It took me reading Siddhartha three times and ten years to understand what Hesse meant by the concept of "there is no self." Because we experience we change, because we change we as people are not set in stone; there is no one definition of who we are as people . However, what I've learned about Buddhism is that it is like an onion, every concept has many layers. Reading the Dali Lama, he takes it a step further, or rather clarifies it by saying, yes there is a self, a foundation of who we are at the core, just like the core of the earth. But like the earth, the outer layer is constantly changing, moving, evolving in ways that are beyond our understanding.
Of course to come to this understanding Siddhartha had to go through a metamorphasis himself where he discovered suffering, basically the first step on the path to Nirvana; probably the most important one. I've been trying to think about my own suffering lately. It sounds easy, identifying your own suffering. Tonight I meditated on identifying my own suffering. I thought it would be easy and I could say to myself I suffer from A,B, and C, but again, the onion. I feel as though I only scratched the surface of my own suffering, not disappionting, but revealing and invigorating. When doing deep reflection the mind is unpredictable and takes you places you wouldn't expect to go.
The Dali Lama, in the Heart Sutra, talks about our suffering as empty, that we are all empty. Again the onion. We're not empty literally, or even in most of the figurative universe, but our suffering is empty (in my own interpretation). Our suffering holds this power over us that makes us angry, frustrated, depressed, and anxious. But, in most cases the suffering exists only in our mind and is a remnant of something that has happened in the past that still confuses and haunts us. How do you tell your suffering to leave? How do you free your mind from the suffering and start on the path to happiness?
Meditating, being on the path to end suffering and begin happiness is called Riding the Dragon. Its a curious phrase considering that Dragons evoke feelings of fear and death. But then I guess that alot of suffering comes from common fear and unlimately death. Confronting those fears and being able to control them is the key to conquering them, i.e. Riding the Dragon. Maybe thats where the phrase "Its not about the destination, but the journey" comes from. Enjoy the ride.