I found your blog today from a
discussion on Facebook. Are you still available to have dialogues? I
went to your "Start Here" page and wrote down, "There is no self in
reality at all." Here’s my report:
• Felt peace, and at the same time excitement. Saw clear, continuous aliveness, uninterrupted by appearances. Sigh of relief.
• Digging deeper, wrote down
"Not even this relieved self, or peaceful perceiver of aliveness exists
in reality." "NO PERCEIVER"
• Slight frustration, because that ‘doesn't make sense’.
• What is this frustration protecting? If there is no self, there's no perceiver and nothing to protect.
• Doubt comes up that "I" can be enlightened and see through the separate "I". Laughter: that doesn't make sense either.
• What is doubt protecting? A sense that I could lose it and be out of control?
• This doubt and fear is part of
the "I" belief. WHO has an I belief? Does an organic arising like a
leaf or wave have an I belief?
• A leaf or wave has no belief, just momentary arising and falling of appearances within continuous aliveness.
That's how far I got.
Thanks so much,
Thank you for writing to me. I will help you with all I got, to work this out. :)
Yes your doubt is spot on. "I" cannot get enlightened. There is no I,
and there is no enlightenment. We’re looking for a drop of belief.
Imagine you are holding a spoon right now. Just imagine, how much does
it weigh? What is it made of? Keep this image in mind until it feels
Now, I say there is no spoon in reality. What can you do to see that?
You just look, and see that it is true—there is no spoon. The spoon was
It is exactly the same with the self. There is no self. What you do is
look: can it be found in real life? No, it's only imagined. But since
you have believed for your whole life that there is a separate entity,
it's not as easy as seeing that there is no spoon. We need to cut
through this illusion until you see it clearly.
We need to look into thought with thought. So let's start here: can you
control thoughts? Can you stop them mid-stream? Can you know what the
next thought will be? Where do thoughts come from? How does thinking
Just write everything that you feel is true. Let's see what you got.
“What you do is look: can it be found in real life? No, it's only imagined.”
Yes, these appearing sensations
and thoughts CANNOT be evidence of a separate self! It's just like the
spoon. There were vivid sensations and qualities appearing when I was
imagining it, but when I looked, nothing. Same with Matt. Thank you for
the imaginary spoon metaphor. Brilliant.
“But you have been believing
that there is a separate entity for whole your life, so it's not as easy
as seeing that there is no spoon.”
True. But can one half-second
glimpse like that really cut through a lifetime of false belief? I don't
know if there's a shift yet.
By the way, I am willing to
repeat the "looking" and try harder. I don't know what your perspective
is on "effortlessness". Some say that trying hard "re-engages the ego". I
would guess you're not worried about that, since you say there is no
such ego entity that could be re-engaged. ;-)
“We need to look into thought
with thought. So let's start here: can you control thoughts?” No, even
the belief that I can control thoughts is a thought, and I have no idea
how that thought got here.
“Can you stop them in mid-stream?”
Impossible. Thoughts don't seem to have any duration, anyway.
“Can you know what the next thought will be?”
Impossible. What an arrogant assumption I’ve harbored—that I'm in control of some future experience!
“Where do thoughts come from?”
Nowhere. Perhaps from some
natural chemical reaction somewhere, but that's a thought too, and I
don't see a concrete source for it.
“How does thinking work?”
Thinking seems to be a complex
but empty functioning of a nervous system, like the dance of the bees.
The 'I'-thought claims agency, as if a thought can think thoughts.
Bitter, grievous illusion! (small tears). Disgusting. Thank you.
You are doing very well! No, it's more than a half-second glimpse. We will be looking until there is absolute certainty.
Yes, your answers about thought are spot on. Now we need to look at the content of thought and the labeling process itself.
Close your eyes and notice what is going on. Can you identify the
feeling of aliveness, beingness, 'am' that is always there unchanging?
Stay with this for a bit. Notice how breathing happens, and notice the
sounds as breath moves in and out. Notice the mind labeling everything
that is experienced:
Breathing comes, and the mind labels it, “I’m breathing.”
Hearing comes, and the mind says, “I hear.”
Feeling appears, “I feel….”
Noticing is happening and the label comes: “I notice....”
Now, check to see if there is a real breather in there, a hearer, a feeler, a noticer.
Play with this a bit and see what you find. Notice that “I” is just a
word, a label that comes before other words or labels. “I” is just part
Then, open your eyes and look around. See things in the room: the word
table points to a real table. The word ‘monitor’ points to a real
monitor. The word ‘body’ points to a real body. The word ‘hand’ points
to a real hand.
Now look and see if there is 'self' in real life. Can you find one? What
does the word 'self' point to? Please write when you are ready. :)
I got busy with work today, but this is what I wrote, mostly in the morning. Thank you again for staying with me on this.
Close your eyes and notice what
is going on. Can you identify the feeling of aliveness, beingness, 'am'
that is always there unchanging? Stay with this for a bit. Notice how
breathing happens, and notice the sounds as breath moves in and out.
