Signless-ness – Meeting your reality as it is

One of the main points of contemplating signlessness is to realize that the world that we experience directly, and the world that we ‘think’ we see with our conceptual mind are two different things”

Dear Integral Meditators,

My Tuesday & Wednesday  classes this week will be on the subject of signless-ness, so here’s an article on the subject. Enjoy, and your welcome to join the session, either live or online.

My Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life Workshop is this Saturday the 28th August. Its one of my all time favorite systems of meditation. I know I have a lot of favorites, but this is a stand out!

In the spirit of signs that are empty,



Signless-ness – Meeting your reality as it is

Definition of Signlessness
Here is a traditional definition of the Zen concept of signlessness from Master Thich Nhat Hanh: “Signlessness is the nature of the non-conceptualization of things.”

One of the main points of contemplating signlessness is to realize that the world that we experience directly, and the world that we ‘think’ we see with our conceptual mind are two different things. By learning to see the world ‘as it is’ free from the coloration of our conceptual mind, we can start to liberate ourself from past conditioning and habitual ‘negative’ thinking and feeling.

A signlessness symbol from aa Zen Guide
Imagine you are sitting in a landscape within nature. Then imagine a Zen master walks up to you, bows and hands you a small road sign, with no symbol or words in the middle, just an empty space. Take this as an invitation into the practice of signlessness. Sit with this for a short while and just let your intuition to explore the significance of the symbol…

The essential meditation on signlessness
Is simply  to move into a state of non-conceptuality or no thought, where our mind became signless in the sense of an absence of conceptual activity.

A few points on signlessness
One of the main points of sitting in a state of ‘signlessness’ is to learn to distinguish the world as it is from the world that our conceptual mind imagines or projects is there.
The appearance of our world together with the world that we project upon our reality is called dualistic appearance in Zen Buddhism. It is cited as the main reason why we experience so much confusion, conflict and pain in life.

One simple example of how dualistic appearance disrupts our direct experience of reality is seeing a cockroach. In reality a cockroach is a harmless creature with no power even to give us a small bite. But when many people see a cockroach, their conceptual mind immediately reacts by projecting the image of a cockroach that is aggressive and loathsome. As a result, they experience fear and/or aversion. This is one simple example, but in reality, dualistic appearance is disrupting our connection to the world and life as it is almost all the time. Practicing signlessness helps us to start to see this experientially. By seeing through the illusion created by our conceptual mind. We find depth and stability as we meet life as it is, rather than the illusion projected by our conceptual mind.
Here it is important to note that we are not rejecting conceptuality as all bad. It can have many good qualities. The main thing that we are trying to do is not to confuse conceptuality for reality.  Once we have distinguished the world as it is from our conceptual world, we can then use concepts in a playful and positive manner to enhance our expereince life. For example, if we was habitually conceiving our body as healthy and energised. This way of conceptualizing our body will help us to substantially influence our health and wellbeing if practiced in conjunction with other good habits such as a good diet etc…

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2021, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website   

In case you missed last week article: Connecting to higher, deeper emotions (Enjoying emotional resilience)

Emotions can inspire you
Our day-to-day emotions often grind us down. The frustration of work, the anxiety around an uncertain future, the fatigue of having to tell the kids to do things five times in a row, the low-grade resentment towards others, loneliness, clinging, nervousness…the list goes on. Unless we are careful, this can be our main experience of emotions, which is an energy sapping experience!
But emotions can also inspire us and create energy in us. What if we were able to spend more time in our day connecting to these types of emotional state?…read full article


Saturday August 28th, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life Workshop

Overview: The Tree of Life is an ancient and comprehensive system of meditation, personal development and inner growth represented by the diagram of a tree. Although it is best known as a ‘western’ tradition of spiritual growth (Judaist, Christian, Islamic), the fundamentals of the Tree of Life practice can be found in different ancient systems of meditation and mindfulness throughout the world. This workshop is a practical introduction to how to meditate with the Tree of Life in order to:

  • Stimulate holistic and integrated inner growth
  • Consciously develop different levels and states of consciousness in meditation, and learn how to transition or journey between them in the inner world
  • Stimulate the development of your creative, imaginal and visualization skills
  • Make systematic, organized contact with guides, teachers, healing forces and archetypal energies within the inner world
  • Practice different types of meditation to build different strengths, and help you deal with different inner challenges…read full details


The Mindful Self Knowledge coaching program

This is eight-month coaching program with Toby is designed to facilitate your own personal mindful self-discovery process. It focuses on:

  • Awareness of how your past experience has influenced who and how you are today
  • Confidence in approaching your present experience with playful fullness and enthusiasm
  • Giving you the inner tools to face your choices and your future in an empowered, dynamic, and authentic manner. Read full details

Watch Toby’s video on the Program

Life-fullness – The Integral Life-Coaching Program with Toby

Are you looking a coach who can help you to:

  • Meet the challenges, stress and changes that you face in a more effective and mindful way
  • Become happier within yourself, in your relationships and at work
  • Be actively accountable for finding a sense of balance/well-being in your life and fulfilling your personal potential?
  • Guide you to find and operate from a deeper sense of meaning, motivation and connectivity in your life?
Read full details

All upcoming classes and workshops at IMA:

Ongoing – Weekly Tuesday, Wednesday Online class schedule

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby  (East Coast)

Starts 6th&7th July – Integral Meditation from the Perspective of Zen – A 10 week series

Saturday August 21st 9.30-11.30am – Mindfulness for Emotional Intelligence Masterclass

Saturday August 28th, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life Workshop

Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * Books * Live Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology


Comments are closed.