If the “I” is just an illusion, with no independent existence, then what can you do towards self-realization? Some “teachers” says there is nothing you can do. If you are a seeker - that is frustrating and just does not seem right. There certainly seems to be a “me” doing things. Others say, to investigate the “I.” Ask the question, “Who am I?” As always, the problem is trying to understand these seemingly conflicting pointers in the mind. What is this non-existent “I” supposed to do? Nothing? Even that is something.
These obviously appear to be two very different approaches. But, neither is intended to be the answer. They are, like everything else, just pointers. Taken literally, it is a hopeless situation. The “teachers” who would say, there is nothing you can do will pass the salt if asked. Seemingly, someone did something.
Ask someone what day it is and the mind responds. In the same way, ask someone to inquire, “Who am I?” and the mind responds. The question is whether or not “someone” responded – or - is it all apart of the natural functioning?
Certainly it seems like someone is doing the thinking, passing the salt, and asking "Who am I?", but under investigation that idea is seen to be false. The realization is that there has never been “anyone” thinking thoughts or doing things. Thoughts, like everything else, come and go according to the influences upon the brain. Just as a drop of water moves around in the river without an independent nature, so thoughts arise and subside without anyone choosing or controlling the activity.
The concept that there is nothing you can do to bring the search to an end is true. Yet, doing is happening all the time. The body is hungry and eating happens. The body is tired and sleep happens. The search itself is happening. If it is true that there is no doer, then a lot is still getting done! So, there is no one telling you to inquire, “Who am I?” There is no one to inquire, “Who am I?” Yet, the inquiry still happens. When it is seen that the “I” that believes it is doing the inquiry is just a simple thought with a complex web of concepts supporting it, then no one uncovered the false center of “me.”