It comes down to this: does believing there is a “you” that exists, rather than just “you”-ness patterns, lead to less suffering or more suffering?
I think the idea of the ego as an emergent phenomena is perfectly apt, and it’s an indication of there being “you”-ness, because there is no external soul “causing” things to happen; rather, nature happens and the ego emerges organically.
If the ego experience is an emergent property of the whole of nature, then it cannot control the whole of nature.
It’s like a whirlpool trying to control the ocean. Such a task doesn’t even make sense. What is there to control, or be controlled? It’s one integreted system; division is placed for scientific usefulness, not because it actually exists.
It seems there is no way to separate the mind from the brain. The mind is what the brain does, like how breathing is what the lungs do. If we step back from the common Western view of mind-body duality, and look with the more consistent view of nonduality, then mind=body.
If the body comes from nature, and nature is connected with all of itself, then your body is connected with the black hole at the center of the galaxy (gravitationally, at least). If mind=body, then, counterintuitive as it may seem if entrenched in the Western view of mind-body separateness, what you really are is not the body, but all of nature itself.
If mind=body and body=nature, then mind=nature. These are not arrows; they are equals signs.
The awareness reading this is not “contained” in that ape. The awareness reading this is the totality of nature. All of the interactions of the environment have led to you being right where you are, reading these words right here.
The ape is a whirlpool in the ocean, but do not think that you’re only that ape. You are the ocean. You are nature; all of it.
The illusion is that separation is real. Separation is made up.
The beauty is that once you realize you are nature and not a lone ape, you are free to live in the present, to live in reality rather than in imagined worlds of what “should” happen. By not resisting what is happening you transcend suffering.
If you have the illusion of being just the whirlpool, you will resist the ocean. Resistance is suffering.
Pain may come and go, but suffering, inner conflict, can disappear when you realize that you are nature, not a lone ape.