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17 Jul 2023
Video Overview
Contemplative Sciences Center

Nondual Awareness Practices: Styles of nondual meditation deeply informed meditative traditions in Tibet, particularly Mahāmudrā and Dzokchen. For these traditions, awareness of the nature of consciousness is key to understanding the nature of reality, but the subject-object structure – known in Western philosophy as “intentionality” – obscures the true nature of consciousness. This domain addresses crucial questions that concern (a) mechanisms that underlie the techniques for achieving such states and the how effortlessness is alleged to play therein; (b) the very notion of remaining “conscious” without intentional structures, and the relationship between nondual awareness and minimal state of consciousness; and (c) the problem of knowing – how can nondual states tell us anything, if they are not “about” objects? and the key role of reflexive awareness (Skt., svasaṃvitti).  

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  • John Dunne
    So good afternoon. Hope you had a good lunch. Sometimes after lunch I tend to slip into non dual awareness myself. That's what I'm sure is what this panel will feel exactly like. My name is John Dunne, and I have had the the honor and pleasure of not really organizing this panel, but sort of helping a little bit of a conversation to happen with some really fantastic people. And I'll just sort of be introducing people, and I'll be giving a paper too, but I'm not going to go into lengthy introductions. But each of these people are quite amazing people. You could not do them justice in terms of the wide range of what they do. So with that in mind, what I will just say is, first of all, that the structure of this session is we're going to go for about three hours, hang in there and we will have a break in between the first session and the second session. We'll have three presentations, one right after the other in the first session. They'll be short, about 15 minutes, and it'll include a little bit of practice. And then we will move on to a discussion and hopefully we'll have about 30 minutes for discussion. Then we'll have a break between the sessions and we'll come back for just two more presentations of about 15 minutes and then hopefully a much longer amount of time for discussion. And I'm hoping to open it up to
  • everybody. And as I already said, this panel is or this session is about non dual awareness. We will try to dabble a little bit if that's the right term, if Willa doesn't mind me using that a little bit in some practices in both sessions. But we're also going to hear about a variety of approaches to non dual awareness and some of that I think you're going to find kind of surprising. So without further ado, let me first turn it over to someone I'm really delighted to be introducing who I haven't seen in a little while, which is Professor Cat Prueitt. Cat is in the Department of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia. I had the distinct honor of directing her dissertation, actually, and Cat does as I said, does all kinds of things. So I'm not even going to attempt to describe all the different kinds of things that she does. But I will ask her to come over and talk to us about non dual awareness and aesthetic experience.
  • Cat Prueitt
    OK, so this talk is going to seem very, very different and probably a little weird because I'm talking about somebody who is not Buddhist and the practices I'm going to bring up are like not exactly what you would probably think of as contemplative practices, but they're really, really interesting for describing how it is that certain forms of non dual awareness that have content can take place, and then what the goal of those practices are and like what we get out of them. So I'm going to be talking about this guy Abhinavagupta. He was, he straddled the 10th to 11 centuries in Kashmir. He was a non dual Saiva thinker. He - here's a little bit of background on him. He wrote on everything. He's one of these, like, amazing polymaths in the history of humanity who just touched so many different areas. The two most relevant things for us right now are his philosophical lineage, which is through a tradition called Pratyabhijna, and then also his aesthetic lineage. And the important thing for right now is just that he wrote extensively on both these areas as well as on
  • ritual and other matters. OK, so super big picture, just a little bit about Pratyabhijna because you may not be as familiar with it. Ultimate reality here is Siva. Siva is a technical term. Siva is the guy you know who you see in Murtis and all that kind of stuff, but he is much more than this as well. He is also rocks and chairs and all of us, and even more so as a designation for ultimate reality Siva is consciousness as the infinite variegation able to express itself as any and all manifest worlds by hiding its own nature from itself. This last part about hiding and like self-deception is actually really important because what Siva does is create various worlds for the sheer joy of imagining them. This is a picture of the universe as an infinite multiverse of possible play spaces basically. So conventional realities then are embodied worlds that are created through the exclusion of subject and object. And like I said, all of these manifest just because the ultimate inherently desires to experience itself in diverse forms. One of the
  • super cool things about Pratyabhijna is that the one of the root metaphors running through the tradition to talk about Siva is that Siva is like an artist. He's a playwright or he's a yogin, also, because he can just spontaneously create out of himself without any other cause and without any restraints. So I have a couple of verses here. One of them translated by John Nemec, who's also here in the audience. And this is from Utpaladeva Benedictory verse at the beginning of his commentary on Somānanda’s Śivadṛṣṭi, he says "Homage to the three-eyed Siva the source of the generation of all marvelous things, the one who creates the portrait of the universe on his own body, which is made of the other of consciousness." You can get a feel for what's going on here. This other verses from Abhinavagupta. He says, "We pray Siva, the sculptor of variety who by his mere will, using the chisel of exclusion, carves out objective entities which are the mass that is not different from his own self." OK, so what's what's going on here with all this carving stuff? The carving stuff is how worlds are created. These
  • passages that I have up here are kind of for those of you who are more in the weeds of the field because Abhinavagupta's tradition does this really interesting thing with the earlier Buddhist theory of concept formation started by Dignaga and then in particular how it was developed by Dharmakirti where they take the idea that how it is that we get determinant content, it's not by grabbing onto something that's there, but rather by excluding things that don't fit our goals, desires, habits, et cetera, et cetera. But for the Sivas, this exclusion mechanism is how we create basic subject object structures, how worlds are created in general. And this is a fun little wordplay where Abhinava embeds some of the lines from Dharmakirti's like early description of how this theory works into another ritual text that actually flips on its head the ontology and everything else that these traditions are based on.
  • So I'll just read the Abhinavagupta quote here, because I think it's great. So Abhinava says, "Within nondual reality difference is also not not possible. Indeed, this ultimate non duality is not the grasping or rejection of difference. However, within difference, because all things are delimited in their own inherent nature, I think that this word non different will become differentiated naturally." Wonderful passage, right? OK, so what on earth is going on here? I'm going to give you a little bit of a color coded thing and then hopefully these colors are going to help us talk about how this works. So - basic idea here, we have purple. The purple is a moment of awareness. We can analyze this purple into red, which is the subject aspect appearing in that moment of awareness and blue, which is the object aspect appearing in that moment of awareness. Now, the important thing here is that red and blue are nothing but purple. If you have purple, you can split it up into red and blue, and you haven't added anything, you haven't subtracted anything, you've just changed the way that the thing is appearing to you. So this is how worlds are created for these Sivas. So the purple is like Shiva. Purple is the pre-conceptual nondual awareness that has the infinite potential to manifest as any subject-object structured world.
