Self-Knowledge is the pathway to the realisation of oneself, which brings the individual to his true self beyond the limitations of the mind and body. Self-Knowledge is neither the philosophy of an individual nor the beliefs of a religion or philosophical school of thought.
Self-Knowledge will not give you a new identity, it will help you to go beyond all identities, including the false identity of how you perceive yourself. Self-knowledge gives you freedom and liberation. Freedom where no thoughts, emotions or other peoples actions or words disturbs you. Freedom from the bondage of your own mind.
Can you say that no person in this world disturbs you? There are over seven billion people in the world do they all disturb you? However there are probably at least ten people you know who cause or are capable of causing you some form of pain or suffering, yet they do not affect me, why?
Self-Knowledge is the revelations of the truth of oneself, which by definition requires the individual to reveal the truth for themselves through the guidance of the teachings.
The knowledge revealed in the scriptures comes under a term called Sastra, translated as, this knowledge cannot be gained from anywhere or anyone else. Meaning, because this knowledge is within you, you cannot gain it from any external source and once this knowledge (abadhita) is gained it is never subject to change.
The knowledge of the Self and all it encompasses is already within you, but at this point you do not realise this. It is only ignorance that separates you from the truth of who you are.
We are like the musk deer. Enchanted by the smell of musk and not realizing it is in its own navel, the deer runs everywhere in search of that smell until it get exhausted.
Similarly the truth of who we are, full consciousness, is in us, yet we are running in search of it in every direction in the external world looking for answers, for solutions not realising all the knowledge we seek is within us.
The key to our continual happiness is within us, we will come to understand it cannot be found in the external world.
In some way we are all searching, for the elusive peace, happiness and the truth of who we are. We hide this for a while, studying, being busy with work, building a career while all the while working towards some future projection of happiness, contentment and fulfilment. Or perhaps you may have dedicated your life to your children, being very busy with the needs of your children. We are very good at being busy, sacrificing our own needs in the process.
And when any opportunity arises for us to stop, to relax the mind and body, something very deep in us called fear gets us up ‘doing’ again. Because to be silent might just mean we open our minds to the reality of how we are actually feeling, empty, alone, low self esteem, filled with negative thoughts.
We are doing so much towards happiness but why do we feel so unhappy?
No one has to tell you that you should seek happiness, it is natural and it doesn’t feel right when we are unhappy. Yet why do we experience such unhappiness and emotional turmoil?
By happiness I am not referring to the externalised state of happiness with the flip side being unhappiness. Rather the happiness we seek is an unspoken desire within each of us, the search for the natural state of our being which is peace, joy and contentment.
There is that vague question, why do I feel my life is a compromise, why do my relationships constantly fail, why do I repeat patterns of behaviour that I do not like about myself, why can’t I stop or change them, why does fear undermine everything that I do?
There is no distance between where you are and where you want to reach. You are already there and there is no reaching. Like the musk deer it is ignorance that separates us from this truth.
That is the irony.
Since this distance is created by ignorance, knowledge combined with experience becomes the means. Knowledge alone is not enough it must be experienced to reveal the truth for your self. Any knowledge has to take place in the mind and it is recognised it is necessary to prepare the mind.
To prepare the mind means to go beyond the limitations of the mind, as you know it at this stage, in order to access the truth of who you are.
Close your eyes and come to the silence of the breath
Receptivity and openness
A Zen story tells of Nan-in, a Japanese master, during the Meiji era that received a request to meet with a visiting university professor. The professor came to enquire about Zen. Nan-in agreed to meet with the professor and offered him tea. The monk silently prepared the tea, as the professor watched in growing irritation. The monk slowly began pouring the tea into his visitor’s cup. The professor watched incredulously as the monk kept pouring the tea as the cup overflowed. Stop, ‘he said, it is overfill, no more will go in’!
Yes, said the monk smiling, like this cup you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup? I cannot teach one whose mind is already overflowing. Your mind is not free to receive.
When a mind is closed we only see what we expect to 'see' we do not see or question at all, we drop into judgment and closed minds…When the mind is open and we see or hear something new, we have to halt in our 'footsteps' and question further, an internal enquiry. We need to come to a place of receptivity and openness before we can have the freedom to begin to understand and learn.