The ego feels rather lonely and, at the same time, keeps busy trying to defend itself. It finds that it consists of a collection of desires, expectations, ideas, conclusions, memories, and many other things. This collection is too complicated for the ego to grasp; therefore, it conveniently constructs “I am” or “I am the ego” and puts this label on itself as if it were a real individual entity. Having found a name for itself, the ego has to constantly work to secure itself, because fundamentally it knows that it is not real and sound.
From “Nonviolence ” in Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery, page 45.