When I first starting awakening to what felt like the reality that I was "just an illusion", little more than a fantasy fiction, I saw that since all of my limiting beliefs were phantom constructs, in lieu of their reality, I could actualize most of the things I most deeply wanted, should I choose to.
But the catch was that with the crumbling sense of a solid self who aspires to achieve, coupled with the non-dual teachings I was absorbed in which taught that to be truly free, we have to let go of aspirations to become anything or anyone, of any motivations of the "imaginary ego" and see through them all as the concerns of the "sleepwalkers" that keep them trapped inside of cyclical suffering.
Looking back it's troublingly ironic that in the same moments of clarity that I could have the things I most wanted, I no longer wanted them! I'd seen through both the barriers to having what I desired, and the desire itself. It was like waking up to my infinite potential just to waive at it and say, I don’t care about you!
I remember a sense of success in thinking that in seeing through the fantasy of personhood, I was liberated from the hedonic treadmill of achieving what that fictional self desires only to soon feel dissatisfied yet again and off chasing the next illusion of something that would secure lasting happiness. But, the honeymoon years of an often deeply contented non-self faded out into the nightmare of (how did I not see it coming?) of nihilistic apathy and what had turned into an ever-increasing disturbing difficulty shoring up personhood in interactions and relationships. I felt myself sort of pretending to be that character I'd once so unquestionably, effortlessly interacted from/as, and straining to dredge up that personality that the people I knew we used to, in order to maintain conversations that I had dwindled interest in engaging in.
There were times when simply carrying on a conversation felt strenuous, I found myself drawing blanks more and more, and finding myself feeling shockingly, feeling vacuous, the last thing I'd ever been and would ever have wanted to be. What was clear that the cause wasn't simply my bouts of depression, but the total dissolution of my self structure that I'd gone through and was continuing to experience both in meditation, and "off the cushion." The more frequently I entered states of self-transcendence and was further convinced of the ultimate truth that what we really are is "pure awareness," the more unreliable my somebody-ness became.
I wish I'd heard my future self whispering to me, "be careful what you wish for," before this liberating disappearance of identity morphed into a crisis of epic proportion.
Didn't I ever think that I might end up drowning in the still waters of "just abide as pure, open awareness" and end up like a ghost trapped in a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea?
Didn't I ever think, after I'd tossed my passion into the junkyard, leaving it to rust, that one day I'd want it back and the engine wouldn’t start? That I'd cry in horror, fearing that the experience of personhood as more than illusory would forever remain a relic of the past, collecting dust on history’s shelf? That I'd be devastated by what I'd done and fall to my knees in grief for the loss of my own self?