“Know Thyself” is an old maxim carved into the stone at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece.
“Know Thyself” is also a motto to which the esteemed Greek philosopher Socrates was profoundly adhered to. He believed – “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Which implies that, you should know –
Why do you believe what you believe?
Why do you do what you do?
What do others have to say about a particular issue?
~ Question oneself and question others ~
Socrates’ unpaid job was to make others “think“. It is not at all hilarious !!! It is a pretty serious job (at least better than staying at home and making fifty paper butterflies a day; I wonder which one is a more serious unpaid job).
Trust me! Making fifty paper butterflies is also like meditation. But, let’s get back to Socrates. He has something more valuable to say.
Let’s know ourselves.
Let’s find ourselves.
And, Let’s take care of ourselves.
LET’S GO !!!!!
What is our “true self“? What does it mean when we say “know ourselves” and “find ourselves“? Is it exploring our body? Is it deliberation of our education? Or, our social status? Or, even our possession? All the tangible and fathomable aspects of life?
No ???? Of course, not. [Philosophy tends to complicate everything.]
Voila!!! Socrates comes to our rescue – “Our true self is our soul.”
This is more of a philosophical conundrum rather than a solution.
Because…. What is soul?
Most importantly, where is the soul? There is no solid evidence of existence of “The Soul“.
Socrates describes the soul as “thinking and willing subject“.
So, is soul also “the brain”?
Oppppssss…… Descartes will hunt me down.
The French philosopher, René Descartes has made a whole lot of fuss out of “body vs. soul” concept in the Cartesian Dualism. There are a bunch of ideas joggled solely by the Cartesian Dualism; some supporting the idea of dualism while the others against it. Our intention is not to delve too deeply into the Dualism. We were trying to “know ourselves” and “find ourselves“.
Therefore, soul is not the brain. Let’s accept it for now even though you don’t accept dualism (it’s totally fine if you accept it; it’s cool if you don’t even care about it). Who cares? The notion of soul is not yet resolved anyway.
Here’s the idea from Socrates himself:
State of one’s soul determines the quality of our life. So, we should invest our time, energy, resources and attention to make our soul as good and beautiful as possible.
Soul, here, refers to our core-self.
So, here is to making our soul gorgeous… CHEERS!!!
The philosophy of grace stems from unconditional love and compassion. That unconditional love and compassion should at first be for ourselves. When we are imbued with the sense of unconditional love and compassion for ourselves, then we can extend it to others. The way of grace, in a sense, enhances the soul. Offering love and mercy to even those who don’t deserve it, is the style of grace.
Let’s adorn our soul with the tint of grace.
You are hurt.
Grace comes in handy. Show some love and mercy to yourself. Pamper yourself. Forgive yourself. The first step to embracing grace comes through accepting and forgiving yourself for whatever you have put yourself into. You get healed gracefully.
You have not accomplished what you were meant to accomplish.
Give time. Take small steps everyday. Tend your soul with grace. Take every step gracefully. You will reach there.
Whatever you do or say to yourself, answering the question – “Why are we doing what we are doing?” is of paramount importance.
Is anything really true? How does the truth come into existence? Isn’t the truth, really true, because we label them as the truth. More specifically, the truth comes into existence because a bunch of people believe it to be true. But, can the idea be really true just because we consider them to be true? How to determine the veracity of an idea?
There are a plethora of theories explaining or at least trying to explain the “Theory of Truth“. I am, by no means, qualified to discuss the theory of truth. So, I am just throwing this bundle of queries your way.
At this point of time, what I really believe is –
Nothing is true as long as we don’t accept it as true. Even if we accept it, it might not be universally true but it is true, at least for us, at least at this point of time.
Sounds pretty skeptical, eh?
I have come to accept this idea because everything I once believed to be true now don’t even exist. May be same will happen to the concept I believe to be true at this point of time.So, where is the truth? May be I should continue truth-seeking vigil for some more time.
I can’t speak for you.
Strength and resilience comes from the soul. Let’s take a step back and scrutinize our soul. Let’s replenish the soul.
We should nourish our soul with positive thoughts so as to replenish it. The first step to nourishing the soul is to express gratitude. Be grateful for everything that you are and for everything that you have. Think about all the hurdles you have crossed so far to reach where you have reached.
Soul searching is about connecting with yourself.
Take a step back.
Scrutinize the soul.
Replenish the soul.
There are always things you try so hard to hold on to, even those things which are out of your control. Let go of everything that is not within your control.
