Thursday, 8 August 2013

Colin: There Is Only Ever Now

The process with Colin took a couple of months, it is quite a long conversation, but I did not want to cut anything out. It was full on looking, investigating and we covered many angles till all became clear. Amazing thing is that Colin was seeing a psychiatric nurse and getting assessment on his mental health in the middle of the process, but that did not interfere, nor made the investigation difficult. He was looking with focus and determination I am overjoyed for him. Here is the conversation. 

Colin
May 16

Hi Ilona

First of all, thank you so much for the awesome LU website! :) I have been earnestly investigating the presence of the 'I', seeing if it can be located. I was wondering if you offer one-to-one Skype sessions at all? There seem to be one or two 'sticky' areas.

Many thanks!
Warm wishes

Ilona
May 16

Hi Colin.
Thank you for email. I'm happy to hear that LU website is helpful.

I don't offer Skype sessions, but another guides do, I can find out about it. Or we can speak a bit over email. That works well as it also gives you space ant time to look and answer when ready.

Let me know.

Kind regards
Ilona

Colin 
May 17

Hi Ilona
Thank you so much for your prompt reply -- email dialogue would be really helpful! How shall we start? :)

Ilona
May 17

:)
Ok, so tell me what are you looking for? How ready are you to see it?
What do you expect to see, experience, feel?

Colin
May 17

Thanks, Ilona. :)

I guess (if I am really honest)  I am looking for some kind of 'bliss' or 'enlightened state' -- despite reading that there is no much thing! Certainly, the end to psychological, self-centred suffering -- which has dogged this body-mind for years (but is now starting to feel a bit lighter).

There is a bit of confusion as to inquiry -- should I looking for the false, separate 'I' -- or should I also be inquiring into presence-awareness itself (the big 'I'), maybe alternating between the two? I guess ultimately both are necessary -- seeing through the ego; and noticing awareness as one's true, unchanging state, and getting really clear on this.

There is also a bit of conceptual confusion about presence/ awareness/ being -- which comes from reading too many books and teachers: we are told that we are 'not' the body or thoughts, we are the unchanging backdrop within which all arises. But also -- body/ world/ thoughts are inseparable from this awareness! So ... we both unaffected by what arises: and also intimately one with it?? My mind spins in circles on this, not knowing where to focus! But I guess that is just what the mind does.

There is definite readiness to see it!

I think I am expecting to see more clearly, and to feel 'lighter' in terms of mental baggage. To see the 'I' for what it is.

Thank you, Ilona! :)

Ilona
May 17

I guess (if I am really honest)  I am looking for some kind of 'bliss' or 'enlightened state' --

Nice. But, this ain't about bliss or state, all states come an go and are not permanent.  Some people have an awakening event, others just shrug- is that it? There is no set way, the only way it happens is the right one for you.  So bliss is not necessarily going to happen. You may rest this to the side for now. Seeing is pattern recognition, not a change of a state.  

despite reading that there is no much thing! Certainly, the end to psychological, self-centred suffering -- which has dogged this body-mind for years (but is now starting to feel a bit lighter).

It is not the end of suffering. End of suffering happens when there are no more triggers. And that is conditioning. The whole structure was built in years, it does not disappear instantly.

There is a bit of confusion as to inquiry -- should I looking for the false, separate 'I' -- or should I also be inquiring into presence-awareness itself (the big 'I'), maybe alternating between the two? I guess ultimately both are necessary -- seeing through the ego; and noticing awareness as one's true, unchanging state, and getting really clear on this.

Ok, there is no big I. Awareness is not I.  There is no ego as an entity in charge, there is nothing to get rid of, kill or drop.  Seeing through ego is realising that there is no ego, it's just a label, a word for the behavioural patters. Replace word ego with word character and it's no so negative anymore.

Being is not a noun, it's a verb. And there is nothing simpler or more natural then being. Find the sense of being. Are you doing it?  Can you stop being for a second?
See what happens if you try.

There is definite readiness to see it!

Oh great. That helps a lot.

I think I am expecting to see more clearly, and to feel 'lighter' in terms of mental baggage. To see the 'I' for what it is.

Yes, good one.

Ok, write to me if you are ready to leave all the above expectations behind and take a fresh look.
Also, was anything in my answer triggering reactions? What was that?

Sending love

Colin 
May 18

Thank you so much, Ilona -- that was incredibly helpful! It made me realize how many mind-created expectations have still been in play. :)

Yes, I am certainly ready to leave these behind. This jumped out at me:

Being is not a noun, it's a verb. And there is nothing simpler or more natural then being. Find the sense of being. Are you doing it?  Can you stop being for a second? 
See what happens if you try.  

There was a big 'YES!' to the simplicity of this! It is just 'this' sense of being, right now. This aware-ing ... of sensations, sounds, thoughts, feelings, colours etc. And this awareness doesn't change, whilst everything that arises in it does. But they're not separate from it either. And this is something thought is not going to grasp, isn't it? One of the things that I have struggled with in the past -- is the idea that the world arises in what I am, in awareness. So somehow awareness contains everything that is seen/ heard/ felt -- and yet it nonetheless feels limited to the contours of this body; it feels l like it is located inside 'my' body. If that makes sense? Not sure how well I'm expressing myself here. But again -- this is only an issue for thought. Pause the thought -- and where is the problem?

Love and light!

Ilona 
May 19

Nice, thank you for answer.

You say that it feels that awareness is contained in the body.  Well, take a look if it's true.

When you hear a sound, is it heard in the body? Listen now.
When you smell something, is it felt in the body?
When you look at a distance, is horizon in the body? Look, where is the line between here and there?

When you look down and see the legs, is awareness in the legs? Or in seeing? Take a look, can seeing be contained in the body?

What have you noticed?

Sending love

Colin 
May 20

Thank you so much for your reply, Ilona! It had a powerful effect here.

Sound feels neither inside nor outside. Perhaps both. There doesn't seem to be an inside and an outside, on direct evidence. These are thoughts.

When you smell something, is it felt in the body?

This is more subtle, but again -- perhaps both inside and outside.

No, the horizon is not in the body -- and there is no way of demarcating 'here' from 'there'. Or: where 'seeing' ends, and where 'seen' object begins. There is just 'seeing'. If I look back to see 'where is the one who sees?' -- there is nobody immediately findable.

When I look at my legs, I just see varieties of colour. There is also tactile sensation that -- on direct evidence -- is not necessarily 'the same as' the visual colour -- until thought comes in and says these are all components of 'leg', and all occur in the same place/ at the same time. So awareness is not in the leg -- because the perception/ sensation of leg is a finite object. Does this make sense? Leg is something I am aware 'of'. But it is not itself aware. It feels -- as I look at -- as if awareness is in the seeing. And then it feels that this seeing is in the head. It does still feel quite strongly like 'I' am seeing from 'my' head. But if I ask myself, 'Where is awareness?' -- it is impossible to pin down. The sensations of 'head', the thought 'I', all occur within it. Then the thought arises: "This has to be 'my' body, as only 'I' can feel it."

Thank you again -- this dialogue is so helpful! It is really cutting away at ingrained assumptions. :)

Love C

Ilona
May 20

Nice!
Ok, so now investigate closely, if there is a boundary between inside and outside. Try with eyes open and eyes closed. Is there inside and outside?
Is awareness contained? In what? In the head? Can you see your own head without mirror?

Yes, you can only feel this body, not multiple bodies and not some other body. Does that mean you own this one? Is there an owner at all?

Is it body that experiences or body is experienced?
Investigate and answer when ready :)

Sending love.

Colin
May 21

Thank you, Ilona!

Ok, so now investigate closely, if there is a boundary between inside and outside. Try with eyes open and eyes closed. Is there inside and outside?
Is awareness contained? In what? In the head? Can you see your own head without mirror?

If I am really honest in terms of experience -- and ignore thought -- there is no evidence at all of a boundary. There is just sensation (the body) and perception (sounds, colours, smells). Only thought supplies the 'me in here' and 'you/it out there'. Even the the apparent boundary of the body is not that stable -- if looked at closely, sensations are in constant flux; and with eyes closed, where does the sensation of 'leg' end and 'chair' begin? There is just undivided sensation. The sound of someone's voice that is arising at the moment (from the next room) -- is, oddly, arising 'in me'. Similarly, there is no evidence -- or possibility -- of awareness being contained, even in a head. Indeed, the sensations of 'head' -- and even the notion of a 'head' -- must arise within awareness. Awareness must be prior.

Yes, you can only feel this body, not multiple bodies and not some other body. Does that mean you own this one? Is there an owner at all? 

Thought powerfully insists that this is 'my' body -- but without thought, it is just sensation/ perception. No owner; nothing personal. How is the sensation of 'leg' more 'mine' than the sensation of 'chair' (when eyes are closed, going on direct evidence)? It is thought that supplies the narrative of 'me' and 'mine'.

Is it body that experiences or body is experienced?

The body must be experienced: awareness experiencing sensation/ perception (and therefore simply experiencing itself?). A leg is not conscious -- it is an object in consciousness, like a tree or a toothbrush. Or even a thought!

What has become clear as I have looked, is just how compelling thought is in constructing the 'I' ! It takes the raw data of sensation -- and converts it into a heavy, ongoing narrative. How does one stop the I'' thought from being so sticky and compelling...?

Thank you again, Ilona! :)

Love C

Ilona
May 24

Good observations, now look, are you awareness? Is it personal? Is awareness prior or is arising together with the objects of that is being aware of? Can it be separated?
In experience now, listen to sound, is there anything there besides the heard?

It is thought that supplies the narrative of 'me' and 'mine'.

Yes, owner is an assumption.

How does one stop the I'' thought from being so sticky and compelling...?

See it empty and nothing sticks to it anymore.
What does the word I point to?

Here is a recording of my last meeting, may be of help
http://podcast.liberationunleashed.com/2013/05/lu-meeting-with-ilona-may-2013/

Much love back.

Colin
May 26

Thank you so much, Ilona! :) I have been sitting with your questions, reflecting on them.

Good observations, now look, are you awareness? Is it personal? Is awareness prior or is arising together with the objects of that is being aware of? Can it be separated? 
In experience now, listen to sound, is there anything there besides the heard? 

