Sunday, 10 September 2017 01:19

The Real Self is Light

Written by 

To Africans:

If you talk to Africans you quickly find out that the philosophy they are operating under was propagated by their ancestors. Those ideas were conceived by people who had no idea of modern science.  Clearly, Africans have to update their ideas of life and what life means to them.  I am a philosopher. I have synthesized the philosophies of the West and East. From that effort I have posited what our real selves are. The below 25 pages essay is part of my efforts to understand the self. It is now time that we modernized Africans self-concepts and got Africans to think in modern scientific terms. I hope that this piece would help Africans (and all people...the lecture was given to a white audience) begin to see themselves in a different light than their present prescientific light.

THE REAL SELF IS LIGHT

This is a two hours lecture on the nature of the self

Ozodi Thomas Osuji

Introduction:

Many of us want to know what our real self is. In trying to understand what our real self is I had to take a look at many sources that could shade light on it?  I had to look at what science says, what psychology says, what the various religions said about it. Having looked at these various sources of knowledge I did a little thinking of my own and eventually synthesized what I learned.  Before we get to my personal view on the nature of the self, I am going to provide us with a synopsis of what I gleaned from the various sources I examined.

COSMOLOGY'S IDEAS ON THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE AND HUMAN BEINGS

Contemporary cosmology, building on astrophysics, tells us that 13.8 billion years ago, out of nowhere and nothing a point of light appeared. That point of light was smaller than a particle. Please visualize the size of a particle.

An atom has the particles of electrons, neutrons and protons in it. There are thousands of atoms in the period at the end of this sentence. Multiple that by three and you begin to get an idea of how small a particle is. Yet, that small particle became all that there is in our universe!

A particle of light emerged out of nowhere and shattered into smithereens, exploded into fragments; each fragment is a photon.  Two or more photons combined into an electron. Two or more photons combined into a quark.

Quarks combined to form protons and neutrons. By the end of the first three minutes of the universe's existence, Steven Weinberg tells us that protons and neutrons had combined into nuclei (of the simplest elements, such as hydrogen).

I am jumping the gun. Let us go back a bit. When photons transformed themselves to matter, that is, to electrons and quarks, protons and neutrons, they also transformed to the opposite of matter, anti-matter; that is, to anti-quarks, positrons, anti-protons and anti-neutrons.

Matter and anti-matter clashed, attacked each other and were supposed to have annihilated each other and returned to radiation (photons).

For some reason(s) for every billion particles of anti-matter produced by the early universe a billion and one particles of matter were formed. Thus, when they attacked each other particles of matter remained.

The remaining particles of matter apparently combined to form the basis of a matter based universe.

Here is a question: why did the early universe produce more particles of matter than particles of anti-matter? Physics would predict that the universe ought to have produced the same amount of matter and anti-matter so that they annihilated themselves and returned to radiation and thus aborted the existence of the incipient matter based universe or produced a universe composed of only photons.

Nobody can really answer this question. The standard speculation given is that it seemed like a matter based universe insisted on coming into being and produced accidents that made its existence possible.

A series of accidents, as we shall shortly see, made the existence of the universe possible. These seeming accidents are called anthropic cosmological principle.

Another anthropic accident is what happened to gravity. The exploded particles had to travel away from each other at a speed exceeding the speed of light (186, 000 miles per second) to avoid been pulled back, collapsing to themselves and thus ended the early universe. The particles travelled at what physicists call inflation rate.

Alan Goth has tried to explain why this took place; his explanations are in the nature of conjectures; they are not yet verified science; all we need to note here is that particles traveled at speed exceeding the speed of light, a speed that Albert Einstein had told us that nothing in the universe exceeds. Why so? No one has explained it to our satisfaction other than say that inflation made it possible for the universe to exist; if inflation had not occurred matter would have collapsed back to the point of singularity (oneness, the original point of light that contained everything before it exploded).

Talking about nothing traveling more than the speed of light how do we explain the non-local behavior of entangled particles? In 1935 Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen (EPR Paradox) performed a thought experiment in which they concluded that if two or more particles are entangled, made to contact each other and later on separated and placed at the opposite ends of the universe  and one of them is touched and reacts the others would react instantaneously. They called it spooky action at a distance. In 1962 the Irish Physicist, John Bell provided mathematics for this phenomenon. In 1982 the French physicist, Alan Aspect actually performed experiment that proved that the phenomenon is real. This shows that particles can travel instantaneously, beyond the speed of light or shows that there is no space and time between them; it raises the possibility that all particles are in one spot and that space, time and matter are illusions that seem to exist but do not, in fact, exist!

By the end of the first three minutes of the universe's existence, Steven Weinberg tells us, in a book by that title, that the universe contained electrons and nuclei (protons and neutrons) and unattached, free photons.

I should pause and add that what Weinberg and other cosmologists did in explaining the origin of the universe is extrapolate from the findings  of classical and  new physics, especially quantum mechanics and use those to explain how the universe came about. There is no way that they could have explained the Big Bang origin of the universe if they had not studied  the findings of such physicists as Nicolas Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Christian Huygens, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Thomas Young, Michael Faraday, James Clark Maxwell, Ludwig Boltzmann, J.J. Thompson, Henri Becquerel, Rontgen, Marie and Pierre Curie, Max Plank,  Albert Einstein,  Ernest Rutherford, Neil Bohr, Louis Broglie, Arthur Eddington, Max Born, Werner Heisenberg, Emil Schrodinger, Paul Dirac, James Chadwick,  Lise Meitner, Otto Hahn, Strassman, Enrico Fermi, Thomas Oppenheimer, Alexander Friedman, George Lemaitre, Edwin Hubble, Fred Hoyle,  George Gamow,  Hugh Everett, Murray Gell-Mann, Eugene Wigner, James Wheeler and others. If you do not know what these great physicists discovered please read up on them; I do not have the time to go over their works here. (I reviewed the works of these great minds in a book on the ideas that changed the world.)

The universe stayed this way, plasma, for 400, 000 years. Thereafter, nuclei captured electrons and atoms were formed.

The first atoms formed were the simplest elements: hydrogen, helium, and, perhaps, lithium. The capturing of electrons by nuclei freed unattached photons; those photons sped off in all directions.

In 1965, Arnold Penzias and Robert Wilson working at Bell Laboratory at New Jersey heard some weird sound in their equipment and examined its source and discovered that it is microwave radiation from the 400, 000 year mark of the universe; they had picked up the photons that sped off when nuclei captured electrons (you can see this cosmic background microwave radiation when you turn your television from one station to another; it is the wavy lines with interesting sound on the TV's screen).

Thus, we now have a universe composed of a dense sea of hydrogen and some helium and free photons. The universe remained this way for a few million years.

Thereafter, another one of those anthropic events occurred. The dense sea of hydrogen separated into clumps. There were now trillions of clumps of hydrogen, each separated from others by space and time.

On each clump of hydrogen gravity acted; that is, it was pressured inwards. In the middle of the clump, its core, pressure and high temperature led hydrogen to fuse into helium. That is, stars are born.

Stars are clumps of hydrogen in whose core pressure and temperature lead to the fusion of helium and light and heat are given off as by products. The English astrophysicist, Fred Hoyle explained the fusion process inside stars; this is also called nucleosynthesis.

The fusion process is rather complex but for our present purpose what is salient is that hydrogen combines to form helium.

If you recall from your chemistry's periodic table, each element is composed of electrons, protons and neutrons. Hydrogen is the simplest element and has one electron circling a nuclei with only one proton in it (some forms of hydrogen, called isotopes, have neutrons; they are deuterium with one neutron and tritium with two neutrons).

Elements are atoms differentiated from each other by the number of electrons, protons and neutrons they contain. Helium has two electrons, two protons and two neutrons; carbon has six electrons, six protons and six neutrons; oxygen has eight electrons, eight protons and eight neutrons. Elements keep increasing their compositions of these particles until we get to the heaviest element, uranium with 92 electrons, 92 protons and 146 neutrons.

Thus, now we have a universe composed of trillions of stars. These stars grouped themselves into galaxies. There are, at least, 200 billion galaxies and each galaxy has about 200 billion stars. Our galaxy, the Milky Way has, at least, 200 billion stars; it takes light 100, 000 years to travel from one end of our galaxy to the other.

Galaxies, Alexander Friedman, George Lemaitre and Edwin Hubble tell us are speeding away from each other. The expansion is due to the presence of dark energy; dark energy constitutes 73% of the universe; dark matter balances the stars position in the galaxies; dark matter constitutes 23% of the universe; we do not know anything about this combined 96% of the universe!

The original stars were very massive in size. They quickly consumed most of their hydrogen and began fusing other elements, such as helium, carbon, oxygen. When the fusion process, aka nucleosynthesis, reaches Iron the heat inside the stars is no longer able to fuse higher elements. The stars expand in size and eventually explode in supernovae.

