Thought Bite: Ego

Oftentimes people think that to make progress on the Yoga path one must destroy his/her ego. But such a view is not accurate. The ego, or ahamkara in Sanskrit, is the function of our antar karana (inner instrument) that identifies with every-thing as having to do with "me." To live and function in a body, this ego is necessary, so that we do what is needed to keep our body alive and healthy. Destroying the ego would make it hard to function at all.

But although necessary, the ego has a downside. An out of balance ego can cause one to identify with things, want more things, and attach more and more to the body, rather than with the true self. 

So making progress on the Yoga path requires not destroying, but rather refining the ego. According to Swami Rama, "Ego can be a means but it is not the end. If you refine your ego it will become a means to know the reality. You should use your ego as you use your shoes. Your shoes are useful for you if you use them until they are worn out. They are of no use for you if you polish them and put them in the cupboard. ...  Either you should learn to wear out your ego as you wear out your shoes in the external world, or you should polish it and sharpen it so that ego becomes a means for Self-realization. Both things are possible when you start to become aware of the reality behind ego." Swami Rama, Sadhana, The Path to Enlightenment, Pp. 240.