Recent comments

Brilliant

Dawn Martin 2022-05-19

Commenting on: Beyond emptiness: Zen, Tantra, and Dzogchen

Humourous, lighthearted wisdom, so often sadly lacking among the more orthodox, thank you for this.

Wakeful Awareness

Drew 2022-03-25

Commenting on: A Trackless Path: Dzogchen in plain English

I find your description of Dzogchen as “simply wakeful awareness” interesting, if not frustratingly simple. In the context of the four naljors, could it be said that shi-ne is discovering the wakefulness of awareness just by itself, and that lhatong is integrating that wakefulness with phenomena?

As an aside, I love McLeod’s books. He’s probably my biggest influence in terms of practice, particularly the book Wake Up To Your Life. He has described that book as being about the the sutric path, but the final two chapters always seemed Dzogchen-ish to me.

Mahamudra

Drew 2022-03-09

Commenting on: Sutra and Tantra compared

Thanks, that is interesting. Coincidentally, just after posting that comment, I remembered that I have a Mahamudra book called ‘Mind at Ease’ on my kindle and started re-reading it. I do recall from before that the chapter on insight practices mostly deals with observing the nature of thoughts.

The essence of enlightenment

David Chapman 2022-03-08

Commenting on: Sutra and Tantra compared

Ah, yes, thank you very much—I should not have left a dangling loose end like that for a decade!

It’s a quote from scripture. I can’t actually remember the context, and I’m not sure exactly what the traditional explanation is. (So don’t take the following too seriously, although it’s probably not far off.)

Are they the essence of enlightenment insofar as all phenomena are the essence

Right! Excellent!

But also…

Thoughts are insubstantial in a way that coffee mugs aren’t, which makes it easier to recognize that they partake simultaneously of the natures of emptiness and form, inseparably.

My (perhaps mistaken) recollection is that the quote is from an Essence Mahamudra text. That system deals more directly with the nature of thoughts than perhaps any other. I don’t know the system well, but my impression from a distance is that it is a path to realization through non-conceptually apprehending the relationship between thoughts and awareness.

Thoughts

Drew 2022-03-08

Commenting on: Sutra and Tantra compared

David, could you elaborate at all on thought being the essence of enlightenment in Tantra? Are they the essence of enlightenment insofar as all phenomena are the essence, or is there something special about thoughts?

"Politically correct"

David Chapman 2022-03-06

Commenting on: Inclusion, exclusion, unity and diversity

I wrote this page in 2008… much has changed since then. Ideally I would revise everything on Vividness to reflect that, but it would be a big job and other things seem more important.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche didn’t get the phrase “politically correct” from me—he was using it long before I became an Aro gTér student—but he started teaching in America in the mid-1980s and presumably picked it up from audiences or students in that country.

“willing to be offensive” not “actively politically incorrect/racist/transphobic”. But a Gen Z reader might not understand that.

Yes and yes.

the writing about vajra romance and teaching couples feels like 1st-gen boomer feminism.

Yes…

Zoomers don’t like it when you assign attributes to gender, and it doesn’t apply very well to gay couples.

… and yes.

My spouse is gay and non-binary-with-they-pronouns, so we have talked a lot about how to reinterpret (or reject) traditional Buddhist teachings on gender. We keep saying we’ll record a discussion about it, but it never seems to happen.

terminology update

a s 2022-03-06

Commenting on: Inclusion, exclusion, unity and diversity

When I read this page before I got the intended meaning of “politically correct” so didn’t have a problem with it. (Helps that I’m old enough to remember the 90s and half-British enough to know not everything is about America.)

But more recently I was reading the Aro site and saw Ngak’chang Rinpoche describe himself that way. That’s confusing - honestly didn’t know British people said that. Did he pick it up from you?

Aro isn’t, like, problematic so presumably it’s still in the sense of “willing to be offensive” not “actively politically incorrect/racist/transphobic”. But a Gen Z reader might not understand that.

