You do not exist — tips and obstacles


It’s not like you existed, and someone came by and said here, this is your body,

and your mind, and your awareness, and your life. Now go and live your life.

That didn’t happen.


What happened was an infant was born. A body-mind-awareness-life was born as an infant.

The you came later. You is only an idea.


The you that is weaved into every one of your thoughts and emotions and beliefs does not refer to anything.


Look at this in real life. Not in a meditative trance. This is real, right here. Not in imagination.


There is no thinker. There is only thinking.


There is no observer. “The observer is the observed.” There is only observing.


One of my obstacles was  that I was looking at a derived description of this at arms length. Bring it all the way in. This is completely real and immediate.


This is not magic. This is not mystical. This is not outside your experience. This is in everyday REAL life. See how it is that you do not exist in every, real life situation.


Many thoughts refer to real things. The I does not refer to anything real.


Everything is in reality. The present moment is full and does not need imagination to be. The body is real. The mind is real. Emotions are real. Thoughts are real. Pain is real. Life is real.

You does not refer to anything real.


Identity remains. A sense of being remains. Everything remains just as before. There are no immediate changes. Freedom is not about changing yourself.

This had fooled me because I was expecting changes.

Identity remains.

Doubt remains.

Even doubt remains. Doubt is a function of the mind. The mind floats in self-referential imagination. That’s fun, but just not truth. The way to deal with doubt is to know that it is a function of the mind, and just keep looking at the no-you in every situation.

Doubt is created by the mind, in very much the same way as the you is created by the mind.

Look at it in everything. In everything you do or say or think, look for the no-you. The you just does not refer to anything real.


People who have some experience with meditation or awareness practices might have the subtle assumption that awakening is shifting the “you” from the ego to awareness. The “you” does not jump from the ego to awareness. You do not exist. It’s not your awareness. It’s just awareness.


Teatro-Museo Dalí, Figueres, Spain
Creative Commons License photo credit: secretagentmoof

The core delusion is the delusion of you. When this delusion is seen through, don’t expect all the bullshit to collapse. All the stuff–the fears and doubts and beliefs and assumptions and untruths–remain. Unmoored, yes. But they remain.

You’ve seen that there is no you, but there never was a you, and even so these structures of beliefs and fears and conditioning built up. You’re not removing anything, there isn’t anything to remove, you’ve just seen that the you does not refer to anything.

Everything is as it was except the recognition that the you does not refer to anything real.

So you do have to take responsibility for this stuff, and release it. Re-read your favorite awakened author (Mckenna, Tolle, Adyashanti, etc). Learn the release technique. Gather up courage. Be starkly honest within. Keep looking.


Awakening comes down to this: willingness and looking. When there is willingness, honesty and courage will develop.


We have forgotten how to look. We have habituated ourselves to look with ideas and beliefs and concepts. Take a look now. Look at anything and the first thing that happens is a rush of symbols. We have forgotten to look directly. Look for only those things which are REAL. Thoughts are real. Emotions are real. Pain is real. The mind is real.

The you is not real. You does not refer to anything real.


The good news about “you do not exist” is that it’s true. This sounds a little weird, but that’s the most powerful thing  it has going for it. It is true.


29 thoughts on “You do not exist — tips and obstacles

  1. Nitin Panchal

    Good day Kaushikbhai,

    A body, mind and awareness (life) start as infant for all lives, and it’s became ‘I’ or ‘You’ later. Older the live get the stronger the ‘I’ or ‘You’ became, so the Ego.
    May be that is the reason, any lives can remember his/her memory NO more back then at age of 5 or 6 years.
    Question arise is “the thoughts and mind is not yours, then why the thought of seeking (finding of you do not exist) exist? Is this seeking is real ? and why? Where do one end-up after finding ? How does one should live his/her life?
    My father in-law was in hospital for about 15 days and passed away at age of over 90 years. From day one in hospital to final depart @ Crematorium, I am trying to understand the one’s life. It’s became so helpless at end that it just breath as vegetable. And we all have to go though this. I have read it some where “NO WAY OUT” is the way out from this life ? Who knows ?
    Happy New Year.
    Cheers !!!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      “Question arise is “the thoughts and mind is not yours, then why the thought of seeking (finding of you do not exist) exist? Is this seeking is real ? and why? Where do one end-up after finding ? How does one should live his/her life?”

      No reason to complicate this. Don’t get confused by the semantics. The thought of seeking comes from the unhappiness of living in a conflicted mind, where emotions and beliefs and ideas build up around the false “I.” And so we seek. Some people say that you have to stop seeking, but I don’t see it that way. Keep looking. When it is time to let go, you will know.