The extensive heat accompanying the explosion of dying stars formed the rest of the naturally occurring elements beyond iron...up to number 92 on the periodic table...scientists have synthesized another twenty elements in laboratories.

Stars and supernova, in effect, invented most of the elements that now exist in the universe (hydrogen was formed before stars were formed).

In the meantime, the exploded massive stars spilled their contents into space. Their inner cores may collapse to form black holes (something so dense that light cannot even escape from its events horizon) or form neutron stars (stars composed of only neutrons and spin at a dizzying rate).

The spilled elements, aka star dust, from shattered stars constitute nebulae. After a few million years those star dust agglomerate into medium sized stars and planets.

Our star, the Sun and its nine planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus and Pluto) were formed 4.5 billion years ago from shattered massive star(s).

The initial planet earth was very hot. Apparently, over time heavier elements, such as iron and nickel sunk into the core of the earth and lighter ones stayed at the top.

The earth has four layers: an inner core of solid iron, an outer core of liquid iron, a viscous mantle and a solid crust. The earth has an atmosphere with many layers: the ground we walk on is followed by the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere. From the ground to space is about 300 miles.

At some point in the earth's history, apparently, an object about the size of Mars (a large asteroid?) hit the earth and struck off a part of it; the fragments of the shattered part regathered into what we now call our moon. Thus, the moon and the earth are the same age; both are composed of the same materials.

BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION ON PLANET EARTH

Water from comets was brought to the hot planet earth. Comets are rocks with frozen water on them; over millions of years comets kept striking planet earth and apparently eventually cooled it down and covered 70% of the surface of the earth with water.

So, our planet is now water based terrestrial planet (some planets, such as Jupitar are balls of gas). Apparently, three and half billion years ago, inside a pool of water, sixty four elements (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, phosphor, zinc, iron, copper, chlorine, sodium etc.) mixed, formed a chemical mixture; light and heat from lightening (thunder) struck that pool of water and heated it up so that the various elements combined to form molecules/compounds from which single celled biological organisms formed.

Biological life forms formed in the goldilocks part of the Milky Way galaxy, in a part where it is neither too hot nor too cold.

If the earth and its sun were closer to the center of the Milky Way spiral galaxy life would not have formed on planet earth, for the earth would have been too hot; on the other hand, if the earth were too far removed from the center of the Milky Way galaxy it would be too cold and life would not have been able to form on earth, either.

Serendipity, accidents, as scientists say, placed planet earth where life forms. This is another one of those anthropic accidents.

This whole accidents business is kind of becoming too many that one is pardoned if one suspects that there is an intelligent agent at work in the universe! No wonder that certain religionists insist on what they call intelligent design of the universe; that is, the notion that God created the universe.

Intelligent design raises a whole lot of questions, such as why would an intelligent force create people that would die, what is the point? Thus, scientists and their meaningless universe seem to win the argument. But have they? We shall see!

In 1953, Urey and Miller, at the University of Chicago, tried to replicate the formation of flesh in their laboratory; their findings did not put an end to the question: how did our bodies come into being?

In time single celled biological organisms combined their cells into multi-cellular organisms and more complex animals and plants were formed.

Amoeba has one cell; visualize many amoebae combining into an organism with many cells. This process continued and over time more complex animals such as the vertebrates were formed.

Millions of years ago, the evolution of animals had reached the great apes, such as gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys. Apparently, one branch of these great apes eventually began to walk upright and thus freed their fore limbs; they used their hands to manipulate things and became technological.

Many types of proto-humans were formed, including Neanderthals. About 100, 000 years ago, one branch of these great apes became what we now call human beings, Homo sapiens.

Apparently human beings first evolved in East Africa and thereafter spread to Europe, Asia and eventually to the Americas and Australia.

Here we are, animals whose brains can contemplate the nature of the universe and ask the question we are asking here: who are we, what is our real self?

Whatever has a beginning has an end. The universe, George Lemaitre told us, began in one spot; Alexander Friedman and Edwin Huddle told us that the universe is expanding. As the galaxies move away from each other the stars in them lose heat.

Astrophysics tells us that in a few trillion years' time all the stars will exhaust their hydrogen and explode.

Our Sun has enough hydrogen to keep producing helium for another five billion years. Actually, in about two billion years the sun will start running short of hydrogen and begin fusing helium to higher elements.  As the fusion of non-hydrogen to other elements continues the Sun becomes hotter and hotter (at this point it is called a red giant) and expands.

In about three billion years the sun would expand so much that it would have incorporated Mercury and Venus. In about five billion years the sun throws off its outer layers and its core collapses into a dense material called white dwarf. In time the white dwarf would lose its faint glow (from its electrons) and become a piece of rock floating in space.

Thus, our sun would die in about five billion years. Before the sun dies its increased heat would have dried all the water on planet earth. We can reasonable say that in about two billion years all water and water based life forms on earth would be dead and the earth would look more like today's Venus, a hot, barren rock.

In time, all galaxies, stars and all planets will die.  In a few trillion years the universe would be composed of only particles; the last particle to decay would be protons.

When all particles decay they return to radiation, this time to cold photons.  Thus, a universe that began in hot photons ends in cold photons (Big Chill).  A universe that began in hot light ends in cold light.

(Please ponder that hell is supposed to be hot and heaven is supposed to be cool; we entered the hell of living on hot earth and return to living in a cool heaven.)

Hopefully, before our sun dies we, human beings, would have developed the science and technology to hop from one planet to another, and eventually from one star system to another, from one galaxy to another and before the entire universe dies we would tunnel our way to other universes (if, indeed, there are multiverses...Hugh Everett, in 1957, posited the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics). This way we live forever and ever, in one universe or another.

Who said that scientists do not believe in eternal life? Where is that great atheistic belief that life ends in our physical death, in supposed oblivion and finitude?

Apparently, the human mind seems incapable of accepting death as its end! And it should not.  In another part of this lecture I will argue that the physical light that began this universe, the big bang, came from spiritual light.

Spiritual light produced physical light and physical light transformed itself to matter, space and time. In the end physical light returns to spiritual light.

The supposed end of the universe is the return of space, time and matter to where they came from: the world of spiritual light, which folks call heaven and its God.  But before we explore this reality let us look at how we form our self-concepts.

THE SELF-CONCEPT AND SELF IMAGE

These days when folks in the West talk about the self they look to psychology and psychiatry to inform their understanding of the human self. It was not always that way. Philosophy used to be the articulator of what constituted the human self, as Europeans understood it.

In the late nineteenth century the West turned to incipient science to help them understand human nature. Charles Darwin published his book, Origin of Species, in 1859. He made the argument that human beings are just a variety of animals struggling to adapt to their environment. People are not sons of gods but animals produced by nature and struggling to adapt to nature.

If people are mentally ill it is no longer seen as the product of the gods but as having something to do with their here and now world.  Psychiatric institutions were built to house the insane. People began to study the insane from the perspective of science's materialistic philosophy.

In 1900 Sigmund Freud wrote a book on the interpretation of dreams. He wrote many other books. His philosophy is that people are pure animals. They are motivated by animal drives. Their primary drive is the desire for food, sex and aggression, what he called Id; but since they live in society, they must seek ways to make sure that they get along with each other.  Society posits rules, mores, norms and laws that folks must abide by or else all would live in chaos and anarchy; folks would kill each other and life, as Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan) noted, would become nasty, brutish and short.

The human child who, according to Freud, is naturally a savage motivated by desire to gratify his instinctual urges could care less for other persons welfare; he is forced to internalize social norms of behavior. Those norms of behavior, what constitutes appropriate behavior, form a part of the child's mind; Freud called that part of the mind Superego. Thus, now are two parts in the child's mind, the Id and the Superego.

The Id says, pursue your natural instincts and the superego says, if you do so that society would punish you. A third part of the mind, the Ego came into being and kind of acts as a referee balancing the struggles of the id and the superego.

Thus, in people's minds are id, ego and superego. People live in eternal psyche conflict, Freud said.  They are conflicted and no longer know who they are. They need his psychoanalytic services to help balance them. So, they go to him, lie on his famous couch and free associate, say whatever comes to their minds, engage in transference relationship with him, project their anger at their father who had repressed their Id to him. He analyzes the outpouring from their ego unconscious minds and in the end tell them that they must still live in society and therefore must curtail their id desires.

An adapted adult must be neurotic for his natural self, id has been repressed and he is angry about it but anger does not eliminate the need to restrict ones behavior if one wants to get along with other persons.

Human beings, Freud told us, must behave irrationally for deep in their repressed unconscious minds are id forces that know no reason but only desire for immediate gratification of its desires.  The ego may be rational but it sits on top of irrational forces. People are not the rational beings we think that they are; they are driven by irrational forces although those are mostly driven into the subterranean regions of their minds. Indeed, people have desire to kill themselves and kill other persons, Thanatos, hence wars are inevitable, Freud said.

