Non-Dualism and Dualism


Ozodi Osuji

     We live in a world of opposites, dualities and polarities, such as light and dark, good and bad, inferiority and superiority, egoism and non-egoism, insanity and sanity. We assume that it is just the way it is for everywhere we look we see it. And it seems that unless things are so they would not make sense.

    For example, to know bad one must know good, to know light one must know darkness; to know man one must know woman, a situation that the Chinese call the world of yin and yang. If one is unable to see one side of the equation one would be unable to see the other side.


 In Hinduism and other East Asian religions, God is said to be non-dualistic; God is presented as oneself that encompasses all selves as parts of its one shared self. We are all said to be in that oneself of God; nobody and nothing is outside the God self.

      Our separated selves are called illusions, not real; separated selves are mirages, delusions that do not exist except as in dreams but not in God’s unified reality.

     The world of duality is seen as an illusion. In God self, oneself knows itself as one with all selves for all of them share that oneself and are not separated from one.

    In God-self one does not see other selves for one must be separated from the oneself to see the existence of other selves.

   The goal of Hinduism and Buddhism is to get one to transcend the divided selves, to give up the notion that one has a separated self and attain awareness that one’s real self is part of the oneness of God, the nondual and unified self.

     In the unified self (sought in meditation where the many ego separated selves are jettisoned) one is not aware of the existence of separated selves that are not parts of oneself.

    A person who has attained this goal is said to be God realized or Self-realized and is enlightened and illuminated to his real self; such a person is calm and peaceful and happy for he sees all selves and all things as part of his oneself; he has transcended the world of opposites, dualities and polarities.


      Let us talk about the duality of inferiority and superiority. There are people who feel inferior and compensate with pursuit of superiority.

     Alfred Adler’s Psychoanalysis calls such persons’ neurotic (Adler, the Neurotic Constitution, 1911). They feel intensely inferior and cannot accept it and construct sense of superiority and pursue it. In their conscious minds are dualities, sense of inferiority and powerful desire for superiority. They pursue superiority in an all or nothing manner; they got to be superior for in their minds if they do not seem superior, they would be overwhelmed by other people and the world and die so they pursue superiority and power as if their lives depend on it.


     To seem important, neurotic persons tell lies; the neurotic will make claims that objectively are not true. For example, if poor he will pretend to be rich; in childhood he tells lies that he is the brightest student in town, is attending the best school in town, goes to school where rich kids go to school; the neurotic kid feels that to tell other kids where he goes to school, if it is not the best school in town, makes him feel inferior.


     According to Karen Horney (Horney, Neurosis and human growth, 1950), the neurotic person desires to be ideal and rejects his real self. The real self is perceived to be no good and the ideal self is perceived to be ideal hence the neurotic seeks becoming the ideal self and rejects the real self. The ideal self is a false self, it is not who the person is. The ideal self is a made-up self, a fictional self the opposite of the real self that is perceived as no good. In today’s psychiatric language, the ideal self is a deluded self.

     If a person does not seek ego importance and power and accepts his reality as it is, he or she would not tell lies to the effect that he is important and powerful; you do not tell lies if you do not wish for a certain state to be in, such as powerful, wealthy and extremely intelligent.

     One can live from one’s real self and not pretend to be a false, grandiose and powerful self or a small and inferior self.

     The neurotic has an inner pressure to pretend to be important and powerful. Now he can train his self to understand that the polarities he is living as are all false. He is neither inferior nor superior.

    Both inferiority and superiority are false divisions and if one is false the other is also false; the truth is unified; one is not inferior nor superior.

    Oneself makes the choice to seem inferior or superior.

     It is the individual that chooses to feel inferior to justify seeking to seem superior. This kind of thinking is alien in our either-or world. In our world it is either or, a false state.

       Alfred Adler sees neurosis as caused by inherited biological issues or social issues that make one seem deficient. You look at the neurotic child or person you see a person with loads of biological and or social issues. Those issues theoretically make the person to feel inferior and he then compensates with desire for superiority. This situation is empirical in our dualistic world.

      However, awareness of what makes him seem inferior makes the neurotic person feel like a victim that negative things were done to, he did not make his body or the negative social circumstances, he finds his self in.

       If one feels like a victim, one cannot heal one’s neurosis and other mental illnesses.

      In the contemporary world Africans and black Americans can see all the sad things that white folks did to them. They feel inferior. They feel like they are victims of white people’s actions. It all seems real to them hence they rail against white racism and western imperialism. They see themselves as victims and justify their anger at the Western world.

      The problem is that if they see themselves as victims, they cannot change their fate and govern themselves well. If Africans see themselves as victims, they cannot govern Africa well; they are stuck at always seeking scapegoats to blame for their poverty; they are always pointing blaming fingers at other people.

      When they are not blaming white people for their problems, they are blaming persons from other ethnic groups who seem to be making life difficult for them.


     To heal neurosis (and all mental disorders) people must transcend thinking in dualities and polarities.

    One must stop thinking in inferiority and superiority terms and, instead, see oneself as the one who make choices to live in bodies that have problems that dispose one to feeling inferior and thus to seeking false superiority.

   One can see and must see oneself as the choice maker. It is us human beings who choose our bodies and choose our social conditions.

     These choices are not done consciously and not in this lifetime but before one was born on earth. Yes, there is continuity of life; we were not created the moment we were born on earth; we have lived forever and ever in God.

