Ignorance and Self-enquiry
The mind is a creation of avidya! (ignorance) and it is the effect of avidya. The mind is filled with delusion this is why it tempts you and makes you go astray. If you can destroy the cause of the mind by getting knowledge of the supreme self, the mind is nowhere; it dwindles into an airy nothing.
The whole experience of duality, made up of perceiver and perceived, is pure imagination. There is no ignorance apart from the mind. On the destruction of the mind, all is destroyed. The mind's activity is the cause of all appearance. On account of illusion you think that the outside objects are separate from you and real.
As long as there is mind there are all these distinctions big and small, high and low, superior and inferior, good and bad, etc., but the highest truth is that there is no relativity. If you can transcend the mind by constant and profound meditation on atman you will be able to attain a state beyond the pairs of opposites wherein lies supreme peace and highest knowledge.
The first thought is the 'I-thought' (READ NOTE BELOW). As this 'I-thought' is the base of all other thoughts, egoism is the seed for the mind. The idea of 'I' brings in its train the idea of time, space and other potencies. With these environments, the name 'jiva' (soul) accrues to it. And contemporaneously with it there arise buddhi (intellect), memory and manas (mind) which is the seed of the tree of desire.
You cannot realize God if you have the slightest trace of egoism, or attachment to name and form, or the least tinge of worldly desire in the mind. Try to minimize egoism little by little. Root it out by self-sacrifice, by karma yoga, by self-surrender, or by vedantic self-enquiry. Whenever egoism asserts itself, raise the question within yourself: "What is the source of this little 'I"? Again and again ask this question and, as you remove layer after layer, the onion dwindles to nothing. Analyze the little 'I' and it becomes a nonentity.
The ego is the Lord for whose entertainment the dance is performed and the objects of the senses are his companions. The intellect is the dancing girl and the senses are the persons who play on the instruments which accompany the dance. The shaksi (witnessing soul) is the lamp which illumines the scene. Just as the lamp, without moving from its place, furnishes light to all parts so too, the saksi from its unchangeable position illumines everything situated inside or outside.
The ‘I-thought is the expression of the egoic energy in the thinking mind. This ego-energy is crystallized in our astral body and like a virus uses body, vital energy mind and intellect for its own purposes creating inumerable pain and suffering. The egoic energy has rajasic and tamasic nature and it is a modification of the vital and sexual energy.
The main expressions of this egoic energy are:
1. Identification with the body. The strong sense that ’I am the body’ or’ the body is me’
2. Desire for sense pleasure (mainly for sex, food, drink, and sensual objects in general), possessions (money etc.), power, fame and name
3. All psychological disorders or defects such as fear, anger, jealousy, envy, impatience, depression, hypocrisy, hatred, etc.
4. The egoic energy is the root-cause of all pairs of opposites: Like-dislike, attraction-repulsion, fascination/disappointment etc.
All the above together constitute what we call ego or egoism.
Read more essays about the nature of ego:
~ Nityananda Atman