Freud's Psychoanalysis swept through Victorian Europe like wildfire on hot summer days. People flocked to Freud to have their neurosis analyzed.

Freud gathered apostles who learned his new psychology, his new mechanistic view of man. One of his earliest followers was a Viennese medical doctor called Alfred Adler.

Adler wrote that whereas Freud's views on Id may have some credence but that what really actuates people is their sense of inferiority. The exigencies of human existence make the human child feel inadequate Vis a Vis his environment. The feeling of inadequacy, powerlessness and inferiority is unacceptable to the child, for the child needs power to control and master his impersonal environment.

It is either you control the world or it controls you and if it controls you it kills you! So, the human child denies that he is weak and posits a view that he is strong. He struggles with the desire to seem superior to other people and to his world.

Neurosis is, according to Adler, characterized by sense of inferiority and compensatory desire to seem superior.

The cure for neurosis, Adler believed, is to redirect the individual's motivation, to get him to care for other people while he still pursues his desired superiority. Work for social interest and you are healthy, Adler said.

Carl Jung came along and said, wait a minute, man is not purely an animal, as Freud and Adler said, but is a spiritual being. He looked to oriental religions for guidance in his thesis that people are more than their bodies.  He posited what he called our collective unconscious mind; in it are spiritual matters as well as the experiences of past mankind; in it are architypes of behavior from time immemorial.

By the 1930s all kinds of people had entered the new field of psychology. Karen Horney built on Adler and said that the human child adapts to his world by rejecting his weak, actual self and seeking an alternative powerful, ideal self. The neurotic child, which is all of us in degrees, rejects his real self and posits an imaginary ideal self and pursues becoming it.

As long as one is trying to become a mentally invented self, the ideal self-one must feel conflicted for it is not ones real self. The neurotic child is fleeing from his real self and must feel anxious.

In the individual's mind is conflict between his real self and his desired ideal self.  This conflict and attendant anxiety is reduced but not eliminated when the individual tries to behave in accordance with his real self.

But what is the real self? Horney did not tell us what the real self is. Before she died in the 1950s she did start studying Zen Buddhism in the hope of finding out what constitute our real self?  She died before she could figure out what is our real self.

Erich Fromm continued with the study of Zen Buddhism and wrote interesting stuff on the sane human being, that is, on what constitutes our real self.

In 1955, an engineer turned psychologist, George Kelly told us that each human child constructs his self-concept. The human child is kind of like a philosopher; he uses his biological and social experience to construct a self-concept and self-image for his self.

What is the self? Kelly said that it is something the human child constructed using his biological constitution and social experience to do so.

Behavioral psychologists like John Watson, Bandura, and B.F. Skinner told us that the self is learned. The self is not some kind of metaphysical mumbo-jumbo we came into the world with but the sum of our learning. You learned your self-concept and that is all there is to you.  Biology and society may have played a role in learning yourself but all that matters is that you learned whatever you call yourself.

Therefore, to change you, psychotherapy, we must figure out how people learn their behaviors; Skinner elaborated on what he called classical and operant conditioning; as he sees it, those with behavior problems can have their behaviors modified through his behavior modification schema, his behavior technology.

So, armed with behavior engineering, young psychologists descended on schools, juvenile detention centers and prisons trying to modify people's behaviors through reinforcing positive behaviors in them, and extinguishing their negative behaviors.

Alas, in time they learned that they had not made one anti-social prison inmate a prosocial person; they had not turned one oppositional defiant child into a let's get along child. Some children simply must defy their parents and authority. Why do they do it? You go figure it out. Perhaps, we are not all meant to be docile conformists; perhaps some people must rock the social boat and bring about changes in it and or wound up wasting their energies as rebels without a cause.

By the end of the twentieth century psychiatry had turned to biology. It embraced biological reductionism with gusto. As it now sees it, the self is the product of whatever biochemical dynamics is taking place in the human brain. The brain is the source of the self, functional or dysfunctional.  If the known neurotransmitters in your brain are working well you developed a normal self but if they are unbalanced you developed a problematic self.  Neurosis (now called anxiety and personality disorders) and psychosis are seen as products of unbalanced brain chemistry.

If you are schizophrenic (the schizophrenic hallucinates in one or more of the senses, usually auditory, or visual and has bizarre delusions) your brain produces too much of the neurotransmitter, dopamine.

If you are manic (the manic is generally euphoric; he acts happy; he laughs at what most people do not find funny; he is excited and behaves grandiosely, like a person who won a billion dollar lotto and is often deluded, such as claiming to have billions of dollars whereas in fact he has no money) your brain produces too much of the neurotransmitter noradrenalin.

If you are depressed (the depressed person feels sad, loses interests in the activities of daily living, such as going to school, work, playing,  making friends, does not self-groom and wants to be left alone, feels fatigued and contemplates self-destruction, suicide) your brain produces too little of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

If you are anxious (there are many types of anxiety disorders, they are characterized by fear) your brain produces insufficient GABA, a calming neurotransmitter.

If you have these mental disorders how are you helped? Psychiatry gives its clients medications aimed at balancing the supposed unbalanced neurochemicals in their brains.

If you are schizophrenic you are given neuroleptic medications (such as Zyprexa, Risperdal and or the older brands like Haldol, Thorazine etc.) that reduce the quantity of dopamine in your brain.

If you are bipolar, manic you are given anti-manic medications (such as Lithium and Depakote) that reduce adrenalin in your brain.

If you are depressed you are given anti-depression medications (such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Wellbutrin etc.) that boost the quantity of serotonin in your brain.

If you are anxious you are given anti-anxiety medications (such as Valium, Xanax, Librium, Ativan etc.) that increase GABA in your brain.

These medications have some temporary positive effects but do not cure any one with psychoses or neurosis. So, neuroscience has not solved the problem of what are human beings.  We still do not know who we are.

Are we merely the product of biological processes? Are we the products of only learning? Is there something in us that constructs our self-concepts and self-images? If so what is it? Is the mind the product of the dance of electrons and photons in our brains or is there something else going on in our brains?  Is there a little man in our brains that take our biological and social experiences and use them to construct our self-concepts?

Materialistic psychologists tell us that thinking is epiphenomenal and that there is no such thing as spirit. They ask us to accept atheism.

Alas, you look at the typical atheist and see a man who devotes his entire life to refuting theism but beyond that is accomplishing nothing socially useful; he is making noise; he does not know who human beings are but instead of keeping quiet he has an obsessive-compulsive desire to pretend to know. Most people tune out atheists and continue with their search to understand their real selves.

I know people who dismiss psychology and psychiatry as pseudo-science and call whatever psychologists say about people psychobabble. I think that such persons make a mistake. Yes, psychology and psychiatry has not healed any mentally ill person but they have shown some light on the workings of the human mind and brain.

My area of interest is personality. I believe that psychology has helped me to understand personality, healthy and unhealthy aspects of it.

American Psychiatry categorizes personality disorders into ten groups; this categorization is very helpful in understanding abnormal behaviors in otherwise functional people.

The personality disorders are paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, and narcissistic, histrionic, anti-social, borderline, avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive and passive aggressive.

Briefly, the paranoid personality feels inadequate and wants to seem adequate; he wants people to see him as powerful and if he suspects that they do not see him as such he feels angry at them; he is always accusing people that they are demeaning him; and quarrelling with people for belittling him.  He does not trust people and is suspicious of people's ability to care for him.

The schizoid personality wants to be left alone and does not particularly care for other people's company, acceptance or rejection. He tends to be good at dealing with non-human things hence many of them are engineers, computer scientists and mathematicians.

The schizotypal personality tends to believe in what folks see no evidence for, such as ghosts and spirits; he tends to believe that he has sixth sense; many of them even claim to have psychic powers; he tends to be odd and eccentric in his behaviors.

The narcissistic personality tends to believe that he is special and wants other persons to pay attention to him; he wants all people to admire him. He believes that he is superior to all people and as such is justified in using them to get what he wants and discarding them when they are not useful to him. He tends to see women as beautiful toys and trophies with which he decorates his mansion but otherwise does not really love them.

The histrionic personality is the narcissist with additional tendency to being a drama queen. This person wants attention from all and does not have love for those he is seeking attention from.

The borderline personality has loads of confusions, is not sure what his gender is, is unable to make up his mind what to do with his life; he seeks attention but does not give it; if he feels abandoned by those close to him he may threaten to commit suicide and may even cut on his body to make them feel guilty and beholden to him.

The antisocial personality has low social conscience and finds it easy to steal and even kill people and feel no remorse for his hurtful behavior. It is from this group that most of our prison inmates come from (and also our businessmen).

The avoidant, shy personality is preoccupied with other people's acceptance; he anticipates social rejection and feels anxious; to avoid rejection and reduce his anxiety he avoids people and keeps to his self.