Without the narrative of thought, there is no sense in which awareness could be called 'personal'. It is not 'mine'. Ideas like 'mine' arise and fall within it. It just IS. Also: if it is 'personal', this would require the dualism of 'other persons'; and again, on present evidence, there are no 'other persons' (this was quite a shock when it first hit me! It left me feeling strangely lonely -- but again, this is only because a thought had slipped in and was being believed -- "I am alone" -- is there actually an 'I' to be lonely?). 'Other people' are only present awareness: they cannot be separated from what is aware right now. Awareness cannot therefore be separated, although I also intuit that it cannot be affected: it is both changeless, and the substance of change, at the same time (if this makes sense?): it is both aware of (say) a sound, noticing it come and go; and it also IS that sound in its entirety. Again, I hope I am expressing this clearly! So -- I think -- it is both prior to experience, and also one with experience. It has to be prior/ changeless in order to register change; but it is not in any way apart from change, either. When a sound is heard, there is just the hearing -- no 'hearer', no 'sound', in fact. Just the hearing.

See it empty and nothing sticks to it anymore. 
What does the word I point to?

When this question is asked, there is just silence. Thought might then come in and make suggestions -- but it can only refer to other thoughts. Even 'this body' or 'this mind' or 'these memories' are other thoughts. Memory, however, does seem to be sticky and compelling here: it weaves a seemingly strong narrative of 'me' going back in time. But perhaps the question is -- To whom to memories refer? To which individual?

Thank you again -- your emails are so helpful!

Love C

Ilona
May 26

Great stuff, you are on the right track.
Watch this video by Alan watts Boat analogy, it's about time. This is actually a great picture of how past appears to be.

http://youtu.be/G4j6cUwCRmI

What do you notice now when looking at a memory of past event?

............

Find the feeling of being, aliveness, amness. Just sit and feel for a bit. Can you tell if there is a being or just being? Is life happening to a being or as being? What do you notice? When you look at nature and how all moves interdependently, is that movement outside of you? Is there a you?

Sending love.

Colin
May 28

Thank you, Ilona! The video was very clear. :)

What do you notice now when looking at a memory of past event?

Memories of past events only ever arise now, in this moment. A memory only seems to refer to another thought or memory. Where is the 'me' whom memories describe? Where is the 'me' who 'has' a past? If I look for one, I can't find one. Memories arise like anything else -- sounds, sights, sensations, perceptions. Only another thought makes them personal: then they become the memories of a 'me'. This brings a lightness. Although the 'I' thought still feels quite strong, it has definitely loosened a bit. There is just what is happening now, naturally, spontaneously. Awareness does not have the anxious preoccupation with time that the mind has, moving compulsively into past and future; in fact, it *cannot* move into past or future! It is just here, now, naturally and effortlessly aware. There is such a simplicity to this. I think I need to sit with it a bit more, too.

Find the feeling of being, aliveness, amness. Just sit and feel for a bit. Can you tell if there is a being or just being? 

Without thought ("This happening to me", 'This is my body") -- there is just being. There is physical sensation (hands on a keyboard); visual sensation (colours on and around a screen); the sound of a dog barking, of my hands typing; the sensation of thoughts arising and falling. All of this is changing, moment by moment. And there is something here that is noticing this change, and is not the change. But equally, it is not in any way apart from the change (does that make sense?). Perhaps it is clearer to say that arisings depend on awareness, cannot be separated from awareness; but that awareness does not depend on arisings (as in deep sleep). It is ultimately unaffected by them. For a moment there was frustration here, too: an irritation with the body and thought, and a desire to get away from them -- as if they are obstacles to seeing clearly! But who is irritated or frustrated -- in fact, who needs to see clearly? Is seeing clearly not already naturally, spontaneously happening -- just being missed?

Is life happening to a being or as being? What do you notice? 

Life is happening as being -- again, unless self-referential thought is invested in. It is happening 'to a being' if there is a separate 'being' -- a person doing the being, acting apart from the rest of life. But where is this separate being 'doing' the being?

When you look at nature and how all moves interdependently, is that movement outside of you? Is there a you? 

Nothing is outside being-awareness -- the colours/ sounds/ smells/ tactile information/ movement of nature cannot be separated from what is presently aware here -- even though (paradoxically) what is presently aware itself does not move. The green colour of a leaf, for example: how could this be separated from the seeing of it? Could it exist outside the seeing of it? The sound of a bee, or rain drumming on the roof -- can these experiences be separated from the hearing of them? It can be quite shocking (in a good way!) to see how assumptions operate: for example, the idea that when one leaves one's house to go to work, the house continues to exist independently. Where is the evidence for this? Where is the evidence that the house exists away/ apart from this present awareness? There is almost a feeling that awareness 'composes' a seeming world, moment by moment: that the 'world' is only the present (immediate) contents of consciousness. So, for example: I can presently see the computer, books, a cup, the wall in front of me; there is the sensation of a chair; there is the sound of my cat's claws -- where is the evidence that there is anything else? For example -- a town, another country, a world in which other things are happening -- even a universe? This makes me feel strangely lonely -- there is just this awareness, nothing and nobody else -- but, who is lonely? Awareness may utterly be alone (all - one) -- but is it lonely?

Thank you again, Ilona.
Love C

Ilona
May 28

What is awareness? Some kind of alone witness? Or witnessing too is just happening done by no one?
Is awareness a container in which all arises?
Keep digging.  

Colin 
May 28

Thank you, Ilona! :) I have been sitting with, and investigating, the questions above -- here are my reflections:

If a thought arises -- say, the thought "I am hungry" -- it is seen or witnessed. But if the seer or witness is looked for, there is nobody there. If the thought, "It's me that sees the thought", arises -- then who witnesses this thought? Again: there is just emptiness. A "me" cannot be located that is not a transient thought, that is not an object that comes and goes. Awareness cannot be a container, as this would suggest boundaries or limits -- and these are not present, looking now on direct evidence. A container would also suggest a divide between awareness and its contents (like thoughts and perceptions) -- but again, this does not seem true to experience. Can a thought be separated from the awareness that notices it? What could a thought be outside of awareness? Where would 'thought' end and 'awareness of thought' begin? It would be impossible to mark any kind of division. Having said this, there does also seem to be a subtle difference: awareness itself is changeless, and therefore perceives change -- so perhaps it is also prior to experience? If awareness itself was subject to change, the arising and falling of a thought would not be seen. And although a thought cannot be separated from aware presence -- it is not itself aware. Nor is a sensation in a leg or arm.

Ilona
May 30

:) you can't think your way out of this.
Take a look closer.

Wait for a thought, notice it's arrival and departure. See how it's a tiny blink and how it is in itself empty.

Thought + thought + thought becomes an expression, description, which in itself is empty.

Now try this- get something tasty and experience the taste. Just feel it for a minute. Focus on sensation of tasting,  is there a taster behind the sensation? Is there anything behind?

Then for another minute describe that taste, describe in words what was felt. How same or different are experience and description of it? What do you notice here?

Do the same with smell. Take something and experience it, then describe in words.

Now try to describe awareness, just as you see it. What do you notice?

Sending love.

Colin
Jun 1

:) you can't think your way out of this. 
Take a look closer. 

Thank you, Ilona, for reminding me of the way thought tries to get a 'grasp' all of this! I think quite a bit of suffering and frustration comes from this, and then trying to square what one teacher says with what another says etc. ... and then thought is spinning, and saying, 'I'm never going to get this!'! :) The mind is always trying to conceptualize; is always looking for satisfaction, which it will never get. And perhaps it is also trying not to confront the fact of its own non-existence!

Wait for a thought, notice it's arrival and departure. See how it's a tiny blink and how it is in itself empty.

 Yes, this is clear: the thought 'I' just arose, and left. But the space remains unaffected.

Now try this- get something tasty and experience the taste. Just feel it for a minute. Focus on sensation of tasting,  is there a taster behind the sensation? Is there anything behind? 

There is no taster -- just the sensation of taste, immediate and present. The thought, 'I am tasting this', comes up automatically -- but then passes, and the taste remains.

Then for another minute describe that taste, describe in words what was felt. How same or different are experience and description of it? What do you notice here?

Initially I found it quite hard describing taste in words -- and what struck me was the difference (total difference) between description and actual experience! What does the word 'sweet' actually have in common with the sensation of 'sweetness'?

Do the same with smell. Take something and experience it, then describe in words. 

The same -- again, the description of 'smell', and the experience of it -- almost no relation!

Now try to describe awareness, just as you see it. What do you notice?

One thing that has struck me -- while doing this investigation -- is how any verbal description doesn't come close to actual experience! And yet we believe so strongly that words tell us what is 'real'. Awareness feels like a kind of space in which everything is coming and going -- which can't be separated from those comings and goings, but is not affected by them (even though it feels like it is). It is silent, alert, open, non-judgmental. It doesn't have any issues or preferences regarding any sensations that might come up. For example, quite a lot of anxiety has been coming up over the past few days (I have suffered from panic, depression and OCD for quite a few years). Mind constructs a horrible story around the sensations of fear -- but awareness, if I look now, is just -- aware of what is happening. It is not wishing anything away.

Thank you, Ilona! I hope this email finds you well, and enjoying the sunshine. :)

Love C

Ilona
Jun 2

Good work Colin!
Lets dig deeper.
There is an exercise in this blog post, do it and write to me what you noticed.
http://markedeternal.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/labels.html?m=1

There is also an article on language in the articles section, read that too.

So today investigate how language works and report when ready.

Much love.

Colin 
Jun 3

Thank you so much for that exericise, Ilona -- really powerful and revealing!
I couldn't find the article on language -- will have another look. :)

I found that writing without the 'I'/ 'me' was less tense -- no need to refer experience to an 'I'. It felt lighter, free-er. What I also noticed was how tempting it was to bring in an 'I' -- how much the mind resisted this! Several times I had to catch myself when about to write 'I hear' etc. The mind really wanted to own this! I feel at the moment like the mind really, really does not want to hear that it (the 'I') does not exist, and is afraid. It feels uncomfortable, almost, if it is not thinking and referring experience back to an 'I'. And it will try anything to survive!

Here is what I wrote (sorry, it's probably extremely boring!) --

With me/ I
I am sitting in my chair at work. I am listening to the sounds outside: voices, cars, the hum of traffic, doors closing in the corridor. I am typing – I can feel the sensation of my fingers on the keys of the keyboard, I can see the colours of the keyboard and computer, I can hear the sounds of the typing, as my fingers move over the keyboard. ......