  • The red blue polarized is the first moment at which this operation of exclusion of pulling away the red from the purple to get the blue, which is also then pulling away the blue from the purple to get the red, gives you this thing that looks like it's not purple at all. Once you have this polarized into red and blue, you no longer see the purple. And then it's varying degrees of specificity and refinement that get us to the completely differentiated experiences that we have in everyday worlds, and in this little picture here, you can kind of see that this person is wearing a red shirt, which I thought was really funny. So the red is the subject aspect of this picture and the blue is the object aspect. But from the perspective of the individual in the world, what we see is the object aspect, even though it's always formed by exclusion from a particular subject aspect. And so then again, the really important thing here is that when nondual awareness polarizes into subject and object, it no longer appears as nondual awareness, even though the subject and object are nothing but mutually excluded aspects of the nondual awareness. OK, so
  • this is a basic picture of how Siva creates worlds. Remember, Siva is an artist. And so what we're going to do now is I'm going to take you through this passage. We'll go through it bit by bit. And this is a description of how it is that aesthetic experience for actual humans can knock us into forms of awareness that are importantly nondual and that also then allow us to experience the actual fluidity of agency, and so then freedom and Sivasan creativity. So this is really fun. OK, so Abhinava here is talking about what happens when you have an aesthetic experience at a theater. He says, "In the case of a perception arising from the soul of poetry, too, a qualified person has an awareness subsequent to the words. And the qualified person here is one whose heart does not lack flawless intuition." So a couple of important things here right from the get go. Abhinava is talking about a highly trained experience. And what this training consists of is going to depend on what the art form is that one is trying to relish. So we can talk - so here Abhinava's own context - he's going to be talking about classical Sanskrit poetics and dramaturgy.
  • We could also talk about any form of aesthetic connoisseurship using the same kind of model. But the important thing is that it's not just like there's an object out there that is just there and then, boom, you get this nondual experience that, we all know that that's not how art works. Art requires a context and appreciation and lots of different forms of habituation. OK, so but what are these particular connoisseur's doing here? So, "And for them," these ones, these qualified people, "hearing the neck of the fallen is beautifully bent and other sentences, immediately after the understanding of the meaning of the words, a mental apprehension arises, which has the nature of direct experience, the various temporal, et cetera, divisions perceived in the sentences having been cast off." So what Abhinava is saying here is that so the picture is you're watching a play and this is a quotation from a particular play. And what's happening on stage is there's a hunter who's aiming a bow at a at a deer. And the play describes the beautiful, graceful bend of the neck of the deer. And in this moment, one of the things that's supposed to happen, if all goes well, is that the participants in the audience are supposed to be able to relish the experience of
  • fear. And so this is an important thing about aesthetics for Abhinava is that the things that you relish are not all positive emotions. There are these certain deep, inherent root, innate capacities for like meaningful experience that we have by virtue of being the kinds of embodied beings that we are. And so then what happens here is you understand what's going on in the play, but then immediately after you understand what's going on in the play as this like particular thing that's happening here in front of you, you cast off the various divisions that are implied by understanding a sentence. So sentences happen with certain tenses. They involve like certain determinate objects, all this kind of stuff. What Abhinava's saying is that you had that initial experience that's brought about by these sentences, but that that is not the aesthetic experience.
  • Something happens after that. "And in that apprehension," he continues, "because the fawn and so on, which appear lack a particularized form, the fear, which is unmarked by space time and so on, is different from the ultimately unreal awareness, afraid on the part of the actor that fears of a different kind than the being afraid, which is beset with many obstacles in awareness events like 'I am afraid,' 'this person -- whether foe, friend, stranger -- is afraid' and so on, since this 'being afraid' is restricted by the arising of different cognitions such as shunning and so on, which are created in relation to pain and pleasure, etc.." So what's happening here is that the the fear that's being experienced is not any particular fear. It is no longer indexed to a subject at all. So it's not the fawn's fear that you're experiencing. It's not your fear that you're experiencing. It's not that you're remembering a time when a loved one was afraid or when an enemy made you afraid or anything else like that. It's not even the neutral experience of fear. It's not like you're experiencing fear as like a passive bystander to it. No, you're doing something really different
  • here. And what you're doing here, as he says, is the grasped object in the awareness that is without obstructions penetrating the heart as if directly present, turning about, as if before the eyes is the Fearful Rusa. So what you've done is remember how we had that chart where we go from the purple to just like mere red and blue to like something really specific, this index to a particular subject. You've bumped yourself, you've started a progression that goes back towards the purple. You're no longer experiencing the particular kind of fear that you might experience, like because there's a bear or whatever, rather, you're actually decarving yourself. You're going like you're undoing the attenuation that has gotten you into your normal specific patterns of attention and habit and all of that kind of stuff. And so he says, "Therefore, when the process of making the experience direct occurs, the causal complex consisting of the actors, etc. is that which blossoms. In this causal complex there is a complete expulsion of the mutually contradictory limiting factors because of the mutual obstruction of the limiting causes (such as space, time, being a limited knower and so on) of real things and of those limiting causes provided by the poem, that precisely is the state of generality that extensively blossoms." So this is the coolest part of the whole thing. Why does this happen? The
  • mechanism by which aesthetic experiences produce these kinds of decarved, deeper experiences is through the contradiction of subject frames. It's because an aesthetic experience is asking you to simultaneously do two things that are impossible to do at the same time. It's asking you to be you, an audience member, and it's asking you to be the character. And you can't do both of those at once because if you completely identified with the fawn, you'd run screaming away from the hunter. If you completely state identified with yourself, then you would just like not - you would also like either not care or if you thought that the fear was relative, just you as you yourself, then you would also go screaming from the Hunter. The kinds of reactions that you have to emotions that you experience aesthetically are very different than the kinds of reactions that you have to emotions, experiences indexed to any particular subject. And it's the fact that you are trying to inhabit these contradictory perspectives that forces you to knock underneath them. And the cool thing for Abhinavagupta about aesthetic experience is that it's one of the ways that we can get ourselves out of our habitual, like locked in sense of being ourselves as subjects separated from all other subjects. OK,
  • and so then the state of generality that extensively blossoms is, is the Fearful Rasa, is this underlying experience of the like root emotion that all of our own limited experiences of fear are particular carvings of. OK. And so then "For this very reason, there is an apprehension of the full blossoming of Rasa, precisely through the uniformity of all of the spectators, which happens because of the accord of the latent impressions of mind which have been made variegated through beginning with latent impressions. And that unobstructed awareness is wonder." So this is really cool too, because if you notice, he's all of this is like contemplative practice talk. What are we talking about? We're talking about habits. We're talking about vasanas. We're talking about like dehabituation, about knocking out of habitual patterns, all of this kind of stuff. And one of the pieces that Abhinava adds here and that the aesthetic context is really helpful for thinking about is the role of like the other spectators around you. So for Abhinava the
  • fact that this takes place in an audience with other connoisseurs makes the experience richer because he talks in other places about like the Rasa as being like reflected in all of the different mirrors of the hearts of all of the people present. And that's an experience that makes it even more vivid, kind of because you're carving even more deeply into even like underneath even more subject positions. And all of this is possible because we all have these deep, variegated, embodied histories that we can call upon to reach these more fundamental levels. OK, so last little thing I'm going to talk about really quickly is what is wonder, this thing that is wonder. And this is a lovely little passage from James Reich's book To Savor the Meaning, which is great. And he notes here that, "At the highest level, the very self-awareness of the luminosity, which is essentially just bliss." His translation for
  • camatkara wonder "is freedom. 'For bliss' here is just a repose in one's own self, a self which is dependent on nothing. Thus the camat-ness of camatkara just has the form of enjoyment and bliss creates that, i.e. it caresses itself primarily and does not run off anywhere else. This bliss is described elsewhere as the relishing or savoring that is devoid of obstacles whose natures restriction, which arises within the mental functions of emotional beings with respect to aestheticized emotions of plays and poems." So this full savoring of of the aesthetic itself is actually a savoring of the experience of agential fluidity, so it's the last piece that we get out of aesthetic, um, out of these aesthetic practices is the fact that you can go from your normal subject position through this complex kind of mutual obstruction of different subject side factors to a deeper form of agency tells us something about agency. It tells us it's fluid, it tells us that we can manipulate it, and it tells us that that experience is joyful even when the object is something like fear. And
  • so, yeah, that's Abhinava on nondual aesthetic experiences. Lots of fun stuff there. And I will stop there. All right, now that we are all in a state of wonder, I want to now introduce as he sets up his computer, Professor Bryce Huebner, who I got to meet when we were at the European Summer Research Institute some years ago together. And again, it's someone really hard to describe the full range of what he does, so I won't say more and I'll just let him do it. All right. Two things, one, every time I hear Cat talk about Abhinavagupta, I wish I read more Abhinavagupta, because stuff that I'm going to say in the later part of this talk actually nudges up against things that Abhinava says. The other is I often get really perplexed and unsure exactly what we're talking about when we think about non duality. Sometimes it feels like something that I can find myself experiencing pretty frequently.
  • Bryce Huebner
    Sometimes it feels like something that's got to be way more complex and difficult than that. So when I started thinking about what I had to say about non duality, I realized that what I wanted to give you is two ways into thinking about what non duality might be, both of which are absolutely non-standard from the perspective of contemplative practices and both of which are going to come from directions that maybe nobody in here has thought much about. Maybe some of you have, in which case that's very cool. But what I want to start with is one of the philosophers who I think is the most extreme badasses to have ever lived, and that is the philosopher named Val Plumwood. Val Plumwood was a logician. She was a philosopher who spent a time, a lot of time thinking about ecology, thinking about environmental stuff, engaged in activist practices. She also had, in a
  • sense, a pet wombat that she spent a lot of time with, just really a bad ass. But she had one of the most amazing teachers to ever teach anyone about non duality. And that teacher was a saltwater crocodile. Val Plumwood, at the beginning of the wet season, one year went canoeing in the Kakadu National Park on the north coast of Australia, what's now known as Australia. She knew that that time of year you had to worry about crocodiles. She knew that they'd be around. She knew that there were areas along the main river that she should avoid. And she thought that as long as she stayed in some of the side areas through some of the wetlands, she would be absolutely fine. As she's coming back from a long day out canoeing, she looks ahead and she sees up in front of her the eye of a crocodile.
  • Initially, she tries to steer clear of it, and she notices that they are on a collision course. This is Val Plumwood's canoe, and if you look at it, you can see that it's been patched multiple times, but what happened was something that she saw as absolutely unheard of. She was attacked in her canoe by a saltwater crocodile. So I'm going to here and then on the next slide, there's a lot of text, not necessarily aesthetically beautiful, but that's the best way to convey this. "The unheard of was happening. The canoe was under attack! For the first time, it came clear to me fully that I was prey. I realized that I had to get out of the canoe or risk being capsized, I tensed for the jump and leapt. Before my foot even tripped the first branch, I had a blurred, incredulous vision of great tooth jaws bursting from the water. Then I was seized between the legs in a red-hot pincer grip and whirrled into the suffocating wet darkness." Not just once, three times, Plumwood was death rolled by a saltwater crocodile. And during this process, probably more so in reflecting on it, she came to the following awareness.
  • "Our final thoughts during near-death experiences can tell us much about the frameworks of our subjectivity, a framework capable of sustaining action and purpose must, I think, view the world 'from the inside,' structured to sustain the concept of a continuing, narrative self; we remake the world in the in that way as our own, investing it with meaning, reconceiving at a sane, survivable, amenable to hope and resolution. The lack of fit between the subject-centered version and reality comes into play in extreme moments. In its final, frantic attempts to protect itself from the knowledge that threatens the narrative framework, the mind can instantaneously fabricate terminal doubt of extravagant proportions: This is not really happening. This is a nightmare from which I will soon awake. This desperate delusion split apart as I hit the water. In that flash, I glimpsed the world for the first time 'from the outside,' as a world no longer my own, an unrecognisably bleak landscape composed of raw necessity, indifferent to my life or death."
