Let’s take the example of a piece of rope lying in a dark place: you might mistake the rope for a snake. The mistaken idea that the rope is a snake could trigger various reactions in your mind such as fear, and might provoke you into all sorts of actions such as running out of the house in panic, or attempting to kill the snake. All of this is based on a simple misconception. In the same way, we mistakenly believe that our body and mind possess a sort of self from which all our other problems come, like desire and anger. And on the basis of this self-centred attitude, and our misconceived self, we distinguish between ‘I’ and ‘other’.
HH DALAI LAMA