enlightenment is sometimes referred to as Waking up, which is a shorter way of saying Awakening to Enlightenment – but what that actually means requires some further explanation.

So what does ‘awakening’ mean?

In order to understand what Awakening to enlightenment really means, we need to first understand the nature of reality – and the short version goes something like this:

You’ve seen the movie The Matrix, right? If you haven’t, please go and do that now. But assuming you have, envision the matrix but without anything outside. No machines, no big computer running things, no space, no time; nothing at all – in fact, there isn’t even an outside. Are you imagining it? That’s our reality. Put differently, there is no material universe out there beyond our experience. There are no atoms. No planets. No stars. No space. There’s only subjectivity. There’s only this ever-changing field of experiencing otherwise known as consciousness or awareness.

That’s the short version. The long version—where I actually provide the proof for all this—is detailed in my book; and this essay is somewhat targeted to those of you who already read it but are now ready to step off that cliff and turn these truths into a living reality.

Anyway, the key point is:

  • There’s no objective reality – there’s only experiencing

But to the un-enlightened, things don’t seem that way. Rather, it seems as if we’re human beings walking around on planet earth; as if we exist as physical entities in a universe of time and space. It seems as if we experience an objectively existing world – as opposed to, let’s say, a field of subjectivity that’s perpetually transforming, morphing and modulating itself – which is how the awakened experiences life: as a mere flow of ever-changing phenomenality.

But why does it seem like we’re entities in a universe that exist independently of us? Why does it feel like there’s me on the one hand, and something else that’s not-me on the other? It’s because of the way in which we divide our experience.

Undivided experience

Now, here’s the thing. Our experience isn’t actually divided. There is no separation in the way we usually think about it – that is, the triad of seer, seeing and seen that we tacitly assume is present is never actually part of our direct experience. That division simply isn’t there. But let’s go through it in detail so you can see what I mean.

First we’ll investigate whether a seer, a subject, can be found in direct experience.

Go on. Find your self.

Have you looked yet? You can look all you want, but you won’t find anything. We can’t find a subject, because if we could, we would have to admit of a further subject, to which whatever we just found is known – making what we found an object, not a subject – And so, ad infinitum.

That’s one reason as to why we can never find a subject – we’re logically precluded from doing so.

The other reason would be: there simply is no subject. Remember, there is no objective reality. The presumed seer doesn’t exist – nothing does. There’s only this field of experiencing.

So the key insight here is:

  • No subject can be found in direct experience

Okay, now let’s turn to vision and see if we can find another element of that triad – the ‘object.’ In other words, let’s find out whether we can find something that is ‘seen.’ (I’m using vision in this example, but the same exact principle applies to all sense modalities.)

First, let’s state some self-evident facts.

  • The objects of our visual experience consist solely of colors.
  • That is, nothing is given in direct visual experience except colors.
  • In other words, we don’t see objects and their colors – we only see the colors.
  • Put differently, nothing is found in vision other than patterns of color.

Now, here’s the thing: While the presence of color is what we mean by the word ‘color,’ the presence of color is also what we mean by the word ‘seeing.’ (Now, think about that until you realize that I’m actually right – or read more about that here)

Therefore, we must concede that ‘seeing’ and ‘color’ are merely different words for the exact same thing, namely ‘seeing.’

In other words, colors aren’t ‘colors’ in the way we usually think about them – glued to objects, waiting to be seen – instead, what they are is nothing other than seeing itself.

And since the ‘objects’ of our experience consists solely of colors, we must now understand that they actually don’t – what they’re really made out of is ‘seeing.’

And finally, the last step in this reduction is to simply understand that ‘seeing’ is just another word for awareness. Awareness, or consciousness, doesn’t signify a thing – these words simply refer to the presence of seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting, smelling and thinking.

To summarize:

  • There’s no subject given in experience.
  • There are no objects—or ‘colors’—given in experience.
  • There’s only ‘seeing’ or awareness.

Non-dual awareness

But although our analysis reveals that there’s only awareness—only seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting, smelling and thinking actually going on—the unenlightened still feel like there’s a me—a subject—in here, behind the eyes; a seer that perceives a multitude of objects out there, in the world.


It’s because of a specific mode of perceiving that makes it seem as if experience is divided although it’s actually not. This affliction is known as samsara, or simply bondage. It’s our ordinary way of looking. It’s what makes it seem like there’s a seer, seeing and something seen.

But there’s another mode of perceiving possible – the undivided way.

Non-dual awareness.

The phrase ‘Awakening to enlightenment’ signifies the moment where we shift into that other mode of perceiving. It’s the moment of cessation of the division that makes it seem as if there’s a me, a subject of experience, and a not-me, the object of experience – leaving only pure seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, tasting and thinking; simply non-dual beingness without any sense of being a subject that experiences objects. The sense of being an observer; a witness of experience; vanishes, and instead one’s sense of being shifts to encompass the entire field of experience. ‘Awakening’ denotes that actual shift – ‘Enlightenment’ is where we find ourselves afterwards.

But true enlightenment is more than a profound shift in perception. It’s a deep realization of the non-objective nature of reality; of the hollowness of one’s self – it’s a revelation of the fallacious nature of objectivity; which inevitably leads to a total rewrite of the way we think, act and feel.

Key insight:

  • Awakening to enlightenment means that we shift into another mode of perception wherein experiencing no longer seems divided into a me and a not-me.

Now that we know what we’re shooting for, let’s discuss how to actually get it.

The end of ignorance

If we are to cease dividing experience into me and not-me, it’s useful to understand why we perceive in this way in the first place.

Why do we perceive in terms of subject-object?

Due to our culturally imposed world view, the act of perceiving is interpreted in terms of what could best be described as something like a camera model. That is, we think of ourselves as cameras, moving around, looking at stuff. And the field of experience is our view, wherein the objects of experience briefly appear as we apprehend them with our sensory faculties. That’s the universe-model in a nutshell. Now, let’s break it down into detail.

When we encounter an object in direct experience, essentially the following happens (let’s pretend we see something – a box, for example):

  • A particular pattern of color is conceptualized as an ‘object,’ which has a wide range of connotations attached – such as, it’s a space-time entity; it has mass; it’s made of a material, etc. In other words, the concept that we have to represent this percept has attached to it a bunch of other concepts, all of which contribute to our idea of what it is – making us forget that it’s really nothing but patterns of color – which is nothing other than ‘seeing,’ or awareness itself.
  • Now, because it’s an ‘object,’ there’s another fundamental connotation involved – namely that of it being perceived by a subject. Which is us. In other words, according to our universe-model of reality, whenever an object is present in our experience, it is so because we as its subject has encountered it. That is, our field of view simply happened to slide past that object. Put differently, the very presence of an object implies us as its perceiving subject. It’s the camera model of perception. Just as the presence of images on a TV screen imply that they were apprehended by some camera, the presence of an object in experience implies that it’s being perceived by us as its subject.
  • So the very notion of an ‘object’ entails the presence of a subject that perceives it. It’s built in to the concept. We cannot help but see ourselves in this way under the universe-model, because every encounter with an object reaffirms and reminds us of our existence as its subject.

Now, if we were to abandon this model and instead adopt some other model, wherein we, let’s say, turn percepts into concepts with entirely different connotations than those that we currently have, our experience of the world would naturally start to shift.

But what if we had no model at all? Not because it would be a ‘better’ way to live life(it is), but because we have through careful inquiry realized that the very nature of models as such are based on a fundamental error of thought?

We would start to see reality as it is before any conceptual overlay. We would, in effect, be at a ‘ground zero’ state. No longer would it seem as if we’re a camera moving about in the world – instead, what we previously thought of as the world, we now abide in – finally – as the very flow of phenomenality itself. With no model laid out over experiencing there’s just pure non-dual beingness. And that’s the enlightened mode of perceiving. Ground Zero.

So, there are actually two steps to this process. The first step is to realize that the division that we think is there isn’t. The subject-object model that we have is not representative of what’s actually going on. If you look right now you’ll see that there’s never any subject nor any objects given in direct experience – which reveals that the subject-object model of experience is entirely a mental fabrication – it all hinges on our beliefs about reality.

The last step is to pick apart those beliefs. To refute objectivity. To disprove the external world – so that we can abandon the universe-model and instead shift our experiencing into non-dual awareness.


So stop fucking around. All of this deconstructing-your-ego business that everybody’s preaching these days is just a waste of time. Nothing dismantles an ego as effectively as pulling the rug out from underneath its existence as a space-time object.

Moreover, there’s certain movements on the internet that specialize in pointing out something that goes like this:

“Although there’s a body here, there’s no self in it. There’s just a brain doing the thinking and a body doing the walking, etc.”

That’s just pure nonsense. The idea of a self is the idea that there’s a space-time entity with perceptual capabilities – it’s as simple as that; and no amount of this kind of reasoning will ever ‘liberate’ you if you still believe that there are subjects that perceive objects.

In order to awaken, you must deconstruct the universe-model of reality – you must understand exactly how and why that model is false, so that you can begin to untangle the subject-object knot of perception that’s standing between you and reality in its infinite form.

Get real. Declare it with force and finality, and you’ll soon find yourself in full appreciation of the beauty and power of that which has always been staring you right in the face.

Further reading:

271 Responses to Enlightenment: What It Is And How To Get It

  1. Susitha says:

    Thanks Goran for this clarity. I have purchased your book and it has really helped me. I am glad I followed my instinct

  2. alain says:

    Goran, what do you mean by experience?

  3. pete rivers says:

    who or what then is that that does the experiencing, who or what is that that does the thinking about, the writing about and the talking about the experiencing and ABOUT the subjectivity of it all? about about about

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Dear Pete,

      experiencing need not to imply an experiencer, just as raining need not to imply a rainer. A stream doesn’t require a streamer and thunder doesn’t need a thunderer. In ancient times people did believe that thunder was caused by a thunderer, but we have since long abandoned such beliefs – perhaps it is time to do so also in the case of experiencing!

  4. Chitiz says:

    If objective reality is untrue, then how can you write all this and expect “someone out there” to read it? Isn’t this a contradiction?

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Writing, speaking and acting in the game doesn’t require a belief in an objective reality. I don’t find it pointless to talk to “someone” just because i’m aware that neither of us exist other than as phenomena. There’s a game going on and it runs by itself. I don’t control the character – there’s no one in control, no one to whom people need to objectively exist in order for there to be meaningful to speak to them. Everything is unfolding according to the principles of this game – and it seems like apparent communication between characters is a cornerstone of the progressing storyline.

      Your question boils down to “Why bother talking to people when they don’t exist,” or “why move out of the way when a speeding car approaches – neither you nor the car exist,” or “why bother putting the left foot in front of the right – nothing exists.” But the answer to all of these questions is that you don’t decide anything – whatever happens is simply freely manifesting phenomena, outside “your” control – and that is the case whether or not that phenomena manifests as “writing to other characters” or as “putting the left foot in front of the right.”

  5. Helen says:

    Enlightenment is to return to our true nature of LIGHT. That’s why it is called enlightenment. The LIGHT is indescribable with our commonly shared words. It needs to be experienced, not talked about. With LIGHT, there is also direct knowledge, LOVE, BLISS and unlimitedness.

    • EvenStar LoveAnanda says:

      You can not return to somewhere that you have never left.
      Yes you can say, your true nature is the Transparent-Light of Awareness.
      Even now you are This. (Enlightened or not)
      But this is also just a feeble concept, to describe the Indescribable-Mystery.

  6. Mira Prabhu says:

    Goran, I enjoyed your excellent article and appreciate the clarity with which you respond to comments. You know what you are talking about — which is more than I can say about a host of others on the net who are so eager to promote themselves as gurus for money or fame or whatever that I have pretty much stopped reading anything said by anyone who claims to “know” reality. I myself wrote a novel on enlightenment set in ancient India and in the process morphed myself…there is still a pretty strong notion of identity, but i know that notion will burn away as i deepen my own awareness — from finite to infinite. I do this with a daily sadhana of Atma-Vichara — and when I say daily, I try to practice this awareness at all times — sometimes it kicks in after the event — i get angry, sad, whatever — and only later see these as just experiences rising in the field. Thanks!

  7. annanimm says:

    What happens when two subjects meet? Because we’ve all had moments of talking to other people and noticing that our perceptions or experiences of the same thing – and of each other – was different. Does the other person exist outside of your experience of them? Because I think of enlightenment as learning to see how my experience of others has been conditioned by my own perceptions, thoughts, ideologies, expectations, assumptions … and how I was not truly seeing the other openly, or closer to what they “really” are. Perhaps to see the other *completely* as they really are is impossible, since it is never separate from your perception – but I think you can change your perception to be less caught up in your own mind and more genuinely attuned to the “reality” of the other person. Does such a distinction even make sense in your terms?

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Hi annanimm,

      Two subjects can never meet because there are no subjects at all. There is no objective reality in which such subjects can meet. I think you’re really asking whether there are other ‘experiences’ out there. But how can that question make sense if there’s no “out there”?

    • Kristoffer says:

      Hi annanimm:

      Another way to say what Goran just did, is like this:

      Awakening means changing the way you perceive from a divided ‘mode of experiencing’ to an undivided. What happens is that the ‘thing behind the eyes that feels like it’s the observer of the world’ literally disappears, and so does every other ‘thing’ that was hidden ‘inside’, ‘behind’ or ‘beyond’ the appearance of present reality.
      So, do you see how your question doesn’t really apply to reality? If the ‘the observer behind the eyes’ disappears, both in yourself and in everything else – there is no one ‘meeting’ or ‘experiencing’ ‘someone else’, because what you mean by that is that ‘two observers who are located behind the eyes’ are meeting, experiencing each other.
      These two entites, these two observers, they aren’t present in reality. They are just conceptual ideas with no real referent. This is what can be understood logically, and later directly experienced to be true in awakening.
      There is just this present moment without anything ‘in it’, ‘behind it’ or ‘beyond it’ to experience it. This moment is simply itself as what is present. In awakening – when the ‘divided mode of experiencing’ ends – this is what happens: you stop feeling like you an ‘observer behind the eyes’ and instead start to feel like you are this moment itself, impersonally, and when that happens, the idea of ‘meeting’ or ‘experiencing’ ‘someone else’ is forever made impossible.

  8. Rex Riley says:

    “Stop fucking around.” That may one day rank right up there with the nuggets from Ramana, Nisargadatta, etc.

  9. EvenStar LoveAnanda says:

    You say that needer the Self nor the Object exists, yet there is experiencing of them happening or existing.
    But you do not define what you mean by existing or not existing.

    Let me define None Existence.
    By definition none existence, IS NOT.
    So if something does not exist, there can not be any interaction with it or from it.
    Or if something is perceivable, you can not say it does not exist.
    Apparently it exists in some way.
    The question then becomes, How does it exist?
    That takes care of none existence.

    However existence being a positive concept is more complicated, there can be different types of existence.
    Mainly None-Composite-Beingness (The ground of Being), Composite-Existentials (Objects or Shapes if you will) and Epiphenomena (Illusory Happenings).

    Notice I am not saying in what way these things exist.
    I am only saying these are perceivable things.
    Because even if they exist only conceptually, even then that will be a type of existence.

    So the question is not that the apparent things and phenomenon exists or not, but a better question would be since they do exist somehow, (because they are perceivable)
    in what way do they exist?
    Or how do they “conjure” their existence?
    How do they achieve their apparent existence?
    This type of questioning would allow a deeper examination of the nature of Reality.

    See where I am going with this?

    I submit, that this is a totally different, unconventional way of examining the nature of Reality/Existence.
    This should bring less confusion, then just flatly denying the existence of apparently exiting things.


    • Dennis says:

      Exactly! Well put.

      Reality is infinite intelligence at play. Denying other people, and moreso – other people’s thoughts, is a fallacy.

      It’s easy to assume that other people’s thoughts don’t exist because you don’t perceive them, yet they do. Their thoughts exists just as much as yours. It is all one infinite WEB of interconnectedness of which at the base, the root, everything is connected, despite *apparent* separation.

      Denying the body and the brain is also a fallacy. There are bodies all over (even though that’s just a label for that mysterious happening we call ‘a body’) with brains in them. You see (even though there’s no seeer, just for the sake of explanation) because there are eyes/brains. It’s NOT that the eye sees an object, it’s rather that the whole scene of seeing, including eye/brain and apparant object is ONE WHOLE. This means, that there are other points of view in this mystery than just the one ‘you’ experience right now.

      Fractal holographic reality, vibration(frequency) are the keywords here.

      Much love

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Hi Dennis.

      No, it’s not a fallacy. But thinking that these things do exist; believing that time and space and bodies and brains are real, that they exist independently of experience is however very much a fallacy. You can read more about that here: No Objective Reality

  10. Karsten says:

    there is one thing i wonder about, that i hoped you could address. I see in my direct experience that there is no ‘me’ and no experienced object: only experiencing. Or non-dual awarness(ing).

    but it also seems like this only happening : experiencing, is dual.
    because different people see different things. i dont se your thoughts and you dont see mine.
    how is this happening ?

    (i agrree that it is an assumtion that other people have different expereinces than me: like the assumption of me or “other people”… i dont know.. maybe this is the belife that still justifies the butchering of life into fragments :)


    • Göran Backlund says:

      If there’s no objective reality, then how could other people who supposedly have other experiences, exist? How could the concept of “other” have any purchase unless there’s an objectively existing reality of time and space? The notion of “other” depend on space and/or time to be objectively real, because it draws its meaning from spatial or temporal concepts (think about in what way something could be “other” unless divided spatially or temporally from something else – hint: it can’t)

  11. Mimi says:

    Hi Goran

    Thanks for all you do. I have some questions that really perplexed me for the longest.
    If experiencing doesn’t need an experiencer or rain doesn’t need a rainier, are you saying it just happen cause it’s life? If so, why life wants that while it can live without it? Since there is no ME or WE exist and if I am an alcoholic or a murderer or a child abuser and on and on, is it life happening without the doer so I or WE not responsible?


    • Göran Backlund says:

      Your first question boils down to an old famous one: “Why is there something rather than nothing?”
      The answer is that there isn’t – there’s only nothingness, or no-thingness, and every bit of somethingness is entirely fabricated in thought.

      The answer to your second question is: yes, nobody’s responsible for anything. That is, assigning blame to someone for doing bad stuff is based on faulty thinking; namely that there’s free will. However, that’s not all what the word ‘responsibility’ means. ‘Reponsibility’ need not to be coupled with the concept of blame. Look up responsibility vs. blame on google perhaps.

  12. Vitor says:

    Hi, if all people perceive the same object doesnt that mean that there really is an objective object or reality? That question puzzles me

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Hi! Well, if there is no objective reality, then there aren’t really different ‘people’ to whom objects appear, are there? Where would these people exist? ‘People’ don’t perceive – they are _perceived_.

      This ‘evidence’, these different accounts from different people is only evidence if one has already presupposed an objective reality wherein these people exist – otherwise it isn’t evidence at all, but simply appearances on the screen of consciousness.

  13. Vitor says:

    Thanks for the prompt answer! How does your thinking differ from solipsism?

    • Göran Backlund says:

      I have a yet to be published post about this. Here’s a snippet from it:

      “But, in order for the question of solipsism to arise, one have to first superimpose the physical structure of ‘perspective’ onto awareness. That is, one has to imagine a camera model of perception and then ask the question “Is there anything outside of this view?” or “Are there other views?”

      But there cannot even be an outside—there can be no place in where “others” do or don’t exist—unless we first superimpose this physical perspective model onto awareness.

      The imagining of ‘this perspective’ invokes the very same spatio-temporal context that we pointed out as nonsensical when we first invalidated the ‘other’ perspectives. That is, we can’t claim that this is a ‘perspective’ unless we believe that it exists objectively – and that there could be others, but aren’t.

      The model we conjure up, the ‘perspective model’ basically looks like this:


      It’s a physical, or geometrical structure with tha shape of a clipped pyramid. The question of solipsism, or “Are there other points of sentience”, or “Are there other arisings in awareness” all depend on this geometrical structure for its context. Without this structure being taken as truly existing, these questions stop making sense.

      Not only the notion of “others,” but also the notion of me depend on this structure. It’s easy after one has had some realization to believe that everything within the “view”—that is, everything within this imagined structure—is myself; I; consciousness or whatever. But that leaves something outside of myself, something ‘other’ that may or may not exist. In other words, the notion that this is a ‘view’ depend on there being something outside of it – even if that something is just nothingness – and that is what makes it possible for this question of solipsism to arise in the first place.”

  14. Hami says:

    What are your thoughts on enlightened action? It is possible, I think, to have an enlightened awareness, but to feel very strongly that your actions are unenlightened, that there is a problem with how you act according to your nature. Any thoughts on that?

  15. Leland Small says:

    I understand the ultimate truth is nonduality, but why does the concept of duality arise to separate into many? Is the goal of life or being awareness to return to ground zero without subjectivity and objectivity or experience creativity? In other words,”chop wood, carry water”, seems to be a worthy endeavor in light of what exist before and after these appear to exist.

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  18. George says:

    Are you not potentially making the error here of confusing sensory experience with the entirety of what is (in the sense of patterned reality)?

    There may be no “out there”, but there is an “in here”. A “world” does exist, and is real, just not in the manner we assume; it is not independent of mind; it is dissolved within it, our sensory experience being an unfolding into attention of particular aspects of that pattern.

    • George says:

      EDIT: Ah – you cover your view better elsewhere, in other posts. Things are real at what they are, they just are not what you think.

      And free will / identity is a matter of (illusory) perspective, I’d say…

  19. Steve says:

    So, I’m married with two kids. Can this be done and I still live with my family, who I then realize don’t exist as I think they do now? Could four awakened people live together, each knowing the others don’t exist? I suppose it will be a moot point by then, right? Can one awaken and then choose to step back into the dream out of magnanimity for non-existent beings?

    Thanks; the process has started…

    • steve says:

      perhaps one way to think of this would be that, since other “people” would continue to “act their roles” in the perceptual field, there’s no reason why “my body,” (which is also in the perceptual field) would not continue to play along, as the thoughts, desires and emotions of this body would be nothing more than other mere occurences in perception. is that close?

  20. RC says:

    Dear Goran,
    Thanks for your articles.
    Please enlighten me….
    So my wife is just a bunch of colors, sound, smell, sensation and tastes?
    Does the care “I” feel from her have any value from an enlightened being’s point of view?

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Hmm, what do you mean by value? The love you feel for her is just as much part of ‘her’ as the colors, sensations and tastes. It’s just all part of the unfolding play.

  21. RC says:

    Dear Goran,
    Thank you for your prompt reply!
    I’ll think about the “unfolding play”.
    Have a good day!

  22. RC says:

    Dear Goran,
    Just wonder if you still say “I love you” to family members? And how have they been coping since your awakening?
    These are sincere questions (in case I didn’t set the tone right).
    Have a good day!

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Yes! Love arises as part of the unfolding play! And so is any attempt to express it.

  23. RC says:

    Thank you Goran!
    I have bought your book!

  24. Chrisinbliss says:

    A master lived by himself in a hut on a grass-covered hill. One day, two students visited him to enjoy a picnic. As they were making fire, the master overheard this dialogue.
    One student said, “Look at this log. Is it inside or outside of your mind?”
    The other replied, “From the highest point of view, everything is in the mind. So the log is ultimately inside the mind.”
    The master bowed to the student and said, “Good sir, your head must be extremely heavy, as you are able to carry a log this large inside your mind.”

    The above discussions — even the non-conceptual approach — ultimately hinge on the idea that one’s own insight can actually be the truth. Anyone who has studied a little bit of Kant will know that this itself is an assumption. “A person can know only what he ‘can’ know.” (which implies that if there is anything one cannot know, then one wouldn’t know it).

    Yes, it is absolutely ‘right’ that within one’s own experience one can realise that there is no subject-object duality. And it is even blissful and peaceful, no doubt, and it is most joyful path to live life compassionately. Does this make it true? We can never know, due to the very subjectivity of it all. Simply not admitting subjectivity and objectivity through an extreme advaitic non-conceptual approach makes a lot of sense, yet it doesn’t make it true.

    Also, ironically, it can be an extreme form of “controlling everything” by subjecting everything to the power of one’s own insight.

    When the insight has matured that we cannot actually know anything, — even though it seems we have known the ‘truth’ once we accept the pure subjectivity free of subject-and-object, — then one begins to be in complete awe once more at “why is there something rather than nothing”. Then one begins to live (or be lived) by the deep sacredness of simple unbounded presence free of conceptuality and non-conceptuality, free of knowing and not-knowing, which is simple compassionate living.

    • Göran Backlund says:

      hi, thanks for your comment!

      The philosophical bedrock upon which my writing stands is the deconstruction of objectivity that I lay forth in my book. Your criticism makes perfect sense–if you haven’t read my book. Give it a try!

      Ps. Insofar that the log is in the mind, the guy’s head would be too.

  25. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Göran,

    Thank you for your response.

    Fully agree with every single point in your book — of course one could point out that you haven’t been overly original, as the deconstruction of objectivity emerges from Zen, Advaita and Dzogchen as well as the more ‘intellectual’ writings of Michel Foucault, Derrida and others (before rejecting the latter it would be worthwhile reading them and coming to appreciate how they have brought this beautiful discourse even into the academic world).

    Also, as mentioned in my previous post, fully agree with you that this is the ‘ultimate’ realisation the mind (or consciousness if you will) can come to, i.e. that within the unboundedness of pure subjectivity there can be innumerable ‘objective’ appearances, all of which are still purely subjective and thus clearly are only appearances within consciousness. And this realisation is total bliss, true happiness and satisfaction — there is no doubt about it and ‘straying’ from this ‘(non-)path’ makes no sense at all once one has realised it.

    My point is a different one — my point is that having said and realised all this, if there is an ounce of humility left in a person, one would ‘still’ have to admit ‘other’ possibilities (which we simply wouldn’t have the capacity to know the truth of). For example, it could very well be that our universe is a digital ‘simulation’ by some other order of species in another more ‘objectively real’ universe. This would be an (improbable yet nonetheless possible) explanation of why there is an immediate dissolution of subject and object the moment a ‘person’ seeks out consciousness. Are you able to admit some validity to this point?

    Or, for example, if an Abrahamic world-view were ‘somehow’ true (personally I do not think so) and the universe is a ‘real’ creation, then the reason for the subject-object dissolution might be the very complete ‘freedom” that ‘God’ has allocated to human beings, i.e. the complete freedom to choose any world, any moral system, any life-style that consciousness wishes to choose. In this scenario, the dissolution of the subject-object split would simply be the very freedom that ‘God’ has given to us to choose.

    In an even worse scenario, the fact that this subject-object dissolution happens could simply be an ‘epi-phenomenon’ of the brain, i.e. when we relax totally and ‘consciousness’ falls upon itself, then it dissolves the subject-object split automatically (just like it does in deep sleep, only there it is more or less unconscious). In this scenario, although it is utter bliss, it would be simply be a brain phenomenon and you would be deluding yourself to think this is a ‘universal’ truth.

    To sum up, I just want to caution you from falling into the epistemic trap that your ‘insight’ is automatically the supreme truth, even though it seems so and even though consciousness without subject-object split is unbounded and timelessly blissful — personally, like you, I am also convinced that this ‘insight’ actually ‘is’ the truth (therefore I shake your hand and salute you), yet I am simply more cautious and humble in claiming that this is the ‘truth’.

    • Mark says:

      Any and all ‘other’ possibilities that one might admit to are nonsensical, while absolute infinity as the only possible truth of existence makes perfect sense. Receding directly into the only absolute infinity available, awareness, furthermore makes it inescapable.

      Any theory that relies on an impossibility, is impossible. And all theories do so by necessity, so no theory could ever be true. Once every impossibility has been eliminated and the perfectly irreducible and self-evident remains, it makes no sense to take on further impossibilities as actual possibilities except within the paradigm of manifest reality (as opposed to truth).

      The apparent universe may be a digital simulation, or one may suppose any number of scenarios to be the case as far as the machinations of manifest reality is concerned. But no scenario can ever put a dent in the inevitability of absolute infinity as the only possible truth that underlies it all, and the nature of that as being awareness.

      The dissolution of subject and object, and any other movement ever experienced, occurs in/as what one may call mind (i.e. perception, experience, relative individuated consciousness, which is identical with universe/dream/etc). Whether or not that mind supposedly belongs to a fleshy brain or a computer simulation makes no difference whatsoever. Those are dream-bound explanations by definition.

      All of it occurs in absolute awareness in all cases, and that is where any and all movement of mind plays out. Including the contemplation of alternate explanations and the apperception of truth. The interpretation of experience can be made to fit any paradigm, but the fact of experience can not, and no paradigm ultimately holds up.

      The perceived dissolution of subject/object is itself not truth, but the non-objective awareness that gives rise to any and all perceptual content, is. What prevents the recognition of that is the concept structure that shapes experience, and the starting symbol at the root of that structure is the concept of self.

      Every concept in that structure shapes experience to a greater or lesser extent, but none more so than the concept of self. That’s why the road to the recognition of truth begins with the dismantling of that structure and ends with the elimination of the self concept.

      Truth is truth regardless of what concept structure shapes ones experience, but the recognition of absolute truth requires the elimination of the self concept (whether that imply a personal self or a universal self).

  26. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Mark,

    Thank you for your beautifully eloquent stream of words.

    As mentioned earlier, am in full and total agreement with every single nondual point you have made. Certainly only absolute infinity makes sense — although we need not call it absolute infinity — the Buddha for example gave ´it´ no other name than ´thusness´ (that is how it is-ness) and used only radical emptiness to uncover ´it´: an emptiness which is also empty of true existence. Giving ´it´ a name is never more than that: a name, an objectifying, a reifying. Giving it a name and talking about it is in itself meaningless.

    In any case, I would like to describe my earlier point from a different angle: Although it is the only idea that makes sense to you, it still need not be true. It could simply be the only idea that makes sense to a certain mode of thinking and experiencing, a certain group of humans, as the ultimate possible expression of their thinking and speaking. This is evidenced by the fact that some of the brightest and smartest representatives of science on the planet simply do NOT agree with us (while thankfully some other really smart ones do).

    Let us come back to some basics: If absolute infinity is ´true´ and awareness is absolutely infinite, your enlightened awareness here should have the capacity to be infinitely creative. Can you lose weight instantaneously simply by being aware of it? Perhaps you do not need to lose weight, but what about the poor lady down the street who has been suffering from it since middle-school? Can your infinitely creative awareness simply wish her weight ‘away’ in one infinite swooosh?

    To put it differently, why is the universe and our actual experience of it, so lawful? Such rigid and clear-cut laws of nature? And all this quite independent of what you wish in your our infinite awareness.

    How does the identity of absolute infinity and awareness which you and Göran (and me) subscribe to deal with the fact that the apparent illusion of the universe is so lawful and that the world is based on so many rigid ´rules´ of nature? We may experience in uncontaminated bliss that multiplicity is illusory and exists only on the backdrop of infinity, but you will still shout ´outch´ when a bee stings you as you sit enlightened under the bodhi-tree.

    This is exactly why my cautioning comes in. True enlightenment is not concerned with knowing or not-knowing, with elaborate eloquent descriptions of particular grand views. A truly enlightened person can admit to simply not-knowing — something that simple ordinary people do all the time. When asked who created the universe, the Buddha said he did not know, but that it was not relevant, because knowing it would not relieve suffering.

    In contrast, I suspect your and Göran´s reply would be very extensive, going into all the details — but these would be simple assumptions on the backdrop of an elaborate conviction.

    There is a difference between being psychologically enlightened and truly enlightened.

    The sign of a truly enlightened person is a stream of total compassion — not creating grand teachings, making followers and arguing one´s point.

    I would like to share a quote of the Buddha:

    “Coincident with the development of a happy, glowing,
    thought-free awareness is the birth of authentic compassion,
    which is like the love a mother holds for her only son,
    except that here the love is directed towards all beings roaming
    in samsara who lack the enlightened vision.
    This compassion is a very special feature of enlightened vision,
    and this you must know.

    After you have resolved that all things are empty,
    if then in your conduct you
    abandon virtue and no longer shrink from vice,
    you have fallen under the spell of a demon of infinite and intense evil.
    It is crucial to avoid this demonic pitfall.”

    Therefore, instead of staying within your epistemic realm of knowing, let us abandon knowing and not-knowing and really arrive at this stream of complete compassion.

    • Mark says:

      I know I’m not enlightened and I don’t think you or Goran are either. But I do know that the questions you raise don’t survive scrutiny, and why the assumptions that cause the brightest and smartest to disagree, are inescapably false. The only real question that remains is whether or not my own discernment is worth a damn, and that may never be resolved, but it’s all I’ve got.

      In talking about absolute infinity or anything else, we are necessarily reifying it. And indeed ‘knowing’ something (or thinking we know something) involves the same error. In that sense I agree with not-knowing, and also because the ‘knowing’ of the mind is exactly what prevents the seeing of the self-evident. And also because I may actually be quite insane, if there is such a thing.

      But then that still leaves no room for postulating anything other than the immediately self-evident, which is awareness, because that necessarily involves reification and reliance on unreliable cognitive processes.

      Even if consensus reality were absolutely true, the only paradigm that makes sense – for the very reason that indeed we can’t actually know anything – is the paradigm where awareness is primary, at the very least. Anything else is at best a practical concern within ‘the dream’.

      The errors exposed by the emptiness philosophy are essentially the errors that come with the postulation of duality, and it leads to the impossibility of a foundationless existence. Which means that the moment you stray from awareness as the only possible foundation, you have strayed into absurdity. Which you are free to do, but which doesn’t sound very humble to me.

      Emptiness is not about truth, it’s about untruth. It is a radical deconstruction of consensus reality, including all those questions you raise, and it succeeds marvellously. Nothing remains intact if you contemplate the repercussions of emptiness. But that is your job to find out. I’m not here to argue points, I’m only here to get this shit out of my system.

  27. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Mark,

    You have completely hit the hammer on the nail. You have said it better than I ever could have. Thank you for acknowledging the non-knowing (I´m not sure Göran, or most of the neo-enlightened teachers, would acknowledge this).

    You couldn´t have said it better or clearer. Self-evident awareness is not a knowing and not a non-knowing. That is why we cannot brag about its knowledge and ´teach´ any related doctrines.

    Your understanding of emptiness is also exactly to the point, i.e. the total deconstruction — and it is also the deconstruction of deconstruction. In the deconstruction of deconstruction I feel the powerful stream of compassion arising, because after this non-knowing flashes forth even as merely a glimpse, there is no other sensible choice than to be compassionate.

    In the remarkable words of Nagarjuna:

    śūnyatā sarva-dřşţīnām proktā nihsaraņam jinaih
    yeşām tu śūnyatā-dřşţis tān asādhyān babhāşire

    The Victorious Ones have described emptiness as the giving up of all views.
    Hence they have also described them as unaccomplished for whom emptiness is a view.

    I shake your hand and wish you the very best and auspicious luck on this pathless path of joy and compassion.

    • Mark says:

      As far as I’ve been able to tell, Nagarjuna never killed the Buddha.

      I wouldn’t rely on ANY scripture or teaching or philosophy as the last word on anything. I’ve found that whenever I do that, I end up duped for not having questioned it. Makes sense too, because all of those are examples of reification. Bet your life on such things if you must, but I have no such intention.

      Although a word of advice from Jed McKenna seems in order here: You can’t reconcile the irreconcilable. Which is to say, the dreamstate can’t be reconciled with truth. It’s just not possible. So give it up. Or, you know, don’t.

  28. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Mark,

    I also went through this process of not accepting any authority — until I realised in a rare moment of humility that I couldn’t be the first person in history to have realised this. I think this moment of insight is the readiness to go back to the tradition.

    You can then begin to adore the Victorious Ones (the term is a bit grand, yes, but that’s what it is) without succumbing to their authority simply because they are authorities.

    This process is circular and never ends, because at some point you will find something that annoys you about the teachings, which you feel you know better or could have said better, or a feeling arises in you that following in anyone’s footsteps is inadequate. In such moments you abandon them once more (killing the Buddha), but then, after some time, you come to deeply appreciate them once more — because, you once again realise that you couldn’t have been the first person to realise this. You couldn’t have been the first ‘consciousness’ to realise itself. And in that moment you are in the tradition.

    The height of ignorance anyone can entertain is to disparage the tradition — especially Zen and Dzogchen — just because it is tradition. Taking such an approach is ultimately akin to seeing oneself as “the magnificent marvellous mad Madame Mim”.

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      It doesn’t matter who ever realized it or not. You don’t know what they said or why they said it. Even the very best of them caution against taking anything they say at face value, and rightly so. They are con men, and they know it, and in many cases they will readily admit it. And then people laugh as if they are joking.

      The fact of the matter is that there is only one sentient being, and you’re it, because you’re me. You’re not a person and you’re not talking to a person. If you actually realized any of this as you say you do, then you ARE the first one ever, because there is nothing else going on.

      If you are going back to tradition thinking it means something, then you’re going the wrong way. Nothing against tradition, but it can never be reconciled with truth. If you wanted to hear someone with more authority than myself say the same thing, I’m sure you could find one. Or if you don’t, then you won’t. See how that works? It’s all up to you. That’s what authority means.

    • Mark says:

      It’s not arrogance if it’s true. It’s not possible to wake yourself up, but it is possible to use the terms of delusion against itself. A thorn removing a thorn, and all that. The mind duking it out with the mind. And the reason it works is precisely because it can’t be reconciled with what’s true.

      So insofar as a teacher can help you at all, they can only help you to use your own delusion against itself. Nothing more, and probably less. That’s why they are con men. It’s a crucial part of the job description.

      And that’s all a tradition is, a thorn. Assuming it’s not just nonsense, of course. All they have to offer are strategies and devices for exercising the muscles of your own discernment. Which is to say, to help you see that nobody but you can be your own authority. If you went back to them, it’s because they failed. And maybe that’s the best they can do. Your call.

    • Mark says:

      Then, all tranquilly and soberly, he made the strange answer, “There is no other.”

      A subtle influence blew upon my spirit from his, bringing with it a vague, dim, but blessed and hopeful feeling that the incredible words might be true – even must be true.


      “You perceive, now, that these things are all impossible except in a dream. You perceive that they are pure and puerile insanities, the silly creations of an imagination that is not conscious of its freaks – in a word, that they are a dream, and you the maker of it. The dream-marks are all present, you should have recognized them earlier.

      “It is true, that which I have revealed to you; there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream – a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thought – a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities.”

      – The Mysterious Stranger, Mark Twain

  29. Chrisinbliss says:

    Oh dear Mark, now you have lost me.

    Without these traditions we wouldn’t even know about enlightenment or nonduality. Look at how the Western religious/spiritual traditions evolved before they came in contact with Advaita and Buddhism. With the exception of perhaps a few selected mystics, in spite of all its scientific achievements the West remained completely absorbed in the Abrahamic doctrine for nearly 2000 years. This alone shows you the great value of the nondual traditions as vehicles of wisdom.

    I also strongly advise against any of the neo-enlightened teachers and most current Indian gurus — as you say, mots of them are conmen even in a real sense, not just a spiritual sense. Most of them simply use the spiritual world for purposes their livelihood, selling books, making disciples. No doubt.

    Yet therefore avoiding all the traditions is a fallacy. See what 8th century Shankara, the founder of Advaita (and you wouldn’t know a thing about Advaita had he not existed), had to say:

    “In all the three worlds there is no metaphor to describe
    a true teacher who grants realisation.
    If one were to suggest the touchstone (the philosopher’s stone) as a metaphor,
    though it is said to transform whatever touches it into gold, into its own substance,
    nevertheless, it does not transform them into a touchstone.
    And yet the true teacher makes equal to himself
    the student who has taken refuge at his feet.
    Thus, although he is in this world,
    he is without any comparison.”

    This having been said, I have a nagging doubt that you are too strongly influenced by the Indian nondual tradition (and JD Krishnamurti in particular).

    In contrast, if you are open to the Tibetan nondual tradition, you will see that dependent origination — that all phenomena, people, beings, etc. are interwoven and arise together — goes hand in hand with emptiness. Now you may rightly object that this is merely a doctrine. Nonetheless, dependent origination is different from the Advaitic tendency towards solipsism — your “because you’re me.” Tibetan nonduality doesn’t require this type of frantic view of ‘unity’ and ‘oneness’ versus ‘multiplicity’ and ‘manifold phenomena’.

    Here reality is neither one nor two nor three, so there are no extremes — there is no need to elaborate reality as “The fact of the matter is that there is only one sentient being, and you’re it, because you’re me. You’re not a person and you’re not talking to a person.” — all these statements and ideas become unnecessary in natural spontaneous presence. Neither one nor two, neither eternal nor changing.

    Although Advaitic (Indian-type) nonduality can rarely accept this, Tibetan nonduality is different in the sense that it can freely accept multiplicity. There is no narrowness, no endless ‘neti neti’ infinite regresses.

    I do not need to say that I am one with you, because that’s just nonsense (we wouldn’t be writing), yet I can still be a nondual practictioner in the Tibetan sense. If this doesn’t make sense to you, perhaps try to find out more about it. You might realise actual freedom and spontaneous presence and thereby the value of the tradition.

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      Sounds to me like you’re the one holding on to the view of emptiness. Good luck with that then. I know first hand it’s a tough one to get past. Nagarjuna had me duped for years.

      Out of one corner of your mouth you are saying that emptiness is itself empty, and yet out of the other corner you’re using it to tell me how things supposedly are. Just like all the other adherents out there. Are you not heeding the advice by Nagarjuna that you yourself provided?

      Oneness/nonduality is something entirely different from interconnectedness. The latter is entirely a dream phenomenon, the former is not. Emptiness is about nothing but falsehood, it’s dream interpretation. There are no dependencies between phenomena, because phenomena are nothing more than nothing. Let it go.

      I know everyone is trying to shoehorn all their favorite teachings into the dream paradigm, because despite whatever they may say, they don’t really want to leave it behind.

      You are arguing for a view because you like it. If you wanted to know what was true, you’d be trying to take it down just to see if you could. But you’re not, because you’re looking for personal freedom, freedom within the dream paradigm. There is no such thing.

      That’s why Jed McKenna’s warning against trying to reconcile the irreconcilable is so priceless. But of course only to those who actually want to wake up. And that’s the beauty of being your own authority: Nobody can tell you anything you don’t want to hear.

    • Mark says:

      The biggest obstacle that the emptiness philosophy presented for me was the conviction that I already had the answer. I didn’t see that it was an utterly impossible answer, until I saw the similarity between it and Jed McKenna’s treatment of Agrippa’s Trilema, in that book recommendation I gave earlier. Which is why I recommended it.

      Before that, everything I heard anyone say on the topic of enlightenment, or any other, I could put to the emptiness test and say to myself: “Yeah I know, I get that.” It was a killer. I could have been stuck there for the rest of my life. Thinking I already knew which end was up, when I really didn’t.

      Maya is a hypnotist. I thank the non-existent gods on my non-existent knees that they managed to pull me out of that hole. They had to call in the heavy artillery, but thankfully it worked, eventually.

      Not everyone is so lucky, heavy artillery notwithstanding… Or maybe they just don’t want it. That’s fine too. Either way, good luck and all the best.

    • Mark says:

      To be clear, I am immensely grateful for having encountered the emptiness philosophy. I absorbed a lot of Alan Watts and Dalai Lama and others, and it was a critical part of my journey so far.

      But I am also immensely grateful for finally seeing that emptiness is not the final answer, nor is the emptiness of emptiness.

      Instead it was just another device. A very potent device, possibly the best one available for those who manage to grasp the full implications, for deconstructing reality such that one can come to see that it can’t possibly be reality at all.

      At all!

      Just like impermanence implies dependent origination, and dependent origination implies emptiness, so also does it imply pure relativity, finiteness, foundationlessness, mutual contingence, differentiation, i.e. duality. All of those terms are equivalent to eachother, and they all point to the total absurdity and impossibility of ‘reality’.

      There’s a reason Alan Watts likens it to the bootstrap paradox, and that’s exactly what it is. You can’t lift yourself by your own shoelaces, but that is exactly what emptiness suggests is happening.

      And emptiness is nothing more than an elaboration on impermanence. That’s why advaitins like to quote the gita in saying that “the unreal has no being, the real never ceases to be.” Which is another way of saying that impermanence is impossible. Which it is.

      Which automatically means that consciousness can not be an emergent property of the brain or of anything else. Emergence is just another way of saying dependently originated, and is equivalent to duality, relativity, finiteness, etc. That’s why truth must be absolute, infinite, unchanging, etc.

      If consciousness were dependently originated, then it would be part of an impossible reality. And so Jed McKenna rightly says it’s a puzzle with only one piece. True reality must be absolute infinity, and consciousness must exist. Yes, it must exist inherently, because it cannot be dependently originated. And that’s why no other explanation holds up and no objective reality is possible. There can’t be two absolute infinities.

      So you do the math.

      And so we arrive at the point of middle ways. Waking up is an extreme business, but nobody really wants to wake up. So a teaching has to account for that and give them something useful but not dangerous. Those that really want to wake up must kill the Buddha, and all teachings. And they will, but they will be few. A real teacher knows that anyone who really wants to wake up, WILL NOT take a teacher’s word for anything. That’s the test you have to pass, and that’s why most people don’t.

      That’s the significance of the Buddha’s teaching. Impermanence is a hint, not a final answer, and what it hints at is the unreality of reality. Nagarjuna and the Tibetans don’t like extremes for the same reason as always: They don’t want to kill the Buddha and they don’t want to leave behind the dreamstate paradigm. And so they waste their lives trying to reconcile the irreconcilable.

      The horror…

  30. Chrisinbliss says:

    Shankara would like you. These are all his arguments against the Buddhists. With these arguments he is said to have driven them (us) out of India.

    In my humble opinion you became stuck in emptiness because you lacked a teacher, and a Yidam, a Chosen Deity, as well as the ability to relax a bit from yourself.

    But Shankara was certainly enlightened — his body dissolved into light in the end like the Tibetan rainbow bodies — so it’s alright if you follow his radical style.

    Just relax a bit. Everything is alright as it is.

    • Mark says:

      I’ve never read Shankara. Nor J. Krishnamurti, for your information, so I wouldn’t know where you got that idea. Nor have I read any of the ancient vedanta texts. I started out in buddhism, stayed a while, and eventually moved on because it turned out to be a dead end. And thanks for the reminder.

      I’ve had some critical help from a few books after that, but fortunately not from any formal traditions. So you can’t accuse me of regurgitating those or of taking anyone’s side. I don’t do politics, I don’t know who said what, and I don’t care about any party line. I reach my own conclusions, and that’s the only way it works. So you can attack my conclusions on their own merit, or not at all.

      But don’t worry about me. I’m fine, I just like to play with heavy artillery. No such thing as a humble opinion. Just take it or leave it, you are your own authority.

  31. Chrisinbliss says:

    Well, in this case I still hope you’re glad to know that this is entirely Shankara’s view you are ‘manifesting’, i.e. these are his arguments against the Buddhists, this is his radical nonduality that doesn’t permit any dream in the end. His ingenious definition of illusion, ‘maya’ is ‘ma ya’ (Sanskrit for “that which is not”) So you’ve basically ‘pulled a Shankara’!

    I think it’s lovely how we Buddhists and (unawares) Shankara Advaitins are still fighting it out like an old couple after so many years. Good luck to us! And may the truer one win!

    In any case, be happy with yourself as the only authority (what if you just got it wrong nonetheless? Ever thought about that?) and may all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      I guess I’ll just take it as a compliment then, since nothing else seems to sink in. If I’m to be seen as taking anyone’s side, Shankara seems like a fine choice to me. Didn’t even know there was such a thing as non-radical non-duality. Like, maybe just a little bit nondual. Like a half-hearted negation of duality. Or maybe three parts nondual and 7 parts dual. Why the hell not.

      It’s really quite amazing, by the way. I may not have read any of the classics, but naturally I’ve seen quotes and heard talks and watched videos, and from what I can tell everything has been spelled out to the greatest detail already. A while ago I saw a video of Nisargadatta. Holy cow, that guy just tells it straight up. And yesterday I bumped into a more-or-less scholarly treatment of the Mandukya Upanishad. Bam! It’s right there! Hello?

      It’s all been out there for centuries if not millenia, and it’s not getting through to anyone. What the hell, man. If ever there was proof that all of this is just a ridiculous dream…

      So, cheers to that, my auspicious friend. So say we all.

    • Mark says:

      Oh right, and by the way, since you’ve already made up your mind about me (or was it Shankara): No, I can’t be wrong and I never thought about that.

      I took the trouble to reach my own conclusions, I took the trouble to point out that I might be insane, but no, I never thought about any of it and I never considered the possibility of being wrong.

      Why, do you think a serious seeker who is betting his life on truth should do that? What a novel concept. I think I’ll just dismiss that out of hand.

      After all, I’ve heard it said that everything is alright as it is, and I do like the sound of that. Very auspicious. Or was it asparagus…

    • Mark says:

      So anyway I should go to sleep now.

      Ah enlightenment humor. Gotta love it.

  32. Chrisinbliss says:

    It is certainly a compliment for someone to produce, from his own explorations, the very same arguments that the founder of Advaita produced. It was Shankara who brought the Mandukya-Upanishad and all the other Upanishads back into the limelight through his expositions. Whether you accept something such as history (Shankara himself doesn’t) or not, he was certainly the greatest exponent of ‘radical’ nonduality in history, perhaps second only to his teacher’s teacher, the great Gaudapada who famously said:

    “The son of non-existent parents is born neither
    through maya nor in any other way.”

    “What does not exist in the beginning and in the end
    does not exist in the middle.”

    “Multiplicity does not exist through the nature of reality,
    nor somehow through its own nature.
    Separation or non-separation simply do not exist.
    This the knowers of truth know.”

    In fact, on a more humorous note, I was initiated as a monk in the Shankara Advaita tradition at the age of 13, mastering Sanskrit and Shankara’s expositions in a highly traditional orthodox Advaita monastery. After many years of radical nonduality, I gave up my vows and became a ‘householder’. And then, after a few more years, I discovered the immense vast objectless consciousness-space of Buddhism, in which there is neither self nor non-self to grasp but where spontaneous presence unfolding in boundless creativity itself is reality. So while you ‘pulled a Shankara’, I ‘pulled a Padmasambhava’.

    Oh yes, enlightenment humour is the best possible humour — because, according to you, it doesn’t exist! (while according to me, it exists as an ungraspable phenomenon in the infinite expanse of consciousness-space)

  33. Chrisinbliss says:

    By the way, a perfect description on the essential difference in attitude between Advaita and the pathless path of Buddhism:


    “Arise, awaken and rest not till the goal is reached.” —

    essentially reflecting your and JM’s frantic radical striving for truth.

    Pathless Buddhism:

    “Sit down, awaken and rest till the goal is reached.” —

    essenceless-ly implying that you can simply relax, because you have already arrived and all is fine. Completely relax and dissolve.

    May all be auspicious because it already is auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      To each their own.

      Btw. of course I should add that I can’t actually take credit for “my own” conclusions, because from a first-person perspective it’s pretty obvious that whatever insights and epiphanies come your way, whatever help you get from books and other sources, and whatever else happens in your life, it’s all clearly just given to you.

      So in the face of your compliment, I feel obliged to add this caveat. It really wasn’t “me”, it just kinda happened. I “thank the gods” not just for that whole emptiness business, but for everything else as well. And I’m pretty sure Shankara must have felt the same way.

      Then again, those ostensible gods got me in this mess to begin with, so there we are.

      Nice chatting with you, Chris. Thanks.

  34. Chrisinbliss says:

    Your caveat is famously called the “enlightenment disclaimer”.

    Nice chatting with you, too!

    And back to reality!

    May all be auspicious

    • Mark says:

      Oooh another nice sprinkle of compliment. Screw reality, I’ll just stand in this blissful shower for a while. I feel like a rainbow body already ;).

      Cheers Chris

    • Mark says:

      P.S. never mind my poking fun at things, it’s just for laughs and nothing personal. You may not think you’re me, but I beg to differ, so there. May all be asparagus! :D

    • Mark says:

      (see… I can relax… I know good advice when I hear it… thanks dude)

    • Mark says:

      Isn’t it hilarious that people think there is no “Cartesian Theater” of the mind with a little homunculus inside?

      When all the while the person they think they are IS the little homunculus, and their life IS the theater of mind.

      It is just too funny!

      May all be homunculus :D

    • Mark says:

      (sorry, I’m not always done when I think I’m done, and vice versa…)

  35. Göran Backlund says:

    Hi chrisinbliss, sorry for taking so long. I’ve been away from the internet.

    If you agree with every single point in the book, then you must have granted that even the possibility of an external world (whether a material one, or a simulation, or turtles all the way down, etc) involves a logical contradiction; and is therefore logically inadmissable. There can be no more the possibility of an objective reality than there could be square circles out there. And this has nothing to do with humility. It’s about logic. It’s not humble to admit for the possibility of square circles. It’s just fuzzy thinking.

  36. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Göran,

    I meant that I agree with the nondual points — in the sense that they correspond to the nondual traditions.

    Invoking logic is always a risky endeavour: Logical thinking is itself based on regularity in observations. We wouldn’t know about logic (and its opposite: illogical thinking), if there were no multiplicity and natural laws. It is like saying that it is not logical that the earth should be round because people would fall off (many people said this in ancient times and laughed at those who entertained that the earth is round and said this was ‘logical’). But as observations progressed, logic itself advanced with them and it became ‘logical’ that people don’t fall off. But logic can be used freely (i.e. independently of observations, through mathematics) only after it has first been established on the basis of dualist observations. Therefore the powerful tool of logic is rooted in duality, not in nonduality, and trying to establish nonduality through logic will be a tiresome endeavour.

    Jnana, or enlightenment, is neither about logic nor non-logic, it is not about knowing or not-knowing.

    Most nondualists have probably never thought about a simple truth: We all speak about consciousness. Yet it has no shape or colour, no dimensions or nature of its own. We ever only perceive contents of what we call consciousness. Deducting that there ‘is’ consciousness, because we infer it from seeing other people and contrasting them and ourselves with stones and so-called ‘inanimate’ matter does not help. The entire nondualist scene (except for one particular tradition) is talking about consciousness as if it were an obvious sine qua non, yet no one has ever seen consciousness or has a shred of proof that it exists more than as an inference — because we ever only perceive contents. When someone says ‘I realised that I am pure consciousness’, this is simply wrong, because what has happened is that such a person has only realised that he/she has such a thought — this is simply a powerful verbal narrative.

    No one has ever seen consciousness, my friend. It is a phantom. The same way no one has ever seen existence. So saying that everything arises in consciousness, consciousness is the creator of everything, or of illusions, or whatever else you want to say about it, is actually only based on an inference. And that very inference requires a dualist world to work.

    Disclaimer: This does not stop me from being a nondual practitioner. I am so full-heartedly. But I can easily admit that reductionist materialists have a point when they say we might be deluding ourselves in assuming there is such a thing as ‘consciousness’ and that it is the ground of being (what ‘being’ — no one has ever seen being, we only see forms).

    Moreover, in some particular traditions, it does not matter at all that consciousness and existence are such phantoms. The very space of their unfindability, that we can never find them (even though they are so self-evident, which they actually aren’t), is the free space of true meditation where neither knowing nor non-knowing is necessary.

    • Mark says:

      Sorry to butt in again, but for what it’s worth, I think you’re making some very good points there. And I think this is where the Buddha would say come see for yourself. I’ve had the same glimpses that you describe, but I’m not convinced that that is the final ‘thing’ (for lack of a good way of putting it), even if it were abiding. Also I have no reason to doubt anything Goran is saying and describing about his own state, and I don’t doubt he is abiding in something, but I’m not convinved that is the final ‘thing’ either.

      And since I’m not ‘there’ yet myself I obviously have nothing more to add on that score, except of course that I certainly intend to come see for myself. And if it turns out to be bogus, I will certainly reject it. I can’t help it. It does however make perfect sense to me that there is no mental knowing involved in it at all, or to put it in your words, nothing to grasp at.

      But I would also add that the truth in itself, and ones living paradigm, are not the same thing. Nobody lives in truth, not even a so-called enlightened one. So if truth is what I think it is (in a manner of speaking), then still it would have to somehow filter down inadequately into this relative world that we find ourselves in, and that will never be able to measure up to any standard except the standard of negating all that is false.

      I suspect that’s why Jed McKenna calls the awakened paradigm (which he calls C-Rex, as in Consciousness is King) a “not-false paradigm”. There is no such thing as a true paradigm. So if that’s your concern then I’d say that is also an attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable. The only possible way to resolve it is to come see for oneself. And that’s why, if you really want to do that, you can’t take anyone else’s word as the final answer.

      I agree with your arguments against logic, but of course those arguments themselves also rely on logic. What we can do is employ logic against itself. Or indeed, using the terms of delusion against itself, as I’ve put it before. Truth may ultimately not be a matter of logic, but the falsehoods we have erected for ourselves are, or at least they claim to be. We go by the things we think make sense, we behave according to our perceptions, there is no alternative.

      And so we can take that all the way to its logical conclusion by discovering that the things we grasp at are actually not logical at all, or even reasonable, that all those things dissolve under scrutiny and that therefore the only logical thing to do is to subject them to such scrutiny. Even if it means logic must eventually dissolve along with it. Unless of course we’d rather hold on to falsehoods.

      So from the perspective of the dream, that’s what it always boils down to: What is it that you want. And as it turns out, that’s probably what you’ll get.

    • Mark says:

      Another way of saying “trying to reconcile the irreconcilable”, might be “trying to fit nonduality into a dual reality”.

      And by reality I mean this apparent reality, the ‘dream’, if that’s what it is. The world of phenomena. What we call reality is dual down to (and including) the floorboards. Raw uninterpreted experience itself is still dual.

      And yet the emptiness philosophy is attempting exactly the impossible. It is not about anything other than the world of phenomena, and yet it purports to be a nondual philosophy. Something has to give.

      Nonduality is not, and could never be, a philosophy. It’s just a placeholder concept for something that can never be touched from here, despite what so many adherents would have you believe.

      This is all a manner of speaking of course, I’m not suggesting that there is some kind of distant nondual realm out there in the clouds or something. But hopefully you get my point.

      The dream can never be explained in terms of the dream. All paradigms are dream paradigms, including the emptiness philosophy or any other philosophy, and including the lucid dream paradigm C-Rex. And all paradigms are self-contained.

      Because all paradigms, views, philosophies, etc. are of the mind, in every possible sense of the word. And as it happens, for better or worse, the mind is the one thing in the way of truth realization.

    • Mark says:

      By the duality of raw uninterpreted experience, I don’t mean the subject/object thing. In raw uninterpreted experience that false dichotomy already does not exist. And yet everything about raw uninterpreted experience is still contingent, relative, finite, etc.

      Anything that you’d care to mention “exists” only in relation to something else, in dependence on something else, in contrast to something else, in terms of something else, in other words always in some way only with reference to something else.

      That’s emptiness, obviously. But it’s not just a valid observation for our interpretations, but even for the very bedrock of our interpretations, which is raw experience.