  • It might surprise you that the metal head in the room gets really excited about quotes like this. But when I look at this, part of what I see is somebody who has come to what I really do think is a deep, deep recognition both about the ways that we're embodied in deep, massively interconnected networks of interdependent processes, the ways that our bodies strive to persist in their existence, and the ways that we layer that over with really complex narrative stories that we hold on to, that we use to track possibilities and opportunities, and that we use even in a moment of absolute desperation, to try and preserve our sense of self. The idea of self here and the perspective on nonduality is a recognition, I think, from Plumwood that there's not just one way to understand me. There's not just one perspective on who I am. There's not just one way of understanding what I am as an agent. All of
  • that has to be understood within the dense, interconnected network of interactions, of ways of being coupled to possibilities, of ways of organizing the structure of a world and ways of being located within networks where I'm not the primary locus. Part of what Plumwood sees, and as she goes on to detail in her further description of this experience, is that while she had grasped for a long time the significance and the salience of the needs, interests and values of other non-human animals, and while she'd recognized in some sense that she was just made out of meat.
  • These were not lived experiences, they were not dense realities for her. What happened in that moment of being bit by a saltwater crocodile and death rolled was a blowing apart of the bit of that story that held her into a primary perspective, one that started to see the world as not dependent on her interests, her strategies of meaning making, and instead one that was nothing more than a densely connected web. She also recognizes absolutely critically that there are facts about a body that strive to persist in the kind of being that it is, everybody actively strives to preserve itself. But even when we think of a body, those boundaries around the body are porous, the connections to the broader world through all sorts of neurochemical regulatory systems, through all sorts of patterns of thought and talk, through all sorts of patterns of interaction with other parts of the world, constantly pass through those bodies. At the level
  • of embodiment, it's relatively easy, though not absolutely clear and transparent to come to recognize that a body is part of a densely interconnected ecological web. Problems arise at the point where a part of that system tries to grasp onto itself, tries to see itself as a primary locus of epistemic status and of moral status, tries to treat itself as the place where everything comes together. That's where the complexities lie. And that's the point where it seems that the interaction with the crocodile radically transformed things. I think there's a hard question. Can we experience psychological non duality without the instruction of a saltwater crocodile?!
  • Indeed, maybe, I don't know, maybe we can, as I was thinking about this over the past couple of days, I started thinking about other animals who I might treat as teachers. Bodhisattvas who could show me ways of making sense of the world we inhabit. And I come to realize that the manatee can be a teacher for us. What does a manatee do? It floats. What does it supported by? The water around it. How does it move around the world? Through its interactions with that water. And when I started thinking about floating and ways of moving about with the structure of the structure of the world that we're embedded within, one of the things that came to mind - recall that I'm a metalhead - is my engagements with extreme metal.
  • When I put on an album. I can hear it. Or I can listen to it. I can deeply engage with it. I can allow it to take over the direction that where my thought unfolds and I can do that in ways that open up, I think some of the patterns of conflict between my identity and the identity of the piece of music, in ways that start to reveal some ways of having thoughts that aren't necessarily located in here, ways of having experiences that just unfold, that dissipate the structure of my own experience. Last night, I put on this album by Caïna called Gentle Illness for my evening meditation. The artist who put together this album intentionally structured it in such a way to try to evoke his own experiences of mental deterioration and discomfort, of extreme experiences, of dissociation and extreme patterns of trauma and stress. The structure of the album
  • is designed so that you can never get traction on what's happening. And if you allow yourself to slip into that space, one thing that starts to happen as you hear it, is the you starts to dissipate, the feelings start to unfold, and you start to recognize the way that the music is moving you into you. Is moving into new spaces, orienting new possibilities, revealing new opportunities for action, precisely not in ways that are under your control, that are not sensitive to your interpretations, but that are pulling you into a new space and dropping the experience of self to the extent that you allow yourself to float. This morning, I did my morning meditation, listening to Today's The Day, Sadness will Prevail. This album was written by somebody who was trying to figure out how to manage and deal with being stuck in their house for a long time during a blizzard in the in 2001. When he
  • tried to represent that, he wondered, what would it be like to be stuck, isolated, alone and starting to fall apart, in ways you couldn't control, in ways that are just going to be pervasive forever? To heighten that experience, one of the things that I realized I ought to do was to force my body into a situation of physiological stress. So while doing a 20 minute wall sit this morning, I listened while I sat back against the wall, legs parallel to the floor, allowing my muscul- muscles to feel that tension and to feel that uneasiness. I allowed myself to drift into the space that Steve Austin was creating and to feel the ways that that sort of experience would unfold. When I think about ways of cultivating myself into spaces of non duality, I find that experiencing those kinds of tension, those kinds of discomfort that I can't really experience, I can't really live in, but I can start to see experience unfolding in ways that accord with that reveals to me, I think, something about the unfolding of the dynamics of experience no longer tied to my judgments, my beliefs or my hopes. And maybe that's an experience of non duality.
  • John Dunne
    So as lama Willa is setting up, let me just introduce to you Willa Blythe Baker who is again another person who has such a varied range of what she does, has taught at Harvard Divinity School, for example, but is probably best known these days as the spiritual director and main teacher of Natural Dharma Fellowship. So take it away.
  • Willa Blythe Baker
    Thank you, John. So we're moving in time from contemporary heavy metal to somewhere around the 14th century in Tibet, and I wanted to talk a little bit about experience, but starting with the context of theory, because we've had so much theory this morning, I wanted to kind of present another theory, and it's a theory of effortlessness that it comes out of Dzogchen tradition. And I just found some passages from Longchepna discussing effortlessness, and I wanted to start with that, but then move from that into experience. And one
  • of the places that I find the most juicy descriptions of nondual experience is not so much in the commentarial literature of the Buddhist tradition, but in the narrative tradition that is the tradition of stories and of biography and autobiography. So I want to move from theory into how that practice looks from an autobiographical first person perspective of a later yogi in the Dzogchen tradition Jigme Lingpa, and how he talks about an experience of nonduality from a first person perspective. But just to give some context, the theory, because it's so different from the kind of meditation practice that we were reflecting on this morning, but is maybe more in line with the kind of practices that we that we were just reflecting on with Cat and Bryce.
