What is the difference between being oneself and being egoless?
There is no difference between being oneself and being egoless. The difference is only in the expression. If you see it from the negative standpoint, egolessness will be the expression because ego disappears.
If you see it from the positive standpoint then being oneself will be the expression.
They are just two ways of saying the same thing, but they are not two things so there is no distinction.
And always remember that every experience can be expressed in two ways and they appear so different that it seems as if there are two things. And great thinkers have been quarreling about it, great philosophies have arisen out of the insistence that these are two things.
For example, Mahavira prefers to express it in the positive way, being oneself. Gautam Buddha prefers the negative way, egolessness. Both have their merits and demerits.
When you say “being oneself” there is a danger that you may mistake your ego for your being. Being oneself may become your egoistic standpoint. That is dangerous.
On the other hand, describing the experience as egolessness has no challenge in it, no excitement in it. It is emptiness, nothingness, negativity. Very few people will be attracted towards the negative. The negative expression may close the doors for them. But the negative way has a beauty in that it will not allow in any way – from the front door or from the back door – the possibility of the ego.
So for the ignorant people, it is better to describe it as egolessness because they are accustomed to their ignorance.
But for those who know, being oneself does not mean ego; being oneself means egolessness, but it is only for those who know.
My own approach is that egolessness is the way to reach the experience of being oneself. So they don’t appear two, and both are combined, and the merits of both are together.