“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” And “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” ― Socrates
So, you think you know yourself?
Initially, knowing yourself would seem easy, right? After all, you have known yourself since you were born, and who better to know you than you? Right? I mean, you have spent your life living the life you created, so how hard could it be to know yourself? Well, it is pretty damn hard.
Knowing yourself is going to be one of the most challenging processes you will ever undertake. This is because you already believe you know yourself. This belief in who you are is the stumbling block you must overcome if you are to learn who you are.
The reason our lives seem so complicated is we believe we know who we are, when in fact, we don’t know anything about ourselves. Framing our lives has been a confusing experience because the very foundations upon which we construct our lives are of someone else’s making. We are erecting our lives, utilizing the information taught to us by someone else, on a foundation engineered by someone else. Our parents, family members, teachers, religious and political leaders, and even the media are instrumental in our learnings and instructional in our life’s construct.
As humans, we live consumed by our daily lives. We lie, cheat, and steal, having no regard for who we legitimately are, why we are here, and where we are going. Having long forgotten our true self, we persist in justifying our activities to survive in this existence. As a result, we believe we are these physical bodies, the socially categorized titles with which we define ourselves, and the belief system monikers we use to define our truths. Our constant need to label ourselves with some external title, along with our ego striving for “success,” pushes us away from “the us” we should know, and towards “the us” we have come to know. These labels preoccupy us with living in either conscious or unconscious fear, governed by the ego, all of which we justify and identify as us. We trap ourselves in an illusionary world of our own making, all because we have no clue who we are.
Twenty-four hundred years after Plato wrote the Republic, humanity is still afraid to make its way out of Plato’s cave. The fact is, we may be more fascinated by the illusions now than ever before. Plato had Socrates describe a group of people who lived their lives chained in a cave facing a blank wall. With the fire behind them, all they could see were shadows projected on the wall by the things passing in front of the fire behind them. This silhouetted puppet show became their world. According to Socrates, the shadows were as close as the prisoners would ever get to reality. One day, one of the prisoners breaks free of his shackles and escapes. He experiences the outside world for the very first time and returns to describe his experience. After having the outside world described to them, the remaining prisoners continued to believe the shadows were all there was. If they suspected there was something more, they were unwilling to leave their reality and what was familiar. Fear locks them into believing their illusion is reality, and reality is an illusion. Welcome to the misbelief of humanity.
This physical body, which we completely identify with, will die and that comprehension evades us as evidenced by the way we live. Today, the belief systems we surround ourselves with, to define and defend ourselves and our reality, are an illusion, much like the prisoners in Plato’s cave. We spend our lives, immersed in this illusion we call reality, suspecting, hoping, and believing there is something better, yet too afraid to question for fear the reality is a lie and our identity will be lost. Instead, we stay in our caves and stare at the shadows, trusting in our belief systems to comfort us and justify our existence. We lock ourselves into this mentally conditioned illusion to avoid asking the questions we must ask if we are to discover who we are.
Do you want to understand why the world is in so much chaos? Why the extremes seem to be in control? Why there is so much hatred, violence, and discrimination? Why political ideals are so far apart from one another? Why we are always at war with someone? Why can’t the self-proclaimed stewards of our world agree on any of the issues facing our planet? Why are we so separated? Or perhaps you have decided your life should mean more to you and maybe you are fed up with the direction of your world? Well, you are not alone. The complexity of the world we live in exists because of the complexity existing within each of us. The world is but a reflection of all of us, and the only way to change the world is for us to change. And, for us to change, we must unlearn all the things we use to define ourselves and discover who we really are.
In my seeking answers to the above questions, I discovered researching conventional wisdom only supported the very negative activities that were going on in the world. The places I searched to find the answers to these questions were the very places causing the problems. Albert Einstein was right: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” To find the answers I turned to the most unconventional resource I could imagine. I turned to myself.
By turning to myself, I began asking questions like: “If I had it all to do over again, how would I begin? What is keeping me from changing myself? If I could change the world, would the world be better or worse?” After years of asking myself these and many other questions, and examining all the possible outcomes, one answer kept coming up. “You can change the world, but to change the world it is you you must change.” This revelation refocused my attention away from the external and forced me to look at myself, my beliefs, my titles, and all the things I use to define myself.
