Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works.
The illusion of a separate self starts when we are learning language, we learn me/mine and you/yours, then we learn labels relating to me, such as girl/good/naughty/noisy and all their opposites so that tells us we are one thing but not another. So we come to believe the cultural norm, the illusion, that we are separate individuals, responsible for our words and actions which are all labeled as belonging to 'i/me', while all perfection and wholeness is held up to us by religion as something we will never attain, after all, how many saints are there?
As an illusory separate self there is loneliness, loss and suffering, neediness and striving, so all our lives from early childhood we may be searching for the oneness we lost by falling under the illusion of being separate. We think that we are the thinker, the doer in our lives, not realising that like the rest of reality we are simply life expressing itself. The mighty ego is not really in charge, in control, responsible for everything. The sages and teachers point the way, but in our delusion we misunderstand. Jesus said something about becoming like a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven ... yes, the little child who is not yet under the illusion of separateness, who still feels the oneness of the vibrant life of nature!
How does it feel to see this?
Such a relief ...oh, such a relief. Such a long search is over, what was thought to be lost is regained. There is not a big light bulb flash, just the quietness of things gradually rearranging themselves, of little differences, of moments of sudden smiles or laughter. Such a vast peacefulness, so smooth and gentle like light on the still sea. Still there are thoughts popping up "What about this, what about that" but there is no interest in following or answering. Still unknowns, but happiness, no worry or anxiety, happy for unknowing. Feel a lot more unknowing will come into awareness. Not clever, smart, famous, no no no, more unknowing and peace and letting be.
How would you describe it to somebody who has never heard about this illusion.
I tried a little explanation yesterday, with an old friend who is used to talking about these things. A bit awestruck about describing it to anyone, but ...here goes. You may be like me, who thought that I was a separate being, sure, part of the whole, but still a separate spirit/soul, who has been incarnating in this world for thousands of years. You might think that you have loads of good or bad karma, and that one day you will be free from this wheel of life and death, by one means or other. But is this true? What evidence to you have that you exist as a separate being?
Who is the "I", the self? Take a look and see if you can find a self? Is it you who is thinking? Watch your thoughts and see if you can find the thinker, watch your actions and look for the doer. You will start to realise that thinking is happening on its own, that having control of thoughts is another illusion. Thoughts are arising from your mind, which has a lifetime of training in how to think, what is important to pay attention to, as well as all the information from the past and hopes/fears for future, and attention to how others are possibly perceiving you. This big complex program is running itself, there is no "I" making it happen. Actions are arising on their own too, no doer deciding what to do, even though it appears as if there is. Doing happens, walking happens, speaking happens, no doer involved. And if there is no self, there is also no other, just life in another embodiment, the same life that is expressing through you. Sit quietly wherever you are and notice what is real .... such as body, furniture, feelings, thoughts, sensations, surroundings ... can you find an "I" here ... or are there just thoughts, feelings, sensations etc?
What was the last bit that pushed you over? What had you SEE through the illusion of self?
There was no moment, the main disruption of the illusion which was thinning came when investigating where thoughts come from, as the mind struggled and refused to concentrate, as a feeling of panic and stuckness arose, things began to clear. It was staying with it through your guidance and questioning that brought things to a crisis and the solidity of the I illusion crumbled.
Much gratitude and love, and please lets stay in touch as life reorganizes itself'