I've got 4 more questions for you. answer as deeply as you can. Avoid short, 1 sentence answers if possible. really feel free to rant away.
1) Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your own experience. Describe it fully as you see it now.
My memories of early childhood aren't very good, but it starts somewhere during that time. That isn't to say that its a switch that got flipped at age 7 and stayed on; belief in identity waxes and wanes, and sometimes ceases completely; dreamless sleep being an obvious example of the latter. Somehow the mind is gradually taught that the best way to operate in the world is to think and behave as if it exists cut off from the rest of reality, except for those times in which it chooses to exert influence upon the environment. This concept can be useful as a matter of social convention (imagine trying to talk to someone without "I" or "You"), but when taken as real it causes all kinds of problems.
Much of the illusion of self is based around brute repition of thoughts, like "I decided to do that" or "I am thinking my thoughts". When examined these thoughts can be revealed to be nonsensical, but we hear them in our head thousands of times a day and eventually the 'evidence' of millions of I memories comes to outweigh a present observation, if there even is one being performed.
2) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from before you started this dialogue? Please report from the past few days.
Yesterday I looked at my hand and for the first time thought of it as myself; not "my hand", but my self. Before I would consider My Hand as an extension of My Arm, which is in turn an instrument of My Nervous System; this series of interacting objects going back to some undefineable point somewhere behind the eyes which I call "me". I feel this same closeness with other (non-bodily) things, but interestingly enough not to the same degree. This doesn't feel like a problem, but a result of this particular slice of experience being mediated by a body-mind that carries with it an innate sense of self (self in the spatial, bodily sense of the word).
Today I attempted to engage in my personal problems as a Someone with a personal investment, but I couldn't do it. It felt like trying to swim down to the bottom of a pool but being forced up by the water pressure before you can touch the bottom. The problems themselves don't seem any more trivial than they did a week ago, but considering them fails to produce the same mental anxiety and looping thoughts that "I" try and fail to make go away with other thoughts (haha).
3) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
I find it funny that I ended up not needing *more* information, but less information. There wasn't some moment of finality where I really dug down deep and strained and tried my hardest to look and see what was what; instead I relaxed and stopped stirring up all the shit inside that was blocking the view. Afterwards it feels that even if the sky gets cloudy again, I'm always aware what is just behind the clouds. What was necessary for me was to be completely exhausted by the active portion of this investigation so that only the passive looking remained. That way I could stop trying to pick individual bits of detritus out of the water of the mind when really I was just muddying it up all the more with my flailing.
4) Do you decide, intend, choose, control events in Life? Do you make anything happen? Give examples from your experience.
No, not actually. There may appear thoughts such as "I intended this" and "I chose that" coinciding with an action, but the thought did not cause the action. This body makes events happen in the sense that is an integral part of the continuous process of the environment, but it is equally as vital to that process as any other part. It would be no more or less accurate to say that life makes me happen as it is to say I make life happen. Both are half-truths borne out of the fact that everything that is going on is really one event.Right now I am opening and closing my right hand; I have no idea how I am doing it and could not describe so to you, but it functions perfectly well anyway. Immediately after that I start opening and closing my left hand before there is even awareness that I am doing so. A thought along the lines of "I am opening and closing my hand" never appears.
It is continually interesting to me that in this sort of investigation: the less we understand something, the more control it can seem we have over it. That sounds sort of counter-intuitive, but if all the machinery (so to speak) behind an event that I am involved in is revealed, it is very clear that there is no room for an independent agent.