The dependent personality, perhaps due to illness in childhood, expects other people to take care of him; he pleases people hoping that they would support him and feels anxious when he feels that other people reject him.

The obsessive-compulsive personality thinks and acts obsessively and compulsively; it is like an inner pressure forces him to do something and he cannot help but obey the inner pressure. He seeks perfection in whatever he does; he admires those in authority positions and gladly obeys them.

The passive aggressive person wants to be liked by all people and as such does not want to offend anyone. People push him around for in our world you got to be either aggressive or assertive for people to respect your rights.  The passive aggressive person is pushed around and occasionally explodes in anger at been treated as a door mat.

I could go on and on describing the various mental and personality disorders; that is not my goal here; my goal is to point out that psychology and psychiatry has helped us to understand our human personalities but have not helped us change them; they have not helped us change them because they have not understood the root cause of our personalities.

Human beings are spiritual beings having physical experiences; you cannot fully understand them while leaving out their core: their spiritual nature; nor can you heal their mental disorders by merely giving them medications and or doing secular psychotherapy with them; you must find a way to factor in people's spiritual dimension into helping them live healthy lives.

In the end, the West sees the self as the human personality. Personality is the individual's habitual pattern of behaving, his predictable manner of responding to stimuli from his environment. Some people have what we might call normal personalities whereas others have difficulties relating to other people hence have personality disorders.

Is personality, aka the self-concept all there is to the individual? I do not think so. Like Carl Gustave Jung I believe that beneath the personality is another self, a spiritual self. I consider the human personality and self-concept a mere mask, persona, with which we cover our inner self, a spiritual self.

If we remove the veil of personality, remove the mask, we see a different self. Our real self is a loving self, whereas our ego personalities are hardnosed and thick skinned and sometimes hateful selves we adopted in our efforts to adapt to the impersonal environment we live in. Remove the blocks to the perception of love and you behold the love that is our true self, a loving self that is always there but we mask it with our desire for ego personalities.

AFRICANS RELIGION BASED CONCEPT OF THE SELF

According to contemporary anthropology and paleontology, all human beings originated in East Africa. It, therefore, makes sense to find out how Africans see the nature of human beings.

Africans do not have secular construction of human nature, yet.  To understand Africans perspective on human nature one must study the various African ethnic groups' religions. This is a tedious task although some scholars have made valiant efforts to do so.  John Mbiti wrote excellent books on African religions and philosophy.

There are over 1000 ethnic groups in Africa! Each of these has its own religion and those religions construe the nature of human beings.  Despite their apparent diversity they have commonalities in them; therefore, if you understand one African religion you have pretty much understood the rest of them.

For example, Igbo and Yoruba religions are pretty much the same. Their gods are the same; the only difference is the names that they give to their gods.

I come from an Igbo priestly family. My kindred are called Umuamadioha, the children of the Igbo God called Amadioha. Only us can produce the high priests of Amadioha.  All children in the kindred learn about Igbo religion, for any of them could be called upon to become the high priest.

Igbo religion posits a God called Chi.  Chi has three functions; he functions as the supreme and unknowable God (here, he is called Chi-ukwu); as God the creator of the universe (here, he is called Chi-neke) and as the God in each of his creation (here, he is simply called Chi).

So, what is the individual's real-self? Igbos say that our real self is the children of God. People are called Nwachukwu or Nwachi or Umuchukwu, or Umuchi, the children of God.  This does not mean that on earth people know themselves in this manner.

On earth people feel separated from Chi, from God and construct different selves for themselves. On earth each person constructs the ego for his self.

The ego is a replacement self. In Igbo land the ego is called manu. Each of us is called a manu (animals are called Umuanumanu).

To Igbos, the earth is not the real home of people; their real home is called Elegwe, heaven, the abode of spirits.  Chi-ukwu, Chi-neke and Chi lives in elugwe.

On earth, in the world of matter, space and time people live in bodies, but in elugwe people live as disembodied spirits.

Whereas heaven is our ultimate home we have an intermediate home where we reside in when we die on earth. That home is called the ancestors land, in Igbo, Alamuo.

Dead people are supposed to live in Alamuo; from there they pay attention to what is going on in uwa (or Alauwa), our world.

You can communicate with your dead ancestors. Whereas you can individually do so but since your mind is clouded by the ego, false self you currently identified with you may have to consult dibias, those who have purified their seeing and can and communicate with spirits to help you do so.

Each of us is said to be guided by some of his dead ancestors, spirit guides, these are similar to the saints and angels of Christianity who supposedly guide Christians. You can ask your ancestors to help you adapt to any situation you find yourself in.

While people live in space, time and matter, their Chi gave them temporal gods to help guide their lives on earth. Chi gave each town, village and kindred, even individuals gods to guide them.

A typical Igbo town or village has a goddess called Ala.  A typical Igbo has a god called Ikenga. There are functional gods, gods of the various professions in traditional Igbo land.

Igbos were primarily farmers and took pride in their harvests, so they had a god of farming and harvest called Ahanjoku (his priest is called Njoku or Osuji).

Igbos have a pantheon of earthly gods but those are not to be confused with the trinity of Chi-ukwu, Chi-neke and Chi. The holy trinity remains constant but the earthly functional gods change depending on the need.

The god called Amadioha is the god of light. Light means knowledge. Therefore, the high priest of Amadioha is supposed to be knowledgeable on spiritual matters.

In Yoruba land God is called Olodumare; Olodumare also has creative and other functions.  As in Igbo land, Olodumare created functional gods for the people.  For example, he created Sango to perform the same function that Amadioha performs for Igbos.

Sango priests, as in Igbo land, run in the same families and are inherited. You do not get up one fine day and call yourself an Igbo or Yoruba high priest. You must be born in the priestly families and the preexisting priests must select you as their replacement.

In both Igbo and Yoruba lands, however, you can study to understand spiritual matters. Those who have such callings and are trained are called Dibia in Igbo land or Babalawo in Yoruba land. They are equivalent to what in the West folks call psychics and herbalists.

People go to dibias to predict their future for them and to get them to prescribe herbal medicines for their illnesses. The process that one has to undergo to become an Igbo dibia (male) or lolo (female) is so rigorous that you may not even want to think about it. It is punitive; they try to destroy your earthly self-concept, your ego and help you open your spiritual eyes so that you can communicate with the spirits.

If you are interested in retaining your ego, separated self-concept dibiahood is not for you. I have witnessed the process of training dibia, it is brutal! It is not easy to get rid of the human ego; we came to earth to be egos so we see ourselves as egos; to extinguish your identification with the ego requires almost destroying your body! One must die to the ego and its body to resurrect to one's real-self, which is spirit.

The point that needs to be made is that Igbos self-concept is rooted in their Igbo religion and that this practice is pretty much the same in all black Africa.

To the question: what is our true self? Africans say that we are the children of God. But while on earth we have ego self-concepts, which are our false selves, and, as such, we are not aware of our spiritual nature.

A few persons are trained to understand their true nature and those are said to have spiritual seeing; they relate to the world of spirits and can help you deal with spiritual matters.

HINDUISM

Like Africans, Indians did not develop a purely secular culture; their epistemology is rooted in religion; their religion is Hinduism. To understand how Indians construe human nature you must understand Hinduism.

Hinduism is not like Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the so-called Abrahamic religions that were started by specific individuals, specifically by Moses, Jesus Christ and Mohammed. Hinduism does not have a specific founder. It grew gradually.

About three thousand years ago, Iranians moved into what is now called India. They found black people (Dravidians) already living in India. Apparently, Iranian (Aryan) shepherds and Dravidian shepherds (called Rishis) sang songs to their creator. Their songs or poems were eventually collected as the Veda.

The root of Hinduism is these poems by Rishis. These poems posit that God, whom they called Brahman, is their father and that each of them is a son of God called Atman. Brahman and Atman is the same. Where Brahman ends and Atman begins is nowhere; they are oneself with one mind.

Atman, the sons of God, apparently, cast Maya, magical spell, on their minds and went to sleep and in their sleep dream that they are no longer god but are separated human beings. The separated selves are called Ahankara.  Ahankara is a false self-concept; it is a replacement self, a substitute self, a dream figure. Our true self is Atman who is one with God.

A later generation of Indians wrote long heroic poems on the nature of God and his avatars (human beings who operated as God in the temporal universe). There are two such poems, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

A part of the Mahabharata is the Bagavad Gita, what Hindus call their bible. The Gita wrote about the exploits of a god-man called Krishna. Krishna manifested as a black boy (a Dravidian) and was giving spiritual lectures to a warrior called Arjuna (an Aryan). He explained the nature of Hinduism and the five yoga paths used in returning to the awareness of God: Jnana, Bhakta, Karma, Tantra and Raja Yoga.

Later on, Hindu philosophers wrote the Upanishads; these were philosophical explication of the nature of Brahman, Atman and Ahankara and how to return to the awareness of God.

