Know Thyself; A Self-Reflection

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.

“Once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves, but otherwise we never shall.”

SOCRATES

Okay!!!

Then,

Let’s know ourselves.

Let’s find ourselves.

And, Let’s take care of ourselves.

KNOW THYSELF

LET’S GO !!!!!

But, wait!!!

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.”

ERGHHH…

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, Renรฉ 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!!!

GRACE

“No one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.”

THE TREE OF LIFE

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.

TRUTH

“What you see is all there is.”

THINKING FAST AND SLOW

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

“If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise.”

MILK AND HONEY

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.

WISDOM

“Knowledge is inherent.

Wisdom is learning to recollect that inherited knowledge.”

SOCRATES

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 only true wisdom is to know that you know nothing.”

SOCRATES

PEACE

“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens,and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”

THICH NHAT HANH

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………………..

“Old Path White Clouds” by Thich Nhat Hanh

After attending 10 days Vipassana Retreat, I am exceedingly drawn towards the idea of liberation. Only through mastering the mind, we can attain that emancipation. Meditation is the tool that helps us master our mind.

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Be light!!! 
Light, light, light. 
Full of light...

In the quest of liberation and peace, I came across this amazing book “Old Path White Clouds” written by a Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s been a while I have been following this venerable monk – his doctrines. But, this is his first book that I have read.

“Old Path White Clouds” is a book written in a very simple and straightforward manner. The entire book has an optimistic and positive tone. While reading the book, I felt like I was meditating. Reading this book is a quintessence of a guided meditation, if a book were to guide you through the meditation. Simply reading this gives you so much of peace and liberation. It is like a discourse on meditation. There is nothing much in the book that we don’t already know. You might not even find the answers to the queries you have about life and death and suffering. Despite that, this book is so special. It throws light on Gautam Buddha’s biography from a different perspective. It makes you think. And everything that makes you think has some special flavor in it.

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.

SOCRATES

Some anecdotes might seem a little ideal and unrealistic in the book. However, the motive of the author is merely to radiate positivity and optimism. What else do you expect a monk to write anyway!!

Now, I would like to recollect few quotes from the book that has touched me.

Birth and Death

Impermanence and Non-self

Love and Acceptance

Life And Wonder

Mindfulness

To wrap up, this is a book you should grab if you have everything and yet you are not happy. Or, if you think that you will be happy and satisfied only when you achieve something. In a nutshell, you should read his book if you want Peace and Liberation.

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