The way I would work with the term ego, is that it’s a structure of mind that organizes the universe particularly around the relationships of separateness. It’s in the domain of separateness. It is the steering mechanism for you as a separate entity. So it’s like there are two mechanisms going on in you, and you could equate them to the head and the heart at one level, although that’s a little shoddy, there is the intellect, or the conceptual structures of the mind, there is a mechanism. It’s a steering mechanism for keeping you as a separate entity surviving and functioning within the universe, within this world, and on this plane.
Then there’s the other part of you. The Atman, the heart, the intuitive wisdom, that merges, that goes out and balances and flows, and what gives away everything and doesn’t care, and it’s like this kind of unconditional lover.
So you develop the ego-structure around the two. You don’t destroy the ego, you merely turn from identifying with it, to instead having it as a functional unit. So, there are two planes and when you have this type of ego structure for orienting yourself and functioning on this plane, it is still going to be functional when you’re not identified with it. You have the ego and see it as being, as Swami Vivekenanda said, “A lousy master, but a wonderful servant.”
The art is to convert it into being a servant, while always remembering that the ego structure is a fear-love dichotomy set up with the Atman. The ego itself is not built on love, because it’s built on the fear of non-survival. It’s a beautiful instrument unless you become identified with it all the time, in which case you are always fearful, which leads to you making decisions that are a little inappropriate, because they’re colored by your looking from inside this place. When you’re outside of it, you see you use your ego as you need, to make decisions.
You go in and out of it, and that’s really the beauty of playing with the ego and higher consciousness, and it’s only when those two planes work that the ego becomes functional.