A Guide to Breaking Free From the Illusion of the Separate Self
Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Independently (Sept 27, 2022)
“In this book, Ilona’s honesty and integrity shine through. In a world of gurus vying for your devotion and money, Ilona’s new book is refreshingly different. In ordinary language, completely free of pretense, she invites you to take a look for yourself and discover whether your assumptions are true. She skillfully guides you through an investigation that may reveal a shocking clarity that you are not what you thought. I enjoyed this book.”
—Joey Lott, author of The Best Thing That Never Happened
“As Ilona points out in this wonderful book, there was truly a fire started with the Liberation Unleashed movement that occurred
several years ago. I remember it well, as many people flocked to the movement in order to cut a path straight to liberation. In many ways, the movement has revolutionized the way people consider liberation these days. The pointing is very direct and leaves out a lot of unnecessary spiritual stuff. I’ve known many people who found it to be tremendously helpful. And the fire of the movement
is still burning strong with this powerful book by Ilona. Highly recommended.”
—Scott Kiloby, CEO of The Kiloby Center for Recovery
“Liberation Unleashed further documents an exciting new spiritual activity: online peer-to-peer mentoring, no airline tickets required. This book helps move us from the age of the guru to the age of the friend.”
—Greg Goode, author of The Direct Path and After Awareness, and coauthor of Emptiness and Joyful Freedom
‘Liberation Unleashed’ Excerpt:
Fear Is A Sensation
Fear informs us about itself through an intense sensation. There is a distinct flush that gets triggered by thought, sound, color, smell, taste, or touch. Fear makes itself known as a sudden contraction. It’s not pleasant and may set off a chain of reactions. It’s felt as a strong no to whatever is triggering it.
Imagine for a second that you are in a desert, a wide-open space. You are walking for hours, in circles. You go up yet another hill and see a closed door. It is standing right there, very obvious, and it is locked. There’s no key around. No key in your pockets. The door does not move, does not open; it just stands there. You are stunned and cannot move forward. So you sit by the door and sit some more, thinking, guessing, and dreading what might be behind it. It feels as if the door is guarding something, something that you need but cannot see. At the same time the lock is having a laugh; it has done it’s trick, making it appear that there is something important behind the door that is protected.
There is another way to find out what is behind the door. No need to unlock it, no need to push it open, just take a step to the side and look behind that silly door. There is nothing there! The desert continues in all directions, and the door stands there, but it’s not an obstacle to your journey.
Fear feels and acts like that lock on the door. It stops one from going further. Fear is a signal to step back; it’s a warning of danger, real or imagined. The feeling can be so strong that it may paralyze thinking and acting.
Fear is a sensation. It is not to be avoided but rather noticed and felt. It is not good or bad in and of itself. It is doing its job, keeping the self-image and belief structure safe and intact.
Once it’s seen, it cannot be unseen. This statement refers to recognition. In other words, what is recognized will always be recognized, no matter the situation—unless, of course, you have memory problems.
Let’s say you meet someone and ten years later you meet her again—instant recognition happens. It’s underneath the thinking.
Recognition is something that operates outside of thoughts. You meet that old friend and recognize her simply because she has a unique face, body structure, voice, and so forth. It’s like learning the colors in childhood; a child is shown the color and is told that it is called “red.” That child then recognizes red at any time in life as being “red.” You hear a song once, and the second time you recognize it—I’ve heard that song before.
When we look at something familiar, recognition takes place—the “aha!” moment. We don’t need to philosophize or make logical connections to simply recognize what is already the case.
It’s difficult to see the illusion of a separate self only because it has never occurred to us to deeply question the assumptions, I am a separate entity, I have an identity. The “I-thought” is assumed to be “me,” the doer and thinker, a subject with free will and choice.
When we start digging into these assumptions, it becomes obvious that an “I-entity” cannot be found. When you face this head-on, recognition happens. “There is no separate self” can just be words that raise your eyebrows, or they can be a knowing that is beyond thought.
What is, simply is, without any manager, orchestrator, or puppet master pulling strings. Life is just happening, and everything is happening within it, as it. Nothing is separate from anything else.
Everything is dependent upon everything else as one movement, one dance—empty and yet so rich in its fullness.
Recognition is a moment when we know that we know. It’s something familiar showing up; it may have been forgotten, or it may have been denied, but once that recognition happens, it is not possible to unrecognize that pattern. Once the seeing happens, once it becomes clear that the separate self is an illusion, it can never be truly forgotten again. Different situations arise with different levels of intensity, but what has been seen can be seen over and over and over again in every situation. It’s not hidden. When we look at what is obvious, without thinking or referring to a memory, without trying to fit it into models of reality or to match it to the descriptions given by teachers, there is an intimate, instant recognition. This 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, express opinions, have debates, write books, and teach about it. But deep knowledge comes from within, from looking for yourself, from wanting to know beyond doubt.
