Ego has no real substance. It is just a shadow. Someone may be proud of their slim body, or a muscular body, but what is this body anyways? Our body is made of five basic elements: earth, water, air, fire and ether. How can we be proud of it then? The elements do not belong to us! Similarly, everything that we know through our mind and intellect has been acquired from somewhere. So, how can we be proud of borrowed information?
A guru is egoless because guru knows the eternal truth. Guru knows the truth that you are Brahman. You may not know this, but the guru does. Hence the guru never sees you as a petty man or a woman. Guru always sees you as Brahman. It is just a game which the Brahman is playing of being an ignorant Jiva. Guru says, ‘Let us play the game. You are playing the role of a disciple and I of the guru.’ The disciple feels indebted to the guru for the grace, knowledge, wisdom, love and compassion, but for the guru it is just a divine play.
Our body is made of trillions of cells but what is there that you can claim to be ‘yours’? Where is the place for this ‘I’? What did you create? It is the colony of the cells and the counterpart germ cells which are living inside the body and if they decide to stop working, then you die. When you see the body as it is and when you begin to see the things around you as they are, where is the place for ego then? We need to use our wisdom to understand the foolishness of the ego, and once this happens, then there is no ego - that’s how simple it is!
You have not seen your mind and yet you consider all the emotions, thoughts and perceptions of the mind as ‘me’. If I ask you to locate the mind in your body, can you do that? You can’t find where the mind is, so how will you find the ego? Go deeper into the constituents of the body and the mind and the more you go deep into it, you will find nothingness. In Buddhism it is called shoonyata - emptiness. But Vedanta goes one step further and says: don’t miss the fact that the emptiness too, is witnessed by some entity; else how would one know it?
Your dreams seem so real to you. You can see your departed relatives, you can fly in the sky, you can dive in the ocean like a fish and suddenly you become a horse and then you are back to being a woman or a man. When you wake up, you pass it off as a dream, as unreal. What seems to be real is not real and what seems to be real has not been seen, and that is what the state of agyana (ignorance) is. And that is what builds up our ego. Vedantic student goes deeper into these mechanisms to understand that this ‘I’ is nowhere to be found.
We have a body-mind-subconscious-intellect unit and then there is the ego who says ‘I am experiencing all this’. Sum total is the body-mind-subconscious-intellect unit and you consider this as ‘I am’. ‘I am so wise’, you say, but the wise thoughts were in the mind and not in you. ‘I am so handsome’, but the beauty is in the body. When the body is cremated, what is left? Ashes. When you separate yourself from the body-mind unit and become a witness of all the happenings, there will be no place left for the ego at all.