Eckhart Tolle uses the word Ego to describe a conceptual identity, created in the mind and maintained there by a more or less constant stream of thought, thoughts about past and future events, mundane or extraordinary, triumph and defeat and the positive/negative emotions accompanying them. This is what many people see as themselves, the Ego passing through time grasping for pleasure, attention, praise, acknowledgement, success, fame, money, power, safety, refuge domination and above all thinking thinking thinking.
Parallel and complementary to this conceptual identity is the Nation-State. We are encouraged to identify with an entity that may exist geographically but is more a communal mental construct marked by a flag, national anthem, economic theory, a story – founding fathers, defining wars of defense or liberation, evolving values, etc.
Both of these interacting conceptual identities, to perpetuate themselves, are invested in convincing you that they ARE you. Tolle claims that this is the heart of dysfunction, luring us down a path toward extinction. The Ego is a short-term thinker, interested only in its own immediate maintenance, safety and glory. Consequences beyond the short term are not relevant, thus the life system is a dumping ground for poisonous chemicals, the population grows without regard to sustainability, fairness and justice are obstacles to gratification.
The Nation State is the communal version of the Ego. Individuals within this setting are variously captured by Ego thus the conflict between those who on whatever level, intuite or recognize the ego-guided drift toward catastrophe and those locked in denial. For the latter, recognizing the threat would require behavioral change not acceptable to Ego – completely rational for it is the ego who will need to go extinct in order for homo sapien to avoid that fate. A shift in the ratio of time spent in mind chatter versus consciousness, is necessary, a shift from domination by thought/emotion toward an awakened state of presence. This shift is toward reality for the only reality is now – past and future are thoughts and thought, though it is a useful tool, as master is an obstacle to experiencing life beyond the narrow mental construct. Beyond the mental construct is an interconnected reality whose profound beauty is accessible only via presence, which feeling awareness dissolves the ferocious values of a fear-based culture.