Saturday, 28 December 2013


We say- once it's seen it can not be unseen, that refers to recognition. In other words- what is recognized, will always be recognized.

Let's say you meet someone and ten years later you meet her again, instant recognition happens. It's underneath thinking. Recognition is something that operates outside of thoughts. So you meet that person and she is recognized, simply because she has a unique face, body structure, particular voice, etc. It's like learning colors in childhood, a kid is shown the color and he is told that it's called red. Red is recognized any time in life as red. You hear a song once, second time it is recognized- I heard that song before.

When we look at what is obvious, recognition takes place, aha moment. We don't need to philosophize or make logical connections to simply recognize what is already always the case. It's difficult to see the illusion of separate self only because it has never occurred to deeply question this assumption of "I am a separate entity". I thought is assumed to be me, the doer and thinker, a subject with free will and choice. When we start digging around this, it becomes obvious that "i" can not be found. And when this is faced head on, recognition happens. There is no separate self- can be just words, that raise your eyebrows, or knowing, that is beyond thought.

Gateless Gate is crossed when recognition happens- there is no one to cross and there is no gate. It's one moment of realization and in that moment seeking ends: there is a subtle pause, restart, the seeker is dropped, no more looking for what is looking, no more question of "who am I?" It's recognized, that there is no separate self, no I, no entity that is in charge, no I that identifies. What is - simply is, without any manager, orchestrator, puppet master pulling strings. Life is just happening and all is happening within it as it. Nothing is separate from anything else.

Recognition is a moment when we know that we know. It's something familiar showing up, it may have been forgotten, it may have been denied, but once that recognition happens, it is not possible to unrecognise that pattern. So once the seeing happens, once it becomes clear that separate self is an illusion, it can never be truly forgotten again. Different situations arise, different levels of intensity, but what has been seen can be seen over and over again in every situation. It's not hidden. Just like the person you met once can be met again and again, she will be recognized as her, not someone else.

When we look at what is obvious, without thinking, without trying to fit into models of reality, or match descriptions of teachers, there is intimate instant recognition. This is all there is. This is what is happening now, the rest is a story.

No one can convince you that you recognize something, of course you can pretend and say that you do and make logical explanations about it, express opinions and even have debates. But deep knowing comes from within, from looking for yourself, from wanting to know beyond doubt.

Funny, we can stare at a wall of imaginary prison, feeling stuck, waiting to transcend it, and not recognize that there is no prison, that the wall is imagined. We believe all kinds of stories and try to escape this, resisting, denying, expecting something other then this and getting lost in fearful thoughts, when all is needed is recognition- there is nothing here that is bound and limited. There is no prisoner that is trying to escape, it's all just a habitual story in the head.

When we recognize story to be just a story, not reality, the glue that holds us stuck in the story is melting. The story is no longer believed to be "the truth of how thing are". It is recognized to be a description, interpretation, entertaining thoughts, it becomes easy to step back and notice that there is something else going on besides the thought story, it becomes possible to notice peace underneath all thoughts.

This, that is happening right now, is not bound to the story, it just is. And if story arises, it is seen as part of what is, within it. Not the driver, not the separate self, just a thought story about what is happening, that is happening along the sense perceptions, feelings, AS thoughts. And sense of self can arise, no problem with that, but it's too recognized to be something that arises and passes away, like the rest of phenomena. Sense of self is no longer seen as something solid, permanent, existing of itself.

Recognition is not intellectual, philosophical or matter of logic. It does not involve thought. It's awareness that something is true. Like a déjà-vu, a sense, that "this has happened before" recognition is a click- aha point- that's what we are talking about- a moment of cognition of something that we already know. It can be very subtle, as in a way it is a drop of belief. 

Seeing that separate self does not exist is not something new, it's something that has been known all along, just hasn't been recognized as IT. When recognition happens, old beliefs fall, everything is seen in a new light, a change in perception happens. That means things are no longer seen as before. Nothing changes, but everything looks different.

In Christmas spirit, when kid recognized that Santa was never real, a belief about the magical super creature falls, he gets that all the mystery of presents is no longer a mystery, it was a belief in fairy tale, no more then that. He can no longer belief in Santa, no matter how convincing parents can be (and why would they?), he knows, it was an illusion. And even then, Christmas and presents a can be enjoyed, a game can still be played, but no one gets fooled by it. He now can tell other kids about this realization and so in turn the little believers in magic can see the truth of Santa Claus.

Crossing the Gateless Gate is an opening to further explorations, it's not a "done" point, but rather a single most important recognition of emptiness, from which onward life is no longer the same.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Silence Is Not An Absence Of Answer, It Is The Answer

October 22

Hi Ilona,
I have been a studier of this way for years and have been to satsang with Adyashanti and also with Suzanne Marie, who has been on Buddha at the Gas Pump. I have read the book Everyday Enlightenment, which is about 7 people around the world who have awakened and their various unique ways of waking up and seeing through the illusion. I have also read some of Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Wisdom, but I no longer wish to read about other people's experiences as they are only stories and not a way for me to directly experience.

I have looked over the LU site and was ready to start but saw that it is recommended that we post once a day. I'm not actually even sure what posting means here but I'm sure the site will walk me through. My question is though, since I know that I cannot commit to posting daily, should I even start the process? Should I wait until time permits me to dedicate more fully, or should I just go ahead and post whenever I can, which could be only once a week?

I appreciate whatever advice you can share regarding my question.


October 22

Hi Harry, thank you for message.
Having some time to focus each day keeps the momentum going, I'd say if you are not ready to commit to the forum process fully, then you can work by yourself with my blog and if you get stuck you can email me.  
Kind regards.

October 24

Thank you, Ilona. I read the first article last night and then moved on to "Start Here," as a result and have only read part of that. I intend to read more articles from the blog. And thanks for extending the email invitation if I get stuck.

November 4

Hi Ilona, I've gone through Step 5 of the "Start Here." I would like to let you know what I am experiencing.
I felt different after the first 4 steps. There was a sense of freedom and more of a lack of concern for many of the things I usually get concerned about. As the week progressed, I got farther away from that and slipped back into a more familiar way of being, but there has been a lingering experience of lightness of being. It fades when I'm really tired and reappears when I'm rested and energetic.

Regarding step 5, today it feels like the same old life-long familiar. It seems I only have concepts and beliefs of no "I". The truth is I don't see anything because every time I look, I end up at a place where there is nothing to see -- just something that feels like ALL -- all connected, nothing separate. Just the happening of what is happening in this moment. It is not strong. It is not powerful. It is quite subtle.
But there still ends of being something, an old habit or something that wants to claim the experience. I, me, mine. So moving on to step 6 doesn't feel like the thing to do. So I guess I'm stuck.

And thank you for any guidance that you can provide. Sometimes I feel so close to seeing clearly and I even do see clearly, and then it fades. I appreciate the work you are doing. It's pretty amazing that you would do all this work and offer all of this guidance for free.


Hi Harry.
Thanks for message. Just keep going. Take the step 6. The resistance and feeling of stuckness only shows that you are getting closer, examining unexplored areas.

Rather then looking for what isn't, turn focus on what is. You can not see, experience absense of I, nothing to experience, it's always been like it is. So notice, what is that you can experience. Get out in the nature, observe the movement of totality.
You can watch this video by Alan Watts, he describes it very well.
Sending love.