Without me/ I
Sitting in the chair. Sensation of hardness against the feet. Pausing and hearing sounds outside. There are voices and doors opening and closing. Pausing again. Fingers moving over keyboard, sensation of hardness and cold. Pause. Hearing police siren outside. Pause, wondering what to write........


Thank you again, Ilona! :) Hope you are enjoying the bright summer sunshine. Love C

Ilona
Jun 4

Hi Colin, thanks for reply. I see you missed the point of second part of exercise,slightly... The instruction was to write all in verbs, without subject doing action, just description of action happening. Try again, see if you notice a difference. Just go a little bit deeper into expressing experiencing through verbs, you had that in the beginning, but then it slipped. use the -ing with words, like feeling, hearing, see if you notice more continuity, movement.

Does description of what is happening influence what is happening? of so, what and how? does it matter, if you add i and me in description, does that make i and me a doer?

Is there a doer?

sending love.

Colin
Jun 5

Thank you, Ilona -- sorry about the misunderstanding! I have just repeated the exercise (below is what I wrote). I found it very effective -- it made me realise what a load of anxiety the belief in the 'I' generates!

does description of what is happening influence what is happening? of so, what and how? does it matter, if you add i and me in description, does that make i and me a doer?

No, the description does not influence what is happening -- there are sounds/ sights/ sensations which are immediate -- the description felt completely secondary. With 'I' and 'me' added in, it felt heavier, with a weight of responsibility -- as if 'I' am doing the hearing, feeling, seeing, pausing, thinking, turning. If I look now, 'I' cannot be the doer, however strong the conditioning might be: 'I' is a thought that comes and goes. It seems to be the doer, but it cannot be. There is no real difference between the thought 'I' or 'Colin' or 'me', and the thought 'broccoli' or 'spirituality' or 'chakra' or 'rhubarb'. If I ask, 'to what does the thought "I" refer?' -- I can't find anything. Just sensations and a kind of emptiness. It occurred to me that the link between the 'I' thought and the sensations of 'body' is just an assumption! 

Is there a doer?

It feels like there is one, but I can't find one. The 'I' thought certainly cannot be the doer. A 'doer' of thought can't be found, either.

Here is what I wrote the second time:

Sitting in chair, looking at screen, noticing letters, waiting for thought to arise, listening to voices outside, listening to doors opening and closing, feeling breath rising and falling, waiting for thought, listening to traffic, listening to clock ticking, feeling fingers on keyboard,.......


Thanks so much, Ilona! :)

Love C

Ilona
Jun 7

Great observations! I see you are looking right at it.

Yes, there seems to be a doer, but is there one? Maybe there is just doing happening? Walking, breathing, showering, raining, just happening. And it's only a label that assumes an object that does the action. Take a look how language creates the illusion.

It's a good idea at this point to get out in nature and observe the totality of movement. While sitting, walking, watch how all is wiggling, all moving interdependently and that includes thinking and feeling, sensing with senses.

Is there anything that is separate from everything else?
Is there a line that divides me from everything else? Or it's just a thought, an assumption?
Is there an inside and outside?

Is there an owner of the body? An owner of life? How about a tree, is there one inside it?

Write to me once you did this exercise.
Looking forward to hear from you.

Much love.

Colin
Jun 10

Thank you, Ilona! I really do appreciate your help and guidance! :)

Nothing is separate except in thought - it is a play of sensations appearing in present awareness. Lots of movement and change, appearing in what doesn't change, and not separate from that. And it is all happening presently, and presently, and presently. As I watched (a bee on a flower, the wind passing through a tree, horses eating grass, clouds moving in the sky) -- what hit me was a sense of lightness in nature. Everything just freely moving -- but not 'as' anything particular. A horse is not going around thinking, 'I am a horse, but I'm not a tree or a bee'. It is just freely, brightly being. This is not to say that nature is always 'nice' or 'good' -- it is beyond such categories, and much simpler -- it is just what is happening, without judgement -- whether a beautiful flower opening to the sun, or a dying bird, or a cloud fading, or a spider catching and eating a struggling fly. Just what is happening. Any judgement on this is an imposition of the mind.

Is there a line that divides me from everything else? Or it's just a thought, an assumption?
Is there an inside and outside?

Again, only thought divides. There is no inside or outside, except in thought -- no 'me watching something separate called nature'. The body might feel separate -- but does it? It is just the arising and falling of a cluster of sensations -- these are not boundaries unless they are conceptualised. There is the sensation of a leg, and the visual sensation of a flower -- both sensations appearing equally in, equally 'close' to, awareness.

Is there an owner of the body? An owner of life? How about a tree, is there one inside it?

There only seems to be an 'owner' of the body -- but if I look now ... I can't find one. These hands are moving over the keyboard without the guidance of thought or any 'doing' entity (okay, thoughts are appearing, and then going on to the screen, but where are these thoughts coming from? There is also no thought going into the movement of my hands.) Things are happening quite spontaneously. It is conditioning -- which does feel very strong -- that insists otherwise. It still feels as if there is an entity inside my head ... but again, as I pause now and look ... I can't find one. I can't even find a head! Thought then says: 'Maybe there is one, but it can't be found.' But this is just thought spinning away to keep itself in the illusory driving seat. It feels like it doesn't want to give up!

Love C

Ilona
Jun 11

Hi Colin.

Nice work. You are getting close.

Now look, can body feel separate?
Is it body that experiences or body is experienced?

Is there experiencer at all?
If you look at perceiver- perceiving- perceived, is there a gap? Is there a perceiver to which perception is happening? Test it with each sense and write what you notice.

Sending love.

Colin
Jun 14

Thanks so much, Ilona. :)

The sensations of the body are certainly experienced; but I can't say with any certainty that the body itself experiences. Sensations are an object, they are experienced -- like the sounds I can currently hear (cars, voices, sond of keys typing). The body just 'feels' personal; it 'feels' like it is experiencing, because of years of conditioning.  If I ask WHO is experiencing sensations ...? I can't find anyone.

I can't find an experiencer -- just thoughts that come up and hypnotically assert themselves as an 'I'. Sometimes thoughts say: 'There IS an 'I'; but it just can't be seen, because it is what I am'. But where is the evidence for this? It feels like thought is pulling out all the stops, really fighting dirty!

There is no findable perceiver -- just perception being noticed. Sound is registering here right now ... tactile sensation ... taste ... smell... and the thought 'I' or 'me' or 'Colin' is equally being noticed by something... there are no gaps ... just hearing, and so on ... There has been quite a bit of frustration here over the past couple of days ... Thought has been coming up powerfully ... "I will never get this ...", "I am unworthy of this" ... I seem to recognise this on some level ... and yet on another level, moment to moment, the I/me/Colin thought still seems to be SO strong and believable, still seems to take hold ... It feels like it can be seen through momentarily -- I can see the thought 'I' right now, come and go -- - and yet seconds later it comes back and hooks me...  But where is the ME who gets hooked? Again, nothing can be found ...

Thank you again for guiding me on this journey, Ilona!

Love C

Ilona 
Jun 14

If I ask WHO is experiencing sensations ...? I can't find anyone. 

Who question assumes an entity. There isn't. That's how the answer is blank.
The body feels that it is exeriencer because of a belief, unquestioned assumption, yes, years of conditioning. Take a look, is there an owner of body?

Thoughts can say many things. I am a pink panther. Hehe. But the content of thought is a description, label, fiction, not actuality. There is an I, there isn't an I, it's just thoughts. The trick is to look where thoughts point to, where words make you look. Like finger pointing to the moon analogy, words are fingers, the moon is experience.

It feels like it can be seen through momentarily -- I can see the thought 'I' right now, come and go -- - and yet seconds later it comes back and hooks me...  But where is the ME who gets hooked? Again, nothing can be found ...

Oh yeah, there is a stage of going in and out, it will pass.  Don't try to understand, just watch it happening and let it go. Focus on experience rather then story and keep looking, you are getting close.

Is there anything you expect or hope for to happen?
If so, what?

Love back to you!

Colin 
Jun 16

Take a look, is there an owner of body? 

When I look for one, I can’t find one. Sensations, feelings, perceptions, happening now. Thought bubbling under with a ‘BUT … ‘, trying to assert that there is an owner somewhere - 'YES, BUT...'.. That familiar voice in the head. So an owner of experience can’t be found – just experience – and yet there is still this strong SENSE of an owner, somewhere.

Is there anything you expect or hope for to happen? 
If so, what?

It’s strange – even though there is this subtle loosening – almost imperceptible, link pinpricks of light – it doesn’t feel like I am getting close. But that is thought again perhaps, getting back to its old tricks.

I decided this morning to have a fresh look at this ‘sense of self’ that seems to persist, and to get rid of any non-dual language I might be using! I think maybe I have got too comfortable with this, having read so many non-dual books (and having bought the mug and t-shirt!). So just authentic, honest, moment-by-moment writing of what is being seen. Just that. Here is what I wrote down. I hope it sorta makes sense, as I wrote fast, apart from pausing to look:

***

Why does this sense of self persist so strongly? It feels odd: on the one hand, I definitely can’t locate a separate self. When I have a look, all I can find is thoughts/ feelings/ sensations and something that notices these. Nothing else. Nothing that stays the same, nothing that isn’t in a constant process of change, apart from the noticing, which is constant.

When I have another look now, what I think is keeping the sense of self going is still belief in thought. It is the thoughts that are like a ‘stuck record’ in my head, particularly memory thoughts. These still draw me in, make me think I am a ‘me’ unfolding in time. They seem very compelling.
They are often painful memories that re-play – sometimes from years ago. They tell me things like, “I am unworthy” or “I am bad”. They tell me I am not “spiritual” enough, whatever that means. These are the kind of thoughts which I have suffered from even since childhood – self-punishing thoughts.

So I’m going to have a good head-on look at this now. No non-dual language either!

Where is the one to whom memories apply? What can be found? To whom do memories belong? What can actually be found when these questions are asked…?

I find sensations, perceptions (sound of the oven, sound of cooking, sound of my pen on paper), thoughts. I find other sensations that might be called feelings (sensations in chest and stomach right now, that keep moving about. Difficult to label – they keep moving about – the main feeling though is a little hint of freedom/ joy  as not much is being found … !).

