For someone who is deeply interested in the nature of being, the most important thing to discover is that there is no individual self. There is no ‘me’ that we’ve come to identify ourselves with. There is no one to improve, no one to get liberated, no one to be born, suffer, and die.
To get at the centerless center of our being, a serious seeker may ask ‘Who am I?’ But don’t get sidetracked by the question. Don’t waste your time with answers like ‘I am a man or woman who is of a certain age, has a family and a job, practices a specific religion and votes for the popular candidate.’
The individual self can be likened to a character in a movie that thinks and acts as though she or he is real. But it’s obvious that these activities don’t really belong to the character, they belong to the screen, come and go on the screen, are made of the screen. From the screen’s point of view, there are no characters. It only knows itself, just as consciousness, the aware presence in which all people, places, and things arise, only knows itself.
When the movie ends, the character on the screen disappears, but the screen remains unstained by anything that appeared on it. Similarly, when our thoughts, sensations, and perceptions come and go, which is their very nature, consciousness remains untouched, unchanged, ever-present, and aware. Always.
Now shift your perspective from being caught up in the movie, from being a character in the movie, and simply, naturally, notice the screen. Be the screen. Be unlimited consciousness. Be yourself.
Actually, you don’t have to make an effort to be anything. Any effort would be on behalf of a separate self that we’ve discovered doesn’t exist. So what can you do? Absolutely nothing. Absolutely not nothing.
The paradox – we are and we are not; we can and we cannot. In the helplessness of the situation, Richard Sylvester might suggest that we just relax.
In this non-doing doing, all vestiges of a personal self fall away and we stand revealed as our original, naked, innocent being. All residual concepts of self and other dissolve in what can be called the nameless, endless, absolute knowing of all-embracing oneness.