Monday, 19 August 2013

Sam: May All Beings Awake To This

Sam is an artist and his way with words is a little bit different. It was a great pleasure to dialogue with him. Hope you enjoy this conversation.

Hi Ilona

Thanks for helping - it seems I now have a password and am able to log in - problem solved - thank you

Also great to get an email from you as I am halfway through the Gateless Gatecrashers book and I obviously recognize you from that.
even reading the book is remarkable and it's interesting to recognize so much in these dialogues

Are you still guiding people - as I would be honoured if you would help look at some of my questions ?
I don't know if I am being cheeky but I thought I would ask anyhow - otherwise I am happy to explore the guiding area.

Regardless of that - I sense it's quite a wonderful thing that has manifested - & for that their is a deep sense of gratitude and thanks for such a thing



Jul 11

Hi Sam, yes, I'm still guiding :)
We can have a chat, but first finish the book, answer as many questions for yourself as you can on your own, then we can have a conversation on the forum. Message me up when ready.

Much love.

Jul 11

Thank you Ilona

I certainly will - I made a commitment to be at a friends retreat centre in France for the next 3 weeks but that also seems a great opportunity to explore both the book and the questions that arise - there is already a deep receptivity to what is being said and can sense trust in what you're saying.

I will definitely message you when I am back

Again - a deep gratitude for all of this

Aug 7

Dear Ilona

Firstly apologies as what I am sending over is a little raw in content. I just wrote what was arising with little elaboration or little effort to 'groom' it as content. So in places it might not make sense as it's rather unconscious at times. That said it feels like a fairly accurate depiction of dipping into language when I was reading the book initially...

There is much more - as I find it quite natural just to have this manifest when there is space for it (but I think there is plenty here to give you an idea of where the I was a few weeks ago)

It starts off a little confused but seems to settle later..

Deeply - Thank you


Letter from France.....

This is like writing a letter from one part of awareness to another

Quite quickly through the book something began to happen. It seemed the dialogue was within experience and both voices - of doubt and certainty - were coming from the same ground. But the personality of Ilona was there yet what was being communicated seemed outside of that.

- An expression of the ground of awareness which spread out from the dialogue.

In my mediation I was thinking upon some of your comments and realized what you were saying was already known - or even what all teachers had said was / is always known from within as well.  And from that seed an experience of ground began to unfold  - a knowing

Concept races to keep up but it always limited by either certainty or doubt.

An apology as language becomes so clumsy - at present Sam is having a fantastic / awful / none of the above time. Quite amazing how vibrant thought becomes just on the edge of not knowing 'wow a stream of concept flows' -

The I would say their is a lingering exploration of this edge - similar to running water.

There is the stream - then there is just an instance of water

What I mean by that is their is simply is the ground of awareness from which this has arisen and then their is that which has arisen - not different but perhaps distinct.

Damn clumsy words - perhaps art would be better

So their is a tenderness to this experience - the Sam-ness feels very sensitive and keeps grasping for awakened mind in many ways - sometimes longing - sometimes fear - sometimes wisdom -  all arise as states - some are held and all ultimately pass - even the 'idea' of awakened awareness goes.

Which still makes no difference to awakened awareness - the groundless ground - the wordless state from which these words and thoughts arise -

It's easier to describe the friction that Sam-ness feels around this. One is in decisions - a sensitivity in the unfolding of the present -
choiceness choices is still interesting.

the other is self and other -  mysterious distinctions  -

and the final is time - how it exists as construct and is only available as a thought in the present.

The Sameness is still weary of words.

Other manifestations later…

I have been watching (or there is) watching Sam-ness go on retreat and why he would do that - and they seem like good and wise reasons that balance out some of the other forces that arise in the artistic life - nothing more to be said there.

but life under the microscope brings interesting frictions and how the present unfolds with the Sam-ness in it - for he is in it because I can see a pen being held - yet now without a grasping to I that seems so habitual for a me.

(again perhaps art would be better)

The second most interesting friction is the contact point we call self / other.
- from one perspective Samness resents or perhaps is afraid of all these reflected views - the eyes staring at an identity that becomes so real - and yet already in those eyes is the simple same nature that is a thing staring back at itself - a bit of the ground staring back at the same ground - and yet they are different !

the mind boggles (as it always has and does)
boggling away, popping into the running streams of thought that's source is the nameless (it needs a new name by the way)

I make my own life hard yet still there is enough generosity to make it soft. Not my generosity but life's own generosity. Perhaps a better way to phrase it would be the 'I' makes life hard but the generosity of life continuously gives the I back to itself - relentlessly generous yet no middle  - the giving void.

how mysterious.

another unfolding mystery is how time is shrinking. The present takes up further space - especially on retreat - but also in London - the idea of 'tomorrow/yesterday' seem less real throughout the plastic lens of memory - which seems to be the only lens I can find
oh that and the scaffolding of thought - with all its elaborate juxtapositions and axis - but quite artificial in outlook.

and so it goes on.
I can't go on -
yet here it is - this presence in every moment.

tired words - because we use words to touch these wonders again and again they become polished and slippery.

