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Know Thy “Self”

June 14, 2010


Picking up from where I left off yesterday, I’d like to touch upon what is going to be a core current through this blog. The most ancient aphorism, one that every teacher worth their salt, from every religious/spiritual/gnostic/agnostic school, exhorted their students/apprentices/monks towards:

Know Thyself.

Read together, which we tend to do to most compound words, misses the point completely. Ouselves, Myself, yourself, themself……

What is really implied is Know Thy Self.

A little dissection changes everything. What after all is this self that we are expected to “Know”? And what, pray is knowing anyway? More on that in a bit.

Self. We all assume it is this compound of hands/feet/torso/mind/emotions/thoughts et. al. that is referred to. Is that what the masters were saying?

What is the mind? Something palpable? Something “knowable”? Where is it resident? Is it a bio-electric complex, stored in our “memory”? What is memory? Something tangible? Palpable? What are emotions? Feelings? What about thoughts? What are these chimeric “thoughts” that constantly flit around in our monkey mind?

Are any of them something you can confidently stand up and say about :”I Know”! If you can, I’ll ask you who is this I you refer to? To the man or woman I? To the mother/father I? To the Boss I? To the friend I? To the “child in me” I? To the “Wise one in me” I? Parent I? Child I? Patient I? Loving I? Big I? Little i?

Which one?

We are all a complex of I’s. Very few people alive have ever been really, fully able to claim the full and complete knowledge of the one, unshakeable, original I, which is the same in every situation. That I, resident deep within, full and complete at the moment of your inception needs no-one or no-thing or no-word to feed it’s existence. The stand-alone, un-shakable I.

It is the seeking of that I from where that Aphorism sprung, Know Thy Self.

As we go through various points in our day, the dominant I switches according to the situation or according to our desired outcome of a situation. Sometimes, the dominant I gets center stage for but seconds.

I, i, master, slave, needer, giver, fool, wise, pleading, proud, coy, shameless…. each I a unitary or complex combination of all and more of the above.

So, which is the I which says I know? And if the veracity of the I itself is in question, then which “self” could that I be referring to when it says “I know myself”. If each I has a different “self” associated with it, as I believe to be the case, then we are well and truly leading fragmented existences, yes?

In addition, we live in an age of intellectual hubris (you can blame me for the same, I’ll take it with equanimity), where everyone knows. Problem is that each and every ONE is actually each and everymany.  Unless that deep inward quest to find the original I has been undertaken, every “I Know” we hear in life around is a lie. Plain and simple. Some “I”, one of the many in the everymany saying “I Know” might believe they know, but if you subscribe to the thesis above, They know naught.

The self that we are all exhorted to know and that we all must make our central goal in life to discover, is the Body. It is first, always available, fully reachable entity that we all “know” without a doubt. Slap-ouch. Everytime. Flame-burn. Everytime. Run-Breathless. Everytime. Exercise-Strong. Everytime. Indolant-lazy-weak. Everytime.

Our body is the supreme “body” of knowing, given to us as a means to this higher knowing. The unshakable, most profound truths, axioms if you will, are all here in the body. Physically too, it is replete with the Golden Ratio, the implicit, geo-metric resonance in all of nature.

In knowing our “Self” we can know everything. Think about it, is there an hierarchy? Without the body, would you have an existence, at all?

Without this body, no mind, no thoughts, no emotions, no nothing.

In all it’s subtleties and complexities and mysteries, the body is the encyclopedia we are all gifted with. But like gold, it is not knowledge you can be fed. It has to be discovered.

And that is the reason schools and academies and monasteries and gymnasiums (earlier schools used to be called gymnasia for good reason, in these inverted times, a gym is sub-set to a school) were set up, in an effort to un-earth and share the secrets of this body.

Even now, as you sit and read this, how many parts of your body are you really aware of? Can you feel your fingers? Your toes? Your derrière on which you are seated? Your lungs? Your breath?

We are mostly lost to our bodies now. Feet bound up in shoes, body bound up in clothes, often necks bound up in ties. Hair full of chemicals and colour and this and that, creams plastered on skin…. the body has become an object. No more. A machine we need to minimally “service”, take to the cleaners every so often.

