It was a real pleasure to talk to Sudakini. Looks like Buddhist people have been trained for that, hehe. She was ripe and ready, did not take long and there was no resistance, just plain looking and reporting what was seen.
Vajralila has let me know that you have agreed to guide me by email. Thank you for this, I am very grateful.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Great to hear from you. :)
Yes, we can have a chat.
Can you introduce yourself a little and tell me where are you on the path, how ready are you and what do you expect from our conversation.
Hello Ilona ,
Good to hear back from you.
I have been practising within a Buddhist framework for around 28 years.. 16 of those with a more intense commitment to a particular community and practice tradition. I have been a dancer all my life and have worked with the body and movement for many years. Authenticity, immediacy, presence, responsiveness and spontaneity are key values for me. Where am I on the path...? I am a long time on a path of opening, integrating, becoming, connecting... As well as aligning my self more and more with the values I list above. Learning to love is a big one for me. And to know what it is be loved, and loveable.
How ready am I...? I am ready to open more, to let go more and to know more of what I don't know...
What do I expect? To be challenged... And validated.
Is this enough for now?
Thank you for intro. Your key values are good sign that you are on the right track.
Can you say, if there is anything in the way to living them fully now? If so, what exactly?
What do you expect from our conversation? Can you go in depth on what you think awakening is, what it would do for you and what you want awakening to do for you. Just make a list. It's the most important step- to see through all expectations. Honesty is the key here.
Thank you for your response.
In terms of living these key values fully now I practice being in touch with my direct experience as best I can as much as I can.. Through the felt sense, the eyes, the hearing and the emotions... I practice being as fully present as I can to what is arising in experience and attending to that with openness and a willingness to see what comes next.... What gets in the way of this? Fear I think. When an idea takes hold of a self that needs supporting, defending and protecting.
Awakening, I think, is a state of freedom from limiting views of self and other... A state of experiencing interconnectedness and immediacy with all of life... A state of responsiveness and solidarity with life in all it's forms. What would this give me? Freedom from the limitation of 'me'... An experience of flow and aliveness...
In the dialogue with you I expect:
To look and investigate what is awareness...
What is self...
What are phenomena...
To become more convinced by the truth of no-self..
The truth of complete openness...
In terms of living these key values fully now I practice being in touch with my direct experience as best I can as much as I can..
Nice. But, is there a gap between experience, experiencer and experiencing? Is there something to which experiences are happening?
Is life happening to you or as you?
Is there an I that experience is happening to and which has to keep practising?
Through the felt sense, the eyes, the hearing and the emotions... I practice being as fully present as I can to what is arising in experience and attending to that with openness and a willingness to see what comes next.... What gets in the way of this?
Is there anything else but present moment- here and now?
Fear I think. When an idea takes hold of a self that needs supporting, defending and protecting.
Yes, fear can be in the way. But it's only trying to protect something. We will look at the fear later in the process.
Awakening, I think, is a state of freedom from limiting views of self and other...
Awakening is not a state. It's a process. States come and go. Recognition is permanent. What was recognized once can not be unrecognised. It's the same as recognizing that Santa story is a fantasy. Once it's seen, that Santa does not exist, it is not possible to believe in him again.
A state of experiencing interconnectedness and immediacy with all of life...
Recognition of interconnectedness. That does not mean that one can never get lost in a story again.
A state of responsiveness and solidarity with life in all it's forms. What would this give me? Freedom from the limitation of 'me'... An experience of flow and aliveness...
Freedom is not from something, but to experiencing all as it is, fully, without judgement. It's not freedom from fear or anger, or unpleasant experiences, but freedom to feel fully whatever comes up.
In the dialogue with you I expect:
To look and investigate what is awareness...
What is self...
Yes, what is a self? How would you define that? What does the word self points to?
What are phenomena...
To become more convinced by the truth of no-self..
Hmm, this is not about installing a new belief by convincing, it's about seeing that clearly in your experience. :)
The truth of complete openness...
Openness to what is happens when resistance to what is ends...
Thank you for your questions. Yesterday was an investigation of these. So...
There is direct experience through the senses, no gap between experience, experiencer and experiencing... A construct/thought of 'I' or 'me' also arises this is also a direct experience that has qualities/textures...
