Many people have asked questions about this. I will try to clarify…
The Buddha stated: “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.”
The heart of the Buddhist teaching is expressed in what is called the “Four Noble Truths”. The essence of these is that mental stress is caused by wanting reality now to be different from what it is now – which is clearly impossible.
Who am I
When you realize, typically through teachers and regular accurate meditation over time, that your idea of “I” is just that – an idea or thought or concept which does not in any way refer to anything real, then there is no need for this “I” to be anything in particular or even survive. This is because it is not even there in the first place. This is what the Buddha meant by, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts”. The only “We” (or “I”) you experience is just a thought.
What is this?
When you realize in addition that your world, as you perceive it, is similarly just a thought and refers to nothing real, then life becomes a game. Nothing that (seems to) happen can disturb your innermost happiness and peace of mind. This is what the Buddha meant by, “With our thoughts we make the world”.
The only “I” and the only world about which you know is your own mental creation. Knowing this, what can possibly disturb you?
Believing mistakenly in the reality of this mental creation is living in the conditioned mind where most of spend most of our lives. Living in full awareness that this mental creation is just that – a sort of dream – is resting in the unconditioned mind, the place of true peace and deep, inner happiness (in contrast to the fleeting moments of pleasure and pain).
The unconditioned mind is not beyond your full awareness of your conditioned nature. When there is no longer a shadow of a doubt, when no thought can confuse you, you are a Buddha. It is very simple and requires no effort, just absolute clarity.
Find yourself a good teacher and good friends, and make some quiet time for yourself to meditate every day.