Paperback: 226 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 26, 2012)
An unusual book! This book presents actual on-line dialogue which shows how people are carefully guided to clearer understanding of who or what they are “IN ESSENCE”, the culmination of which is an “awakening” to “reality”.
Those who are seriously “on the path to enlightenment” so-to-speak may probably benefit most from this book.
—Walt Dutchak, author of Watching Thought and Mastery of Self
This is one of the most useful books on self-enquiry that I have come across. Some of the dialogues are extraordinary. A book for the spiritual seeker who has come up against the inevitable paradox that there is no seeker and nothing to seek.
— Richard Redmont
If you are like me, you are constantly searching to break through and see the light of truth. Even though you have a lot knowledge and experience on the subject you don’t seem to be there. There seems to be either something you’re missing, something you don’t understand, something overlooked, or something preventing you from knowing and experiencing the truth. For me, it was the latter. It was the sense of “I,” the sense of self which is so insidious and persistent that it attaches itself to every belief and experience you have so that it is all tainted and you never seem to see the light of truth.
The final step or solution of every path involves eradicating the belief in “I.” In the Bagavad Gita, Krishna says “If you persist in clinging to the I-sense you are lost.” How to do this last step is shown perfectly in this book. Ilona and Elena are lights of wisdom and truth in showing the way to releasing the sense of “I” and self. This book could and should be your last in how to break through this last and most difficult gate of illusion. It is the perfect solution.
— Curt Graf
This book recounts the journeys of 21 ordinary people who dared to investigate whether the self they had always taken for real actually exists. Transcripts of 21 guided conversations record the process step by step, line by line, as each seeker sees through the illusion, and is liberated from belief in a separate self. No such resource for spiritual seekers has ever been published, nor such a large collection of awakening accounts ever been assembled. Completely accessible, totally practical and wholly transparent for all who are interested, Gateless Gatecrashers makes a unique contribution to spiritual literature, and perhaps will lead you – when you are ready – to gatecrash! Liberation Unleashed is a movement of volunteer guides who are dedicated to helping you end the spiritual search. We strive to transmit the message that separation is only a thought, that there is no entity behind the word “I”, and all one needs to do is to look.
Today, ordinary people are waking up all around the world. Here are some of their real life stories. This book recounts the journeys of twenty one ordinary people who dared to investigate whether the self they had always taken for real actually exists. Twenty one seekers look behind the word “me”, to see if any “self” could be found. Transcripts of twenty one extraordinary guided conversations record the process step by step, line by line, as each one sees through the illusion, and is finally liberated from the prison of belief in a separate self. No such resource for spiritual seekers has ever been published, nor such a large collection of awakening accounts ever been assembled. Completely accessible, totally practical and wholly transparent for all who are interested, Gateless Gatecrashers makes a unique contribution to spiritual literature, and perhaps will lead you – when you are ready – to gatecrash! Liberation Unleashed is a movement of volunteer guides who are dedicated to helping you end the spiritual search. We strive to clearly transmit the message that separation is only a thought, that there is no entity behind the word “ I “, and all one needs to do to see that for oneself is to look. To request a guide, visit the forum.
This book is a very simple but powerful affirmation that the I-thought is only a belief. It never was! I recommend it to anyone. –John Troy
‘Gateless Gatecrashes’ Excerpt:
Philip: Dear Ilona, I love reading the conversational posts on your blog. You come across as very patient and understanding, yet don’t allow any bullshit to slip by. I’m a fifty-five-year old man living in Australia and I have been inquir- ing into this for many years and have a great deal of conceptual under- standing of the illusion of self. Yet I have not seen it directly. Do you think that, possibly, some like myself are just simply unable go beyond that point?
Ilona: No. I don’t think that’s possible. It is possible that the wall of knowing is so thick that simple things are not visible. Once looking starts, it is simple, but to get to that point one needs to be ready to look at everything with fresh eyes. Are you ready? I can help.
Philip: Thanks for that, Ilona. It would be great if I could get some help. At times I think so deeply about this that my mind seems to seek re- venge; it wakes me up at 2am with thoughts of unsolvable puzzles which trigger panic attacks.
During the waking hours I have been meditating on the notion that everything is as it should be and could not be any other way, so I should give up any resistance to what is and go along with whatever comes up, even the panic thoughts.
This does work to a degree, but not to shift anything in a lasting way, maybe it is just another theory or technique? Anxiety about what may happen in the future dominates most of my thinking and as you say it seems very thick and strong. Simple seeing seems very elusive.
