Bruce Hood, Professor at the Univerisity of Bristol makes the point, early in “The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity”, that though the ” daily experience of our self is so familiar,” “brain science shows that this sense of our self is an illusion.”
He writes: “Psychologist Susan Blackmore makes the point that the word “illusion” does not mean that it does not exist — rather, an illusion is not what it seems. We all certainly experience some form of self, but what we experience is a powerful deception generated by our brains for our own benefit.”
In an piece titled “The Illusion of the Self”, Matthieu Ricard explains a central teaching from the Buddha. The self, Matthieu writes is “a mental or verbal designation attached to the body and the consciousness. The self is merely an idea.”
In “Talks with Ramana Maharshi”, we hear the sage explain (Talk No. 195) the Vedanta’s position on this — a voice that, like the Buddha’s, is an echo from centuries ago.
“The ego, if sought, will vanish automatically….The ego is the root-thought from which all other thoughts arise.”
Matthieu makes the illuminating observation that the ego is not “really our deepest essence” and we need have no “apprehension about dropping it,” because “ridding ourselves of it is not ripping the heart out of our being, but simply opening our eyes.”
This “ridding” results in “inner freedom, strength and openness to others” — and, “the flourishing of altruistic love and compassion, rooted in wisdom.”