In a group session, we were instructed to turn to a partner and to say what “ego” is.  I let my young partner go first and she struggled with how to define ego.  I said “No. Ego is who you think you are.”  She got it immediately—and so did I.  How quickly I defined this pesky concept.  Ego is who I think I am. 

This covers the overly good, the overly bad, and the who sense we get from all the teachers of non-duality.  Ego is my boastfulness (I did this, Wow, I am beautiful, I am the best) and my wretchedness (I suck, I always fail, I am worthless, nobody loves me) as well as it defines my separation (I think I am me, “over here”, and you are you “over there”).  Ego is always a mistake.  The subtlest of these three mistakes–boasting, putting myself down, and separating myself–if the last one. Ego is the belief in myself as a separate entity.

The getting-out-of-the-way-of-a-speeding-truck example of the “truth” of separation comes to mind.  The idea some hold is that we cannot get rid of all ego, because ego is required to get our of the way of a careening vehicle and it is ego that says “Ouch,” when I hit my thumb with a hammer . But those events are not ego. They are moments of animal-based self-preservation.   

After a self-preservation event, ego might kick in with a “Look at me,” or “Why did that happen to me,” or “F— you.”  Ego is the idea that I am somebody.

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