Know Thyself

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Pillars of society decamp to sunny, coastal resorts with their executive assistants. We claim that world peace is important, but are always giving our spouse, kids and colleagues a hard time.

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Do our actions negate our sincerity, or is there some other explanation for our behaviour? How much value do they really have? Meditation provides an entirely different approach. Instead of intellectual elaborations, it provides us with the means of knowing ourselves both conceptually, and ultimately, non-conceptually. Just as a whole load of facts and figures about the sea are not the sea, so too all the thoughts we have about me are not me.

Know thyself

The label is not the product. This is why when we sit on our cushions and focus our minds on just one thing, we are doing something unique that goes against all our usual mental behaviour. We are allowing our minds to settle. An illustration of this point, which I particularly like, is the jar of swirling grey storm water. Allow it to rest for half an hour and the sediment falls to the bottom, providing perfect clarity. In much the same way, when we consciously focus our minds in meditation, if we are able to free ourselves from all the usual discursive thinking, we can start to see ourselves for who and what we really are.

When we can be centred in ourselves, even for brief periods of time in the face of the pull of the outer world, not having to look elsewhere for something to fill us up or make us happy, we can be at home wherever we find ourselves, at peace with things as they are, moment by moment. Of course the best way to encounter ourselves is directly or non-conceptually, in a state of deep meditative equipoise. But this takes a lot of practise. Most of us can only hope to catch brief glimpses of our true state of being in our early years of meditation before, like clouds concealing a mountain peak, agitation or dullness get in the way.

Which is why we need to continue in our efforts, inspired by a conceptual account of our ultimate nature. Just as we might encourage the land-locked man to create a vivid image of what the sea may be like, so too when we start to meditate it helps to imagine how it might be if our mind was undistracted.

Socrates and the Examined Life

Some of the inspiration for what we are trying to experience non-conceptually tells us that our ultimate nature is like a cloudless sky: boundless, perfectly clear, undisturbed by any form of agitation. It is a state of peacefulness and bliss, paradoxically both empty of anything as well as offering the potential for everything — because all things begin with thought. I know of no other practice which has the potential to transform my understanding of who, or what, I am — and, by contrast, what I am not.

For like the once land-locked man emerging from the waves onto the beach at the end of his first day in the sea, once we have experienced the reality of who we are at a direct, non-conceptual level, no one can take the experience away from us. And we can never go back to believing ourselves to be merely a collection of intellectual beliefs and abstractions.

Know Thyself Inc.

The s fugitive sheets are the first instances in which the phrase was applied to knowledge of the human body attained through dissection. In Thomas Hobbes used the term nosce teipsum which he translated as 'read thyself' in his famous work, The Leviathan. He was responding to a popular philosophy at the time that you can learn more by studying others than you can from reading books. He asserts that one learns more by studying oneself: particularly the feelings that influence our thoughts and motivate our actions.

As Hobbes states, "but to teach us that for the similitude of the thoughts and passions of one man, to the thoughts and passions of another, whosoever looketh into himself and considereth what he doth when he does think, opine, reason, hope, fear, etc. In Carl Linnaeus published the first edition of Systema Naturae in which he described humans Homo with the simple phrase " Nosce te ipsum ".

In Benjamin Franklin , in his Poor Richard's Almanack , observed the great difficulty of knowing one's self, with: "There are three Things extremely hard, Steel, a Diamond, and to know one's self. In Samuel T.

Be A Seeker To Know Thyself ?

In Hugo von Hofmannsthal has his 16th-century alter ego in his letter to Francis Bacon mention a book he intended to call Nosce te ipsum. The Wachowskis used one of the Latin versions temet nosce of this aphorism as inscription over the Oracle's door in their movies The Matrix [39] and The Matrix Revolutions From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Look up know thyself in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. Wikiquote has quotations related to: Know thyself For other uses, see Know thyself disambiguation. For other uses, see Gnothi seauton disambiguation. Malaika Mutere. Retrieved Retrieved 16 March Archived from the original on 31 December Retrieved 17 February Catherine Roth.

About author

Wilkens, U. Chi, , p. Courtesy Wikipedia. Bence Nanay. He is the author of Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception Edited by Sam Dresser.


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And ever since, the majority of philosophers have had something to say about it. Is your aim to accept yourself? Well, you need to know thyself for that first. Or is it to make good decisions — decisions that are right for you? Again, this would be difficult unless you knew thyself. The problem is that none of this is based on a realistic picture of the self and of how we make decisions.

In fact, it might be a serious philosophical muddle — not to say bad advice. You go to the local cafe and order an espresso. Just a momentary whim? Trying something new? Maybe you know that the owner is Italian and she would judge you if you ordered a cappuccino after 11am? Or are you just an espresso kind of person? I suspect that the last of these options best reflects your choices. You do much of what you do because you think it meshes with the kind of person you think you are. And this goes for many of our daily choices. We all have fairly stable ideas about what kind of people we are.

There is, however, a deep problem with this mental set-up: people change. There are tumultuous periods when we change drastically — in times of romantic love, say, or divorce, or having children. Often we are aware of these changes.



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