Throughout the 5,000 years of Earth’s recorded history, there is one piece of advice that was consistently taught by our species’ greatest philosophers and sages. In 1400 B.C., this advice was inscribed on the walls of Egypt’s Luxor Temple; in 700 B.C., it was etched above the temple entrance to Greece’s Oracle of Delphi; it was infused in the teachings of Socrates and Plato; it featured prominently in the Hindu texts of ancient India and in the teachings of Confucius from early Imperial China; and later, it was echoed yet again in the writings of William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, and even Benjamin Franklin. This advice, quite simply, is to know yourself.
The reason this wisdom refuses to leave humanity alone is that life, with all its perceived complexities, can be boiled down to this one endeavor. Any crisis, any difficulty, and any suffering you experience is a direct result of you not knowing your true self. When you don’t yet understand and know yourself, your perception of what’s real, what’s true, and what’s important in life become fabrications of a confused mind. To be fair, most of us are born into a confusing environment that can be experienced as a powerful river of fear, expectation, insecurity, and shallowness. But when we metaphorically lift our head out of the river’s water, we begin to see just how far astray the current has taken us while we weren’t paying attention… just floating along like so many others. This awakened perspective illustrates how - in this day and age - one must be counter-culture just to be mentally (and physically) healthy.
The way forward - and the answer to how one can “Know Thyself” - is summed up in the beautiful simplicity of a simple question: Why do I feel what I feel? During life’s trials, instead of playing the victim, your honest answer to this repeated question incinerates your ego, de-cloaks your insecurities, and takes you straight to the core of who you are. It does this by revealing the false beliefs about yourself and about life that keep you from experiencing your true self. Answering this question will show how your fears control you, how negativity shackles you, how your need for validation from others enslaves you, and how your self-centeredness suffocates you. Conversely, during life’s magic moments, answering this question will show you how simple happiness is and what little it requires, how empowered you’ll feel when you live your truth unapologetically, how invigorating it is to be courageous, and how true joy comes from being in loving service to others.
This quest to know yourself will ultimately reveal that you are love itself. And the more you choose to act from love, the more of your limitless self will you experience. Everything you need to be happy, everything you need to be fulfilled, and everything you need to feel complete is already within you… you just don’t know it yet.
Knowing yourself is not an achievement, it’s a realization; it’s not a creation, it’s a discovery. Who you are, who you’ve always been, and who you’ve yet to become is encoded in your soul - not in the temporary rental equipment you call your body. There is purpose and meaning buried deep within each one of us. But until we make an effort to reflect and to spend some time pausing the raging river we’ve let our lives become, this river’s current will continue to carry us away to a place that isn’t us. We are pure joy, unconditional love, and timeless truth. And whether we’re conscious of it or not, we’ve all come here to know ourselves as that… and to be it.
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