Actually, Aro seems perfectly acceptable as something I could do, though I have to say the writing about vajra romance and teaching couples feels like 1st-gen boomer feminism. Zoomers don’t like it when you assign attributes to gender, and it doesn’t apply very well to gay couples. I’d survive but am hesitant to be the youngest member of any communities…

Marketing Tantra

a s 2022-03-06

Commenting on: Sutra, Tantra, and the modern worldview

I started going through your writing from Meaningness, but kept on here because of dissatisfaction with secular mindfulness my Silicon Valley ADHD psych recommended (with an EEG mind reading headband and everything).

At first I was surprised because the meditation technique definitely does something, but their own reading material isn’t very impressive - it’s sensibly rational but a bit shallow, and when they try to expand the worldview a bit they get some random untrustworthy types like Deepak Chopra when I vaguely knew it came from Buddhism.

More importantly, the concept is sold with terms like “stress reduction” “relax” “calmness”, but what it produces is closer to “awareness” or “flow” along with other lessons (like that thoughts appear on their own without you deciding to think them). And that seems a lot more appealing personally. After everyone’s been stuck at home for a year or two, do we even want more relaxation? I’d rather learn to be more active.

Probably their “stress” is secularized samsara, and if so, that’d be a way to market the secular Tantra you’re writing about. Hopefully the audience wouldn’t see it as those “for men” brands that’s just the same thing with edgier labels.

Agreed

a s 2022-03-06

Commenting on: Yes

It’s as you say. What I should’ve said is that the above comment did deserve to be here, but didn’t deserve to be the final word - it feels too authoritative that way, and while I’ve been reading the site the comments have been equally valuable (which is rare!).

I’m here because of dissatisfaction with secular mindfulness, which certainly is consumerist but that’s not my critique of it - so let me continue on a more relevant page :)

Allowing confusion

David Chapman 2022-02-26

Commenting on: Yes

Well, what they wrote doesn’t make much sense to me either. At a guess, this was a person who was experiencing significant emotional pain, leading to substantial conceptual confusion. Or, put less charitably, they were seriously depressed and slightly delusional.

I usually leave comments like that up. I hope they can be a reminder of readers’ own pain and confusion, and also our own OKness and sanity. We all experience all those things.

Saying “Yes!” to reality as a whole entails affirming darkness too.

^^^ what's with that guy

a s 2022-02-26

Commenting on: Yes

Enjoyed the page, but I feel like it detracts from the arguments if you let random megalomaniacs leave death wishes against you as the last comment for a whole decade. Don’t think much of his argument either; even if you don’t believe in a bear chasing you, it still believes in you.

Siddhartha

Danton 2022-02-25

Commenting on: The futile quest for certainty

“Serious spiritual practice does require committing to a single tradition.” Mu! Learn what you need from traditions, go your own way, free yourself. The answers are then right there.

If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

On spectres

a s 2022-02-21

Commenting on: Naturalizing Buddhist tantra

I couldn’t tell if the above comment was from a Buddhist or a Satanist, but I recommend having this picture open while you read it.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chaos_magic_ritual_involving_videoconferencing.JPG

Broken links

David Chapman 2021-12-29

Commenting on: Why Dzogchen?

Thank you very much for letting me know about these!

This site is a merger of four earlier ones, leaving messes that I have neglected. At some point I may clean it up. I am running a link checker right now to find all the problems, and I’ll find out how much work a general clean-up would be, and if it seems worth it.

So, I appreciate your effort so far, and there’s no need to continue reporting other ones.

Link to /terma-overview does not lead to (meaningful) content.

dreieck 2021-12-29

Commenting on: Why Dzogchen?

Hey,

in a previous comment there is a link to the page /terma-overview. However, it is inaccessible; for me it displays only

Sorry, you are not authorized to view this page. It’s probably just a draft.

Since it seems that it has already been there: Can you re-enable it, so that the links that lead to a deeper understanding of some writings and comments actually work?

Regards!

Fruit of Tantra and Dzogchen?

dreieck 2021-12-29

Commenting on: Why Dzogchen?

You talk about the base, path, and fruit of the yanas.

But only for the Sutra(yana) you give the fruit. I miss a sentence or parapgraph on the fruit of Tantra(yana), and I miss a sentence or parapgraph on the fruit of Dzogchen.

I think this is important as you state that a practice should only be taken if the fruit is what one wants, so at least one has to know what the fruit is.

Inadequate data

David Chapman 2021-12-29

Commenting on: Meditation risks, safety, goals, methods

just much more datapoints

Yes, that’s why I said “we don’t know that.”

Broken link to nyingma.com/The Nine Yanas.htm.

dreieck 2021-12-29

Commenting on: Yana slip

In your page, you link to nyingma.com/The Nine Yanas.htm.

This site seems broken, for me it just displays

Error. Page cannot be displayed. Please contact your service provider for more details. (19)

Same with the root site nyingma.com.

But there is actually a copy on The Wayback Machine, you could link to: → Here.

Risk of Dzogchen not assessable due to lack of data?

dreieck 2021-12-29

Commenting on: Meditation risks, safety, goals, methods

Could it be that there is more to say to the dangers of Vipassanā-based practices than about dangers of the four naljors because there are just much more datapoints for the first?

So your claim “I don’t know of anyone having serious negative consequences.” might just be because of low overall number of practicioners who are in a society encouraging data collection and data analysis?, meaning in the end we have to collect more data to make qualitative and quantitative assesments about the risks of Dzogchen practice?

Cheetah House broke their links (fixed)

David Chapman 2021-12-29

Commenting on: Meditation risks, safety, goals, methods

Thank you for letting me know! They reorganized their site and broke their links. I’ve updated my page to point to the new ones.

cheetahhouse.org-links broken: No DNS resolution.

dreieck 2021-12-29

Commenting on: Meditation risks, safety, goals, methods

You have some links to cheetahhouse.org. That server does (currently) not work (anymore), DNS resolution fails.

Since you seem to link to valuable comment: Can you somehow “repair” the links, pointing to other place(s) where that content is, maybe also to archived page(s) on The Wayback Machine?

Confused about the term "Consensus Buddhism", my way to Buddhism & Theravāda is more than Vipassanā.

dreieck 2021-12-29

Commenting on: Consensus Buddhism

I find it quite interesting that you use so much the term “Consesus Buddhism”. I have never heard about it, and I also cannot find a definition of it, but you use it in a way that seems that readers should be familiar with it.

Btw., my first encounter with Buddhism was the Theravāda as brought to the “West” by Ajahn Chah (I was looking for some meditation retreat, of course I first came upon the Goenka retreats, but then I found aspects in it which seemed like aspects of a sect (an internal meditation progress system, and if you even once practice another technique, you restart at the beginning level) and made in my the feeling of thightness. So I was trying to look for something different and came to something that seemed more buddhist than just using a single buddhist practice out of context). It was more than “just Vipassanā”. It was also embracing and welcoming other traditions (there was active information about Tibetan and about Zen monks visiting or retreats the time I was in such an Ajahn-Chah-lineage monastery). Learning a lot about buddhists concepts I did then also by listening to theravadin dhamma talks, for a big stretch also such for monks, mainly from the monasteries of Ajahn Brahm in western Australia (who did again split off from the tradition by not giving a deal for the facts that women can not become fully ordained, and fully ordaining nuns).

This was easily available to me in the “West”, and I have not the feeling that it has all the problems you mention with Buddhism that is easily available in the “West”.

Anyway, a “breatkthrough” for me was in reading at your site that Vajrayāna just as well could need a modernisation in the form of clearly seperating it’s Buddhism from which “only-tradition” parts being intervoven in it. Thai forest Theravāda was appealing to me because it appeared to me very clear in that respect. Vajrayāna also already had my interest, but I could not find a point yet to grab it. Reading your site gives hope to me in that aspect :-), and I am courious if e.g. Aro gTér does meet what wouls suit me.