Notice the mind labeling everything that is experienced:
Breathing comes, and the mind labels it, “I’m breathing.”
Hearing comes, and the mind says, “I hear.”
Feeling appears, “I feel….”
Yes, it is all just labeling!
Without labels, all that is just amorphous, nondescript clouds of
sensation (if anything...). And the labeling is intimately connected to
this 'I' label, as if it is 'I' that is seeing and inspecting these
sensations and labels. And this 'I' thought often seems to associate
itself with the eyeballs-sensation. "Where am I? Behind the eyes." But
the eyes and the space behind are also just sensation-plus-assumption,
and without labels, they are indescribable sensations that are actually
hard to locate or pin down or describe in any way.
“Now, check to see if there is a real breather in there, a hearer, a feeler, a noticer.”
I can't find anything that is
certain here; everything is shifting, dark, murky, jumbled. When I look
for a breather, hearer and feeler, an image or a feeling is seen as if
by these 'closed eyes'. I can't be an image or a feeling. When I look
for the seer of the image labeled 'closed eyes', the 'I' shifts to
another kind of sensation or attitude or energy pattern that reminds my
of my father somehow: another psychophysical image.
Then it seems that all of this is
appearing on an open, airy movie screen that is not directly visible.
Open, alive awareness. Am I not this open awareness? It is not a
separate thing; it is one with whatever appears. There is no separate
'I' to be found—only sensations appearing in non-separate, open
nothingness. Even though it is invisible it seems this no-thingness is
alive, dynamic, clear. So ultimately no, I can't find an entity that is
doing breathing, hearing, feeling.
“Play with this a bit and see
what you find. Notice that ‘I’ is just a word, a label that comes before
other words or labels. ‘I’ is just part of language.”
Yes, 'I' is just a word / idea /
experience seemingly behind all the other words / ideas / experiences.
It is a convention of language that is believed, like the imaginary
spoon. The word "spoon" is not a spoon. The word 'I' is not a separate
“Noticing is happening and the
label comes: ‘I notice....’” Yes, there's that sense of ownership /
agency / identity again, claiming its own separate existence.
Then, open your eyes and look
around. See things in the room: the word table points to a real
table. The word ‘monitor’ points to a real monitor. The word ‘body’
points to a real body. The word ‘hand’ points to a real hand. Now look
and see if there is 'self' in real life. Can you find one? What does
the word 'self' point to?” It certainly doesn't point to anything that I
can find. It is a false belief, blind faith, a bizarre ‘religious cult’
of suffering. The word 'self' points to the word ‘self’, that’s it.
Awesome, Matt. So is there a separate self at all? Was there ever?
No, it's logically impossible.
That is the intellectual conviction here, superimposed on the cesspool
of lethargy and ignorance. I still need help!
OK, no problem, let's get you to seeing. There is no self at all in real life. What feelings inside come up right now?
• Is there anything there trying to protect you? If so, what? What is behind the feelings?
• Look at the truth, accept it is truth and let the true reveal itself.
• Is there a 'you' to see it?
Thank you so much. I will spend some time with this in the morning and write back then!
“There is no self at all in real life. What feelings inside come up right now?”
I think a little bit sad; all the
energy that went into building the 'self' up, controlling him, making
him stand out—all of that was a waste of time.
Yes, it's sad. Just let that be OK.
Thank you SO much for saying
that. It really IS okay that thoughts or energies labeled "sadness" flow
through the open space of awareness
Yes, all was going on on automatic anyway, just as it is now. There is
no choice, no free will, all is life; all is flow, no matter how it may
seem from a limited perspective.
YES, all is open flow, including the thoughts and labels that appear to be a "limited perspective".
“Is there anything trying to protect you? If so, what?”
Those feelings are about protecting 'specialness', arrogance, rightness.
Look now, what is behind specialness?
Fear about not being special, not being 'something', which is really fear of death.
Yes, that which does not exist cannot die. Isn't that just crazy, how
fear of death is constantly there, when there is nothing to die?
It’s literally crazy; it's psychotic paranoia.
Again, what is behind arrogance, what is behind rightness? Are they
anything else but thoughts? If so, what is behind the thoughts?
Yes, all the above are indeed
just thoughts and nothing else! Thoughts about thoughts, indicating
nothing else but thoughts. Strangely, there seems to be a protective
force against thriving—being totally alive and well and illumined.
That is just programming, conditioning and conflicting beliefs; clutter
in the system that does not let it run smoothly. I call it iVirus. It’s
just a set of data in the system that needs to be removed, so the system
can run freely. What is behind it?
iVirus, yes! And looking will
'remove' it. Behind all of these data (and others, if they come up), is
the interpretation or ‘point of view’ of separate self. A point of view
is not solid, separate; it is transparent to awareness, aliveness,
beingness. Points of view are no problem.
When a point of view is taken for reality, it's a problem. As long as
you know that the point of view is just a story, it stops having power.
Also, write down what you expect from this. Sometimes a subtle belief can be in a way. Just get it all out in writing.
