To the false self it seems that the only way to sense our own existence is to think and perceive. We see, hear, feel, taste, smell, and think, which provide feedback and let us know we’re alive. Since the ego is merely a process, not an actual being, it believes that those other processes are essential to its existence.
Our true selves go beyond our minds, bodies, thoughts, and perceptions. The true self is an actual being that exists, so it does not need processes in order to be. Therefore it can know its own presence without using the mind and body to think and perceive. The mind and body are merely things that it has, not what it is. The ego cannot fathom this. It believes that there must be processes of brain and body in order to be aware. This is why it is gullible enough to believe that it is the brain and body: it cannot imagine existing without them, so it assumes that they are parts of its very self.
The belief in being a body/mind can make us seem tiny, weak, and vulnerable. Even if others don’t criticize, abuse, reject, or abandon us, the mere belief in being a tiny being in a gargantuan universe can make us feel powerless, worthless, and fearful. When we see that we are way beyond mind and body, we don’t seem small at all. We feel omnipresent, as though we are one with everything. We no longer compare our bodies with other bodies, the planet, or the Universe, because we know that we are not our bodies.
The false self’s unpleasant thought system in which we are, by default, worthless and weak, ensures that we can never be happy or satisfied. In an attempt to add size, power, and worth to ourselves, we run around obtaining and accomplishing little things, such as winning games, impressing others, and buying possessions, but no matter what we do, we are merely rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic because the entire time we are dying in the mental oppression of feeling that we are inherently lacking. No matter how “big” we make ourselves, we will always be much smaller than the rest of the Universe. This causes us to constantly feel that we must “grow”, which in turn causes us to believe that we always need more (possessions, status, accomplishments) and that we are always vulnerable to diminishment via loss of what we have. There will never be any rest because no matter how good the status quo, we will feel the need to strive in order to get more or protect what we have. We will always feel the need to change what is in order to “improve” our situation. We cannot relax and enjoy what is happening now because we fear that tomorrow will be worse, so we must work today in order to enjoy tomorrow. But when tomorrow comes will we enjoy it? No, because the fear of the future will still be with us, so we will work in order to enjoy the day after that. We thus continually work for a future enjoyment that never comes. We constantly strive to obtain pleasure and avoid suffering, but the very process of pursuit and avoidance is what causes our suffering in the first place. We’re trying to put out fires with gasoline.