What it means to understand the self, yourself.
Updated: Feb 21, 2019
My understanding of- the curiosity, process, understanding, realizing of the "self." A with a handful of links to expert discourses that have influenced me at the end.
Let's begin with the process of thinking. To borrow Neil D Tyson's wise words " Knowing how to think empowers you far beyond those who know only what to think." So, we need to learn initially what it means to "think." Knowing how that works might help, so that would and should lead you to venture into Biology and Psychology. To my laymen level of understanding, within Biology exists Neuroscience and within that lies Neuropsychology and within them all resides the term Neuroplasticity. Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior, that's the dictionary definition- need I put anymore emphasis on it? You would immensely benefit from learning about these topics. It is all a part of understanding the "self"- you the individual.
These subjects- Chemistry, Physics, Sociology, Anthropology and so on are all part of understanding the self inside and out. Don't be a fool thinking just sitting in silent meditation will be enough in understanding the self. Meditation is a tool that teaches you to focus, it is one of many tools and even within it there are many ways of practice. The point is to implement that practice of focus in the moment in every aspect of your life. The point is to stop paying attention to incessant, mindless thinking and focus- divert attention, on to your current state of existence. Your environment shapes you into who you are- there are numerous factors that shape the self. Factors that affect our subconscious mind.
Another subject one should consider researching in the pursuit of understanding oneself- the Subconscious Mind or simply Consciousness. Please give more importance to evidence based scientific information and understanding over ancient spiritual understanding.
If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid. - Epictetus
As I've emphasized in my previous blog post, Spirituality is an ancient knowledge of the "self" based on the observation of highly observant individuals of their time. It contains information of value but it is limited in scope. It is simply the understanding of the individual of themselves. We live in a modern age where we benefit so much from the infinite technological advents which science has afforded us; but, we care not to realize its importance or give value to its significance. Deeply concerning and sad reality I would say. We instead mindlessly pray to invisible- by virtue of being non-existent, creatures instead of instilling the values, morals and teachings of religion, religious philosophies we cling dogmatically to its words as it gives us illusive comfort, power all in all because seemingly it benefits us. Many fail to contemplate or even care to consider the alternate, I pity the fool. We would rather let ourselves be tickled and tingled by our foolish imaginations of deities, aliens, spirits, ghosts instead of valuing evidence based fact. It is self evident we are a species with tendencies to conduct ourselves carelessly and recklessly. We shouldn't be so recklessly dismissive of subject matters beyond our careers, interests and comforts. We live in a time where the bounty of knowledge has expanded beyond the imagination of many and continues to infinitely expand and is accessible with ease. Make the effort to be more knowledgeable.
Good education is not what fills your head with facts but what stimulates curiosity. You then learn for the rest of your life - Neil D Tyson
Finally, an essential point many seem to miss, even those engrossed in pursuit of understanding the self is that we humans are no more special, significant than any other species that exists or has existed.
We are on a rock traveling around 1 of 100 billion stars. Our species is 1 of over half a billion that have ever existed. Our chances of being born are about 1 in 400 trillion. You're not special, but you are fucking lucky. Enjoy your amazing life. You'll never exist again. - Ricky Gervais
Here are a few links I beg you to consider if you have not already done so: