and do that exercise before continuing on.
Of course, there is nothing to find. Many people, who have been involved in a spiritual practice especially Zen Buddhism know where this leads. It was, of course, the very heart of Prince Siddhartha's discovery that there was nothing there except the awareness itself. It was that realization that made him the Buddha, the Awakened One. But the fact that it happened to him doesn't do you any good whatsoever. You must come to the same conclusion, the same self-realization yourself and then follow it.
You see, we all live our lives as if there was someone there who was aware, conscious. A person, entity or soul. The reality that there isn't anyone there just the awareness changes everything from the inside out, completely changes the context and content of our lives at the most basic and subtle level.
Because you see, that awareness IS you, It is THE you that you have been looking for. That awareness is THE Truth, THE Way, THE Life. It is what all the great masters through all time have been talking about and why they all said that once you see it you realize that it has always been there, overlooked due to its utter ordinariness.
But now that I have said all that openly, this is where this whole discussion can becomes a bit dangerous to your practice. The moment I tell you to keep going and go deeper you will immediately begin to imagine the great enlightenment experience. You will revert to your pre-conceived spiritual expectations and try to produce that, rather than just doing what needs to be done, simply looking for the thing that is aware.
I want you to become convinced that there is no such thing, the same way the Buddha did. Through direct inquiry and probing determination. Just because I tell you or Bodhidharma tells you or the patriarchs tell you or Buddha himself tells you there is no thing there, why should you believe any of us. Find out for yourself. Really look.
Then you are ready for the next step. Once you have become convinced that there is nothing there, that there is nothing to be found then you are ready to ask the truly great question. The one question that all questions return to. “Who am I?” In the process of looking for the thing we exhaust the search leaving the conclusion that there is no thing I can be. No thing I can identify with. No point of reference. Now you can being to probe who you really are.
As I mentioned before. You can't actually attain enlightenment or self-realization. If you try you will fail. The answer to the question Who am I? will not come through the mind, the emotions, the ego or anything like that. It will simply bubble up intuitively, instinctively out of your own nature because that is what you are. You real nature will reveal itself as itself.
All you need to do is to keep asking the question and resist the habit to conceptualize, describe or attempt to relate to any thing. We have already done an exhaustive search and have not been able to find that thing. But still, the habit of thinking will continue for a while. Just quietly and firmly dismiss those notions and continue with the question What am I?
I am often asked then, If I can't figure it out or explain it or describe it or draw a conclusion, how will I know?
How do you know you are in love? You know. No one needs to convince you. No one needs to validate it. You just know. Keep going until you just know and there is absolutely no doubt left.