If you read these Hindu Scriptures you gather that there is a God called Brahman. Brahman is one and yet infinite.

Each of us is a part of Brahman, called Jivatman.  We cast a magical spell on us and went to sleep and in our sleep invented the temporal universe. In the world we forgot our true self, Atman and are now egos, called Ahankara.

Hinduism gave a rather sophisticated explanation of how the physical universe came into being. Its story of how the universe came into being is akin to Western Big Bang cosmology.

The universe is said to be composed of three Gunnas (Sativa, Raja and Tamas), three strands of matter, kind of like the parts of an atom (electrons, protons and neutrons); these strands combined to form everything in the material universe. They also combined to form the human body.

Some people have a predominance of one strand; those with more sativa are rational and spiritual; those with more raja are more active, are businessmen and soldiers; those with more tamas are lazy hence the poor in society.

Hindu society is divided into four classes...the upper class are called Brahmin, they are closest to Brahman, God and produce priests (called Swamis); the middle class are called Kastriyas, they are the doers of society; the poor are called Sudras, the working class. A fourth class is called untouchables (those do work that nobody else wants to do, such as remove human feces from people's houses).

The yoga's teach people what they need to do to yoke back to God, reconnect to God, how to return to the awareness of God.  Essentially, what people need to do is meditate (raja yoga).

In meditation people forget that they are human beings; they firmly tell themselves that they are not egos and bodies and what they are they do not know. They silence the thinking of their egos and remain silent. In the silence of their minds they will come to know that their true selves are Atman who is Brahman.

When a person has had this experience, called Samadhi (break through from Moksha, ego darkness) he is said to have had God or Self-realization.  He is now enlightened to his true self; he is illuminated to his reality. From now on he is a teacher of God, a guru and students flock to him to teach them how to attain God realization.

Hinduism has been around for three thousand years; it has many sects. Regardless of the sect one belongs to, what I said above describes Hindu basic beliefs.

However, the Vedanta sect is the best way to learn about the nature of God as I explicated it above; (that is, to learn about Advaita monism).

If one is a member of one of the many Bhakti sects, such as the Vaishnava's, one ends up not trying to understand God (via Jnana yoga) but merely sings songs to gods and worships God; one must be philosophical, Jnana yogi, to think about God to come to the above conclusions.

Hinduism has produced admirable philosophers such as Gautama Buddha, Shankara, Ramanuja and Vivekananda (the latter was a student of the nineteenth century Hindu God realized man called Ramakrishna...see M's Gospel of Ramakrishna).

Hinduism teaches that the universe has a beginning and an end. It teaches that many universes have come and gone. Lord Shiva creates and destroys universes.

Each universe is called Yuga.  Our present universe is called Kali Yuga. It, too, will end and another epoch comes into being.  The process is eternal.

This view is kind of like what some astrophysicists believe: that our universes come into being, expand and after reaching a certain length collapse back to its self (Big Crunch) and another universe is exploded out and begins, and the process is repeated, eternally. This view of cosmology is called eternal rebounding universes.

Rebound has not been proven as true just as despite all the noise made by physicists no one really has shown that the universe began in a big bang.

Indeed many physicists believe that our universe is inside a black hole and that what we call stars are reflections of one star on the walls of a cave; this is kind of like Plato's cave analogy.

Hinduism construes human beings as at root atman, children of God, Brahman. On earth they forget their real selves and identify with body and separated selves called Ahankara, egos.

The goal of Hinduism is to enable individuals to remember their real selves who are the sons of God.  When we have all remembered our real selves our universe ends and another begins and we forget our true selves, again, and begin another struggle to remember our true selves.

Is this explanation of the nature of the universe and the self-true or false? Of course Hinduism is not factual; it is a myth; it is a story of creation, a mythology; it is metaphor that, hopefully, enables Indians to make sense of their world.

BUDDHISM

Buddhism is Hinduism without the various gods of Hinduism.  Twenty five hundred years ago, a Hindu was born in Northern India. He was born into a rich family. His parents shielded him from seeing the sufferings of mankind. He married and had a son. At age twenty eight he chanced to leave his palace of luxuries and visited the poor sections of Indian towns. He saw serious human suffering. He saw the sick and dying that litter Indian cities (they still do so in present India; Mother Theresa devoted her life to serving such persons). Gautama could not understand why people suffer so much whereas he and the few rich live in palaces of luxury.

So, why do people suffer so much? He decided to go find out. He left his palace of luxury and went into the world. He studied under many Hindu Siddhas, gurus and swamis. He studied the five yoga's.  The man tried everything to understand why people suffer too much. No one could give him the answer that he was looking for.

So, one day he decided to go for broke; it is either he found the answer or he died. Until a man is willing to give what he is doing all he has, to find the answer he is looking for or die trying he is not going to accomplish anything worthwhile in life.

The man sat down under a Bo tree and told himself that he is not going to get up until the universe revealed to him why we are born to suffer.

People had told him that there is a God so the man asked: what kind of God created people to suffer? Damn the gods, Gautama told his self; there must be an alternative explanation of human suffering rather than the gibberish the various religions offer us, such as the hypothesis that we suffer because of our sins, that suffering is punishment for disobeying God's will for us (this is actually true for his will is that we stay unified with him; to separate from him is to disobey his will hence to suffer in the world of separation).

The man just sat there (hopefully, he did not eat and had emptied his bowels so that he had no need to use the toilet). He closed his eyes and meditated (raja Yoga).

In his meditation he tried to silence his ego mind from thinking, chattering. Mara, Hindu equivalent of Satan, came and tested Gautama (Mara is the ego, or as I call it, the ego god).

Mara told him to get up and go enjoy the world and give up the foolishness of trying to understand why people suffer.

Hay, man, give it up and go have a little fun with women and wine after all your father is a rich man. Gautama told Mara to get lost for after all his supposed enjoyments his body and ego would die.

What is the point of nourishing your body if it is going to die? All you are really doing is fattening your body to make it good dinner for worms!

Mara tempted Gautama pretty much as Satan tempted Jesus before Jesus began his ministry. Mara promised him the kingdom of the world as long as he worshipped the ego, separated self.

Gautama, like Jesus 500 years after him, stayed steadfast to his goal.  The man just sat there. On the twenty eighth day his mind went blank; he attained inner silence, what Buddhists call no ego self. His mind is now emptied of all ego thinking categories. In this mind washed clean of all ego desires a different awareness dawned.

Gautama experienced what Hindus call Samadhi, oneness with all being, Brahman. He called his experience Nirvana; simply put a sense of oneness minus the Hindu notion of God, Brahman.

Zen Buddhists call it Satori; Christian mystics call the experience oneness of the son and his father (that is what Meister Eckhart, Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila  experienced, see Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism or  William James, Varieties of Religious experience or Richard Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness).

Upon experiencing oneness with the formless unified universe Gautama got up and laughed; he had eternal peace and joy on his face. (How do you know if a person has experienced his real self? He is always in peace; he is serene; he smiles and laughs a lot; he laughs because he knows that the world is a joke, a dream, a hilarious play we all enact!)

Gautama got up and the people who gathered around while he was meditating said to him: what is up, man?  Did you experience something or did you waste twenty eight days squatting under that big, old Bo tree? What a waste; you should have gone and had a big, old good time; God, just look at them good looking damsels, you could have gone for them!

DESIRE FOR THE SEPARATED EGO SELF IS THE CAUSE OF OUR SUFFERING

Gautama calmly and peacefully taught them thus:  We are parts of one universe; we decided to separate from that universe. We now see ourselves as separated selves. The feeling of separated selves housed in bodies is a result of desire.

The physical universe began as a result of our desire to experience separated selves, our desire to live as egos housed in bodies.

As long as we have the desire to be separated egos we must suffer. So, what caused suffering? It is desire to be separated ego selves in bodies.

What would end our suffering? Very simple, Old Gautama said. Remove the cause of suffering and you would no longer suffer.

Your suffering is based on your desire to be a separated self. Give up the desire to be a separated self in body. Tell yourself that you are not a separated self, not an ego in body; deny that you are your ego and body.

If you deny identification with ego and body then what are you?  To find out then do what the man did, sit quietly and meditate and you, too, will find out.

But before you meditate make sure that you live a loving life. Our true self is love. What folks call God properly named are called love. One loving force extends his self to each of us. Our true self is love. So, love all people.

Forgive those who wronged you in the egos world. Realize that the egos world is a dream of separation, so do not take what is going on in it too seriously.

Those who harmed you on earth did so in a dream. What is done in dreams have not been done in reality. Nobody has harmed you; you still remain safe in God. All people, whether you know it or not, love you; even when they attack you they are really offering you the opportunity to forgive them hence love them and teach them that love is who we are.

