False ego is what makes us think that our self and our external body are one and the same. The reality is that we are all spiritual. We don't die. Without understanding that, we think, "This body is who I am." We think our temporary bodily labels—white, black, tall, short, young, old, man, woman—apply to us.
We're made of spiritual energy, which means that we're eternal and conscious. Spiritual energy is superior to the temporary, unconscious matter our bodies are made of. False ego is the most subtle feature of the inferior, material energy. It's the the very point of contact between spirit and matter. It's what keeps us tied to repeated births and deaths.
Funhouse mirror photo by Jan Messersmith.