Several days have passed since my last post. What is happening for you? Do you have any questions? I would like you to answer the last questions as you will then be able to use the Further Investigation (FI) forum when you want to look deeper or you have doubts that appear. All you need to do is start a thread there and a guide will pick it up. This way you will have several avenues of support ie the FB groups and the FI forum.
I'm extremely sorry for leaving it so long, I have spent the last few days without wifi which I wasn't expecting. I've been having great success just looking at thoughts and sensations as they appear, and seeing them for what they are. I have been looking at thoughts as AE rather than things which tell the truth about reality. And sensations I see as AE of sensation, although a lot of the time I can't even find a definite sensation when I look at 'emotions'. In relation to realising the non-existence of the separate self, I've thought long and hard and I'm still not sure whether I have had the realisation, but think it's likely that I have. There are still many doubting thoughts, but I can't imagine ever not having those thoughts, about this or anything else because that's just what thoughts do. I'm not sure what form the realisation would come in, because anything thought talks about is just another story and everything that actually is just is, so I don't know how it can be known that one has had the realisation. But if I ask thought 'is there a separate self?', the answer is 'no, almost certainly not', so I'm going to answer the final questions:
1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form?
Was there ever?
No such entity can be found. There are only thoughts that seem to point to an 'I'. These thoughts can easily be mistaken for a separate self, but they are not because they're just what is. The separate self has never existed in the past because there is no past for it to have existed in, there is only the now, but in the context of the past there has never been a separate self either; if such an entity doesn't exist now it cannot have existed previously.
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 the separate self, when looked into, is found to be only thoughts about a separate self, which are accompanied by the belief in those thoughts, which itself is just more thought. It starts as soon as belief in the thoughts about a separate self occurs. What really exists, is soundsmellcolourtastesensationthought, but there is no 'I' to 'be' any of those things, because they are just exactly what they are. No separate entity is required for experience to exist.
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.
In relation to the non-existence of the separate self, it doesn't feel any different. I still feel like me, I still go about my day 'making decisions' and thoughts still appear about 'I'. I don't feel as though I'm seeing anything differently because there's nothing to see except what was always there anyway. Everything that appears to point to the 'I' is still there, and even if thought says 'there is no separate self' that's just another thought. I'm not sure what could be different after realising I don't exist, unless it was by some byproduct. However what has made a difference to how I feel is learning to watch thoughts and sensations appear as they do without investing greatly in them or trying to eradicate them. It's pretty much a bulletproof approach to anything because I'm not really doing anything, not trying to change anything but just placing attention onto experience. But the benefit of it has been that, when negative emotions appear, the suffering that usually comes with them is greatly reduced, and I even feel peaceful and content at the same time these emotions are present. The thoughts cannot hurt me, and the sensations are nothing to be afraid of.
4) What was the last bit that pushed you over; made you look?
There's nothing to be pushed over and nothing to see, I think that in itself is the realisation. I don't think there was a last bit that can be pinpointed, but rather a gradual, subtle deepening of the understanding of no-self, though this understanding is itself conceptual because in truth there's absolutely nothing to understand.
5) a) Describe decision, intention, free will, choice and control. What makes things happen? How does it work? Give examples from your own recent experiences to how things happen and how things work.
Nothing can be found that makes things happen. The way the illusion works, is that thoughts appear about a 'me' that is making decisions and choices, and controlling thoughts and behaviour. When actions are taken, there is thought about a 'me' that is taking action, but really there is only experience, including AE of the thought itself. The thoughts about a 'me' are not simply 'I am doing this' or 'I am making this decision', they are generally much more complex than that, and difficult to describe here, but they create a powerful 'sense of a self'. However, when this sense of self is seen as just another thought, there is nothing left to see, and it is clear that no decision-maker or controller can be found. For example when I chose from a menu which meal to have, that 'choice' occurred as a thought, but the thought cannot come from anyone/anywhere, because there's no-one and nowhere for it to come from. There is no-one there to provoke the thought. Even the thought 'I chose that dish' comes from nowhere. Another example would be the preferences that pop up when choosing a place to stay, such as 'I would like to stay somewhere quiet and cheap'. These preferences are just thoughts and feelings that arise from nowhere, there is no me choosing them.
b) What are you responsible for? Give examples from your own recent experiences to how this works.
I am not responsible for anything because there is no 'me'. There are thoughts about responsibility, for example those around guilt from past actions, but in truth there is just thought and sensation occurring, the guilt that it talks about cannot be found, and the past that events are supposed to have taken place in is non-existent. For example, a thought about a past action arose yesterday and was accompanied by a sensation labelled by thought as 'guilt'. But all that can be verified is that thought and sensation are occurring; all the many, many stories that thought creates cannot be verification of anything other than of existence itself. I can't know the events that thought depicts ever took place, or that there was a me that had a choice in any action that was taken.
6) Anything to add?
Thank you for all your help and guidance over the last couple of months Kay, it is very much appreciated!