Take the word 'telephone' - the word doesn't tire because its use is so simple. To attribute 'phone-ness' to an object. But take the word 'awareness' it's used so often that it becomes almost a nothing of a thing - how fascinating.

I wonder at the old masters that sat through all of this - everything burnt off - the wisdom of a tree in a human heart. Which really is a wonder - a human heart that is returned to the world as a natural expression of compassion that is called life.

To re-iterate - energy / friction from the Sam-ness arises around certain places -
Relationships ( I, Other)
Time (present unfolding - thought constructed events - either in the form of memory (past) or fantasy (future)
Awakened state - a tendency for Sam-ness to either narrate awakens with 'wow amazing' and personify it into a state - which it's clearly not. Or the other and attribute it to being something that doesn't exist - and try and negate something that is clearly arising.

To put it into more simple terms -there is a dance of certainty and uncertainty.
The I has a certain inability to cope with the One and has to split it into the Other

The mind goes off to chop wood…

The I doesn't know - but wishes it did.

here is the pen writing the words - thinking the thoughts - that embody the life - that are expressed as one in this very moment.

only this

how could it not be so.

Aug 7

Hi Sam,

It was a pleasure to read your letter. You write like an artist :) creativity is pouring out of the text.

It's a great start and let's see where it takes you.

Let's begin with expectations.

What do you expect that seeing no self is about? What do you hope that will happen? What you do not want this to be?

Just write with whole honesty what feels true to you now.

Awakening is a process, it is not a state. Like river is a process, waterfall is one part of it, a curve or tiny stream at the beginning is another. States come and go, it's what arises and passes. 'Crossing the gateless gate' is a shift in perception, not a state, it's a recognition of what is already obvious.  Knowing, not understanding, the end of search and start of exploration.

It is your process and it does require some effort and work. It's good to keep the momentum going, so write to me every day, till all is clear. I may not answer each email, but I'm here for you and will respond when I can.

Let the journey unfold..
Much love.

Aug 8

Good morning Ilona

Still happy as ever to have such a gentle witness to follow this - gratitude x


{the first answer was written last night]

What do you expect that seeing no self is about?

I don't know is my first response - what it is about - I guess to have expectations is to have a final destination which is different from the one that is occurring already - and it implies there is a point to be 'got' in that something happens that isn't already happening.  and there doesn't seem to be any getting 'beyond' this - whatever this might be..

right now  'seeing no self'  is the way the light bulb over there makes a soft hum and my girlfriend is lying on her side waiting for sleep to come. Light bulb / girlfriend / me typing on a iPhone - whatever is here seems to be the only thing that seems to be occurring.

that seems like my current expectation - but maybe the I would use the word experience over expectation.

this does lead to a second question -  do I expect this present to be something ?

and to that I would say -  there does seem to be a something that is present

What do you hope that will happen?
'Hope' is such a beautiful word - it dances with possibility and change
The 'What' from the question speaks of expectation
The 'You' takes me back to the ever present occurring of right now
and 'Happen' talks of an immediacy

So to build that sentence again it could be said - The dance of possibility is an expectation that can only be felt in this very moment. Even the idea of it occurs in the immediacy of this present. beyond that there is nothing.

[I have just realized I misread the next question as  "What do you want this to be" and then set about answering it ! apologies - anyhow I liked the answer so I left it in..]

Somehow that questions speaks to my heart and is met with an open expanse
It is the combination of the longing which is found in wanting and the mystery of what 'this' is.

It's like asking what is the nature of the open heart ?

If I am truly close to the 'you' in the question I can't find that experience separate from everything else - so there is a change in the definition of 'you' here  - the 'you' is much more akin to 'all of this'. This conversation - Sam, Ilona, computers, questions, answers, responses, reading, today, the mystery of what's happening now - that is my 'you'

So if that is returned back into the sentence it reads - what does 'all of this' want this to be - and that is a beautiful question that takes makes remarkable patterns in life ! Another word close to this marriage is creation - the complexity of making and cessation.

What you do not want this to be?

So this was the actual question you asked and let's see what's different.

The 'do not' speaks to me of control - a wanting of a pattern or shape to be present - a reason or sense of things even.

And why would the I want that ?

 - because there is a need to exist !

Which ironically is what is exactly happening right now

(the) I seem nervous about the proposition of no boundaries and the I seems to have to keep touching in to or holding onto different states.

[How interesting to see - their seems to be a split that has arisen in this email with sam both manifesting the role of the knower and the role of the unknower - teacher student in a correspondence.]

Anyhow focus on the question

- the 'do not' is where I am - I mean the part of me that subtly rejects parts of my experience - and I don't like the idea of not being whole.

- what's not whole about it

- All of the negative emotions I guess - the longing / anger frustration - all those states seem too painful and that creates the gap perhaps.

Okay - and that gap feel into it.

Well it also seems beautiful - there is also a sense of longing to it that has a strange beauty or attraction - it feels that maybe the art comes from that place and it's inherent to what it is to be part of the human experience.

- and would that be denied if you let go of it ?

- are you saying I should let go of the wanting to disown the hurt / anger /

- not necessarily - just that be with it and welcome it

- yes - and that seems good.

okay so back to the question - What do you not want this to be ?

It's simple now - I don't want it to be all of the negative states that occur in experience - it seems naive to say but there is a story around them being all too painful - which with a gentleness can be seen as that - a story.

So there is still a fear in experience and not all states are seen as equal - yet in saying that - that is clearly seen.

it seems there is intention and unfolding in experience right now and a remarkable aliveness - so the answer to your question of What you do not want this to be?

This is everything - all is present - even the 'not wanting this to be'

and I can tell by how the writing is now happening this is where things are.

and this feels like a good time to hand back to another teacher's voice..



Aug 8

Thank you very much for the answers.

You say:
(the) I seem nervous about the proposition of no boundaries and the I seems to have to keep touching in to or holding onto different states.

I is a thought.
Thought does not think, it can not be nervous either.

Is thought I any different then other thoughts?
Where does it come from? Do thoughts come from I?

Is there a thinker?
Over to you.

Keep focusing, you are staring at it. We are looking at what is already obvious.  Describe what you see.

Sending love

Aug 9

Hi Ilona

Is thought I any different from other thoughts?

Amazing - and of course I is no different from other thoughts. It's went like this -

Is thought I any different from other thoughts?
no - it's a thought
and that is a thought also !
and as is this in response !
as is this whole correspondence - thinking thinking - sensation - typing to Ilona - replying with answers
(Ad infinitum)

and once that starts  - experience becomes a  "well it's a sort of lots of becomings and cessations". which is a very fluid proposition - things loose a certain solidity if they keep changing their form - the I within that included.

Where does it come from? 

This answer comes from your question which was prompted by my reflection which arose from certain thoughts that more than likely we're responses to further stimulus / memories / learning.

As your question is also a reflection of other causes and conditions - and actually to put a 'your' onto it seems somewhat misguided - as much as putting a 'my' onto this response is. Both your question and this answer don't belong to anything and they have arisen whenever the supporting ingredients are present

Do thoughts come from I?

thought do seem to have a parameter but it would be unlikely to define that parameter as a thing called I - there is a clear awareness that thoughts somehow arise - this writing has been born from thought - yet its source seems to be an interrelated movement with other things - cause / conditions - maybe could also be named as energy - unfolding  ?

And those factors would be hard to describe as a you - unless this I includes everyone / everything / all of 'this' - as a 'me' - which would literally negate it's meaning - or at least make it of no use.

Is there a thinker?

there are patterns of thought - but once again - go looking for a 'source' and you are led into another series of interrelated connections - which again would be hard to call a 'you' as they seem to be a mix of both what are seemingly internal and external phenomena.

for example 'you' are not this thought yet this thought would not be here without the 'you' that wrote the question to prompt it.

When did the cause (question) become an effect (answer) is also a similar mystery.

Describe what you see.

a glowing computer screen that has a blue question on it. the blue question is read by the eyes and is arising as thought. The sensation of writing and the movement from concepts into language - through typing - which places it back onto the glowing screen.

the causes that prompted the question and then the causes that created the answer

the breakfast cereal that feeds the body the powered the hands to write an answer

this is this.

again with much appreciation

Aug 9

good stuff, but, let's try again.

where do thoughts come from?

"This time do not think and answer from understanding, but take a look and see. Sit with closed eyes and wait for next thought, notice, where does it come from and where does it go to?

Think of a number between 1 and a hundred, can you know what number pops in the head before it pops in?
Can you stop thinking at will for half an hour?
Can you choose just thoughts you like?
What is that is listening to thoughts?
What is behind the thought i?

This work is not so much about thinking, but looking. There is a difference. If i ask you what is behind your back right now, you can answer by thinking about what is there, remembering, describing what you know is there or you can turn around look and see. That seeing does not need mind to create an image. Same with thoughts, do not try to analyse what causes them, take a look for yourself. It requires some focus, and i know you have plenty of that.

looking forward to your answers.

with love

Aug 9

this time do not think and answer from understanding, but take a look and see. sit with closed eyes and wait for next thought, notice, where does it come from and where does it go to?

it came from nowhere - there was a train passing and then the thought appeared -

 'aha a train passing - is that a thought ?' and that was a thought

sensation of hearing noise then thought about thoughts ?

and then it went into another thought - about 'is that a right answer / wrong answer to where thinking comes from' more thinking.

but I really really don't know where it comes and that thought isn't here anymore.

think of a number between 1 and a hundred. can you know what number pops in the head before it pops in?


what is that is listening to thoughts? 