Gautama tells us to love all, to have compassion for our fellow children of the whole self who identify with false selves hence suffer. He tells us not to backbite, to not harm anyone; he asks us to do only what we know serves our mutual social interests.

The above teachings of Gautama are broken down into what is called the four noble truths and the eight noble paths to that truth.

Call it what you like; just do Gautama a favor, will you? Love all people for they are parts of you and in loving all you love your whole self. When you love your whole self you know peace and joy.

Most people are not willing to give up their desired identification with the false ego self. Gautama said, okay, buddies, go right ahead and keep your ego and its desire but do you a favor, will you? Know that you will die and get eaten by worms and that all that you worked for will end in sand.

Your mansion will decay and return to sand. So while seeking the things of this world do so in a detached manner, with non-attachment; know that whereas it is nice to have wealth for it makes living on earth pleasurable but in the end you and your wealth will die and return to the nothingness from which the universe came.

Gautama established the first monasteries and trained monks to live the desire-less, egoless and proud-less life he is teaching as path to experiencing nirvana.

Human beings have pride and dress fancifully to seem important. Gautama asked his monks to dress in red robes and to have no more than two pairs of robes and shoes. They are to walk around begging for food. All these behaviors are meant to humiliate their egos and eliminate their pride in the ego.

It is when a person eliminates his prideful ego self and lives humbly that he can know his real self.

Gautama lived to be eighty years old. He died from choking from food (what a way for a holy man to go!).

I am assuming that the story of Gautama is not real, is a metaphor; in that light what is the meaning of the saint dying from choking from food?

Gautama's teaching spread to all over India and eventually to all over Asia. As these things always happen, his philosophy split into two main sects: Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. Each group claims to represent the true teaching of Gautama.

As in Christianity the name Buddhism did not come about while Gautama was alive; folks began calling his followers Buddhists after he was long gone, just as Greeks, at Antioch, Syria, called the followers of Jesus Christians.

Jesus was not a Christian, just as Gautama was not a Buddhist; Christianity and Buddhism are religions made up by followers who actually have not understood what their founders teach.

If in doubt, ask a typical Buddhist to tell you what Buddhism teaches and see if he would tell you what I just explained! The typical Buddhist does not know what Gautama is trying to teach him just as so-called Christians do not know what Jesus is teaching them.

Both Jesus and Gautama teach us that we have ego selves which are not our real selves; they teach us that our real selves are part of a formless unified self, what religious folks call God.

There is only one intelligent force in the universe; it has no name but for the sake of explanation, though it cannot be explained, I call it formless unified spirit self.

We are all parts of one self and one mind. If you know this truth you realize that all people are parts of you and you love all people to love your whole self.

No enlightened self can hate other people, for to do so is to hate a part of his self. To hate a part of yourself is to be insane.

Sanity lies in loving yourself, which are all people. In loving all people you know peace and joy and feel eternal.

CHRISTIANITY

Christianity is a sect of Judaism, just as Buddhism is a sect of Hinduism. To understand Buddhism you must understand Hinduism; by the same token, to understand Christianity you must understand Judaism.  Therefore, I am going to say a few words about Judaism.

Judaism is the religion of the Jews. Jews are a Semitic people that originated, as their Holy Book, the Old Testament part of the Christian bible, aka Torah, tells us in modern Iraq (Romans called it Mesopotamia, the ancients called it Sumeria).

A man called Abraham (we are now in the world of mythology but let us go along with it) left his home at Ur, near present day Bagdad, Iraq, looking for greener pastures. He settled in what we now call Israel.

He had two sons, Isaac and Ismail. Isaac is the father of Jews whereas Ismail is the father of Arabs.

Jews and Arabs are the same people; they speak the same Semitic language. Words are merely pronounced differently in the two languages; for example, where Jews say shalom Arabs say salaam.

Isaac had Jacob and Esau. Jacob the trickster maneuvered Esau out and inherited his father's blessing.

Jacob had twelve children.  The brothers sold one of their siblings, Joseph, into slavery in Egypt. In Egypt he prospered.

Famine came to Israel and the brothers came to Egypt in search of food. Joseph recognized his brothers and had them go bring their old parents hence they all began living in Egypt.

In time different pharos ruled Egypt; they did not always like Jews and eventually enslaved them. The Jews under a leader called Moses left Egypt. They were trying to return to their home in the land they had stolen from the Canaanites.

Moses supposedly had an encounter with God and eventually wrote the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers.

Moses did not lead the Jews in entering Israel; his brother, Joshua did. He, too, wrote a book.  Other Jewish leaders wrote books and those books comprise what we now call the Torah, the Old Testament of the Bible.

The Old Testament part of the Bible, Torah essentially says that there is one God and that Jews should worship him; it acknowledges other gods but sees them as false gods. Their god, Yahweh, is to be praised and worshipped or else he got angry. His anger is out of this world; when he felt not admired he destroyed cities (such as Sodom and Gomorrah) and even the whole world (as the story of Noah and the deluge stated).

The god of Judaism is the god of law and order. His laws are obviously copied from the laws laid down by the Babylonian king, Hammurabi.  Obey his laws or else you are not only punished in this world but after you died. After death you are sent to hell where you are burned for eternity. What a god!

Jesus, a Jew, came along and reinterpreted the nature of God; he said that his god is not the god of punishment but the god of love and forgiveness. Everything he taught his followers is about love. Love God and love one another. Forgive those who harmed you. If a person slapped your cheek turn the other side for him to slap, too. If a thief asked for your jacket give him all your clothes.

Jesus taught his followers only one prayer and it has to do with forgiveness. "Our father, who is in heaven, give us our daily bread; forgive us our sins because we have first forgiven those who sinned against us."

Stop right there and appreciate what the Jewish Rabbi, teacher of God, is teaching. He is asking you to forgive those who wronged you if you want God, the whole, to forgive you, the part.

He told his disciples a parable. A man was going to worship God and remembered that a neighbor wronged him. He said that the man first must go home and forgive the neighbor who wronged him before he prayed to God.  How many times should we forgive, an apostle asked him. He said infinitely.

If we want God to reward our prayers we must forgive our neighbors. God hears all our prayers and has already given us what we asked for: material abundance, peace and joy but to receive those we must forgive our neighbors.  No one comes to God, to love, who has not forgiven all his sons on earth.

And they brought a woman caught in adultery to him and asked him what to do to her. The laws of Moses, the Old Testament, required them to stone her to death. His own New Testament teaches forgiveness, so what should they do to the supposed sinner.

The answer is obvious: forgive her; so, why did they bring her to him? They wanted to hear it from the horse's mouth that he is teaching forgiveness and since that contravenes their laws of Moses arrest and punish him.

Aware of their evil intension he ignored them. He kept writing on the ground, writing his teaching of love and forgiveness. Finally, he looked up and said: let him who has not sinned be the first to stone the sinner.

All have sinned and know it; the accusers left the woman. Jesus asked the woman: where are those who accused you of sin? She said that they are gone.

He told her that nobody accused her of sin but for her to only love her neighbors.

Eventually, the Jews found an excuse to arrest Jesus; they said that he taught that he and God are one; according to them this is blasphemy. They wanted to crucify him.

They took him to the Roman authorities ruling Palestine and told the governor, Pontus Pilate that the man claims to be one with God.

Pontius Pilate laughed and asked what is wrong with such a claim? Mad men make such claims every day so the Jesus man must be mad; take him to an asylum. He needs mental health rehabilitation not punishment.

The Jews insisted on murdering him so Pilate gave them their brother and they crucified him on a cross at Golgotha. Three days later he resurrected from death.

His followers felt emboldened from seeing their crucified leader in light form. Forty days later Jesus left this world of matter and returned to the world of light forms (where he is today and can be seen if you want to do so, provided that you love and forgive all).

His followers began preaching his gospel and took it to all over the Roman Empire. Paul, hitherto called Saul, an educated Jew, took the message of love to Rome itself.  He rattled the Romans and was arrested and crucified.

Eventually, the religion of Jesus, Christianity, spread to all over Europe. In 316 AD the Roman emperor, Constantine embraced that new religion and decreed that all people in his empire become Christians.  Thus, all Europe became Christian.

In time some people separated from the universal Catholic Church. First, were the Eastern Orthodox Church, then Martin Luther and John Calvin? Today, there are thousands of sects in Christianity.

What is Christianity? It is the teaching that we love one another and forgive one another our errors. Are there practicing Christians in the world? I have not seen even one of them. Do you love all, do you forgive all people? If not you are not a Christian!

For our present purposes, Christianity teaches that our real self is a loving self and asks us to love one another.

There is a religion that calls itself Christianity; it has nothing to do with the teaching of Jesus the son of God who realized that he and all of us and God are one self.

Islam is the third rail of the three legs of the religions of the children of Abraham. Islam went back and accepted Moses' an eye for an eye teaching; it punishes sinners. Islam and Judaism are similar.