But ourself, we are dead to it except to it’s pains. We take all of our autonomous functions for granted, till they break down. We do most of our conscious functions without a true understanding, an organic understanding of it’s impact on the body.

We are, collectively, truly lost to Our “Self”.

Everymany of us!

But the path back is initially as easy as the first step. And the journey is worth all the digging. Every bit of it. I’ll touch more upon the path that I’m on in later posts, but this man’s experience has been exhilarating. Hard. Very hard…you have to give up so many dearly held notions.

Each and every I in you fights to stay alive, pulls you off course at any opportunity.

But to stand, even briefly, in the presence of your one, true “Self” is indescribable.

Much more on this to follow.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. step back permalink
    June 14, 2010 10:48 am

    Be careful what you ask for (Know Thyself).

    “You” may not be able to handle the truth of what you /we really are.

    • June 14, 2010 11:08 am

      A very good observation Step back. In fact, everyone who has attempted the journey “fully”, always spoke of it’s hazardous nature.
      But the connection happens, in all it’s clarity, only when you’re ready. We are usually given only as much as we can handle.
      On a delusional path though, insanity is always a possibility.
      It is not an easy road, but a fulfilling one.

  2. velobabe permalink
    February 14, 2011 4:40 pm

    ORI, i always thought it was the other way around. mind over body. i am sore a lot. well, now i like life about thinking about my body. but i thought that was describing an ego person, who thought about your body. i always say to myself, this could be the last time you can do this, particular something. also i say under my breath, what would you do if you didn’t have a leg, or one arm or couldn’t see. i think that is something i always thought about, so i diversified from the get go.

  3. May 30, 2011 5:44 pm

    I am! Knowing is ok, being is better. been out of this carcass of meat and mind a few times and thankful for it and how it has shaped the life i lived and who/what i am today. I would describe us as a point of awareness and have been/seen /experienced a reality bejond this material existance. Cant hardly share with anyone as most already think they know. ususally i stay quiet unless asked, but we are about to undergo much difficulty and need to be awakened. Thank you for your article, well done. Ram Das book “Be here Now” was also done well.

    • May 31, 2011 5:34 am

      harry, mereh, good to have you here. And yup, a lot more skinning is going to happen as the unraveling proceeds apace, hmmmmmm?
      In-dependence, such a simple concept, eh? And false knowledge, of which we can all be guilty without knowing.
      Such a time, of high Maya, to find our way around without a guide, a map, except the inner light and the inner compass.
      Thanks for sharing.

  4. Orly permalink
    June 1, 2011 11:40 pm


    • June 2, 2011 6:11 am

      🙂 Anytime Orly. Come by often. As long as we have this forum anyways, eh?

  5. Stephen Baze permalink
    June 2, 2011 5:51 am

    Is this the Orly from ZH ?

  6. Stephen Baze permalink
    July 6, 2011 4:23 am

    I guess I don’t see the same “struggle” as you do Vivek. Kinda , maybe , sorta but not exactly. I know I am far different than most, but that is nothing new to me . My struggles have largely been within myself for validating my true self not so much questioniong any of it as a struggle . For me it has been a very slow process and I know it will never end. In fact , I am enjoying most of it and simply letting the changes come as they will with new information/understanding/living/thinking/being . I seriously don’t much care what anybody else thinks as I already know most have everything quite wrong . Especiallly our governmnents/establishments of power. I believe in KISS . just because ! When I get to the next stepping stone, I will know it . They sem to be endless

  7. HeNateMe permalink
    September 2, 2011 7:42 pm

    How is the body “I”? Aren’t there many bodies? 7 billion of them? What about my body? Doesn’t it change from second to second? There is no body to call I. “I” is not the body. However, the “Self”, “I”, “Buddha Nature” is there. It is us and everything. But we can’t “know” it because we are it.

  8. Bentinho Massaro permalink
    January 12, 2015 10:47 am

    Look-up Self Enquiry on Wikipedia

    • January 12, 2015 3:18 pm

      Thanks Bentinho, but why would I go to Wikid pedia? 🙂

      Curious….I’ll go check it out if you tell me why!

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