1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
No, there is not a separate entity 'self', 'me' or 'I' at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form.
There never was.
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 a separate entity self is generated by our thoughts which claim agency over the actions that we take and make judgements about our actions and everything which they define as external to us. These thoughts impose emotions on top of reality and attempt to define our interaction with and label reality and generate a layer of judgements and separation. They also attempt to model a coherent self by referring back to a past event and claiming some kind of permanence for the self and some kind of future caused by the actions of this self. I don’t know for sure but it seems like babys don’t have a sense of separate self. I believe a sense of separate self-starts from an early age when an infant develops a sense of self from interactions with parents and siblings, and that it is learnt and is reinforced by interactions at school and play. Society and others insists you’re a separate and unique and constant self and then rewards you for good and punishes you for bad and defines you by roles and appearances.
I see that I am not my thoughts, or story lines, or what others have told me I am/am not. I also see that this self cannot be found anywhere, and that also the barrier between the supposed self and other cannot be found in reality either. I also see that there is no self to take or be responsible for actions.
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.
I used to have compulsive, incessant thoughts that defined me and separated me from “others” and “outside”, and judgements that reality (and I) was not perfect and I needed to change it somehow from life, from peace. Dropping the “I, me mine” is freeing, liberating and feels expansive. The judgment bit is still tricky sometimes, it’s bad to have an accident and feel physical pain, and it is good to make someone else feel happy. But in general there is much less judgement and so much more acceptance and understanding and tolerance. . In the past, I have reacted to certain people and situations believing that I had to protect myself, or be 'right', or was defensive. Now, in similar situations, I can laugh and let go of old reactions. Others are more open to me and treat me in a different way. I don’t attach any importance to planning any more, this cause’s friction with others sometimes.
4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
It just happened. I think I found the website randomly and was interested as I had already had some experiences around this and wanted to talk to others.
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.
There all just concepts occurring as thought and I've no idea where these thoughts come from.
So there is no control, no decision, no intention, no free , no will. How could there be as no separate self exists to take responsibility. I have no idea what makes things happen, all I can do is say what doesn’t make things happen (a separate me). There is no causality and there is no "me" so "I" cannot be responsible for anything. Examples? How does it work? Sorry those questions don’t seem to make any sense…..
6) Anything to add?
Thank you to the founders of this forum and to Jadzia. I know these things deeply now but think I would still have difficulty explaining these to others who hadnt already seen them. I would lke to learn how to do this.