I am not going to dwell on Islam; elsewhere, I have written extensively on Islam. Suffice it to say that Islam has a punitive conception of God. I know that we live in the age of political correctness and multiculturalism where all religions and cultures are supposed to be equally good.

A religion that asks you to go kill those who did nothing to you is not as good as a religion that asks you to love and forgive those who wronged you.

Islam is not a religion but a political ideology with which Arabs and Muslims use to conquer the world and rule it.  I have no time for any violent ideology that encourages killing people; I am only interested in any message that asks us to love one another, in a religion of peace.

Christianity is the religion of peace and love; Islam is the religion of violence and war.

GNOSTICISM; A COURSE IN MIRACLES

When early Christianity reached the Roman Empire some Romans and Greeks who hitherto had a religion called Gnosticism interpreted the teaching of Jesus in a Gnostic manner. In fact, many of the early giants of the Christian church were Gnostics before they converted to what we now call Catholicism.

Saint Augustine of Hippo, the man who wrote the City of God and his Confessions, a founding father of Christianity used to be a follower of an Iranian Gnostic called Mani. He was a Manichean. But in time he gave up that approach to Jesus and began mouthing the approach that Athanasios and Ambrose taught (the version of Christianity that the council of Nicaea in 325 AD embraced).

Gnosticism was a Greek religion that had produced such stars as Plotinus (see his Enneads). This religion essentially says that there is one God and that all of us are parts of him. It said that a son of God or an angel became proud and decided to create God instead of having God create him. We are already created by God and cannot create God.

The proud and rebellious agent separated from God to go found a universe where he seems to have created God and himself.

The person who separated from God and created our universe is called the Demiurge; some called him Lucifer, or Sophia.

Indeed, Greek Gnostics called the Jewish Yahweh a false god; what kind of god feels as angry as the Jewish god does? Only an egoistic, proud, narcissistic god would behave like the Jewish god.

Gnosticism teaches that God is light. It says that we separated from that God's light and now live in the world of darkness. Union is light; separation is darkness.

To be in the light is to be unified with God. To live in darkness is to be separated from God.  To live in matter, space and time, our world, is to live in darkness.

To Gnosticism to live in our world is to be in darkness. We must, therefore, reject our world and return to the world of light, heaven, union with God and all people.

Gnosticism (which is Greek for knowledge; agnosticism is Greek for doubt, not knowing) appeals to the human intellect. But if you think about it you realize that it is incompatible with the logic of our earth.

To live on earth you must identify with the separated ego self and struggle to survive as an ego in body. You must struggle to feed your body or else you die. No one wants to die, especially since we do not know for sure that there is life after death. For all we know all these talk of life after death could be hooey!

Gnosticism asks folks to negate their egos and bodies and live as the light of God (light is love and union with God). Well, if you tried to live as Gnosticism teaches you would negate your ego based world and die; to be a true Gnostic you must not try to adapt to our world, you must negate our world and exit from it.

We came here to live as egos in bodies, so Gnosticism does not appeal to the broad masses of humanity.  Thus, Gnosticism has never taken hold in the world. Usually, only a few people practice it, if at all.

Gnosticism did not bloom in the Roman Empire; the emerging Catholic Church attempted to destroy Christian Gnosticism. Gnosticism went underground; Gnostic writings were hidden and in 1947 a trove of them were discovered in a jar in a place called Nag Hamady in Egypt.

In 1965, a Jewish woman, a clinical psychologist, a professor at Columbia University, New York said that she heard the voice of Jesus asking her to write. She listened and wrote a book called A course in miracles. It is 1200 pages long. The book essentially restates what ancient Gnostics taught.

Helen Schucman swore that she had not heard of Gnosticism before. Well, whether she heard of it or not is not relevant, what is salient is that she rearticulated the philosophy of Gnosticism.

In her version of Gnosticism, God created all of us. We are the sons of God. God and his sons are one; they share oneself and one mind. At some point, a point that has not actually occurred, the sons of God resented the fact that God created them and wanted to create God. Of course, they cannot create God. So, what they did is go to sleep and in their sleep dream that they are now separated from God.

The dream of separation is our physical universe. Each of us is said to be here because we want to separate from God. We invented the universe of matter, space and time and used them to make separation seem real in our current awareness.

We constructed bodies for ourselves, bodies made of matter. We live in space and time. Space, time and matter are said to be nonexistent and are illusions but we used them to make separation real in our minds.

We sought separation to enable us seem self-created, to feel special and more powerful than God and each other.  We form special relationships where we admit only those who see us as special and superior to other persons.

In the world of separation we constructed special self-concepts, our egos. We live as separated egos. Each of us, A course in miracles says, with the aid of all of us constructed our individual egos.

The ego is the self that we made and with it replace the real self that God created us as. The ego is not our real self, it is a false, substitute self.

Salvation requires us to jettison the ego and return to the awareness of our real self, which is formless, unified spirit, the Holy Son of God who is one with his father.

A course in miracles teaches that we must let go of the ego separated selves we made to separate from God and each other. We must go into meditation and tell ourselves that our egos and bodies, space and time are illusions, are not real and extinguish them.

We must negate the world and if we succeed we experience another world, first, the world of light forms, a world that looks like our world but is remade by the Holy Spirit, a more beautiful version of our world.

Ultimately, we enter the world of formless light, aka heaven. Heaven is pure light; if you like, heaven is a wave of light with infinite particles in it; each particle shares one self and one mind with the wave of light.

To experience heaven we must completely let go of our desire for separated selves and transform our relationships from special relations to holy relations (in holy relations we see ourselves as one with all selves and love them all).

I have written extensively on A course in miracles and cannot possibly summarize its 1200 pages in the few minutes that I want to devote to it here.

What we need to take from Gnosticism and its modern rendition, A course in miracles, is that it teaches that we all share oneself and one mind and that it asks us to love all and forgive those who wronged us.

If we forgive we experience the world of light forms; if we extinguish the desired ego separated selves we return to the awareness of oneness.

What is the real self? Gnosticism says that our real self is the sons of God who are one with God; that real self is formless and is not in body; it is not on earth; it is in formless heaven.

And where is that heaven? Heaven is inside and outside us. Heaven is a state of mind that recognizes its oneness with God and all his creation. In that state of mind one feels perfect peace and joy; additionally, one knows that one is eternal, permanent and changeless and remains as God created one, one with him and all his creation.

We are ideas in the mind of God; ideas cannot leave their source; we cannot separate from God and from one another; we can only dream that we have done so; dreams are not real, when we wake up from dreams we know that we remain as God created us.

FIRST WE FORM EGOS AND SUFFER AND THEN LET GO OF EGOS AND LIVE PEACEFULLY

The world is a place that you come to develop a separated, ego self-concept and try to live through it and experience pain, fear and suffering.

If you posited a big ego self, as I did, you avoid people to go retain your big ego self in avoidance of other people. You had to posit that big ego self because the exigencies of your body led you to do so; you had to believe that the big self is going to protect you and enable you to survive. Later in life, you learn that no ego, big or small, will help you to survive and you let go of that big ego self and then live peacefully and joyously. With less big ego you relate well to people and not avoid any one.

Since you get whatever you want out of life by relating to people you then relate fully to people and get whatever you want out of life: wealth, peace and joy. You accept people as they are without trying to change them, for as they are is the product of their bodies and social experiences, what they came to experience in this life time.

We came to earth to form ego self-concepts and suffer and then learn to let go of those ego self-concepts, have no ego self-concepts and thereafter live happily.

With little or no egos we live as in a happy dream; upon death we proceed to live in the world of light forms, aka gate of heaven. Ultimately, we give up living in forms, dense or light and return to formless light and in it feel perfect peace and joy.

IF LIFE ON EARTH IS A DREAM THEN DO NOT TAKE IT SERIOUSLY

A course in miracles teaches that life on earth is a dream and that we have different selves in God and that while in God we sleep and dream this world. The implication of this assessment of life on earth as a dream is that it is not important and therefore should not be taken seriously.

If one accepted this view and does not take life on earth seriously, does not take one's self seriously and do not take other people seriously, do not take what any one does seriously, one would live in peace and joy and laugh at the behaviors of those who take nothingness seriously.

A course in miracles sees our world as the product of insanity, the belief that one can separate from ones real self and from ones creator, God.

Our real self is part of light; we cannot separate from it but we wished to do so and seem to have done so in dreams but not in truth. We remain as God created us, part of his unified self, and part of formless light.

To take this world seriously is to be insane, literally, for one takes what is not real as real hence react to it with fear, anger and sadness and other upsetting emotions.

Whether it is true or not that we have other lives in God and in the world of light forms, my personal observation shows me that our earthly life is nothing. If I behaved in accordance with my observation that life on earth is not worth a bucket of spit, regardless of metaphysics, I would not take life on earth and my ego self seriously; I would live playfully and have a happy dream.

DREAMS, NDE, OBE AND VISIONS TEACH US HOW POWERFUL LIGHT IS

In trying to minimize the import of spiritual experiences and place them in the philosophy of materialism and its atheism, atheistic psychologists, neuroscientists and others who fancy themselves as scientists tell us that dreams, visions and near death experiences and out of body experiences are the products of neurochemicals in the brain. Actually, if they had studied physics they would narrow it to saying that they are the product of electrons in the brain, and since electrons are light with some mass, the product of light.

Let us agree with these folks that light is responsible for people's dreams, visions and NDEs and OBEs. Is this is a simple phenomenon?

Actually, what this teaches us is that light is a powerful thing; it is light that produced our physical universe. So what is light? Do we know?

Light has intelligence in it; light is probably what our ancestors called God. Just as we do not understand God we do not fully understand light, especially spiritual light.

OUR REAL SELF IS LIGHT

I believe that our real self is made of spiritual light, not physical light. I believe that spiritual light transformed a speck of it to physical light. This probably happened during the Big Bang explosion. Spiritual light is so powerful that just a speck of it was sufficient to form our physical universe.

I accept what physics, chemistry and biology says about our physical universe. In fact, my culture is scientific culture; I do not accept any proposition that is not based on the scientific method. You must show me how to verify your proposition and when I do so I accept it, if not I reject it. I can verify the existence of light.

Light is our true self. That light contains knowledge.  This may sound mystical but it really is not. Even physical light contains information.

The physical universe works on the information written into photons of light. Just think about what takes place inside an atom and you marvel at the information that is built into that speck of existence. Electrons circle nuclei; nuclei contain protons and neutrons; the latter contains quarks which in turn are made of photons. All of matter is made of photons, light.

Our bodies seem dense but if you subject them to scientific analysis you learn that they are composed of sixty-four elements; those elements are composed of electrons, protons and neutrons and those are made of photons, light.

Where you see our bodies is actually light but you do not know it. Where you see our bodies, animals, trees, mountains, planets, stars, galaxies are nothing but light in a disguised form.  We are light in disguised forms.

When we die our bodies decompose and eventually return to physical light. Ultimately, the entire physical universe will decompose and return to spiritual light, from where it came. This will of course take trillions of years before it happens.

Light has information in it; light contains more information than our brains at the present is able to comprehend.

Consider that light from the sun and stars pass you and those around you; as it does so it takes pictures of you and what you are doing; and that includes the sound that you are making.

In the future when our technologies are more advanced we shall be able to do past time travel and go to the past and see our hunter-gatherer ancestors sitting by a camp fire roasting the animal they killed that is their dinner for the night. Yes, what they were doing thousands of years ago were captured in light and are somewhere in space and is waiting for us to have the right instrument to see it.

Light does these marvelous things without our asking it to do so. Therefore, it seems obvious to me that light does many more wondrous things than we can currently comprehend.

What folks call God is light. God is the wave of light. That wave of light has particles, photons to it. Wave and particles, quantum physics tell us, is one; they are inseparable but can act as the one you want them to act for you.

Spiritual light is what our ancestors called God; that spiritual light contain infinite knowledge.  I do not yet have the capacity to fathom how all these work. I accept that there is mystery in our lives; we shall gradually unravel that mystery.

It may help you to understand mystery by considering visions. I have had spiritual visions.  In some visions I am in a world where everything is in light form. In it I see people who look like they are on earth but are in light forms.

And what produced one's visions? Light. A speck of light in my brain somehow shut out my present universe and suddenly I am in a different universe.

From my experience with light, I have reason to believe that our real self is made of spiritual light. We think and create with light. That light is God or whatever you may choose to call it.

In sum, our real self is made of light; each of us is a particle of light in a wave of light that folks call God. You do not have to call it God; you do not even have to give it a name, it just is.

SELF IN DENSE MATTER, SELF IN LIGHT FORMS AND SELF IN FORMLESS SELF

There are three levels of the self. There is the self in our current awareness, the self in dense matter. There is the refined self, the self in light form and finally there is the formless self, the self as part of the wave of light that folks call God.

The self as we know it is in matter; this self is clouded by matter and by our desire for separated self, ego, hence does all the unloving things we do on earth.

If we learn to love one another, upon death we live as selves in light forms. The self in light form is what folks metaphorically call being at the gate of heaven.

It should be noted that even while on earth, in dense matter we already have selves in light forms. With purified eyes, that is, with loving eyes, even while one is still on earth one can see oneself and other selves in light forms.

The light self was created by God (Holy Spirit) immediately after the son of God invented the self in dense matter, a self he uses to hide from God.

Heaven is a formless place so when we return to it we lose sense of form and individuality and become part of the formless intelligence that folks call God.

Some people call these three levels of being dimensions; our world is said to be three dimensional (length, width and depth); our world plus time is four dimensional; the world of light forms is called fifth dimensional world; heaven is called the sixth dimension.

Call them what you like, the relevant point is that there are verifiable three levels of being: in our world of dense matter, in the after death world of light forms...here people and things still look like they do in our world of dense matter except that they have bodies made of light; finally, is the world of formless selves, heaven.

CONCLUSION

Our true self is part of light; that light is eternal, permanent and changeless. A part of that eternal light transformed itself to physical light and through it constructed our physical universe.

Astrophysicists, astronomers and cosmologists tell us that 13.8 billion years ago, out of nowhere a point of light emerged. That light transformed itself to matter. That light created space, time and matter (what difference does it make whether we said transformed or created?).  Light created galaxies, stars, planets, animals, trees human beings.  Only one little speck of light produced our entire physical universe.

If this is true, and it is true then common sense tells us that light is indeed very creative and powerful.  Just think of it, a speck of light produced our physical universe! How powerful was that particle of light to create the galaxies, stars and planets? It is amazing that one little point of light can produce our universe.

God is light; that light if God is our true self. In that light we lose our separated ego selves and live as one shared self with one shared mind and in so doing experience perfect peace and joy.

On earth, while living in the illusion of space, time and matter if one lets go of ones ego and lives relatively egolessly one attains relative peace and joy, not perfect peace and joy for those can only exist in formless heaven, not on earth where we are in forms, not even in the world of light forms for there we still have forms, albeit them in light. 

 

FURTHER READING 

Adler, A. (1938). Social Interest: A Challenge to Mankind. J. Linton and R. Vaughan (Trans.). London: Faber and Faber Ltd.

Adler, A. (1956). The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler. H. L. Ansbacher and R. R. Ansbacher (Eds.). New York: Harper Torchbooks.

American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Fifth Edition. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Armstrong, Karen (2004). Buddha.  New York: Penguin Press.

Bear, M. F.; B. W. Connors; M. A. Paradiso (2006). Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott.

Bhaskarananda, Swami (1994). The Essentials of Hinduism. Seattle: Viveka Press.

Binder, Marc D.; Hirokawa, Nobutaka; Windhorst, Uwe, eds. (2009). Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. Springer.

Bucke, Richard Maurice (2009). Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind.Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. 

Freud, Sigmund (1974). The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Trans. from the German under the general editorship of James Strachey, in collaboration with Anna Freud, assisted by Alix Strachey, Alan Tyson, and Angela Richards. 24 volumes, London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis. 

Fromm, Erich (1941). Escape from Freedom (U.S.), The Fear of Freedom (UK). 

Horney, Karen (1950). Neurosis and Human Growth, New York:  Norton. 

James, William (2012). The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics paperback. 

Jung, Carl Gustav (1990). Analytical Psychology: Its Theory and Practice (The Tavistock Lectures) (Ark Paperbacks).

Kendell, ER; Schwartz JH; Jessell TM (2012). Principles of Neural Science (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Kelly, George (1955). The psychology of personal constructs. Vol. I, II. New York: Norton. 

Laufer, Gabriel (1996). Introduction to Optics and Lasers in Engineering. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mbiti, John (1969). African Religions and Philosophy. African Writers Series.  London: Heinemann.

Mbiti, John (1970). Concepts of God in Africa. London: SPCK.

Narinder, Kumar (2008). Comprehensive Physics XII. Laxmi Publications. 

Plotinus. Ennead. Armstrong, A.H (1988). Plotinus; Henry, P. and Schwyzer, F. Plotinus.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 

Schucman, Helen (1976). A course in miracles. Tiburon California: Foundation for inner peace. 

Skinner, B.F. (1971). Beyond Freedom and Dignity. New York: Basic Books. 

Underhill, Evelyn (2002). Mysticism: A Study of the Nature and Development of Man's Spiritual Consciousness (1911). Twelfth edition published by E. P. Dutton in 1930. Republished by Dover Publications. 

Weinberg, Steven (1977). The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe .

 

Ozodi Thomas Osuji, PhD

www.centerformindscience.org

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(907) 310-8176

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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: ozodiosuji@gmail.com (907) 310-8176