Thursday, 01 February 2018 08:34

To experience God you must not have a self concept

Written by 


Ozodi Thomas Osuji

A human child is born.  He is part of life. Life has intelligence and consciousness. The conscious, intelligent life in the child immediately uses his experience in his body and human society to construct a self-concept.

By age six the typical human child has already constructed a self-concept and translated it into a self-image (Kelly, George, 1955).

The self-concept is the idea of who the child believes that he is; it is an idea translated into pictorial form, a self-image.

The self-concept and self-image is dependent on the particular exigencies of the individual child's inherited body, whether it is healthy or unhealthy, pained or relatively pain free.

The family and society that the child is born into gives him all sorts of feedback as to who he is and or should be. By the time the child begins schooling at age six his self-concept and self-image is in place.

To make this paper less abstract and more real I will use myself as the subject. My self-concept and self-image was in place when I began schooling at age six and really has not changed that much. I am going to assume that most people are like me, that they formed their self-concepts and self-images before age six and that they are still living with their self-concepts.

The self-concept and the self-image once formed becomes the lenses with which the individual looks at everything in his world; it is like a pair of seeing glasses that one wears and uses to see the rest of the world; one seldom sees the world as it is but always sees it with the coloring of the glasses that one wears.

Self-concepts are glass darkly (said Saint Paul) and through them one cannot see the world objectively. One's perception of things is shaped and colored by one's self concept and self-image.

At some point in my life, I asked: how are people and the external world without my self-concept and self-image giving them the coloration I see them as?

I do not know how the people and the world are apart from my self-concept and self-image. None of us sees things as they are for we see them with our myopic lenses. Even the most objective physical scientist still has cultural biases affecting his perception and seldom sees things clearly. Western scientists see phenomena from the perspective of Western culture, not necessarily from the disinterested, dispassionate and impersonal universalistic lenses they claim to see things with.


In childhood each of us becomes aware that our bodies are vulnerable to harm and that our lives are temporary and that in time we will die.

Whoever lives in body must die. Body is composed of matter which is composed of elements and which is composed of electrons, protons and neutrons; all matter must decompose. Body must decompose, die and change forms.

Built into each of us and other animals is a powerful desire to live at all costs. You desire to live as a self in body and fear the death of your body. This will to live forever in body is in people and animals.

Years ago I was in the Washington DC area. I lived in a rooming house. Many of us shared the same kitchen.  In the middle of the night I would get up to go get something out of our shared refrigerator. I would turn on the light. I would see cockroaches everywhere.

I do not like the sight of cockroaches. So, I bought a fly swatter. When I go to the kitchen I am with my swatter. I would swat the cockroaches to death.

I noticed something extraordinary. The moment that I turn on the light and begin swatting the buggers to death, the cockroaches on the wall would let go of their grips on the wall and fall down and try to scramble into dark crevices, such as under the stove before I swatted them to death. That is, the cockroaches are willing to give themselves pain from falling down to gain the opportunity of living to see another day.

This tells me that animals so want to live in bodies that if it means giving themselves temporary pain they would do it so as to survive.

In this light, slaves accept slavery (pain) with the understanding that in the future they would become freed.   People would tolerate slavery in their bid to live provided that they see hope for future freedom.

Talking about slavery, Washington DC, the US capital used to be plantations where African slaves toiled. Whenever I am in the DC area I sense the suffering of Africans in the new world and feel depressed and quickly leave that cursed town.

Fear is built into our bodies; it is an instinct.  Something happens that your body and mind interprets as capable of harming and or killing you, without stopping to think about it, you run away from it or fight it (this is called the flight or fight response to fear).

Fear response is mediated by complex biochemical responses in our bodies. The discussion of the biochemistry of fear is beyond the scope of this paper, let me just note that in fear our bodies release excitatory neurochemicals, such as adrenalin, and shut down inhibitory neurochemicals such as GABA; the excitatory chemicals make our organs quicken their functions, make our lungs breathe faster, make our hearts pump blood more rapidly, our muscles tense and work faster, our nerves work faster sending and receiving messages to the brain.


When the human child feels pain it feels its life threatened and experiences fear.  In the state of fear the child's body is hyper aroused and his mind thinks fast seeking ways to survive.

