you could try investigating
awareness and see if it's always present. For something to be fitting to be regarded as 'this is what we essentially are',
one criterion ought to be that it is permanent, stable and is not liable to alter and decay.
So a question: is awareness always present?
What about during deep sleep? In fact never mind deep sleep, what about the countless times we just drift off into mindless trains of thought in daydreams, only to 'come to' suddenly and realize we had a muddled mind for the last few minutes, dull and foggy. Where was awareness then?
So since awareness is not constant, but rather can increase, decrease, or even temporarily disappear sometimes (as in deep sleep), it is not fitting to be regarded as 'my self'. Although I do understand how it can seem
that way at first. But we need to use the Teachings of the Buddha to really examine this issue, the various views regarding self
we cling to. It's not easy to do if you are relatively new to Buddhism though. I can recommend a few links that explain it more thoroughly:http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... self2.htmlhttp://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tself.htmlhttp://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tions.html
A personal note here. When I was first confronted with the Buddha's teachings regarding this issue, I found it quite grating to read about. I wanted to know 'who I really am'. Now while I am still open to that sometimes, I am also aware of the fact that there is not even one thing in my actual life experience
that is permanent, lasting, stable, and not liable to alter or decay. When I contemplate this, sometimes I feel a sense of relief. Like, identifying with things that arise and pass away all those years before, was a precarious and sad state to be in. Now, as to the question of "who am I?" well I just don't ask that question so much. Because it's darn hard to get an answer to something like that, when there's nothing in our direct experience that is lasting and stable and could thus be a fitting candidate. In any case, I've not found anything as yet. So I try to make an effort to redirect my mind
to contemplate the questions the Buddha invites us to: What is suffering & stress? What is it's cause? What is it's cessation? What is the Path leading to it's cessation?
These questions, by comparison, do