There is also danger in renunciation/ revulsion for samsara.

dreieck 2021-12-29

Commenting on: Wrathful practice

Having read about danger(s) in wrathful practice, I want to add that the practice of renunciation and revulsion for samsara also has dangers:
Depending on ones own pre-dispositions, and (lack of) groundedness, guidance, …, this can lead into a trap of nihilism

[…] The reality is that loss of meaning results in rage, futile intellectual argument, depression, and anxiety. The endpoint of nihilism is catatonia. […]

link to /dzogchen-controversy not working.

dreieck 2021-12-27

Commenting on: Uncontroversial Buddhist lineages

Your post links to /dzogchen-controversy, but when I want to read it I just get

Sorry, you are not authorized to view this page. It's probably just a draft.

Can you check on that and maybe make it accessible?

Regards!

Re: Transforming negativity: Link (Tantra Teachers and others) not working

dreieck 2021-12-27

Commenting on: Wrathful practice

Ahoj David,

in your post from 2014-10-03 you link to this site. But currently I only get a

Sorry, you are not authorized to view this page. It's probably just a draft.

when I try to read it (as also with other links on vividness.live).

Can you check this site and others?

Regards!

Emptiness vs non-duality

Drew 2021-12-24

Commenting on: Pure Land

I believe I have seen you write that the path of sutrayana works to overcome the self/other duality (and also that it leads to realization of emptiness). If this is the case, is that result similar at all to what the neo-Advaita “gurus” are talking about? Or is it more of a realization that constantly grasping at things cannot lead to permanent happiness, with no mystical experience required? Or something else entirely…

Trouble comes from concretizing “good” and “bad” as inherent and absolute. Avoiding that allows for greater freedom and creativity, and possibly less suffering as well.

In terms of the Buddhist path (Aro/Nyminga), would this particular notion be an aspect of emptiness? Or non-duality?

(However, some people think what I say about Dzogchen is all wrong and should be ignored. This could be a conundrum for readers. Sorry!)

Personally, I don’t consider myself a Buddhist, so it doesn’t perturb me too much if an idea or presentation is “not Buddhist”. That’s also why all the anti-Aro rhetoric I’ve seen online doesn’t really bother me.

Dualistic conceptions of non-duality

David Chapman 2021-12-23

Commenting on: Pure Land

I’m starting to think that ND in the sense of mystical-no-self-experience is actually a very dualistic pursuit. If I think it is a problem that I feel like I have a self, and want to get rid of that feeling, then that definitely seems dualistic, since I am pushing away that feeling. So the more non-dual option would be allowing the feeling of a self to there, or not be there, or be heavier or lighter, and not have that be a problem either way.

Yes. This is an astute, and in my opinion accurate, observation.

“Nonduality” is most often used to mean “everything is the same, and there are no distinctions,” but that’s not how I was using it in this piece. I mostly try to avoid the word, to avoid confusion, as I said here. Probably I should have found an alternative in this case too.

In my review of Ken McLeod’s A Trackless Path, I also wrote:

Whenever someone talks about “nonduality,” it is good to ask: which two things are you saying are not dual? And, if they aren’t dual, what is their relationship?

As you observed, “nonduality” often refers to the non-duality of self and other. And sometimes they are considered nondual because, supposedly, self doesn’t exist at all.

Vajrayana often refers to the nonduality of form and emptiness, or of samsara and nirvana. In Dzogchen, it may refer to the nonduality of duality and nonduality itself! Since phenomena are neither clearly the same nor different, separate nor unified, duality and nonduality shade into each other.

Sam Harris, who at least pays lip service to Buddhism and Dzogchen, seems obsessed with proving that the self does not really exist in conscious experience

Many people say many things about Dzogchen. They do not always agree with each other. Many of them, in my opinion, have no idea what they are talking about, and should be ignored. (However, some people think what I say about Dzogchen is all wrong and should be ignored. This could be a conundrum for readers. Sorry!)

Anyway, I wouldn’t take seriously Sam Harris on Dzogchen. I also think he’s badly confused about selfness from a Western scientific and philosophical perspective too.

the realization that the categories with which I habitually divide my experience of life are totally bunk

Not totally! Most of them are probably useful and accurate.

