A beginner who starts on the path has to work. You are being taught to reach the stage that is without “I” (anattā), and when there is no “I” there is no doer. But if we say there is no “I” in the beginning, you could become confused and think you do not need to work. You must first understand, “Well, I have to take steps on the path.” A time will come when you understand, “There is a path but there is nobody to walk over it, there are only steps being taken on the path.” That stage has to come naturally. If the “I” is still there in you and you try to impose a feeling that the “I” is not there, it is not helpful.
That is why the Buddha’s teaching is to work first with anicca. When you get established in anicca, then dukkha will naturally become clear to you, and you will understand that however pleasant a feeling may be it passes away. If you develop attachment to it you will become miserable. So misery is inherent in even the most pleasant experience. Understanding of dukkha becomes more and more predominant once you are established in anicca. When you are established in anicca and dukkha, then the third stage—an understanding of anattā—develops, and you think, “What is this phenomenon? Where is ‘I’? Things are just happening, there is just a flow of mind and matter interacting.” When the “I” dissolves at the experiential level it is helpful. An imposed conception of anattā will not help. That is why the Buddha never advised us to start with anattā . Start with anicca,then dukkha will follow, and anattā will develop.
When Ramana Maharshi spoke of no doer, he spoke of anattā, the third, final stage. He must have reached that stage, so naturally he spoke about it to people who he felt were developed. But it does not mean that a beginner should start working in that way.”
– SN Goenkaji
From “For the Benefit of Many”