I don't know - really don't know.

the I can't explain this !

 really really - a giving up -  a silence - ...

to not know means it's got to come from somewhere and all of this is not coming from anywhere....

that's not right - it is coming from other things but there is no middle to any of this - the words - the thoughts - the explanations

this work is not so much about thinking, but looking.
looking -  it requires some focus

there is a looker looking for something - seeking
and strong emotion
and writing and the table and the assistant in the studio and a busy day at work

then there is emotion - my mum ill in and out hospital - not around forever.
girlfriend who is scared in a relationship - wants to hide and drop out of it-

sensations of trying to fix and help - be of support to others. bring what useful things I have - listening, faith trust ...

same with thoughts, do not try to analyze what causes them, take a look for yourself. it requires some focus

No analyzing. I don't know what to describe - The I is looking for an idea of a no self and gets confused.

with love

Aug 9

The I is a thought.
Can a thought think?


a thought can't think

there is thinking....

more coming...

Aug 9


Is there a looker?
A witness?
An observer?

Aug 9

Is there a looker?

I am looking - he he
just a thought.\

can a thought look

Is there a looker?
looking is a thought


A witness?
I wish there was a witness

I is a thought -
can a thought make wishes


An observer?

Yes there is an observer ! Found it !! (sorry bad humor)
where is the observer -
I am thinking about it now -
so there is the thought of an observer.

Can a thought observe ?
 - no - it's just a thought -


Aug 9

Great. Now take a look at the mind as a labeling machine.

Turn your head to the left / right and notice objects around. Look what happens with thoughts- where focus goes, labeling follows.
Watch that in action, play with it.

Notice that some objects trigger story, memories, feelings arise.

Notice that you do not need anything to do, this labeling just happens.

Once you get a good feel, read this post and do the exercise.

Write to me, what you learned, what was most interesting.

Sending love.

Aug 9

Greetings Ilona

When the prefix I followed there was a more solidness within the body. So 'I  feel tired' was easier to identify in that it felt more pronounced

Then when 'there is tiredness behind the eyes' it was less distinct - present but not with contraction.

Same with the looking round and labeling - once there was awareness of labeling it took longer to find what was being looked at - a 'oh yeah basket' but it kept dividing into smaller parts - 'lid' so it wasn't so solid

Most interesting was the space that opened up without the I

Thank you for the generosity x

Aug 10

Beautiful Goodmorning Ilona

It seems like a habit that a lot of thought begins with an 'I' prefix ! He he

sat with this this morning

A thought can't think !

There are thoughts

And there are states

come and go.

There was a recollection of a very young boy (3/4) getting a birthday cake. Lots of attention towards something which was followed by  - 'there must be something everyone is making a fuss over' - and that focus began to be identified with a thought that is called an 'I' .Before that there wasn't much of a middle to experience - just things. And a very natural home like play.

The other arising was that there was a holding onto care. as if care was a thing that belonged to something - which it doesn't !

So care went free of a owner (& is still here)

beautiful, sad, profound, normal old this.

Aug 10

Morning Sam :)
Lovely day!

Yes, thoughts come up, states come up, and all pass away.
Thought is not a thinker, it's just a thought.  However it triggers feeling and feelings get labeled and that triggers more thoughts. For today take a look at this mechanism.

The connection between thought and feeling. How does it work in your experience.
What happens if you focus on raw feeling and just simply feel without naming it?
What happens if you focus on thought story, how does it affect the body?

Take a look at this- thoughts come up to be noticed, feelings come up to be felt.
Is there a feeler?
Is there a gap between feeler and the felt?
Are feelings happening to a body?

Lots to examine :)
Have fun with this and write a full report.

Much love.

Aug 10

day watching

The connection between thought and feeling. How does it work in your experience. 

there is thought.
that seems separate from emotion

emotion is felt within the body
but not exactly within the body
somehow - sensations within the space / area of body

and sensations come in many forms - heat, contractions, spaciousness...
which leads to

What happens if you focus on raw feeling and just simply feel without naming it? 

Raw feeling seem energetic without their label - it sometimes stays but mostly moves through parts of the body - jaw - left channel - heart centre - stomach - pelvis - left toes.

It also looses its name - hard to say what it is.

'energetic' - it's not literally a physical moving but there is a pronounced liveliness or vibrancy in comparison to say the area that doesn't have it - the belly has the liveliness - the diaphragm doesn't.

hard to call this a specific emotion.

What happens if you focus on thought story, how does it affect the body?
presume  thought story (above) you mean  a series of thoughts..

the body becomes more diffuse - its sense of physical space becomes less noticeable and this 'liveliness' becomes closer to the head centre. Still limbs and sitting but the specific liveliness that was called 'emotion' is not so apparent in the body any longer

the thoughts are not totally within the physical confines of skull - just more around this area of the head.

trying to have both thought / emotion exist simultaneously doesn't work.

Is there a feeler?

I can think about feeling
but the thought does not feel.

There is a thought to describe the emotion
there is a thought for talking about it.

but the thought itself has no emotion to it.

The thought 'I love her' is not felt.

The feeling 'I love her' is felt.
this time in the chest centre - a spaciousness

then without the label of 'love' it becomes the aliveness / vibrancy of spaciousness - not so much a specific thing at all.

Is there a gap between feeler and the felt?

