1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
No. There is no such thing as a separate entity, could not "find" any anywhere or anywhen. What I could find was a lot of different phenomenons but a separte "self", "me", "I" no.
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 comes about because a thought got believed. A thought popped up and claimed ownership of the whole "show". It it was somehow believed in.
When did it start ? Probably at some point in childhood when an "ego" is formed, where a condensation of the energy seemed to convince us that there "I" was, as the "boss/patron" of the place.
So how it works in my own experience is that it still appears
that there is a solid entity that is and has/owns this body, this mind/thoughts, these choices, these actions. When I look for it, to find it precisely, whooooosh it disappears, it goes further away as the fog. I can find a lot of "things/experiences" but a real "boss" that is in charge and that I could send to a karmic jail ? No. Never. A thought comes again, saying "yes but it's meeeeee". Yeah, right ^^ (ironic accent)
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.
It feels quite freeing to see this with more clarity. Lots of mental space gets created. I think that I will be keeping spending some time in the coming week releasing a lot of the tensions that came up to "sustain" the "I", to apparently
save "face" and project an ideal "me" to the world. So much tension. Dropping the mask feels really gooooooood.
4) What was the last bit that pushed you over; made you look?
This question you asked me about DOING. What did "you" do
to be born ? What can "you"
to avoid death ? How obvious it was that to BE, no DOING was needed. This pushed me into a burst of laughter through the Gateless Gate :)
5) Describe decision, intention, free will, choice and control. What makes things happen? How does it work? What are you responsible for? Give examples from experience.
So I "decided" to go out yesterday to buy some shoes. Then looking at the rain and the tiredness, I stayed home. So much for the decision lol. So decision is a thought, that if acted upon, give the illusion that it got obeyed. That the "boss" had the power to ACT and DO. But NO, "life" decided otherwise, take that in your "no-teeth" Mr non-existent Big Boss :D
So say "I" intended to take a sip of this gorgeous looking cup of coffee.
Ok now it's done I have drunk it. So where does this intention came from ? Thirst, tiredness probably. The physical body bodying like the rain was raining. Bang. A thought arose from there. That got labelled "I intend to". But lol, this thought was just the surface of a gigantic natural iceberg.
Free will is a persistent illusion that is based on a strange idea that "things could have been otherwise".
But this otherwise, can I find it NOW ? NO NO NO. So it's simply NOT. It only appears as a projection as a show as an imagination. And from that imagination I create the illusion of free will, that I can freely chose this rather than that, that I am a "free" agent. First of all I am NOT a REAL agent. There is NO agent !!!! So for whom this free will is ??
So I put these 2 coins in front of me. One big, one small.
Let me pick one.
Ok so before picking I look at both...how to choose/decide which to pick ???
Ok so I picked the big one which was on the right.
Why ? No idea.
It just happened that is the one I picked there.
If I were to choose which film to watch ? Who is making the choice ? A LOT of factors that I have ZERO control upon. A lot of factors such as : Am I alone or with someone, Have I seen it before ? Which mood is present ? What is the temperature of the room, is it day or night....etc....etc..... An uncountable infinite reason. So why why why why would I believe that "I" chose one rather than an other ???
What can "I" control ? Nothing, there is no "I". Can "I" choose to appear as a thought in this moment ? Can "I" not drink when I'm really thirsty ? Can "I" control aging ? Growth of hair ? NO NO NO NO NO.
What makes things happen?
I don't know. I only know they do happen. As a long shot guess I'd say that this is something gigantic, call it "God", call it "The Tao", call it "the universe", call it "Maya the illusion", call it "the dream of Shiva".
"I" do NOT know. There is only impersonal witnessing of this whole SHOW, of THIS.
How does it work?
I don't know. I can only observe the entanglement of thoughts, the bursting of emotions, the believe and non belief. How it works I do NOT know. I'm only witnessing it.
What are you responsible for?
"I" am not responsible for anything. There is no separate "I" that is responsible.
Of conventionally I have responsibility in my job etc... BUT if the energy to "do" these things would go away, then what ? I'll simply "get fired" etc... So the responsibility should be humbled to a level of what the "universe" let this experiencing do or not do.
6) Anything to add?
Thank you so much Strafford for holding the space for me, for your precise questions and infinite patience !!!!