Many of the answer given so far are good, but they spring from mystical traditions that many people find frustratingly vague and hard to grasp intuitively. For a change of pace, I will offer a rational/philosophical approach.
If you are familiar with the idea of "dissociative identity disorder" (DID) which was commonly referred to as "multiple personality disorder" (MPD), you can get a good intuitive idea of how the UM can be philosophically explained. The key to DID is a form of amnesia that prevents each personality from recognizing its identity with the other personalities composing the DID person's mind. Consider the classic case of Sybil (played by Sally Field in a 1976 TV movie). She had no memory of being in 5th grade because one of her other personalities was in control during that time. The goal of treatment is to reintegrate the various personalities – to basically merge them all back together to form a single, coherent personality. Thus Sybil would be able to remember being in 5th grade and doing all of the things that her "other personalities" had done during that time. The key concept to understand it that, upon being cured, Sybil would remember BEING there in 5th grade. She would not have memories of 5th grade as if she were merely watching someone else's life, but rather, she would recognize that she herself lived through the experiences.
Most of us do not suffer from DID, so we can remember "being there" at each of our birthday parties, graduating from high school, taking our drivers test, etc. There is a continuity running throughout all of our embodied experiences. We are disconnected in an important way, however, from the experiences of other people. Each of us has our own neural net (our physical brain), and thus I cannot remember being YOU on your 15th birthday, and you cannot remember being ME on my 15th birthday. We can share experiences by talking, but because of the physical separation between your neural net and mine, we cannot directly "be there" in each other's experiences.
Now imagine that some technology or some sort of weird spiritual link allowed our two neural nets to become integrated into a single neural net. We can imagine that this might be analogous to integrating the personalities of a DID person. The "barrier of amnesia" that previously separated us (because our brains were physically separated) now disappears, and we discover that we are actually One person. From this new composite perspective, "I" can remember being there when "I" created the EroticOhio profile for Yahoo Answers, and "I" can remember being there when "I" created the "Sirius" profile. If the theory of a UM is true, then this new ability to remember both perspectives is not an illusion or a delusion. The "I" that remembers being in both places REALLY WAS in both places the whole time; it was only the "barrier of amnesia" created by the separation of our physical brains that created the illusion of our being separate selves. There is really only One Mind, but this Universal Mind "forgets" it's universal nature because of the barriers of amnesia created by the physical separation of neural nets. If, by some technological or spiritual means these barriers of physical separation are removed, then the Universal Mind "wakes up" to discover that "I" was really there in each person's experience all along. The Universal Mind could remember Being Cleopatra, and Being George Washington, and Being Peter Sellers (who stared in the movie "Being There") and so on.
So the relationship between my individual ego and the UM is like the relationship between Sybil's mind prior to being cured, and her mind after being cured of DID. My ego exists only because of barriers of amnesia that prevent me from directly experiencing the fact of my actually BEING THERE in all of the experiences of all minds. If there is such a thing as "higher consciousness" then presumably this would imply that there will be (or maybe there is already) some perspective from which I can recognize my nature as a Universal Mind, and thus can in principle have access to the memories and experiences of beings thought time and space. A "higher consciousness" would be a perspective that is able to integrate multiple minds into a single, composite Mind and thus overcome the barriers of amnesia traditionally enforced by the physical separation of brains.
Things get mystical when we try to understand the deeper metaphysical nature of mind (why there is experience, or existence, at all), but we need not be so mystical when thinking of the relationship between ego and UM. We can discuss much of this on intuitively clear, rational grounds as I have, hopefully, just demonstrated.
Source(s): Sybil: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sybil_%281976_film%29 Dissociative Identity Disorder: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociative_identity... Note: DID is a controversial diagnosis, and there is also great controversy surrounding the story of Sybil (whether she really had multiple personalities, etc.), but none of this matters for what I am trying to explain here. Even if there is really no such thing as DID, and even if the story of Sybil was pure fiction, I would still draw on the story as a form of "intuition pump" that helps us to understand what the idea of a UM might mean in rational terms. The logical possibility of UM does not depend on whether DID is a real phenomena or not.
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