The felt is the sensations within chest - or liveliness in a part of body - energetic and vibrant.

feeler is an arising in thought - maybe language - to label that movement. but that happens before or after the felt and but not as the same time.

The heat (urgency / excitement) is in the chest and hands but then the feeler is a thought that labels the energy as 'heat (urgency / excitement) but isn't the experience of it.

are feelings happening to a body?
Thought does not happen to a body  - the labeling that creates a name which we could say is 'sad' or 'joy' does not happen to a body.

There is movement and energy and that is experienced in awareness. there is a spaciousness around lips / cheeks / eyes -

and a thought of -  'this is a feeling' can describe that but not feel it

a thought does not feel

as in the same way a thought can not think...

blessing again Ilona

Aug 10

Good stuff, Sam :)

You say:
Is there a gap between feeler and the felt?

The felt is the sensations within chest - or liveliness in a part of body - energetic and vibrant. 

feeler is an arising in thought - maybe language - to label that movement. but that happens before or after the felt and but not as the same time. 

The heat (urgency / excitement) is in the chest and hands but then the feeler is a thought that labels the energy as 'heat (urgency / excitement) but isn't the experience of it.

Take a closer look, is there a feeler, at all. You say it arises in thought and next thing you say that thought does not feel. Which is it?

Have a look again. Just feel sensation that is present at the moment and take a look behind it. What is there?

Sending love.

Aug 10


Sorry language wasn't clear ..

There is no feeler - there is a thought that translates sensation into a word such as 'tiredness' but that does not make a 'feeler' of that thought

There might even be a thought that there is a 'feeler' but again that would be thought and a thought can't either feel or think.

So no feeler
- Either thoughts -
or energetic sensations

With love

Aug 11

I think therefore I am?
I is a thought
The I thought can't think

I is not am

How do you feel about that?
Feeling is sensation
A thought describes sensation
A thought can't feel

Thought triggers sensation
Sensation triggers thought

The pattern of these reactions makes for a thought called 'I am thinking' - again this thought does not think.

The pattern of these reactions makes for a thought 'I am feeling'. Yet there is no feeler - a thought does not feel.

There is sensation - vibrancy - movement -
Life is all here

But these words only point to it -

 These words are from a thought.
A thought does not experience this sensation of

- Vibrancy - life - 'this' -


There is no middle to be found in this experience
No central controlling agent

There is no teacher to be understood
There is no getting it from a state of confusion
There is no got it now I understand

Each of those is a thought -

A thought can not experience understanding
A thought can not experience confusion
A thought can not experience knowing

They are labels
There is a vibrancy in which all is present

But of which his sentence an only a label of.

I is not am.

Aug 11


How does it feel to see this?
Is there anything different in your ordinary everyday experience?

Much love

Aug 11

How does it feel?

Same vibrancy as ever - on a bus - sensations of movement - color - form -

Thoughts as labels -

No feeler

A thought arises 'this feels like...'

Still the thought does not feel.

Just - Vibrancy, unfolding, this

Including the labeling of - vibrancy, unfolding, this.

Just a thought

The thought still does not experience - vibrancy unfolding this -

Even though it is a manifestation of the 'vibrancy, unfolding, this'.

The short answer to the question -

Still same thoughts - which can't think
Still vibrancy - that is labeled through thought.
Sometimes as 'feelings' sometimes as 'thoughts'

So no different

Everyday experience is everyday experience

 Blessings x

Aug 12

Morning Sam.
How is it going?

Let's look at the story. How does story about Sam gets created?
When you look at the character Sam same way as you would look at character batman, what decides, what happens in the story? What drives the story? What is the difference between Sam and batman?
Is there an actor inside the character that chooses the role to play and what happens next?
What is that makes up character?

If you needed to touch Sam with a finger, where does the finger land?
Have fun with this.

Sending love

Aug 12

Goodmorning to evening Ilona !

Hope your well x (sorry it's a long one)

Also the email might have slowed down as I traveled up to my mums in Leeds after her second heart attack (a few weeks ago) and I'm being here for a while -

And also started running a 2 week workshop with these teenagers in the criminal justice system today - in a nearby town (which is a new experience for me) and both things obviously deserve attention..

That won't stop the emails - just some gaps now and again.

Also it seems poignant to re-assert writing as open heartedly and freely to make sure 'saying the right thing' doesn't creep in.

See really if there is a me to trip up?!

(Anyhow - thank you for the patience and such attentiveness on this - really)


On the train to the workshop this morning -
This was apparent -

What could normally be called 'emotions' seems to stay within the energetic sensory realm significantly more - rather than storyline head space of them - excitement - fear etc.. etc... more close to a body felt language that is different from sensation/label/emotion thought pattern...

The labeling of this does happen as thought (as I mentioned before) but it seems to be much less frequent than the vibrancy/sensory experience in the body.

Same with thoughts - they mostly pass without lingering - a few hang around to be 'seen' but they aren't often and move on when they do become so aware.

I say this as because I was short in answering your last question properly (around what's different).

