Back now. Yes ‘sort of retreat’ in that I was at a retreat centre but not on a retreat.
So, the six questions.
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 ‘self’ or ‘I’ in any shape or form. ‘I’ is just an illusion, a mistaken ‘notion’ about experience. There is just experience happening without an ‘I’. There never has been an ‘I’. Its not something that exists anywhere in anyone, in ‘me’ or even in anything.
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.
For some reason, habit in the deepest sense I guess, the ‘mind’ seems to attach to experience, to try to own experience. It sees a thought or feels a feeling and moves to own it. From this it seems to build a picture of a separate entity and refer experience to/through this illusory entity. This process is re-enforced by language and maybe even created by language. But looking into my experience I see that this is not true. There is no self at the back of experience. Behind all experience is a feeling/sense of emptiness. I have seen the mind trying to own experience and the absurdity of its trying to do this. Experience is not owned. There is no one or no thing to own it. There is just experience, whatever that is.
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.
How does it feel to see this? Different at different times. Sometimes amazing and strange, sometimes obvious as if, “duh, of course”. Sometimes ‘big’ sometimes hum-drum. It varies because of course experience varies. The difference from before – I’m still not sure. Something feels different. Perhaps I could say that there is some gap that seems to have opened up in my experience. It seems easier to see my conditioning, there is less attachment to it. In other ways everything is just the same!
4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
It was more like an accumulation of ‘realisations’. But a major part has been seeing that thought is really only thought, not special and NOT ME. This seems to be very funny when I see it. That thought is just thought, thought is not ‘I’, thought is not ‘mine’. I think this is where the illusion of self was mainly residing – as it were. What a trap! The idea that thinking, a voice in the head, made a self. Seems ridiculous now.
5) Do you decide, intend, choose, control events in Life? Do you make anything happen? Give examples from your experience.
Contrary to popular belief, even amongst spiritual practitioners and myself until recently, NO!
Through looking I saw that ‘I’ does not decide. There is an illusion of this but looking it is clear; I don’t choose what to think, I have no idea what the next thought will be. ‘I’ doesn’t decide to get up in the morning, it just happens at some point. The illusory self thinks it does things, decides things, is in control but in reality the ‘voice. In the head, the ‘narrator’, is just an afterthought that appears in the conscious mind after the ‘decision’ (read unfathomable culmination of conditions – at least I can’t fathom them) comes about. It is perhaps obvious with things like breathing. I don’t breath, but the same was true when I tried to choose a book from the bookshelf. There is no control over this process. Feelings, observations, thoughts etc. but no ‘I’ controlling this. It just happened, and a book was chosen. The same went for movement. ‘I’ doesn’t decide to move. If the ‘seeming self’ (and I’m not even sure what that is/was now), gives an instruction e.g. open the eyes, nothing happens but at some point the eyes open. Presumably when the conditions are right for that to happen. Amazing!!
6) Anything to add?
Why didn’t I see this before? Its so obvious, so close, and yet not perhaps. It is still going on, I still find myself ‘realising’ this. It seems that I keep seeing it from new angles. The latest was in a dream where I was falling into some dog shit! I woke up in the dream to realize that hey it doesn’t matter, this is not happening to a self. There are many other examples.
So pleased that I came across LU. Much gratitude to you Perry for so skillfully guiding me through this process. More gratitude to everyone involved with LU.
I will post this now as I’m about to go away, again, tomorrow.
Much love for now,