     People do reincarnate on earth; the correct term is that people do dream many times on earth until they are tired of dreaming, living from false selves and want to return to their real selves, the shared oneself that folks call God, that I call unified spirit self.

     While in God, unified spirit self, we choose to go live as separated selves and enter the world of duality and polarities.

      We keep coming to earth to experience separation and duality until we recognize that we are part of the one shared self that folks call God and therefore are the choosers of our lives.

     We are not victims unto whom terrible things happen to, we choose whatever situation we find ourselves on earth; we choose what we want to experience.

      If we desire to live separated lives we shall keep coming back to earth, putting ourselves in bodies and societies that would enable us to experience the separated self we desire; separated self is an insane self, delusion and hallucination.

     When we have had enough of the psychosis of trying to live illusion we return to reality, to unified self and end our cycle of rebirth in the dream of self-forgetfulness, life on earth.

     In Buddha’s term, when we give up desire for separated ego-self, ego is the cause of all human suffering, when we give it up we awaken to our real self, first on earth in peaceful living, thereafter in a world of light forms and thereafter in formless spirit world where we still have selves and ultimately in the formless one shared self-called God and his heaven.


      This paper is not meant for mental health professionals (psychiatrists and psychologists) but for ordinary folks. However, since I employed the term neurosis a lot I might as well distinguish it from psychosis.

     A neurotic is you and me, most so-called normal persons. He desires to be important and powerful, is egoistic but knows that he is not that important and powerful. Thus, he knows the difference between desire, fantasy and the real self. He makes a compromise; he still wishes to be, superior important self but moderates it a bit by caring for other people. He does not fully care for other people but tries to. When push comes to shove, he places his self-interests ahead of other people’s interests.

     The psychotic person (such as schizophrenics…schizophrenia has many types, such as paranoid, disorganized, undifferentiated, catatonic, residual, and manic-depressives and deluded persons) desires to be special, important and powerful and now believes that he is those. Whereas the neurotic desires importance and power but knows that he is not important and powerful, the psychotic believes that he is important and powerful.

      In other words, the psychotic has lost touch with reality and lives in fantasy land. When next you see a psychotic walking down the street, go close to him and listen to him talk; he is like Napoleon giving orders to his troops and is winning fictional battles; he is living in the fantasy that he is God and has immense power, or wealth or intelligence.

     Normal persons are mini neurotics. Normal persons have ego; the ego in them is dual, an aspect sees itself as not good enough and the other aspect wishes to be perfect, ego ideal. He swings from accepting his real self to rejecting it and desiring ideal self. When he rejects his self, he experiences depression.

     Psychotherapy, especially spiritual psychotherapy tries to get all of us to live from our right minds, the part of our minds that see other people as one with us, as same and equal and care for them and work for our mutual good.

     Nobody fully lives from his right mind all the time. Those who do so are out of this world for they are in the world but not of the world.

      Those who think and live from their right minds, in Christian language, are guided by the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ; they approach all people with love for them and easily forgive us our trespasses against them.

      The left mind, the ego part that seeks what is good for one at the expense of other persons is still in those who live from their right minds; if one totally lived from the right mind, is completely loving and forgiving, one escapes from this world to the world of light forms, what Catholicism calls purgatory and Hinduism calls astral world.

     Please do not worry whether you understand the distinction between psychosis and neurosis. These days we call what hitherto was called neurosis personality disorders; in the past I would call Donald Trump a neurotic but now I call him a man with narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders.

     Just do your best to love you and all people; no one expects you to be an angel and be perfect; if you are perfect, you would not be in this world but would be in heaven, formless unified spirit.


      Our world is a world of dualities, polarities and multiplicities; things have their opposites, and we assume that is the way reality is.

     There is another way of living, a way that transcends dualities, what East Asian religions call nonduality. It will take me too much afield to explain what this means. You can glean it from my more extended writings.

    Suffice it to say that non-dualism entails seeing oneself as one with God and from that state, as it were, go to sleep and in one’s sleep dream that one is now separated from God and his other creations.

     On earth, one has forgotten one’s real self which is nondual self, oneness with God and all existence and is now identified with a fragment of unified self, the ego self. One is now a divided self and is in a dream of separation where one lives in the world of multiplicity, dualities and polarities.

     One is now stuck in the ego’s world. To get oneself out of this quagmire, one must understand that there is only oneself in the universe, God and that one’s real self is part of that oneself. From oneself one chose one’s dualities, such as contriving to be born in a problematic body and or society; one first constructs a self-concept that one is inferior and then restitutes with a neurotic self-concept that one is superior.

      One is neither inferior nor superior; one made divisions up. One is the unified son of God who is one with God and all God’s creation; in that state of oneness, one is sane and perfect.

     I do not pretend to have explained nondualism here, I just wanted to give a hint of it and posit that it is when we return to non-dualistic living that we attain healthy mental status.

      God is unified spirit self; he is spiritual light; we are parts of that unified spiritual light. We are in it eternally; we are not born in bodies and do not live in bodies; we do not die, either.

     A part of God light can focus on matter, the human body and give it life energy to live as a human being in body but, in fact, he is not inside body.

     We are always in God, in spiritual light, and from there close our eyes to light and seem to sleep and in darkness dream ourselves in bodies and in the universe of space, time and matter, all of them, illusions.

     We can remember our unified spirit self and awaken from the sleep of self-forgetfulness.

Ozodi Osuji

January 5, 2022

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