How To See Through The Self-Illusion

The Self-Illusion is The Eye Of The Needle

The self-illusion is the eye of the needle on the path to awakening. Once the self-illusion is seen through, the awakening process will unfold whether you are actively contributing to the process or not.

The Buddha emphasized often how important this step is. He said that when you have seen through the self-illusion, the endless cycling through different lives will be ended after 7 more lives at the most. If you continue to work on waking up, it will be ended earlier. However you see the concept of several lives, this shows that a new phase on the spiritual path has begun when the illusion of self has fallen away.


What Santa and ‘I’ Have In Common

Many people are afraid that they won’t be able to function if there is no ‘me’. And what if they don’t have any control about anything?

Don’t worry. You always functioned without a ‘me’, there was never a ‘me’ that was in control, that thought or decided anything. Still thinking and deciding happened and there is control. Just lift a cup of tea to the mouth and watch the delicate control of all the fine muscles. Do you do that? How?

It’s like the story of Santa. Where you also told as a child that Santa brings the Christmas gifts? What happened when you found out that Santa doesn’t exist? Was Santa killed? No, he never existed in the first place. He had always been a person in red clothes with a white beard.

And the same is true for the ‘me’.


What Is The Self-Illusion?

We have the feeling that there is a ‘me’ that does everything. ‘I’ think, experience, decide and act. Language reinforces this notion strongly.

We want to find out who ‘we’ truly are and feel that ‘we’ don’t have enough self-confidence. We want to believe in ‘ourselves’ and have a purpose.

We feel, ‘I am angry, I am sad, I am happy’. It seems self-evident that of course ‘I’ am thinking and deciding. Where is this ‘I’ that does everything?

The question you’ll look into in the inquiry into the self-illusion is whether this is true. Is there an ‘I thinking or is there just thinking? Are YOU happy or is there simply a happy feeling?

Where is this ‘I’ that seems to do everything? What is it that thinks or is happy?

Does the ‘I’ truly exist?


Find The Proof For The ‘I’

In the inquiry, you will be asked to find the proof for this ‘I’. It’s like in court. A proof is something that anybody could either see, hear, touch, smell or taste. Opinions and assumptions don’t count as proof.

So you’ll start looking for this I, just like you look for proofs in a crime scene. Whenever the sense of ‘I’ appears, pay attention.

Where in the body is it exactly? What is it made of? What does it look like? Which sensations are connected to it? What tells you that this is the ‘I’ that thinks and acts?


Seeing That There Is No ‘Me’

At some point, a shift will happen. In that moment, it is clearly seen that there is no ‘me’ and never was. You will know when the shift happened, it can’t be missed.

Your perspective on life will change and all the struggle to keep the illusion up will drop away. An illusion needs a lot of maintenance. How often do you feel hurt or not self-confident, put down or laughed about. And each time, you have to make yourself feel good again. Illusions crumble when they are not kept up.

People feel relieved when they see that there has never been a self that could be hurt or not self-confident, put down or laughed about.

The falling away of the self-illusion feels different for every single person. When you read somebody else’s dialogue, don’t assume it will go the same way for you. It will not, it’s not possible.

Here you can follow the dialogue between Geoffrey and me that led to seeing through the self-illusion on the Liberation Unleashed Forum. My alias there was Ghata.


How I Saw Through The Illusion Of Self

In my case, I needed to be shocked out of my exotic identity as a spiritual seeker.

Three years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I totally panicked. Nothing helped. Though I was specialized in psychotherapy and had studied Buddhism for 40 years, my thoughts raced with all kinds of calculations for how long I would have to live and an archetypal amount of fear flooded me.

The Buddha had said that if you can’t control something, it doesn’t belong to you. Why for heaven’s sake couldn’t I see it? Why did it still feel like MY thoughts, MY fear, MY body, ME possibly dying?

There was a moment when I felt that the identity of being a seeker had fallen away. Now I needed to find. I had no idea what to do. And as it always happens, something showed up. Two weeks later, I found a blog post in my Facebook newsfeed that led me to Liberation Unleashed, a site that is specialized on the inquiry into the self-illusion.

I started to look into the self-illusion on my own. Every time, the sense of ‘me’ appeared, I explored it as an anthropologist explores a foreign tribe. What did this I look like? What did it do? What was it made of?

After a few days, I ran out of questions. I downloaded the book “The Gateless Gatecrashers” from Amazon.  It’s a compilation of dialogues on Liberation Unleashed that led the seeker to see through the illusion of self. And I asked the questions myself that the guides asked their clients.

I saw that the ‘I’ was like a computer virus. It attached itself to every single experience and thought.


The Shift

Two days later, I was sitting on my couch and looking into the questions, the guide in the book asked their client, “Is there a YOU in any physical form or shape”? – I thought, “What a silly question, of course not!”

And while I was thinking this sentence, a strong shift happened. It felt like being moved to the side a bit and hitting a wall at full speed. Then there was silence. All seeking had ended.

And while the shift was happening, I saw why it had been so hard to see this simple truth. It had been hidden in plain sight. I felt incredibly stupid for not seeing such a simple thing for so long!

A little reminder here: Your experience will be very different, no two people experience the shift in the same way.


Would you like to see through the illusion of self as well?

In my introductory course, “The Key To Awakening”, you will find out that you already have the ability to see through the illusion of self, you only need to practice it.

Download the pdf here




Comments 8

    1. Post

      Hi Ajitasena,

      thank you for your comment. Great that you would love to see through the illusion of self. The next course for seeing through the illusion of self starts in January. Please enter your name on the list “Guidance to Awakening”. I will write to you in time when the course is about to start.


  1. Hello! I would like to know how much it costs to participate in Guidance to Awakening. Thank You!

  2. Hi Ajitasena, I fully embrace this essay. However, I have never found any mention of an illusion of the self or even other non dual references of awakening from the false sense of individuality in any original Buddha teachings. Please if you can, direct me to such information. All current Western non dual teachings about a non existent self appear to me to come from later Buddhist traditions and Indian derived Vedanta, as in Ramana’s self inquiry.

    1. Post

      Hi Dan,

      that’s right, the original Buddhist teachings don’t use the term “self-illusion” but “personality view” for the first fetter. Since only few seekers would understand this term, I use the more widespread term self-illusion which means the same. It is not about the self as in atta but about feeling that ‘I’ am thinking, deciding, experiencing and acting.


  3. I’m struggling.
    I want to become awakened but get lost and confused.
    I have a self diagnosed condition of M.E. and am constrained by the experience of the symptoms of cognitive impairment, fluctuating energy levels, memory impairment and emotional lability.
    Christine, do you have any suggestions?

    1. Post

      Hi Ajitasena,

      I’m sorry to hear that you are struggling so much. Not sure what M.E. means but it sounds like you suffer quite a bit.

      Before embarking on this journey, I would definitely recommend that you see whether you can stabilize yourself. It would be good to find help locally.

      What you always can do, and what is stabilizing in itself is a very simple meditation:

      Sitting comfortably upright, feel the breath. With each out-breath, count from 1 to 10.
      When you find yourself at 15, simply go back to one. When you notice that you were lost in thoughts, go back to 1 as well.

      Start with 5 min. and slowly go up to 25 min. as your energy and concentration allows.


  4. Pingback: The Most Important Tool To Awaken - End Seeking And Find Awakening

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