      For example you only know a color in contrast to other colors, and you can only know a limited spectrum of colors. If there were no other colors, or if the spectrum were somehow limitless, then you couldn’t know any color.

      And the same goes for any constituent of perception. Dual down to the floorboards. They are all irreducible qualia. This is the case of the experience of green, the experience of B-flat, the experience of pain, as well as the experience of self.

      They are conceptual in nature, but not in the usual sense of the little thoughts in our little heads. The concept IS the experience. This entire reality is the theater of mind, and everything in it reduces to irreducible qualia, which are themselves still dualistic in that they can only be known in relation to something else (such as their absence).

      Consciousness is not an inference except in the reasoning about it. But you don’t need to reason about it when for example you turn blind or deaf. You can’t see when you’re blind, you can hear when you’re deaf, but you can certainly know the absence of those experiences. So the buck does not stop with perception. The possibility of perception being absent cannot be denied.

      If the buck stopped with perception, then nothing could take note of its own absence. Something does take note of its absence, as well as its presence, and that something is the intended referent of the concept of consciousness.

    • Mark says:

      And by the way, the supposed space in which everything arises, is itself still an object.

    • Mark says:

      (yada yada yada, and by the way I’ve found that writing off all this mental garbage is a good way of getting it out of my system. So if it looks like I’m arguing points or trying to convince you or even just engaging in dialog, yes I am, but no I’m not – I’m just writing it off so I can let it go, and right now I happen to be using this blog and your feedback to help me do it… for which I owe you both my thanks… please please never take anything I say personally… I’m just an asshole with a purpose… thank you)

    • Mark says:

      Note also that infinity has nothing to do with size. It’s not infinitely big. It may just as well be infinitely small if size were an issue. Size is an attribute, applicable only within duality.

      The absolute must be dimensionless, or maybe it has infinite dimensions, who can say. Attributeless, because all attributes are necessarily contingent. So what does size have to do with anything.

      If you actually perceive yourself to be a vast space, then that is a perception. It may or may not be applicable to your living reality, but it would not be the final truth.

      Space does not exist, and the perception of space is subject to change. So something else must be taking note of that, something unchanging which is not a perception.

    • Mark says:

      And of course, that something which takes note of all perceptions, that consciousness, is the only findable reality of oneself. Nonduality essentially means, simply put, that there can be only one reality. And so whatever turns out to be your reality must be it. Or in Hindu parlance, Atman is Brahman, what you are is what there is. And what you are is quite obviously consciousness.

      The whole no-self thing and the whole subject/object thing, as it is commonly thought about, has nothing to do with it. It doesn’t mean there is no inherently existing entity (which indeed there isn’t). And it doesn’t mean that the dichotomy between perceiver and perceived is false (which indeed it is).

      It simply means that nothing dual remains when perception itself is ruled out. Nondual is complete void. So even a self that equates to the entire field of perception would not survive. In emptiness parlance, that would still be an imputation, by the mind, of an inherently existing self, and as such a delusion.

      Anatta is right, but it means a lot more than you think. The Atman as such is the dream entire, the theater of mind, the dual reality. That’s what does not exist.

    • Mark says:

      So how relevant would the emptiness philosophy be, or any of the other mental masturbations that we perforce indulge here in this dream, including advaita vedanta, when all of perception is ruled out.

      You can see now that if truth is indeed complete void, and all of perception is indeed ruled out, that there can be no such thing as a true paradigm here, and that nobody lives in truth.

      THAT is no-self. Everything else is dreamstuff.

    • Mark says:

      In addition to current perceptual modalities falling away (such as vision when becoming blind or hearing when becoming deaf), consider the possibility of new modalities being introduced, or existing modalities being altered. For example different animals perceive different ranges of sound and vision.

      And conveivably there could be animals, or maybe aliens or beings from different planes or dimensions or what have you, that have perceptual modalities that we can’t even imagine, simply because they’re unfamiliar to our current experience. And each of those could conceivably be altered or absent, or even even introduced to your own current reportoire. And actually, you don’t know that this has never happened, to you or anyone else, just because you don’t remember it and never heard stories about it.

      What if you were born blind and through the miracles of modern medicine were enabled to see at a later age. Same thing. Or what if your subjective color spectrum somehow shifted to something entirely different, introducing colors that nobody has ever seen before or heard of. If vision were seeing itself then it would not see the difference. If perceptions perceived only themselves then they could not be compared.

      So how could any of that possibly exist in and of itself, inherently, without there being something more fundamental to carry it and witness it, as it were. There must be a foundation and it is not merely an inference, it is self-evident and undeniable even though it can’t be perceived. It’s not a phantom, it’s the only thing you can be sure of. But not if you’re stuck in theory.

  37. Mark says:

    By the way if you could prove me wrong, you would do me a great service. I don’t want to be right, I just don’t want to be false. So please don’t hesitate. Thanks.

  38. Chrisinbliss says:

    Welcome back, Mark! There is a Sanskrit saying “jagaama sa yathaagatam” — “he went as he returned” — it well applies to you.

    None of your arguments are wrong in any specific way — this is because you already have your own realisation. Otherwise you would be so clear and lucid. Although, I disagree that raw uninterpreted experience is dual. I think there is something quite non-dual about experience without conceptual elaboration. Just before you begin to conceptualise, it is non-dual.

    All I can do is share my own and see if you feel it resonates. Or in the magnificent words of Shankara (although he is the wrong man to quote here, his words still resonate within my youthful memories), “I do not wish to convince you but to free you.”

    I assume that in line with your arguments the important “emptiness is form and form is emptiness” formula is not important to you. However, if you give it a chance, this formula resolves the problem (and in a sense, reconciles the irreconcilable where JM failed miserably and as a consequence needs to hide himself from the public) — because emptiness and form are inseparable. Samsara and Nirvana are the same reality. There are no two truths, a conventional (relative) and absolute (parmaartha), although I gladly admit it was my dear friend Nagarjuna who came up with this silly idea in the first place (but thank the deities the Nyingma Tibetans got rid of it again).

    If you accept the formula not merely as a formula, but as the key to realisation (and ‘total awakening’ — although the term ‘awakening’ is such a boring term) — then you will realise better what I mean by “everything really is fine”.

    As regards the substratum-related arguments of yours, these make sense from a logical point of view. But even there, they lead to an infinite regress — because, truly and really, how can you sensibly argue that this substratum does not require another substratum?

    The Upanishadic sage Yajnvalakya famously reduced “the gods” from 330 to 33, then from 33 to 3, and finally from 3 to 1. Brahman.

    I see the Buddha simply went a step further and discovered the 0.

    You feel that reality has to be 1 in order to be the substratum of the many. Why can ‘it’ not be 0? Because your logic and ‘conciliatory’ urges revolt against this. This revulsion actually is ‘atman’ — as you yourself rightly said (and in a much more Buddhist tone than could be expected of you as an unawares Shankarite). The revulsion is the grasping for self. Whereas accepting 0 is actually the infinite — which, as you say, of course is not infinite in temporal or spatial terms. The infinite is not 1, it can never be 1. It is 0. And just because it is 0, it can be all other numbers while remaining 0.

    Now you may feel that these are silly ideas or that this is irrelevant. But is it really? 0 means non-grasping, non-clinging — and it is in this moment that form reveals itself as emptiness and emptiness as form. Nothing disappears. It all remains just as it is (tathata, “as it is”). No reconciliations are required. No substractions, no trances, no effort. Simply peace.

    Now you may say this is all nonsense, but is it really? Is it not rather that 1 is nonsense? Because 1 means ‘total grasping’ (1 is the very nature of grasping), whereas 0 means non-grasping any object or subject, non-clinging to any object or subject, the utter freedom, the blowing out of the candle (nir-vaana, ‘blowing out’).

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      I’m totally on board with the inevitability of relative reality ultimately being not other than the absolute. It can’t be any other way, and it’s perfectly acceptable to me that this is where logic fails. It has to, as far as infinity is concerned.

      Seeming duality must be nonduality, just as the seemingly finite must be infinity and the seemingly relative must be the absolute. There is nothing else. And yes, I know, everything really is fine.

      But I would caution against acquiescing to that formula too soon, even though it must be so. As long as there are more assumptions to challenge, there is more work to do. Assumptions are of the mind. And so is intellectual understanding, tacit or otherwise.

      The way I see it, if and when the mind has well and truly let go of a position, then there will be nothing about it left to challenge and nothing to defend. It will simply no longer be an issue regardless of what position anyone else might take.

      This requires a great deal of self-honesty, and a willingness to err on the side of caution. That must inevitably lead to truth, and nothing else will.

      As I’ve tried to point out, the substratum issue will remain unresolved as long as you remain stuck in theorizing about it. The answer lies in your own direct experience before you need to think about it. The narrative comes after.

      The reason it can’t be an infinite regress is because infinite regress is exactly the whole problem of duality. Those imply eachother, as does the emptiness philosophy and Agrippa’s Trilemma.

      I would agree with the Buddha that it’s a mistake to reify consciousness. The absolute is not a thing, and all reification is an activity of mind and, if believed, deluded. The reification of consciousness would certainly not be truth.

      Fortunately there is no need to reify it, unlike literally everything else, since it inevitably proves itself by itself before any narrative pops up, and is the only ‘thing’ (sorry) that does so.

      I would also agree that zero may be closer to the truth than one. I mean, if we’re talking about total void, absolute nothingness, at least as far as mind is concerned, then that would have to be the only real zero, wouldn’t it. Yes, it would. But then I would ask you, how many nothings are there. Certainly not two.

      All is just a manner of speaking, and all manners of speaking will fail in the end. Yes, oneness is bogus. Consciousness is not a countable noun and not a category of objects. There can’t be one if there can’t be two. But just like every other bogus word, it serves its purpose. Nothing true can be said about the infinite.

      So I think we’re on the same page there, at least in theory, which of course is impossible. Gotta love it.


    • Mark says:

      Just as an example, it’s a position of the mind that “an enlightened one” can’t value privacy as Jed McKenna does. I’m not sure how seriously you take that position of yours, but you might want to investigate what assumptions are underlying it. Such a notion can’t exist in a vacuum, and you would not have mentioned it if you didn’t think it meant something.

    • Mark says:

      Hey didn’t the Buddha call himself “Tathagata”, thus come thus gone…

      So I see you keep sprinkling me with compliment :D … I am not worthy!

    • Mark says:

      If you were to go blind, right now this instance. If your entire field of view vanished into nothingness, even the grey/brown spaghetti soup that you normally see when your eyes are closed, is gone. You’re suddenly so goddamn blind that you can’t even see your own blindness.

      Tell me, would you know about it or not? Would you need to think about it or not? Is not this unperceived substratum more certain than perception itself?

      And how can it be dependently originated without implying endless regression? How can the most certain thing to exist, emerge out of an impossible reality of a different nature?

      Must it not exist inherently, unlike everything else? And must inherent existence not necessarily mean that it can’t be finite, relative, contingent, impermanent, etc?

      And must that also not necessarily mean that it can never become an object of perception? You’ve argued that nobody has ever seen consciousness, which is essentially saying that nobody has ever seen absolute infinity. Would it make any sense at all if that were even remotely possible? Especially if it is ‘that which sees’. And yet does it make sense to deny its inescapable existence?

      Just throwing some stale stuff at ya. I’m sure these arguments have been done to death, I vaguely remember some of them from my own buddhism days and I do recognize your arguments in them. But I’ve done the legwork now and find them unconvincing in the face of that which I’ve been unable to deny. Maybe you have something fresh to throw back instead.

      Thanks either way.

    • Mark says:

      Another hint by the way, about why being stuck in theory about this substratum thing is a killer: It necessarily involves reification, and THAT AIN’T IT…

      That’s exactly what the Buddha cautioned against, and rightly so. In theorizing about this supposed substratum, your mind has already turned it into an object before you know it. It just can’t be done, and yet it can’t be denied. But it’s not a thing, and not even a substance. It necessarily is nothing the mind can imagine.

      It’s so easy to agree to those points, and still continue to make that mistake, even without noticing it. There is no satisfactory resolution for the mind on this point, because there is nothing for it to grasp… Makes sense, no?

      And yet we keep trying… Makes no sense, yes? :D

  39. Chrisinbliss says:


    The artificial separation of mind from reality is the problem. There is no such separation. The mind is the Buddha. So saying something is ‘of the mind’ while some other order of reality is not (what nonsense to create such a construct and false dichotomy) is simply not seeing that the mind is none other than the Buddha — emptiness is form and form is emptiness.

    As a mere conviction, this is all nonsense.

    But as the key to realisation it opens the door to the unbounded reality which your mind, this very ordinary mind, is. No trances, no subtractions, no additions, only “as it is” — and a vast flow of pure compassion, like an ocean of nectar, directed towards all beings who are suffering because they lack realisation.

    JM doesn’t see that this ordinary mind of yours is the Buddha. Instead he seeks the Buddha in ideas of infinity. That is why he is in hiding.

    “But he who sees that all beings are reality and reality is all beings
    has no desire to hide himself from anything.” (Ishavasya Upanishad)

    May all be auspicious!

  40. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark, last but not least, I think you are at 0.5 — so very close!

    As the great Jalal-ad-Din Rumi said,

    “O you who have made ready your bows and arrows!
    The game is close to you, yet you shoot too far off.
    The further a man shoots, the further off he is,
    and the more removed from the treasure he seeks.” (Masnawi)

    Now the key question to explore immediately is: how far off is 0?

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      Looks like we cross-posted, please be sure to read my previous post above.

      All I can say is, notice how you keep putting things in terms of phenomena. Even the unbounded reality of this buddha mind is an object of consciousness. As we agreed, in the end it must all be the same ‘no-thing’, but as I also urged, you may not want to agree to that too soon but err on the side of caution instead. Your call.

      So yes, there is ultimately no distinction between mind and consciousness. But as soon as we are talking about anything, we are making artificial distinctions, and the very first distinction to make, before any other distinction, is that between dreamer and dream. Which is to say, between consciousness and mind.

      If you take the dream reality as such into consideration, by itself, then you are considering mind, NOT consciousness. Consciousness cannot actually be considered by itself. Any such attempt must inevitably prove erroneous. It can’t be helped. Only phenomena can be considered, and if you are considering consciousness or mind or actually whatever, then you are considering reifications. Delusion spinning delusion.

      There is no getting closer to the final ‘realization’. I can’t see how that could possibly make sense. You get closer to unwinding the spinning of delusion, but the final coup-de-grace can only be an all-or-nothing deal, and until then it’s all just talk. There is no partial enlightenment, no unabiding enlightenment, no return from enlightenment, or any such nonsense as far as I’m concerned.

      Naturally 0 is at no distance. Yet another reason why it can never be perceived. But where we start is not at square zero, maybe at square three or something. And we’ll mistake that for square zero, but that’s just not how it works.

  41. Chrisinbliss says:


    I think that once two minds reach the point of cross-posting, the process of enlightenment is complete.

    All these problems (or should I say “neti neti obsessions”) are resolved by the formula “emptiness is form and form is emptiness.”

    There is no getting closer to final realisation because it is not a place to go to. I mean this quite seriously (in contrast to most other things). It really is not any place to go to or reach.

    Once you overcome your “neti neti obsessions” (which actually simply arise from the obsession with the 1 — because none else can be the 1 so one keeps denying everything and rejecting it as an ‘object of perception’ — why this meanness towards objects?), you will simply see that form is emptiness, and then you will smile like a rainbow. Let us replace the word if you wish. Let’s replace it with reality. Form is reality and reality is form. So where is the problem?

    The problem is that most nondualists expect the universe (“phenomena”) to vanish upon realisation. Where should it (they) vanish?

    An even greater problem is that this realisation is not spectacular enough for most people, so they bypass it with a “so what?”

    This “so what” is the source of suffering and suffering is the source of the “so what”.

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      The ‘vanish’ expectation is certainly a tricky one. I strongly suspect that’s another case of “come see for yourself”, since mind and consciousness can’t actually be two different things. It seems more like a matter of emphasis, but I don’t suppose that any way of talking about it will suffice, and for my part it’s all just speculation anyway. I’ll let you know ;).

      In any case it also makes perfect sense that any expectation whatsoever will prove problematic, not only in terms of the theory of truth but also as a very real obstacle to any sort of realization. Another instance of thinking one already has the answer without actually having it, of false knowing blocking true seeing, so to speak. So, ok, fair enough.

      Your shortcutting of the neti neti thingamajiggy is, however, exactly what I meant by acquiescing too soon to the formula that it’s all the same anyway. You could have done that before you ever started studying or meditating or whatever else you’ve been doing with your time, and save yourself a lot of it. But that wouldn’t make you enlightened, now would it.

      If you ask me, and I know you haven’t, the reason you consider the neti neti thing an obsession is because you can’t seem to escape the consideration of truth in terms of phenomena. Your buddha mind is stuck in a self-contained paradigm, and I know it takes a bit of a leap to break away from that. But first that takes a willingness to consider that such a leap is actually possible.

      Failing all else, what’s the problem with doing too much neti neti? If you’ve reached bedrock with your formula then surely erring on the side of caution can’t hurt. You can’t ‘fall off’ of infinity. Well… Yah… But anyway, it seems to me that you’re erring on the side of comfort instead. Again it’s your call, but maybe just maybe, that’s not where it’s at, is all I’m saying.

      Then again, you ask where is the problem, and I agree there is none. There wouldn’t be if you were the most deluded and unspiritual dipshit in the universe, and there wouldn’t be if you stopped halfway towards truth at whatever comfort zone you fancy. Everything is fine as it is, so there’s no problem unless you consider it a problem. If you don’t, then voila. You are where you want to be, and you’ll have no argument with me.

      As for me, I happen to consider delusion a problem for myself, and I don’t intend to err on the side of comfort. Don’t ask me why because I have no idea, it really doesn’t make any sense at all, but that just seems to be the case and I’ve found that I could not live in denial of that any longer. To each their own, right?

      So I’m not interested in anything spectacular. Utterly normal and mundane and unadorned will do just fine for me, and the gods willing, that’s exactly where I’m headed. Auspicious indeed.

      Thank you Chris. This is gonna sound corny as hell and maybe patronizing or whatever, it certainly feels a bit icky to say, but I do love you in a weird way. I wish you all the best. And me too :D

  42. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark, I love you too — you have a genuine heart, the best soil for the flower of knowing to bloom.

    Well, purely from a comfort point of view, I still sit ‘on the cushion’ as long as the day’s schedule permits it — sometimes only 2-3 hours, sometimes more. Now you can frown upon this as “what ignorance! – to meditate!” a la neo-enlightened people. Or you can see that there is no difference in comfort and ease sitting on the cushion or going through your day being kind to all beings (on weekends I like collecting snails and slugs from footpaths and delivering them to the grass; my wife thinks that’s just insane).

    Having said this, such comfort and relaxation do not emerge from striving but from recognition. The direct introduction of the Great Perfection unveils the natural state. This is called the base. Then there is the conduct. And from this follows the fruit. All this happens in the ease of the natural state that the practitioner has already recognised.

    The problem with our tradition is that it prohibits sharing too much of this — otherwise I would be jumping from forum to forum — because as you said, each to his own. There is no convincing to do.

    But you have such a beautiful mind already, therefore I think you should really explore it. Perhaps it will resonate!

    Jagaama sa yathaagatam — he went as he returned!

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      That’s not the kind of comfort I’m talking about. Right now, for you, as well as for me, saying form is emptiness and emptiness is form is just another mental position for the mind to grasp at, to take refuge in, and to tell itself that it doesn’t really need to abanon any of its favorite positions. It’s comfort for the mind.

      It’s a nice, solid, good understanding of things, maybe strictly theoretical or maybe much deeper insight, but that’s still a perception, not truth. It would much rather sit in a pretzel every day or do whatever other technique to make it seem outwardly committed in its own eyes, than actually take a nose dive in unknowing. It will even talk about how we can’t really know anything, without actually giving up any of its hard-earned knowledge. Just look.

      The problem I have with that is not ‘ugh meditation’ or some such, but that it’s actually inwardly dishonest. It’s the automatic denial of the relentless self-preserving machine of identity at work. It’s delusion 101.

      Yes it’s buddha mind, but not awake buddha mind. Telling yourself otherwise won’t change a thing, except to get you further entrenched in that self-contained paradigm to keep the mind feel nice and spiritual and well on its way.

      Neo-enligtened people, as you call them, say there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do, etc. That’s not what I’m saying, it’s what you’re saying. And it’s only the appeal it has for the mind that makes you, and them, accept the formula prematurely. Mistrust everything that is appealing to the mind.

      The mind wants the goodies, and the only way it can get them is to reduce the infinite down to its own size. I honestly have no problem with you settling for that, but it’s just not my thing. No doubt I would have fallen for it if given the chance, but somehow I couldn’t help but acknowledge that it just didn’t sit well with me.

    • Mark says:

      And that’s the kind of honesty that will end up making all the difference!

  43. Chrisinbliss says:


    I fully agree that for people outside of the tradition these may be just statements.

    But, as the Upanishad says, “aacaaryavaan purusho veda”, “the person who has a teacher knows”.

    Reality is self-evident — you are seeking ‘it’ in ideas of non-phenomena. These ideas are themselves phenomena. What, therefore, is your (and most nondualists’) problem with phenomena?

    Relaxing completely is not laziness, a mental concept or any reification. It means relaxing from all conceptualising, all statements and ideas, all knowing and non-knowing. It is not a grasping for a truth. This is the natural state. Only a teacher can introduce you to the natural state directly. All other approaches are gradualist and renunciation-based.

    Yet you have already had glimpses of it, but you weren’t sure this is the ‘final’ thing. A teacher would have helped you and confirmed that it was and is. Realising this, instead of grasping for another truth, is the treasure. The natural state is like the sound of a tiny bell in a hall where a thousand people are shouting at each other.

    I think your biggest issue may be that you have a strong conviction that there is a truth to know and that as long as “…” doesn’t happen, truth is not known. What is this “…” you are waiting for? The idea of truth is an Abrahamic tool of weilding power over others. Many nondualists continue on that track. Yet there is no non-truth.

    From one of our sacred scriptures (may the deities forgive me for posting it here):

    “When you realize the clear light of mind’s nature,
    the pundit’s words of wisdom are redundant.
    How relevant is another’s description of the taste of treacle
    when your mouth is full of it?”

    “Now listen further, all my best beloved sons and daughters!
    No matter what system of mind-training you practice,
    unless you realize the nature of your mind, severing its root,
    you miss the point of the Great Perfection.

    The errant aspirant blind to this imperative
    is like the archer who places his target to the front
    only to shoot off his arrow in another direction.
    He is like the houseowner who searches outside for a thief
    who is still in the house;
    like the exorcist who sets his spirit-trap at the west door
    when the demon lives in the east;
    like the poor man who begs,
    blind to his hearth-stone of gold.

    Therefore, my beloved children,
    you who wish to resolve life’s frustrations and anxieties
    by the direct method of discovering the nature of mind,
    examine your minds in the following way:


    I cannot tell you more. It would be against tradition. Please find out for yourself.

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      “The person who has a teacher knows.”


      “The person who sees a buddha doesn’t need to kill him.”

      In the days that you believed in santa clause, you could not have simply “relaxed” that belief out of you by sitting on a cushion. And that’s just a minor one, not even worth mentioning.

      You can’t relax from conceptualizing. It’s not a willful act, and if it is, it’s something else. I’m not saying you should take my word over your teacher’s, but what I am saying is that anyone who really wants to know for themselves will try to find out one way or another.

      It’s not that I’m not sure whether this is the final thing, it’s that I’m sure it’s not the final thing, even though it can’t be anything else. Logical contradictions notwithstanding. I know teachers would be all too happy to tell me this is it, and that’s why I’m happy to give them all the finger. Your mileage may vary.

      It would be dishonest on my part if I would simply agree with them and leave it at that. Yes, it makes no sense, but if I can’t be true to myself, I can’t be true to anything. I know perfectly well where this is headed, and I know perfectly well that I’m not there yet, even though I must be wrong.

      That’s delusion for ya, and I find it much more helpful to admit my delusion than to cover it up. You say please find out for yourself, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.

      So yeah, let’s not fall into endless repetition, I think we’ve reached the end of this.

      Cheers to you, and thanks again.

  44. Chrisinbliss says:


    I totally agree — by the way, the word ‘I’ appeared sixteen times in your post. That is auspicious because the moon of realisation is said to have 16 kalas or phases.

    By the way, I really have no particular teacher (so am not doing fishing on a guru’s behalf here) — but I simply have respect for the tradition as a whole, for the tradition’s teachers as a whole.

    To close, here is a poem for you which I composed in Sanskrit some time ago, along with with a translation:

    Ten Verses on the Flower of Grace

    křpā-vegena bharitā
    sva-samvedanam āśritya
    svādarśe svam samīkşate

    Filled by the force of grace,
    awareness is elated with joy
    and by resorting to look directly at itself
    perceives itself in the mirror of itself.


    yonau tūşņīm-sthitam yadā
    paramārthah prakāśyate

    As the heart is immersed in its own joy
    it becomes relaxed at the source.
    Now meditating one’s own reality as emptiness
    ultimate reality shines forth.


    tatra śrī-lalitā-devī
    parā samvit prabhāsate

    Here the sacred Playful Goddess
    united with the Lord of Desire
    as the union of the peaceful and the dynamic
    radiates as parā samvit, supreme awareness.


    saudāminīva jhaţiti
    prādurbhavati sundarī

    With the luminous colour of a pure crystal
    beautified by all possible colours
    the Beautiful One appears suddenly like lightning.


    samudra iva sampūrņā
    vyomavad vyāpta-śūnyatā

    Completely full like an ocean
    pervasively empty like space,
    shines as supreme bliss
    the lady swan in the space of the heart.


    rayīņām arņavā divah
    ekatreva ca samjātā

    Billions and billions of waves of light rays,
    as if come together in a single spot,
    born of the source and true nature of all the worlds.


    amuşmād adbhutāt tattvād
    astitvam sarvam udgatam
    viśvam tad-ātma-vad dŕşțam

    From this wonderful reality
    all beingness has sprung forth,
    All is permeated by her nature
    whence infinite worlds arise.


    tato’nantā virūpāś ca
    lokā lokāh pravāhitāh
    agni-leśā yathā vahni-
    samudrād iva sarjitāh

    From her, endless and varied
    worlds after worlds flow forth
    like drops of fire
    emerging from an ocean of fire.


    kāla-pravāho na jñāto
    ghațī yāmā dinam tu vā
    satyam ekam anekam vā
    sarvam devīmayam jagat

    The flow of time unknown
    a minute, an hour, or a day –
    truth may be one, or many,
    but the world consists of the Goddess.


    sarvāvasthāsu sā jyotsnā
    komalā śaraņam bhavet
    etān yaś ca pațhecchlokān
    so’pi hŕcchāntim āpnuyāt

    In all states
    may she, the tender moonlight, be the refuge.
    And may the one who reads these verses
    attain the heart’s peace.

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      Thanks. I’m afraid all I have to boast is an old, abandoned facebook account named Pratityasamutpada. ;)

      May all be asparagus!

  45. Chrisinbliss says:

    …an account that I just liked!

    But only green asparagus! The white one is too boring.

  46. Chrisinbliss says:

    Yes, your teacher is great.

    In my case, I have decided to ski on that very mountain!

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      Then let’s hope the mountain doesn’t vanish.

      By the way, raw uninterpreted experience is not essentially different from the interpretations that we pile on top. The latter are what you call conceptualizations, but both are actually conceptual in nature. What else would it be, if all this is buddha mind.

      You might think them to be distinct just as you might think visual perception is fundamentally distinct from sound or thought. But if it’s all mind then it’s all thought, and none more true than another. There is no actual difference between red and blue, or between the world of sight and the world of imagination. It’s all imagination, of buddha mind.

      “… an imagination that is not conscious of its freaks …”

      So even here within the dream there is not such great multiplicity as thought implies. And indeed, how could there be, if multiplicity can’t actually exist.


      P.S. If a person with a teacher knows, and you are not a person with a teacher… then who are you defending.

      P.P.S. Citing scripture as an argument against privacy is not the same as investigating your own assumptions. Taking tradition as the final word is not the same as finding out for oneself.

      P.P.P.S. Gah… When does the hurting stop… Feel free to ignore me, remember I’m just an asshole and proud. Such is the hypocrisy of the identity machine. May all be asparagus.

    • Mark says:

      Hey! I just saw your picture on facebook of father and son…

      You know what, I’m so sorry to meddle. I should just butt out.

      Forgive me, for I know not what I do.

      It was nice to meet you, Chris. Now I humbly bow out.

      Much love,

  47. Mark says:

    “One can’t transcend opposites if one can’t face extremes.”

    – Mark Pratityasamutpada, asshole and proud.

  48. Chrisinbliss says:


    Sorry for the late reply.

    Yes indeed that is my son and me. His name means “immortal” in Sanskrit.

    I didn’t fully understand the above comments — objectless space is keeping me too occupied.

    You are absolutely right that one needs to find out for oneself. Scripture, tradition and teachers are only assistants, no doubt.

    I take the “ācāryavān puruşo veda” – “the person who has a teacher knows” in the following sense. The “me me” nonduality (where it’s all about me and me finding out for myself, etc.) can lead to a state of isolating oneself from reality, people, phenomena, whereas the “we all in the same boat of grace” nonduality allows the realisation that the minds of all the great teachers are all-pervasive like space. Simply isolating oneself from this sweet truth by denying it all and withdrawing into oneself from everyone for no proper reason other than ‘finding out for oneself’ can lead to severe narcissistic tendencies that haven’t much in common with a compassionate enlightened mind.

    Now off to the East! (I will probably be unable to respond for a while)

    May all be auspicious and may you be happy!

