My Thoughts: Self Knowledge

a list of idea-tools that I may/may not use depending on if they turn out to be useful or true


WE ARE THE IMPERFECT ATTEMPT AT SQUARING THE CIRCLE. But the success is in the attempt, not in achieving the goal, for the work is never ending. We are a dance, not a statue. (LINK to the Balanced Dancer) We move around the point of perfection. Pass through it or close many times a day. We attempt to hold on to it.


VISICA PISCIS. (LINK to other version) We stand in the overlap of circles, the eye shaped lens that focuses the world outer and world inner. Filtered threw where the conscious ‘I’ stands. Discernment and conscious choice at the liminal threshold between the worlds. The mesh of interference patterns from inner and outer makes separating the two very hard. Then there are reflections and projections that confuse us between what is within and without. But there the ‘I’ is and you have to deal with it.


“KNOW THYSELF” (The inscription above the entrance to the Temple at Delphi, the other inscription was “Nothing In Excess”). Write down what you think you know about yourself; physical, mental and emotional. Is it true? What is it based on? What do you like? What don’t you like? What is that liking based on? Lay yourself out on the work bench, but be very careful to consider what to work upon. You are the Great Work. What is stone? What is clay? What needs reshaping? What needs to be worked around? Reshape your life accordingly. Does it work? Review it. We all have biases. Learn what they are. But we all view ourselves as the norm. From this natural point of view we measure others as; angrier, taller, fitter, etc than ourselves. This is a personal scale, not a universal truth. (LINK The personal is not the universal). Our psychology shapes our philosophy. (LINK)


SELF EXPRESSION WITHOUT SELF EXAMINATION CAN BE SELF STAGNATION. How often do we find people, ideas and information that confirms us in our existing positions (LINK to added New Sci). How can we grow unless we question ourselves and our motives? If we speak and act without examining and reflecting, then we suppress our own growth and make a poorer contribution to the world.


SELF EXPRESSION NOT NECESSARILY SELF IMPROVEMENT. Self expression can lead to the self-stagnation (showing off, ‘watch me everyone’, talking much without listening), and not self reflection (listening, watching and reflecting). There are those who are brilliant at art, sport or science who are rubbish people. And many good people who are not great at art, sport or science. There are great skills, and great souls, which may, or may not, coincide. Reflection is the key to self-development, spirituality and becoming a better person; not outward achievements.


FLAWS OR STRENGTHS. Our flaws can be our strengths as well, if only they  are directed differently. How we see ourselves makes us our own worst enemies or our best friend. Good feedback from others can help with this, but the ill-considered praising or criticising of most social discourse doesn’t really help self improvement.


WHAT DO YOU WANT, SOCIAL STANDING OR UNDERSTANDING? Seeking to increase your social standing will not increase your understanding. Saying the right things that all your chums agree with makes you feel great, makes you feel clever, but it neither teaches you nor them anything. So little is often said with so many words. And rarely so much with so few, if anyone is actually listening. So how do you communicate knowledge without becoming cast as a guru or an idol?


SELF AWARENESS AND GROUP IDENTITY. Self awareness and self reflection help with personal development, but what about religion and ritual, do they help? Many have commented on the lose of a sense of self being necessary in group ritual. Some ritual practices such as meditation and pathworking can lead to self knowledge but these are internal processes, and can be done without a group.


CRITICISM AS PROJECTION. “He who is without sin, can cast the first stone.” Before criticising others, check that what you are about to say is not something you could honestly not accuse yourself of. (I have often found that to be the case with myself.) What we say about the world says a lot about ourselves. We project on to world. Therefore self knowledge by examining what we say about the world. The place we put our identity is where we put our pride. It is also our blind spot? Is this that which we most hang on to beyond the point where we should let go?


HAS ANYONE EVER CHANGED THEIR MINDS IN AN ARGUMENT? Does opposing actually work? By opposing others do we not become locked into their discourse? It is then difficult to think your way out of it. The ‘them and us’, ‘insider and outsider’, ‘right and wrong’. The tribalism fixes us and there is no progress. Label others as wrong, how can they change? One is mixing up the person with the idea with this attitude. One doesn’t do oneself or one’s argument any favours by expressing the right idea in the wrong way. Some however feel that other people are not different, they are just wrong!


YOU’LL LEARN MORE BY CRITICISING YOURSELF RATHER THAN OTHERS. Self development flows from the former not the later. Change others by changing yourself. Be the solution not part of the problem.


PEACE IS BEYOND OPPOSITES. Peace is not the opposite of war, peace is that balance beyond opposites (LINK poem). Embody the solution do not, by opposing, become part of the problem. Mirror neurons in our brains model behaviours that we see. Internally we are acting them in our heads. Thus it is easy we are built to automatically copy the behaviour of others we see, even those we consciously oppose. So we consciously need to enact the solution instead of opposing and thus copying the problem.


HONESTY & SELF KNOWLEDGE. If you can’t be honest with anyone else at least be honest with yourself. For what could be worse than lying to yourself? How can you benefit by deceiving yourself?


DOUBT IS AN ESSENTIAL LUXURY. When action is required in a disaster situation, you need certainty to help you survive. In normal everyday life, decision making and planning also need to be separated, but doubt is essential. There is time for things to be questioned, and the comfort of certainty of resources allows for the luxury for development through doubt. (Terry Pratchett explores this idea in his 2008 book Nation, where main character decides that in crisis people need the certainty of the ‘lie’ of gods , not the explorative uncertainty)


WHAT DO YOU SAY WHEN YOU TALK TO YOURSELF? Be mindful of the ‘voice-over’ you give your life. This narration shapes the mood of your life even more than the mood of a movie. With our thoughts we shape our selves and thence the world. (This is the title of a book by Shad Helmstetter published in 1991.)


DON’T TYPE CAST YOURSELF. Myers-Briggs and other methods of self examination are useful but there is a danger that comes with any typology. ‘I am this type’ can be used as an excuse for avoid improvement; ‘therefore I need not change for this is just how I am.’ Our minds and behaviours are much more complex than any simple type and malleable. (LINK to added) Don’t fix yourself to your roles either!


UNINHIBITED YOU. Is seeing someone without their ‘inhibitions’ seeing the ‘real’ them? Our inhibitions are part of us. Is the sleeping you the real you? Unrestrained emotions are no more or less real than our thoughts and ideas. The unrestrained emotions are less representative of  you if the inhibition is brought on by intoxicants. The real you is the sum of all you are emotions and the habitual controls there of. However, this mix can change and you can be different.


POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY. This is a new school of psychology that works on the simple premise of working out how to help people by looking at the ones who are happy and content, rather than at those who are not. The other schools have all evolved out of studying people with ‘problems’ and then extrapolated from that to work out what is ‘normal’.  Also individually one can focus too much on ones problems, and end up having an identity that is bound up with them. Then you are really stuck.