  • So Longchenpa talks about both the approach and then the implementation of effortlessness, and so the idea here is that meditation in from his perspective, is not something that comes out of cognitive control. In fact, meditation for Longchenpa, at least some kinds of meditation, in particular, the meditations of the Dzogchen training involve giving up control, involve actually - and training yourself to stop controlling. Right. Which involves even the giving up of focus, like focus on the breath or whatever. So in talking about that, from a theoretical perspective, he says, "From two kinds of spiritual approaches, one involves the effortful activity - that's bya rstol can - of managing your experience. It is taught in order to recondition habits of mind and their outcomes, which arise due to the play of the dynamic energy of awareness." And so he's talking
  • about meditations like mindfulness meditation, like focusing on the breath, like focusing on a sensation or like focusing on a mantra. "This approach assumes the primordial wisdom is purer than mind." Assumes a difference between, we could say, an ordinary mind and some kind of separate wisdom. "The vaster approach is free from effortful managing of your experience. In that approach, there is no wavering from the direct experience of bodhicitta." And here he means the direct experience of your own nature, naturally occurring, timeless awareness. "Having already realized what is so, there is no need to effort. Because it rests in and of itself, there is no need to seek elsewhere." So
  • in Longchenpa's theory about meditation, there is some part of the self or the non self that is already practicing. And so to put some effort on top of that, you're actually distracting yourself from the non distraction, if that makes any sense. Probably not. "This is the meaning of saying it is like the sun. It remains unwavering, a naturally resting luminosity. Other approaches are like attempts to create an already present sun. Therefore, these approaches are as different as heaven and earth." So that's a little bit about Longchenpa's way of expressing. There's a theory here behind this practice of effortlessness that when you drop effort, you actually get closer to what is meant by wakefulness or in his case, a nondual experience. That effort actually prevents the nondual experience and effortlessness allows for the nondual experience,
  • in short. And then in talking about the execution of effortless practice, he says, "Let whatever happens happen." So no control. "Let whatever arises arise. Let whatever be nothing whatsoever. With behavior wandering and awareness transcendent, with no way to discern what is spiritual or not, this penetrating wakefulness - free of reference points - breaks open the cage of philosophy. Eating, moving around, lying down and sitting - all activities - become the essence of the evenness of dharmata. With no gods to worship and no demons to tame, without a practice of meditation." So no practice. No doing. "In an ordinary state of spontaneous joy, the ever humble emperor of non-contrivance enters oneness, a relaxed and spontaneous openness." So he's describing a kind of practice that involves no doing, no trying, no focusing, no mindfulness, at least it appears, although if you actually go into his work, you see there's a lot of stuff, we could say preconditions.
  • "Non-doing primordially recognized, free from effort and achievement, you are content." So that's the end of that passage. And in the Tibetan where I put in the Tibetan, I put it there for the words that were that really contain the sense of no effort. So for those of you that know Tibetan, you can see he's really talking about no effort. It's not I'm not making that up in my translation. So what I want to talk about now is about experience, that's a little bit about the theory, so the theory of this type of effortless practice. But now I want to talk a little bit about, OK, how does that actually look on the ground, first person from someone's account in the history of these Dzogchen practitioners? And in this account, what I notice is that set and setting matters for this nondual experience. So even though there is effortlessness, so I don't know if you know these to this term set and setting, it comes out of the psychedelic movement. Set means the mindset that
  • you start with. So in the context of taking plant medicine or taking a psychedelic your mind set your your your would say the the posture of your mind, how you feel is really important. And then the setting - and that could include - the setting is really important and the setting could include the environment in which you take the substance. And it might also include of course the dosage. Right. So the physical situation matters and your inner state matters. And it turns out this appears to be very important in these effortless practices, very important set and setting, so I'm going to argue here. So consideration of the contemplative preconditions for effortless practice. Oh, yeah. So I'm going to turn to for this a source, which is Jigme Lingpa's memoir. It's an unpublished memoir that I'm working on right now and working on a translation of. And in that memoir, he sings a song called A Song of Savoring the Experience of Leaping into the Clear Light.
  • And I'm going to read a little bit about what leads up to that song and then part of the song, I'm not going to share with you the whole song because it's a long song, but I want to at least get to the part where he has the non dual experience. And so what this shows me is every song that he sings, nyamgur, every song of experience that he sings, has a preamble of the setting. So what is the setting for this experience that he's about to have? He says, "While I was in the forest grove of the spinning svastika," so just to give you a little bit more context, he's in the Chimpu cave complex above Samye in central Tibet. "An old man with hair whiter than a conch arrived carrying sustenance, which he bestowed. This established an avenue for provisions to continually arrive thereafter, for which I was grateful." So first part of the setting, he's got enough to eat. I think it's not unimportant for his experience, might be important.
  • "There I made a place to stay where flowers sprang up like a symbol of the innate dakini showing herself. Above, a rock overhang provided a tranquil shelter, and I thought, 'This would be a suitable place to stay for a while.' In the distance, a mountain range stretched out on the horizon like regal, white pavilions. While the wind made pilgrimage there, I sang a song about savoring the experience of leaping into the clear light." So that's a bit about the setting and now he moves a little bit to set, I would say because he's talking about the - his inner configuration, thinking about the lineage and his effective relationship to that lineage. "Father Lotus Born, essence of transcendent bliss transcendent, Queen Dakini, lady of the Citadel, Ocean of Saviors, disciples who tend awareness, the child deep within my heart misses you." So maybe there's something in the set in his mind state about yearning. He's yearning in the way that we might miss a relative or miss a friend for his teachers.
  • And that's part of the set for this experience. And then he talks about the temporal setting, he wants us to know when this happened. "In the seventh month of the Iron Male Dragon year, the glorious minister of Chimpu stirs in the throat of the impious vagabond Indra-Maritsye." That's himself. He's saying he's saying, my teacher, my teacher's blessing stirred my throat chakra to sing this song, something like that. And more about the set - so I say this is set because he's turning to the inner. "Here in this native consciousness, beyond the unfolding drama of the mind's six senses" - and now moving to setting - "these high snow mountains, pillars of the sky, rise.
  • Sides ringed with Slate and clay wreathed with crimson vultures soaring, their base a home for pheasants brooding, where marmots frolic, pikas burrow. These virgin slopes, untouched by human travel, welcome bees, busy in their quest for nectar. At the apex of this wondrous place, I dwell within a pale tabernacle, spontaneous natural cave tortoise shell stone shape. A canopy of dark southern clouds erupts above, a diadem of mist hovers below, percussed with the haunting caw of crows." That's our setting.
  • "Amidst the spontaneous swirling rainbow colors of togal, light spheres and delicate threads dance, the timeless three bodies realized," and I'm putting in the parentheses there some of the words that remind me of effortlessness, "while atop the crystal cave of sacred Yarlung, this place ruled by the fire god, rainbow pavilions of the five colors arc across the sky." So what he's seeing here are the visions of togal that come out of the effortlessness of his practice. And I think someone in here is probably going to talk about that when we get to the visionary experience panel. And he says, "I think, surely I've arrived in Uddiyana." There's a rainbow there. This isn't Tibet, but it just happens to be a rainbow I saw this spring, so I threw it in there.