There are different modes or 'energies' in experience... If stress is happening an impulse arises to 'calm' or 'centering'.. Still no real 'me or I in there... But a habit / construct / thought of an 'I' that 'has' or chooses a different mode / direction. The idea of 'practicing' is a concept for this change in energy from stress to relaxation or from constriction to openness.
Let's try this:
Sit with this thought for a bit and write to me what sensations in the body, thoughts, feelings come up.
There is no separate self, no I, me in reality. None as in zero. No manager, controller, watcher, decider, driver, no entity that is in charge of this piece of life. Life is happening effortlessly, by itself, just happening.
Thank you for your last instruction:
Ok. The last couple of days I stayed with the thought and instruction you gave me...
In the body: aliveness, alertness, vividness through the senses, a sensation like the pores opening and the body relaxing... Maybe also something like vigilance or even slightly hyper-vigilant...
In the thoughts: yes, ok, direct experience, causes and conditions arising, life is happening without any 'me' controlling or making anything happen, a flow of impulses and responses and reactions, just aliveness... so now what...? So what? Then what? ... What's the point? So, no 'I' who is watching, no 'I' at all, so... Who or what is thinking? If thinking is just happening...
Feelings/emotions: some feeling of lightness and freedom... Some low-level excitement... And with the thought 'there is no I, so who is thinking?' there is some feeling of fear followed by some kind of sadness then this dissolves too.
thank you for answers.
Let's look closer.
Who or what is thinking?
Observe thoughts. Sit with closed eyes and watch how thoughts come up and pass.
Is there a thinker?
Or just thinking happening?
Can you stop a thought from coming?
Can you know what the next thought will, be?
Can you choose and think just the thoughts you like?
Is thought I any different from other thoughts?
Can a thought think?
Observe and write to me what you noticed.
thoughts arise by themselves... one thought leads to another thought.. or thoughts appear randomly... and dissolve.
Thoughts arise... once arisen they cannot be stopped... thoughts dissolve. There is no choosing thoughts.. There appears to be intention leading to particular thoughts; like: 'now i am observing thoughts', this is just another thought...
Somehow there is volition or intention otherwise how could there be a following of your instruction / invitation to observe thoughts? How does choosing to follow this line of enquiry happen? Choice also arises and drives a thought... No 'I' choosing or driving so.. Choice happens and interacts with thoughts..
Pleasant and unpleasant thoughts come... not possible only to have the nice ones!
Yes, 'i' is just another thought, one that comes again and again and again and again... Not much substance to it though... Just like all the other thoughts it arises and dissolves... Thoughts don't think, thoughts just are.
Very good noticing.
Yes, thoughts come up and dissolve and I is just another thought.
Now look into actions. How do they happen, is there a doer?
Is there an intender?
Is there focusser? Awarer?
Is there anything that is happening not on automatic?
Looking forward to your answers.
Thank you for your email two days ago and your invitation to explore actions.. I have been investigating in the midst of action packed (busy) days!
Actions come from impulses.. Responses to thoughts, sensations, emotions... Actions arise without a 'me' choosing... There is awareness but no-one who is aware... it seems awareness and actions arise together at different intensities as when seeing a bird is primary awareness/action and thumbs are twiddling more sub-consciousness action/ awareness.. Trying to explore relationship of awareness and action!
Action is empty of a doer, intender, awarer, focuser... Action happens dependent on thoughts, feelings, sense impressions.... Actions give rise to more actions... And on it goes.
Is there an action without awareness of it?
Yes, action is empty of doer.:) it happens.
Let's explore mind as labelling machine and language.
Look around you now and notice how mind labels everything, where attention goes. Play with this for a bit.
Notice how labels arise, story follows.
Notice that story goes on about experience, but it's not experience. It's a description.
Here is a little exercise in this post, do it and write to me after, how description affect what is happening?
Does description change what is happening ?
What is that description has affect on?
Thanks again for your instructions and questions... You ask:
"Does description change what is happening ?
What is that description has affect on?"
Direct experience, what is happening right now...
Seeing, feeling, thinking, hearing... tasting and smelling...
