I've had a really busy couple of days in work the last few days and the body is shattered. I'll do my best to answer your questions honestly.
1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form?
Was there ever?
or a very long time up until I started this investigation with you it was taken for granted as absolute fact that I was my body and mind. The identity of likes and dislikes characteristics and idiosyncrasies created by thought was thought to be who I am. I have since found through all the questions and exercises done with you Kay that that whole separate self was purely a figment of my imagination and nothing more. So no there was no separate self to be found anywhere. There never was a separate self except an illusory self I me created by thought and the conditioning of my parents surrounding and accepted social norms.
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.
From my own understanding and experience the illusion of a separate self comes about and is created by thought in response to the conditioning from my parents. As a young infant I was totally dependant on my parents to provide food shelter and security. They gave me a name Ado and told me I was their son and they were my mother and father. From my understanding the illusion of a separate self begins to form from about 18 months onwards and is set in stone from about 3 years of age onwards. I suppose around 18 months was around the time the first I thought was noticed. This then was built on and constantly reinforced by my parents, caregivers and the wider circle of family, friends and society in general.
I have been told by my mother that I used to sit for hours if an overturned pot in my Grandmother's yard in Kerry and watch her chickens. I was probably 3 to 5 yrs old. I do vaguely remember this and I have had a strong connection with animals ever since particularly horses.
This illusory self has been developed over the years and there has been identification with various aspects of it. For example I'm a recovering alcoholic/addict and has a strong identification with that particularly after getting sober 23 yrs ago. In AA meetings I introduce myself by saying I'm Ado and I'm an alcoholic. I can see now that this body did become addicted to alcohol and drugs and I can never drink safely again but I can also see that that identification is still only part of the illusory self.
I was always into sport and fitness swimming competitively. cycle racing and more recently riding out racehorses. There has always been a strong identification with my body and really liking feeling fit and strong and also enjoying the sexual attention I would get from having a lean fit body. I also get told a lot that I'm handsome and good looking. This was latched onto by the illusory self because it liked the attention. On the other side of that coin I have put on a good few pounds through comfort eating since myself and my wife separated and the egoic illusory self does not like that one bit since it judges itself purely on the outside image and what others think of him.
All this identification with the illusory self has caused so much unnecessary suffering going from loving the attention of applause from the audience when a music gig goes well to the crushing lows of perceived rejection from a trusted friend or lover.
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 great to see this and as I said last weekend with my friend Liam, who woke up a year ago, there was a major shift in perception. The illusory self was clearly seen through and there was a very deep stillness and a lot of tears and joyful emotion and peace. For about the next 48 hours thoughts were barely perceptible in the background and there was just experience. This has faded somewhat but thoughts still just aren't sticking as much and are being seen through much more easily. I have been very busy with work and am also organising an auctioneer to help my mother sell a small field that belonged to my father. I'm seeing how important self care is as negative thoughts seem to increase exponentially the more tired the body is.
The main difference from before I started this investigation and now is that while there hasn't been a huge explosion or lightbulb moment there is no believing the thoughts anymore. There has been some phenomenal moments of experience last weekend and also a number of weeks ago in the restaurant where there was just pure joy and peace. The predominant sense is that of not giving a hoot about anything and that is incredibly freeing.
I'll post this for now and I'll post my responses to the last two questions later today or tomorrow.
All the best