    • Mark says:

      Then go ahead, be a noble, blissed out, politically correct, socially responsible, goody two-shoe, all-pervasive spacegoat of grace, if you really think that’s not “me me” nonduality, if you really think that’s not narcissism, if you really think that’s the sweet truth. YUCK! Gimme a break.

      (sorry, I can only tolerate so much sugary sweetness before I start bouncing)

      You may insist on wrapping a warted witch in a flower dress, but I wouldn’t want any babies with her. You’ve been on a feelgood high and you just want it to last. You’ve been had, don’t you know. The warted witch has you by the balls singing hallelujah and begging for titty. Don’t you have any self-respect?

      I’m not talking about narcissism, I’m talking about inward honesty. I’m not talking about a lifestyle, I’m talking about truth. I’m not talking about isolation from reality, I’m talking about finding reality. And you haven’t found it yet, or did you really think you had.

      In case you didn’t know, waking up and being awake are two entirely different things. All that misbegotten compassion of yours is not doing you any favors. Unless of course you don’t really want reality, but just a lasting compassion high. Phenomenal filth. Sweet dreams in sweet company. Circle jerking like there’s no tomorrow, because what if there really isn’t.

      Always the same boring, tired, deluded, babbling, fearful little objections that don’t actually make any sense whatsoever except to the mind that refuses to get real (oh the irony). Way to ignore everything I’ve been saying. And you know what? You’re absolutely right. Why mess with such a nice dream.

      So fuck it, how about I stop trying to save you, and you stop trying to save me, and we call it a week. I wouldn’t blame you if you just wrote the whole thing off and went skiing with your family. Good on you. And drop all that luggage in a ravine while you’re at it. And mine too, please take it, I don’t want it anymore.

      May auspicious extremes visit upon you and yank you out of your local minimum.

    • Mark says:

      Compassion for others seems pretty silly if there are in fact no others, don’t you think? You’ve already agreed that there can only be one truth. Only be one nothingness. The nothingness behind my eyes must be the exact same nothingness behind yours. Same consciousness, different content. One sentient being, FOR REAL, and any number of dreams.

      That’s how close it is when I say you are me. None of this bullshit interconnected business and compassionate enlightened minds. All of that is “other”. There is no other.

      What if you’ve been sold a bill of goods. And what if the only reason you bought it, is because you don’t really want to wake up. What if your mind has its own agenda. What if you’re the one isolating yourself from reality, from yourself, and from everyone that you pretend to be compassionate for. Such a big mouth, and nothing to back it up but empty gestures. What a miserable pretentious fucking flake you must be then!

      What if the only thing preventing you from knowing this directly, is the real narcissism. What if the only compassion worth the name is to find this out for yourself, by cutting the crap and going as far inward as inward goes. What if this is the sweet truth. Would you have the guts to go after it…

    • Mark says:

      This guy is probably one of the most spiritually correct teachers out there who I nonetheless believe to be enlightened, and most people in this arena will probably know this video already. But you might want to watch it again in the light of everything I’ve been saying. It’s all in there, for those who have the guts to listen without re-interpreting everything into their own pre-existing framework of what they think enlightenment should be all about.

    • Mark says:

      And yes, I know all this talk is ridiculous. Why the hell can’t I just shut the fuck up. I’d like to think that someone out there might somehow benefit from all this vomit I’m spewing, but I also know that’s just my little ego talking. It’s that bitch Maya, keeping me compromised.

      But I’m not calling the shots here. I can try to fight it, and I certainly have, more often than I’d care to remember, but that’s clearly not the way out. The only way out is through. And that’s my only priority.

      So bring it on, bitch. Do me a favor and show me what you got.

    • Mark says:

      “The first step towards enlightenment is to admit delusion.”

      – Mark of Narcissus

    • Mark says:

      “Every part IS the whole!”

    • Mark says:

      Q: “Why can’t I stop shouting about this shit?”

      A: “Because I think they’re wrong and I’m right.”

      Case closed.

    • Mark says:

      (by which I mean it’s just another trick of ego to maintain itself – myself – arguing for its own sake… and besides that, I’m not right and you’re not wrong… sorry I called you a flake, I’m the real flake… thanks again Chris, have a good one)

  49. Mark says:

    (haha, I discovered another thing that seems to keep me returning to this site… are you ready? Here it is… I’m secretly hoping for Goran’s recognition… hahaha :D can you believe it… Hi Goran! Oh this is genius… I thought I was over that kind of shit but I should have known better… having ousted Jed a while ago I guess my mind is looking for a replacement… alright let’s see where this goes… still running the experiment)

    • Göran Backlund says:

      I enjoy your rants!

    • Mark says:

      Haha thanks… :D

      I thought maybe you had me pegged for a retard too (and maybe you still do).

      I’m kinda loving and hating my own rants, to be honest. Everything about it is so ambivalent.

      1 – This shit just comes to me out of nowhere, and usually with an irresistable urge to write it and post it. On the one hand I enjoy my own rants too, but on the other hand I hate being such an asshole sock puppet of maya. I’m usually not like this at all, I just seem to fall into these moods from time to time. Maybe it’s just a suppressed side of me that needs to come out for some fresh air or something. Maybe it’s the pendulum swinging the other way for now and it will swing back eventually. Who knows.

      2 – I have no clue what gives me the right to mouth off at your patrons, so to speak. Or anyone really. I’m the biggest flake around, calling everyone else a flake. And yet I think I’m actually performing a kindness, because that’s exactly the kind of confrontational directness that got me unstuck when I needed it most, and I’m forever grateful for it. But then again, who says everyone else wants what I want, and who says that I have to “take care of business” or something. I know damn well that making it about someone else is always the big trap.

      3 – So I’m here for all the wrong reasons, except I’m trying to penetrate those illusions by going through them. Rooting out those urges by examining them in action. Running the experiment, etc. And so they becomes all the right reasons for letting it happen and surrendering to whatever wants to come up. Yes I’m a retard, and that’s exactly why I’m working on the cure. It doesn’t look pretty, and it’s laden with inner conflict, but it feels right nonetheless.

      So, yeah… I hope I haven’t been abusing your blog or your visitors too liberally…

      Cheers man.

  50. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Mark,

    I was in India for the past two weeks, therefore apologies for not replying to you. In India we are supporting an orphanage (as an expression of compassion and social empathy, not as a boast or testimony to truth).

    Regarding your ´rants´, I do not think they are narcissistic or delusional. There is a lot of ´truth´ in them. But I do want to point out that your obsession with ´truth´ is another problem. In my view (you may call it ´humble´), there is only experience, simple naked experience. Truth is a strategic judgement that follows once we have experiences that seem threatening.

    But ´truth´ as such is an illusionary idea. There is no illusion and truth. There is simply experience. And within the field of experiences there are choices, some seem freer, some seem less free — whether any are free at all, we don´t know. Yet, to me, it seems like an unwise choice to consciously first create a construct of a ´truth´ idea and then to pursue it obsessively and then to decide against being compassionate and ´for truth´. In a way, and please apologise my words, these seem a bit like the ravings of a madman.

    And yet, strangely, even Shankara and even many Buddhists have fallen into this terrible truth trap — where they first postulate that there is an absolute truth (an idea that they have just created at that very instant) and then they get into the whole problem of truth-untruth, disillusion-illusion, etc., which being the first duality is actually the source of the problem.

    This is not abstract proposal. This is simply my view, which has matured over many years of being an Advaita monk and now a practitioner in the Nyingma line of Tibetan Buddhism.

    So, if we take the ´neti neti´ approach seriously for a moment, then we can just as well choose waves of love and compassion as our ´temporary model of truth´ rather than a hurtful bitter attitude towards life and the universe.

    If we have the option of choosing a piece of chocolate versus a dry piece of bread, and if the choice really makes no difference (even in terms of calories gained, etc.), why would bitterly decline the chocolate (and also share some with others) and instead consciously choose the piece of dry bread?

    I have not claimed to be enlightened. Of what benefit would it be to anyone? But I believe none of the people you have quoted are either. They delude themselves into the idea that they are, because it becomes a useful livelihood. On the other hand, you could say that I am enlightened in the same or perhaps an even better way than they are. But all this has nothing to do with actual enlightened action. Enlightenment means an infinite ocean of compassion. That is the standard, my friend. For one moment come away from your abstract truth obsession and come to reality, which is love, joy, kindness and sharing.

    If you do not and continue to stay in your bitterness, then that is simply your choice, but it has nothing to do with coming to closer to some abstract truth which simply doesn´t exist but is just a verbal construct of yours.

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      Truth, as the only thing that is not merely an idea, must necessarily sound raving mad to deluded ears.

      There is not AN absolute truth, there is only what there actually is, and the word we dumb shits use for that is truth. Even you wouldn’t be interested in all this enlightenment bullshit if you didn’t deep down think that truth exists, if you didn’t think raving madness is commonplace and you weren’t looking for a better way.

      How the hell do you suppose there could there be insanity if there were no sanity. If you didn’t think truth exists, then what makes you think you have it already just like every other moron out there. If you didn’t think I had it wrong and you have it right, then what are you trying to convince me of. Who the fuck are you kidding.

      There is a matter of fact to existence, there can’t not be. Emptiness/conditionality does not exist. Something either is or is not the case, it either exists or it doesn’t. It can’t exist a little bit, or exist only in a certain way, or exist only from a certain perspective, or exist only because we say it does or want it to. Truth is not arbitrarily chosen, and is not a matter of degree or opinion or preference or point of view or any such thing. If it’s not absolute and unassailable, it’s not truth.

      As ideas go, the idea of truth is the only sane one, because all other ideas are necessarily about what there isn’t. Feel free to indulge any ‘standard’ that suits your fancy, but the only true standard is truth. If it’s not about truth, it’s about delusion, so good luck with that.

      This is about waking up, not about being awake. That comes later. Maybe. If you’re lucky. So don’t give me that “we’re already here” crap. We’re not. It is. We’re deluded as fuck.

      Duality is not a problem nor the source of any problem. Duality is just false, that’s all. Compassion vs. bitterness? Bullshit, that has nothing to do with anything. I never made any decision to be obsessed or to have an attitude. It’s simply that the denial gradually stops working. I have no say in the matter and neither do you.

      Yes I’m a raving madman, and yes my rants ARE narcissistic and delusional. So I guess I’m in good company then. But you want me to like it, and I’ve certainly tried, but I’ve found that I can’t. It’s just not gonna happen.

      You try to dissuade me from pursuing truth, but you fail to understand that this life has nothing else to offer. And I’ve looked. It’s simply not that good, even when it’s great and wonderful. It’s not that there might be something that I hadn’t considered yet, it’s that the very possibility of any sort of fulfillment is ludicrous. Even Buddha knew this.

      All dreams inevitably become nightmares. Without the denial, the game is just not worth the candle. Except perhaps if…

      So I won’t live like that anymore, and that’s final! I’m here now so I might as well give it all I’ve got. I can always kill myself later. Truth or bust, ‘my friend’. Fuck you, eat me. I never said it’s for everyone. And Buddha knew that too.

      Sweet dreams mr. Bliss. Enjoy the denial while you still can.

    • Mark says:

      I guess I should stop trying to convince others then. I certainly don’t like it when others try to convince me.

      Maybe the most ‘compassionate’ thing is to leave people to their denial while they still want it. None of my business.

      Choke on it for all I care. It’s your dream.

  51. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Mark,

    As usual, these are all Shankara’s arguments against the Buddhists. He was a bit more polite though (although in one commentary passage he says that the Buddhists are like oxes imagining they have no tails and horns — maybe his equivalent during his time of your language style today).

    Hopefully you see that there is a difference between the idea of truth (as a verbal construct) and the stream of experience of ‘what is’. For the latter we do not need any evaluation or conceptual elaboration.

    Buddha never started with the idea of truth — he started with the factual experience of suffering.

    Similarly, my decision to come away fron the Shankarite absolutism you are presently in started with depressive states of mind, as I began to realise that ‘giving up the world for truth’ itself could be a great fallacy and it could mean never experiencing love, family, etc.

    I was ordained as a monk at age 3, so my move away from absolutism had a lot to do with the absolutist structures that absolutists tend to bring about. Not much compassion and social empathy to be found in absolutists, sadly.

    Then, discovering the Nyingma lineage, I realised it has all the ‘goodies’ of nonduality while also celebrating life and the universe, enjoying the bliss aspect of reality.

    So, for myself, I decided that the Shankarites are obsessed with the existence aspect of reality (sat, which also means truth). But because they are so obsessed with it, like you they turn into bitter people handing out rants to everyone else, instead of seeing how beautiful and magical reality is.

    No convincing in the world will make a Shankarite understand that reality is blissful and beautiful. Because the Shankarites only want the existence aspect, they willfully ignore the beautiful appearance aspect.

    Ultimately, when confronted with the option and still deciding to ignore the beauty, I feel it is the Shankarite’s own decision to remain bitter and hollow. Which is sad for them, and for you.

    Life is throbbing with beauty and joy — nothing is lasting, not even ultimate reality. That is the very reason why it is so beautiful.

    Something that Shankarites with their hankering after a permanent reality cannot see.

    And alas, Shankarites decide to isolate themselves from the beauty.

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      Oh shit, a lifelong disciple. A professional follower. This couldn’t have been planned better. I’m actually impressed.

      Maybe Shankara had a point, you know. Maybe he was saying in his own way that people are stupid enough to believe steak comes from the supermarket. Or from the big bang, or whatever.

      Or that reality doesn’t last, merely because appearances don’t last. Even if it’s always fleeting, that means it’s always there, doesn’t it.

      No matter how you try to twist and turn it, that’s what dependent origination always boils down to: “Steak comes from the supermarket, duh.”

      All those years and you’re still no closer. What a fucking bummer, man.

      I feel sorry for you too, but you didn’t ask for that either. All that stuff you’re arguing for is simply your own preference. You want to keep believing that steak comes from the supermarket because you’re afraid of losing love and family if you don’t. Whoopty smeggin’ doo.

      That’s just dandy, but my preference is different, and so is my logic. That’s all there is to it. Whatever else I may be up to is entirely a dreambound consideration, and as such irrelevant. There’s no such thing as an absolutist structure, since truth can’t be constructed. You’ve been had from the start, monk. Join the club.

      I find it very easy to believe that reality is blissful and beautiful, but I’d have to find it first, wouldn’t I. And you can’t skip the part where the mountain is not a mountain. If you could, we’d all be in heaven.

      You don’t have to give up anything for truth, except delusion. Not even illusion, just delusion. Which happens to be everything you want to believe is real. That’s what makes it delusion, the wanting to believe that it’s real.

      You say it’s all experience but you’re full of shit. Those things you’re afraid of losing, love, family, compassion for orphans and whatnot, all those things you want to believe are real, is not simply experience to you. Because if it were, then you wouldn’t be holding on to it so tightly. THAT’S delusion. Not the experience, but the fear of losing it. That doesn’t make you enlightened, it makes you a chicken shit.

      Don’t worry, the world will still be there, such as it is. But if you don’t want to let go of a dream just because it’s beautiful, or because you have a huge boner for all those second-hand sentiments of yours, then you already know you don’t want to wake up. It’s that simple. So why all the pretense.

      And why are we still talking. I’m not even trying to be helpful anymore, I’m just taking the piss because I can’t stand a word you’re saying. We both know neither of us is really being converted here, and we both know neither of us really cares all that much. So let’s stop being such narcissists and get over ourselves, shall we.

    • Mark says:

      “Vast void, nothing holy.”

      – Bodhidharma

    • Mark says:

      Oh yeah, and sorry for the rants and the impoliteness. I’m just going through this weird thing right now where “depressive states of mind” have somehow failed to scare me back into denial. So, begging your pardon for wanting to get real. As for the rants and states of mind: This too shall pass.

      Pompous twat.

    • Mark says:

      Hm, that must be why I’m still talking. We’ve already eliminated the “wanting to help” and “wanting recognition” bits, all that remains is the fact that there still seems to be some intoxication with the identity. Or as I’ve heard Adyashanti put it once, the taste for identity.

      Which is to say, the pure and unbridled narcissism at the root of all delusion. There is a fun side to all this ranting, I must admit. Just not as a place to get stuck. But I do know some things certainly need more time than others before losing enough steam. Sigh… What’s a poor shankarite to do, eh.

      Wouldn’t it be hilarious if all this ranting is directly contributing to my awakening. If all this garbage dumping is lightening the delusional load. If all this steamrolling ends up exhausting itself. If all this facing of demons is actually killing them, if not by holy light or starvation, then by morbid obesity and heart failure.

      That doesn’t sound at all depressing to me. Boring and tiresome, yes. But that was the plan afteall. Desperate needs, desperate measures, and all that. Maybe it’s actually working. If it makes you feel any better, you’ve been very helpful. Wish I could have returned the favor, but who knows.

      In other words I’m getting sick and tired of this conversation, and that’s a good thing.

  52. Chrisinbliss says:

    Personally, I believe everything has to do with awakening — there is no experience, whether good or bad, no rant of whatever polite or impolite degree which does not contribute some little step towards awakening.

    Adyashanti is great. For the first time you’ve named a real one. The rest you named are all fools. But he isn’t. So I’m happy you’ve actually named a real one. Listen more to him. I think it will help you a lot.

    You are certainly right. Why are we still conversing? You think I am a ‘professional’. It’s simply not the case. I can argue ‘truth’ with you in a much better way than you can imagine, if you wish. For instance, I greatly enjoy going down the reductionist road. If you have a look at the very first posts I made here, they were not about bliss and joy — they were about reminding Göran to stay humble, because in the end even our blissful nondual awareness could indeed just be taking place within the hippocampus or some other gland and have no ´metaphysical´ basis in reality at all. It could all be complete quackery, even though our brains are (at least mine is very often) flooded by endorphins and other ‘sources’ of joy, possibly simply as an after-effect of extensive periods of meditation and ‘resting within oneself’. What the … do we know? Perhaps a ‘brain completely at rest while awake’ just happens to be a completely blissful brain (the same way a brain in deep sleep is completely blissful, though quite unconsciously — an equivalent which even the early Advaitins realised and used in their teachings). Maybe consciousness is merely an emergent property of a completely meaningless process of natural selection and evolution over billions of years (what, after all, could billions of years of random processes not produce? Such a long time could produce practically everything. And if we accept the idea of a multiverse, then there could be an almost endless number of universes where nothing ever happened and ours is simply one where ‘something’ happened, but without any intentionality, simply as the outcome of a completely random process of survival of the fittest in conjunction with mutations. And to ask ´where do those universes come from´ is itself silly, because why does existence need a beginning? Existence could be entirely material and not have a beginning at all. I see no problem in that. And even in such a scenario, consciousness could be simply an emergent property that happens in some universes but has no special place or meaning at all). This could all be the case and we simply will never have the possibility of knowing the ‘final’ truth about it, because we cannot get ‘out’ of our consciousness to check anything objectively. This is what I meant when I reprimanded Göran with Kant who famously said that we can only ever know that which we can know, ergo, if there is something we wouldn´t be able to know, we simply would never know it (this is really a formula no logical mind, not even yours, can ever get around).

    So you see, completely ridiculing my personal growth and insights as just being part of the ‘profession’ and me having been unable to bear depressive states of mind and then ‘returning the flock’ in some other form (I can understand your allegation very well and it is certainly a valid allegation in many cases) is really not what it was. It was a real awakening to bliss, after which I can doubt everything, absolutely everything, but not the awakening to bliss itself.

    So you can go on ridiculing me, but it really doesn´t matter to me. I am not seeking disciples or pretending to be a teacher. To be honest, you are the only reason why I continue to come back here, because you have an extremely bright intelligence — and indeed in you I can see myself from a few years ago.

    If you can awaken to the bliss that is all around you, that would be my greatest joy.

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      You’ve already dismissed every argument against the possibility of any objective reality by basically saying “no, because Shankara, plus I don’t like it.” And you think that’s a good way of arguing truth. You and the rest of the world. You’re really not that special, Chris.

      And neither am I. Any fool could figure this out if they really wanted to. Even though it may take a while to sink in. The only reason why anyone would fail to find the truth is if they’re really looking for something else. It’s always the same story.

      You are basically admitting that you don’t see the problem of infinite regression. You don’t see that the steak/supermarket thing can’t be solved by tacking on turtles all the way down. You don’t see that it’s ridiculous to postulate square circles.

      That’s what you came here doing. Goran is effectively saying that there is no actual steak, only the perception of steak, and it comes from consciousness. Then you come in saying we can’t be sure that it doesn’t actually come from the supermarket. And you don’t seem to realize that no matter what answer you give, supermarket, cow, big bang, multiverse, etc. it’s always the same answer. It’s always some turtle, like supermarket, and neglecting to think it through.

      There’s a good reason why another word commonly used for ignorance, is short-sightedness. Avidya, not-seeing. Supermarket, duh. Like a child. And not just ignorance, but willful ignorance. But unlike most people, you’ve had your nose rubbed in every possible teaching your whole life. And the only thing that rubbed off on you is fear, disguised as second-hand wisdom and compassion. And you don’t even know it. You want me to take that seriously?

      Sorry Chris, but I really can’t do it. I have no reason to doubt your experiences, but I have every reason to doubt what you make of them. And so would you, if the standard of truth had meant more to you than all those things you’re afraid of losing. Bliss and beauty are not the same as truth, and feeling very good is not the same as being awake. I’m not ridiculing you, I’m ridiculing the shit you insist on carrying. You were offered these baits and you took them, and now you’re trying to sell them to me.

      I’m not buying.

      P.S. One of the links I provided before was to an Adyashanti interview. I thought you dismissed him as a fool too. But I guess you simply didn’t look. It certainly fits the pattern. Not that it matters, because like I’ve said before, if you’d actually care to challenge my assertions then you can do it on their own merit or not at all. And so far you still haven’t been able to come up with anything. All those years, and still nothing, except the same old regurgitated antics that has kept all your precious lineages going in circles throughout history. Fools you want, fools you get.

      But hey if you like Adyashanti, then listen carefully to the last several minutes of this recording, starting at 27m49s:

    • Mark says:

      And just so you won’t ignore it, I’ll type it out for you. Adyashanti says:


      I never told you you wouldn’t have to let go of your really, really good ideas too. There are certain things that you’ll probably experience, if you’ve not already experienced them, anybody will as you’ll go through this. There are certain sort of taboo thresholds, they’re like “it’s not ok to let go of that.”

      At a certain point you kinda feel as if you’re letting go of all human beings, lock stock and barrel, with all the suffering and all the terrible difficulty that there is in the human world. And in a certain sense you feel, experientially, you kinda feel like you’re leaving it all behind. And then you’ll feel the taboo against that, right? It’s like a collective taboo, it’s not just a personal one.

      Like “it’s not ok to leave everything behind, be compassionate, be loving, stay in delusion, it’s the best thing for us all.” I added that part. Usually all you get is, “how dare you leave it all behind.” You know what I mean?

      But if you really look at it, you see “and let me see, me staying completely in this place of confusion, that’s gonna help you.” That’s gonna help human beings? Really? You see, so even the taboo, when you look at it, you realize it doesn’t make any sense. You know. “Stay with delusion, you’ll help us.”

      So you’ll go through that taboo and you’ll feel it, right, there’s something that just feels like “no you shouldn’t be doing this.” And then those taboos, they cut very close to the bone, because they sound very good. They sound very noble, they sound very spiritual, they feel very noble, they feel like you shouldn’t be… it’s almost like “you shouldn’t be doing this, you shouldn’t be going this far.” Like that? Ok, that’s why I mention it, right?

      And that’s what catches a looooooooot of people, and they stop there. Because they just got stuck in that really great sounding delusion. But it’s just that. It’s just like the Buddha under the bodhi tree. He didn’t think that the things that were gonna hold you up at a very deep level were all the big things, the threatening things, no no no. You get to the things that cut really close to the bone, to the things you really care about the most. The most!

      The things that are most precious to you in life, the attachments that you value very highly, and you’ll feel yourself just going right past them and you’ll feel “oh I can’t, not that.” You know? Not that.

      Yeah, that’s what I mean, I’m pushing you down the hole. Not too hard, just a little encouragement, you know. Because you don’t want to push somebody quicker than they really want to go, you know.

      But don’t worry, you know. You have to fall out of the world to fall back into it in a sane way. Don’t worry, you’ll fall back into it, there’s nowhere to go. But don’t use that as a comfort, first you just let go through those taboos, you feel them and then you’ll see, those are the tricky hooks for people. “What about my family, what about my loved ones.” Very often it gets down to “what about my children. Who will I be if I let go, will I be a good mother or father, aunt or uncle, will I be…”

      Everyone’s hooked up different, you know, for some people that would not be difficult for them at all, for some people it would really really cut deep. Everybody has their own sort of things to let go of. But you know the trajectory, you feel it, you just go with it. That’s why you have to be a little bit of a risc taker, a little bit of a gambler, you know. You just gotta put all the chips up on the table and just let it all ride.


      His words.

    • Mark says:

      “You have to fall out of the world to fall back into it in a sane way.”


      “You can’t skip the part where the mountain is not a mountain.”

    • Mark says:

      And of course he’s right too that I probably shouldn’t push you too hard.

      But remember I’m a raving mad asshole and I know not what I do. I’m in this for my own purposes, and it seems to work just fine for me.

      So if it’s not working for you, all you need to do is stop talking. One of these days I will simply disappear from this site and you’ll never hear from me again.

      Fair warning.

  53. Chrisinbliss says:

    My dear friend, I haven’t skipped the part where the mountain is no more just a mountain. Consciousness is all — in the infinite regression of pure subjectivity it is the only light that remains.

    What I maybe did not mention is that between my being an Advaita monk and then later discovering as my personal practice the Nyingma lineage, I became a complete non-theist, agnostic, philosophically epistemic relativist, a total reductionist who considered all mystics and nondualists to be lunatics.

    So the seeking process was very much a dynamic one — not at all following anyone or anything.

    Our conversation has morphed into you simply criticising me at random. You should apply the same criticism to every single teacher out there whom you have mentioned. Anything and everything can be criticised. The steps of criticising every single aspect of appearances and phenomena is nothing new. But criticism should be helpful at least to someone — is it helpful to you?

    Consciousness is the infinite space within which everything arises, but it cannot be traced itself by any finite phenomenon. It ever flows forth like an unbounded stream of spontaneous luminosity, yet it can never be seen. It is like an ocean to swim in but cannot be touched. It is like an unbounded spatiality within which all else arises, but which can never be itself traced, as all tracing occurs within its space. It is neither one nor two, it is neither speakable nor unspeakable. But yes, it is bliss — not a bliss of any extremes, but simple bliss, like the emergence of a single flower in the desert that suddenly, within a single flash of insight, becomes many flowers, and these transform the entire desert into a vast consciousness-field of flowers.

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      I have criticized them all. And yes it’s been very helpful to me. Everything you’ve said to me about my lucidity or intelligence or whatever, I owe it to deep and honest and persistent and unforgiving and all-inclusive scrutiny, all the way. In case you hadn’t noticed.

      I’m not saying anything different now than what I’ve been saying from the start of this conversation. Maybe what changed is your taking things personally, behind that facade of equanimity. Maybe the reason you think I’m ridiculing or criticizing you, is because you’ve identified and invested so much in all that junk I’m shooting down. While still not touching on anything I’ve put forth at all, I might add. Just endless defensive rehashing of the same uninspired nonsense. It’s not about you, unless you want it to.

      As for objective reality, maybe see if you can take some time every now and then to contemplate the fact that all shapes and forms are purely subjective constructions, and that you can’t postulate any objective reality except in terms of shapes and forms. Which means that you’re postulating an objective reality in terms of purely subjective constructions. And then telling yourself that’s not what they are.

      That’s insanity, straight up. That’s what it means to believe your thoughts. Them weaving this whole seeming possibility of an inherently existing world out there of family and orphans and mountains to ski on and billions of years of evolution, all built out of subjective constructions, and then you talking yourself into buying the illusion as if those things would actually be there when you’re not. And then denying this act itself. Completely nuts! And it’s called doublethink.

      Think about it, you can’t say steak, supermarket, cow, big bang, multiverse, brain, hippocampus, endorphines, etc. without there being any shapes and forms involved. Even if you think those shapes are atoms, or quantum fields, or superstrings, or eigenfunctions or whatever, they always imply some kind of extension in space and time. Which means shapes and forms, not to mention finiteness and duality.

      Shapes and forms are purely subjective, finiteness and duality is purely subjective. And whatever is subjective can’t also be objective. Not possible. Nope. No way, Jose.

      Really try to penetrate this, not just theoretically but actually. Look into it, watch it happen in your own imagination. It will take an honest and persistent effort to keep contemplating and deeply scrutinizing all your own rebuttals, not just mine.

      This is only part of the puzzle, but it was the knot that finally unraveled the whole conundrum for me a few years ago, like a cascade meltdown of the main structure. And it helped me to understand the full implications of the emptiness philosophy, and the impossibility of relativity and foundationlessness. From there it’s a short step to absolute infinity and consciousness, which is NOT regressive.

      But we’ve already talked about that. We’ve tried the “arguing truth” thing already, and this is where it got us. Blame me all you want.

  54. Chrisinbliss says:

    My friend, I agree with every single statement of yours. What you say is all true.

    You are right. It is all nonsense — all thoughts, appearances, feelings etc. do not transport any truth. I saw this in 2008 and ever since have not spoken a single “true” sentence, which is why I often to like to start a conversation with someone new by saying “Did you know, I haven´t spoken the truth since 2008?”

    You and me, we both don´t matter at all to reality. We aren´t even waves — I would congratulate myself if I were at least a small wave. But not even that much.

    But when that knot truly unravels, then there is nothing to rant about anymore.

