Who are You?
To understand the ego, let us look at the following conversation:
A young man asked a monk, ‘What is ego?’
The monk in turn asked him, ‘Who are you?’
‘Well,’ replied the young man, giving his name, ‘Mohan’.
‘I am not asking your name; I want to know who are you?’ countered the monk.
‘I am a student’, said the young man.
‘But that is your present station or “profession” in life; my question is – who are you?”
The young man thought for a while and then said, ‘ I am the son of so-and-so.’
‘That is your relation with your parents,’ smiled the monk.
‘I am a Bengali’, said the young man.
‘That is your mother-tongue’
‘I am a Hindu and an Indian.’
‘That is your religion and your nationality.’
‘I am a human being,’ the young man reached his wit’s end.
‘Now, you are referring to the species – the Homo sapiens. Who are you?’
The young man had nothing more to say.
‘Well, that what Vedanta teaches,’ continued the monk,
The Vedanta says that man, i.e., man’s deepest core or substance within, is unconditioned by any description and that unconditioned substance is called Atman or Self. The Atman is what a man is. Ego is what he appears to be. Atman is true, ego is false. Atman is never born nor dies; ego comes into being through ignorance and dies when knowledge dawns in a person.