Ilona Ciunaite & Liberation Unleashed

I found Liberation Unleashed by chance, thanks to a friend’s advice. When I opened the forum website and began reading, my first experience was fear. It was a real, genuine fear that something irreversible was on the way. This fear had nothing to do with what I had been experiencing for the last year or two, after embarking on the so-called spiritual path. I am saying it is “so-called”, because in reality there is no path, but you can only see that when you „have walked“ it through. As I was reading, I had the feeling of a pending doom and inevitability. I knew, I just knew, that it was absolutely impossible for life to go on the way it had been going so far.

I will not go into detail about what exactly happened, because this is not important. Everyone can try the forum converastions and check for themselves. Registration is free and so is guiding. The only requirement is to feel sincere desire, some curiosity and readiness to know the truth, no matter what.

Generally, what happens at the forum, is that with the help of some very simple guidelines you see through the illusion of the separate self. The inquiry is powerful and transformative because of the simple fact that you are observing your own experience at the present moment, here and now. You don’t watch another satsang on Youtube and you don’t read about someone else’s experience. I am not implying that it is wrong to do these things. However this whole adventure gave me the understanding that the separate, illusory self, has the incredible ability to assimilate beliefs and to master concepts. Hence what we read, listen to or look at by definition corresponds to the beliefs we currently hold. It is for this very reason that guide-seeker communication is so powerful. Coming from outside the boundaries of one’s personal assumptions and beliefs, guidance is able to question them.

So what happened? I REALLY, TRULY LOOKED to see where this “I” that I thought myself to be was – the “I” that acts, decides, chooses and controls. It turned out that it actually wasn’t anywhere to be found. This discovery was so amazingly simple and right under my nose, that for a few days afterwards I couldn’t stop laughing. There were no angelic chants, no white light. I just saw the clear fact of the reality that there had never been anyone separate.

Paradoxically, today everything is still as it was before and yet it is different. I’m not in a constant state of bliss (a common expectation and a trap many seekers fall into). Sometimes there are so-called negative emotions, there is sadness, sometimes there is also anger, but they are kind of raw and they come and go. There is also joy, lots of joy, lightness and endless wonder at What Is. There is relaxation, liveliness and a sense of something familiar and close. It feels as if I had found nothing, I just remembered. What has changed is that I’m not sticking to ideas, thoughts, people, things. If something needs to happen, it happens. If the situation requires action – the action is carried out, but Luchana is not there to claim the monopoly over that action. The feeling is one of total relaxation. The search is over and oh, what an incredible relief this is! As if something turned off the internal controls on how things should happen. They just happen, and there is incredible beauty in this.

Before we go any further, let me say what LU is not:

  • This is not a way to escape your daily life.
  • This is not about gaining something extra, becoming something special.
  • This is not about cultivating an altered state of consciousness.
  • This isn’t a trick of the mind, or twisting the mind into believing certain thoughts.
  • This is not about gaining a particular bit of knowledge.
  • This is not about having a certain thought or sequence of thoughts.
  • This is not about becoming a holy, good, moral or better person.
  • This is not a belief, religion, or a philosophy, it not magical or mystical.
  • This is not going to lead you to eternal peace and happiness, it is not about happiness.
  • This is not about freedom from emotions and intense feelings.
  • This is not about getting rid of self, ego, I.
  • This is not a solution to problems in relationships.
  • This is not a way to get free of depression or other diseases.
  • This is not about stopping thoughts, changing thoughts, getting rid of thoughts.
  • This is not a way to make the story of you disappear.
  • This is not about convincing you of anything.
  • This is not something that will lead to accumulation of money or things.
  • This is not a self improvement program.
  • This is not about getting rid of, or changing physical pain.

Liberation Unleashed is a global movement dedicated to helping you to free your mind from the illusion of separate self.

The idea to ​​write to Ilona (co-founder of LU) and invite her came later. She responded warmly and will come to Bulgaria for the first time in April. Here is the information about the upcoming events. (No free seats for the full day event, there are still a few for both evening events.)