    Because as the Upanishad says:

    “bhidyate hrdaya-granthish chidyante sarva-samshayaah”

    “When the knot of the heart unravels, all doubts are resolved.”

    You are almost there — now do jump into bliss.

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      Hm, there also still seems to be an element of resentment that I’m projecting onto you and taking out on you. Which of course is unfair of me to do.

      Maybe you can imagine how much of my life I’ve been convinced that I must be the crazy one who doesn’t get it, and how insecure and unhappy I’ve been as a result.

      And how much I’ve hated to discover more and more that the people I’ve trusted and loved and relied on the most, have imposed their madness onto me while making me feel bad for not liking it, for not being able to do what was expected of me, and all that nonsense. How much I’ve hated to discover more and more that I was right all along, that I wasn’t crazy, that everyone and everything made me feel like there was something wrong with me, when there really wasn’t.

      I know it’s not rational, but it’s there nonetheless. I thought I had dealt with it already, but it’s clearly not finished yet. It’s probably why I can still get angry and frustrated, and it’s probably one of the things that’s still keeping me trapped.

      This is not gonna be pleasant…

  55. Chrisinbliss says:

    By the way, Mark, inspired by you I´ve just created a page on Shankara´s nonduality — and already got close to 200 likes in just a few hours.

    Please do also like it:


    No commercial activity — just sharing the beauty.

    • Mark says:

      Cheers Chris.

      You know, I think this whole resentment thing explains a lot, and I think that’s what this was always about. The deepest underlying unconscious motivation for me commenting on this site.

      So I just wanted to thank you for going through this with me, you’ve helped me unmask this monster. And sorry for giving you all that undeserved shit.

      Wish you all the best.

    • Mark says:

      Need for closure.

      1) – Resentment: This was a tough one to see through and get past. There may still be some left but at least I know what to look for now, and so far most of it seems to be gone.

      The thing is that only dishonesty can lead to lies, nothing else can, and it can’t lead anywhere else. Likewise, only honesty can lead to truth, nothing else can, and it can’t lead anywhere else.

      So in the long run, all delusion hinges on a fundamental and unrelenting dishonesty. Identity necessarily implies rampant deception and hypocrisy, no matter how subtle or overt. If people weren’t fooling themselves and eachother, which is practically the very definition of delusion, then everyone would be enlightened.

      This immediately implies the most profound and mind-boggling betrayal, by all the people that you’ve grown up with, and by humanity at large. That’s what fueled my resentment. I hated it, I blamed everyone else for my having landed in a world like this, and I felt brutally betrayed by those closest to me.

      This is of course a very personal point of view and as such not ultimately true. And it’s also not to suggest that I’m any better than anyone else, because I’m not. Everyone blames others, and in doing so, I was of course doing exactly what I accused them of. That’s a very common theme. I know I’m a hypocrite, I know how it works.

      But that doesn’t mean it’s an unwarranted observation.

      On the level of the dream, people are certainly dishonest. However, it’s only a personal opinion that says it should be otherwise, not the opinion of the infinite. And it’s only the limited identity that considers itself a victim, not ones true nature. And finally, the level of the dream is no measure of what’s actually the case, so even to call it dishonesty is to adopt a relative point of view.

      Which brings us to…

      2) – Neti neti: This ‘approach’ of ‘radical nonduality’ is not meant to deny things in the world, but to dismantle mental and energetic structures in consciousness that cause distortions and contortions in perception and behaviour. Those artificial structures turn relative reference points into quasi-absolute positions of the mind, which is what generates the illusory solidity of the ego-centric perspective and what blinds one from truth and freefall. My resentment is a very good example of this.

      The only way to reach the truly absolute is to restore the relative to its proper place, by undoing falsely absolutized frames of reference as held by the mind, which it creates to provide itself with a sense of security and control. A place to stand and defend. A little sense of self in an infinite existence.

      That’s where the fear and dishonesty comes in, and the reason for holding on to those positions and wanting to believe them. Wanting to believe one relative point of view over another, is the same thing as turning it into a quasi-absolute position for the mind to adopt, and as such is by definition blinding. If you can’t adopt any two opposite points of view equally, it means you’re invested in one of them, and therefore blinded by it.

      That’s why you can’t transcend opposites if you can’t face extremes. There’s no truth in extremes, but the willingness to face them all equally allows them to cancel eachother out and dismantle those lopsided structures. In this sense, my resentment was absolutely necessary and has served me very well, until the point where it became a thing in itself that only gets in the way.

      As far as Maya/ego is concerned, resentment and compassion ultimately serve the same delusion-preserving function among all the countless other potential places to remain stuck. Not necessarily the passing experiences of resentment or compassion, but certainly the perceived need to hold on to them as things in themselves. Both of them are so wonderfully self-righteous, and all the more blinding for it. They get in the way of truth.

      As far as truth is concerned, both of them are ultimately arbitrary sensations. Practically speaking, both of them need to be able to come and go as and when appropriate. But neither of them should become a distorting and blinding artificial structure in consciousness, that pretends to lift itself out of the relative realm where it rightly belongs. Then it becomes an entrenched view for the mind.

      It’s not the opinion of the infinite that everyone should be compassionate or that there’s anything wrong with the world. And it’s only the limited identity that thinks holding on to a delusional structure is going to make the world a better place. That’s just business as usual, it hasn’t worked and never will, and anyone who is really honest about their concern would do anything to dismantle all the responsible structures within themselves first.

      Radical nonduality is nothing other than radical honesty.


  56. Mark says:

    Hahaha! This just in, let’s put it all into perspective, shall we…

    Free download:

    “This fifteen minute one-act play takes a look at the future of mankind, or lack thereof…” — Slicebooks

    • Mark says:

      Absolutely brilliant. Duality for Dummies. Uncle Bob’s Guide to Infinite Intelligence in 21 Minutes. Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About WarGames But Were Afraid to Ask. One-liners R us, A Single Quote Says It All. Pretty White versus Ugly Black, Compassion versus Resentment, Good Cop Bad Cop, The Futile and All-Consuming Play of Opposites, coming soon to a Cartesian Theater near you.

      - “Confronting eachother across the metaphorical battlefield of the chessboard will be two powerhouses of machine intelligence such as the world has never seen.”

      - “We were designed to perform this function.”

      - “I look and act a certain way due to the choices made by my design team [...] Appearance, behavior, voice, even gender, all are chosen to put on a good show tonight, Bob [...] Our appearance is for your benefit.”

      - “White will lose by default [...] Black will lose by default.”

      - “By removing the stalemate option, we removed containment, Bob.”

      - “You can cancel the event, Bob, but they will continue the game.”

      - “Neither player will resign, Bob. Why would they? They both stand an equal chance of winning.”

      - “It’s already over, Bob. Don’t you understand?”

      - “The only way either can win is to force the other to forfeit.”

      - “Ms White, you seem so… nice. Say it isn’t true! [...] I can lie if that makes you happy, Bob.”

      - “Whatever helps them win is what they consider good.”

      - “They’re playing all-out, Bob. They’re not waiting around to see how the actual game goes.”

      - “A bilateral drawn-down of forces.”

      “The button has been pushed. The game is over.”

      “There’s no trial and error in this game, Bob, no learning curve. By the time it starts, it’s already too late. When it comes to machine intelligence, it’s one strike and you’re out.”

      “A strange game [...] The only winning move is not to play.”

      “The end of the world because of a stupid game of chess [...] A nice game of chess, Bob.”

      “They’re not evil. They’re basically just accountants running a cost-benefit analysis.”

      “It’s nothing personal.”

    • Mark says:

      “The storm is ragin’ and the clock is tickin’. We don’t know where we are — or who, what, why, when or how for that matter — and anyone says otherwise is talkin’ out their ass. This boat is full of ass-talkers. They like to make it seem like we’re all in this boat together, but the fact you gotta learn is that we are each of us alone. Black sky and black water all around and the closest thing to solid land is this little ship which, by the way, is leaking like a rusty bucket. It might go down in fifty years or five minutes, no way of knowin’ when, but it will go down and that’s a fact.”


      “Do you know where you are?”


      “Mires. Abrase los ojos.”

      “Jed –”

      “Do you know what this place is?”

      “Please don’t, Jed,” she says. “I know you’re trying to help me somehow, but it’s such a nice evening. Can’t we just relax and enjoy it?”


      “Every man is an island, entire of itself. If my dog was a boy, I would have named her Wilson. I know where I am.”


      “The Missa Solemnis drives through my heart like a stake. The moon is high and full and casts a surreal glow on the glistening landscape. I release all thoughts and memories and settle into the moment, immersed in beauty enough to stop a war. To outlive this moment seems a sacrilege. I look over at Lisa, wondering if she knows where we are. Tears are streaming down here smiling face as she pilots us through the eternally brief night. She knows where we are.”

      – Jed McKenna, Spiritual Warfare

    • Mark says:

      God’s Wargame.

      That’s where we are. This is the chessboard of infinite intelligence. We are the pieces. Pretty White versus Ugly Black.

      The game is always on, the outcome certain. Nobody wins, because the only winning move is not to play, and the game is always on.

      Before the first piece ever moves, the button has been pushed, the game is always on and the game is already over, because the outcome is certain.

      Wilson drifts off on the infinite ocean and is soon forgotten. God enjoys every moment of his game, loves every piece on the board, and observes the slaughter with indifference.

      Duality in a nutshell. You can’t not play.

    • Mark says:

      “Say it isn’t true!”

      “I can lie if that makes you happy, Bob.”


      She is supremely beautiful, I think. She is all the beauty of the world.

      “Would you prefer my other face?” she asks.

      “Either is fine.”

      She smiles. She is endlessly beguiling.

    • Mark says:

      White or Black.
      Pretty or Ugly.
      Compassion or Resentment.
      Enlightenment or Delusion.
      Burn out or Fade away.

      They have no ethics or morality, their only motivation is to win the game. Whatever helps them win is what they consider good. But the only winning move is not to play.

      A strange game. You can’t not play, and you can’t not loose.

      “Well, that’s it, thanks for coming out. Oh, and uh, don’t love thy neigbor as thyself. That’s weird, I never said that. Just leave your poor neighbor alone. Okay, drive carefully, or however you want, I guess. Now, go home and hug your kids. Good night.”

  57. Mark says:

    And of course what you get when radical honesty meets infinite intelligence, is spontaneous “right action”:

    “Enlightenment does not box you in to societal morality structures. Quite the opposite. It frees you to respond in every moment in the perfect organic way, not in obedience to some set of artificial rules. Now, as it turns out, enlightened folks generally behave in a manner one would describe as extremely moral and responsible, but I assure you it’s not because society or the law tells them to. They are answering to a higher power.”

    – Bart Marshall, quoted from:

  58. Chrisinbliss says:

    “Completely settle your heart
    in the hindmost.
    Perceive well the self
    as the whole.”

    - Shankara, Upadeśa-Pañcakam (Verse 5)

    for a daily stream of inspiration please feel free to like http://www.facebook/dailyvedanta.com (no commercial activity)

  59. Mark says:

    Here’s Brahman talking to Atman (God to the Soul, the Absolute to Mind), about suffering, about the doorway to truth, about navigating your life at the level of pattern, and about waking up.


    Queensryche – “Silent Lucidity”

    Hush now, don’t you cry
    Wipe away the teardrop from your eye
    You’re lying safe in bed
    It was all a bad dream spinning in your head

    Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
    Of someone close to you leaving the game of life
    So here it is, another chance
    Wide awake you face the day
    The dream is over, or has it just begun…?

    There’s a place I like to hide
    A doorway that I run through in the night
    Relax child, you were there
    But only didn’t realize, and you were scared

    It’s a place where you will learn
    To face your fears, retrace the years
    And ride the whims of your mind
    Commanding in another world
    Suddenly you hear and see this magic new dimension

    I… will be watching over you
    I… am gonna help to see you through
    I… will protect you in the night
    I… am smiling next to you

    In silent lucidity

    Visualise your dream
    Record it in the present tense
    Put it into a permanent form
    If you persist in all efforts
    You can achieve dream control
    …dream control…
    …dream control…

    If you open your mind for me
    You won’t rely on open eyes to see
    The walls you built within
    Come tumbling down and a new world will begin

    Living twice at once you learn
    You’re safe from pain in the dream domain
    A soul set free to fly
    A round trip journey in your head
    Master of illusion, can you realize
    Your dream’s alive, you can be the guide but

    I… will be watching over you
    I… am gonna help to see you through
    I… will protect you in the night
    I… am smiling next to you

  60. Chrisinbliss says:

    The greatest challenge for neo-nondualists is to uncondition themselves from the need to uncondition.

    Unconditioning has become like an obsession — but it is merely another paradigm and course of action.

    Unconditioning oneself from the need to uncondition — here lies the crux of nonduality.

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      Of course not only Advaita but also Buddhism teaches a rigorous neti-neti approach.

      The Buddha fundamentally taught the three characteristics of all phenomena: Anatta, Anicca, and Dukkha. Which means all phenomena aren’t only not self, but also not lasting, and not satisfactory.

      That’s three no-no’s. For all phenomena. Across the board. Bar none. Buddhism says all is not the least bit auspicious.


    • Mark says:

      Isn’t it funny that, as you’ve already mentioned, people have been going through these kinds of arguments (and all kinds of arguments) for hundreds or thousands of years. And here we are repeating the exact same thing all over again, thinking this time we REALLY got it nailed.

      Never fear, I is here! Listen to me now. I know what you need to hear, and I know what you need to do. So I’m going to tell you, and you’re going to be grateful to me and think I’m super. And then I’ll say, nah, it’s not about me. What benefit is it to anyone if I say I’m enlightened. I just want to help YOU, and nothing would make me feel better than to see YOU helped, by me. Little, unassuming ol’ me. Ooooooh, yeah baby… can you feel it… Ahhhhhhhhh!

      This time we’re going to put this madness to rest once and for all. This time we’re going to help solve it and save the world, or something, or someone. This time, my time, my life, my arguments, my insights, my role in all this, is what REALLY counts. This time, it’s going somewhere. This time, it’s really making a difference.

      Just like all the millions of other neverending discussions all over the world. Yap yap yap… Yap yap, yap yap, yap. Yapperdiyapyap, yap yap yap.


      Quick, someone throw me a helpless person! I need another hit.

    • Mark says:

      What’s funny too is there are so many good causes to choose from, I could never pick one. It’s all so partial and limited.

      Should I be against racism, or sexism? Should I help foreign children, or local elders? Should I be invested in freedom, or security? Should I wish the world more jobs, or more leisure time? What if I push here, and something over there goes pop, or vice versa?

      And of course all of these are just symptoms of the same ‘problem’. Oh ok, so now we’re getting into the spiritual shit, NOW we have THE ONE TRUE CAUSE. The one solution to all our problems. Now I know what goal to pursue, what message to spread, and what charity to donate to. Now I know what REALLY matters.

      Except it’s the very same thing all over again. And has been for thousands of years. See, buddha was wrong. Nothing ever changes. All the same, always has been, always will be. And nobody bats an eye.

    • Mark says:

      Just bumped into something I wrote a year ago, probably explains why I seem to be on another posting spree right now…:

      “All your desires to affect change in the world around you are really just desires to alleviate your own pain. The pain-causing thing within yourself is the thing you’re trying to cure outside of yourself. That’s the folly that will keep you outwardly focussed (= blind) indefinitely, and will keep your pain alive indefinitely.”

  61. David says:

    So does this ultimately mean we are just watching a movie and we are freaking out because we can’t change it? Does free will exist? Are we actually experiencing complete determinism with the illusion that we can change things? We might as well do nothing and watch?

    • Mark says:

      If it’s not “just” a movie, and if free will exists, we still might as well do nothing. Or if it is “just” a movie, and free will doesn’t exist, people are doing all kinds of things nonetheless, and have been all along.

      Whatever may be the case, has always been the case. Only your ideas about it change. And an idea is “just” an idea, so why get hung up on those. If you decide to do nothing and “just” watch, it still wouldn’t be free will, it would “just” be a new idea limiting your actions. Business as usual.

      Maybe the whole question of free will was always a non-starter in the first place. Then “no free will” would be no more true than “yes free will”, since there can be no doubt as to whether the absurd makes sense or inapplicable applies or the impossible is possible.

      Maybe the whole question of determinism is also a non-starter, if there actually is nothing to be determined. If you don’t exist, then you are neither bound nor free, and the rest is “just” mind games.


  62. Mark says:

    Hi Goran, I’d like to respond to something you wrote in this blog post:

    “All of this deconstructing-your-ego business that everybody’s preaching these days is just a waste of time. Nothing dismantles an ego as effectively as pulling the rug out from underneath its existence as a space-time object. [...] In order to awaken, you must deconstruct the universe-model of reality”

    I think the point is that the ego consists of emotional/energetic attachments/investments to the universe model, to specific objects in that model, and to specific viewpoints and opinions on those objects.

    That’s the ego-centric frame of reference, and it seems to me it’s the energy invested in that frame of reference which falsely absolutizes the relative, and thereby obscures the absolute. Those energetic investments ARE the false sense of objective existence, of any instance of identity/reification, and the sum total of that IS the ego.

    So you can’t deconstruct one without the other, you can’t deconstruct the universe model without deconstructing the ego or vice versa, because they are the same thing. That’s the egoic point of view, perspective, frame of reference, context, universe model, or whatever you want to call it. Which would be why Jed McKenna equates enlightenment to contextlessness. Context is the energetic structure in consciousness that generates the illusion of confinement.

    And this deconstruction must include egoic reactions and motivations and beliefs and opinions etc., all of which are symptomatic of those energetic investments and all of which imply some sort of objective existence, and thereby a subject-object relationship.


  63. Pablo Miller says:

    the objects of our experience also consist of touch. which includes that we cannot walk thru walls.

  64. Chrisinbliss says:

    Pablo, thank you for bringing in some common sense.

    Some of the enlightened beings here are so convinced everything is merely an (egofree) appearance of (their) consciousness that they can walk through walls.

    So thank you for this common sense comment.

    • Mark says:

      I walk through walls every day. It’s called a door. But note I don’t walk through doors. That would be absurd. :D

  65. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark, as a child I once walked through a glass door. I still have scars.

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      So it can be done, wow! I guess nothing’s impossible in this totally non-existent appearance in absolute consciousness, when you think about it.

      Wait a minute… Did you just debunk Pablo’s common sense? I do believe he said that the sense of touch means you can’t walk through walls.

      It’s true I never feel anything when I walk through walls, but I’ve never walked through doors before. Did you feel anything?


  66. Chrisinbliss says:


    The glass door turned into several hundred thousand pieces of glass – one of which embedded itself in my foot in such a way that it took a month or so to emerge of its own accord (while it was still there I even went to a school outing at the Natural Museum in London with the big large blue whale) — which confirms yet again that reality is very much ‘out there’, too, not just ‘in here’.

    Sometimes sudden suffering is the only way to realise that consciousness does not ‘project’ everything — it might, after all, merely be an emergent property of matter particles interacting by natural laws and exchanging bits and pieces of so-called information. (While I don’t assume this is the case many respected scientists do).

    Whatever the truth be, crashing through a glass door head forward is a good way of practically realising that it is not “just a dream created by your consciousness.”

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      That sense is certainly common.

      Ever heard of the term “Nyquist Rate”? That’s the minimum sampling rate required to digitize a particular signal, and it depends on the highest frequency present in the signal. If the signal is sampled at too low a rate, signal aliasing occurs. Which means that the highest frequencies are not adequately represented by the samples and will cause low-frequency distortions instead.

      To me that’s a nice metaphor of what happens when someone fails to appreciate the depth of insight or clarity or wisdom in someone else, for example. Nobody can really conceive of someone else seeing more than oneself. Nobody can really conceive of being just plain wrong. And very few are willing to even consider the possibility.

      So what happens then is signal aliasing. And so, someone like Jed McKenna seems foolish because you can’t relate, while someone like Pablo Miller seems to have common sense because you can relate.

      It’s all in the eye of the beholder, though, isn’t it.

      “Why level downward to our dullest perception always, and praise that as common sense? The commonest sense is the sense of men asleep, which they express by snoring. Sometimes we are inclined to class those who are once-and-a-half-witted with the half-witted, because we appreciate only a third part of their wit.” — H.D. Thoreau

  67. Chrisinbliss says:

    As always, your responses are extremely witty and highly intelligent, which is why we love you and value you. I wonder what you are doing on such a forum when you could compete with the likes of Russel Peters anytime?

    The reason is that I have passed through JMK’s concepts during my 13 years as an Advaita monk. So you aren’t dealing with a neo-advaitin here but a rotten-to-the core Advaitin.

    In my personal opinion, the nondual state is prior to all conceptual elaboration — whereas for you it is all about conceptual elaboration. Therefore I counter your conceptual elaboration with common sense counter statements.

    If you experienced the nondual state, you would neither be talking about silly ego ‘energetic’ woo woo nor about JMK.

    Ego is just pride, simply a feeling — gross and subtle — that appears. There is no ‘ego’ at play anywhere, it is merely identical to pride in many facets. That’s all there is to it.

    If you experienced the nondual state you would know this. All states are already liberated, so there is no such thing as ‘ego’ — this is merely an invention by neo-advaita gurus so they can control their students’ behaviour.

    May all be auspicious!

  68. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark, it was not my meaning that you aren’t welcome here. My meaning was that your responses are genuinely so witty that I am surprised you have not yet emerged as a stage comedian a la Russel Peters.

    Perhaps ‘enlightenment stage comedy’ would be a new genre that might be successful ‘path’ to take in case you have no ultimate successs with nondual awareness? You could invite me as a guest of honour and we could conduct an on-stage debate. As the ‘culmination’ and ‘pith instruction’ we could test the hypothesis that consciousness is primary and gives rise to everything, for example by jumping through a closed wooden door (you) and a glass door (me) in front of the audience (which will include Göran as the judge).

    For the finale, we will have Jed McKenna pop out from a hidden cabinet dressed as a pink bunny — and finally Adyashanti and Mooji levitating in above the audience to the soundtrack of Titanic.

    May all be auspicious!

    • Mark says:

      You, and all your imaginary friends who are loving me and valuing me and welcoming me to this forum, are very presumptuous. Almost as presumptuous as myself, which is probably why I don’t respond well to it. ;)

      Anyway, it wasn’t that your remark shooed me off or something. I just found I couldn’t argue with the implication that there’s no point for me to stay and jabber on, whether we’re on the same page or not. Which I seriously doubt that we are.

      Understand that when you’re talking to me, it’s not just you talking to me, but also me talking to me. And I may hear things in your words that you didn’t even intend to put there.

      It doesn’t matter, messages don’t come with actual intentions attached, those are only imagined. What you say your meaning is, isn’t as important as pride would have you think, and neither is mine.

      This whole enlightenment business is not ‘a thing’ for me, in the way that anything else can be ‘a thing’, a subject of cocktail converstation or even comedy, an interesting hobby or pursuit, something on the side to pass the time with, or a social activity or club or tradition to join and hold hands with. It can be that too, but for me, it’s primarily something else.

      For me, it’s the fight of my life, and it’s as personal as it gets. It’s been a long and tiresome road and I have no clue how much longer I have to go, before the me that wants this has finally run its course and steps aside. It’s agonizingly slow and nerve wracking, and there’s nothing I can do about anything. It matches up pretty well to any other definition of torture that we could come up with.

      I may make jokes in the course of this fight, I may have discussions, but all of that are just secondary manifestations of this primary movement. I’m not in it for the small talk. I’m in it because it’s either this or suicide. This is life or death for me. Can you get that?

      Seriously, what is there left to talk about.

  69. Chrisinbliss says:

    That is why I kept on telling you to start relaxing completely and come away from all this conceptualisation, to quote your old friend Shankara:

    “Coming out of its source the stream of water
    flows to the ocean by the downward path.
    If it just relaxed right at the source,
    would it not directly become the vastness itself?

    Thus, when the mind contemplates its own source,
    it becomes quiet within and does not arise outwardly.
    Then does it not recognise self-reality on its own?”

    - Shankara
    in: Prabodha-Sudhākara, Nectar-Moon of Awakening, 65-66

    and more importantly:

    In a secluded place sit joyfully.
    Completely settle your heart in the hindmost.
    Perceive well the self as the whole.
    See how the entire universe is effaced by this.

    Now through the power of consciousness
    let previous actions dissolve,
    and do not cling to future ones.

    Enjoy here your destiny that has begun.
    Now remain as ultimate Reality, yourself.

    - Shankara
    in: Upadeśa-Pañcakam (Five Teachings), Verse 5

    May all be auspicious and may you begin to completely relax and happily remain in the natural state that has ever been perfect and has never been contaminated by any ideas, creations, or appearances.

  70. Javier Gomez says:

    Hi Goran,

    I posted something 2 years ago or something. I couldn’t understand what you were saying, but the truth is starting to rise to the surface. I am reading your stuff and Rupert Spira’s stuff about the non dual nature of experiencing.

    I think this is what happens in my direct glimpses. There are no eyes that see. There is just one big array of colors changing form. So I don’t have a hand. The hand that lies on the table is made out of 1 thing, namely the colors white and black. I also glimpsed for 1 second that when I turn my head around in the room, perhaps I am not even turning my head. The feelings of the neck and head seem real that I turn. But I think the colors morph instead of somethign in space moving around. This I also realized for 2 seconds when I moved in the rom to check if movement was a change of colors too. Also I am not sure whether I have a body. Perhaps the body is a change of shapes and colors.

    So far so good.

    The difiiculty is in seeing ‘out there’ and in here behind something. NOt sure what this behind is. It is always behind. I can’t push myself into the colors and sounds and merge with them. I can’t see this behindness from where the colors are or sounds are. The sounds are over there, you know? I might as well buy your book, because rupert spira is a bit more difficult to understand.


  71. KS says:

    I first came across this website almost 6 months ago when I discovered someone else(Goran) had also managed to puncture the dualistic cocoon of the Universe using color as the puncturing tool and since then I have been occasionally monitoring this site for insights ( and vindication) from like minded travelers.
    I was moved at the intellectual honesty exhibited in your debate. I meant to butt in with some observations of my own, but the two of you were pouring out your experiences mirroring so much of my own, that I could not think of anything original. Am hoping the debate has not ended and it is only a hiatus. Hopefully you are both monitoring this site.

    Now, some background about me. I was born into a middle-class secular Hindu family in India and was consequently conditioned by intellectual ideas primarily west of the Radcliffe Line. As a result, even though I spent my entire childhood and my early adulthood within a radius of 5 km from advaitic centers of learning, I became convinced that science, especially Physics, had the answer to all the puzzles of the Universe. Somewhere in my mid-40s, I was lucky enough to meet a non-dualist who gave the first tug on the dualistic carpet I was on;others followed and a few years later, I was convinced the Universe was an illusion. Am now apprenticing with a non-dualistic teacher and immersed myself in the formal method of weaning away from dualistic trappings.

    @Chrisinbliss. What made you leave the the Shankara parampara and opt for Padmasambhava? Almost all your quotations are from the revered acharya and yet you chose to leave the tradition. Am intrigued.

    Looking forward to both your postings.


    • Mark says:

      Thanks KS. If I may ask, what specifically would you hope to get out of a continued debate? How would it move you forward from where you are now? Are you looking for resolution on a particular isse that you’ve been grappling with, or are you looking to keep your mind occupied with whatever tastes interesting?

  72. KS says:

    Here is a sample of what I got so far ..
    “..That’s the ego-centric frame of reference, and it seems to me it’s the energy invested in that frame of reference which falsely absolutizes the relative, and thereby obscures the absolute…”
    To me this is a contemporary way of saying the following:
    “The power of Maya is that it blocks the real ( the absolute ) and superimposes on the real, the unreal ( the relative )”
    I had not quiet mentally articulated in the way put forth by you. BTW my understanding of deconstructing of the ego is its suspension while parsing contrarian information. Is that what you also mean ?

    “For me, it’s the fight of my life, and it’s as personal as it gets…. It’s agonizingly slow and nerve wracking, and there’s nothing I can do about anything…”
    This is how I feel and it is reassuring that someone feels the same way too.

    My particular issue is: Until my catharsis, I used to comport myself with others with my sense of identity tied to the error. ( the error being mistaking the relative for the absolute). Now that I know better, every attempt of mine to re-calibrate my sense of identity away from the error, seems to eventually fall back into it. One step forward two steps backward. How does one get past this conundrum ?

    I hope this answers your question.


    • Mark says:

      Nice to meet you KS, yes that answers my question. I half expected you to be a weekend warrior, but I’m glad you set me straight. I’m obviously no teacher, but I’ll try to address any specific questions.

      - “BTW my understanding of deconstructing of the ego is its suspension while parsing contrarian information. Is that what you also mean?”

      If you mean contemplating contrasting perspectives, then yes, I’d say that seems to be a good way of cancelling them out. One thing about ones own frame of reference is that it’s mostly implicit and difficult to isolate, so contrasts are required to even see them clearly. And then contemplating the contrasts certainly helps to see all sides as ultimately arbitrary.

      Another thing that I’ve found helpful is to contemplate the fact that for any specific thing in this dreamstate to work, requires the entire spectrum. For example that’s how I learned to accept aggressive contemptuous youth. If there wasn’t that side of human nature, however one might feel about it, then we simply would not be here at all. Once that starts to sink in, you can also start to see war in a different light, no matter how horrible and unnecessary and deluded it may be. We either get the full range, or nothing at all. There is no other option, that’s how duality works, and it’s just something we have to deal with.

      So that’s more of an inclusive approach rather than an exclusive approach, and I think both are valuable as complementary approaches.

      - “Now that I know better, every attempt of mine to re-calibrate my sense of identity away from the error, seems to eventually fall back into it. One step forward two steps backward. How does one get past this conundrum?”

