I don’t know what ego is. The more I look into mind the more I see that the concept of ego is even more an illusion than identification with mental activity.
Mental activity is an important part of something bigger called mind. Mental activity is all your thinking, your opinions, reasoning and logic, interpretation, personal dogmas, personal concepts, memory and past experience.
So what is there more to be found in mind? Besides the mental activity described here above, mind contains the emotional system, sense perception and conscious body control, intuition, subtle and causal dimensions.
Our consciousness pays attention to anything going on in and around us.
Seeing a flower and feeling pain might get your conscious attention, but most of the time our attention goes to our thoughts.
Identifying with your mental activity is an illusion. Those who have meditated on watching their own mind, on a regular basis (10 minutes, 3 or more times a week), for some time (this depends on the person who meditates, but 2 months seems to be a necessary minimum), will see that thoughts pop up by themselves. Thoughts seem to be related to memory and subtle stimuli, an effect of some sort. Not unlike watching a landscape passing by through the window of a car (as a passenger) where the eye consciously will focus on some details (the effect of watching the landscape and recognizing things or recognizing the unknown), and neglect others.
We identify with our thoughts and have constructed a concept of self, based on our mental activity and the concept that this mental activity has made of itself. This is of course an illusion. We are more than just mental activity, moreover, thoughts pop up based on stimuli and our our past experiences or attraction, and not based on present reality.
Besides, a conceptual world looks like a database, and this database is definitely not reality.
Back to ego …
The concept of ego, has been defined and redefined by so many people in western psychology, that it has become difficult to actually know what is meant by the term. Part of subconsciousness is included. And the word ‘ego’ has very often a negative connotation.
The ego-concept seems to differ from author to author and from person to person. Moreover, some translators of eastern works sometimes use the term ego for something that must necessarily have been something slightly, to entirely different, from whatever definition you have in your conceptual database.
So the concept of ego is flawed. Everyone seems to have a different concept of ego.
The negative light ego gets is evenly flawed. We cannot live on this earth without interpretation and mental activity.
If only we could realize that this world of mental activity is just a mental world and not reality.