Know Thyself…Embarking on a quest to self-knowledge
The old aphorism, “Know Thyself” is well known to many people. It’s been inscribed on the forecourt of the temple at Delphi. Ever since, it has been written and talked about extensively by ancient Greek sages, renowned philosophers, poets, and writers; from Benjamin Franklin, who said: “Observe all men; thy self most”; Confucius: “When we seen men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves”, to Rumi: “Who am I in the midst of all this thought traffic? Embarking on a quest to self-knowledge is a lifetime commitment to an honest exploration of oneself and one’s life, and taking full responsibility for the growth and expansion one wishes to experience. It’s easy to follow a cookie cutter template, going with a crowd, trying to fit in, or imitating others. Such approaches fit neatly into categories of automaton-like behavior and inauthenticity. When we blindly meander through life, not in tune with our essence and without deeper understanding, opportunities to be manipulated by outside elements make their way right to our doorstep. We’re blown/tossed around like a leaf in the wind. Therefore, having a framework, a thorough comprehension of how we work and who we are, are fundamental tools on our journey to growth and expansion.
Deep inquiry into understanding of oneself and one’s inner workings, exploring it honestly and with courage, is a journey worth embarking on. I believe it’s the greatest investment we can make. It’s an investment into ourselves. Self-knowledge is priceless, everlasting and the understanding of which can be applied to any other domain. We have been mostly encouraged to acquire knowledge outside of ourselves, and navigate the world according to external cues and societal norms. While “the external knowledge” is of course very important, so is the inner one. We are multi-dimensional, multifaceted beings, and there are many layers to us; each holding invaluable information of how we operate. By exploration of oneself, you find out what motivates and drives you (or doesn’t), and why. It allows you to better understand yourself, your tendencies and biases. It brings clarity. Most importantly, it provides an invaluable set of tools, and a sense of confidence with which to navigate the world, as well as authentically communicate and interact with it. Of course, at times, in order to explore the innermost layers, we will have to face memories that are rather painful and unpleasant. However, it’s part of the journey, so I say to it: “So be it”. In my own personal experience, I found that the process of getting to "Know Oneself" only as a personality/physical identity based on ego, is incomplete and hollow. I realized that discovery of spiritual identity is the most mind-bending and humbling experience ever; at least it has been for me. We are so much more than the physical place from which we came or the physical identities that we have embraced in this lifetime. Understanding the inner workings of one’s personality can be a major undertaking. However, adding the spiritual component is a ‘different ballgame’ all together. It really twists your mind into a pretzel. It’s a daunting task, but rewarding nonetheless.
The Greek term ‘Gnosis’ stands for knowledge. In the major religions, ‘gnosis’ denotes “spiritual knowledge”; personal insight. Self-knowledge brings us closer to the attainment of self-mastery, which can be achieved through contemplation as well as diligent, daily action. I guess that’s a place we tend to trip-up the most - the practical part of actually doing it. The illusion, “maya”, pulls us back in. Things get in the way sometimes, and that’s ok. There is nothing wrong with falling off the proverbial wagon. The skill lies in getting right back up, and moving closer to where we want to be. The process of getting to ‘know oneself’ is one giant adventure of finding our treasures, unifying broken pieces and cultivating that which we wish to become.
With a loving heart, Anna