Chances are, we are not what we instinctively think we are. Can you describe yourself in one short sentence? Is it the whole of what you are? Is it always what you are? Is there anything at all about you that is constant, unchanging and fixed? We find it easy to talk about other people in these simplistic terms; we constantly judge, label and categorize others but when it comes to the self, things begin to fall apart. They become far more subtle and nuanced, flexible and uncertain.
When we give some thought to this fundamental question, we begin to see that the picture we have of the self is just that, 'a picture', not the real thing, the real nature, the true essence.
What we find is a 'construction of the self' that we build, based on feelings and emotions, memories, beliefs. None of these are fixed. They are changeable, often inaccurate, cloudy and subject to whim.
The things you thought, believed and felt 10 years ago, may have changed considerably over time. We grow and develop continually. This, of course, is also true of others, though that is easier to overlook.
Where then is the true self ? Where is the firm ground ? Is there a base or is there nowhere called home ? Do we find nothing there, the moment we try to find ourselves?
When we practice meditation seriously and deeply we begin to find our real nature. The distracting clutter drops away, the mist is cleared from the mirror. We discover that we are something different from the person we have constructed, the narrative of the self.
Here, we find a source of happiness that nobody can give us, nobody can take away. It is independent of external conditions.
This is a gift, a blessing, an awakening that comes from simple, patient practice.