“Know Thyself” is said to have been inscribed at the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (where the Delphian priestess would be overcome by intoxicating fumes that put her in touch with the Greek God Apollo). This is probably one of my all-time favorite phrases.
Socrates (469″ish” – 399BC), along with many other historical and contemporary, philosophers have used “know thyself” quite often in dialogue. According to Plato’s Philebus, Socrates says to Protarchus that people make themselves appear ridiculous when they are trying to know obscure things before they know themselves.
“The ridiculous is in its main aspect a kind of vice which gives its name to a condition; and it is that part of vice in general which involves the opposite of the condition mentioned in the inscription at Delphi.” – Plato, Philebus, 48c
I’ve always considered “know thyself” to be very spiritual in that my relationship with God is very personal. To understand this relationship, I must truly know myself. I must understand my essence if I am ever to relate with the whole of my being; that from which everything emanates.
We have been given many tools to learn about ourselves: history, math, science, astrology, divination (through tarot, numerology, I Ching, etc.). We have also been given a sixth sense. I consider the 6th sense to be the point where we are able to connect with the information of the Universe. It’s available to all of us; however, many people, understandably, choose to focus on the five physical senses in this plane of existence. The human body is like a pair of blinders for our soul. If you simply learn to refocus, you will find that you can still see. You will then be able to see things that you probably never saw before.
Knowing yourself, knowing a love of yourself, is knowing your God (if yours is a god of love).
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.
You can’t love another if you don’t love yourself. When people come to me with problems, I always ask them how their relationship with their god is. They usually tell me there is no (current) relationship with God. I then ask how they feel about themselves. The answer is usually the same. They don’t feel anything whatsoever (usually a false statement), or they think quite poorly of their life.
To love yourself, you must KNOW yourself. Maimonides (1135-1204CE), the influential Jewish philosopher, taught that our intellect is the link that joins humans to God. We are perpetual students of our own humanness. Keep learning about YOU (without getting sidelined by ego, carbohydrates and reality television), and you will be closer to the god of your worship simply by “knowing”. If you are an atheist, then a simple understanding, or knowledge, of thyself is all you need.
Pingback: The Art of Spiritual Curiosity – Elizabeth Seer