  • And then here comes the nondual part. "These colors, piercing my water bubble eyes, bestow the fourth empowerment of radical simplicity. Aimless awareness wanders where it will, while natural resting overflows abundantly, punctuated by experiences of infinite bliss, yet free from the caprice of joy and sorrow." So all of that setting, all of that natural sort of really poetic explanation of the sky and the clouds and the mountains and his relationship to these visions that are coming into the sky and him up in this state where his awareness is just free and he's in the state of natural resting and it's punctuated by these experiences of bliss, but free from that pull of attachment and aversion, so he ends up in the state. But what I wanted to make a
  • point of here is just that in these nondual, this is this is the the the a first person description of what his nondual experience was like, and it doesn't just come out of nowhere. It doesn't come just out of theory. And it doesn't just come out of his understanding of effortlessness. It's also coming because of his relationship with the environment that he's in. And he makes such a point to situate us there so that we're sitting on, you know, at the mouth of that cave with him and we're gazing out on that vast expanse and then we're practicing with him in that in that description. So my point being that there's a lot of emphasis, I think, in in our tradition of Buddhism on theory and on descriptions say of what non duality is, what it means to dissolve the self, what selflessness is,
  • but there's also then the actual lived experience of those those theories and those instructions and those perspectives and the lived experience contains a lot of, we could say, preconditions for how and whether those end experiences will actually unfold from the practice itself. So that was my point that I wanted to make, and that's my presentation. And I also am going to lead us in a short practice before the break. So thank you very much.
  • And for the practice, what I'm going to do is to actually just read to you from Longchenpa's Song of the Enchanting Wildwoods, which is very much a text that like this one, like the narrative one that I just shared with you, very much a text that is about the importance of going into unstructured spaces where there isn't a lot of human influence in order to practice, in order to meditate. So I'm just going to read those instructions and I'll invite you to just place your feet on the ground, maybe if your legs are crossed to uncross them for a moment. And it'll be very short and we could dim the lights, if it's possible, just a little bit, if it's not, it's OK, a little bit of setting. Go, that's good.
  • And he doesn't have it here, but I'd like to begin with grounding in the body. So we've been doing so much thinking, it's coming down from our thinking mind. And into the feeling body. And reading these instructions from the 14th century, coming down to us. "Don't dwell on the past, or fantasize about the future.
  • Don't engineer this natural, ongoing presence. Don't direct the mind or draw it within. Just let it settle without distraction. Rest without grasping or structuring this open clarity, that is vivid, quiet, lucid, illuminating.
  • Other than settling, easily relaxed, in the innate experience of the way your mind is. There's nothing you need to contemplate. So you can release the effort it takes to engineer it. For it is not an object of conceptuality. It can't be conceived of or investigated. To quiet the tangled mess of thought, all you need to do is look into the intimately peaceful nature of your mind." Thank you. I think we can go to break.
  • Discussion Participants
    So we probably all want to just keep settling in the natural state, but we'll have another kind of nonduality here. We're going to start maybe just among ourselves. I think it's really interesting that it seems like we could not have described three more different kind of experiential states there. And yet all of us are talking here about nondual awareness states. And I'm wondering how that struck everyone else, and also just like what to make of that. We've got nice, calm, silent, effortless, abiding, being thrashed by a saltwater crocodile or listening to death metal while doing 20 minute wall sits, and then I like high art experience to play. These are all our - what are we talking about, when we're saying that these are all varieties of nondual awareness.
  • I have a tiny thought. My tiny thought is that maybe it's right to say that something like a nondual awareness is pretty common and pervasive, that we miss it a lot of times because we layer a lot of crap on top of it and that there's going to be very different pathways into recognizing that fact, depending on all sorts of facts about your history, your ecological context, your current social context and what you're aiming to do with the practice. And when I think about what I'm trying to say. I mean, these are not the only practices I play with, but when I'm playing with them, part of what I'm trying to do is to disrupt a sense of the stability of my emotional landscape. And I think that for that purpose, getting into a space where the emotional landscape is unfolding without me doing work to make it unfold helps to dislodge some of those - you might call them klesas.
  • So one of the things that that we were talking about when we were preparing for this time together was how there isn't one nonduality. And I think I've noticed that even within you know, even within this, the small corner of the Buddhist tradition in which I study, which is the Tibetan or the Himalayan tradition, there are lots of different kinds of nonduality. There isn't just one nonduality that is the non separation between self and world or subject and object, non duality, but for example, the nonduality of the body and the mind lu sem yerme, for example, you find that term in Buddhist texts, or sometimes lung sem yerme the non duality of breath and mind. So, you know, I wonder also if we can, if we expand our mind to what is - what does that mean, nonduality, it could mean like so many things, like the nonduality of one's mood and what one is seeing right, in your case. How would you describe it in your work, what nonduality means? So I think - grab it, grab the mic.
  • So I think there are also a lot of different forms of nonduality in Abhinava's work and the specific dualities that are targeted when we're looking at the aesthetic experiences are I mean, most narrowly is actually the duality between audience and performer like that's coming directly out of the debate context that he was in. That was one of the big questions in South Korean aesthetics at the time, is like, where does aesthetic experience actually like where is its home, like where does it arise from? Is this something that the actor does? Is it something that the spectator does? Is it something the play does? And Abhinava's answer was that it's not any of those. It's actually the the experience that carves underneath all of it. So that's a particular form of nonduality there, I think. The, yeah. Although I have the feeling that despite the sort of variety, there is something that underlied, there is a continuity among these different kinds - at least the ones that the three of you were speaking about. And I'm wondering whether it's the way you articulated it, Bryce. And part of the way you articulated it was actually in terms of sort of the narrative self.
  • Right. This was sort of losing the story of the self. Is that, would that be part of a continuity here? Where in some sense, this the story I'm telling of myself, quite literally, right, not necessarily consciously, falls apart. I would think so. Yeah, but how so? In like in the context of aesthetic experience, what is that like? Because it seems, even though it's also, I guess, getting thrashed by, death rolled by a crocodile is a very particular kind of aesthetic experience, but it seems like it's a pretty different one. So and it's and also the role of the audience and sort of intersubjectivity seems to be a key part of what Abhinava's talking about. Yeah. Although you can have aesthetic experiences on your own without being in the middle of an audience, it's just something that enriches the experience and makes it more variegated.