      Thinking about death is a good thing to do. Most of us look at our own mortality only when it faces us, when a loved one dies or when we have an illness or accident. Looking at your own death, without fear or morbidity, is very opening.

  2. Brenda (betaphi)

    Willingness, honesty, courage, looking, awakening — great words that make a compelling statement. ‘Awakening comes down to this: willingness and looking. When there is willingness, honesty and courage will develop.’

    Let’s hope for noticing awakening happening. Happy new year, Kaushik.

  3. Philip

    The experience of reality through, thought is seductively convincing. We experience objects in space via the conceptual mind and believe the seemingly separate nature of reality to be true, but when one is able to put aside this that presents experince in a conceptual way we see through the illusion. As you say nothing changes, we still use our conceptual, conventional awareness to live in world, go shopping or drive a car etc but we see it for what it really is and realise that it is not who we are, we no longer identify with it or believe in it.

  4. navee Juman

    Of course I exist. Only thing I am sure of. I do not exist as an object of experience, but I cannot deny my subjectivity. Buddha said not to fall into the trap of extreme views of self and no-self. It’s a matter of defining what “exist” means.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      You don’t exist. There is existence.

      It’s not a matter of defining “exist”; it’s matter of seeing that “you” does not refer to anything real.

      Don’t get lost in the semantics. This technique does not deny existence. Of course there is existence. As you say, existence is the only thing we can be sure of.

      There is existence. It’s just not your existence.

  5. Amit Sodha - The Power Of Choice

    It’s wonderful to see you back and blogging Kaushik. I always thought along that lines that I exist and do not exist simultaneously. I exist only as a kind of echo. It’s not something I’ve given as much thought to. Just curious, what inspired you to write this?

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Amit,

      Our delusions are a built on the lie of the self. This is an important recognition.

      When you say you exist and don’t exist simultaneously–it sounds like you are looking at this as some sort of a supernatural or mystical thing.

      It isn’t.

      This is very real, here in real life. Not magical or mystical. In real, daily life, who you think you are does not exist. The you you think you are does not refer to anything.

      Take a look.

  6. Philip

    Kaushik, are we awareness or is that just more unecessary indentification? Tolle talks about our ‘true’ identity being awareness, but when we refer to awareness how can it be identified with when it is indefinable and indivisible? Its like saying we are everything, which really is pointless.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      This is not about identity. Don’t try to expunge identity. Don’t try to shift identity to awareness.

      There is identity. It’s just not your identity.

      There is awareness. It’s your not your awareness.

      The you does not refer to anything.

    2. Kaushik Post author

      How are you doing, Philip?

      It sounds like you have a good mental understanding of this. Mental agreement is not enough but it’s a good start. With this, recognition is inevitable. Keep looking. Be patient–it’s not a race. I mention this because I was in a hurry to get the recognition, but these things unfold in their own time.

      Let me know if there is anything I can help with.

      1. Philip

        Thanks Kaushik. Yes true, I understand it all beautifully. I have been reading “Living Realisation” by Scott Kiloby. He’s a little more ‘ruthless’ than Tolle but not by much. Yes I know the seeing is there, like the lotus in the dirty pond. My vison is still a bit murky.