So let’s get to the real part of this post – it is with great joy that I share with you this amazingly beautiful conversation.

What was Ilona looking for, what was not enough for her that triggered the search? And what did she discover?

I was 28, living in Brighton, England. One rainy autumn day, a friend brought us some magic mushrooms. I and my partner tried them for the first time, without much expectation, not knowing anything about them. It was an extraordinary experience and some magic happened. That night my old life died. I remember sitting in the 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. I don’t know how much time has passed, it must have been hours. Being in that state felt like home, at peace. No worries, memories, no fantasies, only pure stillness and clarity of being present. 

Once the experience wore off, days later, I knew I had to find home again and that it was possible without taking anything. This trip has unexpectedly opened the door for a fresh new way of seeing reality and set me up for the search. 

At first, there was a lot of anger, I felt deceived, that no one told me about reality and that there is more to it than what I thought. I realized that no one could tell me and that the only way to taste it, is to experience directly. The anger I felt ignited the search. I wanted to find the truth. And just like Neo in the movie “The Matrix” I sat by the computer for days, trying to find clues that could lead me home. 

Years passed, searching for the answers. I wasn’t happy or at ease. And although my life on the outside seemed completely normal, inside I felt deep longing. By normal I mean having moments of happiness and moments of desperate crying. I was often feeling trapped, unhappy with myself, and with others. I saw the suffering of others and I suffered too, not knowing how I could really help. 

In my search, I tried many things, but mostly I was drawn to sound healing, crystals, I read a few books, but none of them had the information I was looking for. I heard about enlightenment and I thought, I wanted that, although I had no clue what that was. I never went to retreats, satsangs and never heard of gurus or nonduality. In my search, I was on my own. It took me 8 years of aimless wandering to finally arrive at Jed McKenna’s books. 

I read his three books in one hit and there I got a real wake up call. It sounded like this: sit down, shut up and figure out what’s true until you know. I wholeheartedly took that challenge. 

That was a painful time. I did not know what to believe anymore, as I realized that all that I believed up till then was learned by repetition from someone else, who apparently knew something. I saw that I don’t know anything. I was looking at beliefs and seeing that none of them were true. Jed McKenna was talking about no self and I was trying to understand that conceptually. No self sounded like the idea, that held the key for finding home.

Half a year later I somehow relaxed. The last step was yet to be taken. Then I found a forum on the internet where some people were looking for truth and the idea presented there was this: “just look, there is no you!” That was the missing piece of the puzzle! The directness of the message was staggering. I looked. I saw. And in one moment all became clear.

I remember it was an ordinary morning, I was standing in my bedroom looking through a window, still feeling the taste of coffee in my mouth, wondering about what does it mean, there is no you. I asked a question— is there Ilona running the show? That instant the thinking mind stopped for a few seconds, the recognition happened and once again my old life fell away. 

I recognized that there is only life happening, no separate persons running the show. It’s all one show, unified movement of totality, that shows up as different characters. I discovered that to know that experientially one has to face the question fearlessly and look. 

Later I met Pamela Wilson in London, at a satsang, where I saw how gently she worked helping seekers to untangle tensions, fears, and contractions and that gave me another real clue on how I can assist. Her work has influenced my way of sharing, I have learned a lot from her. I have put the two keys together and found a way that works, to point and lead to seeing, by asking direct questions and inviting seekers to explore actuality of experience. 

Since then, I assist and serve the seekers, pointing the way.

Tell us about LU and how you help seekers to become aware of the illusion of a separate self? How many guides are there in the forum and how many people have already seen through the illusion (note: all conversations, that led to the realization of the self, are accessible as archives) How many people have you helped? Can someone copy other people’s responses or just lie? Is the number of people, waiting for guidance, increasing?

Liberation Unleashed was born out of the passion to assist and serve people that are looking for freedom. In the beginning, there were a few of us, in 10 years it has grown a lot. There are over 7 thousand members on the forum at the moment. Registered members have one on one conversation with a guide and the conversation continues sometimes for a few days or years, depending on where the seeker comes from and how ready they are to look. There are 6.5 thousand threads and 2.3 thousand archived threads (conversations that ended up in realization). It is beautiful to see that, when people see through the illusion of a separate self in their own experience, they come back to the forum as a guide and assist others. There have been over 300 guides. I have assisted more than 200 people on the forum, over email or Facebook chat but that does not include live meetings, Skype sessions and people who saw just by reading LU books.

There are three books, “Gateless Gatecrashers”, co-written with Elena Nezhinsky, “Look!”, which was created by community and consists of quotes taken from LU forum accompanied by pictures. And “Liberation Unleashed” that was published by New Harbinger publishers where I put all that I found was helpful: questions, exercises, conversations, 7 steps on how to see through this illusion at home.

Not everyone that comes to the forum is ready for this kind of self-inquiry and many drop out, some come back months or even years later to continue. This process can be very intense and trigger deep fears and resistance as what we point to is radically different to the normal way of looking at life. Guides can only point the way, it’s the seeker himself, that has to take that look.

Yes, it is possible to copy other people’s responses and get a new belief. But that does not serve anybody. At the end of the conversation, we are looking for authenticity of expression and freshness of seeing, which can be felt from reading the description of the seeker’s own experience. There are people that check the threads upon completion, making sure that the seeker’s description comes from their own experience. Over the years the community has been learning and adjusting the process.

The number of people applying for a guide is steady and growing. Sometimes new members have to wait for someone to talk to for a few weeks, the forum is always busy. The guides are volunteers, we all guide free of charge, at our own available time.

„Don’t think; look instead.“ Is it really that easy to see? What advice do you have for people that have been searching for 10, 20 or even more years, following the established traditional methods or teachers without result?

Yes, it is easy to see, as what-is is not hidden, it is always here and plain obvious. What is not easy is to arrive at that one look. There are many obstacles, like fear and expectations, resistance and distractions. The guide helps by pointing the way, asking questions, giving exercises and questioning the seeker’s answers. A guide helps to hold focus and directs attention to specific areas, that are needed to be investigated.

The seeker who has been searching for many years comes with their own ideas about what this should look like and they are either willing to question beliefs that they hold or not. So it can take a while to arrive at that Looking and it can be a whole dance around it. Essentially it is just one question, is there a separate self or not? Advice would be to trust the process and really want to see the truth of what the words “no self” point to.

Nisargadatta says „If you listen to fortunetellers, you have not seen through the illusion“ – do you go to regression sessions, consult astrologers, tarot cards, angelic treatment, laughter therapy, theta healing, etc.? What advice would you give to people seeking refuge in such practices?

The short answer is I agree, these practices and many more have got nothing to do with seeing through the illusion.

I will give a long answer as well. When you need to hear a message or learn something, it can be delivered through any medium. It’s the message that is important, not the delivery system. I am free to explore any modalities for fun and pick up what works for me, but at the same time, I know that there is no truth outside. I haven’t done regression sessions, laughter, angelic treatment, etc, but it does not mean that someone else should not do that if that’s where their path is taking them. Everyone needs to find what works for them, and follow their heart. But all these things (and more) have nothing to do with awakening. Seeing through illusion is a one-way shift, from believing in a separate self in charge of a separate life to seeing that there never was such an entity. It’s a shift from thinking that life is happening to you, to seeing that life is happening as you, as everything.

Integration and deepening of awakening is happening over the years, the initial seeing is an opening, a fresh new beginning and an invitation to examine all that is no longer working. That’s where the real work starts of cleaning up the old and feeling more and more at peace, at home. Life provides with things to look at, all the tools as well and so exploration continues.

