1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
Until the question was asked and I started looking I had not even questioned what had never been challenged.
Having now spent 12 days looking directly, looking everywhere I can find no separate real entity called “me” or “I” – the conclusion is that there never has been such an entity. It only existed in word and thought ... like closing my eyes and imagining a unicorn did not mean there was a unicorn anywhere.
2) 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.
The illusion of a separate self appears is a complex fiction, a matrix of notions and sub-routines creating a no-thing that has no tangible or real existence. It is a story and one lived large everywhere that starts early in life. My mother probably talked to me in the womb and the words and physical messages and cues from a very early age overlaid what I suspect at birth was pure sensory perception. The whole of human society and history seems to have this unchallenged base note that seems to be at the heart of suffering and misery of many kinds. You are told you are a boy, a good boy, a bad boy … label upon label, experience upon experience … smart, funny, stupid, lazy …. Nothing about being so it never occurs that everyone is wearing the Emperor’s new clothes. It led me to a position of isolation, fear, doubt, anguish, pain … all that damaging, life sapping horror so I couldn’t just be.
Worse than that I was responsible … it was “my” fault and it was all up to “me” to fix it like life was some kind of Rubic’s cube that always had a piece missing. The “I” was running the show and responsible for every thought and action, for every thing that happened. There was a little bloke called “me” in a control box doing it all and doing it badly but they were the cards I had been dealt.
All there is, though, is what there is right now … just awareness … not a person seeing … just seeing. Thoughts rise and fall and things occur ... the body operates …
3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from before you started this dialogue? Please report from the past few days.
To see it is to experience such liberation I’m too stoked to weep even ... there is no looking over the shoulder, no regret … it is really like everything is made new yet nothing has changed.
When I started on this trip I was anxious with a deep seated sense of life passing by and that I was dumb and would never master this shit … front and centre was this “I” that was alone and miserable. Compared to most of my peers I was successful … married to the same person for 31 years, good job, nice house in a nice area, a couple of kids, some cool friends, eclectic and stimulating man with wide interests … that is the outside view.
Inside I was churned up ... but now? For the last few days I have not been feeling “myself” at all … to an astonishing extent the inner chatter and self judgment has subsided and those inner churnings have just gone, baby, gone!!!! I walk, I laugh, I talk, I eat, I breath, I stroke the dog … yet there is actually no “I” there is only walking, laughing, talking, eating, breathing and dog stroking.
I feel like I was living with a permanent hangover and I am now in a state of wondrous shock ... all of what I thought of as “me” has just fallen off and I couldn’t be happier about it. Life is less complicated ... the flow just happens and that constant internal self analysis and criticism seems to have taken a hike.
I went to the movies with my wife and daughter last night "Beauty and the Beast" ... I would previously have said this sort of movie wasn't "me" ... god it was a fun experience ... ice cream, music, light, people watching ... I feel like I am actually living rather than locked in an invisible "me" prison.
4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
There was no one straw breaking camel’s back moment. A day water blasting the paths and walls in the sun thinking nothing and just being was weirdly one of the most awesome days of my life … it was like the work I had done here had primed the pump, so to speak and within I was simply observing everything. Being with the chickens in the garden and watching them forage … no time no space, no separation … just awareness.
The way other people are seen has changed as well … no more judgment … the less of the old ham actor “me” and the happier and lighter I get. At a friend’s place the other night was such a free and joyous experience … there is nothing to do, nothing to change, nothing to control … just ride and watch, watch and ride … chop wood, drink beer.
When I committed to stop overthinking everything and do the work, just surrendered to watching what was going on was when this went into overdrive …
5) Can you talk about decision, intention, free will, choice and control? What makes things happen? How does it work? What are you responsible for? Give examples from experience.
We can but in a way I don’t know anything anymore apart from there is no decision maker, no prime mover who directs all things in my life.
I don't know the mechanics of it all as I look through this glass darkly … sensory input occurs and then something happens, or doesn’t happen ... sometimes there are thoughts happening seemingly at the same time but that is most likely a shadow of the former impulse to take credit.
What is amazing is that I'm not bothered ... this sense of rightness of lightness or real trumps all I've known in the past.
If there is no self doing anything then there is no free will as nobody to have a will, no intention because nobody to intend, no decision as no decision maker, no choice and nobody to make one.
It feels weird to read those words … I watch my fingers pecking away and words appear ... so abstract.
So somehow the questions you ask are being answered and a written response composed but just how this happens, the nuts and bolts of it all are largely a mystery now that I know there is no "person" behind them ... I expect a reframing to continually occur as I grow into this.
Sometimes I will observe an impulse for coffee and I get a coffee but that isn’t done by a little guy with an X Box controller on a couch in my head … these things just arise, they happen.
All I can say is that everything appears perfectly right as it is. Whether there is a chain of cause and effect or some esoteric meld of sense, thought hybrid goodness knows … there is just this endless flow of uninterrupted life, simultaneous creation and annihilation … I’m keen to know more.
What am I responsible for? There is no “I” so I’m responsible for nothing … just keeping out of the way and staying in this flow of being rather than mindscrew of labelling and knuckle biting.
I'll chop wood and drink beer and do right but I'm a baby again ...
I’ve moved from being a noun and reborn as a verb … go figure … there is still mystery.
6) Anything to add?
Nothing can be added or taken away but I do want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you and the community which you are part of. I told a friend of my journey here and she asked me if it was a cult and I laughed. You ask for nothing … you all are genuinely interested and committed to spreading this liberation.
I am so grateful that I came upon this site and for me after so many years of searching, the desperation of time running out, the feelings of inadequacy … in the end this has been the simplest thing.
So here I am now, “I less” and understand and know there is no separation … just oneness.
So what is next? That is all really … what is next? What is the next question?