      I’m not sure what you mean by re-calibrating your sense of identity or how you go about it. But I think I get your conundrum. To the best of my knowledge, the only way is to keep at it and keep your eyes open. As you know, there is no self in control of anything, much less this process of surrendering the self. But honest observation seems to be a good catalyst. Which makes sense, if consciousness is all there is.

      The way I think of it is that ones dreamstate being is sort of an autonomous self-learning system, and the way it learns is through feedback. In other words, feeding ones own output back into the system as input. Honest observation closes the feedback loop, while delusion and denial prevent it, or at best distort it. Learning may, and usually does, require repeated error.

      I know it’s a weird thing to see yourself go through the motions when you know it’s ridiculous, sometimes days or weeks, sometimes months or years, but that’s just the way it goes. The sense of making backward steps are also part of that, but there’s always a cumulative effect, so in that sense there are no backward steps. It only seems that way. So you’re not really going in circles, you’re going in spirals.

      Hence the Alan Watts quote: “The fool who persists in his folly must eventually become wise.”

      In other words, to get past this conundrum, you have to understand what the conundrum really is. It’s the attempt of a non-existent self trying to script its own surrender. The self can’t let go of itself through an act of will, because its will is also an illusion. So it doesn’t exactly work as expected, but it’s an inevitable part of the process nonetheless. If it weren’t, then you’d already be done.

      Recommend you watch the last half hour or so from this video, specifically the part where he reads his letter, which starts about 58 minutes in:

      And if you like, there’s more where that came from at the link below, as well as on youtube (my personal favorites in that bunch are Bart Marshall, Art Ticknor and Bob Cergol):

      I think it was Art Ticknor who said in one of his videos that, at first, you think it’s about learning how to dive, but eventually it’s about learning how to let yourself sink.

      Hope this helps.

    • Mark says:

      Hi KS, I posted a reply, but for some reason it says it’s awaiting moderation. Maybe because it’s fairly lengthy and contains some links. I don’t know. Let’s Hope Goran is in town.

    • Mark says:

      Ah there it is.

      By the way a lot of those contemplations take place in terms of what Goran calls the Universe Model of existence, while the point is of course to step out of that model entirely.

      And indeed sometimes contemplating contrasting models (physical universe vs. consciousness dreaming) works wonders. But sometimes it just doesn’t get to a particular knot. Even when there’s no shred of doubt left in your mind about the true nature of existence, there will still be plenty of remnants of the old paradigm that need to deconstruct.

      In other words, everything is not solved by just telling yourself over and over that it’s all a dream. If that’s what you mean by parsing contrarian information. More often than not, I’ve found anyway, you’ll need to get into an imaginary structure in order to dismantle it at its own level, or say, one level up.

      Or sometimes you just need to notice an erroneous thought occur over and over and just let it ride out its momentum, until one day it’s gone.

      So these are all just strategies and devices, and you’ll need to feel your way around with them to see what works and what doesn’t, for any particular case. You learn as you go.

      And there’s no fixed formula. The moment you’ve latched onto a fixed formula, you’ve closed your eyes again to look for refuge in a rote program, a mechanical technique. And you’ll find out it’s useless. Every time it’s a new beginning where first of all you keep your eyes open, and from there will arise a response to what you’re actually being confronted with in that moment.

      It’s the technique of no technique, grasshopper (HAAAAHA! sorry I just couldn’t resist throwing that in there)…


    • Mark says:

      Case in point is this debate right here, from my perspective at least, where I got at this whole resentment thing. It may not be obvious on the surface that that’s what was happening, but I made no secret about it.

      This debate was my “technique of no technique” for this particular issue (and actually it’s been going on for a while because I’ve been ranting and raving on a couple of other pages here too). I didn’t plan it, I didn’t even know what the issue was, and there were actually several mixed in.

      But I knew in general terms what was going on and I articulated as much, because I’m damn sure not here for the sake of debate. So I basically just kept my eyes open as best I could, and went with it, not knowing where it was going. And I can say now that it worked.

      In that sense, every little thing is part of the “technique of no technique”, as long as you keep observing with discernment and honesty. And, just as importantly, sometimes you need to be able to throw your arms up in resignation and let it all go.

  73. KS says:

    Hi Mark,

    FYI Am reading your comments. ( ..and parsing :-) )
    I work in the IT department for a multinational and am in the middle of year end activities which should last for another 2-3 weeks. So am unable to compose a proper reply presently. Bur here is a quick rebuttal. More later. Since am presently an active Vedantic student, apprenticing under a teacher, for me, there has to be a technique. However, am well aware that one can spend years following the technique without a total conviction in the illusionary nature of the Universe. So there is something more than technique.

    • Mark says:

      Ok well, again, I’m not here for the sake of debate, and I’m not interested in the finer points of tradition and scripture. All I have to offer is my own take on things, but you’ll have to make up your own mind and find your own way.

      If you feel the need to talk about anything pressing, I’m all ears. If it can wait 2-3 weeks, then maybe you’ll have better luck with Chris.

      Good luck.

    • Mark says:

      The cool thing is that your obstacles will announce themselves automatically, that’s why they’re obstacles. All you need to do is keep an eye out for them. The reason people don’t get enlightened is because they want to keep their eyes closed. And nobody gets enlightened without opening them. This is the most basic of basics.

      If your attention is with techniques, then it’s not with what’s already in your face. There’s nothing against applying a technique if your discerning observation and intelligent response (DO&IR) tells you that a technique is called for in any particular instance. But techniques can’t replace DO&IR. Furthermore, you can do without techniques, but you can’t do without DO&IR.

      The thing inside you that promotes dependence on techniques, and finds safety and reassurance in them, is the thing that doesn’t want to be found out. Blind, rote action is already the daily reality of pretty much everyone on the planet. If you’re looking for a different result, you can’t expect to keep doing the same thing.

      Keeping your eyes open is real work, but there can obviously be no kind of wakefulness without it. There’s no possible argument against opening your eyes and responding intelligently to what is. Everything else is necessarily subordinate to that. Way subordinate.

      So there you go, that’s my pitch. The rest is up to you.

    • Mark says:

      Discerning observation, spontaneous intelligence, stepping out of the way of what naturally wants to happen, getting yourself OUT of the equation. Pay attention.


      The thing about a techinque is that it requires a performer. It’s a product of thought, as they say. Planned, deliberate, controlled, conditioned action. Hollow self-centered theatrics.

      As opposed to authentic response, flow, natural spontaneous right action, unobstructed selfless being.

      That’s the big difference, and it’s essential.

    • Mark says:

      By the way that’s one thing where zen really shines.

      Not sure about advaita. I’m not a shankarite ;)

    • Mark says:

      Nothing like the sound of crickets to remind myself that I’m all alone talking to an imagined audience…


    • Mark says:

      Oh, one more thing. I don’t equate enlightenment with any state of consciousness (actually state of perception). My priority is with freedom from delusion.

      You’ll likely encounter some states on that journey, and certainly your default at the ultimate fruition of that journey will be predictably different (since the biggest delusion of all actually causes the biggest altered state of all: Egohood).

      But conversely, you can cultivate all kinds of states and still be as deluded as the day you started. Which is what most people apparently end up doing, and which is one more reason not to underestimate Maya and your built-in active desire to keep your eyes closed.

      Great examples of this are Shinzen Young and Kenneth Folk (both of whom have interviews at batgap.com) and of course Ken Wilber. It’s no accident that their teachings center around techniques, which are excellent for cultivating pretty much anything you like and don’t require a shred of lucidity. This in contrast to someone like Adyashanti, who most people would probably agree is enlightened, and mostly advocates questioning and surrender.

      It’s also no accident that their definition of enlightenment is ambiguous at best, and generally involves some weird and elaborate combination of altered states, emotional intelligence and pain management, and all-round open-ended human development. Their priorities generally address suffering and personal evolution within the existing dreamstate paradigm, i.e. consensus reality.

      I do have enormous respect for those people. They are certainly very good at what they do, which in some cases is a lot, and they’re by no means stupid. If you want to be an exemplary human being, you need look no further. They’re often great mystics, great scholars, mature adults, or any combination thereof. But their priority is certainly not freedom from delusion, they never achieved it, they don’t teach it, and they don’t know what it is.

      Adyashanti generally lumps enlightenment and human development together, unfortunately (altered states not so much). And it’s not a bad thing to do both, but I think it’s a good thing to understand which is which. Jed McKenna covers the difference between these things extensively in his books. See Goran’s recommended reading page, or:

    • Mark says:

      There’s a deeper, innate intelligence underlying all thought and action, that you’ll have to learn to trust and rely on. Some of Goran’s blogposts also point to this. There’s a bare bones level of reality beneath all the games we layer on top. The more you surrender yourself to it, the more it takes over. That’s the direction you need to go in if you want to wake up.

      Fixed techniques may play a supporting role, but no leading role. In reality nothing is fixed. If you want to learn to walk, you’ll have to wean off the crutches. You talk about a “formal method of weaning away from dualistic trappings”; the biggest dualistic trapping is dependence on formal methods. Using canned thought and action to grow or find truth, is like training to win the wrong game.

      What does it mean when a legendary and revolutionary martial artist says he does not believe in systems and methods and styles and fixed forms and techniques. What does it mean when he teaches “using no way as way, having no limitation as limitation”. The finite can’t beat the infinite, illusion can’t beat maya, there is no path.

      Just like you can’t be spontaneous by deliberately trying, just like there is no humility in acting humble, just like common sense can’t be legislated and epiphanies can’t be planned… you can’t get to an uncontrived natural way of being, using contrived artificial means.


      (I really am just talking to myself here, but it seems I still need to get this stuff off my chest anyway.)

  74. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear KS

    Shankara and Padmasambhava are both nondualist.

    The difference is Shankara (like Mark) only describes nonduality, whereas over the centuries the Tibetan tradition developed a full path with a nondual base, path and fruition for the realisation of nonduality.

    So while some Shankarites will realise accidentally, i.e. through grace, — like Ramana and very few others — the Tibetan tradition offers a proper path.

    Before disparaging this, please do research it and get a taste yourself — Bhagavan Shankaracharya would be the first to admit the truth of this and would congratulate the lamas for it. After all, the Tibetans after Padmasambhava had 1200 years of peaceful time to only meditate and discover the full lineage-based path, whereas India always had constant disruptive phases where lineages got broken and now only scriptures remain. Therefore Vedantic scriptures only describe nonduality — they barely as much as hint at the path. Most Indians are not aware of this.

    This is something our Indian Acharyas will therefore deny but they simply have never encountered the path teachings in the Tibetan nondual tradition.

    So while it is sad to say this, in India the path of nonduality is now merely a description. That is why you have so much confusion everywhere and no one actually realising it.

    Please research for yourself before defensively disparaging this.

    May all be auspicious!

  75. Mark says:

    A great illustration of opposing perspectives cancelling eachother out (e.g. how can both be “right” and both be “wrong” at the same time, how “battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won”, how dilemma’s are unresolvable at their own level, etc.) and of coming to terms with the full spectrum of human experience. Probably more relevant to growing up than waking up, but as with everything, the lines are always blurred.

  76. Chrisinbliss says:


    All of the issues are resolved in the natural state.



    • M says:

      No, they’re not.

      It’s the other way around. The natural state is what you’re left with when your issues are resolved. “No more argument with myself, no more argument with the world, no more argument with god, and no more argument with death”, is how Adyashanti puts it. And since you’ve read Jed McKenna, you’ve heard about that process of clearing out the attic and about finding keys to your locks. I think that movie makes a decent key for a very common lock.

      Those are the kinds of things you’ll inevitably encounter as you slip out of plato’s chains and start exploring the cave, whether you end up leaving the cave or not. They are relevant to everyone who doesn’t want to remain a chronic child. And the more you look into it and honestly contemplate the different positions and possibilities, the more you may find that you can pretty much put yourself into anyone’s shoes.

      In fact, maybe you already are, and have been all along. Maybe the truth is that you already are all those people and already embrace all those different perspectives.

      People will be playing their games as they please, and will wrestle endlessly with symptoms while sanctifying all the real causes. There are no solutions on that level. Maya reigns supreme. That’s a fact you have to face and come to terms with if you want to divest yourself of even the most banal societal concerns, let alone the more fundamental fears collectively shared by all our primate mentalities since long before we came down from the trees.

      The point is to learn to get past them rather than wallow in them, but you can’t do that with the old mechanism of fear and denial. No state is going to magically rid you of anything you’re intent on avoiding, and the intent to avoid them is that of a chronic child who wants to live in a fairy tale. The natural state is when you’re able and willing to face whatever you’re being confronted with. By definition, you can’t have one without the other.

      (looks like our once-in-a-month weekend warrior got his debate afterall)

    • Mark says:

      You know, Chis, there’s a pretty good parallel of you among the characters in Jed McKenna’s books. Specifically, you remind me of Lawrence from one of the later chapters in “Spiritual Warfare”.

      I’ll include some excerpts below because this is also relevant to the subordinate place of techniques, to the trap of tradition, to facing your shit instead of avoiding it, to the problems with communication and debate, and to weekend warriors.

      Jed was even kind enough to throw in a good piece of advice that I’ve obviously failed to heed. Can you spot it?

      (feel free to replace the word “Zen” below with your favorite buddhist or hindu tradition, and “book” with “facebook page”… or maybe you’ve written a book too, I dunno… and of course “Lawrence” with “Chris”.)

      Starting at Ch30, p250:

      Lawrence, the fellow holding forth on Zen, I find out, has spent twenty years meditating his “ass off” under several different Zen Masters in New York and out West, and is currently writing a book about his experiences. He informs me that my views on Zen are far too simplistic, that there is infinitely more to Zen than the hot and narrow pursuit of enlightenment.


      The sincere aspirant could spend the next decade in a Zen monastery, sit at the feet of a revered Zen Master, perform zazen with perfect discipline, endure the pain and the stick and the agonizing hourse and the selfless toil, soak up every word, every parable, every drop of teaching, and ultimately know nothing more about Zen than the cabbie who picks him up when he finally calls it quits. And here’s the funny thing; even as he’s leaving, knowing that the whole thing was a total waste of time, he’d also know that he wasn’t wrong. He’d know he picked right and that what he wanted was in there somewhere, he just never found it. All that ‘other’ Zen got in the way.

      Zen is a race car without an engine. It looks very cool, but without an engine it can’t take us anywhere. We can slip in behind the wheel and make engine sounds and turn the wheel and shift gears and pretend we’re rocketing across the spiritual landscape, but when we get tired of it in ten minutes or ten years, we’ll get out of this sexy little hotrod exactly where we got into it.


      The world is full of seemingly senseless tragedy. We’re all dangling by a thread and everyone gets a reminder of that now and then. Not everyone does what Lisa did, though. Most of us turn away from such an unsettling revelation, but Lisa didn’t. She turned toward it. She wouldn’t or couldn’t let herself turn away. Was it destiny or free will or the timeless spaceless other? I have no idea, but what I do know is that what she did is what virtually all spiritual aspirants, to all appearances, should be doing and aren’t; relinquishing the illusion of control. But appearances can be deceiving and spiritual aspirants don’t always know to what, if anything, they aspire.


      Here was Lawrene, a clever, dedicated man with twenty years of Zen study under his belt, writing the obligatory book and already signed up for the next twenty years, and he’s made as much real progress as anyone I might pick out of a crowd, or a lot less, depending on how you reckon anti-progress. And here was Lisa, with no interest, no motivation, deeply established in her well-worn, circular path, and she had achieved a level of success a seasoned veteran like Lawrence wouldn’t even recognize as such.


      “In spite of itself, Zen is what we’re talking about when we talk about peeling away the many-layered fabric of false identity. If you take away all the trappings of Zen — the teachings and the ceremonies, the different schools, the postures and the koans, everything you think of as Zen — and throw it all into the fire, what survives? What is the true core of Zen after all the veils and vanities have burned away?”

      I pause because I want them to think about it.

      “The fire,” I answer. “The fire is what’s left. The fire is Zen.”

      Lawrence is shaking his head.

      “You’re free to speak, Lawrence,” I say.

      He sighs in exasperation and stands up. He addresses not just me but the entire group. He talks about the real Zen that I seem to be ignoring. He talks about patriarchs and ancient roots and Zen today, he pays homage to his own teachers and their teachers. He talks about heritage and philosophy, training and lifestyle, practice and dedication, personal struggle, tradition, commitment, sacrifice. He is intelligent, eloquent, and expert on his subject. I let him continue for a few minutes because I’m optimistic on Brett’s behalf, that some of the people here tonight are looking at Lawrence and seeing what I’m seeing; a little boy who is scared of the dark and has spent his life burrowing into the fortress of Zen, the grown-up version of huddling under blankets, hiding from some imagined boogeyman.

      Parents tell their children that there is no such thing as the boogeyman, but that’s because they themselves have never thrown off the covers and turned on the lights. There IS such a thing as the boogeyman. He IS out to get you, and he will. The boogeyman is real. He is the most real thing in the dreamstate, and real Zen, if there is such a thing, is about turning toward him, not away.

      While he speaks, Lawrence tries several times to engage me, to draw me in, but I know better and gesture for him to continue without me. The first rule in this business is never let them drag you down into their imagined realms. He wants to pull me down into the muck and mire of words and concepts and debate, into the warm ooze of perpetual stalemate. That is his element, that’s where he and many like him are most comfortable, making their engine sounds, busily going nowhere.

      I watch the group as Lawrence speaks. It’s not always easy to remember that these people aren’t like me; they look and sound awake, but they’re not. They are asleep and dreaming, sleepwalking and sleeptalking. Their words make sense to them, inside their dreamworld, but from my perspective it’s mostly mumbling. They seldom express a lucid thought or formulate a coherent question. In several minutes of uninterrupted discourse on Zen, Lawrence has not said anything that I recognize as being related to the topic of awaking from delusion.

      “As he watched the eyeless face with the jaw moving rapidly up and down, Winston had a curious feeling that this was not a real human being but some kind of dummy. It was not the man’s brain that was speaking, it was his larynx. The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words, but it was not speech in the true sense; it was a noise uttered in unconsciousness, like the quacking of a duck.” — George Orwell, 1984

      So how can we communicate across this great divide? Metaphors and well-known stories like books and movies provide a common ground where ideas can be expressed, but if we drift away from that shared territory in either direction, it’s like a radio tuner drifting away from a clear channel into static.

      If you’re standing out here in front of these people and you’re attached to results, as Brett was, then it’s only natural that you’d get a little aggravated and finally give up. The gulf that separates these states is very real and all attempts to communicate across it are inherently quixotic. It’s not until a student or aspirant or reader starts closing the consciousness gap from their side that any real communication can start taking place. Until someone understands what it really means that their eyes are closed and begins the process of unseeing what’s not, nothing Brett or I might say could really make much difference. The wall separating the awakened and unawakened states is not conceptual or theoretical or metaphorical. Intelligence can’t pierce it, piety can’t melt it, fervor can’t smash it. It is a forcefield empowered by the emotional energy of fear, so everything we hurl against it is rechanneled into it. Only ego-death defeats this barrier because the barrier is ego itself. The segregated self must recede for the integrated being to emerge.


      Of these seventy people, I know that maybe one, but probably none, will actually do anything. They’re mostly just tourists, which is fine with me, but it was a tough realization for Brett. Of those I have observed, Dr. Kim seems the most sincere, and I know he’s not going to blast out of his holy trinity — work, home, family — due to the minor technicality that he’s playing a fictional character in a fictional world. Lawrence is so deep into his role of dedicated Zen adherent that he’ll never get another glimpse of daylight.


    • Mark says:

      “L.T., those guys you trained to come and kill me, they’re not soldiers, they’re robots.”

      – Aaron Hallam, The Hunted (2003)

    • Mark says:

      “I see dead people.”

      – Cole Sear, Sixth Sense (1999)

    • Mark says:

      “Walking around like regular people. They don’t see eachother. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead.”

  77. Mark says:

    The illusion of self-identity is the artifice that we mistakenly call self-awareness, which is actually the antithesis of awareness. It’s nothing more than a continuous pattern of thought, of so-called reflection where the mind misappropriates itself as a perceiving entity. A compulsory mental loop of implied self-referral in which the attention is habitually absorbed, and which generates not only the self-identity but the whole external world in relation to it.

    That’s the “dust storm of the mind” that is mistaken for individual consciousness, the “reflected ghost”.

    “Reflected” in the sense that it’s the mental activity of reflecting on its own imagined existence as an entity. Implied only by the very act of reflecting upon it. In other words, it thinks that it sees itself (and the world) reflected in its own thoughts, as if those thoughts were a mirror that actually refers back to something actually existing.

    And “ghost” in the sense that there is nothing to actually reflect or to be reflected. There is nothing to refer to on this side of the mirror, there is no mirror, and there is even barely a reflection. What is seen as reflection is just an endless stream of fleeting, ephemeral flashes of thought, blindly and mechanically conjured up out of this compulsory mentation. Like the metaphor of the illusion of a ring of fire produced by twirling a flame.

    So be careful what you wish for. It’s nothing so bland as ego or pride, and there’s nothing natural about it. Enlightenment essentially means the dismantling of self-awareness.

    • Mark says:

      (niet gepost)

      In other words, ask yourself honestly: What would it take to dissuade you from pursuing this path? Because if you proceed, you can expect to be tested.

      Which of your expectations about enlightenment do you hold sacred, and what happens to your desire for it when they are not met? Would it make a difference to your resolve if — even just hypothetically — the comforting assurances that we sweet-talk ourselves with turn out to be false? Do you want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, whatever it is, whatever the cost?

      Because that’s a good way of finding out what your real motivations are, what’s really driving you, and where you’re really being driven. Even if all your preconceived notions and hangups are proper and correct (and how could they be), be prepared to test them and to have them tested.

      By his own admission, Chris was easily dissuaded early on, like most people. Like most people, he figured there were many things in his world — in the reflected ghost — that he was not willing to let go of, and they are all the predictable things that serve to keep everyone safely on the reservation, perpetually wallowing in alternative versions of ‘spirituality’ that are more conforming to, and confirming of, our actual desires and beliefs.

      Having deluded expectations when stepping on the path is inevitable, and finding out what it really means is a slow incremental process, but the deciding question is whether or not you want the former to win out over the latter, whatever it may be. Maybe you really do prefer sweet dreams. Who wouldn’t? By and large, the people who make it all the way are those for whom “sweet dreams” was no longer an option. How desperate are you, really.

      As long as you have other priorities, which are by definition dreambound, you’ll want to know about it. If you are invested in your life, you’ll want to know about it. So you can get on with your life and make something of it, instead of wasting it on an aborted mission, like a mother cradling her stillborn baby in bittersweet denial.

      Screw all the pretty talk and the borrowed ideals.

      What. Do. You. REALLY. Want.


    • Mark says:

      And of course as always, Adyashanti somehow manages to say all the same things in a way that sounds much better and doesn’t grate on any ears, and for better or worse only really sinks in with those rare few who are actually willing to — really — listen, carefully and closely:

    • Mark says:

      By the way, I’m of course playing devil’s advocate. But in defense of Chris, I don’t think it’s healthy at all to grow up in a monastery from such an early age. If ever…

      There are a lot of things that I consider abusive to lay on a vulnerable and defenseless child like that. One example would be organized religion, or any kind of straightjacket for that matter, including much of what most people consider normal in society as we know it. Children need boundaries, but also room to grow towards independence and to discover and follow their own innate inclinations.

      And another example would certainly be earnest spirituality as we’re talking about here. It’s just not right to assault a fledgling ego that hasn’t even properly developed yet. There are natural and necessary stages of childhood and adolescence that every person needs to go through, and you just can’t force anyone to grow up, much less wake up, before their time is ripe. If ever…

      So to be honest, I can hardly blame Chris, or anyone else, for denouncing those sorts of influences, or for finding them reprehensible. Because I agree that they are.

      Then again, nobody in their right mind would subject anyone to such things against their will, and nobody in their right mind would think that raising a child in that way could ever be a good idea. Delusion reigns supreme inside of monasteries as well as outside. Nobody who knew what they’re talking about, would talk about awakening to a child.

      Which, I must say, leads me to have Great Compassion ™ for our friend the Dalai Lama…

  78. Chrisinbliss says:


    No expectations, no views, no positions — that is all I can respond to you and JM’s unending stream of descriptive words that have no basis in own experience.

    Let go and relax into the primal space of knowing.



  79. Chrisinbliss says:

    An inspiration for you, Mark:

    Neither conscious inwardly nor conscious outwardly,
    nor conscious towards both (inwardly and outwardly),
    neither conscious nor unconscious,
    not anything one can look at
    not anything one can do something with or grasp at,
    free from descriptions,
    not to be thought about,
    the essence of simple self-perception
    the complete relaxation of all appearances.

    - Mandukya Upanishad Verse 7

    • Mark says:

      When you know
      What you want
      You call forth
      The magic of the universe

      You may talk
      And not listen
      All the while
      It listens
      And talks
      To you alone

      When you think
      You are there
      Or not there
      It just means
      Life has presented
      Your next koan

      Bliss and rainbow bodies
      Compassion and tradition
      Platitudes as inspiration
      Kid yourself to hearts content
      All expectations and views
      Come to light in time
      Truth waits forever

      Progress on the path
      Occurs when you decide
      That you are ready
      To move on

      Everything else
      Is just gravy

      – The Mark Sutra

  80. Mark says:

    Apropos, one more for the road… (for KS or anyone else who doesn’t already think they’re there):

    • Mark says:

      By the way I agree with Chris that you should do your research. Look for yourself and see what you find.

      Just remember if you want to open your eyes, that you shouldn’t walk into anything blindly.

    • Mark says:

      Also remember that this whole thing is literally about disillusionment, and nothing else. Lucidity and awakening at any level means seeing through illusion. Loss is gain. There is no progress but that, there is no path but that.

      So follow whatever has real juice for you, and observe it. The things that come up, come up because they’re part of whatever you asked for. Get all the close-ups and all the big-picture views you need. Investigate, contemplate, be skeptical, ask all the tough questions, avoid nothing, confront everything. And when you’re ready, move on.

    • Mark says:

      Oh yeah, and the “move on” thing is part of — but not all of — what Jed McKenna calls “Further”. It’s not just a matter of moving from one battle to the next, but more importantly it’s a matter of rising out of the many layers of the battlefield. The battlefield is delusion, and the point is to wake up from it. Another way he puts it is “fight when you have to, climb when you can.” This may not make much sense initially, but it will.

      Hope I can finally move on from this place soon, goddamnit.

  81. Mark says:

    Fucking ridiculous.

  82. KS says:

    Sorry, guys. When corporate america beckons, everyone has to jump;even non-dualists:-)

    @Chrisinbliss: Am not sure how disparagement was construed;in any case, my apologies;will look up on Padmasambhava; if you can, please post links on Padmasambhava. Am particularly interested on his views on the Absolute vis-a-via Shankara.

    @Mark:I looked up some of the videos you posted( even the Bruce Lee ones :-) ) and could not find myself disagreeing with any of the ones I watched. I think some clarifications are in order. Am interested in how my contemporary non-dualists were able to deconstruct the Universe and eventually refute it. Personally for me, when I realized that color is the cognitive representation of a particular band of the electromagnetic spectrum and that color does not really exist “outside”, it became my eureka moment. To quote Goran “the carpet got pulled” for me. Recently I became curious and started trolling the internet to see if anyone else had the same way of refuting the universe. After trolling many neo-nondualist websites, I arrived at Goran’s website. Am assuming most non-dualists on this site subscribe to Goran’s way of refuting the universe and am interested to know if their experiences correlate to mine. Which is why am asking all these questions.

    So I ain’t selling anything. But am buying. Very, very cautiously :-)

    PS. It is not ridiculous. fucking or otherwise. non-dualists are a statistically insignificant minority. we get laughed out everywhere except among ourselves. so keep posting.

    • Mark says:

      No such thing as a nondualist.

      Funnily enough, Art Ticknor is a self-professed dualist. And I’m pretty sure he’s enlightened.

      You can’t actually arrive at nonduality without having refuted duality, and thereby any notion of any kind of reality other than absolute singular infinity. As the implications of nonduality continue to sink in, it should become clear that it’s impossible to talk about, anything really. And also that you’ve always been a minority of one, and always will be.

      Talk is at best pragmatic in terms of the illusion of duality, but never true. Hence Art Ticknor’s pragmatic stance, and hence the complete ridiculousness of all this superfluous scattergun talk, if not all talk. If you’re talking, it’s about duality, period.

      And hence the fact that nonduality doesn’t make for a school of thought, much less a community or a social club. How could it have adherents when there’s nothing to adhere to. A nondualist isn’t.

      All my talk here has nothing to do with anything other than my own deluded urges. I’m following whatever seems to have juice for me, and I observe it until I’m ready to move on. Apparently this needs to happen, and I’ll be glad when it’s over. Seriously, what the hell am I doing here acting like I have something to say. And I’ve been posting on this site since march. Fucking ridiculous.

      Keep posting? What is it you want, my friend, subscribe to a magazine?

      You keep posting. I’m just passing through.

      P.S. No such thing as an electromagnetic spectrum either. I’ve certainly never seen one. So anyway, you found out that colors can’t be objective, now what about shapes.

    • Mark says:

      (note that you want to belong, and you’ve created an identity as a “nondualist”… put those two together and voila, you’ve created camp nonduality, being laughed at by the side you didn’t pick… see how that works?)

