DR. QUANZY SALAKO I NEED YOUR HELP!
Dr. Quanzy Salako where are you when I really need you! In the past you showed uncanny understanding of dreams; you interpreted some of my dreams better than the best psychoanalyst would. I need you to interpret the following dream for me. So, if you are reading this piece please feel free to give me your interpretation of it. My Igbo compatriots do not pay attention to such things as dream interpretation; they are lost in living life at the appearance level; they are mostly only chasing prestige and material wealth and do not pay attention to their minds; they are so superficial that I often feel dismayed by the lack of depth and subtlety in their thinking. Oh well, you seek help wherever you can get it. I know that you are angry at me because of my apparent anti-Muslim stance. If it helps do realize that I am also anti other foreign religions. I am seeking a religion invented by us, not one given to us by foreigners. Anyway, Quanzy, you are my psychoanalyst so please help me out here.
Thank you, my main man.
December 10, 2016
In this dream I was in a room with my mother, Teresa (at Apapa, Lagos, where we used to live); she was lying on a bed; she had given up on life, wanting to die; I asked her to get up and go do what the living do and desist from her desire to die. The scene shifted and I was with my son, Obi; he was about ten years old here. I was on a road on a hill and he was walking his bicycle down the hill; where he was at looked like a park (he used to ride his bicycle along with me as I jogged). A truck came behind him and stopped and I yelled at the truck driver not to move until Obi was safely out of the way. He managed to find a part of the hill that is not very steep and walked his bicycle up and I grabbed the bicycle and he came up and joined me on the road and I woke up.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS DREAM?
A dream can be interpreted in many possible ways all of them equally valid; be that as it may, the below interpretation is what came to my mind; of course, in the future other interpretations may come up for me. (If the reader is a dream interpreter and wants to share his interpretation of this dream with me he is welcome to do so.)
The dream has two parts; the first part is my perception of my mother and the second part deals with my relationship with my son. Let us take each part at a time.
The first part shows my perception of my mother. I saw mother as a hard working woman who nevertheless was depressed. I saw mother as not invested in living life on earth and as a woman who found life on earth meaningless and pointless. I saw her as trying to escape from life by throwing herself into ceaseless work. She was driven to work; she had to work. If she did not work she would not know what to do with herself. I never saw her idle, doing nothing. She slept a few hours at night, got up in the morning and went to work, doing this or that.
By my teenage years, I believed that if mother did not work she would remember her underlying depression (I have been a psychologist all my life; I really did not have to study psychology to know it for even as a ten year old I could diagnose folks mental disorders) and did not want to be aware of that and worked to avoid awareness of her depression.
The American Psychiatric Association, in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition, 2013, defines depression as a feeling that life is pointless; that feeling of hopelessness is accompanied with loss of interest in the activities of daily living, such as schooling, playing, work and socializing and self-grooming; the clinically depressed has no interest in living; he has given up on life and lays on his bed, fatigued and not wishing to get up; often he has suicidal thoughts; at that point depressed persons are hospitalized and given anti depression medications, such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Wellbutrin and so on.
Mother did not talk much but the few times she talked she said something that tells you that she found life depressing and pointless. For example, she would repeat the Igbo proverb that you can wash the human anus with all the soap in this world and that it would still smell of feces. This proverb means that life cannot be improved regardless of what you did to improve it; life would end in disappointment and death. As Americans say: life is pain and then you die; what a bummer!
Mother lived with covert despair and used ceaseless work to avert awareness of her underlying despondency.
When her first son, Eugene, was killed by Nigerians (in 1969) she became overtly depressed. She was catatonic and laid on her bed for over a week; she refused to get up or do anything. It took her sisters to talk her out of her shocked state. One day, she got up and went right back to work saying that she must work for her other children to be trained. Thus, a few years after the end of the Nigerian civil war, largely due to her efforts, I was done with secondary school and went to the USA. She helped train all her sons to college level.
