Nisargadatta Maharaj: When is there an ego? The ego is there when you have certain reactions. You take delivery of whatever is observed spontaneously. You cling to it, register it, then only is there an ego.
You see some building material lying on the road – you think that you are a carpenter and you start figuring how to use that material; the thought process has started, ego starts. If you are nobody, you will not bother about the building material – you will just observe it and go your way. Once it is out of sight it is out of mind; but when you receive that delivery, you cogitate over it, ego has started.
Visitor: So when it comes to the utility of what is seen, that’s when the ego comes into being?
N: Yes, that is its nature.