If he cannot run away from the fear arousing stimulus, especially if it is inside his body, such as fear induced by medical disorders, the child uses his mind to try reducing that fear.  He uses his mind to invent a big, powerful self, a false fictional self that he believes would enable him to fight and defeat whatever makes him fearful. In time the child identifies with the imaginary, powerful self.

When a child, because of fear of harm and death, invents a grandiose self-concept and identifies with it he now looks at his self, other people and the world from the imaginary, superior self.

Such children develop what psychoanalysts call neurosis and contemporary psychiatrists call personality disorders, especially those personality disorders associated with big self-views, such as opposition defiance, narcissistic and or paranoid personality disorders.

Children who develop personality disorders, which can be seen by age nine (you can see oppositional defiance in a child of nine) do not do well at school. They do not learn structured subjects like mathematics and English grammar well.

To learn Mathematics, Grammar and science in general you need to have a relaxed body and mind, a body not over aroused by fear and a mind calm enough to engage in rigorous problem solving.

Pupils under the influence of fear tend to be somatically over aroused and make poor learners. All human beings are a bit like this hence no human being really learns at more than ten percent of his learning capability.

Fearful and anxious children learn at about one percent of their capability. Since, additionally, anxious children fear making mistakes, they want to protect their grandiose egos; they may drop out of school. Away from school (and later from the work place) they fancy that they are the greatest people on earth.

The fearful and anxious person (say, avoidant personality disorder) must now find a way to reduce his over aroused body; he must let the aroused neurochemicals return to their neuro receptors.  These people must figure out ways to reduce their fears so as to reduce the level of their somatic excitation.  To do so they must reconfigure their self-concepts.

Fear despite seemingly rooted in body is a mental issue. You can decide not to be fearful and give up fearfulness. Fear can be overcome.

There are two types of courage; there is the fear and anger driven courage; this is the ego acting tough; this type of courage is found in the great soldiers and leaders of this world.

There is the egoless courage that simply does the right thing; the right thing meaning that which loves the self and other selves and does it calmly, peacefully and happily without taking credit for the self because it knows that credit belongs to the whole self, God.

It is the second type of courage and fearlessness that you see in a person who has renounced the ego and lives from the egoless, unified self, also called the Christ self, the Buddha self, the Atman; call it what you like, what it symbolizes is the self that knows itself to be one with all selves and God and in it is calmly assured of its safety.


Is it possible to get rid of one's self concept and self-image and not have any idea, opinion of who one is and simply be part of life, consciousness and intelligence? Can I give up my self-concept, self-image and ego and simply live as part of life?

It is in thinking about this question and struggling to live without coloring my world with my past learning, my self-concept and self-image that I had the most wonderful realization one can have. What is the realization? It is that I am not my self-concept; I am not my self-image. I am simply a unit of life.

Gautama Buddha had this realization 2500 years ago; Lao Tzu, in his book, Tao Te Ching, written 2500 years ago, said the same thing that Buddha realized. There is something that we can call life, which Lao Tzu called Tao (pronounced Dao).

What life, Tao, is I do not know and nobody on planet earth knows, for the Tao that can be understood is not the Tao.

Some call life spirit or God. To define life is to limit it since what is defined and named is limited.

Life cannot be limited. Life is limitless and infinite in its manifestations. The same life that manifests in human beings as human beings manifests in animals, plants and trees and in unconscious matter, say, rocks and stars (albeit in a manner that we do not yet understand). We simply cannot define life. All we can say is that life is limitless in its nature.

When I gave up seeing me as my self-concept and self-image I simply felt as one with life. In that oneness with life I felt eternal, permanent and changeless. Life changes in the forms it manifests in but not in itself.


Given my inherited biological constitution and social experience I had to develop a certain type of self-concept (the self-concept is the same thing as personality and behavior pattern).

Everybody was born into a unique body and had a unique family and social experience and by necessity developed a certain type of ego, self-concept and personality; each of us is unique in his ego type and personality structure.

Given your body and social experience you cannot not be your self-concept and self-image; your specific personality is your earthly reality.

I accept my ego, my personality and self-concept as inevitable given my body and social experience.

Haven accepted my personality I deliberately ignored it! I deliberately overlooked my ego, self-concept.

I see my ego, self-concept and personality as mere ideas that I reached about me during my childhood, ideas of who I think that I am, ideas based on the limited information available to me when I was a child.

