Self Enquiry (or Advaita Vedanta), is an ancient practice that is easy to carry out and marvellous in its effect.Basically, most people in modern society are hounded by persistent invasive thoughts and a damaging egoic persona. However, behind them exists our True Inner Self; a self that is calm, collected and wholesome. Self Enquiry stems from the True Self observing the torment of random thoughts and mental torment, and thereby diminishing them. Mental torment and invasive thoughts are only strengthened by the mistaken perception that they are our own, but they are not.
James uses a tin can to describe how his true self was trapped in a false shell.