  • And I would say that - So sometimes when we talk about shiva context or in more broadly speaking, like Brahmanical context, where we have an idea of the self, then there's a tendency to confuse the self and what I would call our individual sense of subjectivity, which we could think about as our narrative self or like our somsaric self kind of. And those two are importantly nondual for Abhinava. So our normal sense of self is nothing but Shiva's play. So it's not like something other than the ultimate self, but at the same time, it's just this one little tiny sliver, and it's a sliver formed by exclusion. So that narrative, everyday self is something that's always formed in relation to objects. And so when you're talking about it, you can't just talk about it on its own. You're always talking about like the blue red together that constitute the purple. And so undermining that sense, that that sense of self is all that there is, is stable, I think that would be the core thing that aesthetic experience is also doing, that the saltwater crocodile example did, is that taking oneself out of the perspective of their being a like central need that looks out at the world that is somehow
  • stable. And that's part of what was really also, I think in the practice that you beautiful practice that you spoke about and lead Willa, then also is that the sort of eccentricity, as it were, Bryce, you know, maybe literally too, but the sort of eccentricity of that of the of the kind of aesthetic experience of, you know, super heavy metal, that it's it's it's it's literally, in a sense, taking yourself out of your center, right? The way or the way you describe the experience with the crocodile was I am that or the way I forgot her name, actually. Yeah, Val Plumwood described it was in a sense, she's no longer the center of the world. And is that also a key aspect of this, like suddenly your sense of where the world - or I don't know how to put it - that the locus, the sun, the center point is gone? Or is there a new one or what?
  • For me, with the sorts of practices that I was thinking about, one of the absolutely key things is the loss of the sense of being that center, and its, like it's one of these things that I don't know exactly how to put a finger on and know exactly how to describe, but part of it is not just narrativizing, but experiencing a central locus of subjectivity. And one of the things that I find really powerful about aesthetic experiences and aesthetics understood way more broadly, is their capacity to disrupt the sense that things are coming together wherever two inches in from my ears or wherever they feel like they're coming together most of the time. It's the sense that the whole world is organized by flows of experience in some sense, but such that - with a new center or with no center? I think that they - a center everywhere? Cent-centerless. But I don't know.
  • That's the part I don't know how exactly to describe. I'm not sure about thinking about in terms of a center or not, but one thing I wanted to bring in is that Abhinava talks about the obstacles to aesthetic experiences happening. And I think the most interesting one is getting too caught up in yourself. And so there's an actual obstacle, which is the tendency to see anything that's happening as just index to you. So, like, if you were, you know, watching Romeo and Juliet or something and you could only see the love as your love, then you wouldn't get the aesthetic experience because you're still stuck in that same locus that you're normally stuck in. And it would actually close you off from being able to appreciate what's actually happening. So even for someone like Abhinava who's going to say you're you are never leaving behind agency, you're never leaving behind some kind of robust sense of an active, integrating, desiring self, he's going to say that self is not the like limited empirical sense of like the person to whom things are happening and for whom things are happening.
  • Maybe there's one thing that unites these three types of nondual experience is permeability of the self or - Oh, it's also somehow the word, especially when I was thinking about the crocodile incident, also this sense of of surrender, that you're not in control in a nondual experience because you have given up the sense that it's just you. Now you're flowing into the crocodile or you're flowing into the metal heavy metal music, or, you know, you're flying into the the play like a surrender of some kind or - I'm I'm mildly apprehensive about the idea of surrender, part of - this went by pretty quickly, but the reason that I wanted the manatee in there was to think about the way the water serves both as context and support. It's not constraining. I mean, it is a constraint, but it's not restricting, I guess, is the way that I would put it. It's more
  • about the way that it supports through the patterns of interactions with the animal, given its body, the unfolding of the capacities that are present in that space. And all of that stuff has to be there. You can't decouple the manatee from the context that it lives in. And I think the experiences I'm looking for are ones that are like that, where those patterns of interdependence really come to the floor and the ways that experiences aren't just localized. They depend on unfolding patterns of activity that go above and beyond whatever the locus of subjectivity is. It's having the recognition of that net, whatever we want to say about that. Well, that sounds a lot like what you were talking about, actually, because, Willa, because in a sense, it's set in setting, right? What you're saying is it's not just surrender sort of to nothing at all, but it is maybe surrender to this sort of volition or the need to control. And yet there is - so there's a giving up, but there's a giving up within a context in which maybe there's trust. I mean, how important is that kind of context? Are there other key features of that, when you mentioned if you have said in setting, are there is it like anything that's particularly core that you were pointing to?
  • Well, I think I mean, there are definitely, as you probably have seen yourself, there are texts in the Tibetan tradition that describe set, set and setting essentially for whole texts that are about getting ready for Samatha, getting ready for Samatha-vipassana. And what do you have to do in order to get ready? Right. So maybe it's essential, but - but it seems like it varies. Right. What I've been really drawn to is the is these these texts like Longchenpa's, Wildwood Song Text and Jigme Lingpa wrote also a forest text about going to the forest. The ones that have that say that being in relationship with unstructured unmanaged spaces brings up the unmanaged unstructured. I mean, I'm reading that in that those spaces are essential for the practice of effortless resting to be in - like they're wild.
  • They're kind of, their wildness. Yeah, yeah. That really has been interesting for me lately. I've been drawn towards those texts and I find it compelling and personally compelling. And I think part of what that I mean, that whole idea of it being in the right setting of course, is maybe part of what distinguishes then states that seem like the maybe are actually nondual states, but they become dissociative. They become instead of helping us, they actually become destructive. And so you can see that even with some meditation practices that are taken out of context, also when psychedelics are used out of context. Right. Certainly seems like there's some trying to find borderline between something that's actually in some sense transformative or something that's something that's destructive. Does Abhinava at all talk about that kind of thing? Like the dangers of the nondual? Oh yeah, for sure, I mean, all tantrikas are going to talk about you really shouldn't do this stuff unless you really know what you're doing - don't do this at home.