Is there anyone here that memory describes, or belongs to? Anyone at all??

Can’t find anyone again

Memories (like ALL thoughts) come and go in impersonal space (oops, that sounds a bit non-dual, but you know what I mean).  They don’t refer to anything REAL – the past is not PRESENT – a memory is a thought referring to another thought. What is REAL are the thoughts themselves.

All this is coming up spontaneously – thoughts/ feelings/ sensations. Stuff coming up!

Memories are no more MINE than the sound of the oven. Why? There is equal awareness of both. Something notices the memory-thought, ‘I made a cup of coffee five minutes ago’. Something notices the sound of the oven. That Something is not any closer to thoughts than it is to the sound of the oven, even though those thoughts will say otherwise.

Memory thoughts are not mine. They don’t describe a ME! How could they? WHERE IS the me described in memory? Nothing there. Nada. Silence.

While looking above, I noticed that thought (seemingly) WANTS to interrupt – as if there is a fear of being found out. There is a sense of something bad/ rotten/ sinful at the core, that has been there since childhood.

But WHERE IS this one who is bad/ rotten/ sinful? Does he actually exist? Scary place to look.

Looking …

Thoughts/ sensations

Can’t find him, again!

***

Sorry to write so much above! But it helped having a good, hard, honest look. It felt good to really look for the person who is presumed to exist. I felt good at the end of it –  a bit lighter! I think what I need to do (I?!) is keep digging, keep looking, be persistent – as the person quickly seems to solidify and become heavy again. As I am writing this, it feels strongly like Colin is writing it again. So I just need to keep digging, questioning, looking. Colin comes back in so quickly. The empty Something feels like it is wispy and fragile, when I know it’s not because it’s actually what’s real.

THANK YOU, Ilona! My gratitude to you is more than I can express. I need to ignore those thoughts  that tell me “I will never get this”.

Love C

Ilona
Jun 17

..and yet there is still this strong SENSE of an owner, somewhere. 

Sense of an owner or an unquestioned assumption that there must be an owner. Can you find an owner of sensations? Test with each sense. Is there an owner of heard sounds?





***

Why does this sense of self persist so strongly? It feels odd: on the one hand, I definitely can’t locate a separate self. When I have a look, all I can find is thoughts/ feelings/ sensations and something that notices these. Nothing else. Nothing that stays the same, nothing that isn’t in a constant process of change, apart from the noticing, which is constant.

Yes, noticing awareness is always present and content, movement, is like a kaleidoscopic ever changing movie of sensation, thoughts and feelings.
Look closer, is there something that notices or noticing and the noticed are one and the same.  Is there a gap?

When I have another look now, what I think is keeping the sense of self going is still belief in thought. It is the thoughts that are like a ‘stuck record’ in my head, particularly memory thoughts. These still draw me in, make me think I am a ‘me’ unfolding in time. They seem very compelling.

Yes, thought says, there is a sense of self. Take a look with senses. Is there sense of self in seeing, hearing, tasting.... Where and when sense of self arises exactly?

They are often painful memories that re-play – sometimes from years ago. They tell me things like, “I am unworthy” or “I am bad”. They tell me I am not “spiritual” enough, whatever that means. These are the kind of thoughts which I have suffered from even since childhood – self-punishing thoughts.


Thoughts of judgement affect how we feel, but are they true? Is it true that you are unworthy? Is it true, that there is someone here to be unworthy? How is unworthiness felt? What is behind the sensations? Is there a feeler of sensations to which sensations happen?
So I’m going to have a good head-on look at this now. No non-dual language either!

Sweet!


Where is the one to whom memories apply? What can be found? To whom do memories belong? What can actually be found when these questions are asked…?

I find sensations, perceptions (sound of the oven, sound of cooking, sound of my pen on paper), thoughts. I find other sensations that might be called feelings (sensations in chest and stomach right now, that keep moving about. Difficult to label – they keep moving about – the main feeling though is a little hint of freedom/ joy  as not much is being found … !).

Is there anyone here that memory describes, or belongs to? Anyone at all??

Can’t find anyone again


Ha.

Memories (like ALL thoughts) come and go in impersonal space (oops, that sounds a bit non-dual, but you know what I mean).  They don’t refer to anything REAL – the past is not PRESENT – a memory is a thought referring to another thought. What is REAL are the thoughts themselves.  

Thoughts are here to be noticed, not to be believed.

All this is coming up spontaneously – thoughts/ feelings/ sensations. Stuff coming up!

Yes. All is happening in the present - sensations, thoughts feelings. Is there a centre to which they all happen?

While looking above, I noticed that thought (seemingly) WANTS to interrupt – as if there is a fear of being found out. There is a sense of something bad/ rotten/ sinful at the core, that has been there since childhood.

Good one, examine that closer, what is there that feels rotten? What is behind it?

Yes, yes, great stuff.  Keep looking. And when Colin comes back, check if that is not just a thought too, appearing effortlessly.

THANK YOU, Ilona! My gratitude to you is more than I can express. I need to ignore those thoughts  that tell me “I will never get this”.

These thoughts are to be noticed and investigated.  Is there a I that can get or not get this?

Colin 
Jun 18

Thank you so much, Ilona! J I have had an interesting couple of days. On Sunday night – lying in bed – I was overcome by a feeling of terror as I lay there – a sense of profound disorientation, of not being able to find Colin, of not being separate from anything (including the sensations of the bed I was lying on) – and then yesterday morning, walking to the bus stop on the way to work, I was again seized by an intense fear, almost a panic attack. The closest I can describe I was it was like a kind of agoraphobia – like I had no boundaries, I was literally EVERYWHERE and EVERYTHING at the same time – the trees I was seeing, the feel of the road beneath my feet, the clouds in the sky, the sound of the cars – all as much ME as the sensations of the body, which seemed hardly to be there for a period – I felt dispersed, dissolved – and like I would lose my mind! Then, as I sat on the bus, the fear slowly dissolved. What was interesting was that while I was in this fearful state – unable to locate Colin – there was, equally, no concern at all about all Colin’s apparent worries and problems and stories! They seemed distant. I am deliberately not dwelling on this experience, though – as it is just an experience. Something similar happened about a couple of months ago: walking up the stairs to the bathroom, I was overwhelmed by fear at not being able to locate Colin – there was a sense of thought panicking, desperately trying to reassert him.

But looking now, it is not that I am afraid. Where is the ‘I’ that is afraid? … Having a look now … Fear is a sensation/ feeling that is experienced like any other. It is experienced in the same way as the sound of the clock ticking, or the feel of the floor beneath my feet right now. It feels like Something is ‘more’ aware of feeling than sound – but is that actually true right now? It only seems that way because we have been conditioned to believe that feelings arise in something called ‘my personal body’… But this itself is just sensations coming up now… What notices these sensations (called ‘body’), these feelings, these thoughts now about experience, the sound of the clock? … all really sensations, even thoughts …Looking now … nothing there … just a sense of something wide and transparent and peaceful but which can’t be found … (not gonna use any non-dual lingo!)…

Sense of an owner or an unquestioned assumption that there must be an owner. Can you find an owner of sensations? Test with each sense. Is there an owner of heard sounds?

Looking for an owner of heard sounds … can’t find anything … there is just the sound of the clock ticking, footsteps etc … just the hearing … totally effortless… Is there anyone making hearing happen? … Looking … No … thought might say that ‘I’ am ‘hearing’, but that is not true … how can a thought hear?
Can’t find an owner of seeing, either … there is just automatic seeing … can’t be stopped or started … if I close my eyes, there is still seeing … seeing is happening …. Can the thoughts ‘I’ or ‘Colin’ see? … No … Can’t find a taster … Can’t find a smeller … What occurs to me is that only another thought links the ‘I’ thought to different sensations ... the ‘I’ thought is itself a sensation… all just sensations appearing and disappearing … thought, feeling, sound, sight …


Oh yeah, there is a stage of going in and out, it will pass. Don't try to understand, just watch it happening and let it go. Focus on experience rather then story and keep looking, you are getting close.
Is there anything you expect or hope for to happen?
If so, what?

If I am really honest, there is still a longing for peace and harmony, and an end to psychological suffering – and maybe the occasional blissful experience!

Look closer, is there something that notices or noticing and the noticed are one and the same. Is there a gap?
Yes, thought says, there is a sense of self. Take a look with senses. Is there sense of self in seeing, hearing, tasting.... Where and when sense of self arises exactly?

There is no sense of self in seeing, hearing, tasting … There is just seeing, hearing, tasting … the sound of traffic, my fingers tapping away, the feel of the keyboard, the colours on the screen … where is the ‘I’ in all of this? … It is only in thought that a sense of self arises … nowhere else … The sense of 'my body' still feels strong and persistent ... it still feels like it 'houses' awareness ... even though it is seen that sensations etc. are noticed by Something ... including sensations of 'my body' ... perhaps a bit more looking needed here...

Thoughts of judgement affect how we feel, but are they true? Is it true that you are unworthy? Is it true, that there is someone here to be unworthy? How is unworthiness felt? What is behind the sensations? Is there a feeler of sensations to which sensations happen?

Looking behind the sensations, behind seeing and hearing … can’t find anything … just hearing and seeing, and something noticing the sounds and sights … it feels like there is a feeler ‘inside a body’ … but that body is just sensations … right now, it doesn't even have an inside … I can’t see one … So sensations are just happening, including the sensations labelled ‘my body’ … and if I look closely, these ‘body ‘ sensations are even changing every second (the mind makes the body into something solid and stable) … there are bits of my body that aren't even being felt right now …

Yes. All is happening in the present - sensations, thoughts feelings. Is there a centre to which they all happen?

Can’t find one! It FEELS like there is one – but this is only an assumption. Looking at hearing alone right now, it is unclear if ‘I’ am over where the sounds ‘are’, or whether I am ‘here’, where the sounds are seemingly being heard … feel wide and spread out …

Yes, yes, great stuff. Keep looking. And when Colin comes back, check if that is not just a thought too, appearing effortlessly.

Yes, will keep noticing and checking … Colin feels heavy again the moment … but is he here?... all that is found are sounds, sensations, sights … thoughts … (“Yes, Colin is here”)… and Something noticing all this that seems to be inside a body still

Always thoughts that cause the problems! Cheeky blighters.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, Ilona! There is a subtle loosening, although I need to keep
looking, looking, looking.