  7. Dark Warrior

    For me, the biggest step was to bring full attention, as Tolle says, to deeply negative mental-emotional pain-body states that overpower & try to take you over. He says they usually succeed, because there is not enough presence: attention leading to surrender which transmutes the pain and suffering. It was extremely painful for me, but the more this is done in meditation, the faster the egoic resistance breaks up. It gets right to the heart of the deepest inner contractions. The entire point is that you are at your wits end and there is nowhere else to go but through hellish torment, whatever your situation may be it is all the same. Also, the word emotion literally means “disturbance” & all emotions are a modification of the primordial emotion of fear & pain which is seperation from God. Feelings like Love, Peace, and Joy are not emotions & are obscured by the pain you are not facing fully, with courage, persistance, tenacity, plenty of attention & feeling the body from within through the pain & finally surrendering to WHATEVER is within. I do mean WHATEVER comes up. Watch & give into all of it while the unhappy states attempt to pull you into deep unconsciousness. This can cause near impossible stress on the body, so if you have chronic pain stretching with this is essential. Practical stretching was not possible due to tender pain halfway between an emotion & physical sensation. Until I saw that my ego was actually strengthening itself & creating a deeply unhappy identity out of all sufferings, I was completely trapped. For a very long time. Once you see the ugly shit your mind is doing firsthand, identification is broken & the healing can commence. Be aware of the nastiest thoughts & emotions & sensations & eventually find a way to stretch out & release deep tension & unease. This is all difficult. I went through wanting to die due to physical & emotional pain that didn’t seem possible to live with or “fix.” Stick with it, “when climbing a mountain, it is okay to give up as many times as you like as long as your feet keep moving.” Of course it is hard to remain conscious while your mind & it’s emotions attempt to drag you into a pit of despair. Eventually the barrier drops away & that part of your personality no longer exists. Expect meditating on pain iteslf to hurt like hell, but it is well worth it. Through this you can actually “feel” like the “you” does not exist & the universe seems to jump in & assist you. Keep your eyes open for anything in the physical domain that will make dwelling in your body comfortable enough to continue to meditate on pain & suffering itself. Transcending difficult life circumstances & inescapable situations is what we are concerned with here. Nothing has to continue to keep you down but it all must be faced fully. It is alright to be defeated at this, try again. Continue to practice. This is training. Your life has all the elements necessary already. The pain is the path. The more you experience your pain the better the chance to get out of it. Many of us will have to go through many dark nights and agonies of the soul, fluctuating between ordinary states & hellish ones in order to change internally. “Free your mind and your ass will follow.” Don’t worry if you don’t seem to know what you are doing. You don’t have to be special or gifted or even that into meditation, yoga, etc. I’m not. Not really, I struggled greatly & most of the time I couldn’t even try to do either. Sometimes it is just one great stretch or just sustained attention that frees you up. Resolve to go through & into everything, no matter what it is. This website is home to a spiritual family. “God is not a being, but being itself.” Cursing what happens & blaming karma & God is another device the ego uses to strengthen itself & create an identity. You have to resolve to see through it despite the exquisite pain. Our condition is not our fault, we all must stop blaming ourselves for where we are at. It only keeps you there. That was a lot more than I thought I would write. Your recent articles & the movie Ong Bak 3 (Everyone should see it due to the amazing story of awakening & healing) have been very inspiring & eye opening for me. Thank you all!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Yes, that’s it. It all comes down to the willingness to look, and actually looking. Any effective awakening technique is really just watching, shining the light attention, absent of trying to understand or figure out, and absent of trying to change or stop anything.

      Just observe. Watch, witness, look. With patience, with courage, with ruthless honesty. Observe thought. Observe emotion. Observe fear-bodies. Observe that the you you think you are does not refer to anything.

      Thanks, good comment!

  8. Dark Warrior

    These are from Reflections on the Art of Living:

    “I have found that you do have only to take that one step toward the gods and they will then take ten steps toward you. That step, the heroic first step of the journey, is out of, or over the edge of, your boundaries, and it often must be taken before you know that you will be supported. The hero’s journey has been compared to a birth: it starts with being warm and snug in a safe place; then comes a signal, growing more insistent, that it is time to leave. To stay beyond your time is to putrefy. Without the blood and tearing and pain, there is no new life.”

    “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for. The damned thing in the cave that was so dreaded has become the center. You find the jewel and it draws you off. In loving the spiritual, you cannot despise the earthly. The purpose of the journey is compassion. When you have come past the pairs of opposites, you have reached compassion. The goal is to bring the jewel back to the world, to join the two things together.”

    They helped me so much I had to share them. And I just gotta stress that anyone who has tremendous physical challenges should view Ong Bak 3 to help rebuild the willingness to look when the pain and difficulty is so overwhelming that you can only say, “I can’t live with this.” Everyone has to be their own liberator, but as you do this assistance comes from unexpected places.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Thanks, Dark Warrior. This is good. I don’t have any experience with chronic physical pain, but kudos to you for taking the hero’s journey.

  9. Bill

    Defining what I see is where I got trapped. As I release my definitions I find a sense of freedom. However along with this freedom there are side effects which include losing the feeling of belonging. Life becomes a bit lonely when the definitions have disappeared. With courage I put one foot in front of the other and keep going confident that the goal is still the same and I am not being disloyal. I think my determination is my salvation and my path is sure. If loneliness is the price, I am willing to pay. I have adopted the idea that I should keep my eye on the path and not on the land I pass through. My friends have moved on and I am alone. The path I tread is what I was born to. Leaving the definitions behind I see light ahead.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      This false you exists in every thought and emotion and belief and definition. It’s not just a definition–it’s my definition, and this false possessiveness is a delusion. Look for the false I in everything.

  10. Timothy Campbell

    If I might quote the very first lines of the article:

    “It’s not like you existed, and someone came by and said here, this is your body, and your mind, and your awareness, and your life. Now go and live your life. That didn’t happen.”

    In a way, that’s precisely what did happen. As you later demonstrate, this is a big part of the problem we all face.

    When we attained the age at which we could begin to distinguish between our foot and the dog’s foot, people did in fact come by and say, “This is your body — don’t let anybody touch you in certain areas.” (Later on they even said that there were certain areas we shouldn’t touch ourselves). Also, they said, “This is your mind: don’t let anybody touch it except the people who know what correctly belongs in there.”

