People defend the ego because they believe they are the ego. This is the normal, unawakened state of consciousness in the world today. The awakened ones are different in that we’ve noticed that we are not the voice in our heads. We are that being observing the voice, the thoughts, and everything else in this world.
When a person says, for example, “I can’t stand myself anymore” or “I don’t know what to do with myself”; you might ask who is the “I” and who is the “self”? The answer is simple: the self we refer to is the ego, while the “I” is the true identity—the I am. To spiritually awaken is to identify with the I and not the self.
The voice in the head is mostly insane. Imagine spending one whole day saying everything that runs through your head out loud. It doesn’t matter how smart or successful you are, people would not want to spend time with you.
Normal people don’t speak every thought out loud, but they do act on those thoughts. Naturally, if you believe the voice in the head is you, you want to stay true to yourself and you do what it tells you to do. But to be led by the ego is a dangerous and ineffective way to live—a path without wisdom that leads to unnecessary failure and suffering.
The mind does what it does, but you don’t have to respond to it or let emotions flow from thoughts. You can learn to recognize the negative and fearful ones simply as ego. When I talk about escaping the ego, it doesn’t mean that all the ego’s thoughts disappear completely. It means that we observe the thoughts and recognize them for what they are—just the functioning of the mind.
There’s nothing wrong with the mind, but we are not our minds. We can meditate—which is to learn not to constantly think and not to chase thoughts. What is left during those brief moments when there is no thought—that’s the essence of who we are. We continue tomorrow and each day after that.