A. The true-self is an illusion and an illusion is the true-self. When you can see, for example, the cup put before you as empty, it is the true-self, but it is an illusion when you can’t see it as empty and see it only as a cup. This is true of everything that you can see and hear; your wife, your friends, your puppy, et cetera. In other words, when you can see things as empty, everything is the true-self. When you can’t see things as empty, everything is an illusion.
A thing doesn’t determine on its own whether it is seen as the true-self or an illusion, but it depends on whether or not you can see it as empty. When you can see everything as empty, you are said to have attained the eye of wisdom or enlightenment. So, an ancient master would say that if you get the eye of wisdom, all the rubbish heaps turn into treasure heaps. When you are enlightened, everything including yourself is perfection itself to you. That is referred to as the Pure Land or the Buddha Land.
Student: “What is the true-self?”
Master: “There is nothing that is not the true-self.”
Student: “Why can’t I see it?”
Master: “Because you seek it while seeing it.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway