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« The Ozodi Thomas Osuji Lectures on Nigeria's Politics #1: Introduction, Why Study Politics? | Main | Science of Thinking, Page 2 »

October 05, 2005

Science of Thinking

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- I had meant to share the attached piece before the series on Nigeria politics. I forgot. Here it is. Do with it as you like; it summarizes my approach to phenomena. In the meantime, I will continue with the planned series on Nigeria’s Politics with political culture on

Thursday and political socialization on Friday. As noted, the series will run for two months and end on November 30. In December, I will do a series on business administration, what I call “Portable MBA in Ghana must go bag”. It will comprise of no more than 8 write ups on business/corporate finance, public finance, Basic Accounting…journals, accounts payable/receivable, budges, reading financial statements etc… IPO’s, Stocks, Bonds, Marketing, business operations, managing human resources and labor unions etc. I do this because some of you folks might wind up in leadership positions. A leader needs to understand money management. Our first republic leaders had no clue on how to manage money, they just talked ill understood English. That would bring the year to a close. In 2006, I will do a series on Africa’s political economy, one a week, on each African country, for 52 weeks. Please learn to share whatever gifts God gave you. What you share multiples, what you hoard diminishes. I am off to do my regular jugging. Please jog at least three times a week, one hour at a time. Also work out in gyms. Swim regularly; where possible, ride a bicycle instead of driving a car. Simply stated, try to be physically healthy. Eat sparingly, and refuse to gain weight. No smoking of cigarettes. No drugs. If you must drink alcohol, limit it to the absolute minimum. Many well to do Nigerians eat like fools and die of heart attacks, strokes etc and folks attribute their self induced death to juju. Good luck, fellow compatriots.


Ozodi Thomas Osuji

Science is a methodological approach to phenomena that insists only on facts. Every proposition must be demonstrably true for it to qualify as scientific. The moment an idea is not verifiable, it is no longer a scientific idea. Science does not deal with beliefs but with self-evident facts.

I am interested in self-evident facts. The moment you ask me to believe something or accept something on faith you have lost me.

I am interested in the science of thinking. That is, I am interested in demonstrable facts about how human beings think. This should be the mission of psychology.

When I was a young person, I found Western psychology fascinating. But now that I am an adult, I find Western Psychology not useful in explaining the issues that I want explained. Frustrated, I turned to Oriental systems of understanding human nature for help. I find Oriental ideas more adult than Western psychology, and will, therefore, begin this discourse on thinking by evaluating some Oriental ideas.

Of all the oriental thinkers that I have studied, I found Buddha the most interesting. Let me, therefore, begin this inquiry by examining some postulations on the nature of human beings attributed to Buddha. We shall dispense with the mythology that surrounds Buddha. (An example of such mythologies is the fairy tale that Gautama was a prince and did not know suffering until he was age twenty eight, when he happened outside the gates of his palace and, for the first time, saw sick human beings etc. No human being gets to be twenty eight years old without having been sick and seen or heard about death. During the time Buddha lived, 2500 years ago, there was no anti bacterial vaccine like penicillin, so people were dropping dead right and left from assorted diseases and seldom lived beyond forty. Buddha did experience suffering, sickness and death. We shall not concern ourselves with the infantile mythology that those who did not even bother to understand what Buddha taught spawn around him.)

What is germane in Buddha’s life is his philosophy, not the mythology his existence is clothed in. Is that philosophy true and useful? First of all, what is it?

Gautama Sakayamuni was a young man who was disturbed by the nature of being on earth and searched for answers that would enable him to tolerate the real world. As a Hindu, he naturally looked into the various Hindu paths to understanding human nature. He tried ascetics, austerities and Tantra and nothing seemed to provide him with the answers that he was looking for. He became frustrated and resolved to either find the answers or die. He did not want any thing to do with this world on its own terms. Thus, he sat down by a Bo tree and told himself that he would not get up until he found the answers he was searching for. He tried to meditate.

In his meditative frame of mind, his ego, which his followers gave a cute name, Mara, tried to convince him why this world is worth his while. He was told about all the nubile damsels that could be his if only he wanted to live in this world. The kingdoms of the world are for the taking by any one who resolves to do so. But Gautama had seen through tinsel town and would not be swayed. He rejected the offerings of the ego and its world.

Gautama’s temptation reminds us of Jesus temptation. Before Jesus began his ministry, he went into the desert and fasted for forty days. During that time, his ego, which his followers christened as Satan, tempted him to change his thinking and accept living on the egos terms. Satan, his ego, took him to the highest point in Jerusalem and showed him the kingdoms of this world and told him that the world is for his taking if he decides to bow to the ego, live in terms of the ego and pursue the things of flesh. He told his ego that man does not live by bread alone but by the word of God, by truth. He wanted to live only on the basis of truth, which is union with his father, God, and all his brothers in creation. He won.

Gautama, too, won, for he was not tempted to give up his search for union. Gautama was not to exchange the paltry things of this world for the wealth of God. He was not about to exchange the valueless, this world, for the valuable, spirit. He just sat there and refused to budge. Ultimately, he escaped from the world of separation and entered the world of union. He experienced peace and happiness, the peace of God that St Paul said passes human, ego understanding. Having ascertained that there is a better world, Gautama came back to teach his people about the truth he experienced and how to live in our separated world without much suffering and pain.

Buddha postulated that to be a human being is to suffer. As he saw it, human existence is characterized by pain and suffering.

(Is this proposition true or not true? It is true, so I will accept it.)

Buddha then goes on to explain why human beings do suffer. As he sees it, we suffer because we do have Desire. As long as people have desire they would suffer.

(Is this proposition true? Do we suffer because of desire? The answer is yes. If one desires something, has a wish for something, one runs the risk of not obtaining it. When one does not get what one desires, one tends to feel disappointed and frustrated. To be disappointed is to suffer. Therefore, this proposition is true.)

Buddha proceeded to say that the only way to eliminate suffering is to give up desiring things. No desire, no disappointment and suffering.

(Is this proposition correct? Yes, it is correct. If you do not desire any thing, you would not be disappointed by not getting anything.)

Buddha recognized that to live on earth is to have desire. If one gave up all desire one would not be on planet earth. For example, to live in body one must desire to do so. If one did not desire to live in body one would not take the trouble to do what it takes to procure ones food. Survival in physical form requires a wish to live in this world. If a person gave up all desire to live on earth he would not do what survival requires of him and would die. To live in body requires food. To have food means to work for it. It takes effort to acquire food, clothing and shelter, absolute necessities for survival on earth. That is to say that no desire at all means physical death.

Buddha was not a nihilist who hates existence on death. He was not preaching suicide. If he had insisted on total cessation of desire he would have, in effect, been teaching suicide and would be a nihilist, an escapist from his world. He would be negating life on earth. His philosophy would be the philosophy of death and, therefore, of no relevance to those who want to live on planet earth. So what is the next best thing to do? Buddha taught DETACHMENT.

In effect, he said, go ahead and desire the things that make your survival in this world possible, but do so with detachment. Recognize that the chances are that you may not get what you desire, or that if you get them, that they may not last long. The things of this world are fleeting; do not become over attached to them. Recognize things fickle nature; they are here today and gone tomorrow.

If you do not get what you desire you should put your disappointment in perspective and not allow yourself to be over bothered by it. Life on earth is such that one cannot always get what one wants. Take life on earth on its own terms. Whether you like it or not, people will die. Those who are born in flesh and live in flesh must die, for flesh is composed of matter and whatever is composed of matter must eventually become decomposed. Matter is composed of elements, atoms and particles. These are held together by chemical bonds that weaken and break hence what they hold together, our bodies, decompose. Your parents will die. Your desire for them to live forever would not prevent them from dying. Your desire for there to be no hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, volcanoes, bacteria, virus, plagues etc would not prevent those natural phenomena from occurring.

Life is such that what we desire we do not always get, and those we do mange to get do not last long. Just learn to take things in stride. You win some and lose some and such is life, cest la vie.

Clearly, Buddha’s teaching of detachment is a very useful approach to tolerating the pain that is inherent in our existence on earth. Life on earth is pain, and then you die. That is the truth and there is no sugar coating that reality; accept it and be detached to the fleeting glories of this world. The world is transitory and ephemeral; things are here today and gone tomorrow, so do not be attached to any thing, so that you do not feel disappointed when you lose things.

Detachment has another connotation; here it means not taking credit or blame for ones actions. An individual sees himself as a conduit through which life operates and does good or bad things. He does not take responsibility for the good he does, for if he does so, he must equally take responsibility for the bad he does. If you take credit for your good works, you must take blame for your inevitable bad works. If you can do good work, you can do bad work. If there is pleasure there must be pain. If you seek pleasure you must get its opposite, pain. Therefore, do not take responsibility for one or the other. Be detached from the fruit of your action. Do your best but do not be attached to the result of your action. All that matters is that you did your best, as you understood best to be. You are not in the business of assigning credit or blame.

This proposition of Buddha is, most rational persons would agree, valid. One who wants to have emotional equanimity must be detached to the events of this world. He must not permit himself to be overly attached to anything. If one is overly attached, one feels frustrated if one does not obtain what one desired, but if one desires things with detachment, not getting them does not produce much psychological suffering and pain. This teaching of Buddha makes him one of the world’s greatest psychologists.

(Alas, to achieve anything substantial in this world, one must be attached to what one wants to accomplish and must feel disappointed if one does not attain it. Feeling psychological pain is inevitable for great achievers, for it takes great passion and enthusiasm to achiever anything worthwhile. Excessive detachment leads to lack of enthusiasm and poor productivity. University professors are, on the whole, not known for their great contribution to human evolution because they are emotionally detached and objective; they are seldom emotionally passionate about anything. It takes passion that borders on the irrational to make a difference in the world, as we know it.)

The above four propositions constitute the core of Buddha’s teaching; they are called the four noble truths. Buddha subsequently elaborated on what is generally called the eight paths to correct living. These are really not original with Buddha. He merely elaborated on the universally recognized need to be truthful in ones speech, to be kind to other people, to love other people, to have compassion for other people, to forgive other people, to be generous with other people, to not say negative things about other people, to not backbite other people, to be trust worthy etc. These statements are found in just about every religion of the world and are not specific to Buddhism and, therefore, we shall not see them as Buddha’s major contribution to truthful living.

Buddha founded a monastic order for his key followers to live in. The monks were required to renounce pride and shame (those two go together, a proud person is always a person prone to feeling shame) and live simple existence.

The prideful ego is very difficult to do away with. Nevertheless, pride must be given up, for as long as a human being is proud he can not know peace of mind. The proud must suffer psychological pain. The proud person is actually in jail and hell, a prison and hell of his own making, but does not know it.

The ego is like a raging bull that requires constant effort to subdue it. One way to subdue the ego’s pride is to constantly and consciously humiliate it. To accomplish this end, Buddha insisted that monks beg for their food. They are to take a bowl and stand by the street side and beg for food. And they are to ask for only the food they need, now, not for tomorrow. When hungry, go beg for food, but do not beg for food to support you tomorrow. Such behavior is bound to make the person feel unimportant and small. Imagine a proud person begging for his food! Human pride feels attacked by the very notion of begging. The proud individual would feel great shame from asking lowly people for his daily bread.

That is exactly the point. Buddha knew that human beings are very proud and wanted them to overcome their pride through begging and simple living.

Human beings, particularly vain and narcissistic ones, like to bedeck themselves in fancy clothing and, like coxcombs and peacocks, trot around as very important persons, desiring other people to admire them. Buddha dealt with that attribute of human vanity by insisting that his monks wear a uniform, the saffron robes they wear. If necessary, they should walk around without shoes or wear simple sandals, but nothing fancy and expensive.

Buddha’s goal is to attack, belittle, degrade, humiliate, insult and bring down the individual’s prideful ego. As long as the individual is arrogant and haughty, he cannot know his real self, a self that is the same and coequal with other selves. Moreover, as long as the individual is proud he would be prone to anger and would not know inner peace and joy. A proud person is forever feeling that other people’s behaviors that do not treat him as a very dignified and important person denigrate his pride and reacts with anger. Anger is designed to make other people take him seriously, to see him as a very important person, to rehabilitate his belittled ego. The proud person’s emotions are up and down, yoyo, never stable; one moment, when he feels respected by other people, he is happy and the next moment, when he feels belittled by other people, he is sad, anxious or angry.

To be peaceful one must subdue ones ego and do away with pride in the self.

The other aspect of Buddhism that is useful is his insistence on meditation. Buddha was a Hindu. Hindus have been practicing mediation for as long as any one can remember. Buddha, therefore, did not invent meditation. All that Buddha accomplished is give different names to familiar Hindu names.

Let us briefly review what Hindus do in meditation and then add on to it what Buddha contributed to it. To understand Hindu meditation it is necessary to understand Hindu story of creation.

Hinduism believes that, in truth there is only one self. That self is called Brahman. Brahman is one yet is infinite in numbers. Each part of Brahman is called Atman. In eternity are Brahman and his Atmans. Brahman and Atman are joined as one self, literally, so that Atman is Brahman. Somehow, Brahman/Atman desired to experience himself as divided and not unified. Brahman, as it were, wanted to experience his opposite self.

Unified Brahman wanted to experience the world of multiplicity. He could not do so in his real nature. So he invented Maya, a magical portion, and cast that spell on himself and went to sleep. In his sleep, he dreamed that his infinite parts, Atmans, are separated from him and are no longer parts of his unified one self.

Our world is the dream of Brahman. The world is Maya; an illusion for it takes the unreal as real. Reality is union, unreality is separated things. In the world, we see ourselves as separated from each other and as not each other; we are, therefore, in Maya, in illusion, in a dream; we are ignorant of our truth, which is union.

The first part of the dream of the world is to see oneself as separated from other people. The second part of the dream is to see ones self as unified with other people. We come to separate but eventually must see ourselves as unified to be able to end the game.

The purpose of our existence on earth is twofold: first, to forget our unified nature; second, to remember our unified nature; we must remember that we are unified as one self, and are no other person but Atman who is Brahman.

The game is set up to first make us feel separated from each other and later to make us feel unified with each other. The Yogas taught by Patanjali (Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, Raja, Tantra…each appealing to different persons: Jnana to thinkers, Bhakti to worshipers, Karma to doers, raja to meditators, Tantra to sensual persons) are helpful means for remembering our real self. Meditation is the most immediately helpful means of remembering ones true self hence it is called the royal yoga, the king of the Yogas.

In meditation, Hindus try to transcend their separated selves, egos (Ahankara) so as to remember their real self, the unified self (Jivatman). They try to stop thinking and tune out the chattering separated self, the ego. If they can break out of the ego (Moksha) and enter Samadhi (world of stillness, world of no opposites, no separation, world of union) they would come to know that they and Brahman are the same.

This break through from separation to union is variously called self realization, enlightenment, illumination and awakening. The self realized person, called Avatar, knows that he, all creation and Brahman are the same. He is said to be awakened from the dream of Brahman; he has discarded the spell of Maya and overcame the ignorance that hitherto led him to think that he was separated from other persons. The enlightened person now knows the truth that he is unified with all people. (These ideas on Hinduism are culled from the various Hindu Holy books, scripture: Veda, Upanishad, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Behavad Gita; and from the writing of Vivekananda, M. Gospel of Ramakrishna and so on.)

Buddha built on his inherited Hinduism and added to it. He said that to be human is to have a thinking aspect.

All of us do think. You do think and I do think. Something in us, let us call it what Hinduism calls it, ego, the separated self, the I in us, thinks. That thinking aspect of us is always thinking. It is thinking when we are awake as well as when we are sleeping. To be a human being is to think. Human beings are thinking animals (hence the study of thinking is really what psychology ought to be all about).

Thinking includes trying to understand the world one lives in. Unfortunately, the information available to the individual, all of us, at any point in time, is limited. Therefore, think as much as one likes, there are simply many things that one does not understand. For example, at this very moment, I do not understand the nature of the stars. Of course, I have studied some physics and appreciate what physicists say about the nature of the atom (electron, proton, neutron etc…Hinduism believes that matter is composed of three Gunas: satva, raja and tama and that the dominating one determines the individual’s character, if satva, cool headed; if raja, active and if tamas, dull; the three social class are said the reflect inheritance of these elements with the Brahmins being more satva, the Kastriyas being more raja and the lower classes and untouchables being tamas; apparently those who have worked out their sansaras from past lives evolve to the higher classes) and how nuclear fission is taking place in the stars hence producing the stars’ energy and light. But what cosmology knows about the stars is only a beginning.

Simply stated, there are many things about the stars and the world that the individual does not understand. Whatever the individual says about phenomena is based in incomplete information and is largely speculative. Conjecture is not truth.

Because there are many things one does not understand, one must, therefore, keep quiet and not pretend to know what one does not know.

On the other hand, the human ego wants to know, and when it does not know, it confabulates and fills itself with conjectures. The ego often pretends that its speculations are facts.

What is salient is that the ego, the human current self, wants to know everything and that it does not know all things.

Who am I? The ego asks that question and wants to know. Truth? I do not know who I am. (Do you know who you are?) My ego often pretends to know who I am, when, in fact, it does not know. The ego gives me the stuff that I studied in Western psychology, the stuff of adolescents, and that, for a while, made me feel like I have understood human nature. When I attained age thirty-something, I realized that Western Psychology is for adolescents, not for adults. Western psychology did not help me to understand myself.

Buddha advises me to not pretend to know what I do not know. He asks me to simply acknowledge the truth of not knowing many things. Buddhism teaches the individual to accept that he does not know who he is, who other people are, what the world is all about and what anything means.

Buddhism teaches the individual to empty his mind of all the gibberish that he normally takes as truth and simply remain open to truth. Tell yourself that you do not know who you are, who other people are and what any thing is or means. Deny your egos spurious information on what is true and what is not true. You do not know what the truth is. If you studied the physical science, deny that it is the truth; science merely studies material phenomena and that is not the truth we are talking about.

Meditation is the active denial of the truth that our egos provide us. In meditation, one tells ones self that one does not know any thing for certain. One decides not to listen to the half-truth and lies that ones ego tells one are the truth. One negates the chattering of ones ego. In effect, one struggles to stop thinking altogether. Just stop thinking and remain quiet.

It is very difficult to stop thinking. As noted, something in us thinks at all times. Therefore, the effort to stop thinking is a Herculean task. Actually, no human being can ever stop thinking; all that he can do is go from one mode of thinking to another.

There is ego separated thinking, the mode we currently engage in; there is unified thinking, the mode that exists in eternity. One must stop the one to be able to engage in the other; one cannot engage in both modes of thinking at the same time. You are either in our world of separation or you are in the unified world of heaven, but not both. Actually, you are always in heaven, unified state, but think that you are on earth, in separated state.

Most of us find it near impossible to stop our egos from thinking. In fact, when you attempt stopping thinking, the ego redoubles its efforts and presents silly ideas to your mind to think about. It is as if your ego is afraid to stop thinking. It is as if it believes that if you stopped thinking that you would die.

The ego thinks that were you to stop thinking that you would no longer exist. As Rene Descartes told us: cogito ergo sum, I think therefore I am. To be a human being is to think. To stop thinking is to cease being a human being.

I have tried meditation for years and find it almost impossible to attain inner silence. I have attained stillness only momentarily before my obsessive-compulsive thinking swings into motion thinking about everything on earth.

In fact, if one comes to meditation unguided by an experienced teacher, one is most likely to panic when one succeeds in stopping thinking and ones ego seems to die and only void exists where one had thought that one had a self. I recommend that if you want to take meditation seriously, that you find a teacher who knows what he is talking about. I recommend a Hindu swami or a Zen Roshi as possible teachers. I had a Hindu swami (equivalent to Christian pastor, minister) for my guide.

The human self is a concept. My idea of whom I think I am, that you are and what the world is are exactly those, ideas. Concepts are not facts. Concepts are ego-based ideas and do not have tangible reality. Therefore, my self-concept, my ego, is, as Buddha correctly stated: smokes and does not exist.

Let me repeat: the human personality, the ego, the self-concept is non-existent. It merely seems to exist. When it is believed in, it seems to exist. When the ego is believed and defended it seems real to one, but when it is denied it, in fact, does not exist.

If one is suddenly confronted with the fact that ones valued self concept and self image is a smoke and does not exist, in fact, one struggles to make it seem to exist. Psychosis is nothing but a futile attempt to make the non-existent self seem to exist.

The psychotic person, as R. D. Laing (see his Politics of Experience) correctly observed, is more advanced than the so-called normal human being. The psychotic has reached a state where he recognizes that his so-called self concept does not exist. But instead of accepting that fact, he struggles, rather mightily, to convince himself that he exists. He invents a more outrageous ego self-concept and defends it. Now he believes that he is a very important man or woman, that he is the king or queen of the world. He or she clings to a grandiose self-concept that even normal persons can see that it is not real but is a delusion. The psychotic’s self concept is deluded and that deluded, false self, tries talking and seeing hence his experience of hallucinations.

(R.D. Laing made the mistake of thinking that the psychotic is a mystic. No, the psychotic has come near enough to understanding the truth of our selflessness but is unwilling to give up his false, separated self, the ego, and accept his selfless self, the unified self. The mystic, on the other hand, is a person who has reached where the psychotic and neurotic are, and voluntarily gives up his ego self and accepted his selfless self, which is unified self. The mystic died to the separated self to be reborn in unified self. He has relinquished his separated false self and accepted his real self, unified self. R.D. Laing, unlike the run of the mill Western psychiatrist, came very close to understanding human nature but failed. Western psychology is adolescent stuff but occasionally a Western psychologist comes close to real knowledge. Laing was one such psychologist. But he did not quite succeed and does not teach real psychology, as we are teaching here.)

The psychotic and the neurotic are at the gates of knowledge of their true self but stopped. The normal person has not even begun making efforts to know his real self. As it were, the normal person is like cattle, grazing grass, oblivious of his true self. Evolutionally, the normal person is less developed; he is behind the neurotic and psychotic. The effort to become enlightened is for neurotics, not for normal persons. Normal persons need normal religions, the stuff of Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and Bhakti etc. Those who are at the verge of self realization will not be satisfied with normal religions and will seek real religion, connection to their source.

Whereas we all can appreciate that the neurotic and psychotic self is false, what is not always apparent is that the normal self is also false. The normal self is as much a delusion as psychotic self. In fact, the seeing and talking engaged in by normal selves is as hallucinatory as those engaged in by psychotics. This world is our mutual hallucination and delusion. The world is a shared delusion and shared hallucination. The world does not, in fact, exist. It exists only as in a dream. It seems to exist because all of us think that it exists. It is a shared dream.

The psychotic engages in unshared delusion and hallucination, as all persons do when they sleep and dream. The psychotic invented a private fantasy world and lives in it, not sharing it with other persons. On the other hand, our day world is a shared dream, a hallucination and delusion that we all buy into and share. Our sharing it makes it seem real to us. But it is not real; it is as unreal as the psychotic’s fantasies.

Buddha discovered the unreality of our so-called normal world. In meditation, Buddha denied his ego and it’s chattering and tried to keep quiet. At some point, he succeeded and attained inner silence. Momentarily, he escaped from this world and entered a realm of no space, time and matter. He entered the world of union; a world where there is no you and I, no subject and object, no seer and seen. In that world, there is only one self; one self with infinite parts.

Christians call that self-God. But that self has no name. It is nameless. To name something means that one has understood it. No one on earth can understand the real self. It is beyond concepts. Moreover, to name something is to define it; what is defined is limited. The real self is limitless and, therefore, cannot be defined.

The real self is one self and at the same time infinite selves. One self extends itself into infinite selves. The real self is its self and at the same times all its infinite selves.

If you like, one God extends himself into infinite children. God is himself and also his infinite children. There is no space and gap between God and his children or between one child of God and another. Where God ends and his Son begin is nowhere and where one son of God ends and another begins is nowhere. There is one self that is simultaneously infinite selves.

Buddha called this experience of union Nirvana. Hinduism calls it Samadhi. Zen Buddhism calls it Satori. Christian mysticism calls it mystical union. Helen Schucman calls it Holy Instant. Call it what you like, it has no name. It is ineffable. No human being can describe it in words. Words do not apply to it. Words, speech and language are meant to adapt to the world of separation, the world of you and I. The world of union transcends words. There is literally only one self in that world, so there is no other person to talk to. Yet, there are infinite selves in that world, but all of them know themselves as the same self. They are joined. They know what each other are thinking. They know everything about each other for they are each other. They are immortal and eternal. They have no beginning and no end. They have always existed as one self that is simultaneously infinite selves.

Buddha, in effect, became illuminated to his real self, enlightened to the truth of our unified self and awakened from the dream that he is separated from his real self; he overcame Maya, self forgetfulness, and now knows who he is, unified self. Put differently, Buddha stopped his identification with the separated self, the ego-self, and momentarily returned to our real self, the shared one self and its one mind. In that brief moment, he knew his true self.

While in the state of union, Buddha made a decision to return to the world of separation, so as to come teach those who think that they are separated from other persons that they are, in fact, unified. (The decision to return to earth to become a teacher of God, teacher of union and teacher of love is called Buddha vista in Mahayana Buddhism. Buddhism has two main threads, Theravada and Mahayana.)

Our empirical experience on earth teaches us that we live in body. Body, matter, cannot unify. The world of union, therefore, must not be in body. Although the world of union cannot be described in earthly categories, but for the sake of analogy, we can say that it is a world of spirit, if, by spirit, we mean the opposite of matter. One must worn you not to allow your ego to tell you what spirit is, or is not. Let us just say that the world that Buddha experienced is not a world of space, time and matter; that it is the opposite of our world. Our world is the world of separation; our world’s opposite is the world of union. Buddha experienced union.

Nothing in our world applies to the world of union. Our world is a world of form, that world is a world of formlessness. Heaven, if you insist on calling it that, is the opposite of our world, just as our world is the opposite of heaven. Heaven is unified and our world is separated.

Buddha, in fact, did experience union. How do I know that he did? I practiced meditation and found it impossible to stop thinking. Then I succeeded and stopped thinking. I cannot tell you what happened for I cannot describe it. Even if I could describe it, you would not be able to understand it. There is nothing in our world that would prepare you to understand our real self and our real home, unified state.

Let us proceed with the fact that Buddha taught meditation. His goal was to enable people to transcend their separated ego selves and, hopefully, attain the awareness of their real self: a unified spirit self. Very few of those who meditate, in fact, attain the awareness of real self. This is so because to attain it requires giving up our present ego identification. As already observed, to give up the ego tends to make us feel that we are dead. We tend to think that if we give up our self-concepts, our personalities that we die and stop existing. We do not want to die, so we cling to our separated self-concepts.

Please notice that nothing said so far about Buddhism has any thing to with moralism. One does not have to be religious or moral to relate to what Buddha taught. One merely has to study it, think about it and then try to meditate. It does not matter whether one is a murderer or a saint, if one denies ones ego self one attains awareness of ones unified self. This is a fact, not a conjecture. Buddhism is not a religion. It is a science. It can be studied in a dispassionate and objective manner and verified. Any one can understand Buddhism, practice it and experience his real self.

Because Buddhism is amenable to rational approach and scientific verification, it qualifies as a science. That is why I am beginning this discourse on thinking with a summary of what Buddhism is.

However, I am not a Buddhist. As already observed, I do not accept the East or West; I am only interested in self-evident truth. I am a scientist. I want to understand things as they are, not as people tell me that they are, or how I want them to be. Having understood things as they are, I design a technology to adapt to them.

I want to understand how human beings think and having done so, design a technology, a psychotherapy, to help them think more rationally and scientifically so as to optimize healthy thinking. Healthy thinking, appropriate thinking and corrected thinking patterns lead to peace and happiness.

Science of thinking is aimed at enabling people to experience peace and happiness while in this world. If your thinking makes you feel at peace with yourself, with other people and with the world, it is healthy thinking. If not, please consider alternative thinking patterns, ones that give you peace and joy.

To feel peaceful and happy, you must live in harmony with all human beings. To live in harmony with all people you must love and forgive all people.

Each of us wants to be loved by other people…to be joined by other people…therefore, do unto others as you want them to do to you, love them, that is, join them.

Love is the most important variable in the world. Love your real self, love other people’s real selves and love God. But make sure that you know what the real self that you are loving is. Loving the separated ego self housed in body is not love of the real self. To love the ego is, in fact, to attack and hate the real self. The real self is spirit and those who love it love spirit, not body.

(This does not mean that you should hate your body. You must accept your body and uses it to love other people, to love those spirits who, like you, have the delusion that they are in bodies. Body is a means of loving the children of God experiencing themselves in matter. Body itself is nothing; it does not, in fact, exist. At best, body is neutral and can be used to love or hate. Body was made to hate with, to deny unified spirit and affirm separated self. Now use what was made for hate to love, what was meant to separate with to unify with. When body is used to love your real self and other people’s real selves, it becomes holy. Love (joining) makes our bodies a temple for the dwelling of the children of God and their God.)


The ego likes to talk about itself. Talking about itself makes it seem to exist. The ego wants other people to pay attention to it. It thrives on getting attention from other egos. If the ego did not obtain other people’s attention it would seem non-existent. It would panic and seek neurotic attention. The ego does everything to get other people to pay attention to it.

In certain instances, paranoid ego, the ego might attack other people, or in mild forms of attack, criticize them, so that they would attack and or criticize it and, in so doing, it obtains negative attention. Negative attention, apparently, is better than no attention at all. Human beings fear being ignored by other human beings, for to be ignored, not paid attention to, makes them feel non-existent.

In other instances, borderline ego, the ego might hurt itself and in so doing get other people to pity it and pay attention to it. The borderline personality, a type of ego self-concept, hurts its owner’s body, so as to convince itself that it is alive and to get other people to acknowledge its aliveness.

The normal person competes and obtains what his society laid down as condition for obtaining social attention. He does compete at school, spots, work etc and gets attention from those activities. He, therefore, feels like he exists, for other people are validating his existence. The normal person is an ego that successfully adapts to the exigencies of this world; he is at home in this world. This world is the home of the normal ego; he does not feel like an alien here.

(If you feel like an alien in this world, like you are an orphan despite love from other people, from your parents and spouse, you are a neurotic and are beginning the awakening process. Science of thinking is meant for you, not for normal egos. Normal egos are fast sleep and cannot be disturbed yet. When they are ready to wake up, they would project tigers into their dreams and those tigers would chase them and they run and in running awaken from the slumber that is called this world. We set events up, events that in grappling with them we awaken from this world. If you like this world, brother, sleep tight. It is not yet your time to awaken. But if you find this world nauseating, as I did from the get go of my sojourn on earth, you are a candidate for science of thinking.)

My ego would like to talk about itself and in so doing obtain other people’s affirmation of its existence.

Like all human beings, I have an ego and my ego craves attention. (If you do not have an ego you cannot be on earth; if you are reading this material, are on planet earth, you have an ego, a separated self.) Writing biographical notes, therefore, is enjoyed by my ego for it gives it attention. Be that as it may, let me proceed and make some observations about me, for without that information about me, you would not understand why I am where I am.

I was born with some biological disorders: spondylolysis, Mitral Valve Prolapse and an over sensitive body. I totally feel weak. I am almost always in pain. The cumulative effect of these is that I developed a self-concept that says that I am an inferior person. I feel inferior.

As Alfred Adler pointed out, no human being likes to feel inferior. Why? It is because it takes power to survive in our world. All inferior feeling persons must reject that feeling and compensate with superiority feeling. Thus, I restituted with superiority feeling. Of course, I know that I am not superior to any body. I am not even superior to my dog (I love dogs). I am not superior to trees, animals and anything in existence. The rational part of me knows that my body is just a variety of trees, animals and other biological objects. (The same atoms in me are in animals, trees, and mountains.) Nevertheless, I tended to seek superiority. That desire for superiority motivated me and was responsible for my neurotic behaviors.

There are biological and social reasons for my inferiority feeling. I have already alluded to my biological deficits. My social deficits are also real. I am black. In our contemporary world, to be black is to be construed as nothing. Racism and discrimination are alive. All black children grow up feeling that they are second-class persons. I am not different from other black children and felt socially marginalized. This contributed to my sense of inferiority.

All said, I feel inferior and compensate with desire for superiority. Alfred Adler explained this phenomenon very well. Karen Horney also helps explain it. I pursue ideal self and ideal every thing. As Horney observed, to pursue ideal self entails rejecting ones real self. Horney calls such a person a neurotic person. That is the case with me.

The neurotic hates his real self, and, in fact, rejects it and wants to become an ideal alternative to it. If he is black, he may fancy that to be white is to be ideal and seek to be white like. Later on, he discovers that whites are not that different from blacks and despairs.

For our present purposes, neurotics are persons who deny their real selves and seek to become ideal selves. They know that they are not their ideal selves. But they keep trying to become their ideal selves.

Neurotics are different from psychotics in that psychotics, in fact, believe that they are their ideal selves. In believing that they are already their ideal selves, psychotics reduce their anxiety (but feel anxious when their ideal selves are threatened and their hated real selves are about to be exposed).

The neurotic feels anxious most of the time. This is because he wants to become an ideal self and knows that he is not that ideal self. Anxiety inheres in the effort to become an ideal self and fear of not becoming it.

The neurotic defends an ideal self and is afraid of not becoming it hence always has what Horney calls free-floating anxiety. He lives in perpetual fear. As long as the individual desires to be an ideal ego, self-concept, he must fear not becoming it hence must live in fear.

The normal person is a bit like the neurotic hence has a bit of fear and anxiety. Normalcy is a concept, a model of the adjusted human being. No human being is totally adapted to the exigencies of this world. What we are talking about is relative normalcy, neurosis and psychosis. Every person is a bit of all three; it is all a question of degrees, with some being more normal than neurotic and some being more neurotic than normal. Only about two percent of the population is psychotic (schizophrenic, manic-depressive, deluded). The average human being is mostly normal and sometimes neurotic (self hating and desiring to be ideal).

I hated my body and wanted to become a different body. I rejected my physical self and wanted to become an ideal, mentally constructed physical self. I lived in anxiety state most of the time.

As I am is the way my father, grandfather and some other relatives are. As long as we inherited problematic bodies and live in a racist world, we have to feel inferior and restitute with pursuit of ideal selves. Neurosis runs in my family. On the other hand, no one in my family is psychotic. I have done a retrospective analysis of members of my family going back to hundreds of years and none was psychotic.

Biology is personality. The individual’s personality reflects his inherited body. My family members inherit problematic bodies and develop the neurotic personalities they have. As long as they have their bodies they must have the personalities they have. I expect my children, those who inherited my genes, body, to develop my type of personality or variations of it.

