The Dalai Lama shared:
"When I was about thirty-five years old, I was reflecting on the meaning of a passage by Tsongkhapa about how the “I” cannot be found either within or separate from the mind-body complex and how the “I” depends for its existence on conceptuality.
Here is the passage: ‘A coiled rope’s speckled color and coiled form are similar to those of a snake, and when the rope is perceived in a dim area, the thought arises, “This is a snake.” As for the rope, at that time when it is seen to be a snake, the collection and parts of the rope are not even in the slightest way a snake. Therefore, that snake is merely set up by conceptuality. In the same way, when the thought “I” arises in dependence upon mind and body, nothing within mind and body – neither the collection that is a continuum of earlier and later moments, nor the collection of the parts at one time, nor the separate parts, nor the continuum of any of the separate parts – is in even the slightest way the “I.”
Also there is not even the slightest something that is a different entity from mind and body that is apprehendable as the “I.” Consequently, the “I” is merely set up by conceptuality in dependence upon mind and body; it is not established by way of its own entity.’
Suddenly, it was as if lightning moved through my chest. I was so awestruck that, over the next few weeks, whenever I saw people, they seemed like a magician’s illusions in that they appeared to inherently exist but I knew that they actually did not.
This is when I began to understand that it is truly possible to stop the process of creating destructive emotions by no longer assenting to the way “I” and other phenomena appear to exist. Every morning I meditate on emptiness, and I recall that experience in order to bring it into the day’s activities. Just thinking or saying “I,” as in “I will do such-and-such,” will often trigger that feeling. But still I cannot claim full understanding of emptiness."