  • Yeah, we've got I'm just going to take I know people. Yes, there's a question. I'm guessing we have a few questions. So we're going to go for about five minutes more. We'll stop around the hour. And so let's take about five minutes and there's going to be lots of time at the end of the second session if you're all not asleep to for more questions. So let's see. I think we had one here first, then we'll then we'll go to Karin and then this gentleman. Yes, OK. Yes, you're first, my microphone is coming, great. Thank you so much, so I'm coming from more of a reflective position on the Theravada tradition and specifically a contemporary Vipassana practice that S. N. Goenka has spread all over the world, I think it's probably the biggest insight tradition led entirely by the laity. So what strikes me when I hear about the set and setting as a practitioner and a scholar is that while on the ten days, these retreats are very structured, it is the definition of structure, as structured as it can get. From the
  • instructions to your breaktime, to your lunch time, to your bedtime, to your wake up bell, all over the world, it's the same structure. And so the practice begins with very much what we would probably call an efforting. Right? You sit for twelve hours a day, you do samadhi, and then Goenka gives you Vipassana instructions every day what in the popular culture people probably call body scans. What's fascinating, however, is as a meditator, start sitting longer retreats 20 day, 30 day, 45 day, 60 days. Suddenly these instructions change to a you know, it's no longer controlling your awareness throughout the body, but rather let the awareness go forward where it goes. And that's real Vipassana. It's less a directing of your experience, but letting the experience do you in
  • some form, in some way. So I find it fascinating just encountering non dual awareness within the Tibetan tradition, but oftentimes feel like there's also a lack of looking at the ways in which Theravadan practices are finding very innovative pedagogical tools within a structure and set and setting that you wouldn't consider wild, yet are somehow able to point an advanced meditator to a space where meditation becomes an expression of reality. Or when you sit on your cushion to meditate, then you see ways in which you resist that that nondual reality. So I'm just sharing my experiences, and I'm grateful that all of you are here. Thank you. Thank you. I think some of that will be one of the one of the ways in which there are unique features of traditions that focus on nondual awareness is the way they conceptualize what the nondual awareness is for, which we haven't spoken much about, but we will in the second session and so on. There's also a very specific thematization. Lama Willa touched on some of that, and I'll be talking more about that. So that may may kind of answer some of your question, Karin.
  • Yeah, so my question is about as we are sort of establishing, there's all these different kinds of nondual experiences, and then but I wondered if in the case of the Rasa, the Rasa is a fixed point. In the case of the crocodile, maybe the ecological system is a fixed point, and it's a huge part of the rhetoric and maybe experience, too, in Longchenpa's tradition of not having any fixed point. So I can imagine a Buddhist lama saying, well, those are all something less than this totally not fixed point meditation. So I'm just I'm just wondering if you had any thoughts about that. Oh, that's a great point. So this is something that I've actually been trying to figure out a little bit better myself, but to do a first pass, there's a really big difference for Abhinavagupta between the quiescent Rasa that I brought up at the very end and all of the other Rasas. So the other Rasas, when you're talking about like the fearful Rasa or something like that, we're clearly talking about something that has very a very explicit kind of content. The
  • quiescent Rasa is the experience of agency itself. And that is a little less clearly something that has the kind of fixed point or the kind of like specific subject index that the other Rasa experiences have. And so that's why the quiescent Rasa is supposed to be kind of the more foundational one, it's the one that's analogized to Shiva's own self awareness, all of that kind of stuff. So I think you're picking up on a very important feature of the how the different Rasas work for Abhinavagupta, which is that they're not all nondual to the same extent, even though even something like the fearful Rasa is nondual in the ways that we've talked about. But then also that the quiescent Rasa itself is kind of on a different magnitude. And then I can imagine a Buddhist coming in and saying, well, that that, too, is fixed. Well, I can say something about that. Just I think maybe within the tradition's rhetoric itself, there's definitely a --
  • you know, this is the atiyoga, right? The highest yoga taught - these words like highest and whatnot. But personally, myself, I actually am not so sure about that because I think the non dual experience that's being described in those texts, even though there is set in setting, is is is how could that be owned by a tradition? You know, how could that be owned by a tradition or by one way, personally? That's what I think. And also, just like I so relate to Bryce's connection to his music, my experience of music is meditate - being, dancing is like being in a state of meditation. So I think. That's just a very private sharing there, but, yeah, can I jump in and just ask you just one thing and I'll just say real quick, you remind me of Michael Sell's idea of the unsaying that zhime gyi zhi the groundless grounds, you know, dume kyi du the timeless time. So maybe that's I think a lot of these traditions also play with that way. So they'll say a certain ground and then they say there isn't one.
  • But anyway. Yes, go ahead. Thank you. Um, well, first of all, I have a question about if you have questions, I mean, time, please try to answer. And that is the nondualistic experience or the realization of a nondualistic dualism. What to what extent, to what extent can help us benefits us in terms of attention span, for example, or recollect memory recollection. Right. Or be, really naturally become mindfulness. So how you make it to see the relationship between two? Or you can, can we make connections between these two? Right. And then my comments about nonduality I believe is nonduality is not about a level and maybe it's a fake but genuine nonduality, assuming reality, nonduality, actual nonduality. And we talk about the centerness. And to me, if we really understand the nonduality, there's no center. You are the center. You actually are not there, not a you anymore. And we talk about non duality, I didn't hear we're not I mean, maybe I missed it. We didn't hear, I didn't hear the words, didn't mention about is selflessness, OK, the Buddhist idea of selflessness of person. So the
  • realization of selflessness of person that is one aspect of the nonduality or selflessness of phenomena. Right. In other words, is an other aspects of the nonduality, both of them as non duality equally. And what I feel if we do not address and the self, the misperception of self of a person, and then there seems to be no point or meaningless to talk about nonduality. Well, that not and will not benefit our life in practical terms. I have a suggestion, which is I think the first part of your question about how it helps mindfulness, I'm probably going to address in my presentation. But does anyone - I actually heard a lot of selflessness myself. Uh, not that I was selfless, but I mean, I heard selflessness for sure. But does anyone want to comment on that like and the relationship? It seems to me that that part of what we were talking about is precisely this dissolution of the sense of self. Yeah, I would
  • say so whether that's replaced by something or not is another question. Yeah, and what we mean by self here is huge. Yeah. Yeah. So narratives - if we're talking about the narrative, autobiographical, limited sense of subjectivity then, yeah, I think that all of us have been talking about that dissolving and falling away through various mechanisms. But then what, what is the nature of consciousness that does then shine through or that makes these kinds of things possible? This is where Abhinavagupta has a explicitly different view than the Buddhists do, and will argue directly against Dharmakaratan accounts of ultimate consciousness in particular.