There are many tools that can be useful to help to relax deeper into trusting life. There are useful ways to question beliefs, energy healing, trauma therapy and so on, but the tool is just that, something to use when needed and once it’s done it’s work put away. If one becomes obsessed with a tool (like astrology for example) and starts interacting with people only through that concept, that’s trouble, as one builds up an illusion of authority outside and judges everything though a learned system. But at that time they need to learn something and so be it. The question is are they doing that to make their life more comfortable or to awaken because awakening has nothing to do with any of that.

Let’s go back to LU. Who is ready to be guided in the forum? How would the readers of this interview know if they are ready or not? How comes guiding is free of charge? Do you have a serious online platform, platform administrators, guides?

Here are a few questions that help to determine readiness:

Are you ready to end seeking?

Do you want the truth no matter what?

What are you looking for?

It can be, that fear comes, fear of disappearing, nonexisting, not being able to function, fear of losing control, losing identity, fear of freedom. If someone is looking to become wise, to know all the answers, to be seen as an enlightened person, to stop feeling unwanted emotions, to manifest desired life, they are not ready. The readiness shows up as a burning desire for truth. It comes with frustration, of having enough, of desperate wanting to find the exit. It’s not a comfortable process, one has to be willing to challenge the most precious beliefs and that hurts.

Guiding on the forum is free of charge and it will remain like this. It is a service that guides received and is passed on out of love and compassion for humans. The guide and the seeker come into a process of investigation together. For the guide, this is an opportunity to deepen and look from all different angles, ask questions that he himself hasn’t asked before. The seeker gets feedback on his progress and is supported while he alone walks his path. When the seeker finally sees, it’s such a beautiful experience, it’s such a great gift to give and to receive.

LU is a strong structure and has a team of administrators, groups in different languages. The system was put over many years, adjusted as it was needed and now it is running with minimal maintenance. It does not belong to or depends on one person. It’s run by a community and everyone is doing their part.

Conversations at the Forum are conducted in English, French, German and Russian. Would it help to open a Bulgarian section as well?

It would be great if more Bulgarian people could join and assist others in own language. We had sections in different languages that came up and went. So anything is possible.

You are soon going to visit Bulgaria for the first time. You are going to hold two evening meetings and one full day event. What can people expect at these meeting?

Thank you very much for inviting me, I’m very much looking forward to the events. We will meet what comes up and allow what wants to be seen. Usually working with a group, every meeting is a unique unfolding, depending on what questions people bring with themselves. We will explore what the illusion of a separate self is and how to see through it in experience. I will be holding space in which everything is welcome and I will assist with untangling tensions. Once the energy in the group relaxes, we can meet in stillness and enjoy the presence.

The Saturday event will be a small group and more intimate work. That will allow deeper transformation. Each participant will have a chance to untangle contractions. I use the Deep Looking method, that I have developed over the years, inspired by Pamela Wilson. That is a special way to ask questions and allow the tensions to unwind. It’s very gentle and effective.

I will also bring Ajnalight to Bulgaria. That is a spiritual technology created by Guy Harriman, who spent many years working in Silicon Valley with Steve Jobs and later became a Buddhist monk. There is much to say about this equipment and anyone interested can watch videos on YouTube and listen to Guy talking about his creation. But in short, this light activates and cleans the pineal gland, or, in other words the third eye, which is our antenna for connection with the divine. The lamp is shining white light in a pulsing way at certain frequencies and creates a perfect environment to look into own consciousness. Ajnalight experience allows one to dive in very deep meditation and has a calming healing effect as you explore expanded state.

Some closing words?

Everyone is looking for something and that search itself is the tension, that does not allow us to feel the joy of life, the joy of being. The search FOR can shift to looking AT: looking at what is present and meeting that fully, whatever comes up in the moment. When the searching energy relaxes, exploration, wonder takes its place. Living life from a place of peace and freedom to feel and to experience whatever life shows up as is possible.

That’s my life’s work, to guide and show where and how one can find the freedom and joy of being. Let’s all together join in a celebration of this experience called human life.


Special thanks to Gayane Minasyan for her invaluable assistance in translating and editing from English to Bulgarian and back.

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