Trouble comes from concretizing “good” and “bad” as inherent and absolute. Avoiding that allows for greater freedom and creativity, and possibly less suffering as well.

Non-duality

Drew 2021-12-22

Commenting on: Pure Land

I wonder if I’m properly understanding the usage of the term ‘non-duality’ here. It’s confusing for me because in so many contexts, ND refers to some kind of heightened state where the feeling of self completely vanishes. The whole contemporary non-duality movement is really just Neo-Advaita, I guess. But even Sam Harris, who at least pays lip service to Buddhism and Dzogchen, seems obsessed with proving that the self does not really exist in conscious experience, and refers to that realization as ND.

The way I understand the term here is that you are referring more to clinging to certain aspects of experience while pushing away others. If you are in the pure land, there is no reason to push anything away, since everything is enjoyable. If you are in the charnel ground, there is no reason to push anything away, since everything is horrific anyway. So, duality refers more to how we split experience up into aspects we like and aspects we don’t. And ND would be the realization that the categories with which I habitually divide my experience of life are totally bunk.

I’m starting to think that ND in the sense of mystical-no-self-experience is actually a very dualistic pursuit. If I think it is a problem that I feel like I have a self, and want to get rid of that feeling, then that definitely seems dualistic, since I am pushing away that feeling. So the more non-dual option would be allowing the feeling of a self to there, or not be there, or be heavier or lighter, and not have that be a problem either way.

An alternative explanation : psychedelics and their ban

louis 2021-12-14

Commenting on: “Buddhism is for boomers”

I am not convinced that baby boomers were more prone to become buddhists than young people nowadays, because they had a mainstream culture and they rejected consumerism.

The spread of Western Buddhism, has been too intense in too short a time frame for that explanation. If it was the real cause, it would have happened before, and would still continue.

For me, the real underlying cause was the availability of psychedelics, and the liberality with which people could experiment with them. As soon as they became illegal, fear of transcendence took over again. I’d be really interested in the proportion of western buddhists that actually started with psychedelics. I know I did, and a significant portion of my friends too.

So long as they have the correct opinions...

thomas tulinsky 2021-12-08

Commenting on: “Ethics” is advertising

This is a great line!

Note 7: This is because Buddhism is commited to inclusivity and accepts everyone. So long as they have the correct opinions about all topics.

Hmm...

Drew 2021-11-27

Commenting on: Emptiness in the Aro gTér

Interesting question. I’m not sure of the answer. When I wrote those comments I was feeling like I really needed a definite understanding of emptiness, but your comment deflated that somewhat (in a good way).

As for eG, I was on the Slack, but never actually commented. I need to get on the Discord. If the Drew there is leaving comments then it isn’t me.

The question behind the question

David Chapman 2021-11-25

Commenting on: Emptiness in the Aro gTér

I think this is where a teacher would say “what is the question behind the question?” In other words, what do you actually want to know, and why?

“Emptiness” is a vague and disputed metaphysical term, which you’re never going to get a definitive nailed-down universal definition for. But, it’s important. So, probably your underlying question is something about how it relates to your life and your practice of Buddhism. And a useful answer would be specific to that.

(Are you the Drew who is a member of the Evolving Ground online forum? There’s good recent discussion of emptiness there, with knowledgeable people expressing respectfully different views, and/or similar definitional uncertainties.)

One more question

Drew 2021-11-25

Commenting on: Emptiness in the Aro gTér

I look forward to reading that. And that is good to hear about SoE.

I wanted to ask one more thing about emptiness and form. I don’t want to ask you to explain every little thing, because as you said above you’re not a teacher. But, I like your style of explanation, and I find it helpful to read as many different explanations of the fundamentals as possible in order to hopefully consolidate some kind of understanding.

I recently discovered the Aro Glossary and have found its definitions of certain key terms very helpful. Form is defined as follows:

The tendency of things to manifest characteristics and distinct existence. The tendency to appear solid, permanent, separate, continuous, and defined.

