Once we have established a sense of self, events are certain to occur that contradict our sense of self. This will cause us pain and suffering. We attempt to return to our previous comfortable state of self in order to ease our pain and suffering. This is not always possible and we are forced to accept a new sense of self. An extreme example would be a soldier losing a limb in battle who is returning home, trying to get back to a normal life.
There are many other, less extreme examples of people being forced to alter their sense of self because of their life’s situations. Healthy or unhealthy ways of dealing with such changes then come into play so that we can continue with our lives. The emphasis is always away from pain toward a better state.
Whatever our motivation in life is, we are caught in the spider web of involved actions, called karma. We must get free. We must find a way out of this deep involvement with the world. The more we struggle, the stronger our sense of self becomes. Ultimately, we will crash our ego into the mirror of pure awareness. This produces an incredible painful experience in us. We will be challenged to give up all attachments to This or That. There comes a moment to make a choice: “What is more important to me, my attachments or my freedom?”
If we choose freedom, we will live in the freedom of awareness. It is here where the state of liberation lies, the state beyond karma, the state beyond attached involvement. This is the state of “Neti Neti”, the pure state of "Not This and Not That".