Simply put, I reached the conclusion that my self-concept, ego and personality are not who I am.  There is a different me; that different me is life itself.

It is the life in me and you that does the constructing and conceptualizing of the self and what all the things in the world are.

Hindus and Buddhists taught me how to meditate. In meditation they teach you to deliberately give up your self-concept, self-image and ego and accept that you do not know who you are, who other people are and what things that you see in the world are.

The Oriental religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Zen ask us, in meditation, to simply empty our minds of all ego conceptualizing categories and concepts and remain silent.

To meditate you must accept that you do not know anything and must give up your ego perceptual lenses.


If you empty your mind of all ideas and attain inner silence the first thing that happens is that you feel calm and peaceful; your mind no longer has your self-concept and self-image in it. You literally feel like the old personality you had no longer exists.

From here on you see your mind for what it is, a mechanism for thinking and understanding. Mind is not a tangible thing; it is not something that you can touch.  Mind is consciousness.

Mind is made of nonphysical light. When you expunge all separated self-concepts from your mind, remove all concepts of who you are, people are, things are, the universe and God is, when you sweep your mind clean of all ideas you see all things in light forms.

All things, your body, people's bodies, trees, animals, and stars and the entire universe are made of light. The same gross matter forms that you see of things have light forms aspects of them. This is not metaphysical mumbo jumbo.

Consider that matter is composed of atoms and atoms are composed of electrons, protons and neutrons. Protons and neutrons and electrons are made of photons, light. What we see as dense matter is actually disguised light!

With sufficient heat we can reduce your body, trees, rocks, stars and the entire universe back to light, for they all were made from light.

If you persist in not seeing the world from your self-concept and conceptual point of view and simply allow your mind to be blank, void, emptied of all ego categories of thinking you would sometimes experience the entire universe as one wave of light that has no beginning and end.  That light is not physical light, it has no name but we can call it spiritual light.

That light is conscious and is intelligent; it is total intelligence (in it you know everything there is to know).

Each human being is a particle of that universal spiritual light. The universal wave of light and its particles are one; they share one self and one mind.

If you like, you can say that there is one universal self, aka God; that one self has one universal mind; each of us is a unit of the universal self and universal mind; each of us is a particle of light in the universal wave of light called God.

The experience of the self as part of universal light is what Hindus and Buddhists call enlightenment and illumination. Hinduism says that if one eliminates ones ego self-concept that one goes through moksha and attains oneness with all things in a state of light; this is called Samadhi; Buddhism calls it Nirvana; Zen calls it Satori; Christian mysticism calls it the mystical union of God and his son.


There is one universal life, call it God. That one universal life, God, has infinite units, parts; each of us is a unit of that one universal life; in anthropomorphic terms, each of us is a son of God. God has infinite sons.

God and his infinite sons literally share one self and one mind; they are literally one.  This is the nature of eternity, aka heaven.

The units of God, and since God is a wave of spiritual  light, the particles of light, for some reasons desired to separate from the whole light (God) and from each other. They cannot separate from the whole and other parts of the whole. Separation from the whole is impossible.

Life remains one unified life; God and his sons remain unified. The union of God and his sons is eternal and inseparable.

In the union of God and his sons we are eternal, permanent and changeless.  This state of eternal union is what folks call heaven. It is characterized by perfect peace and joy, bliss.

Each of us, a son of God desired to separate from God and other sons of God. Whereas one cannot really separate from union, nevertheless, one has the capacity to seem to have done so.

As it were, we, the sons of God, who are one with each other and God, seem to have gone to sleep and in our sleep dream that we are now separated from each other and from the wholeness of being called God.

We have not separated from the whole or from each other but in our dream awareness we seem to have done so; we seem to live as separated selves.

On earth, in the dream of separation each of us sees his self-housed in body (made of sixty four elements...mostly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, sodium, chlorine, iron, copper, zinc, sulfur, magnesium, and phosphor and so on).  We now are in bodies that walk around in space and time; it all seems real to us.

It is impossible not to believe that body, space and time are real if one is on earth, is in the dream of separation.

It takes negation of the separated ego self, body, space and time for one to return to the awareness of our eternal union with each other and with God.

