Me, me, me — this is the ego doing the only job it knows how to do, and it does it well.
It does such a great job in fact, that we don’t even realize that the ego doesn’t actually exist. It’s literally, a figment of our imagination.
No doctor can look at a map of the human brain and point to the ego. It isn’t a physical organ (even though it often acts like the bowels of the brain), nor does it have a specific area in which it exists. Your ego is simply a manifestation of your mind, just as your concept of “self" is. They’re both illusions which you’ve allowed yourself to believe. Your “self" is not what you think it to be. It does not exist.
I can already hear your reply, "But, that’s ridiculous, I’m right here!”
Yes, your body and mind are undoubtedly here. But when I say your “self” doesn’t exist, what I mean is that who you imagine yourself to be doesn’t actually exist.
To prove my point, let’s take a look at something we’ve all said to ourselves before, such as: “I’m so mad at myself right now. How could I let myself do that?”
This is a classic example of self-talk, similar to how we all speak to ourselves. But in this phrase, are there are not two people being referred to? There is the “I”, and then there is “myself”. We refer to ourselves as if there’s another being inside of us. We speak as if we’ve been torn in two, and there’s some type of war going on between each of our two halves.
But if we look closer we’ll see that the “I” is our True Self, while the “myself” seems to be the perpetrator of the action (the one whom you’re mad at). So, just who is this other “self" that we commonly refer to?
This is what we call our ego — or, our false sense of a “separate” self.
This is the “entity" that does not actually exist and that is separate from our true being, and yet it is what we have all come to identify ourselves by. Oh sure, we treat our ego as if it’s real. We talk to it, and it talks back to us. But its only concern is for our “sense" of self, it cares not for the truth of reality. It’s only goal is self-preservation — it will do anything it can to keep the illusion of its false existence alive. It will second-guess everything we think and do in order to perpetuate its own being.
“Eyes cannot see themselves, they need a mirror to reflect the image.”
– Sir William Shakespeare
I suppose our mind created the ego in an attempt for us to see ourselves as the world sees us. But the image it produces cannot be believed in, just as we cannot believe that any of the images we see on a television screen are real. They are two-dimensional concepts that are merely an attempt to recreate the actual — but they fall short. They are not the real thing.
The ego is the noise that fills your mind with madness. It is the source of every thought that begins with or contains, I, Me, My and Mine. It is a bundle of perceptions, memories and desires, collected from across your lifetime. It is that part of the mind that has been directly modified by the external world, but is not of the world itself. It is nothing more than a mouldable concept, like a piece of clay.
It’s for this very reason why the ego-self should not be trusted — it is un-real and unreliable — built entirely upon imagined concepts of identity.
Meanwhile, our True Self is absolute and unchangeable! Our True Self is awareness itself, unfettered by any imagined concepts of identity. It is that which directly responds to reality itself. It is wisdom. It is intuition. It is love. It is understanding. It is compassion.
Our True Self is that which says I Am. It needs nothing more added onto this one simple declaration. It needs no "I am this…", or "I am that..” — it just Is.
“See yourself first and then see the whole world as the Self.”
— Sri Ramana Maharshi
Our ego is always there, until it’s not. When it’s not there, we don’t even notice its absence for the single reason that we’re no longer thinking about our perceived sense of self. In these blissful moments, when we’re fully immersed in the wonders of our direct present experience, undiluted by any self-critical thoughts, we know our ego has temporarily disappeared.
When we become able to witness our false self in action, we can choose to no longer listen. We can choose to no longer participate in its game of illusion.
If there’s anything for us to strive for in life, this is it — ego death — the absolute self-realization of our True Self.
The less we listen to our false self, the more its grip on our life will lessen. All we need do is rely upon the simple fact that, I Am — nothing more, nothing less. In this, only good will come.
In these two words — I Am — an infinite universe of potential awakens.