The function of science is to study phenomenon as it is, not as one wants it to become. In this light, as long as my family members inherited the bodies that they have, they must have the problematic personalities they have. Biology is fate. It behooves me to study my family members’ bodies and see how it correlates with certain personality types.

You must study your inherited body to understand your personality. Do not kid yourself with the nonsense that only sociological factors shaped you. Your body shaped you more than your social experience did. I estimate that the individual’s inherited genes, bodies, are responsible for at least 75% of his personality and intelligence, with social experience accounting for no more than 25%.

Normal persons tend to have inherited healthy bodies. This seems good except that they seem closer to animals. We do not need to be emotional and sentimental over this matter. Average persons tend to have gross bodies that make it very difficult for them to do high-level thinking.

(Actually there is no such thing as body; body is a picture in a dream; the thinker projects his ego self into a body and identifies with it. The body reflects the thinker. Body and thinker are one and the same self. If the thinker is bright his body will reflect it, if he is dull his body will reflect it. Simply stated, ego thinking is body and body is ego thinking; ego is body and body is ego. The thinker that is synonymous with body is the ego thinker. There is another thinking self, one that is not ego or body. The real self is unified spirit; it denies itself and identifies with ego and body. The real self is spirit; the ego self is symbolized in body. The real self exists forever and ever; the ego self is a dream self and does not survive physical death.)

As a teenager, I found myself in a war situation. I was exposed to killing and dying. I saw dead and rotting human beings lying all over the place. The cumulative effect of seeing dead and smelling bodies is that it solidified my earlier belief that the human body is nothing. Thus, when I see a person, I am not enchanted by his or her body. If I see a person I easily visualize his body rotting. If I see a beautiful woman I imagine her gorgeous body in various states of decomposition. This makes her body repulsive to me. You get the point.

I am very idealistic. My idealism is rooted in my wish for a different body. My idealism is, of course, fantasy, a futile wishing that human beings be what they are, in fact, not, ideal.

I wanted the people I see around me to be more than their future rotting bodies. I was looking for something beautiful, for, to me, the human body seemed ugly.

My neurotic idealism is a product of my awareness of the nothingness of the human body and my desires to replace it with a fantasy ideal body/self.

The neurotic is keenly aware of the valueless ness of the human body. He wants to replace it with an imaginary valuable body. The neurotic is keenly aware that the human body is worthless and wants to replace it with what seems to him a worthwhile body.

Alas, the worthwhile body he imagines is nonexistent. (The Igbos say: no matter how much you wash the anus with soup that it would still smell of feces. Interpretation: no matter how much value you give to the human body, it is still going to rut and smell to high heaven. In other words, the human body is nothing; it will ultimately die and decay, no matter how much you try to make it last long. Our ego existence is an exercise in nothingness.)

Please pay attention to my interpretation of neurosis for it is not the way Western psychology does. As noted, Western psychology is adolescent. Africans are an ancient people and have a more mature view of phenomena than our brothers from Europe. To the Igbos, for example, the world is nothing and only spirit matters. Therefore you must quest after spiritual things and not delude yourself with the belief that you would find meaning in the things of flesh. Flesh is going to rut; it is ephemeral and transitory; so seek what is permanent and that is spirit. (In Igbo: umunam ihen ke Chukwu ru anyi aka)

Western psychology is adolescent. But man is not always an adolescent. As St. Paul said: when we grow up, we give up the things that we had found interesting during our childhood. As adults, we must seek to understand our world in an adult manner. In my own search, I saw Oriental philosophies more adult than occidental ones. But alas, Oriental explanations are steeped in religion and mysticism. I am interested in science, not religion.


Buddha talked about desire/wishing as the cause of suffering. He was obviously correct. But let me look at desire in a different light. Let me show the correlation of desire and fear. If you desire something you must have fear. You fear not getting what you desire; you fear not obtaining what you wish for.

If you have no desires, no wishes then you would not have fear. Freedom from fear lies in having no desires and no wishes.

In her book, A Course in Miracles, Helen Schucman pointed out that human beings have two main emotions (Energy in motion): love and fear. As she sees it, God created love and we invented fear. We cannot change what God created, for whatever God created is permanent, but we can change what we made. We made fear and can unmake it (in her words, “undo” it). Schucman’s book is perhaps the best western rendition of Buddhism and Hinduism in Christological terms. Arthur Schopenhauer tried accomplishing the same end in philosophical language. (See Schopenhauer’s World as Will and Idea.)

Schucman is correct in stating that we invented fear and that God created love. Fear is an instrument of separation; whereas love is an instrument of union. Love unifies, fear separates. The moment you want to separate from someone you begin to fear him or her. If you are married and want to separate from your spouse you immediately think that he could harm you. The thought of separation from him seems wicked, evil and sinful, and that makes you fearful. It is the thought of separation that produced fear.

Fear is used to maintain the proposed separation. Now afraid that he would harm you, you run and hide from him. In doing so, fear enables you to separate and stay away from him. Fear cannot exist where there is no desire for separation, no thought of separation.

Are you a very fearful person? If the answer is yes, you desire this and that. This may not be how you have looked at fear. Indeed, it was not how I looked at it before. I looked at it from a biological perspective and concentrated on understanding the biochemistry of fear: how the body reacts when under fear and the neuro-chemicals involved in that reaction, such as adrenalin, which stimulated the workings of the body, made the heart pound, lungs work rapidly, bringing in more oxygen into the body, the heart pump faster and blood carries oxygen to all parts of the body, the body releasing sugar which is also carried by the blood to the muscles, preparing them for increased activity in fear’s fight-flight response. In fear there is rapid activity of the nervous system as messages are sent to, processed in the brain and feedback sent back to the muscles, telling them how to respond to perceived threat that elicited the fear response. Complex chemical and electrical reactions take place inside and between nerves to facilitate the movement of information from one nerve to another at the synapse. Several neurotransmitters are involved, such as serotonin, neuropiniphrine, dopamine etc; electrical ions interact with each other, such as magnesium, calcium, sulfur, Phosphor, sodium etc. The biophysics and biochemistry of fear obviously are useful understanding but do not lead to cessation of fear. Moreover, such understanding has led neuroscience and psychiatry to take recourse to treating fear and anxiety with anxiolytic medications such as Valium, Librium, Xanax etc and these have adverse side effects, symptoms of which are similar to the effects of alcohol addiction.

