What is the essence of man? Is the ego the true essence of man? No. The ego is the essence of one’s personality; it is how each individual interfaces with other people and everything else in this world. However the ego is not the essence of an individual. The essence of an individual is that spark we call consciousness. It is the spark of consciousness that enlivens all animate beings, and is the reason for their existence.
What is this spark, where does it come from, and why do we all possess it? Consciousness cannot not be created or destroyed, because it has always existed. The spark that enlivens you, and every one you know comes from the one great consciousness that we call God. The reason we all possess a piece of this is because God wills it. The mystics have spoken of this as “the One in the many”.
To conceptualize this, try to imagine God as a mirror of infinite size that was broken into countless pieces. Each piece of that mirror is what we call a soul. Each soul is independent of, and has freedom of choice for its actions, but at the same time is still a part of God. Each soul has been sent into the physical worlds to gain experience, through living as an independent individual unaware of its divine connection.
There are a couple of reasons why God did this. First is that God wants each of Its creations to learn lessons and grow. The second reason is that God gets to share each experience that every soul has on its journey as it matures. Every experience you have ever had, whether it is happy or sad, good or evil, has been shared with God. God has shared countless experiences because of Its creation soul.
Physical bodies mean little to God, as they are but overcoats worn by soul as it learns and grows. God is only concerned with Its beloved creation soul, and its continued growth. Each person should learn to identify them self as soul, a spark of consciousness, and not with their physical body, or their ego. Each person has been given that spark for all eternity, and it is the true essence of each person. The physical body is temporal, and will change from lifetime to lifetime, but your true self is eternal.
So is God.