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Know Thyself

مَنْ عَرَفَ نَفْسَهُ فَقَدْ عَرَفَ رَبَّهُ

“Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord.” – Classic Arabic Proverb

Life of Pi (artwork by Niken Anindita)/ via Pinterest

What comes to mind when you think of the term “self -knowledge?” Have you considered that it encompasses a phenomenon which simultaneously exists as both static and ever-growing? At its core, there is the concept that there are inherent traits of an individual which remain fundamental, and ultimately distinguish us from one another in the most unique ways. Alongside of that is the natural drive to grow, to progress, to somehow strive to not be the same person today that we were the day prior, to grow.

Courtesy of Instagram, I came across a quotable which states, “Things get harder before you level up” and these words have come to settle themselves in my heart as of late because I hope and I believe that they are prophetic. For the past year, I have been forced to gaze upon my reflection in a twisted version of the legend of Narcissus, in which I am captivated by both my beauty and repulsiveness. As I shine the various colors of the light spectrum upon my soul, I realize that there are ripples of cause and effect that have helped mold and shape my understanding of myself, and the representation of myself that others come to know. And the more that I reflect on and study myself, the more I begin to tighten my grasp on the words mentioned above. It is like a warrior being within eyesight of his enemy’s gate. You have journeyed too far to turn back now, and yet, the distance is just far enough that only courage, the determination to move forward despite fear, can carry you to your destination.

There are two ideas that I have uncovered while in this metaphysical cocoon that I believe must be fused in order to break through this testing period, and ultimately level up. My hope is that you, dear reader, may find these musings beneficial for your own self-growth and bring you closer towards a more wholesome and sincere manner of living.

The first comes from an interview of motivational speaker and success coach, Bob Proctor, in which he asks and discusses the question of, “do you know who you are?” I highly encourage you to take the time to listen to the whole interview, but for all intents and purposes, I will note that the most pertinent point that Proctor makes is outlined at the very beginning. He states:

“I met a man here in Toronto…he was the one that originally got me involved in study of this, Ray Stanford. And…he told me if I didn’t like the results I was getting in my life, that I was going to have to change me because they were my results. And he said, if you’re gonna change you, you’re gonna have to find out something about yourself…So I started to study myself. I found [that] most people don’t know who they are…they really don’t.”

The second idea comes from an interview of rapper, Crunchy Black, of Three 6 Mafia fame (or infamy), on VladTV. He states:

“A child never asked to be here, but yet have a purpose for being on this earth. So you don’t have to sell your soul to be who you’re supposed to be. You just got to know who you’re supposed to be, and be that person…you get what I’m saying?”

Have you ever had the feeling that you are simply just moving through life, and not really living? Why do we do the things that we do, say the things that we say, think the way that we think? Are they our own thoughts, motivations, or actions? Were they pondered upon, weighed, experimented with, discussed? Or do they originate from the minds of others in a way that we cannot relate to, or are they provided to us as what we’re supposed to do, think, or say? This is not a call to anarchy, rather, it is a call to open up your heart and ask yourself who you really are, and why are you that way? Everyone wants to grow, but how many of us really take the time to analyze where we are really starting from? This is the essence self-knowledge. How can you know where to go if you don’t know where you are starting?

Staring at the Full Moon by Osama Azeem/ via Pixels.com

Take stock of what you like and don’t like about yourself. What are you proud of and what are you ashamed of? What truly motivates you and what deters you? What are your hopes? What are your fears? If you could say, do, or be whatever you wish without fear of consequence, how would those things manifest themselves? We are all capable of great good and great evil, and it is important to acknowledge that, as beautiful and disturbing as that may be, because it grants us the opportunity to digest the fact that despite our best intentions, we will have to battle ourselves in addition to the obstacles around us. And, that no matter how difficult it may seem, or even turn out to be, we will always have the capacity to succeed and achieve those things that are ultimately best for us.

That is where the two ideas come into play. I am a God-fearing man. I do believe that there is purpose in my creation, even if I don’t have all of the answers, and interestingly enough, that is what makes this life worthwhile, and makes me the hero of my own adventure. It is the seeking and the striving, and the progression that makes my breath worth exhaling. Whatever the reason is for my existence, it was worth creating me for and allowing me to be when it would have been just as easy for me not to be. But how can I seek that purpose and find that meaning if I don’t even know who I am? If I am in tune with myself, then the vicissitudes of life become subservient to me.

How?

Rather than being a victim of circumstance or allowing life to dictate to me how I must be, or what I must do, in truly understanding myself I have the ability to choose how I respond to both expected and unexpected circumstances. And I also place myself in a more balanced and secure position to accept responsibility, and take accountability for, the consequences of my actions.

True self-knowledge will allow me to be aware of who I am today, so that I can strive to be who I want to be tomorrow.

And who is that?

It is my best self.

No one else. I can take from those that I look up to and respect, or even admire. I can take from those around me, and those who have come before me. I can even have an ideal role model. But…I can embody those ideals in my own unique way. I will never and can never be anyone other than myself, and the most that could ever be said about me is that I might be like someone else, or something else, but never that I am someone or something else, unless I choose to lie to myself and think otherwise.

That is where Crunchy Black’s words hit home. What he is saying isn’t new. I’m sure that many scholars, intellectuals, and mystics have expressed the same concept before him in much more eloquent ways, but it is the directness that I appreciate most about what he is saying.

Do not sell who you are when you yourself are indeed worthy. You didn’t ask to be here (or at least within living memory), so the only way to find your purpose, your meaning, is to be the best of that which was uniquely created (you).

So while I sit in this cocoon, as I wait for the light to shine through and enter me into a new world, a new phase of life, it is imperative that I discover who I am in my most base state, and carry that knowledge with me. If I don’t like something about myself, I will know what to improve. If I know my weaknesses, I will know what needs to be strengthened. If I know my aptitudes, then I can utilize them to guide me to where I want to go. If I understand my evil, then I will know how I need to rectify my heart.

Wanderer Painting by Alisa Iarosh/ via Saatchi Art

Yes, we consist of dust and liquid, but these materials are not cognizant, they do not have personality, they cannot love, nor can they have faith. They have purpose, yes. At a very profound level, they have purpose, but they do not aspire towards meaning. So where does that come from within us? What is us? The self is that gift, that ethereal creation that was designed and imbued with the most intricate of qualities, and the most subtle of secrets. The self is what makes me, me, and you, you, and them, them. And never will there ever be another like you.

So know who you are, and love who you are, so that you can be the best of who you are. This is a form of gratitude. To waste what you have been gifted with, is nothing less than ingratitude to The One who blessed you with those qualities, and nothing less than stinginess to those who stood to be positively affected by them.

May I and you find ourselves so that we may find our ways through this epic tale that we call life, and may happiness and contentment be our constant companions from our first breaths until our last.

Ameen

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