November 7

Hi Ilona,
Thank you so much for corresponding with me. I watched the Alan Watts video plus a couple more by him. One thing that he said really helped, and that was when he referred to everything as energy, which I know is true. But that energy is constantly fluctuating, constantly moving... in and out, from waves to particles and back again. It's the Yin and Yang of it. So to feel like the seeing is intermittent and that I sometimes stand in the vastness without a personal I, and then sometimes the habitual brain patterns go back and reinforce the old condition of I, is actually natural movement.

What you said at the end of "Start Here" regarding the end of seeking, but it's not the end of exploring may be what is happening now. The two are very similar in feeling and essence. Seems each day being (the verb) is moving through me more and more. But I think, to my surprise, that I still have some expectation of it being a big splash, something huge, but obvious, and my experience is that it isn't.

When I end up back in the old conditioned feelings, being able to let go, or free fall, or let things fall away doesn't seem possible to me. It's not because I have fear around it. I did for awhile. 'I' felt threatened by the idea, but then my friend Susanne Marie who is an awakened person, soon to be in the UK for an interview on Conscious TV, showed me that there is nothing whatsoever to fear--just by her presence. When I feel stuck, I think it's because I think I don't know How to let go. I think I don't know How to BE, rather than just simply being.

One thing I and my wife have noticed is that I am much softer with life these days. I have moments of reaction or upset, but they don't overtake me. I have them and then let them go. When I do react or when some emotion moves through, it's okay. This is very different for something is happening. I am very curious about this and I find it very interesting. At times when fear crops up, I seem to be a little more curious about it rather than just being so fearful, and I question what it is that is fearful. I always come up with nothing. It's like the 'I' that I thought was me, is unraveling.

Since you are a tattoo artist you might appreciate this. I have 2 tatts. One on my right leg is the Chinese symbol for truth. The other tattoo on my left leg is the symbol for surrender. I know in the end that is what we must do. We have no choice. It feels like I'm finally learning to surrender...or surrendering is just happening.

Bless you for your generous guidance. Lots of love,

November 8

How sweet- surrender and truth, you wrote that down on the body already!
Yes, seeking and exploration are similar, only first has a flavor of desperation and second has sense of wander, amazement, curiosity.

There is no you to let go or hold on, simple, it's all just happening. Trust that all that is happening is exactly what and how it should be happening, because- here it is!

Awakening journey is about acceptance and surrender. All that is not yet accepted will show up. Patterns will come up to be looked at and released. This is clean up operation.

Can you say with a big fat YES, that separate self is an illusion? If not, what else is not clear, what other expectations are at play?

Mind you, the shift can be very subtle, Big Bang is not meant to happen, it's just a drop of belief.
Sending love.

November 13

Exploration is so much softer than seeking. I agree that seeking carries a degree of desperation and a feeling of insanity.

Thank you for the reminder that there is no me to let go or hold on. It's a habit of being or a habit of behavior to try to perpetuate that.

I can absolutely say YES that a separate self is an illusion, although my experience of that has not been riveting. But I can't honestly go back and say there is a separate self anymore. I think one expectation that I have is the desire to really sense that or FEEL it in a big way, since everyday life constantly includes the reference to I or my, as a convenience of communication. And that tends to maintain or reinforce that continual illusion of a separate self. There may be other expectations that have not surfaced yet, but in this moment, I am not aware of any.

Thank you also, for the reminder that it's just a drop of belief. It's so simple. Subtle can actually feel powerful depending on the perspective. That's really it. Very simple like the imagination of the spoon not actually Being the spoon.

I need to take more time to observe nature since I live right in the middle of it. It seems busyness has overtaken me lately. Still, in reactive situations, a perspective seems to happen much sooner than it used to. It feels like a process of coming in and out and a process of continual falling.


November 14

Hi Harry,
Lovely to hear from you and yey to the drop of belief!!
Would you like to answer the final questions and see if there is any sticky part left? If none, I can invite you to aftercare groups to meet others.
Sending love.

November 15

Hi Ilona,
Yes. I know that I can never go back to that belief again as the truth has presented itself. There is just ongoing house cleaning to do.

Yes, I would like to answer the final questions. Please send. If I'm clean and clear, then I would like to continue on to aftercare.
Thank you and bless you.

November 15

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

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.

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?

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

6) Anything to add?
Please answer in full, when ready.
Much love.

November 26

I want to thank you for taking all this time and putting all this energy into guiding me. I am deeply grateful.

1) There is no separate entity self, me, I. There never was. It is just a made up thing that now seems to run out of habit. With that made up thing developed a need to be somebody and maintain and protect that. While I see clearly there is no I, me, self because I can't find it anywhere, there is a habit that wants to continue--a habit that does continue. The brain creates this continuum and that's what seems to be going on. Merely a habit of playing out this old belief. The thrill of Santa was still there long after the truth was revealed, it just wasn't true anymore.

2) The illusion of separate self is: that there is a personal me that reacts to, accepts or rejects everything else in the world. It starts when very young--around 2 years old, I suppose, and begins with being identified as something separate, learning the conditioning and being taught ownership and belief of who I am suppose to be. It really starts way before that. It's conditioning that is passed on from generation to generation. I learned to take responsibility for who or what others thought I should be. I fully bought into and integrated the belief of me. The belief of me became one with this body and continued to be something to stand up for, maintain and protect. The belief and the thought was me. I often felt threatened. I felt somewhere deep that if I did not continue to maintain a sense of me, and protect that, what would I be--where would I be? Other people always seemed so anchored in themselves, so concrete as they knew exactly who and what and when they were. They knew who they were supposed to be, which, in all this illusion, strengthened that belief of being separate.

The illusion of a separate self as a "me" feels divided from everyone and everything else. Truth is, we are different but not separate.

3) A little disorienting at this moment, but also a relief. Disorienting because it is unfamiliar and there are moments of wanting to cling to the familiar. When I go looking deeply into the discomfort or disorientation, I come to a place of what at first feels like a dead end, but then I realize it is nothing—literally. It could also be referred to as silence. It is impossible for me to go beyond silence. It’s just empty—the mind feels empty.
A relief because I can let go—or at least begin letting go of all the maintenance and imposed responsibility. I can let go of trying to control it. I see that I can’t and I might as well relax into it.

4) What pushed me over was a combination of things:

   A) Following fear for years to get to what and where it is, what’s behind it, but always ending up with nothing, finding nothing—running into silence but feeling like I just had not found it and continuing to search for what was behind it, until I read your statement in “Start Here” that said “note that the silence is not the absence of answer, it is the answer.” Until then, I always felt it was the absence of answers. It was a big eye-opener.

     Seriously considering your belief in Santa Claus analogy and seeing how this idea of separate self was created only by a belief and that it isn't true.

    C) Your spoon exercise was another thing that helped me to see that imagination and believing that imagination has fortified the illusion.