Ilona: No, it’s not just another theory or technique. This is a one-off seeing and you’re done. What is seen cannot be unseen, just as once you see that Santa isn’t real, you can never un-see that! You don’t have to look at the empty fireplace where Santa should be, until something magic happens and the belief magically dissolves. Someone just suggests it to you, or says it to you—there is no Father Christmas.
Then you look around. And you think. You think for yourself. And very quickly it becomes obvious that—oh my God—everything fits. All the contradictions about Santa, questions about Santa. Issues about Santa. They are what fall away.
This is exactly the same as seeing that there is no self. Because it’s just one more fiction. In and of itself, the fiction of ‘you’ is just one more fiction. Yes, it’s fundamental to a lot of destructive patterns, behaviour, and human dysfunction. One might argue that it’s fundamental to all human dysfunction. But in and of itself? It’s just one more fiction. And you just see through it like you’d see through any fiction.
It’s not about fighting resistance, it’s about clearing up crap inside that clashes and creates that resistance. We are not looking here for new beliefs, but for a simple truth. And as the man said, the truth will set you free.
What I want you to do is answer me with 100% honesty, and then only when the answer feels right. No rush, but when I ask you to look, re- ally look.
So now look at the real possibility that there is no “you” in real life. That all is happening by itself, without a manager. Look inside and tell me what feeling comes up; do you recognise fear, resistance, frustration, what is it? Describe what you see.
Philip: When I consider the possibility that there is no “me”, there is a great fear and sadness that arises, a feeling that I will lose my family and all that I have become.
It seems far too unknown to give into; what if I accept this and go mad? Maybe I don’t trust that it will deliver. I understand that there is no control really, but that understanding does nothing to reduce the fear of uncertainty. I really don’t know what truth is. Is this true all this exists?
Ilona: Of course this looks scary and sad—you think you stand to lose something by seeing this. But what is lost? What can be lost? There’s nothing there to lose. Let it be ok. It’s just fear; your family is fine and nothing will be lost.
Now look at that fear. Can you see that this is a mechanism of protec- tion, that this fear is hiding something from being found out? Can you notice how perfectly it does its job? Can you respect and honour that mechanism?
Now look at it and just let the fear be, without fighting it. Now look behind it. What is behind? What do you see?
Philip: Yes! Yes! I can see how tenacious the fear is. As you say, it seems to be protecting something and constantly testing my resolve. The fear is very efficient, yes. At times it is so overwhelming and debilitating.
But wow, reading that, I had a glimpse of the behind and I started laughing out loud. This was in the architect’s office where I work; so strange to have that moment in such a stiff, uptight environment. I will write some more tonight.
Ilona: Great! Yes, please write more tonight. Answer this: what needs to be protected? Dig more here.
Philip: My life as I know it needs protection. This sense of me in the world seems like a delicate balance of good and bad. I can see the absurdity of that because it just causes so much misery when things go more to the bad, but it’s like I’m right in it.
It seems impossible to see a way out without everything crashing or me going mad. The glimpses I get are only that, and the whole thing rolls back in again. When you asked what was behind the fear, I felt a very calm sense of peace, like a clear sky behind a dark dust cloud, and it seemed so obvious that I laughed.
Yet I feel great frustration at not really seeing this fully. Then I ask who or what is frustrated, is it me who is frustrated? Who is seeing the frustration?
Ilona, you blow me away, you don’t know me from Adam yet you take the time for this. Why? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it is truly wonderful, but no one I know would do this—not even my therapist or my wife. It’s amazing!
Discover how to unravel
the false sense of a separate self
At the center of your existence
Liberation Unleashed is a lively, fresh, and moving account of the author’s own searching, liberation, and transformation, woven together with the stories of fellow seekers and a clear exposition of the simple, focused tools you can use to go through the “gateless gate.” With its conversational tone, provocative questions, and the presentation of the seven steps—“Clearing the path—meeting the fear,” “Strip away ALL expectations,” “Get in touch with the real,” “‘I’ is a thought,” “There is no separate self,” “How does it feel to see this?” and “Falling”—this book serves as an introductory how-to guide, demonstrating how to use the process of self-inquiry to get free from the falseness of the separate self and realize a blissful oneness.
So many of us go through life feeling isolated, searching for ourselves, or seeking a more authentic reality through religion, spirituality, or other, more unconventional means of expanding consciousness. Now, with this book and its guiding principles, you’ll learn how to look deeply into the nature of self and existence; combat the anxieties, fears, mental blocks, and reservations that can arise in self-inquiry; and see the simple beauty of the everyday moment.