Saturday, 16 September 2017 21:41

Is the pursuit of spirituality escape from reality?

Written by 

Chinazor Onianwah:

You might find this piece interesting; in fact, I wrote it this morning with you in mind. In my assessment, you are intensely religious and a just man but you also appreciate the stupidity of religion hence struggle to limit your behavior to what science can prove to be true. Your struggle is my struggle. Ozodiobi


Ozodi Thomas Osuji

As I survey the human landscape and behold those who talk about religion and or spirituality, generally what I see are those who are not fully engaged with the world as it is in the here and now.

The objective world is impersonal and tough; the world does not give us what we need to survive with; we must work for our survival; we ask for a father figure, god, to help us survive in our precarious world; we are vulnerable and could use help in surviving in this dog eat dog world; we are motivated to escape from our tough, impersonal world and flee into a suiting but probably non-existent heaven (?).

Science, technology and business deal with the objective world.  Science tries to understand the world as it is; technology uses the understanding of science to construct contraptions that enable people to adapt to the objective world; business provides people with the means to live in the world as it is. Science, technology and business are here and now things; they are not escapist from the phenomenal world.

To the contrary, if you look at those who are into religion and spirituality what you see are people who ignore the world as it is and talk about other worldly matters that seem  not to have relevance to this world.

Those into spirituality talk about Eastern concepts like chakras in the body, kundalini energy, crystals healing power, spirit guides and channeled books (that do not actually explain the phenomenal world but talk in global, poetic terms).

Spirituality does not seem relevant to coping with the world as it is. The question is this: is spirituality mere wishful thinking, a result of our desire to overcome death and live forever and ever when there is no evidence of life after death?

Is spirituality motivated by fear of death; is spirituality mere magical effort to overcome death? Alternatively, is the existence of spirits self-evident, is it true, is it something we must do; must we seek understanding of spirits and God because they are inherent part of who we are?

I hate to believe that the search for spirits is escape from the impersonal ugly world we live in.  My empirical observation shows me that those who talk about spirits do not seem to do anything to improve our extant world.

Consider Helen Schuman and her A course in miracles crew; none of them lifted a finger to improve our present world; they lived in the critical 1960s and 1970s America where folks were fighting for civil rights but they did not lift a finger to help in that fight for social justice; instead, they stayed on the sidelines talking about what Jesus said or did not say.

Listen, to me, what Jesus said is useless if it does not contribute to social justice in the here and now world.

I am writing this little essay because of my perception of members of my Osuji kindred. Most of them live in Nigeria, some in the West. They are Igbos.

Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB have been running around agitating for Biafra but no Osuji has joined his struggle for Biafra.

You may like or hate Mr. Kanu but there is one thing that you cannot say about him: you cannot say that he is not a true leader.

The man is a leader. A leader sees a problem and tries to solve it, and does so the best way he knows how. How he goes about solving it, in hindsight, may not be the best way to do so but he did try to solve the problem he perceived.

A leader does not sit idly doing nothing while problems fester.  A leader articulates a goal, what must be done, his vision, his idea of how to solve his perceived problem. He does not leave it at merely positing goals, he tries to actualize his goals; dreamers' merely posit goals and objectives but do not invest energy and time trying to realize them.

Leaders are dreamers who also are doers. Thus, instead of merely talking about goals and objectives, a leader actually organizes people and seeks resources with which to accomplish his goals.

Mr. Kanu saw a problem; as he sees it Igbos are marginalized in Nigeria. Nigeria appears to be the fiefdom of Fulanis and their servants, Hausas. He defined the solution as Igbos leaving Nigeria and having their own sovereign country that he called Biafra. He mobilized Igbos, mostly semi educated Igbo youth, and sought material resources (he was all over North America soliciting money for his cause) with which to accomplish his objective.

The man does what leaders do and in my definition is a leader. I know a thing or two about leadership. I have written books and articles on leadership and been a leader; albeit within the circumscribed milieu of governmental agencies (I have been the executive director of a couple government agencies and thus used men and material to accomplish organizational goals).