It was only recently that I recognized that to experience fear that one must have desires and wishes and that if one did not have desires and wishes that one would not experience fear.

One always have desires hence must have some fear. To be alive in body, on earth, one must have a desire to be so. As Buddha observed, twenty-five hundred years ago, there is always desire in people’s lives. In as much as people must have desires to be human beings, they must fear not getting what they desired for, thus, there will always be fear in their lives.

What we can do is to understand the correlation between desire and fear and resolve to eliminate unnecessary desires, reduce desires to the very minimum, so as to reduce ones level of fear. As Buddha recommended, one then develops detachment to the remaining desire, so as to not allow ones self to experience unnecessary fear and anxiety.

I saw myself, other people, social institutions and the world as imperfect and desired to change them. This makes me an idealist.

Let me explain how this phenomenon worked. I am walking down the road and I see a tree, an animal, a person, a house, a car, social institutions, anything and everything. I immediately grasped these things imperfections. I then thought about their possible more perfect forms. I have always done this. In so far as memory goes, I remember engaged in this idealistic thinking at age six, when I began formal schooling; I used to imagine how I, the other pupils, teachers, school building etc could be made perfect.

I engage in this sort of idealistic thinking from the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I go to sleep at night. In my sleep, I continue with idealistic thinking. My dreams continue the process of wishing for an ideal self and ideal world.

This pattern of thinking is called neurotic by Karen Horney. (See her Neurosis and Human Growth.) The neurotic is a person who hates and rejects his body, his real self, other people’s real bodies and selves and wishes for their ideal forms. He does so obsessively and compulsively. (In terms of diagnosis, I do not have any Psychiatric disorders. However, on Axis 1, I would rule out Generalized Anxiety disorder and Dysthymia; on Axis 11, Avoidant and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorders; on Axis 111, Spondylolysis, Mitral Valve Prolapse and hypersensitive body; on Axis 1V, Normal psychosocial stressors; on Axis V, good social skills.)

Desiring for ideal states, wishing that I be different from what I am and that people be different from what they are, and that the world be different from it is; positing forever changing perfect images of how the self and things ought to become meant that I was invested in the outcome I desired. I lived in fear of not attaining what I desired, the ideal self concept, ideal self image, ideal other people, ideal social institutions, ideal world, ideal this or that. I, in effect, lived in perpetual anxiety.

Now, suppose that I did not desire ideals, did not desire for things to become perfect then what would happen? I would no longer experience excessive fear.

If you do not have idealistic goals you would reduce your fears by a large measure. You would still have some fears for, as noted, you must have the desire to live in body to be on earth, and, in as much as, you wish to be on earth, which means to be separated from unified state, aka heaven, you must experience existential fear, what we might call normal fear.

Helen Schucman provided the best method for eliminating fears that I know of. Although her book is written in religious mumbo jumbo, it actually contains profound insight into human psychology. I would rate her as a science of thinking expert. She recognized that everything in this world is produced by thinking and that we can change our thinking to obtain different results. In fact, the objective of her book is to correct our disordered thinking, to help us go from separation based thinking to unified thinking. In her view, such corrected thinking, undertaken with the aid of the Holy Spirit, is what miracle is all about. Such corrected thinking, from hate to love and forgiveness, would transform our world into a happy dream, real world, and bring it to the gate of heaven; and finally, make the will of God, love, replace the wishes of God’s Son and bring about the much hoped for Kingdom of God into our world. Our world would be transformed into what Christian eschatologists call New Jerusalem, New Israel, and what I call a New World, the world at its best. Love would at last prevail on earth, as warriors beat their swords into plowshares and lions lie side by side with sheep, not devouring them. This is a world that must come into being before we leave the world of separation and return to the awareness of living in the unified spirit world.


Let us, in a nutshell, review Schuman’s story of creation. I say story of creation because it is not factual but metaphorical. In actual fact, physics tells us that the universe began fifteen billion years ago, in a Big Bang. It is hypothesized that all matter and energy was originally in a ball the size of an atom. Somehow, that hot ball exploded and spilled out its guts. The Big Bang invented space, time and matter. Subsequently, particles were invented and those united to form atoms. Atoms, in time, changed forms to become the various elements on the Chemical table. The elements combined to form biological life forms. Simply stated, people evolved to where they are today through a long chain of events. Stories of creation by religionists are, therefore, an attempt to explicate the unknown in human terms.

Briefly, Schuman pointed out that the temporal world came into being as a result of our desire and wishes to be separated from God. In her view, in eternity, heaven, everything is one. There is God and his extensions, his creations, his children. God and his extensions are one. Brahman and his extensions, Atman, are the same.

God and his joined children are spirit, unified spirit. They are the same and are equal. However, God created his children, God’s children did not create God, though they are imbued with the creative spirit of God and do create their own children. We create with the creative power of God in us, but not with our own powers. In effect, we are co-creators with God and not solo creators.

God is more powerful than his children since the children can do nothing without the power of God, their father.

As Schucman sees it, the children of God resented the fact that their father, although of the same essence as them, is greater than them; they resented that he created them and they did not create him. They desired to create their father and create themselves. This desire is impossible of gratification in reality, since the whole will always produce the parts and the parts do not produce the whole.

Unable to gratify their impossible wishes, the children of God decided to separate from him, to go invent a world where they seem to have invented reality, that is, invented God, themselves and each other. As it were, they cast Maya on themselves and went to sleep and in their sleep, dream this world. In that dream, this world, the children of God use their creative thinking to invent self concepts for themselves.

Click here to continue reading "Science of Thinking"

Posted by Administrator at October 5, 2005 10:15 AM


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