5) I don’t decide, choose, or control events in Life. I really get what has become a cliché statement, “I make plans and God laughs.” Happens all the time, only now I am so much more aware of it. Almost inevitably when I make plans, or when I think I make plans, something else comes along to change those ideas. I do not control anything. I used to like to think I did and it used to feel like I chose or decided, but not anymore, especially after seeing evidence that 6 seconds before we think we make a decision, it has already been made. Deciding happens, choices happen, but not by me, and there is no control over anything. I can no longer say that I do. I cannot prove that I make anything happen. Everything that happens appears to be the result of a combination of Everything happening at once to make that one thing happen. Does that make sense? It just feels like everything is involved. Since there is no separate me—no separate anything, everything comes together to make things happen. I cannot find who or what makes anything happen.

6) Anything to add? Yes. Since I answered most of this and was in a place of seeing through the illusion, I feel I have fallen back. That is very okay, even though a little discouraging. Things happen when they are supposed to. The thing is, I am trying to be really, really honest with myself about all of this and there are a lot of moments where I question whether I just Believe there is no separate self. Maybe that is where it starts so that we can even open up to the possibility that there is no separate self. It feels like I could be kidding myself. I definitely was stepping through an opening and a clarity and relaxation was present. But now the habit patterns that have been so strong throughout my life, have returned. Life has such momentum and so much if it travels at a pace that is quite unnatural for me. I get caught up in it, and I race and become more and more time bound and time referenced. The life-long habit patterns and behaviors have a lot of momentum, as well. I can’t tell that I have any fear around this, although there may be some that I haven’t realized yet. It just feels like I cannot completely break free of the habitual way of being. I can’t try either, because that makes no sense to me. I saw it. I sensed it. I felt it. But now it is just a memory played over and over. I rekindle some of these realizations to hopefully set up a new momentum, but I would be a phony if I said I am still there. Perhaps my experience will just be very, very gradual and gentle. I don’t know, but again I’m trying to be as honest with myself and you as I can.

There you have it, Ilona. All truth as it is for me right now.

Love and blessings.
Hope I'm not a lost cause. Said with love and laughter. I suppose "I" IS a lost cause. There is "no driver on the top."
Love & blessings.


Hi Harry,
Sorry for delay with answer.
Yes, there is no driver! Is there still doubt or it cleared? Is seeking still going on?


No worries, Ilona. We never really know if the messages that we send out there get to their destination.
Their is no doubt. I can't go back. I wouldn't call it seeking so much as a desire to feel the sense of being home, of being with what is, of Being, more fully and more often. The focus and attention still wants to spend more time with the content and chatter and labeling. As the way continues to be cleared, I'm hoping the attention and focus will naturally go more often toward the silence in which it is all contained--that is, the silence will be in the foreground and the content will be in the background more of the time. This is an unraveling and an unfolding. I see that for me, it is only the beginning.
Thank you, so much. You have been really helpful and you must also be helping many others...all for free. Bless you.
Much love,


Thank you!
Great to hear that the line was crossed!! I'm delighted for you. And yes, totally, this a beginning of new way of seeing, an opening to explorations and many interesting turns and twists. The silence is always underneath and can be acceded, noticed whenever you look.

The deepening, integration is natural unfolding.

Could I post our conversation on my blog? That way other guides can read and ask questions, if any. And then I can I its tog to join lu groups. There is a lot support and sharing there.
I can use your name, initial or whatever name you choose. I would appreciate that a lot.
Sending love.


And thank you. Yes, please feel free to post this conversation and use my name. I welcome any questions guides may have.
Love always,

Friday, 1 November 2013

Anika: I Am No Longer Seeking

Aug 12

Hi Ilona,

I am wondering if/hoping you could guide me. I am on the brink of 'getting it’, just need a nudge or a push or someone to confirm the way...

Have been reading the Gateless Gatecrashers and looking at the Start Here instructions on your website, but already before that -just over 2 weeks ago- something happened where the boundary between me and everything seemed to dissolve a lot. What a relief, after 16 years as a Buddhist and all the searching, waiting, seeking. Sometimes moments or days of insight (usually on retreat) then the falling back into the imprisonment of separation, contraction, resistance, grief, depression. Exhausting.

In the last few days there is a transparency to everything, things are as they are, flowing, no resistance, sounds pass through me, there is light everywhere, joy, no separation between anything. Some fear in a dream last night as the force of a river started to carry me away! But generally this amazing sense of ease and lightness.

I am very moved by what you are doing -the generosity of liberation.... If you have time to respond and guide me I would be blessed. Thank you Ilona,  Anika

Aug 13

Hi  Anika,

Thank you very much for email. Yes we can have a chat.
Is there anything that is not clear, any expectations that haven't been met?

What would you say that I is?

Looking forward to hear from you.
Kind regards.

Aug 14

Dear Ilona,

many thanks for responding.

Can't say that any expectations haven't been met: it is all very new and surprising at the moment! I guess previously part of me knew that 'waking up' would be very simple in some way: just a shift in perspective where life/the world would carry on as before but my experience of it would be quite different. Another part of me wanted to 'escape' into Enlightenment, to escape the suffering of being human. The experience of the last few days is one of great spaciousness, with the feeling of a gentle smile constantly in the background... Also the sense of just taking it in, with occasional arising of old patterns like doubt, but quickly realizing there is no reason to let those thoughts/feelings hook in -they are just old habits. Amazing to see it so clearly -and so, simply having the choice of not going with a thought of doubt, seeing that its familiarity is what has kept me with it before. Such a lot of energy used up in the constant self-confirmation of self hey, and unavoidable pain...

What is 'I'? From this place now I'd say: a construct, a way of protecting a sense of a separate self which although created by a biological/existential (?) urge for survival, creates a lot of anguish and uses a crazy amount of time, emotion, energy, and preoccupation! You see, it is all still very familiar to me, and there's some shock at seeing what remaining there means for most of current humanity.

I really am hoping that I have made this shift. I am sensing that there is some kind of 'purifying' process that happens now, with waves of old tendencies visiting -I had this image of sediment being stirred up and of that being inevitable, as if one has to meet all our 'stuff' again before really being able to say goodbye....

Much appreciation to you,  Anika

Aug 15

Hi  Anika,

Thank you for reply.
Yes, once the initial shift happens, there is a lot to clean up, beliefs come up to be looked at and released, it's just a start for this process. 

Can you say YES, I does not exist in reality as a separate self entity.
If not, what else needs to be looked at?
Are you feeling ready for the final questions?

Sending love

Aug 16

Thanks Ilona,

think I can say yes, but maybe not YES quite yet. Probably need a few more days just to trust it a bit more ie. that this experience of no real separateness isn't going to fade and will continue to be there even when habitual responses take over for a while. So far so good, though I've been tested a few times. Many emotions visiting: sadness, anger, anxiety, but nothing has lasted very long, and the spaciousness and peacefulness is there to be reconnected with. Incredible!

So, if there's anything useful you think at this stage do let me know. Otherwise I wait a bit longer.

Much gratitude to you for this exchange -it is the greatest gift. Love,  Anika

Aug 16

Sweet. Let it sink in..
It's good to spend time in nature, just watching totality of movement. 

Let me know if anything comes up that needs to be investigated. 
Sending love.

Aug 23

Dear Ilona,

well I can say YES, 'I' does not exist in reality as a separate self-entity. Even when an 'I' congeals in my experience through force of habit, it cannot last very last as there is also the knowing that it is fictitious and so limited -my life can't be ruled by it anymore!

So I feel ready for whatever the final questions are.

Much love,  Anika

Aug 24

Hi  Anika,

Great to hear this!
Here are the questions. ...