Love C

Ilona 
Jun 19

Thank you for sharing your experience. If it happens next time, see if you can welcome that fear when it there and allow it to pass. This oneness that was seen is not here to scare you, it's seeing that there are no boundaries, all is one, no separation.

You say "If I am really honest, there is still a longing for peace and harmony, and an end to psychological suffering – and maybe the occasional blissful experience!", peace is always here, it's only longing for peace that is covering it up.  Look right now, underneath the thinking, behind experience, can you feel this peace?

It's not a state that comes and goes, but rather a background to that which comes and goes. If mind wants peace, ask it, literally, what is in the way of feeling peace now.  See what is that mind wants the most, then check if that wanting is the one thing that creates tension.

Also examine closely what is the sensation that you call 'Colin'. When there is feeling that Colin is back, see what is it really happening that is labelled 'Colin'. Is there Colin behind the sensation?

You say that sensations are noticed by Something. That something is an assumption too. There is noticing happening, being aware, focussing on experiences, no subject is doing any of it, it's just simply happening.

Here is something for you to work through the day, it's called Bahiya sutra. Write to me what you noticed after spending time with it.

In the seen, there is only the seen,
in the heard, there is only the heard,
in the sensed, there is only the sensed,
in the cognized, there is only the cognized.
Thus you should see that
indeed there is no thing here;
this, Bahiya, is how you should train yourself.
Since, Bahiya, there is for you
in the seen, only the seen,
in the heard, only the heard,
in the sensed, only the sensed,
in the cognized, only the cognized,
and you see that there is no thing here,
you will therefore see that
indeed there is no thing there.
As you see that there is no thing there,
you will see that
you are therefore located neither in the world of this,
nor in the world of that,
nor in any place
betwixt the two.
This alone is the end of suffering.” (ud. 1.10)

Much love.

Colin
Jun 20

Thank you so much, Ilona, for all your patience ... will spend a couple of days looking with your email, reflecting on those beautiful lines, and get back to you ... Love C

Colin
Jun 21

Thank you, Ilona! :) I hope this email finds you well. Below is my latest response ...

You say "If I am really honest, there is still a longing for peace and harmony, and an end to psychological suffering – and maybe the occasional blissful experience!", peace is always here, it's only longing for peace that is covering it up. Look right now, underneath the thinking, behind experience, can you feel this peace?
As I look, it is clear that anything that is covering up the peace is thought-based. It is not the thoughts themselves that create disturbance, so much as belief IN those thoughts. It is believing the 'I' thought points to something real. It feels like this needs to be really, really clearly seen here.

I have been writing a lot in my journal over the past couple of days, and noticing especially when the 'Colin'/ 'I' thought comes up most strongly. Some jealousy arose in me yesterday in relation to a work colleague, which was interesting -- almost immediately, there was a sense of anger and guilt -- as if this is not a 'spiritual' emotion -- that I should not be feeling it! But I had a good look for the one who was feeling jealous -- and couldn't find him. Just thoughts/ feelings/ sensations coming and going. The thoughts/ feelings persisted quite strongly, but I couldn't find a central 'I' to direct them. So nobody to take ownership. Nobody to say, 'I am jealous' -- but equally, nobody to say -- 'I shouldn't feel jealous'. All these things just happening, just arising!

You say that sensations are noticed by Something. That something is an assumption too. There is noticing happening, being aware, focussing on experiences, no subject is doing any of it, it's just simply happening.

Yes, I think there is a tendency here to turn awareness into another object or person! When direct experience is looked at, there is nobody 'behind' thoughts/ feelings/ perceptions. Nobody can be found, even though this feels fleeting at times. There is a noticing of what comes and goes -- a presence (is this the right word?) that is not changing, that is aware of change: that is not judging, that is always present. It is the sense of just being. It is always here. The 'I' thought comes and goes in it. Sensations of the body come and go in it. Sounds and sights come and go in it.

The bahiya sutra is very powerful, and I will keep working it. What has come up with it, has been the reminder that there is just this -- JUST the hearing, the seeing, the touching, the thinking, without an entity behind them. Everything just coming up now, now, now...

There is certainly a 'lightening' of the 'Colin' burden at the moment -- a subtle sense of ease filtering in, even in the midst of a stressful teaching job. Just observing that -- even during crazy lessons -- there are just sounds/ sights/ perceptions/ thoughts coming and going. There is no 'me' controlling them. This feels like it is getting clearer -- but that I need to keep digging for it to become clearer still. It doesn't quite feel yet like a 'lived reality', if you know what I mean. I have found writing/ journalling very helpful -- getting it all on paper. Looking on paper.

I think it is important for me to stick with the simplicity of this -- thought here has such a tendency to conceptualise, to compare what one teacher says with another (about awareness etc.) -- and it gets snared in loops of confused, anxious thinking! If I pause thought now ... how complicated is any of this? ... How much does natural being need to 'figure out'? ... It doesn't ... it feels like it just needs to settle in gently with recognition of what is real ...

THANK YOU as ever, Ilona, for all your compassion, guidance and amazing patience! :) I really enjoyed your interview with 'The Wizard'.

Love and light

Ilona
Jun 22

Hey Colin,

Thank you for answers! Yes, you are staring right at it.

Now do the maths. Is there a separate self, I, me at all in any shape or form? Was there ever?
How does it feel to answer as you answer?
Much love

Colin
Jun 23

Thank you -- as ever -- for the amazing gift of your expression, Ilona! :)

At the moment I (?!) feel rather confused, but will just write as it comes, without filters. On the one hand, it feels like I can't find a separate self ... If I look for it, I can only find thoughts/ feelings/ sensations ... and yet, on the other hand, it still seems to be operating with a kind of 'heaviness', but I'm not sure how or where. I'm not sure if thought is simply trying to sabotage this in its familiar ways: trying to perpetuate the process of 'looking' to keep itself in business. It keeps insisting that 'I haven't really seen this', or 'There is only mental understanding of this -- not experiential'. But is this just thought, up to its old tricks? Not sure. Certainly, there is subtle sense of transparency around 'Colin', but there are still longer periods of contraction. Perhaps this is because of expectations here -- an assumption that suffering will just drop away, or that there will be some grand change? This itself creates tension, I can see.

So -- there is both a feeling of being close to the Gate -- and of still being far away! And arising with this today frustration, irritation with myself ("Why can't I get this clearly and quickly like other people?"), anxiety, guilt that I am taking up your time. But this is just what is happening, I guess. At other points this week there has been much more lightness.

I think perhaps I need to keep digging and looking -- when 'I' comes up hypnotically, have a good look, see if it can be found. The 'I'/ 'Colin' thoughts need to REALLY be seen as an illusion, so that they don't keep snagging me when they come up. Perhaps look a a bit more closely at what a thought actually IS.

I have also decided to see a psychiatric nurse, and have made an appointment. I have had ongoing mental health issues for over twenty years -- and seen various counsellors -- but I think now it needs to be addressed. Some of the mood swings I experience may simply be to do with chemical imbalance in the brain. I suspect -- looking at the symptoms that seem to come up -- that it is a combination of bi-polar and OCD, though I know these are just labels. However, there is less of a story attached to all of this now -- less of a 'me and my crazy emotions' story, and the various feelings that are triggered by it. It's not 'me'. But it's a bit like having a broken leg -- it just seems sensible to see a doctor! Interestingly, mental illness (a terrible phrase!) itself is quite a powerful pointer: if looked at clearly, it shows that nobody at all is at the helm. This is just stuff happening!

Thank you SO much for all your patience and kindness, Ilona -- and for sticking by me with all these ups and downs! :) It does feel like things are starting to fall away. however much the mind might try to resist.

Much love,

C

Ilona
Jun 24

Hi Colin.

Yes, you have noticed it right- thoughts trigger contractions and the they are resisted the harder it gets.
I don't know if you read this, but it may be of help
http://markedeternal.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/where-is-sufferer.html

Don't worry about how long it takes, it takes as long as needed. And it can not be in any other way for you. Trust that all that shows up is right.

I think perhaps I need to keep digging and looking -- when 'I' comes up hypnotically, have a good look, see if it can be found. The 'I'/ 'Colin' thoughts need to REALLY be seen as an illusion, so that they don't keep snagging me when they come up. Perhaps look a a bit more closely at what a thought actually IS. 

Very good point.  So what is a thought? Where does it come from? Where does it go? Can thoughts be controlled? Is I a different thought, more then a thought? How about thought me? Where does it point to? If you take your finger and point now to this me, where is the finger pointing to?

... This is just stuff happening! 

Yes! It's just stuff happening! Judging it as wrong or labelling it illness, does not make it so.
Big swings may be intense. But that too is just happening.
I can not advice you about seeing nurse or not, you know best what is right for you, just trust what feels like a big yes.

Seeing through illusion does not change the character, nor what is happening, it's just gives space for what shows up to play out without resistance.

You may also investigate, if there is mind.  What does word mind point to? Is there an invisible container of thoughts, memories and hopes? Or it's always just one thought after another one thought at a time. Thought says- it is mind thinking, but is there such faculty as mind doing thinking?
What do you see when you look here?

Much love

Colin 
Jun 26

Thank you so much for your reply, dear Ilona! Sorry I have taken a couple of days, but work has been especially busy, and I wanted to reflect clearly on the questions. Thank you too for your suggestion that I go with intuition in terms of seeing a doctor or nurse – it feels right to at the moment.

There has been more lightness over the past couple of days, and less of a feeling of mood swings being ‘personal’. ‘Colin’ has felt lighter, less serious.

Just keep checking in with what is REAL and PRESENT: sensations, perceptions, thoughts, feelings, awareness of these. Just stuff coming up presently. Now and now and now … what is actually HERE?

*

Very good point. So what is a thought? Where does it come from? Where does it go? Can thoughts be controlled? Is I a different thought, more than a thought? How about thought me? Where does it point to? If you take your finger and point now to this me, where is the finger pointing to?

A thought is an object in awareness. It comes and goes, like the sound of my fingers on the keyboard right now. It stops and starts. The thought, ‘I like oranges’ arises, and then drops away. After/ before each thought emptiness, silence.

Awareness is not more aware of a thought, than it is of the voices that can be heard outside right now. So a thought could be seen like a kind of sensation.