The second part of the dream is telling me something about my relationship with my first son, Obi. The dream is symbolic of my detached love for him. My son being down an embankment and trying to come to me at the top of the hill and me not going down there to rescue him means that I see my parental role as one of helping him to grow up, waiting for him to grow up but not actively doing something for him. This means that I am not necessarily a helper but an encourager. On the whole, the dream shows good relationship with my son but a relationship that could use my active hands helping him rather than staying afar from him and from there telling him what to do.
THE LESSON OF THE DREAM FOR ME
Regardless of what the characters in one's dream do the dream is telling one something about one. The dream, after all, is the projection of one's mind.
In dreams one is thinking and projecting ones thinking into pictures, images and making the images seem outside one. Dreams are ones thinking projected out; dreams are the out-picturing of ones thinking; thus, dreams say more about one than about the people in the dreams.
Some solipsists, such as George Berkeley, claim that our day world is our dream; this time, our collective dream; is the day world a dream? Since in one's nightly dream one project out what seems like our day world, it is tempting to see our day world as also a dream that our collective minds projected out, isn't it?
Hinduism, indeed, sees our world as a dream in the mind of Brahman who is one with his sons, Atman.
The overall lesson of the dream is that how I see mother is how I see me. I said that mother saw life as pointless and meaningless. This is an inference I drew from her utterances and behaviors; she did not directly tell me that she saw life as meaningless; in effect, I could be projecting my own assumption that life in body is pointless to her.
What I know about me is that I seek escape from life's apparent meaninglessness. My inference is that mother did the same thing. In my view, mother sought escape from her underlying depression with ceaseless work.
I, too, have an underlying pessimistic and depressed view of life and seek escape from it; first, through wishful thinking.
I have often wondered whether optimists who see life with rose colored lenses are intelligent. Can one have a superior IQ, anything above 132, and have an optimistic view of life? I tend to think that only dullards can see the human condition, the fact that we are born, live a life of diseases and suffering and die and our bodies decay see human life is good. As a kid I used to ask laughing other kids: what are you laughing at, don't you see life as awful and if so how come you are always smiling as if you won the lottery.
I inherited serious medical disorders: cytochrome c oxidase deficiency and spondylolysis; those made me feel weak and inadequate, and as a result during my childhood I would lie on my bed wishing how my life could be better. I over employed the ego defense of fantasy. I fantasized how to improve my life and how I could become physically strong. I would use a mental magical wand and wave it around and the world would become heavenly (what is heaven, anyway; is heaven always our imagination, whatever we want it to be for us?).
I imagined a world where all would be good and we all lived in the lap of l luxury. My living in fantasy continued through my undergraduate and graduate school years (through my twenties). I used to fantasize how to improve the world through socialism (until I realized that communism and socialism required brutal force to implement and maintain it hence the necessity of dictatorship; an authoritarian, totalitarian and monolithic government such as existed in the USSR and China and Cuba and that repulsed me).
In my thirties it became clear to me that people cannot really be changed. Thereafter, I escaped into religious fantasy. I studied Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Gnosticism, Christian Science, Religious Science, Unity and A course in miracles. I used their teachings to continue my wish for an idealized world.
What I was doing is seeking an ideal alternative to this meaningless world (in college I had read up on existentialism and considered myself an existentialist; I was a walking-talking expert on Kierkegaard, Alfred Adler, Kafka, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, Jasper, Heidegger; these existential writers found life on earth meaningless and sought solution in discovering what one likes doing and throwing one's self into doing it 24-7).
Simply put, from my childhood I found this world painful and pointless and was seeking escape from it. Wishful thinking was my childhood solution and in my thirties religious idealism became my preferred escape from the realities of this world.
AMERICA IS MADNESS
I have lived in America since leaving secondary school. Therefore, I really completed my psychological growth in America. As a perspicacious kid it immediately became clear to me that American society is organized madness! This is literal, not figurative.