    As for awareness, we were told to pay attention to the “correct” things. As for life, we might be told that it belonged to God, or to the Government, or our parents, or The Greater Good. And if we weren’t told it explicitly, the television and educational system eventually filled in the blanks, if only to turn us into interchangeable cogs.

    None of what I’ve said is at odds with the theme of the article, which is nice to see. I find that a lot of enlightening texts warn against the illusions without ever mentioning how they are bred and nurtured.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Thanks, Timothy. I wrote this article when I was exploring the “you do not exist” technique. It’s a valid technique, but I took it to its conclusion and it doesn’t lead anywhere.

      “Look at you” and Ramana’s “who am I?” and Nisargadutt’s “sense of I am”, which are all same simple technique of just looking at you, does effectively dispel the original illusion. The original illusion is fear. It is exactly as the Buddha said, it is “dukkha“, fear.

      1. Timothy Campbell

        Thanks for the prompt response, Kaushik.

        It’s possible I’ve misunderstood your point, but I don’t understand your critique of the “You Do Not Exist” technique. Maybe it’s the word “technique” that is throwing me off.

        It seems to me that there is an illusion of control that vastly over-estimates what we are, objectively. Let me illustrate with an analogy…

        Imagine somebody diving for safety when a car runs off the road and then saying, “I thought carefully about my alternatives and then decided I needed to jump to safety, so that’s what I did.” That description fictionalizes what actually happened. But people seek “agency” — that sense that a “you” is in control — and thus fall into such absurdities.

        Does this kind of observation “lead anywhere”? In my case, it blurs the line between “you” and “not-you” and this has, for me, underlined oneness.

        1. Kaushik Post author

          Yes, control is illusory.

          There’s no question that the you in our thoughts does not refer to anything.

          But still, seeing this, at least in my experience, led nowhere.

          We can ask why it is that the illusion of you (I-thought) comes up in the first place. There is a basic fear in us which comes to us from the beginning of our lives. This is a basic fear, the original fear, the basic illusion. The first effect of the fear is a detachment from life where we feel we are separated from our own lives and the I-thought comes about, an illusion of control.

          The you-do-not-exist technique addresses an effect. It doesn’t address the original illusion, the detachment, the fear.

          Looking at you effectively cures the detachment.

          1. Timothy Campbell

            “We can ask why it is that the illusion of you (I-thought) comes up in the first place.”

            It does that because of its evolutionary design. Asking why “you” comes up is precisely like asking why a Christian thinks about Jesus.The memes associated with “you” must create an attachment between the organism’s mind and the complex of memes if they are to survive and flourish.

            To put it another way, if the notion of “you” did not present itself to our minds as useful (or, to be more accurate, absolutely crucial) then it would disappear from the human mental landscape.

            This is not to say that the memes are automatically “bad”. In my opinion the memes involved with the notion of “you” evolved in response to the pressures of civilization, when humans were obliged to follow principles they did not discover themselves (i.e. “rules”). In such case it was “important” (to the civilization, not the organism) to distinguish between one person and another. This had not been anywhere nearly as important in hunter-gatherer society.

            1. Kaushik Post author

              Ok. If that makes sense to you, it’s fine.

              But we can see that it’s not about any theory or belief. Any belief or theory, no matter how satisfying to the mind, is just a mental process. Effects. Sensations.

              I was fond of believing that self-honesty was important–I worked on developing self-honesty. It turns out that self-honesty too is just a mental process–easily subverted.

              My goal was simple and prosaic–I just wanted to be at home in my own life. I had no glimmering visions of an enlightened life or philosophical understanding or mental rumination. When I read Ramana and he said that self-inquiry is the only way, I felt that was too arrogant. How could he possibly know that that is the only way? Maybe his way is effective–but how could he know there is no other way?

              Today I fully understand. There is no mental process that can work, no practice which can work, no theory or belief or wisdom which can work.

              Self-inquiry is a misleading description. I was confused by it because my head was full of ideas at that time, and I wondered what Ramana meant when he said ask yourself “Who am I?” Was he talking about the ego? Mind? Consciousness? True self, false self, Self, Oneness, the false you?

              What he said was much simpler than all of that. He was saying to look at you, the ordinary you, the primal you, the you which is right here on the surface. It isn’t something we need to search for.

              I tried this and it worked. But I didn’t know it was working. So for two years I kept searching, exploring, experimenting. Had I understood that it was already working, it might have gone easier for me. Had I understood back then that it is not about any mental process or practice or theory or belief, it would have gone easier. Had I understood back then that the basic problem is the fear of non-existence, it would have gone easier.

              But the necessary insights came anyway. Not because of, but in spite of my attachment to theories.

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