I began opening myself up, stripping away layer after layer of life’s learnings, exposing the lies and myths we use to define ourselves. Layer after layer the lies fell away leaving room to learn new truths. By honestly looking at myself I realized the problem isn’t with the world, the problem is with me, my perception of the world, and especially my perception of myself.
My perception of myself was all wrong because in developing my self-perception I referenced all the stuff I was taught. Everything I used to define myself someone taught me. Everything I used to view the world someone taught me. Every fear, hate, discrimination, and judgment I identified with someone taught me. What I learned in school, from my parents, from friends, from religious establishments, from community leaders, and from the news, all played a part in my definition of myself and tainted my perceptions. I was not seeing the world through my eyes but through the eyes of those who taught me.
So, if I want to see the world through my eyes then I would have to discover my eyes and not accept someone else’s view of the world. To do this I would have to self-perceive through different eyes. To create these new eyes, I would have to change everything that was causing me to perceive the way I was perceiving. I had to develop a new base-line with which I perceived the world and myself.
The realization that this was going to be a major undertaking became overwhelming and I started and stopped this process many times. Everything I was taught would have to be unlearned. I would have to develop new processes by which I could re-teach myself allowing me to see reality as reality exists, without the ego, and all of its driving forces. It sounded so simple at the time.
Well, it has been a very difficult journey and this journey will never end. I am constantly dismantling and re-defining elements of myself so I can see myself and the world as it really is. My original teachings were flawed because they were all fear-based and each time I began questioning these teachings, my ego would step-up and get in the way of my acceptance of this.
As I kept searching within to find the answers, the answers began to coalesce, and an awakening resulted. I came to realize that everything I was, was a lie (very hard for the ego to accept). This will also be the hardest realization you will have to make. The difficulty is, it will have to be an admission you must make to yourself. Your ego will be what gets in the way of your success, just as my ego got in my way. You are quite capable of dealing with your ego, and you must deal with it. Once you can admit you have an ego, understand your ego is not your friend, and that your ego lies to you, this is when changes within you begin.
This site and this journey will not be easy and will require you to expand your mind, or better yet, allow your reasoning mechanisms to move from your thinking-mind (ego) to your spirit-mind (heart). You will come to realize, as you peruse the content of this site, your ego is your greatest enemy. You will come to understand, that everything you have been taught and all of your belief systems must come into question as you progress, for these are your hurdles. You will learn that we are the product of our teachings, belief systems, and self-imposed perceptions. The world we live in (and how we react to the world) are controlled by these teachings, belief systems, and perceptions.
You will also discover that not only do we live in an illusion, but it is also an illusion within many illusions. Every time you think you have found the truth (or reality) you will discover it is just another illusion. We must struggle through all we have learned to understand we are not who we think we are, and who we really are is there, we are just buried under layer after layer of mythical learnings. Have patience as this is a very long process. Stripping away all we are not to finally arrive at who we are is painful and requires an element we are not comfortable with. It is called “honesty.”
I say this because being honest is foreign to us as we have all learned it is okay to lie, cheat, and steal. Lie to hide the deceit, cheat to deny the ignorance, and steal to please the ego. Because of this, you will have to dig deep to discover how, to be honest.
Change is the most frightening word we know and the prospect of the experience induces a state of panic. For myself and for most people “change” is a very difficult activity for us to accept. Change elicits stress and an uncomfortable feeling that we have failed or we are wrong. The very thought of change creates an air of concern, fear, and feeling lost. When we attempt to implement it, ego rears its head in defiance encouraging us to fail. Change requires of us a purposeful commitment to honesty. We will have to be honest with each other of course, but above everything else, we must be honest with ourselves. What is that old joke? How many psychologists does it take to change a light-bulb? Only one, but the light-bulb must want to be changed.
Well light-bulb, welcome to change. Welcome to your new Life Sentence. A life sentence of changing your perceptions. A life sentence of developing new understandings about yourself and the world around you. A life sentence of self-discovery both inside and out. A life sentence to a new life where the influences and stresses from ego are recognized understood and controlled. A life sentence of a healthier you.
I hope you find the information here helpful in your journey and remember that you are not alone. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or continue searching through this site.