Up above, you said that form could be defined as all phenomenal appearance. Both of these definitions make sense to me, but they are not quite the same. The glossary definition, I suppose, is included in the definition of form as phenomenal appearance, which is obviously all encompassing. But I would say that the glossary definition of emptiness, which is the tendency of things to lack characteristics, would also be included in the definition of form as all phenomenal appearance.

Could you say anything about the relationship between these two different definitions of form, if they are, in fact, different?

It's a great book

David Chapman 2021-11-22

Commenting on: Emptiness in the Aro gTér

Yes, I don’t mean to suggest it’s not extremely valuable; it is. Time passes, culture changes, and what was appropriate in 1986 is not quite on target now. If my memory of his expressing slight embarrassment is accurate (it may not be), presumably he doesn’t feel it’s significant enough to make it worth doing a third revised edition.

If we write about psychology vs. Vajrayana, it would appear either here or on Charlie’s site Vajrayana Now.

Cool

Drew 2021-11-22

Commenting on: Emptiness in the Aro gTér

That sounds really interesting. If that gets written, would it be posted here or somewhere else?

It’s a bit of a downer to hear you describe SoE as distorted, or that Ngak’chang Rinpoche is embarrassed by it. Even though I find it a bewildering book, I do feel I’ve taken a lot from it.

Spectrum of Ecstasy: a book for its era

David Chapman 2021-11-22

Commenting on: Emptiness in the Aro gTér

Yeah, that’s also confusing. SOE is a lightly revised version of a 1986 book, Rainbow of Liberated Energy. At that time, Ngakpa Chögyam was following the lead of Chögyam Trungpa, Tarthang Tulku, and other Tibetans, in teaching Dzogchen somewhat in the language of psychotherapy. That was probably the only way to make it accessible to Westerners at the time, but also distorted it significantly.

I think I remember Ngakpa Chögyam (= Ngak’chang Rinpoche) saying that he later found it somewhat embarrassing. I think I remember Charlie (= Rin’dzin Pamo) saying that rereading SOE recently was slightly shocking for this reason—they had forgotten how psychologically oriented it is.

Charlie and/or I are likely to write something about this soon. Not specifically about SOE, but about the differences between the psychological and Vajrayana views, why they matter, and why someone might prefer the Vajrayana one. We’ve been talking about it quite a lot.

Thanks!

Drew 2021-11-22

Commenting on: Emptiness in the Aro gTér

Thank you, that is helpful, especially the distinction between ‘emptiness as it manifests in a particular practice’ and ‘emptiness itself’.

There was a particular passage from SoE that made me think that emptiness might refer to non-conceptual experience:

…the form of our emotions (how we react to our feelings) is the pawo aspect - the form aspect of emptiness. The emptiness of our emotions is how they feel - this is the khandro aspect, the emptiness aspect of form.

I guess the way I would interpret it now is that, in the particular practice of trekchöd, emptiness manifests as the raw bodily sensation of emotion, shorn of any conceptual me-stories. Especially given that if you experience something like anger purely as a bodily sensation, it loses a lot of solidity and definedness as anger, to the point where it’s not really anger anymore, per se.

It’s confusing, though, because if form refers to all phenomena, and the feeling of an emotion is form, then it is like saying that in trekchöd, emptiness manifests as form. I guess that makes sense given what the Heart Sutra says, and it being “the emptiness aspect of form”, but still…

Good and bad

David Chapman 2021-11-22

Commenting on: No holiness—vastness!

I re-read the post, which I hadn’t done in ages. I wrote it more than a decade ago, partly addressing particular circumstances that aren’t relevant any more. I’m not really happy with it now; I’d like to revise it, but that doesn’t seem the most important thing.

It was only meant to be about purity and impurity, which have some unique issues around them. Good and bad are a bit different, although similar enough that probably somewhat similar things could be said. On the other hand, note my comment above, also from more than a decade ago:

The Vajrayana view is that enlightenment does not extinguish preferences, so one might prefer to stare at the sea, other things being equal. But one also should enjoy staring at rotting corpses.

