What is the ego? Well, there seem to be two simple answers.
The first one is anything that follows the simple phrase of Being “I am”. Whatever you can put after “I am” ceases to be about the inner self but rather the outward expression of your mind, a form of ego. It is you and your story, it is your identification, it is your need to be something other than what you truly are. It is the “apple in the garden”, the “original sin”, the wedge between Being (God) and you.
“I am ugly”.
“I am fat.”
“I am a Democrat.”
“I am right.”
None of these describe who you truly are, but rather are identification with the outward expression of thought. None of what comes after the “I am” is real…but rather the dust from which it will return.
The second answer is anything that comes after the phrase “you are”. It is what you identify others to be, not what they truly are. It is truth in your eyes only, a judgment that, as all judgments are, is faulty at its conception. It is what you use to either bind another to you or segregate them. They are either with you or like you or they are not. Whenever you follow “you are” with something, it is your own ego assigning the label.
“You are beautiful.”
“You are a loser.”
“You are mean.”
“You are wrong.”
Odd, but when you say to someone “you are beautiful”, it may have come after they have said “I am ugly.” See the fault of judgments? They are based in nothing real, nothing stable. We often might say to someone “you are a loser” right after we ourselves have failed to meet our version of identity in ourselves.
I will leave you with a story. If I was to ask you “what is a tree?”, what would your answer be? Common answers would say “Well, it is branches and leaves and bark and twigs and tissue and roots.” But is that really the tree? Collect the branches and leaves and bark and twigs and tissue and roots and put them in a bucket. Do you now have a tree?
The same thing can be said if I ask “what is a human being?” The common answer may be “Well, he is skin and bones and muscle and blood and water and organs and hair.” Is that really true? Collect some skin and bones and muscle and blood and water and organs and hair and put it in a bucket. Is what you have a person?
What makes the tree a tree and a person a person is not the form you can see. It is the indescribable force that resides beyond the form that not only makes us who we are, but binds us. It is the part of us made in the image of our Creator, the Being in the Human Being. It is the part of us we need to find as we look inward. It is the part of us that is God.