Please answer in full, when ready, no rush. 

Much love.

Oct 27

Dear Ilona, hello again after a two-month gap....

How are you? No doubt being kept very busy with all of us freedom-seekers!

I have been travelling, and just seeing what happens... I apologize for just 'disappearing' -I had meant to let you know but somehow it didn't happen...

In some ways I think the questions are now less easy to answer as the initial 'shift' is less vivid in my experience, and it all feels rather ordinary to 'be' like this now! But still, I haven't forgotten the prison I was in, and I know there is much 'unravelling ' still to be with. So here is my attempt at describing:

1) No there is no separate self that is 'me' at all -there used to be an idea that there was, but that was an unquestioned habit/assumption, and on looking it turned out to have been an illusion/delusion. So it was never there except in imagination, which was believed to be reality: crazy! The habit of imagining a separate self can still manifest itself of course, but cannot be believed in in the way it used to be. Like the bottom has fallen out of the story...

2) The illusion of a separate self is the assumption/belief that one is a self-determining agent that is in control of thoughts/actions, directing and forming one's life and environment. It starts when we believe that our thoughts are ours/are us/are 'real', and that from these thoughts we shape our life and future, and that we 'know' what is happening ie. that our version of 'things' is real/correct/important.

3) In the beginning it was very freeing and wondrous as well as being ordinary simultaneously. Now it feels more and more ordinary with a sense of humour coming in when the thoughts/stories are believed in for a moment or two (or longer....). Some shock initially at seeing how my whole life up to now has been lived in that way which inevitably caused 'me' so much suffering. But otherwise only infinite gratitude to have made this shift which now seems so obvious and simple, and accepting that it could only happen when it happened! Joy and love and ease and acceptance are becoming much more part of everyday experience.

4) It seems a conversation with my partner about Liberation Unleashed one evening, following excitement/inspiration/re-ignited faith that freedom is possible here and now, brought about a kinaesthetic/bodily shift with a visual counterpart: in that moment 'self' as I had known it seemed to disintegrate/evaporate. Doubt (a strong tendency of mine) did come and visit quite strongly after that but could be recognized as such. And Ilona, I found your suggestion of looking at the totality of movement outside in nature really helpful as a contrast to witnessing the more 'internal' processes.

5) Well, I can get myself to an appointment or cook dinner or go to bed, but how that happens is a bit of a mystery in that I can see that I don't really control anything! If/when these things happen they are just part of the unfolding movement/moment: life expressing itself as it is... In other words, I can have a thought eg. I'm going to make that phone call, but whether it happens or not (my body moving to the phone etc.) and the exact timing of it -if it does happen- are not 'me' doing it. It's like spontaneous movement happens which may or may not be appearing to 'obey' the thoughts. And very often when 'doing things' there's no thought or conscious intention and movement of the body happens anyway and things get done!

6) I just want to say that it hasn't all been joy and light... My recent travels were largely to visit my parents on the other side of the world, and though we all wanted to see each other, family dynamics came up that were not easy, and I was dismayed to see how some of my patterns are so deep-set. How does one experience such frustration, irritation, impatience, upset when one has supposedly seen through self! So I see how this is just the beginning of another phase of the 'journey'. I am no longer seeking, but there is a 'working through': the momentum of the habits and patterning of this life expressing themselves until they are transformed/dissolved/burned up/released into something else I guess?

Is that enough description? Not so easy to put into words.

Boundless gratitude and love to you for your generosity, your gift, and sweet spirit in all this,  Anika

Oct 29

Hi  Anika,

Thank you so much for email and beautiful clear answers. Yes, seeing no self does not make all patterns to evaporate and is not the happy ever after, rather a start of the journey. All beliefs that were attached to the I identity start to fall off, some need looking deeper and work, some vanish by themselves. Resistances are still here and life goes on as it did. But what is recognized can not be unrecognized, it is always available to see here now. Deepening, unfolding happens. It's a whole new journey, and a very exciting one! This is the first step and awakening is a process, so no surprise, that triggers are still there and more stuff comes up to be accepted.. Surrender to what is happens. 

I'm delighted for you and I see that you are through. Welcome home!

I usually post conversations on the blog and other guides can read and ask questions if they have any. Would this be ok with you? I can use any name you like. After that I can invite you to join LU aftercare groups where you can meet others and share experiences. It is a beautiful growing community with many members around the planet. Would love if you joined.

Much love!

Thank you very much for answering Ilona, and for your words about the ongoing process -it is so helpful to have this guidance.

So again, from the bottom of my heart I thank you for helping me -a complete stranger- so generously, for all that you give to others in this way, for this priceless gift...

And all the blessings in this universe for YOUR continuing beautiful unfolding!

Much love.


Thank you,  Anika!
I will post the conversation today-tomorrow,

Thank you for blessings.. Sending lots of love to you!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Suketu: The Intense Process Of Inquiry Simply Stopped Completely


Dear Ilona

My friend Marty in the UK guided me recently through your seven steps towards liberation. I am writing to you to express my gratitude to you for writing these steps. I am also writing to find out if you think I have gone through the gate and/or what I may need to work on next to do so – including afterwards – to progress further.

Marty kindly passed on your questions to me. I mean the questions you give to people when they contact you after they feel that they have gone through the gate.

Here are my answers. I would be very grateful if you were to look at them.

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

I cannot sense a separate entity or self. There is thought; there are emotions, perceptions. There is choice as well but no self making choice in the sense of being in control. I looked this closely. When walking in a park there was a 'toot' sound in the distance. Upon noticing the sound my mind immediately turned to it and labelled it with 'a train'. I didn't make that decision to turn attention towards the sound, nor towards labelling it. It's the same with all the sense impressions that I have investigated.

I cannot discover a self inside or outside of myself, as it were. There never was a self. If there had been one I couldn't have let go of one without dying or changing in some sense. Yet now my experience appears to be the same as before except without the pressure and restlessness that I used to experience.

2.        Explain in detail what the illusion of a separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your experience. Describe it fully as you see it now.

The illusion of a separate self: I used to believe in having a 'me' that is thinking and driving my experience, in control of what I feel, think and do. I used to think that this was the case with everyone else. There were thoughts 'by me' that seemed to prove that it existed. "I am choosing to do this or that" for example. I used to believe that this 'me' was somehow inside my body but at the same time in control, lasting throughout time. The same 'me' as when I was a child. In this way being separate.

Now I see it differently. There is my body, sense impressions, feelings, thoughts and different states of mind, happy, sad etc. There is locality, i.e I am sitting at the table writing this, I am not sitting at a beach for example. There is temporarily as well. It is night time. These are real to me. However, I cannot locate a self that is above and beyond these experiences. Apart from these experiences there isn't anything that I can sense at the moment.

I can still think "I am doing such and such" but apart from doing 'I' is just a label, a thought. There is choice being made, yes, but it's somehow being made from the sum total of all sorts of conditions, not separate from these. I don't understand it really.

On the outside everything is the same. On the inside it's totally different.

3.       How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from  before you started this dialogue? Please report from the past few days.

I believe I went through the gate maybe three days ago.