As long as you identify with your body and ego and believe that you live in space and time you cannot regain the awareness of your real self, part of formless God.


On earth, in the dream of separation we perceive ourselves as separated from other selves and from the whole self (God). We look around and realize that what gives one pain may not give other people pain (our bodies have different pain thresholds).

Our bodies are vulnerable; all sorts of things could harm and or destroy one's body. One then feels a need to protect and defend one's body and separated self.

Each of us does whatever he can to protect and defend his body and separated self-concept.  We use food, medications, clothes, houses etc. to protect our bodies; we use ego defense mechanisms to defend our separated ego self-concepts.

(The ego defense mechanisms include repression, suppression, denial, displacement, projection, rationalization, sublimation, reaction –formation, fantasy, avoidance, anger, fear, pride, guilt and so on; I have explained the various ego defenses in other writings; you can read up on them in standard textbooks on abnormal psychology.)


We observe our world and notice that there is scarcity of the things we need to survive with. As economists tell us, resources are scarce so we compete for access to the resources of this world.

Those with more physical strength and or job skills obtain more resources and those with less strength and skills get less; the weakest die out.

As Herbert Spenser correctly observed, in his Ethics, we live competitive lives where the strong survive and the weak die out. This is our earthly reality; don't cry over it; grind your teeth and get on with it or die off if you don't like it (there is no such thing as death, only dream death).

On earth each of us has a separated self-concept. That separated self-concept sees other selves that it is competing with for the available resources. It resolves to protect what it believes serves its survival self-interests. Each of us is motivated by self-interests (selfishness); our social biologist friends like Edward Wilson and Richard Dawkins say that we have selfish genes.

The ego separated self always does what serves its self-interests; if necessary it cooperates with other egos and serves  their mutual interests but where inevitable it serves only its interests at the expense of other selves.

Ego life is tough; the ego got to live even if it means the death of other egos! But what is the ego living for? That is another question, a can of worms that leads to spirituality.


The ego is always, from a moral perspective, doing wrong if by right we mean what serves our collective social interests. I am doing wrong; you are doing wrong when we serve only our separated interests. As noted, when push comes to shove each of us does that serves his interests.

Another part of our minds vaguely recognizes that we are in this ego dance together. A part of my mind recognizes that all people are like me and are doing what I am doing; it realizes that it would be better if we cooperated and served our collective interests. Thus, occasionally, I go out of my way to help other people and you do the same, but in a crunch I serve me before your interests and you do the same. This is our earthly reality so do not go about feeling better than other people.

If a house is burning you will probably run out of it without thinking about those you left behind in the fire; only one in thousands of people would stay to save the other persons caught up in the burning house and if needs be burn to death (such people die glorious and heroic deaths).

A part of my mind, your mind knows that we ought to help each other; that part of us asks us to overlook the bad things that other people did to us and love them (and care for them).

A part of my mind, your mind wants us to forgive each other our evil deeds and insist on correcting those evil deeds so that we all live in social harmony.

Forgiveness does not mean tolerating other people's attacks on you; it means stopping them from attacking you and teaching them to love all people. If a white racist tries to enslave or discriminate against you forgiveness does not mean condoning and tolerating slavery and discrimination; it means asking the racist to stop his evil, racist behaviors.  Love does not ask you to condone evil behaviors but to correct them.


We always have ideas going through our minds. It is the nature of the mind to have ideas flow through it.

Even in heaven ideas are flowing through the minds of the sons of God. As A course in miracles observed, while in unified state, heaven,  the idea of specialness and separation entered our minds and we pursued it hence this world. We cannot not have a mind with ideas flowing through it.

The problem arises when we take particular ideas as true and believe in them and pursue their realization. If you take an idea that flows through your mind as true, believe it and act on it you create problems for you.

All suffering, Gautama Buddha and Lao Tzu recognized, has to do with identification with wrong ideas. Ideas must flow into your mind. Some such ideas are ideas of who you think that you are: your self-concept.

If you identify with a particular self-concept and its image form and see it as who you are and protect and defend it you suffer (see Byron Katie, 2002).


I inherited a serious mitochondria disorder called cytochrome c oxidase deficiency (read it up). As a result I feel weak. No amount of good eating would make me feel strong.   I feel pained and weak.