Good and bad

Drew 2021-11-22

Commenting on: No holiness—vastness!

In general, could this post be validly read by replacing any notion of pure/impure with good/bad, i.e. good/bad according to my own personal preferences?

Emptiness in different traditions

David Chapman 2021-11-21

Commenting on: Emptiness in the Aro gTér

Yes, emptiness is explained quite differently in different traditions. There is a two-thousand year history of people arguing over what is the “correct” understanding. This seems to have created more heat than light. On the whole, I believe the different traditions are, in part, talking past each other: about actually different things, not just different understandings of the same thing.

I’ve never been qualified to teach in the Aro gTér system, and I am no longer affiliated with it, so if you want a definitive answer about its interpretation of emptiness, it would be better to ask a teacher of the system. However, I’ll do the best I can, drawing also on general Nyingma theory (and personal experience).

‘Form’ refers to all phenomenal appearances, including both conceptual thought and any non-conceptual perception

Yes.

emptiness refers to some kind of source of all these appearances.

Yeeehs… emptiness is regarded as the “source,” but that’s probably not a good way to understand it initially, because the source/product relationship here is dissimilar to most (maybe all) others. It is, for example, not causal, and emptiness is not a place or thing or process or property (as other sources are).

I’m not sure whether or not emptiness would refer to something that’s really accessible

This is confusing, because it’s a point where different traditions, and different yanas, differ. For Mahayana (in the narrow sense), emptiness is the goal, and you reach it only theoretically, after a hundred thousand eons or something. For tantra, it’s the base, and you need to have reached it to get started.

Non-duality, then, would refer to the arising and dissolving of thoughts and perceptions from/into this “source”

No, that’s probably not how any tradition would explain it. Non-duality isn’t a time-extended process. It’s an instantaneous non-separateness. The source and the product are the same thing. Emptiness is form; form is emptiness; emptiness is no other than form; form is no other than emptiness. (As the Heart Sutra says.)

‘Form’ refers only to conceptual thought and interpretation, while emptiness would refer to non-conceptual perception.

No, neither of those. Although… That is roughly the Yogacara explanation of emptiness, maybe? (It’s been decades since I’ve studied Yogacara.) It’s rejected by most Tibetan lineages, but highly influential in Zen.

sort of true, but also not really true (neither existent nor non-existent?), which seems to be kind of what you are getting at with your Meaningness site

Yeah, kind of. I don’t use the word “emptiness” there. “Nebulosity” is analogous, but not the same thing.

a major confusion I have from reading the Aro books

It’s notoriously difficult to explain this topic, which is part of why there have been vitriolic debates about it, and extensive confusions, for thousands of years. As far as I recall, there’s no detailed presentation in any of the Aro gTér books; it’s always discussed in passing while explaining something else. There are books from other traditions that address it squarely, but their views on emptiness are somewhat different. (Which is why I wrote this post.)

“In sitting meditation, we experience emptiness directly as the simultaneous absence of thought and presence of awareness. We experience form as the thought and sensation which arise from the condition of non-thought. Form is experienced as the thoughts and sensations which arise from the condition of non-thought.”

Ah, now I see what got you confused! The phrase “experience as” is critical here. “The simultaneous absence of thought and presence of awareness” is not emptiness; it is how emptiness can manifest in the context of that particular practice.

Regarding Jack’s quotes from TMI and MCTB, these descriptions are extremely different from anything I know from Tibetan lineages.

Cessations do not correspond directly to anything in any Tibetan system I know of. They do seem to relate indirectly with the Tibetan concept of bardos. For example, fainting is a bardo; you lose and then regain ordinary awareness. When I’ve discussed cessations with people who teach them, they say cessations are similar to faints. Fainting is significant in Tibetan theory because during the couple seconds of “rebooting,” rigpa (non-dual awareness) is much easier to access than in ordinary consciousness.

That said, the Tibetan systems would agree strongly that “even awareness and being itself have to be seen as not-self.” This is one aspect of “emptiness” as it is understood in those systems.