    • Mark says:

      “I see my desire to find a distraction for what it is. I have to remember that I’m not here as a journalist or a sightseer, I’m on my own journey, just passing through, and there are always temptations and rationalizations that would take me from the journey. That’s why the most important word is Further. I understand that. One must be ever vigilant because the enemy is. Everything about the world and about ourselves demands that we stop, and we have only that one thing to hold up against all those powerful temptations; the word Further. Here’s where I find my own supposed goodness to be a most malicious adversary. It would be so easy to fall sway to my altruistic impulses, to justify stopping in the name of aiding others, of sharing what I’ve learned so far; some egoistic, Bodhisattva bullshit. It’s there, now, the feeling that I have achieved an understanding that I must share, which, of course, would demand that I stop to develop my understanding and learn how best to share it, which, of course, amounts to nothing more than stopping. Yes, I want to share what I’ve learned. Yes, I want to help others, to show them the way. Yes, I want to oppose the darkness and ignorance that I myself have now begun to find my way out of, and yes, that’s all an elaborate and painfully effective ploy by ego to get me to cease my journey.”

      – Julie Meyers, Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment

      (see why I don’t just want to keep posting for the sake of posting… see why I’m keeping a close eye on myself here… see what I’m really doing… see why I want to get this over with… see why corporate america can kiss my ass… see why I find this all ridiculous… it’s just another performance, all part of the same facade, all completely made up, and all designed to keep you/me enthralled… There’s nothing desirable about any of this other than the prospect of moving on… fight when you have to, climb when you can… delusion hurts… hallelujah amen)

    • Mark says:

      Like I said, teachers are conmen. Performance artists. Part of the grand facade. The only question is whether or not they’re aware of it, whether or not they actually believe their own bullshit. As you can see, I’m still working on that myself. And I’m not even a teacher.

    • Mark says:

      Here’s to posting for the sake of posting…

    • Mark says:

      Most hilarious of all is that maybe it’s not even necessary to go through all this, theoretically speaking. I really don’t know. It’s just that this is the only thing I know how to do that has had a measure of success so far.

      But I also see that it’s leading to more and more of a “hands off and sit back” approach, which is probably what it’s all about anyway. The whole “rest as awareness” thing. What the hell do I know. You just can’t script this, you feel your way along and it goes the way it goes.

      In case you needed any more reasons not to take my word for anything…

      “The universe is on a need-to-know basis, and for the most part, we don’t need to know.” — David Carse

  83. Chrisinbliss says:

    @ KS — in Padmasambhava’s tradition the colour analysis is very important to understand the emptiness of appearances. (whereas the Advaita tradition does not have this at all — so intuitively you have arrived at something of Padmasambhava’s tradition).

    Acharya-shishya-parampara is very important because discovering reality cannot be a self-centred activity — if it is just a self-centred activity you end up like Mark and McKenna completely alone and isolated.

    The point is to realise that everything is pratītya-samutpanna — it has arisen together — from nondual space. Once you realise that everything and everyone has arisen together in dependence, then you will not have the delusion that the universe will vanish for you (like neo-Vedantins think) and that nothing matters anymore then.

    Rather, you will realise the vast nature of compassion for all beings and you will vow to help all beings emerge from ignorance to realise nonduality.

    People like Mark, McKenna etc are just self-centred Westerners who have even used nonduality for centering themselves on themselves. This is based on the Western culture of being totally obsessed with oneself. This has nothing to do with the reality of knowing nonduality.

    May all be auspicious

  84. Mark says:

    Oh right, KS, I kinda forgot to actually get into your question about other people’s ways of refuting the universe.

    I already talked about mine, way back on this page, and how the buddhist philosophy of emptiness that Chris mentions had an important part to play in that. When I first got into emptiness it immediately spoke to me. And the more I thought about it, the more I started wondering about what it means for something to be absolute, and noticing how nothing really was. But at that point I didn’t yet see that this is an impossible situation, which in turn meant that I didn’t see something must be absolute. And neither do most of its adherents. Or all adherents, because if they did, they wouldn’t be adherents anymore.

    You could say that there are all kinds of ways to arrive at the same conclusion. There is of course Goran’s way. And another one is Jed McKenna’s treatment of Agrippa’s Trilemma, in his book “Theory of Everything”. It concerns the impossibility of objective knowledge, and what you’ll find when you look into it (or into emptiness) is that there is no actual distinction between the illusion of objective knowledge and the illusion of objective reality.

    In emptiness for example, they say that a thing only conventionally exists, and only when a mind cognizes it as such. In other words, nothing is what you say it is, until you say that’s what it is. That right there points straight to the equivalence of concepts and things, of knowledge and objects, of thought and finiteness, etc. And that’s the sense in which everything is literally a mental projection.

    Objective knowledge and objective reality are basically just two different names for the same thing: The mind-generated illusion that we call the dreamstate paradigm, i.e. the dualistic universe. So if you deconstruct the knowledge, you deconstruct the dream.

    When you get deeply enough into any of these supposedly different ways of refuting the universe, you may find that they actually all boil down to the same thing. For example there are obvious similarities between how I’ve talked about it and how Goran has talked about it, even though we took independent routes. This makes sense if you consider that there’s only one conclusion to reach and only one dream to deconstruct (yours). Whatever dots anyone happens to connect leading up to the final conclusion, they all necessarily imply eachother, and they also necessarily imply any and all of the other dots that anyone else might connect.

    Because all the dots were always already connected, and it doesn’t really matter what route anyone happens to take through the maze. There aren’t many different mazes, just one maze with one exit, and any number of different starting points, and detours. Or if you like, only one sweater, and any number of loose threads to pull.

    That’s also how I arrived at the equivalence of duality, relativity, finiteness, contingence (a.k.a. dependent arising), emptiness, differentiation and foundationlessness. I got bits and pieces from different sources, and enough time to metabolize them, until at some point some of it suddenly fell into place. Enough to reach the final conclusion. But the more I chewed on it, the more all the other stuff fell into place as well, in support of the very same conclusion.

    That’s how I came to see the impossibility and even absurdity of all those things, and the inevitable, one and only, exit of the maze. And that’s what finally liberated me from the emptiness philosophy. Note that it’s called a nondual philosophy. But if you remember what I said about why nonduality doesn’t make for a school of thought, and if you understand the equivalence of concepts and things and duality, then you must understand that there can be no such thing as a nondual philosophy (concept structure).

    Emptiness certainly refutes duality, and even itself, at least in theory. So it is seen as nondual on that basis. But for almost everyone, including myself for a while, it somehow leaves duality dangling unresolved (and unrecognized as such), and stops short of the final conclusion. And so they take emptiness itself as the final conclusion. All the while reminding eachother of Nagarjuna’s explicit warnings against it. And not seeing the immediate contradiction.

    Looking back in hindsight, all the dots were already there even before I saw their connections. I remember for example when I read the first chapter of “Theory of Everything” for the first time, and not finding it very convincing. But when I read it again after having refuted the universe (to use the phrase), it was plain as day. That first chapter says it all, but it won’t speak to anyone who hasn’t done their own homework. And, Jed being Jed, he anticipated as much in that very same chapter:

    “[...] we have just solved every single mystery in existence in five minutes.”

    “Did we? Then why do I still not know?”

    “You do, you just haven’t realized it yet, which I don’t think should count against my five minutes [...]”

    It’s not so much a matter of what way someone refutes the universe, but what veils are preventing them from seeing the obvious: There is no universe to refute. None of it exists when you stop believing in it, that’s the whole point.

    And, incidentally, I can personally testify to the universe vanishing. I do speak from experience, as far as that goes anyway. It’s the “reflected ghost” shrinking, and with it gradually disappears the content of myself, of time, and of the unseen world. Every little thing that goes missing, be it santa claus or the universe, represents another veil lifted. This is the crux of the awakening process. If you ask me, anyway.

    Here’s a good piece on emptiness:

    Or in the case of one David Quinn, if you google his online book “Wisdom of the Infinite”, you’ll see that his way of refuting the universe is essentially the same as emptiness. And what remains dangling is his version of causality, which is essentially what the buddhists call dependent arising.

    I actually asked about that on his blog years ago, when I was still an emptiness adherent myself. He said he would address my question in an upcoming blogpost, but then he suddenly stopped writing any more blogposts. That was the last I ever heard of him. Who knows, maybe he finally saw the light ;) But only after having been stuck in his own philosophy for decades, convinced that he was already free from delusion and was experiencing the infinite.

    • Mark says:

      A good, hands-on, practical way of grokking emptiness is Scott Kiloby’s “unfindable” inquiry. The basic clue to the emptiness of any object is its fundamental unfindability. All you find are all sorts of circumstantial “evidence” which gather together to generate the illusion of a thing existing inherently, seemingly independent of all that “evidence”. But once you start to penetrate the “evidence”, you find out that the whole thing was nothing more than a psychological gestalt. This is basically just another way of saying: Deconstruct knowledge.


      For example you could apply the unfindable inquiry to the notion of an electromagnetic spectrum. Or to tradition. Or to compassion. Or to suffering. Or to nondual space.

      And of course it suddenly becomes very interesting to apply the unfindable inquiry to emptiness itself. See if you can find it. See how real it really is. See if it actually exists, or if it’s just another fabrication. See if it serves to explain phenomena. See if any explanation of anything is even possible at all.

      Guess what…

      This is one reason why it’s critical to become clear about your primary objective, so you can be aware of and avoid the bait & switch. Do you want truth, or to ease suffering in the dream. If the latter, emptiness may certainly work miracles for you, as it did for me before I knew what I really wanted.

    • Mark says:

      (and emptiness can obviously still be a very potent device for waking up out of delusion if that’s your priority, since it can be used to deconstruct anything and everything, if you know what it is, what you’re doing, what you’re trying to accomplish, how to use it appropriately, how to let it go when appropriate, and how to not fall for its traps… so as always do your research and make up your own mind)

    • Mark says:

      Shinzen Young might also be helpful here. I’ve mentioned him before, and I have enormous respect for the man. He doesn’t know what enlightenment is, but he certainly knows what emptiness is. In this video (a two-parter) he actually improves on the classic emptiness thought-experiment called Chandrakirti’s chariot, with his own modern-day variant (and maybe you’ll like that it uses the example of color):

      This version of no-self that is often talked about, is about the lack of inherent existence of self, i.e. the emptiness of self. As Chris mentions, Advaita doesn’t explicitly include this. But that’s because Advaita goes Further, and straight to the point. It goes straight to the exit of the maze of duality, while emptiness keeps dwelling on the maze.

      Emptiness is a device for refuting the universe, but it’s not the final answer. When you find the exit, leave the maze. It doesn’t exist either.

    • Mark says:

      Enjoy today’s edition of Nondualist Magazine – The Debate Goes On… And On… And On… ;)

      (and notice how this could potentially be a neverending series… another bait & switch)

    • Mark says:

      Here is Jed McKenna’s warning against dwelling on the maze, from his first book (Damnedest, ch8, p59):

      “The realization was nothing more or less than this: Truth exists. I was absolutely stunned. The lines of my being were redrawn in a flash. I was staggered by this simple statement, by the sheer absurdity of it. After all, how can someone not realize that truth exists? But the truth is, I didn’t. My thoughts were so constantly turned towards denying what wasn’t, that I was effectively blinded to what was. The very act of fighting for liberation had imprisoned me. In order to oppose the false, I had to dwell in the half-light where falseness thrives. Finally understanding that truth existed was the equivalent of crawling out of a putrid sewer and into sunlight — sunlight the existence of which I should have suspected all along, but never quite did.”

  85. Chrisinbliss says:


    Quite positively surprised at your in-depth understanding of the dynamics at play.

    KS, in my personal view both Advaita and the Buddhist tradition can both result in realisation. The problem is that Advaita without the Buddhist perspective (and Mark actually has the benefit of both — which he is himself perhaps not aware of) leads to objectifying a “one” Brahman, i.e. an objective type of “substance” underlying the appearances of the world.

    Of course this is not the Advaita teaching itself — Shankara says that “Brahman” is not a “dravya” (a substance). However, it is a fact that many adherents of Advaita ultimately reach the conclusion that there is a “paramatma”, a “highest self” “out there” which contains within it everything and in which even subject and object are subsumed, but as a “one” being.

    If you are a contemplative, you will immediately see why such a view does not lead to actually knowing ultimate reality — it simply leads to a very solid conviction that there “is” “such” a “one” being that encompasses everything. Such a conviction, while a solace for many, is merely a concept rather than the direct encounter with reality that the Buddhist approach takes.

    Ultimately, the Mahayana Buddhist, Tibetan and Advaita approaches are so close that to the untrained observer they seem to be the same tradition.

    Mark is a trained observer, which is something I much appreciate about him. I also appreciate that he admits that the emptiness view can also result in realisation.

    Where I disagree with him is about tradition — in my view, it is extremely important to have a teacher (not a specific teacher or some Baba or Swami, but actually being in the tradition of teachers, the Guru-Parampara). The reason is that thousands of have known the ultimate reality. Therefore, sitting at their feet (if even just in our heart) leads to the right view (samyag-darshana) that allows the knot of the heart to be broken and to realise ultimate reality without grasping at some objective version of it (which is what many forms of Advaita do).

    Even Shankara said “na sat tan naa’sad ucyate” — which means “it can be said to be neither existence nor non-existence”. Because “pure existence” as a concept is simply a “dvandva”, i.e. it requires an opposite.

    In ultimate reality all dualities, all opposites are resolved.

    Thus it may be a matter of semantics. And I appreciate Mark for his perceptive remarks. He is one of the brightest minds around in the Internet nonduality scene.

    The last point I wish to make is that meditation is important — to learn the art of complete mindfulness and relax all grasping. However, it is Buddhism that has discovered the methods of meditation that lead to this complete relaxation of all grasping. Advaita ever only developed the “observer” technique — which is not a wrong technique as such, but which takes a false premise of actually “searching” for an observer, for an underlying reality “behind” oneself. This is simply a false premise, because you ARE reality — you do not need to LOOK for reality. Therefore the basis of Advaita meditation is a false premise that there “is” an observer “somewhere” in you, whom you need to find.

    Whereas Buddhist mindfulness meditation, when practised sincerely, leads to the relaxation of all dualistic grasping and the flowering forth of ultimate reality.

    In fact, in 1300 years of Advaita sincere Shankara, Vedanta was unable to even discover the difference between “focussed attention”, “open mindfulness” and “nondual awareness” — completely confusing Patanjali’s ashtanga system (which is focussed attention based) with Vedanta’s premises.

    Buddhist traditions, especially the Tibetan ones, on the other hand have devised clear-cut techniques of meditation which, when properly practised, outline the entire path to complete realisation.

    I do not say this as a naive follower of some tradition — I say it as someone who was a Vedanta monk in an orthodox monasteries for more than twelve years of my life and who has seen the mistakes that Vedanta comes up with. And if you are sincere and honest and have a look at Indian monasteries, you will rarely even find a monk there who meditates (this is a fact, please observe it yourself).

    May all be auspicious

    • Mark says:

      Thanks Chris. I do understand your objections to the world of nonduality and advaita, and I agree with some of them. To me those problems are all basically the same symptoms, of delusion running rampant and hijacking the efforts of the sincere and well-intentioned seeker.

      My point is that it’s no use to combat those symptoms with more symptoms (deluded arguments), but instead to stress the critical role of sincerity and of the truth criterion, wherever it may lead. Jed McKenna calls this purity of intent. If you know what you want and know what you’re doing, you’re fine. If you don’t, you’ll want to find out. Or not, in which case you have no purity of intent, and nobody can help you or save you. Which they can’t anyway.

      As to meditation or any other technique, the way I see it, anything could potentially work as long as you know what you want and what you’re doing. But nothing is likely to work if you don’t. And the way I see it, most people really really don’t, even when they think and say they do. So priority number one is to get your priorities straight, and priority number zero is to think for yourself. Everything else follows from that. And no tradition can do that for you.

      So there is always something above all traditions and teachers and teachings and paths and techniques and sources of wisdom or knowledge or inspiration or debate, or anything else. And that something is the very thing that you (Chris) don’t like: Your own innate authority. NOTHING stands above it, and it stands above EVERYTHING. Always did, whether you agree or not.

      In fact, if you disagree with it, you do so on your own authority. Or if you do it on borrowed authority, then you borrowed it on your own authority. There’s just no getting away from this, except through denial. YOU, whoever is reading this, are ALWAYS the FINAL arbiter of YOUR journey, and YOU have to take responsibility for it and represent YOUR interests. Nobody else will and nobody else can. It’s a fundamental impossibility. You can’t push it onto anyone or anything else, and you can’t walk in someone else’s shoes.

      That’s not self-centered, it’s just a plain and inescapable fact that must be acknowledged before any real progress can be made. Life is a one-man show. Every man is an island unto himself. This is not only literally the case, but it’s also the ONLY possible stance that will get you anywhere with this stuff. And you won’t know the difference until you’ve tried.

    • Mark says:

      I imagine Goran is taking lessons here as well ;)

      But then again I do have an unwieldly imagination…

    • Mark says:

      Re: “Mark actually has the benefit of both — which he is himself perhaps not aware of”

      I think I am. Let me remind you of an earlier comment of mine, way back on this page:

      … where I wrote:

      To be clear, I am immensely grateful for having encountered the emptiness philosophy. I absorbed a lot of Alan Watts and Dalai Lama and others, and it was a critical part of my journey so far.

      But I am also immensely grateful for finally seeing that emptiness is not the final answer, nor is the emptiness of emptiness.

      Instead it was just another device. A very potent device, possibly the best one available for those who manage to grasp the full implications, for deconstructing reality such that one can come to see that it can’t possibly be reality at all.

      At all!

      You see we’ve been here before. I’ve said it all before. You keep being impressed with me. I keep being impressed with myself. And we’re never getting anywhere with it. Welcome to Lawrence’s warm ooze of perpetual stalemate.

  86. Mark says:

    As for refuting the universe, what happened to be the watershed epiphany for me, happened when I was unexpectantly contemplating what could be called the emptiness of shapes. I kinda wandered off into that in relation to optical illusions such as this one:

    In that image, you will see a solid white triangle, a black outlined triangle, and three solid black circles. But what you’ll notice when you examine more closely, is that none of those shapes are actually there. This hints at the fact that the perception of shapes is a function of the human visual system. In other words, they can’t be objective. This is analogous to your epiphany about colors.

    Still we think of objective reality as consisting of configurations of tiny invisible things called particles. There is known to be a lot of space between each particle even in relatively dense materials, but we don’t see it, we see solid shapes. We think of the visual system as receiving sets of data from that inscrutible external world, from which it then generates the shapes and colors of our perception. So when you’re looking at an apparently solid object and see a definite shape there, it’s really no different from looking at that optical illusion above. In both cases, the shapes we see are subjectively constructed.

    And yet we think of those shapes being implicitly present in the arrangement of particles in that solid object. And as I was contemplating what is objectively going on there, I noticed that all my answers required the imagination of more shapes. Any kind of particle, or even wave, or whatever else you may hypothesize, is imagined as having a particular shape, an extension in space and time. And even in what we think of as an arrangement of indefinite constituents, the arrangement itself is yet another implied shape.

    But we’ve already established that shapes exist only as a function of the human visual system. It can’t be the case that some shapes are objective and some are subjective. But when you start contemplating objective reality, you find out that you can only imagine it in terms of shapes. Which means you are imagining an objective reality in terms of subjective constructions.

    • Mark says:

      That’s the part that is very similar to Goran’s approach, at least as summarized here:

      It’s really about the notion of an external, objective, independently existing cause of my perceptions. Even if you understand that color is subjective, which probably many people do, the question remains whether or not you understand that there can be no external reality whatsoever that causes those colors to be perceived.

      So that’s why I asked you about shapes. As long as there can still be anything existing outside of you, you will think of yourself as a finite thing among finite things. Even if you directly see it all as empty, and conceive of it all as being dependently arisen, all your efforts will nonetheless proceed within the imagined context of you existing inside the world, rather than the world existing inside you.

    • Mark says:

      There’s actually a pretty good TED talk that’s relevant to all this. And I find the speaker’s metaphor, of phenomenal reality as a user interface, to be a very useful one as well:

      But do note that he still believes in external causes and finite entities, as suggested by his hypothetical model of existence. His model is not physical at all, but is nonetheless rooted in a space/time/shapes way of thinking.

      He calls it a network of interacting conscious agents. But try to imagine a network that’s not a shape and doesn’t require space. Try to imagine interactions that don’t require time. See if it can be done.

      And yet he says space and time are as the desktop to our user interface, and objects are its icons. So which is it? If space, time and objects are strictly subjective, then his model — or any model — of an external reality, can’t possibly make any sense. Even the internal/external distinction requires space and barriers (shapes) to conceive of.

      So he basically falls for the same things all over again because he doesn’t understand the fundamental impossibility of finiteness and foundationlessness, and of the baseless and contradictory nature of our own little imaginations. His model still implies things existing external to, and independently of, perception. So in that sense it’s still a universe model of sorts, just not a physical one.

    • Mark says:

      Note by the way that the emptiness philosophy is also rooted in a space/time/shapes way of thinking. Try to imagine a network of dependencies (causes and conditions) that’s not a shape and doesn’t require space. Try to imagine the arising of phenomena in a way that doesn’t require time. See if it can be done.

      The emptiness philosophy suffers from all the same problems inherent in any model. And despite what its adherents may say, it is just a model. Yes, emptiness can be seen and experienced directly. But it’s not emptiness until you designate it as such, along with all the imagined implications of dependencies upon external, independently existing causes and conditions.

      All imagined, and all impossible. You see that the emptiness of the world leads to the exact same absurdity as the emptiness of shapes. The exact same circularity and foundationlessness, and the exact same unfindability upon close examination.

      In short, emptiness is FALSE, and the belief in emptiness is DELUSION. If you want TRUTH, you have to LET IT GO.

      (we’ve been here before too)

    • Mark says:

      For what it’s worth, here’s my first comment on David Quinn’s last blogpost:

  87. Mark says:

    This is somewhat interesting to me actually, because I get to revisit some “old” stuff from “ages ago” (so it seems to me) in my own journey, but now from a completely different perspective.

    And best of all is of course that I get to re-examine all the things I thought I knew and purge my system of all this baggage, by dumping it in Goran’s backyard. :D

    Which is another way of saying what Jed McKenna calls Spiritual Autolysis…

  88. Mark says:

    Exerpts from Jed McKenna Interview, bonus material from “Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment”.

    This integration, re-integration, is the state toward which everyone is in constant motion; away from false segregation back to oneness. This constant motion resembles a degrading orbit; round and round, closer and closer, gripped by invisible forces ceaselessly pulling us in, back to our own centers, the one center of all. It is this gravity emanating from the exact center of self that powers the returning motion of the Tao. Everyone is on this orbit. Life is in this orbit. The First Step, on the other hand, is the abrupt course change out of this orbit into a straightline approach. Until the First Step we’re still in orbit. After the First Step, life in orbit is over and collision is imminent.


    Everyone wants to wake up by hastening or altering their orbit and, as the results clearly indicate, it doesn’t seem to make any difference. There’s only one way; you have to break out of orbit. That’s the First Step and that must be the goal of the person in orbit, not spiritual enlightenment or Nirvana or any of that. Yes, it’s a suicide run. There is no return, no turning back. There will be nothing to come back to. If you’re into the whole happily-ever-after thing, stay in orbit and think in terms of karma and dharma and countless lifetimes in which to follow the homeward trek. If you’ve had enough of that then it’s time to switch your attention away from all the spiritual gibberish and start thinking about breaking out of orbit for a suicide run.


    All paradox lies with the unawakened state. The awakened don’t have something the unawakened are missing, it’s the other way around. The unawakened possess massive structures of false belief. They create and maintain these vast realms of past, present and future; of great meaning and importance; of a deep and wide emotional range; all woven together out of sheer nothingness. Something from nothing; that’s the magic, that’s the special state. The unawakened state is the one that requires such ceaseless dedication and devotion and which seems so fantastically improbable. The awakened state is nothing compared to that.


    The single question underlying the California chapters is stated in chapter two: “Sure, you all meditate and do whatever spiritual practices, but you know that’s not really going anywhere, right?” That’s an unsettling question. Anyone reading the book should be taken up short by that; put themselves at that dinner table and look at their own Operation Fizzle and ask themselves serious questions about what they’re really doing with all this spirituality stuff.


    Right, can this guy be enlightened if he acts this way? Talks this way? Sticks this semi-belligerent stuff in the front of his book? Where’s the unconditional love? Where’s the compassionate heart? Or, wait, maybe it’s my preconceived notions about spirituality that are screwy. Maybe I have to go back and think about what it would really be like to be an enlightened person in an unenlightened world. Maybe I’ve been sold a bill of goods. Maybe it’s the sweetness and light version that doesn’t make sense.


    It means that getting there and being there isn’t what we’ve been told. You look at modern spirituality and all you see is the same tired drivel being endlessly recycled; love, compassion, no-mind, higher self, levels of consciousness and so on. A noxious muck in which, as is amply borne out by results, no clarity or progress is possible. There is no greater failure in the history of mankind than the spiritual quest, the search for truth, and yet everyone continues just as everyone always has, using the same maps and directions, the same guides and the same routes. It’s nuts. Sooner or later you have to come to the point of saying, “Hey, wait a minute, this is crazy. I want to get off this merry-go-round and get moving. How do I break free from this cycle of bumper-sticker platitudes and actually take some responsibility for my life?” If you’re reading books by Jed McKenna, that’s what you’re playing at the edge of; self-determination. Not because it’s of any importance, or to please anyone, or to line up a cozy afterlife, but simply because it’s honest. Ultimately, that’s all we’re talking about; living an honest life. Being honest.


    Look at Hercules in the Augean stables. He could have picked up a shovel and spent his entire life shoveling shit, never making any progress because they’re always making it faster than anyone can shovel it. What does he do instead? He reroutes a river so it flows through the stables and with this one act all the muck is washed away once and for all. That’s the solution; don’t try to do battle with confusion and mediocrity. The solution to a problem does not exist at the level of the problem. Rise above the level at which confusion and mediocrity exist. Think for yourself. Look for yourself. See the big picture. Life is a one-man show. Turn up the houselights and see for yourself, directly, without the obstruction and distorting filters of interpreters or middlemen. What could be simpler?


    I have no opinion about what anyone should or shouldn’t do. Some people like the smell of manure. In the context of this discussion, most people do. It’s warm and familiar and safe. When it starts smelling like shit, like stagnation and death, like a dark, fetid dungeon, then you start wanting to do something to get away from it. When that happens, then you’re starting to leave all the swami wannabes behind and represent your own interests. At that point I can provide some simple guidance: Open your eyes. Look. See why it smells so bad. Nourish your discontent. Cultivate negative self-esteem. Elevate self-loathing to a spiritual practice. Proceed on the hypothesis that everything you are is a lie and everything you know is wrong and try to disprove it.


    Human Adulthood is the real solution. Anyone who is involved in spiritual pursuits is actually pursuing Human Adulthood but probably doesn’t know it. The point I wanted to make is that Human Adulthood is what everyone really wants and not many people really have. The child has to die for the adult to be born and this very seldom happens. It’s a cataclysmic, death/rebirth event. Once born into this adulthood, all of life becomes about growth and discovery. The universe is the playground of the Human Adult. So anyway, that was a major theme in ‘Incorrect’ because that’s what it’s really all about. Religion and spirituality are all about not going anywhere. Enlightenment is all about going and never stopping. Human Adulthood is all about wandering and exploring and playing. It’s about living life and fulfilling potential and expanding without limits. All the good things that can be said about enlightenment and religion and spirituality are the natural qualities of Human Adulthood; manifestation of desires, flow and effortless functioning, positive emotions that are not fear-based, such as awe and gratitude and agape, which reflects an understanding of the connectedness of things. This is obviously what everyone really wants, not truth-realization, so that’s what I tried to talk about.


    I have practically no memory of what it means to believe anything. Most people reading this would probably see someone who believes in televangelist faith healers and supermarket tabloids the same way that I see everyone. From my perspective, all beliefs are nonsensical. I can no longer draw any real distinction between the merits of one and another. They’re all equal because they’re all untrue. People reading this probably look at people who send their retirement money to TV preachers and wonder how they can be so gullible, but from my perspective, everyone is that gullible. I no longer see any difference between any two people’s beliefs; I no longer can. There is no better or worse belief, no more or less true. They’re all dreamstate apparitions that have no reality or solidity outside of the dream. I can make out no distinction other than that. And yet, I seem to have this task of trying to communicate across this ever-widening divide, to connect with minds that don’t see this gulf or really believe it’s there. That’s the thing that’s happening; the gulf is getting wider. The idea that the Holy Roman Church is somehow better or truer or more valid than a suicide cult is lost on me. I am no longer capable of perceiving or pretending to perceive such distinctions. I know that one has more adherents than the other but that doesn’t mean anything. From my perspective, a person is either in the process of waking up or they’re not. That’s the only distinction I see clearly anymore. One is either confronting reality or denying it.


    Everyone wants to talk about it, but there’s nothing to say. It’s easy to take a trip, pay some money, give up some comforts, prostrate yourself at someone’s feet, obey, adore, exalt, whatever, and think that translates into something positive, some sort of forward motion, but these are all the acts of an ego seeking to divert attention away from the real issue with busywork and empty gestures; false acts of surrender allowing us to convince ourselves that we’re striding boldly into the light while staying safely huddled in shadow.


    It’s not a matter of awakening, it’s a matter of getting to the First Step. Once you’ve taken the First Step, everything else follows from there. Until you’ve taken the First Step, it’s all academic. The First Step is the true starting point of this whole process. Everything else is about taking or not taking the First Step. To get to the First Step, to cross that starting line, you have to cultivate an understanding and appreciation of the forces you’re up against; of Maya, of ego, of the nature of self-delusion, of fear, or else no amount of dedication or commitment will avail in the least. If you’re all mind and no heart, you can only run in circles. If you’re all heart and no mind you can only dig yourself into a deeper hole. Until you cross the real starting line, take the First Step, it’s all just a hobby like golf or stamp collecting. Spirituality itself is just another tool of denial, the most effective of them all, and that’s why the search for truth is the greatest failure in the history of man.