In childhood I desired strength. I invented a self-concept that wanted to be powerful. In Alfred Adler's individual psychological categories, I wished for power and superiority.  I was motivated to be powerful and superior to all people. This is called neurosis.

The neurotic (who in degrees is all people) rejects his real self (unified life) and desires an alternative separated ego self, a superior self, a powerful self, an ideal self (Horney, 1950).

The neurotic struggles to become the superior powerful self. This motivation to be powerful drives him. Thus, he goes to school and may persist until he has the doctorate degree and thereafter seek social positions that make him feel powerful or he may seek wealth and or political power.

The world is ruled by neurotics, such as Donald Trump (he has narcissistic and anti-social personality disorder).  However, the neurotic knows that he is not his desired powerful self. Whereas he seeks to be powerful he recognizes that he is really not powerful. That is, he still knows what reality is. In reality no one is that powerful; we are in bodies that will die hence have no existential power; our sense of power is fictional.

Some neurotics proceeded to become deluded. The deluded person is partially psychotic (if he also hallucinates he is totally psychotic). He is semi psychotic in that he believes that he is his wished for powerful self.

There are people out there who actually believe that they are superior and powerful folks. Such persons are semi psychotic for they have lost touch with reality; in reality they are not powerful. If you choose to you can put a bullet into the deluded powerful person's prideful head and he dies and his body smells like shit so he is not powerful.

At some point in my development I recognized that my wish for power and superiority are exactly those, my wish. Power and superiority are ideas that flowed into my mind and I identified with them and acted on them as if I were them.

I am not powerful and superior to any one. I am not the ideas of good or bad, strength and weakness, yin and yang that enter my mind.

What I am is a self with a mind into which ideas flow. If I can manage not to identify with any idea that enters my mind what would be left is just my mind.


I told myself that I am not any idea that enters my mind. I used the Hindu meditation style of saying Neti, Neti; I am not this idea or that Idea.  I am not any idea that I can think of. What I am I do not know.

I kept negating all ideas that crawled into my mind. Ideas must enter my mind but my job is to not see them as who I am.

I can play with ideas (as I do with science) but they are not me. What I am is the mind into which ideas enter.

I am the thinker but not my thoughts; I am the person who constructed my ego separated self-concept and my personality but I am not my personality, self-concept or ego. What I am is just mind.

I try to empty my mind of all ideas and have emptied mind. Most of the time my mind is full of ideas but every once in a while it is empty of ideas. I try not to identify with any idea that enters my mind.

If I go for days without identifying with any ideas that enter my mind I occasionally feel empty and sometimes escape from our ideational world and experience worlds that you, living in the egos world, cannot believe exist.

There is a world where everything we see on earth is but they are in light forms. There is a world where everything is formless, a world of pure consciousness and light.

There are many levels of being; to escape from our level of being you must get rid from your mind all ideas you have in it.

Our earthly ideas describe what is on earth; to reach other universes you must make your mind a blank slate so that the ideas adaptive to those universes enter your mind.

You cannot go to other dimensions of being with the ideas that adapt to our three (if you add time, four) dimensional world.


To be healed one must make one's mind empty of all earthly ideas. If your mind is an empty slate you feel calm, peaceful and happy.

What is mental health?  To be mentally healthy is to have an empty mind, a mind that does not say that you are this or that person or thing, a mind that ideas flow into but you do not become attached to any of them.

Who you are is mind; mind is not the thoughts it has. We are all parts of one self with one mind; that self and mind has thoughts and sometimes gets attached to them and suffers but if you detach from your thoughts you do not suffer.

Who are we? We are part of one unified life; life has consciousness and intelligence and in its essence is eternal, permanent and changeless.


Further Reading

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

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

Bhaskrananda, Swami (2002). The Essential Hinduism. Seattle, Washington, Vivika Press.

Buddha Gautama.  Anderson, Carol (1999). Pain and Its Ending: The Four Noble Truths in the Theravada Buddhist Canon, New York: Routledge.

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

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

Mitchell, Byron Katie (2002). Loving What is. New York: Harmony Books.

Lao Tzu (500 BC). Tao Te Ching. Boltz, William (1993). "Lao tzu Tao-te-ching", Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide, Berkeley: University of California Press.

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

Ozodi Thomas Osuji, PhD

January 31, 2018

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(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: (907) 310-8176