The false ego, ahankara, is when we forget our real identity—the spirit soul—and we think, ‘I am this body, I am this mind, I am the enjoyer,’ and we dedicate our whole life to fulfill the fastidious unquenchable demands of the body and mind. The mind is a material element that is temporarily covering the soul, just as the body is a material element that is temporarily covering the soul. When we purify the mind, then we can also utilize our body in pursuance of truth. But when our mind is conditioned and contaminated by material desires and attachments, forgetfulness of God, then the soul simply becomes servant of the mind rather than using the mind in the service of God.
by Radhanath Swami