Vivien Novak

“The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.”

Have you ever taken a look to see where thoughts arise from? Most people believe that “I am thinking, I am the thinker of my thoughts.” But what do you do in order to think? How do you birth a thought into existence?

Thinking that one knows the answers to these questions is not the same as discovering it in first-hand experience. So have a look. Is thinking your doing? Are you the thinker? Or are you simply noticing thoughts as they pass by?

And where do thoughts appear? In a mind, which is inside the head? Is this assumption in line with experience, how it actually is? If you look very closely, you can discover that just because thoughts arise, it does not follow that they appear in a mind, and certainly not in the head.

And what about consciousness or awareness? Is there a conscious awareness sitting in the head peeking out through the eyes, like two windows? — Knowing or “aware-ing” is the very fabric of experience. How could it exist in the head?

What is a self? Isn’t the self about oppositions? — What it takes itself to be is in opposition to what it does not take itself to be. “Me” and “not-me”. Inside is “me”, outside is “not-me”. But where is the dividing line between “me”and “not-me”?

Can the seeming division between “me” and “not-me” be softened? Can you notice that you actually do not see a dividing line anywhere in experience? Isn’t “me” and “not-me” only an artificial division of experience? Like cutting off a small piece of existence and call it as “me”, and labelling the rest as the “outside world” from which I have to defend myself.

This border between “me” and “not-me” is usually believed to be the skin, where the body ends. Everything inside the skin is “me”, and everything outside of it is “not-me”. And since thoughts seem to appear in the head, they are also inside of “me”.

But are you the body? Or are you in the body? Or rather you have a body? Where is this self or “I” that thoughts are constantly referring to? Is there an actual “I” residing in the head? Have a look. Is there anything else to the head than sensations? Is there someone inside the body? — If you put aside all assumptions and theories and look at what is here and now, you can discover that the “me” is a myth; it’s just an imagination, a fictional character that “lives” only in the story-land of “my life”.

But is life happening to me, or as a thought story about a “me”? Is experience happening to the body, or as the body? Isn’t the body showing up as experience itself (including the head), as the experience of sensations?

We seem to live life at face value, and we rarely (if at all) look behind the surface. We simply take our core beliefs as facts of reality. But if we put our beliefs under the microscope, then we can discover that our thoughts and beliefs simply cannot stand up to the scrutiny of our immediate experience.

The artificially constructed self-concept boils down to the belief that there is a subject to experience, who is somehow outside of what is happening, distanced and apart from what IS. But we can discover that experience does not belong to a separate self who experiences. There is nothing outside of experience to have an experience.

These virtual divisions can show up in many ways. We often say that “I was lost in thought”. But is that really possible, or does it seem that way? Is there something standing apart from the totality of the here-and-now experience, and somehow being dragged into thoughts?

Just notice that it is always now. There might be thoughts about the past and the future, but when do these thoughts appear? In the past and the future? Or everything that ever happens can only happen here-now? When you are thinking about the past, do you believe that you left this moment, and you are in the past? It certainly can feel that way, but is that so?

We’ve all heard the phrase: “Just stay present. Just stay in the now.” But is the present moment something to abide in? Something you often leave, but you come back to it to rest there? Can you fall out from this moment? Can you be anywhere else but here, now? Are you apart from this present moment experience? — It is simply impossible. We never leave the present moment experience, since it is the only thing there is. Thus, we can never be apart from it.

Simply put: you are not what you think you are. The person you have taken yourself to be has never been, except as a thought. Nothing exists separate from you.

The only thing standing in the way of clear seeing is your false ideas about who you are.

When you really look, you can discover that these words are pointing to something so simple, something so obvious, that when it is looked at and seen, you wonder how it was ever missed.

You can read more about the inquiry on the Private Sessions page.

Some days ago now, there was a thought of “So is this it? Just this?” And a nodding of the head — “Yep, this is it. Just this”. Laughter. Love. Huge gratitude.

It’s very, very cool.

New Zealand

More than anything I’d like to say thank you for your guidance and patience. Reinforcing the importance of actual experience encouraged me to keep coming back to looking at what was actually happening, and not letting "thought" try to take over (again!). Invaluable!

It feels freeing to see this. There is a great sense of relief. Thank you Vivien for sharing your time with me, I am so grateful!


After having seen through the illusion, there is a sense of curiosity and an aliveness that “I” never thought possible before realizing that there is no “self”.

In love and gratitude,


It feels very free! There is no “I” to criticise or berate. It’s pointless. Before, there was a pretty definite “I” looking to “get somewhere” with this inquiry. Now it feels there is nowhere to get to or achieve. Who would achieve it? Haha… it’s like a big cosmic joke. Experimenting with direct experience through the senses has been illuminating. It became very clear how mental concepts in the shape of images mainly distort the actual experience and give “meaning” to it. The labelling is endless and not stoppable, but to SEE that is what is happening all the time has been an eye opener. So nothing has really changed in a funny way; everything is still the same. It’s just the way everything is now perceived that is different. As if a film with stories has been made transparent. The stories are still there; but it is clear that they are just that: stories. Mental concepts. Not what is really being experienced.

It’s very relaxing. It creates space in which there is more to laugh about!


Thank you for all you have done to guide me. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to work with you, and to receive your guidance.

It is freeing, and as if a light has been turned on.

The ego is nothing else than a mirage in the desert. It seems to be an oasis, but in reality it is just a play of light.