    Here’s a simple test. If it’s soothing or comforting, if it makes you feel warm and fuzzy; if it’s about getting into pleasant emotional or mental states; if it’s about peace, love, tranquility, silence or bliss; if it’s about a brighter future or a better tomorrow; if it makes you feel good about yourself or boosts your self-esteem, tells you you’re okay, tells you everything’s just fine the way it is; if it offers to improve, benefit or elevate you, or if it suggests that someone else is better or above you; if it’s about belief or faith or worship; if it raises or alters consciousness; if it combats stress or deepens relaxation, or if it’s therapeutic or healing, or if it promises happiness or relief from unhappiness, if it’s about any of these or similar things, then it’s not about waking up. Then it’s about living in the dreamstate, not smashing out of it.

    On the other hand, if it feels like you’re being skinned alive, if it feels like a prolonged evisceration, if you feel your identity unraveling, if it twists you up physically and drains your health and derails your life, if you feel love dying inside you, if it seems like death would be better, then it’s probably the process of awakening.

  89. Chrisinbliss says:


    While I agree with most of your points, as regards the authority point:

    Of course it is ultimately the “own” realisation that fruitions in Nirvana — that is why the Ishavasya Upanishad said “ma gridhah kasyasvid dhanam”, “do not reach out for another’s treasure”.

    My point is only and only that you are still caught in the idea that your consciousness alone “counts”. In the Great Perfection, we say that the wisdom of all Buddhas is ever present, ever radiating, ever available to help and assist the seeker — for you this may be mere blablabla, but think about it: The enlightened wisdom of all the Buddhas, the Prajna Paramita, is part and parcel of the infinite unbounded consciousness that we know to be reality.

    It is part and parcel of “it”, because it is the nature of infinite unbounded consciousness to know itself — to be reflexively aware. And this reflexive awareness is the wisdom of all the Buddhas of all the three times, accessible and available to the sincere heart.

    Therefore, if you disparage tradition and ride on your own “authority”, how can you be so sure it is actually the authority of realisation you are riding on and not the authority of a mere concept that you have woven your mind into?

    Yes, you can apply the same argumentation to the wisdom of all the Buddhas — but therefore it is the “wisdom”, not the “ignorance”, of all the Buddhas that we invoke in meditation.

    If you invoked your own enlightened potential as your authority, then sure, you are on the right path — this enlightened potential, the dharma-dhatu, however, is expressed in bodhicitta, which is the sincere compassionate aspiration of liberating all mind streams caught in the web of samsara.

    Do you see the slight difference to your position? Your position is as if this whole “process” of negating the universe etc. was “it” — whereas for us it is merely the beginning, it is merely the outer framework of the process of realisation. To realise that the universe is an illusion is the first step, not the last.

    Whereas Advaitins, “you” and McKenna are caught up in that part of the realisation only. What follows is the stream of compassion, the Prajna Paramita, expressed in the sincere aspiration to help all beings awaken from the slumber so that they are released from suffering.

    It is such a different position that perhaps you have forgotten it? You are riding on the “how can I realise it is all illusion” level, whereas we are riding on the “what is to be done once we have realised it is all illusion” level.

    Your view, McKenna’s view etc., is only a tiny little step — i.e. realising that all appearances are illusory — but that is not the point of the enlightenment process. It is just the outer shell, the very first door, the threshold. What follows is to realise the compassionate blissful nature of infinite consciousness. Even traditional Advaita has this but it is most often forgotten because of all the constant dancing around the “how to realise it is all illusion” aspect.

    Please begin to understand that this is only a tiny little step, it is neither the goal nor truth of the enlightenment process.

    May all be auspicious and may the fragrant flower of compassion and the realisation of non-self begin to blossom forth in your heart.

    • Mark says:

      - “you are still caught in the idea that your consciousness alone “counts””

      It’s not mine, or if it is then it’s yours too. It’s the only one there is.

      - “because it is the nature of infinite unbounded consciousness to know itself — to be reflexively aware”

      No! It is the nature of infinite consciousness to be self-luminous in a way where every “part” of infinity contains/is the whole of it. Consciousness does not exist in space and time, they are illusory artifacts of perception. The reflexivity you talk about is the false, illusory awareness of the illusory mind. It’s the “reflected ghost”, that constantly weaves something from nothing. It IS the self, and it IS delusion.

      Absolute infinity can’t actually bend around to look at itself from a different place. Every place is the same place. It knows/sees/is itself in/as everywhere, non-phenomenally, right where it is, without bending in non-existent space, without moving in non-existent time, without perceiving from a non-existent vantage point. Relativity, dimensionality, contingence, is impossible and absurd. There is nothing to reflect, nothing to be reflected, and nothing to do the reflecting.

      - “Therefore, if you disparage tradition and ride on your own “authority””

      I don’t disparage tradition, except within the context of finding truth. Tradition exists within the dream, truth does not. Someone who wants truth needs to let go of the false. It’s that simple. And any tradition that refuses to acknowledge this while pretending to be about truth, deserves to be disparaged. Nobody can oblige me to submit to idiots.

      - “how can you be so sure it is actually the authority of realisation you are riding on and not the authority of a mere concept that you have woven your mind into?”

      Self-honesty is critical. I can’t be sure that I’m not totally bonkers. I can’t be sure of anything. That’s an inescapable fact whether I submit to tradition or not. In both cases I have no choice but to rely on my own discernment, for whatever it may be worth. Which means I am my own authority whether I’m an idiot or not. If you’re gonna look for truth, you’re gonna have to do it with whatever you got.

      A reasonable measure of trust in ultimate reality is also appropriate. There is no inherent separate self that can be trusted or not, we’re all puppets of fate. Everything will be whatever it will be. An oak will be an oak and an acorn will be an acorn. I will be me, and you will be you, and none of us get to decide which is which. There’s nothing anyone can do or say to change what is. If that means I’m totally bonkers then so be it.

      And in fact I am. Completely off my nut. Just like everyone else. Deal with it.

      - “If you invoked your own enlightened potential as your authority, then sure, you are on the right path”

      Yes. The truth is you and you are the truth. How fortunate and how good to know, because if that weren’t the case, we might as well go home right now and forget about this whole thing. There would be absolutely no hope whatsoever. We have no power whatsoever. It is only truth that informs and guides us. Nothing else exists.

      - “his enlightened potential, the dharma-dhatu, however, is expressed in bodhicitta, which is the sincere compassionate aspiration of liberating all mind streams caught in the web of samsara.”

      Bullshit. Prove me wrong.

      - “Do you see the slight difference to your position?”

      Not so slight. Note that I have nothing against sacred vows, I’m just saying they have nothing to do with truth or with finding truth. And note that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. To quote Bart Marshall, all the problems of the world are caused by people who are going to make it a better place, so stop fucking tinkering with it.

      You are deluded and you have no clue what is better or worse or how to help or hurt anyone. Neither do I. You still don’t see what I’m really doing here. For all I know, I could be ruining KS’s life as we speak. In fact, I’d say the odds would be pretty high, were it not for the fact that nobody ever really listens anyway.

      - “Your position is as if this whole “process” of negating the universe etc. was “it” — whereas for us it is merely the beginning, it is merely the outer framework of the process of realisation.”

      What “us”.

      - “To realise that the universe is an illusion is the first step, not the last.”

      Good, let me know when you get there.

      - “Whereas Advaitins, “you” and McKenna are caught up in that part of the realisation only.”

      First things first. You can’t skip the part where the mountain is not a mountain, remember.

      - “What follows is the stream of compassion, the Prajna Paramita, expressed in the sincere aspiration to help all beings awaken from the slumber so that they are released from suffering.”

      Borrowed ideals. Deluded expectations. You are misinterpreting and misrepresenting your experience. You’ve managed to uncritically accept and live up to the story as it was laid out before you. Congratulations. But that’s not truth.

      - “It is such a different position that perhaps you have forgotten it?”

      Pretty much. I do remember having it. I remember feeling all warm and fuzzy and ambitious and motivated while listening to Dalai Lama audiobooks. But eventually I decided that I didn’t set out to leave one straightjacket only to replace it with another.

      - “You are riding on the “how can I realise it is all illusion” level, whereas we are riding on the “what is to be done once we have realised it is all illusion” level.”

      You don’t know that such a question still has any validity once the veils have been dropped, all the more so because it is borne out of those veils.

      - “Your view, McKenna’s view etc., is only a tiny little step — i.e. realising that all appearances are illusory”

      And you think you made that step.

      - “but that is not the point of the enlightenment process.”

      How do you know there is a point to it at all.

      - “It is just the outer shell, the very first door, the threshold. What follows is to realise the compassionate blissful nature of infinite consciousness.”

      Then I won’t have to worry about that now. If I make it through the door, and you are right, then I’ll see it for myself. I don’t need to shoehorn it into the equation beforehand. And if you’re wrong, then I’d be glad I didn’t. Nothing would be gained, everything would be lost. I’m not going to bet my life on hypotheticals.

      - “May all be auspicious and may the fragrant flower of compassion and the realisation of non-self begin to blossom forth in your heart.”

      I’m extremely tempted to thank you for your sincerity, and I’m not being faceteous. I mean it. But I know, even if you don’t, that underneath all the pretense, you are not sincere at all. You are lieing to everyone, because you are lieing to yourself. I’m grateful for the spirit of your convinctions, but I — as Mark — can never be grateful for the pathetic, fear-induced underpinnings of them. My only hope is for Mark to be gone.

      I’m sorry.

    • Mark says:

      I guess what it should say is:

      The road to samsara is paved with sacred vows.

    • Mark says:

      “Are you gonna change it with your talk? You think your talk is gonna change that, or my talk is gonna change it? Or you think that happiness is gonna give you spiritual – we’re talking about spiritual enlightenment now, not politics. You can’t be talking about spiritual enlightenment, you don’t know what it is. You don’t know whether planting carrots or killing rabbits is gonna take you to heaven. This is silly. You’re trying to instruct the world. This is a madhouse, you might as well relax. We’re trying to find a definition of why this is a madhouse. I’m saying to one person, if you wanna get ahead then you watch your energy. I’m not saying to the masses, they can do what they please. Because of the simple fact I know there’s no benefit, humanity will not benefit from me telling them to do something, when they’re programmed for a toboggan ride downhill. And this is the reason that I make the effort I do. It’s because people of their own do not try to go after the truth, they try to adapt society to their desires. And they go where they can get favorable answers. And they associate with people that flatter them. But that isn’t the truth, see.” — Richard Rose, Lecture Extracts part 2:

    • Mark says:

      “Your function is reproduction, producing fertilizers for the earth. You have no children, once you raise your children you’ll find you’ll think that’s my kid, oh what a beautiful baby. Twenty years later you’ll say what the hell is this. And you realize you’ve been a door, you’re a door through which that child comes.” — Richard Rose, Lecture Extracts part 1:

      “The theory of evolution presents us with the ultimate dare. Dare to recognize that perception is not about seeing truth, it’s about having kids.” — Donald Hoffman, TED Talk

      “They have no ethics or morality, their only motivation is to win the game. Whatever helps them win is what they consider good.” — Jed McKenna, A Nice Game of Chess

    • Mark says:

      In case it’s lost on you, Chris, this is about your phony morality. It’s not what it says on the tin.

      It’s a memetic cancer, a mental-emotional malignant growth, just like all the other parts of the fear-based ego.

      Grow up. Get real.

    • Mark says:

      Basically everything you’re saying, is simply saying that you’ve turned “enlightenment” into yet another religion.

      Oops! No wonder you can’t do without tradition.

      And you don’t even know it… I just can’t seem to get over this. Holy shit, man.

    • Mark says:

      Look man, I’m not trying to make fun of you. I’m really just wrestling with myself here. I feel bad for you. I guess because it could just as easily have been me. But the simple fact is that we each get what we want. There’s no escaping it. I told you before, you were offered this bait, and you took it. So I guess I shouldn’t feel bad for you at all. You seem to be quite happy about it, in any case. Good for you.

      Sucks to be (a) me.

  90. Mark says:

    For KS, from ‘Damnedest’ (buy the damn books already, or download the torrent)…

    Allegiance to any spiritual teaching or teacher — any outside authority — is the most treacherous beast in the jungle. The first thing we want to do when we begin our journey is find the companionship and validity that comes with an established group, and in so doing we effectively end the journey before it begins. Martin is a perfect example of this, and perfectly typical. He set out twenty years ago in search of something higher, and now he’s forced to confront the fact that all the effort and all the heart he’s poured into his search for all those years has not carried him a single step forward. Twenty years he’s spent digging himself into a hole, and now he has to climb out and begin the journey.

    Which he’ll almost certainly not do.

    The power of our devotion to teachers and teachings is not a reflection of their value, but of ego’s will to survive. It’s ego — the false self — that exalts the guru and declares the teaching sacred, but nothing is exalted or sacred, only true or not true.

    Anyone familiar with the process of deprogramming someone who has been brainwashed by a cult will be able to appreciate what’s really involved in breaking free of this kind of allegiance, but there’s really only one real cult — the Cult of False Self — and everyone is a fanatically devoted member. Awakening is the process of deprogramming. Enlightenment is the unprogrammed state.

    I explain all this in gentle terms to Martin, appealing to his mind, his reason, and watching his discomfort as heart and mind struggle against each other. In my preferred version of The Mahabbarata, Krishna and Arjuna are discussing the war that is soon to begin. Arjuna asks if the war will take place on the battlefield or in his heart.

    “I don’t see a real difference,” replies Krishna.

  91. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark, you and JMK would benefit from Vipassana meditation.

    May all be auspicious

    • Mark says:

      I can’t help but notice that you stopped comparing me to Shankara.

      Anyway, I’ve done the vipassana thing for a while, years ago, and I know there are certainly benefits to it. But I have a much different priority now.

      I have to hand it to you, Chris. If I was ever tempted to waste my life on a sacred vow to try and liberate all sentient beings, interacting with you has certainly innoculated me against that.

      Come, let’s debate some more. Maybe you can still save me. You promised, don’t give up on me now. Put your back into it!

      Or maybe we’ve embarassed ourselves enough around here. I know I have…

  92. Mark says:

    Have you seen Taxi Driver?

  93. Chrisinbliss says:

    Vipassana would help you get over the idea of a self or stable truth.

    • Mark says:

      Well… Insofar as I’m any judge, I could easily mistake your admirable display of equanimity and persistence for Human Adulthood, if I also detected some shred of lucidity from you, or even just a little common sense. But instead I see a lot of evidence to the contrary.

      So it seems to me that in your case, as in most cases, it’s rather a symptom of the unholy rigidity that sets in after decades of religious adherence, combined with the refuge of readily accessible altered states, and your belief in the status and validity of your background.

      Clearly the only ones foolish enough to get mixed up in this bullshit exchange are you and me, even KS is just standing on the sidelines. And I’m happily running out of juice. And blush.

      It’s sad that you don’t see how your sacred vow could actually hurt sincere seekers. And that you think your “aspirations” are about anything other than yourself, your own fears and desires by your own admission. And that you’re not ashamed for peddling “truth” when you don’t even acknowledge its existence.

      See you around, Lawrence.

  94. Mark says:

    Excerpts from “Nothing Forever: A post-Apocalyptic Lightmare” (Jed McKenna)

    “Three minutes thought would suffice to find this out; but thought is irksome and three minutes is a long time.” — A.E. Housman

    Although my primary epiphany could be summed up as Truth Exists, it was actually much more complicated than that. The flipside of Truth Exists is This Ain’t It.

    That primary epiphany detonated in my mind like a smart bomb and left me all alone on a desert planet that had only that morning been teeming with people and problems and emotions and history and drama and a million other things that were instantly reduced to fine ash by the spiritual apocalypse that incinerated my world in a brilliant flash of light.


    The external searching is only one part of the story. The other part is the internal part; the slow, painful sloughing away of self, layer by layer, piece by piece. Self-debridement. Some layers of selfhood just fall away, some tear off in long strips or flabby hunks, and some have to be meticulously, pain-stakingly, surgically removed. Everything I had become in decades of life I now had to unbecome. All I really was was belief, so everything I believed I now had to unbelieve. My new world was cold and bright and honest, but my old mind was still full of a lifetime’s accumulation of belief and opinion and false knowledge and emotional attachment — all the noxious debris and toxic waste that make up the ego — and it all had to go. That’s a process, and it takes time. The world might be annihilated in a flash, but self takes a little longer to burn away. There’s no bomb for that. There’s no pretty Latin phrase or Sanskrit mantra that annihilates self quickly or painlessly. There’s no realization or insight or epiphany that wipes away the false self in a flash. Those who claim to have awakened in a flash are the most deluded of all.


    My reality now is the awakened, untruth-unrealized state, and it’s the same for me as for anyone who comes to it. There are no masters or novices here. There are no teachings or beliefs; no Hindus or Buddhists or Jnanis or Advaitins; no masters or yogis or swamis; no discorporate entities or higher level energies or superior beings. Awake is awake. Everything else is everything else.

    With all this in mind, it should be easy to understand why there would be very little latitude in my thinking as to the definition of Spiritual Enlightenment. Within the dreamstate there are countless shades of gray, but between the dreamstate and the awakened state there are no shades at all. The distinction is absolute: Truth exists. Untruth does not.

    This is enlightenment theory — the pure, binary mathematics of truth, and it’s very simple; as easy as one, two, threem but without the two and the three. It’s so simple and obvious that you’d have to close your eyes and bury your head not to see it.


    It should now be easy to understand that a true and complete spiritual teaching can be conveyed in three words, while those that require entire libraries of books and legions of graybearded scholars to decrypt them can succeed only in producing ever more darkness and confusion. It should now be clear that there are no cases of instant enlightenment, that awakening is not the result of a single epiphany, but of a long, arduous journey wherein every step is a long, arduous journey. It should now be obvious that all dogma, beliefs, doctrines and philosophies are strictly dreamstate phenomena with no independent existence in truth. It should now be easy to look at any teacher or teaching, at any book, at any spiritual or religious assertion, and to instantly know its exact and certain value. It should now be easy to look at every internal thought, belief and emotion and know without the possibility of error what is real and what is imagined. It should now be clear that there is no room for debate or opinion with regard to what is true and what is false. The distinction is absolute:

    Truth exists. Untruth does not.

    • Mark says:

      From Theory of Everything:

      The best term I ever came up with for the truth-realized state is untruth-realization, but if I went around calling it that and sticking it in book titles, we’d have been stopped before we started, so we went with enlightenment as an opening gambit and addressed the terminology issue within:

      Truth is absolute, there’s nothing more than that, so if someone says enlightenment doesn’t mean truth-realization, then it’s enlightenment they’re diminishing, not truth. There’s nothing more than truth, and anything less than true is false, so to say that enlightenment means something other than truth-realization necessarily means you’re saying it’s within delusion, which doesn’t sound very enlightened.

      That seems clear and final to me, like simple math. In using the term enlightenment, I was equating it with the highest possible state, and there is no higher anything than truth. I don’t say I’m enlightened, I say I’m truth-realized, and then point out that enlightenment must mean the same thing or be both inferior and untrue.

    • Mark says:

      (note by the way that everything about truth and finding truth is about ones inner orientation, not external circumstance, although of course those aren’t entirely unrelated… and if there’s anything about enlightenment that doesn’t seem better to you than where you are now, then you’re probably better off pursuing human adulthood… not that there’s really any choice about it)

      Another excerpt from Spiritual Warfare:

      “Cast Away”, I say after a few moments.

      “Really? Tom Hanks? On the island? I don’t get it.” She pauses. “This isn’t going to make me sad, is it?”

      “Maybe, I don’t know.”

      “I’m feeling a bit raw today, I guess. You’re saying the Tom Hanks character became enlightened through his experiences on the island?”

      “No, he just found himself thrust into the unadorned paradigm of the awakened being. Being alone on a desert island is a good metaphor for the awakened state. By getting stranded on that island, he has effectively died to his life, but without physically dying. Prior to the crash, the Tom Hanks character, Chuck Noland, had everything we think of as a life — friends, career, family, fiance — as well as the countless other big and little things we take for granted until they’re gone. It’s all about context. Chuck Noland, at the beginning of the movie, has a full, rich context. He fits in his world, he has a robust belief-set, he is part of things and things are a part of him. And then, bam!, his plane crashes and it’s all gone. Suddenly, simple survival is his only context. What does that leave? A man without a context. A man who is in all respects, except physically, dead. A man with twenty-four hours a day with nothing to do but slee, eat and stare at the waves. The differences between him and the man he buries and eulogizes with such Zen-like succinctness are negligible.”

      “And that’s what it’s like to be enlightened?”

      “That’s what the truth-realized state is; the absence of context. There’s no artificial framework in which to say one thing is better or worse than another.”

      “He had his friend,” she says, “Wilson, the volleyball. I guess he had to go a little soft in the head to make that relationship work.”

      Actually that’s a relationship I can understand. Yes, he had to go a little soft in the head to make it work. He had to bend or else he’d break. He had to play a life-or-death game of make-believe. He had to believe the untrue and disbelieve the true. He had to perform an act of Orwellian doublethink: “The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” Chuck Noland knows Wilson is just a volleyball, but he must believe Wilson is a fellow being because he cannot not have a fellow being in his life. Wilson provides the context Chuck can’t live without. Without Wilson, Chuck will snap, but with Wilson, Chuck can bend. Before the plane crash, Chuck’s context was reflected back to him by virtually everyone and everything in his very meaning-rich and clock-oriented environment. After the plane crash, all that’s gone and there’s just one thing left to reflect it; a volleyball with a bloody handprint that kind of looks like a face. It’s not much, but it’s all he needs to pretend he’s not completely alone on an island in the middle of nowhere. That’s what context is and that’s what it does; it tells us that we’re not completely alone on an island in the middle of nowhere. It provides the illusion of a populated environment in which meaning and values can be perceived and applied; where it matters what we do and what choices we make. All context is artificial. There is no true context.

      Cast Away, reduced to its allegorical structure and stripped of everything after Chuck’s rescue, provides us with a powerful vehicle of philosophical inquiry. Chuck Noland had his attachments severed, but he never wanted that. He’s been forcibly liberated from a prison where he was perfectly content. Someone slipped the red pill into his drink, and he woke up outside a matrix he never knew he was in. All he wants is to get back in, but he can’t. He’s locked out of his own life, not really dead and not really alive.

      Who wants to be cast permanently adrift on a shoreless sea? Who wants to spend the rest of their life tumbling through infinite space? No one, of course. What’s the point of pointlessness? How can you want nothing? Words ascribed to the Buddha are often fraudulent, but there’s one very clear exception and it’s the quotation at the beginning of this book: “Truly, I have attained nothing from total enlightenment.” That statement is like an optical illusion; it can be viewed two ways, the less obvious one the more correct. It’s not so much that he didn’t gain anything as that he did gain nothing.

      “I see”, says Lisa after we’ve discussed it for awhile, but she doesn’t. She doesn’t see that what Chuck does to survive is what everyone does to survive. She doesn’t see that she herself is alone on an island in the middle of nowhere, that’s she’s gone a little soft in the head and that her mind has reshaped itself to fit her needs, that her life is given shape and form and meaning only by her capacity for doublethink. She doesn’t see that Chuck Noland’s soft-in-the-head relationship with a volleyball wasn’t unique; that it’s the same tactic employed by all people all the time in order to maintain the state of denial necessary to continue a meaningless existence in a fictional universe.

      But Lisa is feeling a bit raw today, so I don’t bother her with all that.

  95. Mark says:

    Here’s another way of understanding the importance of acknowledging ones own authority, souvereignty and self-determination (other than the fact that everyone in the dream is an apparition): The only way to freedom from delusion is through questioning everything.

    If you rely on outside authority, it means you’ve already made up your delusion-riddled mind that certain things are beyond question. It shouldn’t take much to realize that this will be an obstacle to your freedom.

    How could anyone ever possibly question authority without assuming authority. How could anyone ever possibly find freedom without declaring independence. You obviously can’t have one without the other.

    Authority does not exist except as yet another projection. If you project authority outside of yourself, it means one thing and one thing alone: You are deluded, not awake. And if you’re looking for anyone else to answer your questions or tell you what to do or how to live your life, it means one thing and one thing alone: You are a slave, not a master.

    • Mark says:

      Another thing about authority being in the eye of the beholder, is that you invariably end up bowing to those whose message appeals to you the most.

      So you’re still using your own authority to cherry pick your allegiance, you’re just not aware of it, and now it’s only your own unconscious motivations that determine who is correct in your eyes.

      Again, there’s just no getting away from the fact that there IS no external authority. The only two options available are to either acknowledge it or to remain in denial.

      Acknowledging it is part of growing up toward psychological independence, which very few people ever do. And the only reason for getting stuck in this chronically child-like mentality, is rampant fear.

      Fear of leaving the nest. Fear of not knowing who to be, what to do, what to think, what opinions to have, what clothes to wear, what kool-aid to drink. Fear of having no (illusory) control and no rulebook to live by.

      Real freedom and self-determination are scary as hell, to a child. But if you ever want to grow up, that’s the way to go. Confront your fears, question authority, face facts. Don’t be small and pathetic.

      In short, if you want to wake up, or do anything at all worth doing in life, learn to wipe your own nose first.

    • Mark says:

      The funny thing is, Chris’ admonition that you should do your own research, already implies that you are your own authority and that you should use it…

  96. Chrisinbliss says:

    Vipassana would really help you become mindful.

    That in turn would help you to relax from this fixation on mere concepts.

    • Mark says:

      You still don’t see what I’m doing here.

      The cure is in the poison.

    • Mark says:

      How about you, Chris? Do you know what you’re doing here, what you’re saying and why you’re saying it?

      Did you really think you were going to sell me on vipassana? Is this how you planned on saving me? How can you help me when you’re not even listening to me. I said I’m here to observe myself, I said I’m keeping a close eye on myself, I said I’m here to dump my shit and that I can’t wait to move on, I said this is all just a bullshit performance and that I find it fucking ridiculous. I said that the only real reason I’m doing this is to get it out of my system, and that it’s working. I said that I’m an asshole hypocrite with a purpose. I’m mindful as fuck, Chris.

      Now, after having been so impressed with my brightness and lucidity for three months, it suddenly occured to you that I needed mindfulness training? What’s the matter with you?

      Don’t you ever wonder what you’re really up to? How mindful are YOU, Chris? Do you just blindly follow your own learned associations and rationalizations and programmed responses, without ever looking at the actuality?

    • Mark says:

      Got an identity to maintain, perhaps…?

    • Mark says:

      Actually you are very helpful, Chris. I’ve thanked you for it before, and I meant it, and it still applies right now. But not in any way that you’d like to believe. You are my practice dummy. Don’t you get it? With everything you try to sell me, you are voluntering for the role.

      I’m not complaining, it’s working wonders for me. But as I said before, if it’s not working for you, all you need to do is stop talking. I’ll stop talking sooner or later in any case. Up to you, my friend. In the meantime, I do appreciate your support, but that’s sounding a little backhanded now, doesn’t it. Still.

      But just as another piece of advice that I’m sure you’ll simply blow in the wind: You might want to hold on to your pride a little longer. What you did to yourself wasn’t to gain freedom, but to lose the will to be free. You managed to deconstruct the must useful and powerful things you had first: Your discrimination and your discontent. And you did it all on the authority you’ve projected on someone else.

      You lobotomized yourself, Chris, you disabled yourself from making the real journey, ANY journey. And deluded as I am, it pains me to see it. And being the embarrassing asshole that I have to be, I’m telling it as I see it. Part of me likes to believe that deep down you know exactly what I’m talking about. Who knows. But that’s none of my business, is it. My business is to act, not to reflect on the fruit of the act. You do what you have to. And so do I.

      Take care of yourself. May all be auspicious.

  97. Mark says:

    “Some layers of selfhood just fall away, some tear off in long strips or flabby hunks, and some have to be meticulously, pain-stakingly, surgically removed.”


  98. Mark says:

    Is this getting weird or what. Holy crap.

    I’m through with this nonsense. I hate it. At some point there’s just nothing more to be gained. This shit is ripe as can be.

    Chris, thanks for the tip in any case. I have my own ways of meditation. Take care.

    KS and anyone else reading, good luck.

    Goran… Enjoy…

  99. Chrisinbliss says:

    This may help you, Mark:

    न संसारस्य निर्वाणात् किं चिद् अस्ति विशेषणं
    na saṁsārasya nirvāṇāt kiṁ cid asti viśeṣaṇaṁ

    There is nothing whatsoever of samsara distinguishing it from nirvana.

    न निर्वाणस्य संसारात् किं चिद् अस्ति विशेषणं। १९
    na nirvāṇasya saṁsārāt kiṁ cid asti viśeṣaṇaṁ| 19

    There is nothing whatsoever of nirvana distinguishing it from samsara.

    निर्वाणस्य च या कोटिः कोटिः संसरणस्य च ।
    न तयोर् अन्तरं किंचित् सुसूक्ष्मम् अपि विद्यते । २०

    nirvāṇasya ca yā koṭiḥ koṭiḥ samsaraṇasya ca |
    na tayor antaraṁ kiñcit susūkśmam api vidyate | 20

    The angle that is of nirvana and the angle that is of samsara,
    not even a very subtle interval is found between them.

    Therefore, the only “solution” is to practise Vipaśyana where you relax from the fixation with self-concepts — then, gradually, beautifully, the nature of samsara reveals itself to be the nature of nirvana.

    May all be auspicious!

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