Abundant sense impressions. Breathing, pausing.... The body is happening, always happening right now. The description / the labels are an add-on. Without labels the experience is immediate, vivid, timeless. With labels there is the possibility of communication through language... It is a description of the experience. The description is not the same as the direct experience. The description is a concept.. A construct.
Doing the exercise from your blogspot...
Writing and describing what is happening now, with or without using 'I' or 'me', distances from what is experienced directly through the senses and stops the immediacy of experiencing. Writing 'I look up' or 'looking up is happening' feels the same in the sense that it is no longer the direct experience. The direct experience is not possible through words; it just is what it is.
Writing 'writing is happening' is different from the direct experience of that through the senses.. The words, the concept are never the experience itself... The words, labels, description can only point towards the experience or add something else to the experience... That 'something else' could be called a 'story about' the experience. The story about the experience creates more experiences... The story creates feelings, thoughts, impulses and sensations in the body....
The description does change what is happening... Description is another thought / action and leads to new experiences through the body, thoughts, senses etc. The body responds to thoughts... What is happening in the body also affects what happens in the thoughts. This pattern of causes and conditions effecting one-another is also possible to experience directly through the body/mind but it all happens so simultaneously, so quickly it is almost impossible to pin down.
The label / story 'I'.... Sometimes this is useful. Sometimes it is not useful. 'I' is a useful construct when there is a need for communication with others. 'i' is not useful when it causes separation... when this is happening a story about I/me tries to control direct experience and control others.... Useless! It doesn't work.
Thank you for your attention.
Yes, you describe this very well!
Can you say, that yes, it is clear that I is imagined, that there is no separation and separate self is an illusion? If no, what is that still needs to be looked at?
How does it feel to answer as you answer?
In the midst of being laid up with a full on cold I have been contemplating your question...
"Can you say, that yes, it is clear that I is imagined, that there is no separation and separate self is an illusion? If no, what is that still needs to be looked at?
How does it feel to answer as you answer?"
... it is clear that I is imagined.. I is added on to the experience and distorts or, at least, changes the direct experience into a fantasy.. I creates an illusion of distance and potentially alienation and separation from what arises spontaneously. Self as separate from what is experienced does not exist... An idea of self arises again and again.. 'selfing' happens... Self arises as a the thought 'I' and 'me' and 'mine'... this is clear. Self is a persistent fantasy!
Being in touch with direct experience and the knowing that self is a fantasy feelings of peace, relaxation and openness arise... Also some sadness and a kind of fear comes with this clear seeing... There is also excitement and lightness.. A sense of a positive challenge... So a mix of feelings! Knowing self is an illusion brings a sense of freedom.. there is no need to buy into negative restricting self-views... Also no need to buy in to the positive ones either! That feels like a kind of freedom.
I is a thought, believed that it's more then an empty thought. It's part of experience of what happens when an image is taken for reality.
What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
Can you describe how seeing happened?
Thanks again for your attention and guidance in this process...
You ask 'what was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?.. can you describe how seeing happens?'...
The whole process of receiving your questions/instructions and investigating thoroughly what experiencing is makes it clear that I is illusory... the intensity of looking at direct experiencing and asking about 'i' and the relationship of I to direct experience... looking again and again and seeing again and again that the thought i dissolves and is not essential, that I is another arising that happens along with other arisings... Seeing this and feeling the energy of experiencing without I, how natural this is and how possible... When you ask 'is it clear that I is imagined' this feels like the prompt to really know and say (come out with it!) for sure that I is an illusion... You ask: if no, is there still something that needs to be looked at... Trying to find an I that is substantial and not finding... so what else needs to be looked at...? Keep looking and dissolving happens. The more looking happens the more real and immediate no self becomes... Imposing a self on experience happens again and again and just experiencing happens again and again... With direct experience there is no I just sensations, sounds, feelings, thoughts... And spaciousness... And again the thought 'I/me'... I is flimsy and impermanent and no more real than any other thought... The only thing that is real and immediate is direct experience..
Just so you know, I will be on retreat tomorrow until Sunday.. This means I won't be able to email during that time.
I look forward to hearing from you either before I go or on my return.. Thank you.
Much love, Sudakini
Looking continues till it drops. It's great that you are going for retreat, such a perfect timing! There will be so much to look at there.
When you come back, please answer this question- has the search ended?