What consumes your mind, controls your life.
So, liberate your soul. That is where the resilience comes from – from the liberated soul.
The literal translation of “philosophy” is “the love of wisdom“. What is wisdom? Who is wise?
Here is a very interesting piece of story of Socrates and his wisdom mentioned in Plato’s “The Apology“. Plato’s “The Apology” is an epitome of humility theory of wisdom. The story goes as follows –
“Once, Socrates and his friend Chaerephon visited the oracle at Delphi. Chaerephon asked the oracle “Is anyone wiser than Socrates?” to which the oracle replied – “Socrates is the wisest.” Socrates, not being able to believe that he was the wisest, went to inquire after all the people (politician, poets, craftsmen, etc.) who he thought were wise. After a series of inquiry, he realized that all the people who claimed themselves to be wise and expert had no idea what they were doing or at least knew less than what they claim to have known. Socrates, on the other hand, does not consider himself to be wise and does not claim to know anything more than he really knows.“
The ultimate path to attain the peace of mind is by being mindful. Past is gone and there is no way we can resurrect the moment which has ceased to exist. Future is uncertain. Who knows the tomorrow we talk so much about will ever materialize or not! Whatever there is, it is here, in this moment. If we are not at peace and if we are not happy about what we have at hand, we won’t be at peace and we won’t be happy even after we achieve what we strive to achieve. Happiness is momentary. Mindfulness is for eternity.
Happiness is within us. We just need to cultivate the goodness in us and expurgate the evilness.
So, let’s breathe in and breathe out.
Breathe in all the goodness in you.
Breathe out all the evilness.
Thank you for reading this piece.
If you have come here in search of some answer, I would like to apologize because I don’t think I am capable to answer these abstruse queries. I am a wonderer, trying to make sense out of subtleties in life. Here, I have discussed the ideas that I make myself believe at this point of my life. My belief might change with time.
Well, Socrates’ unpaid job is coming handy in making us think and wonder once in a while. The thinking continues………………..
"The Shadow Of The Wind" is about accursed books, about the man who wrote them, about a character who broke out of the pages of a novel so that he could burn it, about betrayal and a lost friendship. It's a story of love, of hatred and of the dreams that live in the shadow of the wind."
“The Shadow Of The Wind” written by a Spanish novelist Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a sweeping narrative of the entanglement of a reader’s and a writer’s life. It is a well written story which is set around the time of Spanish Civil War[1936 – 1939]. The Shadow Of The Wind is “a world of books inside a book” which is absorbing and tempting right from the first page. Reading this story word by word, page after page and walking through the labyrinth of the cemetery of forgotten books in my imagination has been one hell of a journey. If “the cemetery of forgotten books” were a real place, I would have loved to visit it once in my lifetime.
It is a mystery novel with a touch of magic realism. It is an artistic story which is gripping and unputdownable. This story makes you wanna suspect each and every character of the book at times. At some points, the plot might sound a little dramatic. But, this book has touched me to the core. This is a story which will stay with me forever. It is also special because this is my last book for 2020. If you love “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak and “Kafka On The Shore” by Haruki Murakami, you will love “The Shadow Of The Wind“.
Quotes from the book
Some things can only be seen in the shadows.
This is a world of shadows and magic is a rare asset.
To truly hate is an art one learns with time.
Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them, not for the merits of who receives them.
We exist as long as somebody remembers us.
The moment you stop to think about whether you love someone, you’ve already stopped loving that person forever.
Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.
Those who really love, love in silence.
Nothing happens by chance. Deep down, things have their secret plan, even though we don’t understand it.
Keep your dreams. You never know when you might need them.
Halfway to freedom is an excellent account on India-Pakistan partition written by an American photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White.
~A woman of many firsts~
The first photographer for “Fortune” magazine
The first female photographer of “Life” magazine
The first western professional photographer to have unlimited access into the Soviet Union
The first female war correspondent credentialed to work in combat zone during World War II
When all the Hindustani (Indians) were united to drive British rule out of India, nobody must have anticipated that their independence will be smeared with blood. Declaration of India’s Independence on 15th August, 1947 was accompanied by carving out of Pakistan from the bleeding India. Almost 200 years long British rule certainly came to an end but their divide-and-rule strategy persisted as a result of which a Muslim-dominated Pakistan and a Hindu-dominated India was engendered from one united India. This unfortunate partition prompted an exodus. Millions and millions of Muslims from India headed towards Pakistan whereas the same number of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan advanced in the opposite direction towards India because they were not safe in each others land.
