Disclaimer: This text is not meant to bring you ‘enlightenment’, it is purely for the intellectual understanding that there is no locatable ‘self’ and the intriguing (but relatively unspectacular) experience of recognising the same with basic self-inquiry.
There is no ‘you’ living behind your eyes (or in your heart). There is no ‘person’ in there, controlling things. There is no central entity, nobody that all of these experiences, thoughts and feelings are happening to.
That doesn’t feel right, does it? You certainly exist as a functioning human body, but if you privately ponder a sentence like ‘that was my thought’… what is the ‘my’ referring to?
The answer is ‘nothing’. The brain is just running its multitude of functions. In your experience, there is generally just thinking, feeling and sensing. You can look for any sign of a ‘self’: attempt to identify anything in your experience that does not fall into one of those three categories (or four if you include consciousness itself).
You probably won’t find anything and that’s because there is no central ‘you’ entity at all. The human is essentially a biological robot like all animals are. Other animals have only the more primitive instructions: feelings – rather than thoughts – controlling their choices.
Try to prove to yourself that you’re not a robot. Do something right now that shows ‘I’m clearly not a robot’. More than likely, it was one thought, that led to another thought which resulted in thinking or doing something… perhaps some feelings involved too. These are actions of the brain inside that skull running their separate processes. Wouldn’t it actually be some kind of spiritual magic if there was some special ‘you’ inside there?
The question of what creates the illusion that there’s a ‘you’ behind your eyes is very interesting. I don’t have any definitive answers, only speculation based on my experience. It could be the relentless compulsive thought processes, or it could be the older passions and emotions, or some interaction between both the cognitive and affective faculties. But the brain creates this mirage of an egotistical, passionate centrality that we want to defend… and it’s immediately obvious why nature would have selected for that, very quickly.
While some will find this to be intellectually acceptable and valid, they will nonetheless find it irrelevant to daily life and even boring. They may be right, but it is possible to experience the disappearance of the ‘self’ illusion – normally for only brief moments, but it can be life-changing. Not only will you have some greater knowledge about how your mind can work but you’ll also get a sense of why people sit in caves meditating for years (which I don’t recommend, by the way).
Anyway, that’s it for now, more later…
Here’s just a little teaser video on this subject: