What is the ego?
The ego is the ego. It’s zazen … as in “Know thyself.” I am always saying, You must understand the ego . . …. and in the end, there is no ego, the ego has no substance. Where are you going to locate this substance? In the nose? The brain? The navel? The head? Hard to say. In the mind? But what is the mind? It has become a problem, the biggest problem of psychology, philosophy, and religion.
I have explained that we have no noumenon, no permanent substance. The ego changes with every second that goes by; yesterday’s ego, today’s ego … they’re not the same. Our body changes, our cells change too. When you take a bath, for example, all the dead cells of your skin are washed away. Our brain, our mind changes; that of the adult is not the same as it was in the child. So where does the ego exist? It is one with the cosmos. It is not only the body, the mind, but it is God, Buddha, the fundamental cosmic force.
To find eternity is not egotism; it is truth, true noumenon. That is the true religion we must create. Our life is connected to the cosmic power and stands in a relation of interdependence with all other existences. We cannot live by ourselves, we are dependent upon nature, air, water. So we must not become selfish… That is the great satori. It is useless to be egotistical because every ego is in a relationship of interdependence with the world and with all things.
So there is no need to keep things for oneself. That is very important. In his Essays, Montaigne wrote that everybody else was always looking outward, but he wanted to look within. It is necessary to turn your eyes inward, even though most people only look outside. Today more than ever before we must look into ourselves. To look at an object is easy, to look at the subject is not so easy.