You may not get a very clear or lucid concept of this self, but you do experience some kind of rough imagery of yourself before you answer.
This self is something that seems to exist independently of anything else. It’s a sort of solid point, a fixed entity that is just there by itself.
If an I exists then we should be able to find it within either our body or our mind. We have to analyze each part to find where the sense, concept, or image of I comes from.
Let’s say that your name is Mike. Who or what is Mike? You should investigate from the hair of your head down to your toes whether or not any particular part of your body is Mike.
|Mahayana Meditation Guide|
When you have eliminated one part, go on to the next. Then do the same kind of analytical meditation on your mind.
Like your body, your mind also has many parts, so you should try to find out whether any one part of the mind can be identified as I.
There are many levels or kinds of mind and every one has its preceding and subsequent moments.
You might think, for example, that your sense of I comes from your brain.
However, because each aspect of your body and mind has multiple parts, then logically, you must have that many I’s or selves within you.
Mind is a whole world in itself, with many states and levels. So which one is the self?
At the end of your analytical meditation, you will not be able to pinpoint any part of your body and mind as being an inherently existent I.
At this point you might get scared because you haven’t found yourself. You may feel that you’ve lost your sense of identity.
There is a vacuity—an absence of something. However, when you really develop certitude of the absence of an inherent I, you should then simply try to remain in that state of meditation as long as you can.
As your understanding of the absence of self improves, then outside your meditation sessions you will be able to realize that although the self seemed to exist inherently, this perception was simply the result of your innate grasping.
Next time someone calls your name, try to do this examination.
The mind training text states that when we investigate how our innate conception of I apprehends the self to exist, we must make sure that our investigation is not mixed up with the intellectual grasping at self.
The text reads, “Detailed recognition of this comes about through cultivating a close relationship with a spiritual friend of the Great Vehicle and pleasing him for a long time.
Thus, if we want to comprehend every detail and subtlety of this issue, it is essential that we consistently rely upon a qualified Mahayana guide.