We define precisely what Self is denied. There is such a thing as an empirical self, but it's anatta, anicca, dukkha. The Self denied in anatta is one which is permanent, self-willed, independent, and essentially sukkha. This is not to be found anywhere in the five khanda, and there is no experience that is not at least one of the five khanda. But the empirical self is a sankhara, and easily found. It is this empirical self which can lean and incline toward the Dhamma, or not.
"And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
"And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.