The only choice a child has in America is to decide how to adapt to the madness that is America. By the time a child becomes an adult in America he is literally mad, not figuratively.
Listen, all Americans are mad. In America, it is either you are mad to make it in its weird society or you drop out of society and go live in the woods or become a hippie!
Perceiving Americans madness I tuned them out and sought alternative to them in religious fantasy. Thus, I threw myself to studying religions. I do not need to be dishonestly modest by telling lies; the truth is that I know about the religions of the world as any expert on religions could.
Eventually, I saw the limitations of religions. Religions are filled with wishful thinking. It is people that posit what they believe is God and turn around and worship it. It does not mean that God does not exist but means that what we understand as God is of our making.
God is a human invention; we created God in our image and turned around and said that he created us in his image; we projected what we see in us to what we call God.
I did what mankind has always done: I created God and his heaven in my own image. Of course, I knew what I was doing! I am not your unconscious normal zombie; I am a chap who is always analyzing what is in his unconscious mind and trying to understand how it affects my conscious behavior. Hello, Sigmund Freud; I did not waste five years of my life trying to understand you and your disciples' writings on psychoanalysis!
Erich Fromm also concluded that America society is bizarre, is a bedlam, a mad house and fled from America to go live in Mexico (see Fromm's Escape from Freedom; Man for himself; The Anatomy of Evil, and his numerous other books to see how he grabs you).
MOTHER HAD PHYSCIAL AND SOCIAL REASONS FOR FINDING LIFE NOT WORTH LIVING
Why was mother the way she was? She complained, in Igbo language, that all her life she has had "Mgbawa Ukwu",
She said that she had pain in her legs. I am going to assume that it is like what I have, cytochrome C oxidase deficiency, a mitochondria disorder. A little bit of exercising, especially running and my body release Creatine Kinase, CK, and that makes my muscles feel stressed and pained and I would have to go sit down for walking is simply impossible.
I inherited COX from my mother (it is always inherited from the mother's side). My father had spondylolysis of the fifth lumber vertebra and in one of the thoracic vertebra. Since I have those I inherited them from him.
Mother's parents died in quick succession when she was young. I surmise that that was depressing for her. That made her feel like an orphan and contributed to her seeing life as always ending in death hence pointless.
Because of her physical pains and the fact that her parents died when she was very young she despaired. She found the world a place of pain and death and was depressed and tried to escape from her pain and despondency by always working.
Mother escaped from the world's meaninglessness by always working. She never relaxed like other women did; she seldom went to church and sang to her God, as I saw her sisters doing (her elder sister, I swear, probably did not have more sex than it took to have her three children; she lived her Catholic religion; she was always at church, doing everything a good Catholic woman is supposed to do, praying and singing to her lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; that woman lived like a nun; whereas mom was not overly invested in religion she, too, lived like a nun, eschewing sex; I doubt that she had more sex than it took to have her children; we called mom, Saint Teresa of Owerri; grandmother, Mather was a queen; she was very tall, fair in complexion, regal and majestic; sex was the furthest thing from her mind; white folks have this idea that black folks live all their lives having sex; the fools ought to come see members of my extended family where sex is merely tolerated but certainly not sought or enjoyed).
Mother's life was work, work and work; her goal was to make money and use it to train her children through university and she did; thanks mom. But I wished that she relaxed and smelled the roses like I saw other women doing; I wished that she laughed more often than she did. Alas, life does not kowtow to my wishes; life is what it is; each of us has a personality and my job is to observe it as I see it rather than worry about what it should be.
I inherited my tendency to seeking escape from this world from mother. My father did not seek escape from this world, at least not as much as mother did. After schooling in his village, he did all sorts of things to make money, including trading; before the man was twenty he had been all over West Africa, from Senegal to Angola, trading. Nevertheless, father was an intellectual, a philosopher. When he was not working, he and I talked about ideas. I inherited my philosophical nature from him.