Mr. Nnamdi Kanu is a leader. We must give him credit for that fact.  We may disagree with his goals and means for achieving those goals but we cannot say that he is not a leader. (Since I also wear an academic hat, I have no doubt that many professors of political science, sociology and psychology will do studies on the "Kanu phenomenon"; tons of scholarly articles and books will be written on the man! As they say, leaders do things but scholars write and teach about them!)

My present preoccupation is my perception of my kinfolk. None of them is lifting a finger to either help fight Mr.Kanu's war or vigorously oppose him. I would have loved for some of them to have joined his bandwagon or if they did not like what he was doing stood up and opposed him. What I do not like is their do nothingness!

To the best of my knowledge all the adult Osuji folk went to universities.  They are generally very bright. I doubt that there is an Osuji whose IQ is not, at least, above average (IQ of 120 and above; superior IQ is 132 and above; you need above average IQ to go to graduate school and become a professional such as medical doctor or engineer). We have some Osuji's with superior intelligence at America's top universities such as Stanford, Columbia, University of California and top research institutions such as the Center for Disease Control. We have medical doctors, engineers, professors and researchers in our extended family.  But none of these people lifts a finger to fight the necessary fight for Igbos welfare.

Nor do they fight to solve Nigerian and Africans problems. In the USA where  over twenty of them live all they do is complete their education  and obtain a cushy job,  make a  decent living but do not lift a finger to fight our African American wars.

So, a white police officer beats up a black American teenager for just been black and black folks go demonstrate, I do my own type of fighting, go to the police station and complain and write about discrimination.

I look at my fellow Osujis and see that they do not seem to mind how our African Americans are treated by white racists.

I say to me:  what is the matter with these folks, how come they do not fight for social justice?  I try to explain their withdrawal from the wars we must fight to improve our world.

I think that these people escaped into the wooly world of religion and that prevents them from lifting their fingers to do actual fighting for justice in the here and now world.  They go to church and read their bible. They are intensely religious folks. They quote the bible and use it to tell you what God said or did not say.

Here is the deal:  I suspect that these people are using religion to escape from the painful realities of this world. I wish that they could put the damn bible aside and right now, today, go to Saint Louis (as we speak black folks are demonstrating there) and join our black American siblings to fight the latest white outrage, the acquittal of a white police officer who deliberately said that he was going to kill him a nigger and did exactly that.

My question is this: are we using religion to avoid dealing with the issues of our contemporary world. I myself, while I do not belong to any organized religion, study religion and spirituality; am I escaping from our ugly world?

Should I leave religion and spirituality alone and simply deal with our world as it is? But a part of me keeps telling me that there is something beyond matter in our lives. So I struggle to understand whatever that metaphysical aspect of us is.

In trying to understand spirit I find my energy sapped, not used to deal with the here and now world's issues.

The effort to understand spirit is time consuming; just think of the years I spent studying Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, Gnosticism and, of course, my inherited Christianity. God, one can waste all of one's energy trying to figure out if God exists or not.

So, why not just give up the idea of God and live in the here and now reality? Somehow, it is difficult for me to embrace atheism and become a materialist. I keep suspecting that there is something more than matter in my life.

I am actually not afraid of death; if upon death oblivion awaits me so much the better; who wants to live in another suffering filled world?

My question is this: is religion a mere escape from the ugly realities of this world. What do you think?

Ozodi Thomas Osuji, PhD (University of California)

September 16, 2017

Dr. Osuji plans to transform his center for mind science into a full-fledged institute for the study of the relationship of body, mind and spirit; a university that offers academic degrees. If you have discretional income and want to contribute to this endeavor we could use donation from you. Our current goal is to raise $100 million dollars. Please contribute to this endeavor. For inquiry call (907) 310-8176. Thank you.

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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: (907) 310-8176