You say the ego is false, please tell me a) how that was ascertained, and b) how the ego came into existence?
For a) I think ET does a pretty good job on explaining the illusion and falsity of the ego in both of his books, and also John Welwood in "Toward a Psychology of Awakening, first third. For b), below is a small piece I wrote about a year ago -- just my theorizing...
The History of the Ego
Sense of Self is the set of behaviors, habits, preferences, styles of being, etc. that our organism has learned and adopted since birth that remains after awakening. For Nisargadatta it included smoking, for Adya, it includes bike riding and sky-diving. For Ramana it included cooking and reading. Self-realization does not mean the end of personality, lifestyle and uniqueness.
Ego, or the fundamental “I-thought” is the misconception that those unique elements of behavior, and habitual thinking actually constitute a substantial independent identity, a “me” that is the final and ultimate essence of who we are. As a form of species and individual self-protection, those responses to environment, those habits and instincts, combined with the biological drive and competition inherent in life forms, was natural, organic and essential.
Societies formed to make life easier for groups of people. But competition and survival within the group was still normal. Survival changed from avoiding saber-toothed tigers and other natural challenges to finding a place or position in the group, extended family, clan or tribe which was safe, and if possible, contributed to the well-being of the group. That need encouraged establishment of an identity based on the needs of the group, and the natural inclinations of the organism. (To over-simplify: men are strong, outward focused, mechanically inclined, more able to till fields, and kill animals for food. Women have stronger feelings for living things, maternal instincts, and are more intuitive and inwardly inclined.) People began to build identities as members of a society, starting with natural animal instincts. Each organism (homo sapiens) could observe all this going on in others and began a natural application of that observation to itself. Even today, in humans, a sense of “self-awareness” begins to form around age 1-1/2 – largely identified with the body. Of course, adults encourage identity formation in their children for many reasons: 1) they love them and they know that an observable identity will be honored by the group, 2) having a child who quickly conforms to some normal role in the group makes parenting easier, 3) they know that a child who “fits in” well will have adopted a "healthy self-image, aka "'ego-strength'" which aligns somehow, somewhere with the needs and expectations of society, etc…
So laws, institutions, traditions, collective habits all encourage development of a “self-identity” which conforms to the basic model (be it a clan or cavemen/cavewomen or an entire civilization.) Ego-drive is considered a strength. Healthy egos remain normal for developing men and women today, as a rule. Eckhart Tolle suggests that most Western men and women have a strong conditioned ego which is too deeply rooted to be dissolved at all by any continuous practice until about age 30. His personal shift was sudden and disorienting and required years of study, reflection and practice before it was abiding.
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After a relatively stable society was able to form, and languages allowed communication, larger questions remained obvious: “What are we doing here? Who am I? What is the sun, why are there animals, why do we die, what is fire, why are there sexes, what are feelings for, What is time, What is love, what is life, what is matter, what is energy?” They go on and on.
The concepts of God or gods arose as answers. Higher beings. These conceptual institutions have tended to have human or animal form, of course, because that is what people knew. Stories also got started and written down. These stories became the answers…”Our answers.” (Since other people’s stories had different answers.)
But the stories usually had an anthropomorphic being as an essential part or parts. Of course that further encourages egos: “Zeus is like this – he is strong, he can create things and influence human lives, he is male, he has a wife, he lives forever. There are other gods too. Be like them.” Archetypes formed also – across cultures (cf. Joseph Campbell). These archetypes arose as men and women began to create ideals and perfect models representing certain behaviors, further validating identity based on a set of desirable or at least representative behaviors. Consensus in societies reinforced these models.
At the root of it is the transition from “sense of self” to “egoic me.” The difficulty is the challenge to the individual by unconscious egoic people. In an ignorant society, tacitly approving of big egoic self-identities, young people need personal strength for protection and a basic self-image. And their primitive sense of Pure Awareness got buried in the early avalanche of thought and word-based structures…they had to build a “me-story” to deal with the powerful physical and sociological imperatives they ran into.
We discover thoughts really early -- particularly if we have intelligent parents. They like to encourage thinking because it’s a good tool for earning money, and enjoyment, and fitting in, and “winning.” Yes, associating thoughts and discovering concepts and math and laws of nature and use of language is fun. Other people, also thought fans, love you for it. Thinking can even be a source of intimacy. People pay you to use your thoughts and mind to serve them. And naturally you take that big mind full of thoughts and “think” about yourself and your experiences and begin to identify with your thinking skills. And then you go to school and get exposed to the big international thought machine. Wow, is that cool. And you are hooked – you become “me, the thinker,” by age six. Or as Descartes says, “I think, therefore I am.” Soon you are a little thought-engine just like everybody else. Thinking is encouraged everywhere – and beliefs are introduced: “Conserve energy,” “love your neighbor,” etc….
And you use your own personal thought engine to look at yourself. “I” becomes an increasingly complex collection of personal observations which are all qualifications of the “I-thought.” And “I” becomes a multi-dimensional structure of thoughts. A “personality” forms – habits form, behaviors repeat and you forge an identity – built by your mind, encouraged by society and much literature and some music. In this long process – say 25 years, awareness” and “the present moment” get shuffled aside as trivial.
Whoops. But that’s all you really knew, really experienced for sure!! Remember??? Everything else is a big layer of conventional behavior and thinking.
The problem is that transmogrifying our “sense of self” into a personal, separate identity was false, unnecessary, un-natural and isolating.
----- Enlightenment -----
Bad term. A better one is “Re-awakening.” Or “recalling Pure Awareness.” All forms of matter are as aware as they can be. Trees never lose their level of awareness, neither do birds nor flowers. But you can. After you have formed your egoic identity, it takes on a life of its own. But it is an artifact, a set of memories, patterns and individual quirks all bound together by the stream of consciousness – thought after thought – forever.
We forget that, at birth, we had not learned how to think, or even see. But we were aware – in fact that is all we were: aware. Enlightenment is a return to that fundamental and unequivocal certainty – we were and we remain Pure Awareness. And that awareness is a shared thing…we all have it, and it is the same awareness, the same vibrant liveliness. Because our sense of separation ends at our center of awareness, how can we not love all of it – when we love another, we love ourself, and vice-versa.
After we realize, or re-realize that truth, we understand that the “I-thought” was the beginning of duality, of separation and opposition. We see that it is just a thought – kind of like the “you-thought,” or the “tree-thought,” but way more complex. Another compelling difference is that the observations leading us to the “I-thought” take place within our very personal body/mind. And since thoughts form so naturally when they are nourished by our family and society, they intrude very early on in our lives. And that intrusion and over-valuing of thinking, particularly conceptual thinking, suppresses the initial awareness of Presence, of Source. Moreover, the early and undeserved promotion of mind obscures and disables the evolution of our natural Pure Awareness. That process has to restart after awakening.
Even after awakening, the initial conscious redirection of attention from the unmanifest to the manifest occurs as a thought. Unconscious manifestation (say, breathing or heart-beating or compassion) is natural and occurs in Presence. After awakening, however, while thoughts exist, they are not “my” thoughts. Another person in the same room, given the same problem or event, might have the same thought. Furthermore, there is no “me” to identify with thoughts. Because thoughts are the essential tool for maya, for managing duality, it’s understandable that, in our youth, we might identify with their toolbox, the mind. It’s unfortunate that the designer of the toolbox, and the universe in which it resides got obscured in the temporal world of our senses and the narrow perspective of the gameboard.
Time to step outside the envelope. Time to step outside of all envelopes. Time to step outside of time. Then we can go back and play…and know that we may appear to be the gamepiece, but we are actually the game designer, too.
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce