Ego is a mere concept, a false unexamined assumption that ‘I’ stand apart from the core truth of my being, the deeper harmony of things.

How do we know that the ego is not a real, permanent entity but a mere thought (arising in our mind) which comes and goes?

An inquiry conducted along the following lines may help:

  1. Am I aware of my ego of the waking state during the dream state and deep sleep? It is our direct experience that there is no ego at all during the deep sleep.
  2. Is the waking state ego–the “me-notion”–the same as the dream state ego? Let’s say, you dreamt about winning a lottery during your dream state and carefully deposited all the proceeds from the lottery into your dream bank account. Immediately after depositing the lottery money in the bank, you woke up. Can you then go to the bank and withdraw that money?
  3. So, the ego-entity which won the money during the dream and the person who woke up are obviously not the same.
  4. Yet, beyond any shadow of doubt, you know that you slept, you dreamt, and now you are awake!
  5. This ‘you:’ Y-capital, O-capital, and U-capital — is who you are. This YOU was present during all the three states. It is actually prior to, and beyond, all the states. This does not come and go. The ego, the “skin-encapsulated” entity (to use Alan Watts phrase) you take yourself to be, comes and goes; it is not the “real” you.
  6. After all, what comes and goes cannot be the real YOU! So, the ego is just a temporary concept.
  7. When the Upaniṣads say, “You are That” they are not talking about the separate, limited ego that we take our self to be. They are talking about our real nature, which is pure being, the infinite, unchanging Self.

    The Bhagavad Gītā clearly states about the nature of this Self in 2.20:

na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin nāyaṃ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ /
ajo nityaḥ śāśvatoyaṃ purāṇo na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
// 2.20

The Self is never born nor dies; nor does it come to be only after being born. It is unborn, eternal, everlasting, and primal; even though the body dies, the Self does not die.

Ego seems to be the root of all problems अनर्थ–greed, anger, hatred, and so forth. Any spiritual practice undertaken while the imposter ego is in place, leads us nowhere.

Ego can never be liberated any more than the mirage water can quench our thirst.

It is the little “me” that wants to be liberated, not the “pure being,” which is ever-liberated.

There is no liberation for the ego; liberation is freedom from the notion of ego–freedom from the limited being we mistakenly take our self to be.

This freedom is available to all of us, right here right now. It is a hard cash and not a Promissory Note.


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