I realize that the concept of anatta is something that many people new to Buddhism have a difficult time understanding. It was just recently that I became aware of such a doctrine, as previously I was under the impression that Buddhist teachings were in harmony with the Hindu concept of atman and reincarnation. Since being introduced to the idea of anatta, I've been studying it in-depth, attempting to come to an intellectual understanding of it.
Despite the fact that I've heard many say that trying to understand anatta from a purely intellectual basis is pointless, I've been utterly determined to do so. Fortunately, I believe I've finally come to a fairly good understanding of this originally elusive teaching. I'd like to share my understanding of anatta on this forum so that others more educated on the subject will be able to confirm the correctness of my understanding, or otherwise correct me in my folly.
As I have come to understand anatta, nothing is permanent. Everything begins, changes, and ends. We as individuals are no different in this matter, as we also are impermanent. Nevertheless, before it can be said that I am impermanent, it must first be established what "I" am. Essentially, all I consist of are feelings, perceptions, thoughts, mental processes, etc. Seeing as how these things comprise "me," and also seeing as how these things are always changing and ending, being replaced by new thoughts, new feelings, and new perceptions, then essentially, I am impermanent. Nevertheless, all these thoughts, perceptions, and feelings are connected, as it is from the old thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that the new thoughts, feelings, and perceptions are born.
This is what I believe the Buddha was attempting to communicate when he used the illustration of a single candle lighting other candles. Each flame is connected, as they can all be traced back to the same origin, yet they are nonetheless new and different flames. Therefore, anatta is the doctrine which acknowledges the fact that, seeing as how the things that make us "us" are always changing and ending, we ourselves are therefore always changing and ending, becoming new "selves."
In short, if "the self," or "me" consists of nothing more than thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and mental processes, and these things are continually being replaced by new thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and mental processes, then essentially it is me who is becoming something new, becoming a new "self" over and over again, and therefore, there is no permanence in the "self." Is this view of anatta correct, or am I mistaken?