A Guide to Breaking Free From the Illusion of the Separate Self
I was 28, living in Brighton, England. One rainy autumn day, with the help of mother nature’s substance, I had an extraordinary experience. That night my entire view of reality fell away.
I was sitting in a candlelit room on my sofa, with eyes wide open, with no thoughts coming, just being. It felt so light and free, delicious, peaceful, and blissful. That night I experienced stillness of the thinking mind that I never thought was possible. Being in that state felt like home, very natural. No worries, no memories, no fantasies, only peaceful stillness, and clarity of being.
Once the experience wore off, days later, I knew I had to find home again. The trip unexpectedly opened the door to a new way of seeing reality and had set me up for a search.
Years passed by, searching for answers and looking for clues. I wasn’t happy or at ease. And although my life as a tattoo artist on the outside seemed fun and completely normal, inside I felt a deep longing. I fluctuated between having moments of happiness and days of desperate crying. I often felt trapped, unhappy with myself and with others, in a rush to get somewhere else. I saw the suffering of others and I suffered too, not knowing how I could help them. I saw life as a struggle, where I had to deal with what life was throwing at me. Moments of lightness were brief and did not last long enough.
In my search for happiness, I tried many things, but mostly I was drawn to sound healing, crystals and I read a few books. I heard about enlightenment, the state of flow and I wanted that. I never went to retreats, satsangs and in my search I was on my own. It took me eight years of aimless wandering to finally arrive at Jed McKenna’s books.
I read his trilogy in one hit and it was like a “wake up” call. It was an intense and painful time. I did not know what to believe anymore, as I realized that all that I believed about life, up until then, was learned by repetition from someone else, who apparently knew something. I admitted to myself, I don’t know anything and I had to start thinking for myself. Jed McKenna talked about “no self” and it sounded like an idea that held a clue for finding home.
Half a year later I stumbled onto an internet forum and the idea presented there was this: “just look, there is no you!” The directness of the message was staggering. It said: look, and I looked. That was the key!
It was an ordinary October morning, I was standing in my bedroom looking out through a window, still feeling the taste of coffee in my mouth and wondering about what was meant by, “there is no you”. A question came — “Is there an Ilona running the show?” That instant, the thinking mind stopped, for a few seconds, a recognition happened and it was so simple. Everything started to make sense.
I recognized that there is only life happening, no separate persons running the show. It’s all one show, one aliveness, a unified movement of totality, and one life shows up as different bodies, characters, situations. Life is, and beingness is where our home is.
In 2011 I met Pamela Wilson in London, at a satsang, where I witnessed how gently she worked with untangling tensions, fears, and contractions. That gave me another key. Her work inspired me to experiment and explore the workings of the mind and heart and other internal structures.
I have always been interested in the mind and that led me to gaining a degree in psychology. But this time I was learning something revolutionary, as I could explore the mind in its own ‘habitat’ and learn about its workings so that it can willingly end the fight with what is.
I put these two keys together and found a way to point and lead to direct seeing, by asking questions and inviting seekers to explore the actuality of their own experience. I call this method of self-transformation ‘Deep Looking’.
In 2011 Liberation Unleashed was born out of a passion to assist and serve seekers of freedom. In the beginning, there were a few of us, in ten years it has grown to over seven thousand members. It is beautiful to see that those who see through the illusion of a separate self in their own experience come back to the forum as guides to assist others.
In my book “Liberation Unleashed” I collated all that I found helpful: pointers, questions, exercises, conversations, principles of deep looking, 7 steps on how to see through the illusion of a separate self at home all into one place.
The recognition of no separate self is a new beginning, a fresh start to exploration. Seeking ends, and there is so much to explore; many more insights, openings to follow, continuously deepening the realisation and the cleaning up old patterns that no longer serve. This seeing becomes a living fact and life gets a new flavor of freedom.
In everyday life, I feel a deep impact and a continuing of the adventures of integration. The main difference now is more peace with what is, enjoyment of the natural state of being. There is lightness and okayness within situations, freedom to express and experience life fully. There is the ability to face intense situations more often from a place of calmness and allowing. There are fewer thoughts about what is not happening and more space for noticing the sweetness of unfolding life.
You are invited to this journey of self-transformation, where the view shifts from separateness into oneness and connectedness with the whole of existence.