I was taken by surprise that the intense process of inquiry simply stopped completely. It was as if the winds that had been blowing inside my experience ever since I remember had ceased and all came to a total stillness. For two days I kept listening for the usual noise inside. "Self? Where are you? Are you there?" And I keep hearing nothing, just stillness. No pressure or restlessness having to do something, to be in the next place, to feel certain emotions or to seek a particular mood. All this has completely stopped. What a relief!

There is a growing confidence that I have gone through the gate. I have noticed that previous preoccupations don't have the same pull as before. For example, I used to be hooked onto watching a TV programme called Strictly Come Dancing, watching every episode every single day. Now that's far less important. I can take it or leave it. I like the series but the compulsion to keep up with the daily episodes has gone.

Last night I led a workshop helping people to re-vision their lives. I am a chiropractor and the technique we use helps people to transform physically, emotionally, mentally even spiritually. It goes well with Buddhist beliefs. I noticed that I could talk to people in a much more direct way, calling them to action, holding them account to their own values, without me worrying nearly as much as I used to about how I may come across or what they might think of me. Far less self-concern involved.

There is relief I experience whenever I remind myself that there is no fixed self, there is only a continuous flow of experience. I can feel that this means that there is now no limit to changing completely, to losing any habit or resistance that is unhelpful or doesn't accord with reality. It's wonderful. And I can see that others, everybody, is just the same.

Unskillful actions seem to have become more painful. I spoke harshly to my wife last night and I was concerned to apologize fully and quickly to her. More so than previously.

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

It wasn't a big push close to the gate at all for me. My experience was smoother than that. Everything went quiet. I observed dogs being dogs, people walking in a park being people, trees being trees. All simply grow and develop, then grow old and die. Nobody tells them how. We all just do it. No self needed. There never was one. I kept reflecting on this. It was as if I had been pushing a large ball up a smooth hill the shape of an inverted bowl. It had been hard work facing my fears and expectations, looking at my experience with total honesty. Then I came close to the apex of the bowl and the effort moving the ball became imperceptible. I wasn't sure which side of the apex (the gate) I was on. I only sensed I was near it and kept looking for a self.

The following day I noticed that the noise or wind inside me had stopped. That the whole enquiry had completely stopped. Very surprising.

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

I have talked about this earlier. There are decisions being made all the time. For example there was a decision to write to you tonight even though I thought I'd wait until next week. But those decisions doesn't amount to control. That's impossible. How exactly the decision to write to you tonight came about I don't actually know. It's like becoming aware or present after day dreaming. I don't decide to become aware. It just happens. Once having become aware I may intend to stay aware. And later I'll become aware again and with that I notice that I had been day dreaming again. I didn't decide to go day dreaming either. So, what is happening? I am not sure. I just know that there is no 'self' in charge here.

6.       Anything to add?

Just to say a very big THANK YOU to you, Ilona, for writing the seven steps to liberation and for emphasizing that it is quick to do  and definitely accessible. I had been a Buddhist practising meditation, studying Buddhism a lot and doing loads of things for twenty years and not got any closer. This is a great gift and I look forward to deepening it in time and to passing it on to others in due course.

May all find liberation!


P.S.: After writing this last night I had a nightmare and lay awake for a long time during the night. There as fear, frustration with the disturbed sleep and I realised that I was expecting my sleep to be better after the gate. How foolish of me. I am chuckling at myself as I am writing this. It does mean though that I am now more able to chose the best conditions for setting up better sleep. I mean, simply watch what I dwell on late before going to sleep, not drinking a cup of tea which can wake me up and so forth. It’s a clearer choice. I hope this helps.

Hi Suketu (what a beautiful name)

Thank you so much for email.
If seeking stopped, that's it. :) simple. Instead of trying to work out what is happening intellectually you can always just look and see.

I'm very happy for you and your friends. Big smile!

Yeah, there will be lots of orphaned beliefs showing up, like the 'good sleep' thing, all just coming to be looked at and released. Sometimes it may be intense. Other times smooth. It's all just happening by itself. Old beliefs will be falling off, some will need a bit more looking. But I see you are through.

Welcome home!
From here on the journey changes and there will be many surprises and realisations. :)

Would it be ok with you if I shared this on my blog? It is truly inspiring.
I can use your name or whatever name you choose.
sending lots of love.

Hi Ilona

What a delight to hear from you so quickly! Thank you so much for your kindness.

Of course I would be happy to share my communication with others on your blog. Just use my Buddhist name, that’ll be fine. (It means Lamp of Virtue, quite a name to live up to.)

I am so excited about the next stage of the journey. I listened to your interview today on Buddha at the Gas Pump and the most part that struck me most was the lovely, free laughter from both of you. Very attractive.

How do I sign up with the Aftercare forum and as well as on Facebook? I don’t understand how I can become part of the community in this way?

Many thanks for your confirmation and encouragement. I do look forward to having more contact with yourself and others in the community, maybe help others to go through the gate as well when I can. Do you ever do things like retreats or meetings in person? It would be lovely to meet you one day.

With many best wishes


Monday, 7 October 2013

Werner: Thoughts Are Not What Knows

Werner wrote to me in February, we talked a bit, there was a break and then we talked some more. Here is the beginning and the end of our conversation. 

Dear Ilona,

I read on your blog that you are not taking new people for guiding, but I still feel drawn to get in touch with you directly. You have been my main guide in my experiences with LU. After I discovered LU for real at the end of last December, it was your “Start Here” blog post that I worked with primarily. It turned out to be a highly reliable guide and built a lot of trust.

Now I feel it would be helpful to confirm where I am at, and get in touch with others who went through the process or are interested in it.

A bit about me:
I was a spiritual seeker for about 40 years. When searching for answers to teenage problems I first looked in psychology. After reading "Autobiography of a Yogi" the search started to become spiritual. This lead to a long involvement with serious spiritual path. At some point that came to a dead end, and the focus shifted to other spiritual teachings and teachers.

I downloaded the Gateless Gatecrashers pdf in the middle of last year, but at that time was more drawn to Nisargadatta, some of whose books I found at the same time.
At the end of December I was looking for a book to read on a trip and remembered the GG book. I looked at it again and checked out the LU website, and suddenly felt very drawn to it. It felt like the logical next step. Nisargadatta’s “Whatever you think yourself to be, you are not” resonated with me, and LU looked like an approach to clarify exactly that in my own experience.

Now the LU approach made so much sense. Highly specialized, a laser-like focus on just this one aspect of being, without trying to sell a whole life philosophy (or anything at all), without the need to quiet the mind or fight it – all of this resonated so deeply and made me feel: yes, I want to try that. Just the simplicity of it already felt liberating.

I came across your blog post "Start Here". The steps you gave made sense and I liked that I could go through them by myself, as I find it challenging to post personal matters on public forums.  So I worked with your instructions for several weeks, doing the steps as fully and honestly as I could, writing down whatever came up for myself. In parallel I read the Gateless Gatecrashers book and some additional blog posts of you and others.

I found it especially helpful to look at expectations about liberation, enlightenment, waking up. In 40 years of spiritual search I had collected a lot of them. Separating the seeing of the exclusionary nature of the me-thought from all expectations of effects that would have was very very important. It is brilliant that you address this so clearly.

Going through the steps has led to some significant realizations and shifts.