I doubt that there is an academic philosopher who can out-compete me talking about Western philosophy. In my early twenties I could teach you all you wanted to know about Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Cicero, Zeno, Epictetus, Plotinus, Spinoza, Descartes, Voltaire, Pascal, Hume, Berkley, Hobbes, Locke, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mills, James, and Bergson and so on (see my writings on western philosophers as well as my writings on Eastern philosophers such as Confucius, Buddha, Shankara, Ramanuja, Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi).
My means of escaping from depression and pain is idealism. Initially, neurotic wishful thinking and later metaphysical wishful thinking were my forte; those enabled me to escape the reality of our pointless existence.
FUCK THINKING AND DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIFE!
At some point I realized that life may be pointless and meaningless but that escape into ideals and perfection did not change it; perfection exist only in our minds; when you try to actualize perfection in matter, space and time, in our bodies it becomes imperfect; the pursuit of perfection is thus a waste of time.
Therefore, instead of trying to escape to imaginary ideals why not do something to live well on earth; why not make the most of the meaningless lives we live on earth?
I told me to seek a way to live fully my meaningless life and then exit from the theatre of the absurd that is our lives. As Shakespeare said in his immortal play, Macbeth: life is like a tale told by a fool, full of sound and fury but in the end signifying nothing; we are all like poor actors in life's absurd theater; we play the parts assigned to us, or that we chose, and disappear from the scene and are heard from no more; and other actors come and play their parts and the absurd show continues.
I concluded that I do not have to escape into depression or to paranoia; nor is suicide a courageous thing to do; life may be absurd but it actually can be interesting if you are doing what you like doing.
Paranoia, as I have written at several places, is really a futile attempt to mask ones underlying depression. The paranoid person sees life as pointless; he correctly sees his self as a reed blown about by the wind, as nothing; he is unable to accept that reality; he uses his imagination and thinking to come up with a big self-concept, a grandiose, unrealistic self-concept and self-image and wants to become it.
The paranoid person thinks that if he becomes the big self his imagination invents that somehow his life would become meaningful; unable to become the cherished big self he merely pretends it.
Paranoia is pretension that one is a very important self when one is no such self. How do we know that he is not powerful, important and invincible? Well, put a bullet into any human being's head and in six minutes he is dead and, as Shakespeare observed in Hamlet, he becomes food for worms.
We are nothing but the paranoid person wants to seem like he is something significant; he is not special but merely pretends it and wants you to collude with him and see him as he wants to be.
If you dare see the paranoid person as a naked emperor he feels angry at you. His anger is meant to get you to see him as important.
I am Igbo and to understand me I have found it necessary to understand Igbos. Many Igbos are paranoid personalities. They are acutely aware of their meaningless selves and pointless existence and want to have meaningful selves; they invent ideal, powerful selves and pretend to be them; they want other Nigerians to see them as they want to be, as special; other Nigerians see them as clowns and criminals and occasionally prove it to them by killing them!
If you are so powerful how come Hausas machete you to death?
The cure for paranoia is for one to accept ones underlying sense of nothingness. One does not have to be depressed; one can accept reality as it is, depressing, and make the most of it without being depressed or escaping to paranoid fantasy big self.
As our existentialist friends tell us: figure out what you are very good at doing, what you have aptitude in doing and go do it all the time. In doing it you will forget that life stinks.
For example, in writing about the human condition I forget that people are really animals who live meaningless existence; people are born, suffer and die.
Of course there is always the chance that there is life after we die; but I am not in a metaphysical mood right now. Read my writings on the three levels of being (our lives in bodies; our lives in light forms and our lives in formless state).
EMBRACE REALISM AND GIVE UP WISHFUL IDEALISM
They say that a fool at forty is a fool forever. In my forties I accepted existential realism and gave up the foolish wish for ideals and perfection in an imperfect world. What does that mean?
It means that I now engage in only those thinking and behaviors that are realistic to the human condition; I no longer seek escape into imaginary ideal, perfect states.
