Q: Where do we begin?
M: All I know is that whatever depends, is not real. The real is truly independent. Since the existence of the person depends on the existence of the world and it is circumscribed and defined by the world, it cannot be real.
Q: It cannot be a dream, surely.
M: Even a dream has existence, when it is cognized and enjoyed, or endured. Whatever you think and feel has being. But it may not be what you take it to be. What you think to be a person may be something quite different.
Q: I am what I know myself to be.
M: You cannot possibly say that you are what you think yourself to be! Your ideas about yourself change from day to day and from moment to moment. Your self-image is the most changeful thing you have. It is utterly vulnerable, at the mercy of a passer by. A bereavement, the loss of a job, an insult, and your image of yourself, which you call your person, changes deeply. To know what you are you must first investigate and know what you are not. And to know what you are not you must watch yourself carefully, rejecting all that does not necessarily go with the basic fact: 'I am'. The ideas: I am born at a given place, at a given time, from my parents and now I am so-and-so, living at, married to, father of, employed by, and so on, are not inherent in the sense 'I am'. Our usual attitude is of 'I am this'. Separate consistently and perseveringly the 'I am' from 'this' or 'that', and try to feel what it means to be, just to be, without being 'this' or 'that'. All our habits go against it and the task of fighting them is long and hard sometimes, but clear understanding helps a lot. The clearer you understand that on the level of the mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker you will come to the end of your search and realize your limitless being.