Know Thy Self : But Why ?


Self (Photo credit: DijoLola)

“The knowledge of the Self shoud be heard of, queried about and meditated upon, until we are absorbed in it.”

But why ? Not many are drawn to the quest. The obvious immediacy of it being our very self seldom touches us enough to pull us back for even a short while from our heaving, sticky and viscous engagements in the world : livelihood, gratification, relationship, status and money-making. Let us look over the what of the subject than why.

The self is what we are; except that what and how the I-the-Self is only available in terms of thoughts and ideas we have of ourself … that form the beliefs we have of us, often, nay, invariably, on account of our association with material things, trees, animals or people that reflects our self through how they affect us, how in our interaction they daunt or encourage, attract or repel, accept or judge and reject us. It these experiences then in our memory and mind that overall spell the qualifying or defining features of the entity we are — the one our I identifies with, as distinct from others but very amenable to comparison and competition with those about us.

The experience and memory based method however yields a kowledge of our self that is very fluid; it is valid in the instant but no longer. Both the quantum of experience, live or recalled, and our perceived value of each is extremely limited and streaming. The entire set and the conclusion it offers changes in a momemt, and certainly over hours. It instantly mutates with the next affecting thought, action, exposure or experience. Which, in the context of our query, leaves us non-plussed : who or what or how indeed am I ? What criterion shall I invoke to tell myself : Yes, this is what I am !

One way to light at the end of the tunnel is to embrace the fact : one, I am I, and, two, every quality and definition I conclude about my self is mutable and hence has a very finite validity.

To overcome the inevitability, we need to take recourse to an exactly contrary method : remove all qualities and definitions one has about the self; in other words, look for the unconditioned and unqualified self !

With this resolve, we are ready to embark upon the path to Yoga. That summum bono is described as nothing most practitioners understand by the term, both in East and the west.

” Then, one attains his true self.”

And the immutable knowledge of the Self.

To be continued …


Meanwhile, the picture above schematically shows the four-fold path to recovery of our true being : Karma or action, Bhakti or love and devotion, Yoga or meditative experience, and Gyan or reason and inquiry. Some suggest that they are four separate ways, not four-fold as validated in my own limited experience. There is nothing to contradict here. The evidence rests with ourself.


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