Realism, for example, teaches me that people are at different levels in their evolution in space and time whereas idealism tells me that all people are equal and the same. Some people are higher in their evolution than other persons. The many are actually closer to animals than to human beings!
I hate to say it but must say the truth. My perception of my ethnic group members, Igbos is that many of them are, more or less, like animals rather than human beings. Their level of emotional maturity is almost zero. In pursuit of money they readily engage in anti-social behaviors; they steal, sell drugs, kidnap their own people and hold them hostage for monetary ransom; if you engage in business with them they will likely seek ways to reap you off, take your money and destroy the business. Simply put, it gradually dawned on me that they are like animals and are not yet quite human beings.
Realism told me that it is pointless wishing that they behave morally for they are not going to do so. What I decided to do is then model appropriate behaviors for them without deluding myself that they are going to be really moral. In this life time they are animals rather than human beings. It will take them a couple more hundred years before they become human beings; in the present they have to be seen as sub-human beings and treated as such.
I have seen adult Igbos making fun of people with physical handicaps. That is true. They engage in behaviors expected of five year old children yet they are in their fifties. They are simply emotionally underdeveloped or have arrested development.
Many Igbo children, instead of helping each other learn when they see a child that does not know something they pounce on him and make fun of him (they compose songs saying that he knows nothing).
These people specialize in putting people down and in the process destroy people's self-esteems instead of build up their self-confidence. There is no other way of putting it than to say that they are primitive; thus, I decided to avoid them.
My more realistic perception of Igbos segued to a realistic perception of people in general. I realized that human beings are at different levels in their emotional and psychological development. American white conservatives, for example, do not see the absurdity of not giving all their citizens publicly paid health insurance and paying for their children's education through university, as they should do if they are true human beings.
Most human beings are developmentally savages; I no longer expect savages to behave as civilized people.
In metaphysical language I actually asked people to behave as underdeveloped persons so as to offer me the opportunity to see how underdeveloped people are. I asked them to do to me what their warped personalities did to me.
If one needs to experience injustice one asks people who are unjust to do to one what is unjust so that one experiences injustices and feels angry (or forgives it). If one had not wanted to experience injustice one would not have had unjust people around one and they would not have acted unjustly towards one.
Now that they have acted unjustly towards one, initially, one reacts with anger, which means that one is in the ego but later one realizes that one is dealing with children who do not know any better and therefore instead of being angry at them one shows them how to behave justly, not that they would behave justly.
One simply models appropriate behaviors for savages to learn from and leave it at that. Most people are childish and out of their childishness do what they do. One should not be angry at them but should patiently do what is right and leave it at that without moralizing about their unjust behaviors because they could not help but be unjust.
Love the Christ in people and smile at their egos underdeveloped behaviors; this is my attitude towards people. This is a realistic attitude for it does not expect people to be angels and thereafter feel disappointed that they are not. One accepts people where they are at in evolution.
In trying to interpret a dream my mind has ranged all over the place. This is the way life is. One dream teaches one about life in general.
My dream this morning told me a lot about my character, my movement from idealism to realism; my acceptance of reality as it is and determination to make the most of it without being depressed by it or fleeing into wild idealism and or paranoia.
Finally, my telling my mother to get up and go do something is really my telling me to go do something with my life. Lately, I have not focused on a goal and went after it with all I got; I have not went for broke, as in the past I used to do, in pursuit of desired goals and objectives; I am telling me not to be depressed and give up on life and for me to go do something with my life, to have clarity of purpose, know what I want to do with my life and go do it with total dedication, devotion and commitment.
If you do not know where you want to go to you will get to nowhere; unless you have a purpose you will achieve nothing.
Having a realistic goal, not some ideal fantasy on how to change people and make the world a better place, you cannot change people, and pursuing it with total commitment and doing so 24-7 is the only known recipe for success in this world.
December 10, 2016