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A paradox exists: when emptying the self, opening it to the present, Tolle (among others) speaks of this as getting to know the self, the opening of the lotus, if you will. To be is not to be. What bothers me about his view is this, and it was well represented by his experience of the woman talking out loud on the bus, as if to somebody, but to no one. He thinks that is the manifestation of the inner noise that mutes the now, if I understand correctly.
I hear this another way. Mental noise demanding attention would be the echoes futile and frustrating interpersonal patterns (leaving aside illnesses that make the noise pathological, I suppose). A person who knows he or she won't get stuck in a Scylla or Charybdis of interpersonal short-circuits won't have the noise to contend with. And it is in learning to relate better in more situations that we get command over the noise. The inner dialogues are sort of rehearsals or re-hearings, useful interpersonally.
But maybe the "self" is the interactivity, the command of the noise, our ability to orchestrate the feelings that speak up.