So - from reading gate less/gatecrashers onwards there has been change - (gradual - opening - not sudden - [except when the Ilona/ Elena voice was experienced / became within - then there was a tangible - "oh - that's it - oh - okay - never mind" but generally after that point it's been just kind of interesting and an unfolding of experience..

things are continuously new - reading is very interesting - doesn't matter what - just interesting  - wow this is what happens when you read !

dipping into a Dhamma book is fun - it was completely new to me as if never read - and after so many years of reading that kind of thing - that's sort of hilarious ! (do I have to start again with mindfulness of breathing books..)

Actually that said - meditation is also fascinating - no one meditates ! - very weird - and retreat was new - no one had to sit it.

the other area is dialogue - its great meeting people - very exciting in that who knows what happens ! I have no idea what I is saying or what then arises - which is fascinating.

but it's hard also to explain as it's not a state - as lots of states come and go - but I would say things seem to be marked with a curiosity to all of this and a continual newness.

so that in part is a description of differences. but also when you said 'what's the everyday world like' - I cant say that anything is different - in the sense of trains, heart attacks, emotions, thoughts, personality, all seem to be doing their things as they always do.

That is a fuller answer.


As for Sam and batman - Sam has always wanted to be batman ! awesome

seriously - I want to give this a little more time - if I get more time tonight ill email tonight - otherwise soon

big hug



Aug 12

Hey Ilona

okay in response to the below -

How does story about Sam gets created?

it's made from glue and straw. sorry. the story about Sam -
here is the series of thoughts that happened in response to that question -

well the automatic response is - well - time makes who you are -
or memory.
then it was -
what is it to remember ?

Memory only happens in this present moment as a thought - which then goes back to the inevitable...

Can a thought remember ?
and the answer to that is NO.

Can a thought of Sam-ness experience anything

Can the thought of 'memory' remember

so in response to what you ask - 'the story of Sam' is a thought. it arises and passes. there is no sequence to it.

There is no story of Sam right now because that thought is not present..

When you look at the character Sam same way as you would look at character batman, what decides, what happens in the story?

I am totally missing the point on this one - sorry the sequence goes -

With Batman - the comic book writer decides what happens in the story.
Which leads to with Sam - err..  a creator god ! (sorry I can't roll with that - and also I know that's not your point)

let's try again -

With Batman - he's a fiction - no one decides what happens to him

(sorry ! I can't bring to mind batman without thinking of the culture that created him) okay - so let's go from there

Batman is a thought.
Sam is a thought.

so a decision is another type of thought ...

Takes us back to a familiar mantra
Can a thought think

Can a decision (in the form of a thought) make a decision

No decisions then.


even a sense of decision ?

no - another thought.


So to answer the question - what decides what happens in the story ?
a decision is a type of thought and a thought can not make decisions.
There is no decision to what happens in the story

What drives the story?

so the sequence goes -

the automatic response - a narrative !
so what's a narrative ?

a narrative is a sensation of time (again)

time can only be experienced in the present in the form of a thought.
again the familiar mantra-

Does a thought exist in time -
NO - only in the present

can a thought experience time
NO - time is a thought.

so the answer to what drives the story is - there is no thing driving the story.

What is the difference between Sam and batman? 

I want to say yes there is a difference ! I want to say I am writing this email - that batman isn't
but Sam is a thought.
can a thought think

so no Sam and no Batman.

and the I that wanted to say yes there is a difference ?

that too I am afraid is just a thought.

Aug 12

sorry Ilona - was only halfway through and pressed send instead of 'save now'

anyhow - to continue...

Is there an actor inside the character that chooses the role to play and what happens next?

I like the idea of a character inside - yes ! - the watcher I can call it.
but the answer is very very clearly NO - there is no character. or watcher. or witness.

What is that makes up character? 
The longer (and incorrect answer) is that it seems relationships can be seen to define character.
There is the relationship of other (me / you) with external objects - the world outside etc...
and then there is relationship with inner - what is seemingly inside (thoughts emotions)

but remove all relationships (both inner and outer) and there - again - clearly - there is no middle to this.

If you needed to touch Sam with a finger, where does the finger land? 

this can be explained (again incorrectly) as a finger pointing to all the things that Sam has a relationship with

a finger for family
a finger for friends
a finger for objects both animate and inanimate

a finer for each of the senses
a finder for energy and sensation
a finger for emotion
a finger for thought

I say incorrectly because - there would then have to be a pointer - and the pointer can only come from one of the above categories - either as thought (pointing) - or sensation (hand movement) - or physical object (finger) - and clearly there is no pointer because a pointer can't point to itself - to touch something there has to be a toucher - and there clearly clearly isn't.

so again - after all seven questions  - and throughout all of this correspondence -  the only thing that can be said is THERE IS NO MIDDLE TO THIS.

there is nothing to be found
and there is no looker to find it

with much much love

Aug 12


So... Can you say that YES, it's clear, that separate entity I, me, does not exist?
If not, what else needs to be looked at?


Aug 12

deeply deeply with heart

there is knowing

I does not exist.

the echo of effort has taken some time to fade but your gentle requests have been amazing in the loosening up to THIS.

the tiredness of doubt has gone.

please - please - may all beings awake to this
 - that really  is is all.