I came to clearly see that everything mind considers to be "me" really is just thoughts, feelings, and sensations. I could clearly observe how an experience happens and then a thought arises and attaches an "I" or "me" to the experience. I could also see that there is awareness and a sense of being, but it can't be grasped by the mind, can't be described by any labels. It is rather that thoughts and labels get their life from being seen by it.

I also came to realize that seeing this illusion of me does not magically resolve  personality, mind, coping mechanisms, survival strategies, habits, fears, etc. Some people seem to experience bigger shifts in these areas than others, but these effects don't mean anything about the seeing of the me-illusion itself.

There is much more to say, but I will try to put some of it in my answers to the questions you usually ask people at the end of your guiding.

1) Is there a separate 'me' 'I' 'self' , at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
I got to see that what is habitually taken as "me" is really a bundle of thoughts, feelings, and sensations. When inspected closely, there is no real entity in any of them.
There also is an aliveness, awareness, sense of being, that is not graspable by thoughts and cannot adequately be described by any labels.

2) in the experience, is there an experiencer? Is it body that experiences or is the body the experienced?
There is an experiencing, without being able to pinpoint this experiencing to a tangible entity. The body is the source of certain sensations, probably also thoughts and emotions, but it is not the body that is aware of them, it's something intangible beyond the body.

3) Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works.
Somehow most of us humans seem to be in some kind of trance, mass hypnosis. We take thoughts, feelings, and sensations to be ourselves, even though it can be clearly and easily seen that it is not true. I guess it is a cultural thing, some kind of conditioning that is passed on from generation to generation. And I guess, not being anything tangible at all, there is a temptation and social pressure to identify with something tangible.

4) How does it feel to see this?
It feels different at different times. Sometimes it moves a lot of energy. Sometimes there are doubts. Sometimes it feels like there is some kind of emptiness, space underneath a layer of thought, feelings, sensations.
Even though it is a (more or less) subtle shift of perception, sometimes the implications feel breathtaking, mindboggling, immense.
Mind is still trying to control, holding on, resisting; and also unwinding, adjusting, opening. It is still strong, a lot of attention focused on it. There used to be the conviction that that is a problem (also nurtured by diverse spiritual teachings), now it means less.

There is a lack of interest in the next spiritual idea or concept, but there is an interest in what's going on with me, in my experience and in the experience of others going through a similar process.
There is still avoiding, something my mind has been doing for most of my life, but it is less personal.
There is still fear, insecurity, avoidance, withdrawal, all these unwanted traits of this personality. Sometimes this leads to doubt that seeing actually happened. But there is some kind of empty space underneath them, they can't cling to any kind of core. There used to be convictions that these unwanted experiences meant something about "me". Now these convictions are seen as thoughts, just like the "me" they are referring to.

There is a sense that there are more feelings to feel, more life changes to happen, more previously avoided experiences to have, and that it takes time for them to take place.
There is less pressure to have life a certain way, more openness and curiosity towards what is happening.
There are times of feeling relief, loads falling off, things becoming simpler.
And a lot more.

5)How would you describe it to somebody who has never heard about this illusion but is curious about it.
That would very much depend on the person I am talking with, and the situation.
A somewhat generic description could be like this:

It seems that we humans tend to be in some kind of trance. We were raised with some assumptions about who we are, and all of our actions in life are based on these assumptions. These assumptions include that we are a separate person, who is a body or is in a body, and that we have some degree of control over our life (if we try hard enough).
Even though all of our actions are based on these assumptions, somehow we never examine them to see whether they are actually true.

Well, this is about taking a very close look at the basic assumptions about who we are. There are no special prerequisites except being willing to take this look, to question beliefs, and to be open to discover what is actually going on.
You don't need the grace of a guru to do this - the grace of life is already happening by you being at this place and willing to look.

You don't need to do some special spiritual practices for it, you don't need to become a better person for it, you just need to look.
Everything can be as it is.

You can go about this in different ways.
There is this group of specialists who have come up with different ways to help you look at this.
You can explore by yourself by following the steps described in this blog post:
You can go to a forum on the website and get the help of someone in looking at this.
You can read the book The Gateless Gatecrashers.
Or you can do all of this - whatever you feel drawn to.

It may sound too simple, too good to be true. I can only encourage you to give it a try. Skepticism is not a problem. You do not need to leave your critical thinking at the door.

Just look for yourself.

6) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look? Can you describe the moment when seeing happened?
I can't pinpoint a particular moment, but there were a number of seeings that felt really important.

First of all, the whole approach by itself was already liberating, by bringing so much clarity into a topic where there is so much confusion going on, so many opposing views, so many complexities. The complete focus on one basic, foundational illusion made so much sense.

Then at some point there came an understanding about something that had been going on in my life.
About ten years ago there had been a period of a lot of opening, the first time where there was actually inner joy and peace in my life some of the time. A lot of major life changes took place as a consequence, and one of them was that I became involved in a spiritual group. While I was attracted to some things in this group, there also was the feeling that something was wrong, but I couldn't get to the root of it. Peace and joy disappeared, and there was some kind of inner conflict. Even though I had left the group several years ago, this inner conflict still existed.

Suddenly I was able to see that at the core of this was the idea of doership.
Peace and joy had gone hand in hand with an opening without a special agenda. There had been more of a curiosity, and a willingness to look at things how they were, feel what was there to feel, without an agenda about a particular outcome.

The spiritual group stressed the idea that you had to do certain things and be certain ways and follow certain teachings to achieve liberation. They assumed that there is a doer who can do all this, if he tries hard enough.

Now I could see that this was the basic conflict that somehow was still in place, there was more understanding about what had happened, and some kind of energetic knot dissolved.

Another important seeing was related to some mental pressure that was often there in my mind and to some degree still is. There had been the idea that "I couldn't get it" as long as this pressure was there or showed up so regularly.
At some point I could see that this pressure has nothing to do with the reality of who I am. There are impulses, feelings, thoughts that come up, and there are other thoughts and feelings that try to control them. Energies opposing energies, creating pressure. But it doesn't say anything about who I am.

It was very important to look at expectations about liberation. At some point it became real that seeing the exclusionary nature of "me" doesn't necessarily mean that all challenges in life are magically resolved. Life circumstances are still there, personality structures are still there, conflicts are still there, avoided feelings are still there, other people are still there.
It became clear that the effects of seeing are different for different people, and that it is misleading to judge your own seeing because you might not experience the same effects as someone else. 

There had been times of seeing truth before this. In hindsight it seems most important that LU cleared up a lot of confusion and misconceptions around the topic, so that seeing could happen more clearly, and so that some kind of shift could happen in the mind.

7) Anything to add?
I strongly find that the "Start Here" blog post on MarkedEternal should become part of the main LU website, or at least be pointed to from the main site as one possible approach for people who are looking. It turned out to be so effective for me, and not everyone might find it by themselves on the MarkedEternal blog.

I find it so so great beyond words what you guys are doing.

Thank you,

Feb 28
Hi Werner,

Thank you so much for writing to me. It's really great to hear that by following steps, shift has happened. I see from your answers that there is seeing, clarity, and that puts a big smile on my face.

Are there any doubts? Is there any place that still cloudy or all is clear?
What does the word I refer to? In your experience, how is it seen that there is no doer? And what do you see when you look at other, has the view changed?
Was there ever a gate to cross? :)

Sending lots of love.

Mar 2
Dear Ilona,

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my email and respond so fast.

