The Buddha realized that his search for an answer to the end of suffering assumed a a self that sought after happiness, yet was haunted by extinction. He understood how we try to maintain the familiar presence of self, whatever that means to us in each moment. Sometimes we affirm "me" and sometimes we protect "me." We bring desirable things toward "me" and push unwanted things away from "me" so that the parameters of "me" keep expanding and contracting. All this pulling and pushing fans the flames of strong emotions, and we try even harder to drive home the point: "I exist." Meanwhile, we live with the terror of an unavoidable death. We evaluate, organize, and struggle with everything we encounter in our attempts to substantiate the existence of a self. This is the relationship we have with our world.