When you sit in meditation, you begin to recognize the various points of view you have carried, and you can let them go. But as fast as you let them go, you’ll replace them. It’s like belief. Most people don’t let go of one belief without grabbing another belief. This one is better, so I’ll take this one now. But to question the one who is holding the beliefs is much more efficient than to question each little belief along the way, because you will see through one but soon another one will pop up. It’s kind of like pulling weeds.
– Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing
I would say they go hand in hand, and may even turn out to be the same.
Any identification with a story creates a sense of a separate self so it’s good to explore them as they come up. And the sense of a doer or observer or I or me is also very helpful to explore.
It’s similar to exploring time. It’s helpful to explore the idea of time and past, future, and present. And it’s also very helpful to explore specific imaginations about past, future, or present.
These all go hand in hand. It’s not one or the other, in my experience.
Note 1: When I say explore, I mostly mean looking at the sensations and imaginations making up my experience of these things. How do my mind create its experience of a me or I or body? How does it create its experience of past, future, present, or time? What images, words, and sensations make them up? What happens when I look at the images and words, and take time to feel the physical sensations?
Note 2: I agree that it is important to explore the more fundamental ideas such as a me or I, and – for instance – ideas about time. And yet, that’s usually not sufficient. It’s also important to explore the specific instances as they come up, especially when they have a charge to them.