It’s like this:
We have a beam of white light. Well, that’s how it appears, anyway. Then we hold up a prism, and a full array of colors come shooting out the other side. Anatta (not-self) is just like that.
It seems like there’s someone in our bodies and minds running the show, like the old man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. Buddhism says that that’s not the case. Just like how light is actually 100% composed of the full color spectrum, we are 100% composed of mind, body, and the environment we interact with. We arise from the experience we’re having.
Meditation is the prism we put ourselves through. With tranquil clarity, we turn about and see the colors that form us. But who’s the one turning and seeing? Which color is that?
When we grasp onto ourselves, others, and things, that’s because we’re seeing them as just solid beams of white light instead of also seeing the full visible spectrum. When we hear the words Unborn and Undying in Buddhism, that’s referring to the white light, to the self. Because if that beam of light isn’t really there in itself, that means it was never created. If it wasn’t created, then it can’t be destroyed.
Because when we see that beam of light as it really is, we can’t see it at all.
So all of these things we get wrapped up in, and all of the suffering that arises from it, it isn’t really there in the way that we think it is; it isn’t as solid as it seems. In meditation, we’re lifting up that prism and looking at our lives through it.
Just remember, that when we push white light through a prism, the white light doesn’t disappear.