Aug 13

Ah, beautiful...

It's only a beginning, a fresh start, there is so much more to explore.

I think we can wrap this up. Sounds that you trough!
Are you ready for the final questions?

Sending love.

Aug 13

Absolutely - feel free to ask away x

Aug 14

Sweet! Here they are :)

Please answer in full, when ready.

Much love.

Aug 14

Thanks Ilona - tomorrow is 13 hour day with the kids so I won't get onto this until Friday / weekend

But get onto it I will !

Much love

Aug 18

Dear Ilona

for ease of reading and simplicity - I am writing with an I prefix in a linear narrative for the first part of this email as it makes more sense that way

to be able to answer these first questions it seems appropriate to tell you a little about myself and fill out more of the story... I also answered in a different order - hope that doesn't confuse things -

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.

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

I guess it easiest to start about 7 years ago when I was introduced to the Longchen Nyingthig Ngondro (a series of preliminary practises in the Tibetan tradition) by UK Lama called Lama Lhakpa Yeshe . It took me till now to work through them and I still greatly benefit from them. Concurrent to that I was also maintaining a regular mindfulness practise with included Vipassana retreat (Mahasi method) and solitary retreats.

A couple of years ago I stated doing a Dzogchen / Mahamudra practice with a teacher called Daniel Brown (based in the US) - which significantly changed the nature of 'practice' and the nature of mind - the main preliminaries were ' emptiness of external phenomena / emptiness of time / emptiness of self' - and all of them had a significant impact - yet there was still patchiness in what is called the 'view' in that system. (that said their was a 'view' emerging)

Which is when I discovered your website - a friend recommend it and I guess I was interested because of the 'direct pointing dialogue' was something that seemed familiar to me from Dan.

(that’s not to say that the teachings Dan offers are not very profound - they are incredible)

Anyhow - so when I finally got round to reading your book it began to feel like drinking water - in that there was no effort in understanding it and very quickly the embodiment of what was being said began to be heard internally as much as it was externally - by the third or fourth conversation a definite shift was happening.

It was remarkable in how unremarkable it was as an event - it was like 'oh - okay REALLY ? - yep - oh okay." Kind of unbelievable in a small sense. Yet there was a 'before the experience' and 'after the experience' that was unmistakable - there was / is a freshness to the lived moment that seems very raw - and - 'oh this is new' to everything that seems to occur.

it also seems the thought of 'I know this' has disappeared.

(Sorry I've changed tense)

There doesn't seem to be a central agent by which to orient things around. For example - at work when one of these violent teenagers asserts "what’s your fucking problem" (that have quite strong behavioral problems) I can't really find the 'me' to have a problem - and all I can say is "I don't know - really" and that seems funny (not that I would tell them that) - yet through this exchange there seems to be a sharing of this enquiry - a "yes your angry okay that’s present - but a 'my reaction' isn't - sorry" and the energy shifts. It seems that when strong emotional content asserts itself there isn't this central other to meet it. Sure there are emotions involved - but a central agent there isn't.

They have actually begun to say Sam "don't give a shit". And in one sense that is true - I don't care about the aggression they try on - I don't care about their belief in their own low self-image. But the only thing I don't add (which I can add here) is how amazing they also seem - there is a realness and honestly and just rawness to their beings that makes them unreliably alive - as if electric almost - and that is beautiful.

So there doesn't seem to be a central control agent and most of the everyday has a wonder and mystery to it - beyond the tone of good or bad - its seems quite mysterious and unknown - and the word that seems closet to this experience is  - wonder.

I digress - but that is a little of what it feels like.

In the narrative thread of the last few weeks - after reading the book - there was a lot of confusion around 'thoughts about experience' and actual experience. And when we (electronically met) and began these dialogues things began to clear up.

The first thing that was incredibly useful was that here was a place in which the experience could be held outside of me - in the sense two of us were involved.

That and you knew what you were talking about!

But the second significant shift was when you sent an email in response to my confusion around thinking - literally letting the realization of the following two lines sink in -

The I is a thought.
Can a thought think? ….
no was the answer

and for me just went further and further down… and it became an amazing Koan for clearing up so much clutter. As I see from re-reading the dialogues - it becomes the last stop before everything gets off.

another element from the dialogue that was useful was the distinction from energetic patterning within felt experience and the thought that follows it called an 'emotion'. again this same Koan appears

Can a thought that labels something as an emotion - can it feel ?

no was still the answer.


1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?

The simply immediate  - intuitive - answer is No - really really NO - there is no separate entity 'self'

but I want to respect and honor the enquiry, so below is a more explored answer ...

For arguments sake lets say 'yes' there is and in it's defense the I could say "there is a mysterious sense of self that is the culminated connections of thought, feeling, sensation - and it's those combined elements that make up kind of a 'smudge' of a thing that could be called a Sam"

The question arises then - so where is that statement coming from?

