Question: What I’m finding confusing is that I still experience suffering, even though the fictional self has been seen through. I've read that once true nature has been recognized, it’s the end of suffering. Since suffering is still experienced, I believe I must not have had the recognition or there is something more to realize. I know that this idea is just a thought that comes and goes, but, so far, suffering is still a regular experience. I thought the realization dissolved suffering all at once, rather than it being a gradual process that takes place over time.
If suffering is still happening, it indicates that some remaining concepts are still running. First, to clarify what suffering is not: If in a given moment something uncomfortable arises, that’s not suffering. Suffering is the additional component, the add-on that arises in thought in response (or rather resistance) to what is happening. It shows up in the belief that I am suffering; this is happening to me. So here again all that is required is to recognize this for what it is: thought. The direct method is to immediately inquire: who is suffering? This creates a space in which you, consciousness, can recognize there is no such entity. Upon investigation, the me/I cannot be found. You find only empty, aware space, which is what you are.
The other thing to look at is if there is some sense/idea that things should be different. If that arises, that is the evidence that the I-thought, or sense of being a separate self, has snuck in again as the one who fights against what is. It is common for that to arise because we have picked up a lot of concepts along the way about what it will be like once we are liberated. Everything we read or hear is interpreted by the mind. This creates an idea or image of how it’s supposed to be once “I” am awake. However, the experience never matches what the mind thought it would be. After this realization EVERYTHING still appears, just as before. The only difference is the absence of the sense that it’s personal.
This realization is not the end of pain or “problems”, only the end of suffering. So look into the idea or belief that things should be different (or I shouldn’t be experiencing this now that I’m awake). Then look to see who....who doesn’t like it, who thinks it means you’re not “finished” yet, etc. That is the inquiry that ends suffering. In finding there isn’t anyone there after all, the whole structure collapses.
You may have to look at it a number of times. As Sailor Bob says, you see through this fictional sense of self over and over until you can’t believe in it anymore. That part may unfold over time. But your freedom is established already. You are that which is aware of the arising thoughts/self; you are already that free, clear space that is untouched by all of this. You are constant. These self appearances are what are coming and going. Not you. See for yourself.