Here is what has come up for me in response to your questions.

There are still times of doubt, and there is still some cloudiness. There has been seeing, but there also has been an avoidance of feelings related to what was seen. When feelings are triggered and/or mind gets compulsive in an avoidance of feeling, “I” feels more real.
This also happens in interactions with my wife and other people, where both avoided feelings and compulsive thinking are there quite a lot.
It has just been a way of being for so long. It is not as sticky as it was, but old mechanisms are still in place.
Additionally mind has the tendency to conceptualize what was seen, on top of avoided feelings.

So I feel more seeing has to happen. Not to discover that “I” is not real, but to give attention to what is essential in the core of being, so that feelings and thoughts can relax.

As to your other questions, there are no answers at this time. Mind could come up with some “right” answers, but in truth they feel irrelevant right now.


Thanks and love,
Hi Ilona,

I want to make one correction to my last email.
“Interesting” at the end is not the right word at all.
All the steps so far have brought me to a place where it has become increasingly clear that there is no other direction to look but right to the core, no matter what.
I don’t have adequate words for that. Despite all the challenges connected with it, it is the right place to be in.

Thank you.

………………A few months and many words later we arrived at this point……………

Yes, fear is thoughts about future that trigger sense of insecurity, danger, possible harm. Even thought about the last mistake is subtly about the future, take a look. Give me an example of thought about the past that brings up sensations of fear in the body (not in theory, but in exp)

And take a good look, is there future? What is future made of? When is it? Where? How does it appear in experience? Do images about the future know what is going to happen?

Imagine tomorrow, same time as now. Is that image telling what will definitely happen or it's assuming a possibility? Is there certainty in the images of future? How about security, do these images keep you safe? Does mind still need to look into the future and create possible scenarios in order to protect an image of me?

Have fun with this

Much love.

There is not really a future. Future is all in thoughts, which are also arising now. Thoughts about future are usually projecting a future from past experiences. They are always assuming a possibility. Sometimes they are close to the actual events, sometimes they are completely wrong.

There is no certainty or security in these images about the future. Sometimes they are useful, e.g. thinking “it could rain” and taking an umbrella on the walk. Often they are unnecessary and not useful at all.

These thoughts and fears are also very engrained, a habitual way of operating for this mind for most of its life.

Yes, there is practical planing and what-if scenarios that only create fear. Thinking about future is fine, it's only when fearful thoughts are believed they become suffering. 

Yes, I can see that thoughts about past mistakes are subtly about the future. They are about possible consequences of past actions = future.

Right now I don’t find any thoughts that are purely about the past that bring up sensations of fear. If something is completely over and has no chance of impacting the future, there is no fear.

Trying to get rid of them doesn't feel appropriate and creates pressure. I guess the best approach is to just focus back on reality of no me again and again and let the thoughts and fears run their course until they don’t need to be that obstinate any more.

Yes, noticing what is here right now. Noticing what hands are doing, what sensations are present. 
Also investigating beliefs help. Like this one- is there future? How is it experienced? What is there that feels insecure and needs to be protected from life?

It looks to me that you are through. Are you? Is search still on?

Sending love.

When looking strictly now, there is no search.

Search anyway only seems to originate in thought.
On one level it is very clear that I is only a thought.

That's it. It takes time to settle. Mind keeps checking till it doesn't. The line is crossed and there is no way back to believe in I entity anymore.  Of course conditioning did not happen in a day so deconstruction does take time too. It's normal.

Everywhere you look there is confirmation and mind acknowledges that. It's part of process of clean up. All beliefs show up sooner or later to be cleaned up.

The shift may be subtle and unnoticeable, but when you look back, it's clear that something is different, some patterns are no longer there, like searching for "who am I?"

Would you like to have a go at final questions?

If not, what is not clear yet?

It hasn’t sunk in through all layers of thinking and feeling yet, but that’s something that takes time and experience.

It still feels important to acknowledge the reality of no-I.  
Yes, send me questions.


Sweet! Here they are:

1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
No. I is only a thought, an empty thought, that does not refer to a real entity. That is true now and was true in the past. It is not that at one point there was a real entity behind I and then it suddenly disappeared without anyone noticing J

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.
When we grow up, we learn to attach concepts to raw sensations. Even now, when focusing on raw touch, sight, or sound, there is no boundary, no person, no place where “I” end and “other” begins. Part of our socialization is attaching concepts to the raw sensations as a way of navigating life.
Certain sensations get the label “arm”, “head”, “foot”, “parent”, etc.  Some labels refer to something that can be experienced in reality, such as “wall”. Other labels refer to thoughts, ideas. “I” is such a label, and it is instilled thoroughly during socialization, with a lot of related concepts that are all based on it. There is nothing real behind the label “I”, and everything based on it is just built on an empty idea.

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.
It feels freeing to see this. In the last few days there is less conflict, less struggle, more moments of spaciousness, more simplicity. It is not that all the unwanted feelings and thoughts are gone, but they don’t have the same meaning attached as they had before.
The difference from before I started the process is enormous. The spiritual search has basically stopped. I’m not looking for another teaching. There is more clarity, less holding on, more acceptances. And a lot more that doesn't come to mind easily. Oh, the relationship with my wife improved (which is not a small thing).

4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
In hindsight the realization of no-I already happened when working with the seven questions on your blog. What kept me struggling was the question whether there were any doubts about this, which caused me to start the inquiry process with you. The process was very helpful and clarifying. I can’t pinpoint a particular moment that did it. There were numerous insights and experiences that were all part of the puzzle.

One important experience was the looking at perception without labeling them, and the realization that there is no boundary between an “I” and the others, there is just a sensation. It only becomes “I sit on the couch” through labeling, a mental process, and part of this process is attaching the labels “I” and “other”. These are helpful concepts for practical purposes, but cause problems when taken for real.

Another important clarification was that thoughts are not what knows. Something else (which cannot be labeled, pointed to, or identified) is aware of thoughts, and may identify with them or not. It is what gives life to thoughts; they don’t have a life or reality on their own. That was a really important distinction, as there was the idea that thoughts have power on their own, and I have a very active mind.

Another important realization was that whatever thoughts or feelings there may be, they don’t change the reality of no-I. With your help I looked a lot, and all kinds of different thoughts and feelings came up. But when looking honestly, there never was an “I” to be found behind any of them.
My mind has the tendency to be very thorough and tries to figure things out. But in some way no-I is beyond the mind, and mind could go on endlessly looking and might not get the certainty it looks for, because it is just not on that level.

At some point it just became clear that nothing more could be gained by looking for “I” or no-I, and that it was due to acknowledge the fact of no-I, no matter what else thoughts might have to say.

5) Do you decide, intend, choose, control events in Life? Do you make anything happen? Give examples from your experience.
Who? “You” is an empty word. There is no separate entity “I” that controls life.

6) Anything to add?
Lots of gratitude. It is so true and real on a very deep level what you do. Essential. Beyond words.

Much love,

Hi Werner,

Thank you very much for answers. I knew it, you are clear and for a while now. It's good to see it all written down, I see that you see and I'm very happy for you!

Could just expand a little on number 5, just with a couple examples from ordinary daily life, that'd be great.

Much love!

