Ego is our personality self, which is essential to survive in our world. As infants (and perhaps in the womb itself), we start noticing which behaviour patterns and modes of self-expression are appreciated/ accepted and which ones are rejected by our parents. We retain those behaviours which are appreciated, and they become our 'primary selves' or the 'operating ego'. We reject all those beviours ...and self-expressions that are rejected by our parents (and thus a threat to our survival) and these become our 'disowned' secondary selves, which live in our 'sub-conscious', but burst to the surface at most inopportune moments, making us feel guilty. We all know, 'whatever we supress, we bring into our life. Whatever we resist persists'.
Our 'primary selves' together reprepresent various 'personality masks' we wear. We have been told that if we remove these 'masks' (or annihilate/ transcend our ego) we will find what is already there..........our Real Self... and that is true. Everyone knows that if we are wearing a mask, our face gets hidden, but the moment we un-mask ourself, our 'self' gets revealed. Simple.
The difficult part is this 'un-masking'. Our masks/ personality/ operating ego has been built bit by bit to protect ourselves and help us survive in this world. It covers all our 'inner fears'. and that's a great job, mind you. Hiding/ suppressing our fears takes a lot of our energy, and the operating ego is forever enganged in this job, in our self-interest; otherwise, we would be 'exposed' (un-masked) and we don't want that to happen!
So, what is the solution? One simple and often used solution is wearing a super mask..........that of spirituality/ Godliness. After wearing this mask, we think we have done away with our ego; and all is well. This is the ego's biggest triumph, and it can't stop laughing.
All seems well for a while, but we can't really 'escape' from ourselves; as always our supressed and disowned 'sub-personalities' do come up every now and then.......but oh, no...we are spiritual people, who have transcended/ annihilated/ done away with our ego, how can we 'own' these 'demons' inside us? So, we start projecting them onto others (usually our nearest and dearest ones). Thus we become the saints and they become the villains......not letting us progress on the path!!! That's why we feel wonderful in 'satsangs' but horrible in real world.....This is all ego's drama. The 'ego' that we disown. This time is also known as the 'dark night of the soul'.....and we all 'fear' it.
Many of us stay stuck in this dark night, wearing more masks to hide new fears. But some brave ones feel enough is enough and start looking the fear in its eyes...taking the bull by its horns! and for the first time, they start 'owning' their disowned/ rejected/ well hidden sub-personalities.........the vulnerable self/ or the inner child.
As we start owning our sub-personalities, more and more start showing up (again, some of us tighten our masks, but some carry on) (ego at each step tries its best to invent new masks). Those who carry on embracing the 'sub-personalities' learn that it is safe to be vulnerable. and that is when the fears lose their stranglehold. This stage can be equated to Mahaveer's being 'naked'.........as there is nothing to fear in this nakedness, which symbolizes complete 'owning' of our inner shame (caused by our suppressed sub-personalities).
This new personality/ ego, which owns ALL aspects of self is known as the 'aware ego'.......when we operate through 'aware ego' we live in 24x7 'awareness' (having made 'conscious' all our aspects). and this is what is meant by transcending our 'operating ego'........
Aware ego is sans all masks. It is fearless. It can face itself and the world courageously. And when all the masks drop down, the Real Self emerges.......which is an Awakened Genuine Human Being........full of kindness, compassion, and unconditional love........That is the God Principle in us.