I expect from 'looking' to see
very clearly, with certainty and permanence, that there is no separate,
substantial i-self. Then I hope to be forever happy and humble and
generous and loving (and spiritually successful and special!) — it all
comes back to the belief in an individual 'I', and the hope of
'enlightening the I'.
There is nothing I've found yet
that exists in order that it can be enlightened. I have nothing to
substantiate the belief that there is a real 'person' here. No proof
whatsoever. Just an old story. Yes, the story has no power if there is
no belief feeding it.
Good, look at the truth, accept it is truth and let the truth reveal
itself. It really helps at this point to get out into nature and observe
totality. Just spend some time in a park :) Looking forward to your
I’ll continue later. Got to run! Not much nature here. Could do that in a couple weeks, perhaps. Thanks so much!!
Nature can be found everywhere. You are not outside of it. :) Keep looking and just notice the obvious.
Thank you, I was able to look deep and long while walking through the city.
“…Look at the truth, accept it is truth and let the truth reveal itself.”
The truth is, I have looked and I
have not yet been able to locate a separate, substantial 'me'. When
there seems to be a 'me', it's clearly not a 'me', but a mere story made
of sensation and thought. Ilona, when am I going to be satisfied and
give up trying to locate this non-existent entity?!
Is there a 'you' to see it?
There is no 'me' trying to locate
a non-existent entity! There is no 'me' looking for me. There is no
'me' typing a message. There is no 'me' who believes in empty stories.
Awesome stuff, Matt.
I see that it's almost there, last few steps :)
Forever happy? That sounds a bit like the ending of a fairy tale....
Yes, so, let's let the fairy tale end! ;-)
After seeing through illusion life does not change, it's the same as
always been, “chop wood, carry water....” What changes is the feeling
inside! There is freedom in every experience. Freedom to feel, to
express, to live, to enjoy. It's freedom to feel anger and not be
consumed by it. Happy ending is end of loops of judgment feeding on
themselves.... So don't expect life suddenly transform. It will over
time. With every belief dropped there will be more and more peace in the
head. Again, “specialness” is a quality of a human infected with
iVirus. Once it's removed, then specialness goes too. There comes the
ordinarily simple human being. :) and peace within with what is.
I see that it's almost there, just a few final steps. :) Let it settle a
bit, live through the day just noticing the obvious, and answer me
1. Is there a self in any shape or form in reality? Was there ever?
"Self" is a just label, a
habitual thought. Although the habit is still strong, this thought has
no form that I can locate or substantiate. Thought has not shape or form
in reality. There is no separate self that has any shape or form in
reality. There is no one who has a habitual thought. Thoughts without a
thinker. Sensations without a sensor.
2. Explain in detail how the self works and what is it.
The "self" doesn't "work" at all,
it only appears to exist and function. The self is empty of self. The
functioning of a non-existing entity is non-existent, empty. Thoughts of
separateness have no duration or real existence of their own. Thought
is empty of itself. Only Existence exists through the apparent thoughts
and sensations that appear to describe separateness. These thoughts and
sensations appear to appear and simultaneously disappear, revealing only
the Open Space of Aware Existence. The thought or sensation that says
"self" is not even thought and sensation; it is nothing other than the
Open Space of Aware Existence Itself.
3. How does it feel to be liberated? :)
Exactly the same as ever, only
sweeter because there is no anxiety around those feelings. There is no
anxiety about "becoming liberated". There is no desire for a different
Oh, yes!! I see that you are through! :)
Strong doubts and reservations arise, but they are also empty, without substance or power.
They will keep arising until they don't anymore. You know that, so just keep looking behind stuff.
Thank you, you are so kind.
Sweet! I'm so happy for you. Welcome to living free! :)
So, what was it that made you realise? Anything in particular?
Nothing in particular! Nothing
really happened, and everything is exactly the same as before: I'm still
grumpy and lazy, etc. — it's just that all this is clearly beside the
point. Maybe it was when you asked, "How does it feel to be liberated?"
That question was not directed at the mind, and I gently noticed there
was never any boundary between "liberated" and "not yet liberated". The
mind always looks for some non-existent boundary, and is expecting some
special experience or bliss. But even that silly tendency is okay.
Everything is the same, but everything is okay.
Good one! Matt, thank you very much for looking. It is a real pleasure to meet you.
You are a pleasure, and a
miracle—giving anonymous people your time, not charging people money or
claiming something special about yourself. Just patiently asking people
to look for themselves. Bless you!
Thank you. Big smile here :)))) By the way, could you expand a bit on
“sweeter”? Do you notice anything else different in everyday life? Can
you talk about it more, please.
"Sweeter" is vividly felt when I'm writing this, focusing on these
facts. It's like 'being at home' with everything exactly as it already
is. It's a sweet miracle that everything can appear while being without
substance. The "feeling" of sweetness seems to ebb and flow. But the
sweetness is not merely a feeling—it's deeper than that. All of us are
already at home in liberation, even in our suffering. That's
paradoxically sweet, or maybe bitter-sweet.
So much appreciation…. :)))
So much appreciation for the sweetness we call "Ilona" and for her selfless communication.