Hi Ilona,

Thank you! Yes, it’s good to write it down!
Some examples regarding question 5:

When “I” walk, there is walking happening, body is moving, but there is no separate entity that is doing the walking. Usually thoughts arise that claim ownership of the action, “I am walking”, or “I just went to the fridge”, but the “I” these thoughts refer to cannot be found in reality, it is a thought concept.

Same for other activities.

Some actions may occur spontaneously, others may be preceded by a lot of thinking.

But even when “I” make a decision, thoughts may arise before decision, looking at options may occur, at some point decision happens (or not), action follows (or not), and thought of ownership arises, “I decided to do/not do this”, but this “I” is not there if looked for in reality, the only reality of it is the thought “I”. The I-thought actually happens; the content of the thought does not point to something real. There is just emptiness when looking for it.

That’s what it boils down to. When looking honestly and openly for the “me” that controls and lives life, it cannot be found. Life just lives without anyone owning it.



Hi Werner,

Days seem to flow fast..

Thank you for expanding one this, it's a pleasure to read.

I guess you know what happens next, I am going to ask you if it's ok to make a blogpost out of our long conversation and use some parts of it. And then I can invite you to LU Facebook groups to meet others :) there may be people that are even in you area. It is great to meet others that see that same.

Can I use your name or any different one? People often write to me these conversations are helpful in their own journeys.

It has been a pleasure, Werner. And I'm delighted that gate was crashed!

Hi Ilona, 

So good to hear from you.

Yes, it is ok to make a blog post out of our conversation, and you can use my name.

I look forward to meeting others who have seen this – I will even join Facebook for this.

What a journey! So fortunate to have stumbled across this, and so much deepest appreciation and thanks for what you do, and the impact you have had on this facet of life.

Much love,


Lots of greatitude to Werner for making LU quote app available for PC and Mac. 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Meg: I Was Surprised How Simple That Was


Sep 21

Hi Ilona,
I know my husband, Marty, has been in touch with you recently. I went through the gate with him about 5 weeks ago and I would like to check out if this really is the case. I know that you will probably be busy but would really like it if you had the time to respond to me. I know that it has meant a lot to Marty to have your response particularly as it was on your seven steps.
best wishes,

Sep 21

Hi Meg, so great to hear from you.

It's is a pleasure to meet you and Marty. I'm very happy for both of you.

It would be great if you could answer our last questions. Hehe, don't read your husbands' answers, write what feels true in your experience. I'm looking forward to read that!
Please answer in full, when ready.

Much love.


Sep 29

Hi Ilona,
hope you are well. Lovely to hear from you, thanks for the questions. My answers are below. Didn't find it that easy to put things into words but have done the best I can,

1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
The idea of me, I, self, is so universally accepted that I had never stopped to think about it before, that was just how it was. When I went looking I was surprised to discover that the ‘I’ that I had thought was running the show could not be found. I took the time I needed to have a good look, it was easy to see that my body wasn't ‘I’ , it’s getting older and certainly wasn't under ‘my’ control, and it seemed very good at doing what it needed to do without any one telling it what to do – digesting food, scratching an itch, walking about. Feelings and emotions too were not under ‘my’ control, anxiety, anticipation, aversion, all arose all by themselves. Thoughts took more looking until I could see that they too bubbled up without the need for someone to think them and flowed on until they ceased of themselves. What I had thought ‘I’ was doing was, in fact, just doing itself. Seeing this I felt a little sad to let ‘myself’ go, an image of taking off and setting down an old brown coat I was fond of.

The week we went through the steps my husband and I would read one of the steps after breakfast and then take the day to think and talk and look, usually, at some point, going for a walk out into a large country park close to where we live. For me understanding on a deeper level can sometimes present itself as an image and on one of these days, as I walked along there was an image of all the aspects that I had identified as ‘me’ falling away – no that’s not me, no that’s not me either, until eventually all that was left was a bright aliveness, and ‘I’ was nowhere to be found. Surprisingly I didn't feel bereft but like a weight off my shoulders, a sense of relief and more space –no ‘me’ to hold up, protect, burnish, adjust, hide bits of.

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.

I suppose the illusion of a separate self is just how humans operate. I don’t know when it starts; a baby doesn't have a sense of a separate self when it is born but I don’t know when it develops, certainly by the time language emerges it has begun to form.

In my experience I've

spent a fair bit of time and energy on ‘myself’; developing this bit, trying to suppress that bit, feeling ashamed of this other aspect, polishing it, tending it.

How I see it now is that this body and all the bundle of habits, tendencies, processes etc that I had labeled as ‘me’ is still here doing its thing, nothing has changed in that respect, (and a pretty amazing thing it is too) but that’s what it is – a label for that bundle. I’m not suddenly a blank sheet, but now it’s as if these things have nothing to cling on to. So anxiety about my sons well being still arises but it’s not ‘me’, concern about what people will think, irritation, caring, tending, doubt, all not ‘me’. Also it seems easy to be straightforward with people instead of a tendency to be always careful how I put things because I don’t want people not to like me.

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.

Before I began the steps I had read one or two accounts in the Gateless Gatecrashers book but once I had decided to follow the steps for myself I stopped reading as I didn't want to have any preconceived ideas of to expect, I wanted to come to it with as few expectations as possible and I think this was helpful. I was surprised at how simple it all was, the sense of relief that there was no ‘me’ to protect and project. There was a sense of space, like being in a big meadow full of flowers, there was tears and laughter too.

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

Walking in the park, getting out into nature and looking at the trees, the grass, the animals all just being, doing aliveness, without the need for anyone to be in control. An image came to me of a fetus, in my mind’s eye I saw it grow and become a baby and be born and become a child. The mother doesn't grow the developing baby by an act of will, nor does the baby grow itself, but it grows and develops and gets born and becomes a child – my grandchildren came to mind– life expressing itself- how marvelous. Everywhere aliveness, life living itself, expressed as beings, animals, plants. And my heart so full and open. Then a thought that I too was part of this, not separate from it, my being too was just another expression life doing aliveness – and this brought tears and joyful laughter.

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

My life is going along fine without anyone in control, just as it always has done of course- food gets made, appointments met, meetings attended, tasks completed, children cared for, seeds planted, pots washed. But now there is a sense of going with the flow, letting it unfold, a lightness of touch. Happy to be doing what I am doing. Shortly after ‘the gate’ my husband and I took all five of our grandchildren (aged between 4 and 14 years) camping in a tipi in the Lake District. The facilities were pretty basic, the weather wasn’t too good – cool and sometimes rainy – and the children were just a bunch of children. It seemed very clear that it was all just happening now, things just unfolding of themselves, with no one needing to be in control. And me just going with the flow, enjoying their company, the rain on the roof, watching them asleep.

6) Anything to add?

Thank you. I have spent many years as a Buddhist, going on retreat, meditating, studying, working on ‘myself’ . And then my husband, Marty, came across the LU site and materials and was really fired up by them. At first I wasn't sure if I would do the steps, but I was curious and thought that if I followed them honestly I had nothing to lose. So simple, so straight forward, nothing mystical, just ‘go look’, so I did.

Oct 1

Hi Meg,

Thank you very much for writing all this out. It was a delight to read it.
Would it be OK with you if I put this in my blog for others to read, I can use your name or whatever name you prefer.

I have no questions for you, all looks clear! I'm very happy for both of you.

Much love.