The important thing is not to know who “I” is or what “I” is. You’ll never succeed. There are no words for it. The important thing is to drop the labels. As the Japanese Zen masters say, “Don’t seek the truth; just drop your opinions.” If you drop your labels, you would know. What do I mean by labels? Every label you can conceive of except perhaps that of human being. I am a human being. Fair enough; doesn’t say very much.
But when you say, “I am successful,” that’s crazy. Success is not part of the “I”. Success is something that comes and goes; it could be here today and gone tomorrow. That’s not “I”. When you said, “I was a success,” you were in error; you were plunged into darkness. You identified yourself with success. The same thing when you said, “I am a failure, a lawyer, a businessman.” You know what’s going to happen to you if you identify yourself with these things. You’re going to cling to them, you’re going to be worried that they may fall apart, and that’s where your suffering comes in.
Suffering is given to you that you might open your eyes to the truth, that you might understand that there’s falsehood somewhere, just as physical pain is given to you so you will understand that there is disease or illness somewhere.
Anthony de Mello sj, Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality