So here are my answers to the questions.
No. There is none. There never was any.1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
Funny how long there has been no recognition of this basic fact here lol.
The illusion of separate self is this complex and unrelenting falsehood that “I”, a unique individual, am a separate “me” – as opposed to what is viewed as “not-me”. It’s in the identification with “my” body, “my” thoughts, “my” witness, “my” emotions, “my” beliefs, and a total immersion in “my” life story. It brings a sense of disconnection from the all that is, that living emptiness, or whatever you may want to call it.2) Give in your own words what the illusion of separate self is and how it shows up in experience.
How does it show in experience? As the feeling that “you” are “your” name, “your” looks, “your” face in the mirror, “your” CV, “your” nationality, religion, age, status, etc., “your” role labels of being a mother, a friend, a sister, a coworker, etc. This happens through language, in various situations which call for some sort of identification, starting from early childhood when you’re made to internalise the concept of your “I”, i.e. the body with your name and surname as opposed to other “I’s” with their bodies, names and surnames.
As you grow older, more and more labels are added, reinforcing this sense of “myself” as a separate entity. With that comes the forgetting that “I” is just a construct and that in fact nothing like it exists. Naturally, care must be taken to perpetuate the falsehood once it has been created. So the focus is increasingly on “me” and what is “mine” (my family, my career, and so on), and “others” are seen as separate entities and potential threats to “my” fulfillment. On these imaginary threats whole stories are built in order to try and make sense of the various experiences that happen, but in the end these stories only serve to reinforce the illusion and “my” sense of inadequacy, anxiety, guilt, frustration, etc. Then more stories are needed, and so this grand illusion keeps perpetuating itself.
When the inquiry began, there was already no identification with the body and thoughts. By that time, there had also been the experience of facing the emptiness and realizing that it is me and it is what I am, no more, no less.Also, through your inquiry, what is different now?
But there was still identification with the witness. It wasn’t quite obvious until last weekend.
If there is no separate “I”, which was clear following that latest experience, who/what is this witness? Where does it sit in all that? Looking into this has revealed the witness to be the same as the thoughts it pretends to control: what is called "the witness" is only witness thoughts, acts of witnessing, nothing more to it.
If this question is about how it feels to have seen the emptiness, it’s been a relief, exhilaration and a sort of closure, all at once. No separation, no limits. Also, no more need for any spiritual path.3) How does it feel to see this?
If it’s about how it feels to have seen through the witness, the answer is: good. The witness has been seen for what it is, end of.
Either way, liberating.
The process kept unfolding on its own. Before joining LU, there was confusion and incredulity that this kind of thing can really be happening in the first place. I’d sure heard or read some non-duality teacher or other discussing the experience, but it seemed so exotic, so out of reach. I wasn’t actively seeking enlightenment, truth or anything else. To be honest, I felt fine as I was. There was this sense of being whole, of nothing missing. So it was just living, being at peace, and quietly enjoying it moment by moment. Yes, there were some meditation experiences, but if they were not there, it was OK too. By the time we got talking with Luchana, these were all stories anyway, and no longer meaningful. The initial questions were gone too.What is the difference from before you started this dialogue? Please report from the past few days.
The one thing that the dialogue certainly did was to drive it home to me how automatic thoughts are – as automatic as scratching your head lol. And that just like the act of scratching doesn’t need the scratcher, in the same way the act of thinking doesn’t need the thinker to occur. Which is what led to exploration of the reality of the witness, as discussed above.
“If there is no thinker thinking, how can there be a witness witnessing?” I obsessed about this for quite some time, looking into how this operates. This was the last bit, leading to the witness being caught out and recognized as merely a thought as any other, a simple act of witnessing without any agent involved.4) What was the last bit that pushed you over; made you look?
All these concepts are fictions. They have no real existence. It’s an illusion that there are choices, various decision options, free will and so on, because every time there is only that one thing that is finally “chosen” or “decided on” “freely”. It may feel like there is a “me” taking decisions, setting intentions, making choices, having free will or being in control, but that is pure fiction too. There is no control over actions, thoughts and emotions. All these are automatic. Even trivial daily choices like whether to have tea or coffee, or what to wear have this “automatic” feel to them.5) a) Describe decision, intention, free will, choice and control. What makes things happen? How does it work?
Walking happens when needed as one leg is lifted and moved forward, then the other. Thoughts about having to go shopping come up when the fridge looks empty. Impatience arises on hearing some news on the radio or recieving a certain type of email. Just like that, no thinking, choosing or control involved. The witness is mainly off. There’s a lot of silence.Give examples from your own recent experiences to how things happen and how things work.
Nothing. There is nothing to be responsible for, and there is no one to be responsible or in control.b) What are you responsible for? Give examples from your own recent experiences to how this works
One example may be the experience of emptiness already referred to. Clearly, there is no “I” here that could possibly bring this about. Then the sense of relief that followed: again, no responsibility here. Or the lasting sense of peace and inner silence: same.
Thank you, Luchana, for taking the time to chat these couple of days.6) Anything to add?
All the best,