If a thought is no closer than a sound, what makes it ‘mine’? This is conditioned thinking – it just feels like it’s mine, feels like it refers to ‘me’, or describes ‘me’, or tells a story about a ‘me’ with a past and a future, and with ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’, with on-going problems and worries. Is any of this REAL? It just feels like it is inside something called ‘my head’ – but going on present evidence, is this true? There are sensations of a head, and thoughts presently arising – but there is no evidence that these are occurring inside those sensations.

When a thought is looked at head-on – it can’t be ‘what I am’, as it is the object of noticing, like the sensations of this keyboard. It is just coming up neutrally IN what is.

Where is the ‘I’ to which thought refers? It exists nowhere except in thought. If I were to point to ‘me’ – I would probably point towards head sensations. But does the ‘I’ thought necessarily have anything to do with these?

You may also investigate, if there is mind. What does word mind point to? Is there an invisible container of thoughts, memories and hopes? Or it's always just one thought after another one thought at a time. Thought says- it is mind thinking, but is there such faculty as mind doing thinking?
What do you see when you look here?

Where is the mind? ‘Mind’ is just another thought. It points to nothing. Going on present evidence, there is no container of thoughts. Just one thought at a time. It just struck me that thoughts only really refer to themselves – only to other thoughts. They only SEEM to refer to reality. But they don’t, as reality just IS. Thoughts just ARE. Their meaning is only assumed.

If the question ‘Where is the thinker?’ is asked … there isn’t one to be found. Just thoughts coming and going.

THANK YOU AGAIN! J

Much love C

Ilona
Jun 27

Hi Colin, oh yes, you seeing it. Thoughts and sensory experiences don't touch each other. Thoughts are only referring to other thoughts. It's all thoughts ABOUT other thoughts.  And this is too part of experience, part of what is happening.

How does it feel to see this?

What do you see now when you look at character Colin? Is Colin telling the story? Is he driving what is happening? Is there an actor that plays Colin? Is he the experiencer?
Show me what you seeing.

Big smile and hug.

Colin 
Jun 30

Thank you, dear Ilona! J I hope this email finds you well. I wrote quite a bit in my journal yesterday in response to your email – I hope it makes sense, as I wrote fast!

Hi Colin, oh yes, you seeing it. Thoughts and sensory experiences don't touch each other. Thoughts are only referring to other thoughts. It's all thoughts ABOUT other thoughts.  And this is too part of experience, part of what is happening.
How does it feel to see this?

It feels freeing to see this! There is less heaviness if the thought ‘I’ is attached to sensations – it is just one more thing being noticed in awareness, one more sensation. Looking again now:
To which sensations does the ‘I’ thought refer? … Thought says ‘my body’ because only ‘I can feel them’ – but where is this ‘I’? Where is the evidence? Right now, the sounds of the car outside, the birds chirping, the cat crunching his biscuits, his claws now clicking across the floor – these sounds are just as close as body-sensations. There isn’t really any ‘close’, because there isn’t really any ‘far away’.

And with eyes closed – is there a distinction between body sensations and chair? Despite the insistence of thought, it is impossible to say where ‘body’ sensations end and ‘chair’ sensations begin. It is all one flow.
There is at the moment a lightness to seeing this, a subtle expansiveness – everything appearing equally here, in awareness. Listening to the birds right now – these sounds are inside awareness – the thoughts ‘I’ or ‘Colin’ are inside awareness – the colours of my cat are inside awareness – but none of this is WHAT I AM. And is there an inside? It is all just stuff happening, coming and going, with a changelessly aware backdrop (is there even a backdrop?). Awareness is not an identity or person – it is just an ongoing, utterly pristine, noticing. More of a verb? Not a solid, or even ethereal, thing. But it is always here.

Still flip-flopping with this, but seeing, too.

Where is the ‘I’ that is flip-flopping? Can’t be found. Just sensations, feelings, coming and going – some thought labels ‘pleasant’, some ‘unpleasant’. Where is this ‘I’?
My wife has just come downstairs … words coming out of something called a ‘mouth’ (which can’t be seen!)…these words are just happening … and where is the ‘I’ who is speaking? …

So much love everywhere! Only thought seems to prevent this being seen.

What do you see now when you look at character Colin? Is Colin telling the story? Is he driving what is happening? Is there an actor that plays Colin? Is he the experiencer? 
Show me what you seeing.  

Colin is an interesting character in the play of life! Loving, complicated, funny, warm, distant, shy, insecure, anxious, expansive, manic, withdrawn, compassionate, selfish, too sensitive, insensitive, addictive, troubled, frustrated … a bit of a colourful, rich mess! J Suffering kicks in with the assumption that this is WHO I AM, and that there is an I who can make things better, or improve, or be more spiritual, or could have been or done better. Suffering also kicks in with too much investment in any of these labels (where is ‘withdrawn or ‘too sensitive’ in reality?) But there is nothing here but sensations (even thoughts, feelings, perceptions could be seen as just things being sensed). Just what is coming up. And coming up. And coming up.

What are the implications of this? It seems important to see these in reality. Might look into this a bit more. What exactly is this freedom?

So Colin does feel lighter at times, definitely – I feel like I am staring at the Gate, but then thought tells me I am not, that this is just intellectual! That I am just saying the right things… but that is thought up to its old tricks!  Although the 'I' cannot be found -- thought still seems to potent and hypnotic at times.  
Big smile and hug back to you! Thank you deeply for your amazing compassion and patience. J

Ilona
Jun 30

Hi Colin. I enjoyed reading that.  Nice observations.

You say thoughts say that it's just intellectual.  Do you believe this thought?
Take a look, is there a gate to cross?

See what comes up when you ask question is there an I? Rather then where is this I?

Much love

Colin
Jul 1

Thank you, Ilona! J When I ask the question, 'Is there an I?', the thought comes up -- 'No there isn't -- but it still feels at times like there is one.' But it is definitely being seen through more and more

What seems to happen at the moment is flip-flopping -- between a sense of lightness and ease -- and then something triggers conditioning, and the 'I' solidifies again (or seems to).

Fear and guilt often seem particularly to trigger the ‘I-sense’ (the two emotions that have perhaps caused me most difficulty since childhood). For example, yesterday I happened across some writings on karma and the 'unimaginable pains' of the lower realms in Mahayana Buddhism (I think other forms of Buddhism speak of lower or hell realms as well, don't they?). This generated self-centred fear, even panic; and the ‘I’ popped up immediately -- a terror of experiencing this 'myself' (what might 'my' karmic debt be?) -- and also, of this happening to others.

Obsessive personal thoughts began churning – ruminating on past deeds, on karma – and I could almost feel the ‘I’ feeding on this! Real contraction. And the thought – ‘What if this is correct? What if there are terrifying hell realms?? How can I know for sure??’ began just digging away at me...

It’s a bit like spiritual hypochondria! But I’m sitting with the fear, and the guilt, and the uncomfortable emotions, and the feeling of contraction … I’m having a good look at them … WHO is feeling this fear? This guilt? WHO is suffering? These emotions cover up the simple contentment of the present moment. They are thought’s attempts to keep the story going … It doesn’t want to be seen through!  But are they actually present? No … just labels imposed on raw sensation …

There is a bit of relief as I type this, as I look …

I think I need to keep away from spiritual websites etc. on the Internet! There is so much stuff out there – so many concepts, theories, perspectives, beliefs – and stick to present-moment, direct experience. What is true NOW?

Much love

Ilona
Jul 1

Ok, consider this- there is no who.
It's a construct of language, useful in communicating and story telling.  But there is no who outside of language.

If language was made just of verbs alone, such questions as who, what? would not arise.

Who points to a separate entity, subject, but is there a subject that experiences or experiencing is happening?

What is true in your experience? Is there a who? is there a what? Is here a gap between perceiver and perceived? Is there a feeler of guilt? Are sensations of contraction happening to some perceiver? Is seeing happening to a seer?

Sending love.

Colin
Jul 2

THANK You, dear Ilona! The Gateless Gate seems nearer and nearer … J

Ok, consider this- there is no who.
It's a construct of language, useful in communicating and story telling. But there is no who outside of language.

This is becoming clearer and clearer, Ilona. Without language – where are any problems?

If language was made just of verbs alone, such questions as who, what? would not arise.

There would be such freedom, too – it is I/ you/ they that create problems, responsibilities, debts, pressures, should’s, shouldn’t’s, conflicts, difficulties, worries. Without these – there would just be the spontaneous arising of sensations. No judging. No ongoing, painful stories.

Without I – where is the person with a problematic past/ present/ future? With obligations? This is real freedom, and just needs to be totally felt and seen, I think. REALLY felt and seen. At the moment it feels like there are glimpses of the light.

Who points to a separate entity, subject, but is there a subject that experiences or experiencing is happening?

Looking now, there definitely isn’t one. It is just not there. Throughout the day I pause to have a look – particularly when difficult thoughts or memories are coming up – and there only the thoughts, feelings, sensations. I can’t find a centre to them. Who is there to believe that thoughts are true?

What is true in your experience? Is there a who? is there a what? Is here a gap between perceiver and perceived? Is there a feeler of guilt? Are sensations of contraction happening to some perceiver? Is seeing happening to a seer?

There is no who, and not even a what. It is difficult to say anything beyond – there is noticing of sensations. There is noticing of what is coming up right now. A gap between perceiver and perceived cannot be found, either. What would hearing be, without the seeming object of hearing? Where does 'hearing’ end, and the sound of voices begin? Where does the ‘seeing’ of this computer end, and the computer itself begin? Nothing can be separated out. No feeler of guilt or fear can be found – just thoughts, anxious sensations, presently arising. But none at the moment.

My sense is that I am seeing this pretty clearly now, but that conditioning/ patterns just need to be thoroughly seen through, as they come up with such force. Guilt and fear have been such strong emotions since childhood. Just need to keep questioning assumptions and thoughts.

Love and light! J
C

Ilona
Jul 2

Yes, right here, spot on.

Let this just settle in. Keep noticing and looking. Focus on what is already obvious, instead of looking for what is not there, look at what is..

Is there anything, anyone that owns conditioning?

Sending love.

Colin
Jul 4

Thank you, Ilona.

