Let go of the ego and live freely


Ozodi Osuji

      As child I was very stubborn. If you told me to do something, just because you are another person, I would refuse to do it, regardless of whether what you told me to do is right or wrong. I simply did not like anyone telling me what to do.

      If you like, you could see this aspect of me as oppositional defiant disorder, it is found in some rebellious children; such children disobey their parents, teachers, every person for the sake of disobeying them; they want to do their thing and do not want anyone telling them to do their thing.

     Listen, I do not like folks to tell me what to do. I also have an admirable aspect, I tend to think about what you told me to do that I, in a knee jerk manner, refused to do. I ask me, is what that guy asking me to do right in itself. If after giving it considerable amount of thinking it seems right, I will do it, voluntarily, not because you asked me to do so.

     In the 1960s, at age eight, my parents sent me to go live with their parents in their village. I spent three years living with my grandparents. Grandma would wake up at five in the morning and ask me to accompany her to her farm. I said no. No amount of cajoling would make me go to the farm with her. I certainly did not want to do farm work; their manner of subsistence farming seemed primitive for this city boy to stoop low and do.

      Thereafter, I would, on my own, after school, go to their farms and see what they are doing. I thought about it and realized that they are producing the food that fed me. I decided to help in the farm.

      I am not boasting here, I was the best eight-year-old farmer that you could see. This is because once I decide to do something I tend to do it whole heartedly and do it as if my life depend on it. I am a diligent worker, but I must believe that I am doing the right thing.

       I have studied western psychology and understand the nature of the ego self. I know that each human being has a separated self, his self-concept and personality.

     Most people have normal egos, but some people have grandiose egos. Those with exaggeratedly big egos may be called folks with personality disorders, and in extreme cases, psychotic.

     All mental disorders are rooted in two variables: the belief that one has a separated ego self and that that self is especially important, and one defends the important ego self-and feels angry at those who do not recognize one’s ego self.

     Western psychotherapy assumes the inevitability of us having separated selves but aim at shrinking false, big ones to normal levels of the ego; the West does not want to get rid of the ego but to make it humble so that it has good relationships with other egos in our ego-based society.

      I have studied East Asian religions; all of them teach that this world exists because we, the sons of God, which Hinduism calls Atman, came to earth to affirm our sense of separated self.

     According to Hinduism, our true self is parts of God. God is called Brahman and his sons are called Atman. In Brahmaloca, heaven, Brahman and Atman share oneself not figuratively, but literally.

     Brahman, God, extends his self to his infinite sons and all of them share oneself and one mind. We, the sons of God, decided to seem separated from God, Brahman and each other and formed the physical universe.

      The universe is a place we come to seem to have separated, individuated and independent selves. That is what the earth is for, for each son of God to use his mind to construct a separated self-concept and defend it and in defending it make it seem real in his awareness.

      Hinduism, and its variants like Buddhism, Taoism, Jainism, Zen, teach one lesson: your separated self, the ego, is a dream self, it is false, it is not who you are, who you are is Atman who is one with Brahman.

     They ask you to relinquish your desire for a separated self, to give up your human personality, and self-concept and keep quiet and not try to use your ego thinking to conceptualize who your true self is.

     In meditation you are supposed to stop thinking and using ego categories to find out who you are. They say that if you stop thinking with ego categories that you would experience your real self, Atman who is one with God. They say that you would experience God, the Self and become illuminated to your real self.

    An enlightened person has transcended his ego and experienced Atman and Brahman and, in that experience, know that he is eternal, permanent and changeless and live-in peace and joy, bliss.

     Well, I have not experienced enlightenment. But I have tried to do so. The good news is that whether I have experienced enlightenment or not, to the extent that I no longer identify with a grandiose self, see it as false and give It up, I tend to be in peace and joy.

     Thus, regardless of whether God and his heaven exist or not, in the here and now world, if one gives up one’s grandiose ego one tends to live from a peaceful place in one.

      Peace is good enough for me, so I embrace the idea of living from a non-separated self, not out of religious mumbo jumbo but because it makes me live peaceful.

     I try to no longer do anything from my big ego. I keep quiet and only do what I believe is in alignment with my real self.

      I construe my real self as our one unified spirit self. My real self and your real self-share oneself; I strive to live from it; such living tends to serve my and your interests.

       I am happy with this manner of living; it is good for me and you. Thus, I live it not because some religion told me to do so but because it is right to do so.

     In doing so, I am living in accord with my nature that does only what I believe is right.


       Culture plays a role in our lives. In Nigeria and most of Africa the culture reinforces people play acting big man role. About every Nigerian you see wants to seem like he is an especially important person. In his eyes it is cute to function as if he is an especially important person. He impresses you with his academic degrees and wants you to call him Professor, Dr this or that. If not well educated he wants to be called chief. He must have a title to make him seem important.

     You ask, why not just present yourself as Mister this or that, why log titles around? It is because his culture asks him to seem important. He is using sense of social importance to mask his existential sense of unimportance.

     I was born in this importance seeking culture and for a while wanted to seem important in my and other people’s eyes. Then I studied East Asian cultures, religions and philosophy and found out that over there to present oneself as an especially important person is considered the height of immaturity and stupidity.

      To function as if one is powerful, is self-abuse. It gives you somatic tension and mental tension; if you desire importance, you must have anxiety from fear of not been seen as important.

      If you want to be relaxed you must forget how important you think that you are and instead see you as unimportant; in fact, you must annihilate your ego and accept that your true self is part of God and that all power belongs to God not to you; the son of God has power but it is derived power; his power comes from his father not from his self-will.

     If you learn and accept that only the whole self, God, has power and that the part of the whole, the son of God has derived power, not self-conferred power, you accept reality. This is not humiliation as your ego tells you that it is, it is attaining real power, the power from our creator. We did not create our real selves although we invented our ego selves and the world of illusions we live at on earth.

     I accept that I am powerless and unimportant; I accept that only God has power and importance; in this acceptance I accept reality, not the one I tried to invent but the one that God created.

     I have resolved the authority question: who created you, God or you? By accepting that God created me I have accepted the truth. In this realism I know peace and happiness.

     Try living egolessly and see if you would not experience peace, joy, and have realistic, not the ego’s grandiose, false power.

Ozodi Osuji

November 9, 2021

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