Is that statement separate from the 'smudge that is Sam' that is identifying it ?

and if so  - is Sam now 'the smudge' plus the 'thought that identified it' ?

And from then on the argument for self becomes weaker - how can this changing description of 'self'  be real ?

This continues to more and more elaborate descriptions of self yet still no solidity arises. And at some point there has to be a question about where all these descriptions are coming from - and the answer is 'they are all thoughts'.

And from then a shift occurs from 'thinking about thoughts' to actually simply looking at what a thought is from lived experience - where it comes from / where it goes / what 'shape' it has - and all of those question reveal more and more until ultimately - you realize - or someone points out to you - non of these thoughts  - within themselves  - can think!

however sophisticated, post modern, clever, self referencing they are - they simply do not have cognition within themselves

which means there is no thinker having them !!

which is hilarious - the answer still makes me laugh - it's really really funny.

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. 

There seems to be a feedback loop between either thought / emotion - or thought / though or even emotion / sensation that triggers more thoughts / emotions to fire again. And it creates a seemingly endless loop of experience - and somehow that continuity of reactions is mistaken for a thing called "I".

Similar to a flick book of a man running - it seems like the man is running on the page - yet whenever you look at one page it can only be a static image of a man on a page. And so it is the same with us  -  a series of thoughts are mistaken for a 'continuity of thought' that becomes attributed to a 'thinker' or a 'me'. Look carefully - or watch this present moment closely enough -and you will see that each thought is unique and present in this very moment - but never before or after. No thought exists in the future - no thought exists in the past.

'ahh here is me thinking'  - again a single thought experienced in the present.

There is no thinker of that thought.

so again - thoughts around a separate self can arise - but they are only thoughts

there is not thinker to think them. There is no separate self.

again - this is very funny.

It might be then pertinent to ask what energizes these 'thoughts' into existence - but the only word I can find for that at the moment is 'life'. It's the same thing that makes the sun shine / moves clouds / powers computers - it's the manifest - manifesting - it's certainly does not belong to an anything or have any inherent single form.

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

The story of Sam can be experienced - but only in the present.

To have a chooser - it would have to come from a series of events that were from the past that influenced something in the future.

Experience tells me the only time a decision is made is within in the present.

so yes choices are made (in the now) -

but no chooser makes them

There might be a sense of a chooser making them which would be a thought like "Ahh I made a decision"

but did that thought actually make the decision ?

or did that thought just described the decision that was made ?

The thought pointed to the aliveness of the decision - but in pointing to it, it  is not what it points to.

again there is no "I" here to decide.

 An example of this is…

as I write - I can not tell you that I have decided to write because at this moment there is only writing.

Once my writing stop perhaps a thought will arise that will say "ah I wrote that"

but really did the thought "ah I wrote that" write the words ?

No - that thought only points to the fact of writing - it is not the writing in itself.

It is a label pointing to the vibrancy of life - it is not life itself.

6) Anything to add?

I think the only other things that seem pertinent right now is something I said earlier -

the echo of effort has taken some time to fade but your gentle requests have been amazing in the loosening up to THIS.

the tiredness of doubt has gone.

please - please - may all beings awake to this

So thank you - so deeply.

On our fridge we have a phrase ‘cultivate what surrounds you’
and in the light of this dialogue perhaps it should read,
“all is what is around you”
which feels so important to be with right now
and that is where this awakening is right now.

 much much love.

Aug 18

Hi Sam.

Really enjoyed reading your answers. I like that you put them in your own order and answered in full. I can see that you see!! Delightful and funny, I have a huge smile on my face as I'm typing this.

I love your unique way of thinking and putting experienced in words. I'm very curious how this seeing will affect your art!

Of course, this end of search is a beginning of exploration and the fun ride is only starting. I would love you to join unleashed Facebook groups, there are many that seeing this and it's great to share or get support when needed. Things come up and clearing process takes time.

Would it be ok with you to share this conversation with readers of my blog? I can use whatever name is comfortable for you and if there are any details that you would rather not share, they can be taken out.  

Sending you lots of love and a big hug.
Wooo hooo!!


Hiya Ilona

Yes me too - I am fascinated to what kind of art a no self makes .. manifest manifesting I'm sure !

It will take a few months or so before it begins to materialize in the public world - but I already know the poem / statement in an email towards the end - that began with 'I think therefore I am' is the seed from which it will grow.

I am also really grateful you managed to navigate my slightly dyslexic explanations and see what is so deeply felt.

That has always been a great difficulty in my life - sharing what is known in a language that can be understood (hence the art I guess)

And I would greatly enjoy joining a Facebook group around this - I am certainly fascinated by what is happening ..

A massive - large - shared - resounding - smile of a

Woooo hoooo

Oh yes - pls feel free to use my name.

There's no one behind it anyhow x


Sweet! Thank you very much Sam. I will put this on the blog today. Then if other guides have any questions I will pass them in to you. If not, then I will invite you to FB groups. :)

Have a great, creative day.

Much love

1 comment:

  1. Nice dialogue - great work Ilona and Sam. Thanks for sharing.