In this book, you can get the first hand information from the author herself. She not only observed and experienced the India-Pakistan partition up close but also interviewed the then acclaimed personages such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Ghanashyam Das Birla, Seth Ramkrishna Dalmia, Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata and many more who were close to Mahatma Gandhi. She also took opportunity to question face-to-face Mohammad Ali Jinnah, creator of the Pakistan (land of the pure). She interviewed natives of different castes and religions trying to know their opinion about the situation. No information can be as raw as this episode.
Mahatma Gandhi is regarded as “The man of God“. The author is curious about the Gandhian philosophy. Her queries revolve around Gandhi. She wants to know his way of life. She ponders how he could have attracted so many followers and their loyalty. Hence, she goes around questioning people close to Mahatma Gandhi. In my opinion, she represents the western views and curiosities towards eastern culture and politics.
Being a foreigner, she has misspelled some of the typical Sanskrit words and names of people she came across in her book. However, we can work that out ourselves and this mistake can be ignored with the fact that she has done a splendid job picking up every subtle details that she needs to depict the political and social scenario of that period. She has painstakingly collected cardinal information and has gone through a lot of trouble to photograph them. From the rich industrialists and politicians to slum dwellers, from landowners to laborers, from capitalists to communists, from Muslims to Hindus to Sikhs and from Brahmins to Sudras, she has touched the lives of almost every hierarchy in her astounding book.
So, if you want to get acquainted with India-Pakistan partition and post colonial scenario, then this book with the first hand details is for you.
She was imbibed in her own silhouette; the dark outline of her own crippling caterpillar-like body that stood miles away from her approach. She was staring from a distance at her own body; may be a past which was in fact now out of her reach. Was that dark or bright – the past? Is she happy now that she is no more what she was or does she miss herself? That didn’t matter though. The silhouette had already started levitating anyways; like a smoke, in the peaceful azure sky launching a blizzard of shattering dominoes of dreams. A pang of guilt struck the spectator Arwen. All these years, even though away from herself, she had visited the beauty of life. Arwen had started seeing hope in the hopelessness. She had seen silver lining at the most catastrophic moment.
At the graveyard, that day, she had heard a familiar voice bellowing some unfamiliar contents. She was not to look back. She was not yet prepared to stop for the scrutiny. She was naïve. However, under that dreadful moonlight she did stop. She was awestruck to find him so close to ignore yet so far to get hold of him. His soul was hovering all over her. Was he alive? She didn’t know that tint of life was left in that mystery corpse. Then did she think he was dead? She could not accept it. He was still breathing. A sachet of life was fabricated deep down in his alveoli. When he was close enough to let his exhaled air penetrate her skin, she saw that royal instinct radiating through his brooding eyes. He had just been rescued by some noble mortal from rubble or maybe he had unleashed himself out. To her, it seemed as though he had escorted himself out of a pyre. She was aware to let at least a single layer of air float in between them so as to get shielded from that walking dead. But a part of her was inquisitive enough to slash the barrier of that layer of air so that she could feel him. To touch him meant to hurt her. To kiss him meant to kill her. Exploding that trace of life from one corner of the alveoli along the respiratory corridor when words rumbled out of his mouth like a smoke, she could not help herself but to touch his burning body. She was apparently unaware until she stopped kissing him to take a deep breath.
Despite the respired flames he was still alive and the smoke was not the residue of the fireball rather an art. It got spread on the canvas of air. It was hard to catch and harder to let it fly away right in front of her eyes. The curves and edges, the crests and troughs, the peaks and depths, the whites and blacks of the smoke got synchronized. At the twilight, when the darkness had brought sky so close to the earth, she decided to let it fly away so as to let it get mingled with the clouds over the zenith. She wanted to take shower under the smoke that came out of his mouth. The downpour was an apocalypse. The puddles made her difficult to keep going. The shivering cold made her crave the warmth. She got the warmth from nowhere but him. Even though he was dead from inside himself, he let the fire persist to keep her safe and warm. He was a puzzle that could complete her – a maze in himself where she found her way. Paradoxically, the flames that he respired then, was the vigor not to burn her down rather to melt her and mould her later into a beautiful butterfly.
Arwen was a mere caterpillar. Aaron made her metamorphose into a beautiful butterfly. Today, when she flaps her mesmerizing wings, she hears the most melodious music of the world. Aaron…….Aaron……Aaron…………