Yes, I think I need to settle in with this -- to keep looking, to get really clear. What I am finding at the moment is that there is no 'I' to be found -- and there are periods of lightness as this is seen -- and then thought seems to come in with such hypnotic and compelling force -- it almost feels overpowering!  It feels SO hard not to listen to the self-critical thought-voice, particularly when it starts drawing on painful stories and memories.

As you suggest, focus on what is real: sensations, colours, sounds: all arising right now in awareness. Everything else is story! This is so clear as I write this.

Thank you for sticking with me, Ilona. I am so deeply grateful to you. :)

Love C

Ilona
Jul 5

Great suff. Now look, is there anyone that gets lost in a story or its just more story arising?
Examine the voice in the head. Is there a listener to which it is talking?

Does the voice know what is true or it thinks that it knows?

Much love.

Colin
Jul 7

Thanks, Ilona! Hope you are enjoying the sunny weather! :)

I sat quietly yesterday and spent some time inquiring into thought. Yes, the idea that there is anyone who gets lost in a story is just more story! There are stories that arise -- thoughts, memories, images -- but (if I am really honest) nobody there to take ownership of them. They are not 'my' stories, 'my' memories. Thoughts appear, like sensations and perceptions appear, in impersonal awareness. So there is no need to 'do' anything with thoughts, either -- any more than there is any need to 'do' anything with the sound of a blackbird on a roof.

The key for me at the moment is not to be afraid of, or frustrated by, thought -- as if it is waiting in the wings, and might spring out at any moment to hypnotize me and draw me in! I think I still attribute too much power to thought. I still get irritated sometimes that thought is so busy -- that I rarely achieve a state of 'spiritual stillness'! But of course, the more I want a quiet mind, the more it will elude me...

I spent much of yesterday feeling light and unencumbered with 'me': it was so clear that Life -- no matter what is arising! -- does not know worries and problems. This is just the natural way of being!

Tomorrow I have my appointment with the doctor to discuss 'my' (!) OCD/ bipolar traits -- but again, this is not an identity. Just stuff that is arising and needs to be looked at!

Take care

Lots of love and gratitude

Ilona 
Jul 8

Nice!
I can see that the veil is lifting.

Look at thought itself, how does it happen that it gets believed? What is a belief? How does it work? Is any belief true? What makes it true?

Sending love.

Colin 
Jul 10

Thanks so much, Ilona! :)

Look at thought itself, how does it happen that it gets believed? What is a belief? How does it work? Is any belief true? What makes it true?

Attention and energy go to the thought, such that it is believed and becomes 'true'. But any thought is a belief -- and therefore no thought is really 'true'. Even memory thoughts -- which seem to be 'more' than thoughts -- which seem to solidify the separate self ('I did such and such...', 'I used to do x y z...' etc.) -- even these are beliefs, as they rely on the reality of the 'I'. It hit me a couple of days ago that ANY thought which contains a statement about 'I' is ultimately a fiction. ANY. It's like the implications of this freedom are begin to trickle through -- with the mind not wanting them to be seen, wanting to keep the prison running, however subtly! Even the thought, 'I bought a bottle of water yesterday' -- relies on three assumptions: that there is an 'I'; that there is a separate, self-contained, independent object (a bottle of water); and that there is, in reality, something concrete ('back there') called 'yesterday'. But these are all just assumptions. All there is, is what is happening right now. Thoughts, sensations, feelings, arising in unchanging awareness. Those thoughts/ feelings/ sensations aren't necessarily related to one another as an 'entity', either -- this is another assumption. What does the thought, 'I am typing', necessarily have to do with the physical sensations of typing -- beyond the fact that this is all experienced in/ by awareness? This is so freeing! If no thought is believed -- there is ONLY natural freedom. I need to keep coming back to this, SEEING this -- even though there is no 'I' to do this (!). That is just more of the prison ...

I found myself yesterday getting into the trap of 'should I or should I not practise?' and reading what different teachers say -- strong arguments both ways. And then thoughts would arise like: 'It's okay to practise if I am not expecting anything from it. But how do I know if I am expecting something or not ...?'. Again -- ALL this suffering/ confusion/ frustration is thought. All of it. I will continue to sit quietly in the evening, inquiring and looking -- until I don't! I just enjoy it.

Take care, Ilona! It has been lovely seeing the sunshine over the last few days -- the countryside bristling with butterflies and honeybees! :)

Love and light

Ilona 
Jul 10

Oh, I love this warm sunshine! and I got sea 5 min down the road. Really nice to feel warm :)

Yes, yes, yes, this is very clear.
Practice or no practice? How about both. Practice happens when it happens and then it's not practice, but arising in awareness. Just meditate. Expectations are too, only thoughts about thoughts.

Yes, let this settle and enjoy the ride :)

Can you say you are ready for the final questions?

Much love.

Colin
Jul 11

Thanks so much, lona -- glad you are enjoying the sun! :)

Could I possibly stay with this for a week or two, and get back to you? I feel like I still need to settle in with the seeing -- to really 'get' the implications of it. We are off to Norfolk tomorrow until Monday -- have a brilliant weekend!

Much love

Ilona 
Jul 11

Sure, Colin, get back to me when it's right time. For now have a wonderful time!

Sending lots of love !

.................................................
Colin
Jul 26

Hi Ilona,

How are you? Hope you have had a great two weeks, and have been enjoying the sunshine by the sea! We are off tomorrow to the Whitby coast for a long weekend: the sea is such a good reminder: always present and yet never the same from moment to moment! A mass of beautiful, shifting, changing sensations, ceaselessly tumbling into and out of new forms … and yet always ‘the sea’! J

Over the last couple of weeks I have certainly felt more freedom and spaciousness, and thoughts have a bit less ‘sting’ – much more of a sense of just being here with what arises. Colin is far less solid than he used to be! Thoughts/ situations do come up and seem to ‘snag’ me – but with a bit of looking, I can’t find anyone who is being ‘snagged’ or ‘caught’. It is like I am kind of growing into freedom, like a child taking baby steps – two steps forward, two back, three forward, two back etc. On Tuesday I saw a consultant who told me (as an initial assessment) that he thought I had a combination of OCD and Borderline Personality Disorder – which I have always suspected. It’s interesting, though: these are clearly just labels now, nothing to be owned or taken personally. It is just what is happening. No need to worry about what will happen in the future, either – as this will also just be what is happening! Sensations arising in a peaceful sea of awareness … When the consultant told me what he thought was going on with me, there was just a calm (even slightly amused) watching of the situation. Nothing really to get caught up in.

Thank you so much for everything, Ilona – you guys at Liberation Unleashed do a truly amazing job, holding people’s hands and guiding them so generously and wisely and patiently, as they begin to see what is actually real and happening. To be honest, there is no way to express gratitude that is adequate … but THANK YOU!! J

Much love,

Colin

Ilona 
Jul 29

Hi Colin, so delightful to read your email. I can see that relaxation is taking place and that puts a huge smile on my face.

:))

Ok, so you say that colin is less solid. Good.  Now lets look deeper. Where is the solid part? what is here that indicates that Colin is here? What is Colin made of? How do you know?

Where is Colin now?
Can you get rid of him?
Do you need to get rid of him?

What comes up here?

Much love

Colin
Jul 30

Thanks so much for your reply, Ilona! :)

The only 'solidity' Colin seems to have is, from time to time, in
thought/ memory. Otherwise he can't be found. And sometimes thought
seems to add itself to uncomfortable sensations/ feelings -- which
creates more of a feeling of a solid 'me'. Over the past couple of
days my mood has gone up and down in quite intense ways -- irritable,
anxious, talkative etc. -- and sometimes these mood swings are
accompanied by automatic resistant or judgemental thinking ("This
shouldn't be happening after all this inquiry!", "This is OCD/ BPD
stuff", "I'm crazy", "I'm so far from enlightened!", "There shouldn't
be so much thinking!" etc. etc.). But is any of it happening to a
'me'? However uncomfortable sensations might be -- they aren't
happening to a 'me'. There is no 'me' or 'Colin' to be found, except
(seemingly) in the next thought. There is no 'me' making anything
happen, or responsible for what is happening, or taking charge of it,
or directing it. There is no "me" to make it go away. If the question
"Who is thinking?" is asked -- no thinker/ doer can be found -- just
thoughts popping up spontaneously, referring to other thoughts.

***
Thank you!
Love C

Ilona
Jul 31

Thank you for answers and yey! Yes, the thoughts can come up, but they don't need to stick. Just like weather changes, so does the mood and sensations, when you see that it's just happening, there is no more suffering over 'unpleasant' events. They come and go. No need to hold on to pleasant events either, they come and go too.
There is freedom in experiencing this impermanence.

:) so.. Can you say, that yes, it's clear that I is not an entity in charge? If not, what else can we look at?

Much love

Colin
Aug 2

Hi Ilona

Thank you so much, as ever, for your patience! I would say it is about 99.9% clear now that no entity is in charge -- that sensations, and events, come and go, Even in the midst of 'difficult' moods it is clear that 'I' am not causing them, or causing 'difficult' events. Everything just flows in and out, like the tide, in the sea of awareness. Sometimes thoughts/ stories seem to hook (which I guess is inevitable after decades of conditioning) -- but with a quick question like "Where is this I?", the thoughts can be seen for what they are -- impersonal, not referring or belonging to anyone, not coming out of (or going) anywhere. :) The one thing I would like to look at just a little more is time/ memory, which can still hypnotize 'me' most strongly -- it is the one thing that still does (although not nearly as much as it used to). Painful memories re-surface, and powerfully seem to construct an 'I' that they refer to. What is the best way to really see through these? I feel like I am so nearly there ... so nearly ready for the final questions! :)

Take care
Love and light :)

Ilona
Aug 2

Great! Almost there.  :)

Ok, look at memories this way- they arise, so they can be looked at, feelings felt and released. The repressed memories are charged with unwanted feelings. The more these feelings get released, the less memories will surface. In a while they don't trigger feelings anymore.
So instead of resisting these memories, try the opposite. Invite them to come up.

A good way to work with this is by writing. Draw a long line. On the left put a dot- your birthday. On the right put a dot- this is now. Then mark the time line and search for painful memories, mark them all on the line.  Write each one of them. Welcome each one of them into this presence and see if there is a theme running through.
Examine and answer these questions:

Was there a separate self in these situations?
Could anything been different at any those times?
How does a memory arise?
How is a memory experienced?
Is there anything here right now that owns these memories?