Have a great time, both with Vajralila.
I hope you are well. I have been back from retreat a couple of days and straight into work and busy-ness. The retreat was wonderful in warm and sunny north Wales.
I have been contemplating your question: has the search ended?
A search for a solid existent self/I has ended... it is clear there is not one... Was I ever a searcher/seeker? I have looked for happiness but even that search ended a while back with the realization that happiness is always here when tension is dropped, opening takes place and an experience of connection arises... This is freedom as well as happiness.
I have been asking: if there is no search, why practice as a Buddhist.. what for? 9 days of Buddhist practice on retreat just now answers that question...Something happens with that kind of practice... there is joy and aliveness in it! That may change but for now it's good enough.
So, yes, some searching has ended... The flimsy thought 'i' keeps happening.. And freedom keeps happening... A kind of flow and energy constantly available. I am wondering why sadness arises with these words...?
Much love, Sudakini
So great to hear from you. :)
Glad you enjoyed the retreat and I'm very happy to hear, that the search has ended. Of course, this is not just an end, but also a beginning, there is so much more to explore.
Can you say, that you are ready for the final questions?
Lots of love!
Yes please, I am ready for the final questions!
Much love, Sudakini x x
Sweet! Here they are :)
Please answer in full, when ready.
Thank you for the last questions.
1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
There is nothing substantial or separate about i / me or self... These are labels / constructs / thoughts that get attached to direct experience... This has always been so.
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.
Sensations are happening... seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking, smelling, tasting... Aliveness, awareness, consciousness is happening; responsiveness is happening... A thought of 'i' or me or mine happens too... These thoughts of i, me or mine attach to what is happening, describe what is happening as identified with an i, me or mine.. In describing the experience as i, me, mine another experience arises.. This experience is a thought train or 'story' with I, me, mine at the centre... Just another experience but one that causes the illusion of separation: 'me' here and 'world / other' out there.
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.
To see this feels exciting, alive and freeing... and also there is sadness... Maybe the sadness is some kind of loss feeling... The loss of a closely held illusion... Maybe the sadness is at the compulsion / addiction that thinks 'I' is at the centre, creating the illusion of separation and the suffering that comes from that. The difference from before this dialogue started is that how this happens is completely clear, undeniable and convincing and the reality of no self is more present, consistent and available... Unhelpful feelings and reactions that would have persisted with the thought of I sticking to them are happening and passing with less stickiness.
4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
On July 9th you asked:
"Can you say, that yes, it is clear that I is imagined, that there is no separation and separate self is an illusion? If no, what is that still needs to be looked at? How does it feel to answer as you answer?"
This question was the last push that made me really look and be certain... There was no turning away from what was seen again and again as a flimsy illusory experience of a self in the form of a label 'i', 'me' and 'mine.
5) Do you decide, intend, choose, control events in Life? Do you make anything happen? Give examples from your experience.
Decisions happen, intention happens, choice happens... These events happen in dependence on many other events, occurrences, phenomena physical and mental co-existing, shaping one-another through interaction; choice is an energy that does not need an I or a me to make it happen... Maybe choice could be called infinite possibilities merging to one point in dependence on many causes and conditions particularly those associated with a particular body/mind combination...???? Still no 'I' needs to be involved.
6) Anything to add?
Not really. Thank you so much for giving your precious time and attention to this dialogue, Ilona.
Lots of love, Sudakini xxx
I'm so delighted for you, your answers show clearly that you see. I have a huge smile on my face :))
The sadness is present when we say good bye to something or someone, this case may be the belief, fantasy, that we are separate entities and that we believed that for so long. It's not something to worry about. Sadness will pass, or it may have already passed :)
Would it be ok with you to put is conversation on my blog, so it can be helpful for someone else. If you don't want to be recognized, no problem, I can use whatever name you like.
Lots of love to you and Vajra Lila.
thank you for your huge smile!
And thank you again for guiding me through this process... It is a really generous thing you do to give your time and attention in this way.
You are welcome to put our conversation on your blog and i'm fine with you using my name.
Lots of love, Sudakini x x x
Awesome, thank you so much!! Will put it up today or tomorrow :)
Then if other guides have any questions I will pass them on to you, if not- will invite you to the groups.