"My self" is a concept. It carries with it a requirement of many layers of assumption, interpretation. As a "myself", I am separate FROM the world, living IN the world yet divided from it. I am my own little boat, floating on a sea of desire and fear, looking at the world from within it. The world is vast and cold - apathetic to my existence.
This is the dreadful prison built in the mind. It is the source of all suffering. This prison is made up of thoughts, constructed out of belief, relying on a shaky interpretation of reality.
Vedanta is Self-knowledge, taking a hard and honest look at what we've taken ourselves to be - looking at the beliefs and assumptions that were issued to us during our orientation to this world. But it takes honesty and courage to really come face to face with our assumptions. They aren't easily given up. There is a lot of attachment to these assumptions, to these particular translations. Our entire sense of self is dependent on them.
So if we're led down a path of achievement, the assumptions are left intact - it is the ME that is doing these things, that will benefit from these paths. It is the ME that stands to gain spiritually, and the reward will be peace and love and bliss. This approach does nothing to free us from our assumptions but entrenches them, solidifies them, builds a new self-image around spirituality. It's a fresh look but it's still ignorance.
Enlightenment isn't about finding some new state, some amazing and cool experience, some flooding of the light of bliss. It's not about becoming at all. It's about recognizing that Reality, THIS, is One. Wholeness. Nonduality. One, without a second. THIS, is all there is.
But how can we come to this realization? Because I can obviously see a world. But that's just an interpretation. So Self-knowledge is finding these false interpretations. Seeing the assumptions, seeing the interpretation, and realizing that it has always been false.
This cannot be pointed to directly, because words are all we have. And these words, by their nature, are dualistic. All concepts contain the seed of their opposite. So if I say all is One, it contains the seed of "another". So it's called one-without-a-second to indicate that One means One, nothing outside of it. Therefore One becomes meaningless in pointing to THIS.
We might say that the mirage appears to contain water. So as long as it isn't investigated, Reality is water in the road. The appearance IS Reality due to beliefs, assumptions, the lack of investigation. Yet once we walk up to the reflection and see no water, it dawns that it was purely illusion - the mind CREATED the water. The appearance took on a false Reality.
This effect is also apparent in the sense of being a person. Because it is believed, it is apparent, just like the water in a mirage. Because it is assumed to BE, then all sorts of things can be built around it. Yet when it is questioned, the core assumption gets shaken. Lots of other loosely fastened concepts built around it start falling off, like a skyscraper in an earthquake. Windows start shattering. The sense of separate self is unstable.
And it can only become unstable because it's only a belief. We aren't certain of this existence of the separate "person". If we were, we wouldn't resonate with the spiritual search, we wouldn't be drawn inescapably to reading and trying to figure it out.
We ARE certain of our existence - that's why it seems so difficult to see through the belief in the "person." That certainty of existence is intertwined with the concept of being a separate person, trapped in the shell of a temporary body-mind. It's a paradox the mind must overlook, if it is to go about it's business. This core paradox is ignored - that's why it's called ignorance.
You are absolutely certain of your existence - you know you ARE. And you know you ARE because of what? It is because of that certainty of experiencing. You are experiencing. That's obvious. That's the quality or principle because of which you know that you ARE. That's it. That's the key. That's the "I AM".
You know "I AM". That's unquestionable. Yet that "I AM"-ness is mixed up with the objects, with the experiences of body and thoughts. The concept then becomes, I am the body-mind, I am this "person". Yet we cannot find this person if we look to the body-mind. We cannot find this certainty there. Yet the certainty remains. It's unchanging while the body and thoughts change.
The certainty doesn't need to be found. It's self-evident. ALL experiences CONTAIN this self-evidence. Therefore all experiences cannot be separated FROM this self-evidence except by this CONCEPT of "what-I-AM".
So we remain with this "I AM"-ness. We stick with it, come Hell or high water. We relax into it - we let it BE. We don't try to figure it out. We negate anything that appears as passing content against this "I AM"-ness. Because what-we-are is already obvious, only it's some "thing", some separate thing, due to this conceptualization or placing the certainty of existence with objects.
Oneness or Wholeness or Advaita isn't something that comes in the future, due to proper seeking, due to fitting all the pieces in the right order. Advaita is THIS HERE NOW. Whatever THIS might be translated into, is completely irrelevant. Whatever special spiritual state we might think will come, is irrelevant. We cannot escape this present moment. We can never get out of THIS. There is nowhere to go. The mind cannot divide the indivisible. The mind appears as another appearance OF the indivisible, therefore nothing needs to be done with the mind. The translations are simply seen as translations and nothing more. There is a correction of interpretation, a shedding of assumptions.
And THIS remains as it is.