At the end, once these questions are answered, go to each memory and give a hug to young colin. Tell him that you love him very much and always will.

Write to me the report on what happens.

I don't remember if I gave you a link to watch Alan watts video on time. Anyway, here it is. http://youtu.be/G4j6cUwCRmI



Much love your way.

Colin
Aug 2

Thank you so much, Ilona -- I will go away and spend some time with this! :)

Love C

Colin
Aug 5

Hi Ilona
Thank you so much – I think I am basically there! Below are my answers to the questions, which I wrote over the weekend (and I added one more question: ‘Is there a past back there in which events happened?’). Hope they make sense. It is an interesting time -- just as I am about to see a psychologist after 'my' diagnosis with BPD -- the very self seems to be evaporating!   But the conditioning does still need seeing through and working out, as it will continue to come up and cause suffering. Painful behaviours/ feelings/ compulsions here -- but nobody around to take delivery of them!

The first thing I noticed was that, stretching right back to childhood, lots of memories had to do with shame, guilt, anger or resentment.  Almost as far back as I can remember. Saying how much I love the 'young Colin' after the inquiry brought up tears, and a sense of natural compassion (it became clear how little 'self-compassion' has really been experienced here in this lifetime).

1. Was there a separate self in these situations?

No separate self in any situation – nobody controlling, or guiding, or who could have acted any different. No real ‘situations’ – just a flow of passing, never-to-repeated sensations. Is there a separate self here now, writing this? No. Fingers on a keyboard ... sound of the keys ... cars outside ... breathing ... thoughts popping up from time to time, arguing against this .. but where is the one thinking? Silence ...

2. Could anything have been different at any of those times?

Nothing could have been different because nobody, anywhere, is control. Where is any ‘person’ in those situations? Therefore, where are such things as guilt/ blame/ debt/ issues still needing attention etc.? WHO would be going back into the ‘past’? Experience is only, effortlessly, NOW.

3. How does a memory arise?

A memory arises, completely spontaneously, in the present moment. Nobody is remembering. There is no ‘rememberer’.

4. How is memory experienced?

A memory is always experienced NOW. But it is like a passing sensation – it is not personal. There is no evidence that it even refers back to anything other than another thought – so why get weighed down by something that doesn’t have any solid, independent reality? WHO IS THERE to ‘be’ weighed down? Do any present sensations have any past, or future? None.  They are always fresh, history-less (for example: the sensations labelled ‘foot’ are all presently, for-the-first time, occurring – not in themselves referring back to a story of ‘previous sensations of foot’!). WHAT IS has no historical baggage. It is lighter than light, in truth. This is how Life lives Itself, whether this is seen or not.

5. Is there anything right now that owns those memories?

Nobody owns those memories. A thought cannot own another thought. No memory refers to anything actual/ substantial – just another thought, threaded through the ‘I’ thought. Presently arising sensations do not own or hold on to anything at all. Life itself is Now. Being is Now.

If the memory/ thought arises – ‘I did such-and-such’ or ‘They did such-and-such’ – who does this thought refer to? There is no ‘I’/ ‘they’ to ‘do’ or ‘not do’ anything, to claim or blame. Physical sensations/ sense perceptions do not make an ‘I’. Nor is there a ‘they’ or ‘he/ she/ you’ out there responsible for anything. Sensations/ perceptions do not act – they just arise spontaneously in awareness.

6. Is there a past back there in which events happened?

Where is ‘the past’? Thought paints a very convincing picture – but it only arises NOW in thought. It doesn't exist ‘somewhere else’ waiting for thought to ‘reveal’ it. It is re-created moment by moment, and each thought is totally new.  

There is no past to be ‘gone back into’, and nobody to need to do this, either. Everything is spontaneously, innocently, coming and going, coming and going – never to be repeated or ‘carried around’ or taken personally…

***

Hope this makes sense! Thank you again for everything, Ilona – I think I am ready for the final questions! J

Much love

Ilona
Aug 5

Wonderful to hear!
Love your answers. Looks like the past has been seen through.

And here are some new questions for you, hehe.
...

Please answer in full, when ready.

Much love.

Colin
Aug 6

Thank you, Ilona -- will write my answers over the next couple of days! :)
Take care
Love C

Ilona
Aug 6

Cool! Have a great day, Colin. :)
Looking forward to read your answers.

Colin W

Hi Ilona

Below are my answers! :) Thank you so, so very much; and please let me know if I can do anything to help in the future. It is an interesting time: with BPD, 'difficult' feelings/ thoughts/ behaviours inevitably will come up; and there will be days, I am sure, where the separate self will seem to re-assert itself (although who knows!). But right now Colin can't be found ... :)

I would love to write something, at some point, on mental illness and seeing through the separate self; perhaps help others who find themselves in a similar situation.

Much love,and keep in touch!

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 separate entity – no ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘you’ etc. – anywhere. There can’t be, as separation cannot be found. Just the free play of sensations and perceptions in awareness: nobody is controlling, directing or shaping it: even thought that insists ‘it’ is doing something, or acting independently in some way, is spontaneously arising. Thought can be very hypnotic, seductive, after a lifetime of conditioning: but when looked at, all of its claims are empty. Even the thought, ‘thought is very seductive,’ or ‘there is a lifetime of conditioning’, is empty, not ultimately true.

Not only is there no separate entity – there never has been. And even more than this: strictly speaking, there never has been ANYTHING. Sensations and perceptions arise spontaneously, moment by moment, and for the first time. Each sensation – including the sensation of thought – is totally free of historical baggage. The ‘past’ (like the ‘future’) is just another spontaneously arising thought. It has no substance. And if there is no continuity in time … where is the separate self?

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 separate self illusion begins in early childhood (perhaps around the age of two): a baby is born without any story, sense of individuation, sense of ‘problems’, and so on. It doesn’t even conceive of itself as a ‘baby’! What we refer to as ‘baby’ is (from the baby’s perspective) just a dance of sensations without end, only ever in the moment, beautiful and borderless and immediate. The separate self is the illusion that one is an individual human apart from others and the world, with control, volition, past and future. The body becomes a historical boundary, rather than just a present play of perception; thought becomes ‘my thought’ and ‘thoughts about me’, and begins to reference an imagined self centre. Life becomes heavy, burdensome, loses its lightness as responsibility kicks in, and gets heavier and heavier – the separate self, as it (apparently) grows older, feels more and more distant from the world/ others, more and more defective, and less and less able to live up to standards imposed from a perceived ‘outside’, and also from an apparent ‘inside’. In my experience, life becomes very difficult: pushing harder and harder against the tide becomes the norm. The ‘inner’ narrative for some apparent individuals becomes more painful with each passing decade, with increased ‘history’ and concern about ‘future’. What began as a spontaneous dance becomes more like the trudge of a prisoner in a chain gang, who has no idea when he/she may be released, or if they ever will be. Spirituality can then add to this difficult story: as we begin to read ‘spiritual’ books, we might think we are returning to the dance – but often we are adding more rules, obligations and ‘future’ concern. We miss the fact that the dance has been happening all along – we have just missed it! The chain gang is a dream; the chains are not real. The dance is. The dance is happening.  

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.

Although there are still challenges here – I have been diagnosed with a psychological disorder, and am undergoing treatment – life is lighter, easier. There isn’t nearly as much guilty rumination, or anxious forward thinking. Life is taking care of itself; and there is nobody at the wheel. What is happening is happening – we may label bits of it ‘painful’, but these are just words. Everything is just arising




spontaneously, so why worry, why regret; why look backwards, why look forwards? Life itself never does. From moment to moment moods might shift, thought might come back in and (seemingly) try to take centre stage again, asserting the unhappy ‘me’ – but if this is looked for, it cannot be found. And this is all just happening in the only way it can. All of it.


4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?

For me, one of the most powerful recognitions was seeing the insubstantiality of the past, and of time generally. Memory – perhaps more than anything – was sustaining the unhappy narrative of ‘me’. Seeing that there is only ever Now – but actually seeing it, investigating it, rather than just reading about it – was important. Time is created moment by moment, and fades moment by moment.

5) Do you decide, intend, choose, control events in Life? Do you make anything happen? Give examples from your experience.

No: there is nobody to decide, choose, or control events in Life. We cannot even say Life chooses/ controls/ decides – as that would be to personify Life, and give it an agenda. There is nobody here to decide: and I don’t think I can even say that ‘decisions happen’, as the word ‘decision’ still sounds too definitive, too much like there is a separate agent in the mix. Rather, events happen – whether thoughts, feelings, perceptions. A ‘decision’ is just another event, coming and going in the flow of awareness. I am not making these words happen now: they are appearing as I type on the screen; but they are just happening, as are the thoughts that are running alongside them, as is the sound of cars, as is the sound of my cat’s claws on the dining room floor. Where is the ‘me’ in any of this? Why should thoughts be about ‘me’, when the sounds of the cars clearly are not? Why the division? It is the same with psychological disorder: I have not made this happen, but nor has anyone else. It is a happening, too; and even to call it a ‘psychological disorder’ presumes a past history which, actually, when looked for, cannot be found. It is just another series of constantly-shifting, changing events – and there is no way of knowing what will happen (who would want to know, anyway?). What a beautiful mystery!

6) Anything to add?

I would mainly like to add my deep, deep gratitude to Ilona and everyone at the LU website: what you guys do is generous and important beyond words, and a true outpouring of love. THANK YOU! J

Ilona

Wow..
That is as clear as it gets. Thank you for wonderful answers and the whole process. I can already see how this has potential to help people that go through the same story as you.

I would love to share this with readers of my blog, with your permission, of course. I don't need to use your real name, let me know what you prefer.

I am really really happy for you. And I know you will be just fine. Your mind is not broken, it's perfect and you express clearly and simply, I can see, you would be a good guide. :)

Sending you a big hug and lots of love.

Colin 
Hey Ilona

Thanks for your lovely email! No worries at all with posting our dialogue on your blog -- I am sure it will be okay to use 'Colin',

It would be really nice to help others, too. :)

Take care, and have a great evening! I wanted to share this little video with you, too, as it is just one of the most heart-warming and truthful things I have ever seen ... sure to put a smile on anyone's face! Animals are such great teachers ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvrcdQWzH-8

Much love

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