Know thyself

in #life5 years ago

Launching from a top, an eagle snatched a lamb.

A raven saw it and tried to imitate the eagle, it was thrown on a ram, but with so bad knowledge in the art that its claws got entangled in the wool, and beating its wings to the maximum it was not able to be released.

When the shepherd saw what was happening, he took the crow, and cutting off the tips of its wings, he took it to his children.

His children asked him what kind of bird this was, and he told them:

"For me, it's just a crow; but he, he thinks himself an eagle."

Source: Aesop's Works (600 BC - 564 BC)


Know your nature. Don't spend time or effort in exercising for something in which you are not naturally predisposed to do. The eagle and the raven is a symbolic representation of two humans who, different as they are thanks to nature, try to do the same.

Nature makes men unequal in character, in which we are all unequal participants of a unique nature, and similar participants of a universal nature. Do not be fooled by similarity and develop in yourself what you are naturally predisposed for, what you are made for. That is our destiny, the maximum development of our human tendencies.

You can choose between being a servile imitation of something or someone more superior to you, or being a unique version of yourself, as all the greats of the past and the present have done. But for that it is necessary to do what that precious inscription of Delphi says; "know thyself."

Know thyself and you will discover your own eagle or crow nature if that is the case, and you will not need a greater model than that of the truth to develop your own skills and gain success and personal development. Know thyself is the moral of the story.


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The parable of the crow and the eagle shows very nicely that to compare oneself or to assess one's possibilities unrealistically is more likely to lead to difficulties.

Know thyself is a very well-known saying in the West. I think, despite its depth, it is still misunderstood.

In the Buddhist tradition they speak of the "emptiness of things". Unfortunately Westerners interpret this with a "nothing". But since a nothing can neither be imagined nor exist, it is most likely to be interpreted with "death", the thought of death is the closed door that does not allow further thoughts. But this is not what the Teaching means. The emptiness of things means the impossibility of fixing a certain state.

This implies that the fixation of a certain identity can only ever come too late, because every present moment already demands to be able to take on as many identities as possible, which one tries to explain with the term empathy. Therefore, without a context I cannot say at all who I actually am, because my being always depends on that context.

I don't like the term "the better version of myself" very much, because there is something product-like about it, as if the human being is a kind of promotional article through the version of himself. For me, every version of myself has the connotation of a play, and ... But ... if I look at it that way, then I have to admit that I'm probably also a theatre player, although I don't need to tie myself to the play.

The emptiness of a thing... I imagine it like an empty stage, which is always only temporarily occupied by something that is just needed, but which basically holds no attribution due to the constant change. That includes all levels of systems.

Interesting reflection about emptiness. Indeed, the term is usually interpreted as nothing, because it is viewed from the point of view of the absence of something stable and not of the presence of something variable.

I do believe in the permanence of something static though. An essence, which is precisely that which changes, for something must change must be, and in terms of being, that is, existence, is immutable. We say that something changes constantly, but to change, it must first be, and that is the essence. At least, that is the way I see it.

The difference between Buddhist philosophy and Western philosophy is that the first one studies the whole in a personal, subjective, and first person way. While Western philosophy does so impersonately, objectively and in the third person.

A midpoint for me between the two is the most harmonious state.

As traffic is low, it's tempting to stay with you a little longer. I just have finished dinner and have some time ... so.... a longer comment is coming :) Thanks for being attentive. I really appreciate to have a qualitative conversation.


Instead of essence I would rather say presence, because this also contains a "being". When we talk about essence in the West, it is understood as a substance, also as something concentrated, which can be derived from chemistry, for example. But since this, just like substance, rather refers to something material, it doesn't meet the fleetingness that is meant by this term - at least in the Buddhist tradition. They go even further and say that in identifying a self there is basically nothing at all that makes that self tangible. The dissolution of all self is therefore the highest degree of liberation from suffering. But I am not telling you anything new with this. ... What they would call present would be consciousness, but this is only continuously carried through in its non-substantial way.

I think that if you talk about essence and want to agree with Buddhist teachings to the extent that you are talking about an exchangeable essence, which, depending on the situation, sometimes from this, sometimes from that, and sometimes from another perspective in contact with the environment (with people, for example), you can integrate something like a temporal factor.

As I now understand it, when I am in a direct meeting with someone - that is, in my real time - I can "see" my inner resistances germinate every moment as they emerge (don't know, maybe ten times in five minutes?), and I can overcome them by changing my perspective to my dialogue partner. I need this flexibility because my conversation partner is also able to take on this or that identity in very quick changes.

If, for example, you are watching a football match in a stadium and you, as an ardent fan of your team, suddenly find yourself in the opposing block, what flexibility in thinking and acting would be required of you in order not to get into trouble through provocation and counter-provocation? It would not help to hold on to your fan identity. If, for example, a woman were to be pushed between two benches, what change of perspective would be required to help her? And so on.

Such moments can be divided into smaller and smaller units of time, and any interaction would then show us that they always present themselves as a form of being only in the present forms of changing nature. For example, if you, who would be said about to be a "rather quiet person", were suddenly to find aggressive, fast and loud expressions, would it be said that you were someone else at that moment?

Therefore, I would think that what one notices as a fixed characteristic of the other or what one thinks about oneself merely says that one is following not very different daily routines and developed a habit. But if you look more closely, moments are always different somehow, and that's where we hold on to an identity, where it disturbs or even annoys us - shaking up routine. If there is suddenly no coffee in the morning, we can in principle very quickly acquire another identity, except for the one who annoyingly says: "But I need this coffee! The label "I feel trouble" is important so that you can say: "Alright, I feel trouble." Pause. "It's okay to be troubled." Pause. "This moment shall pass".

I can basically agree with you on this essence, because I know you wouldn't insist on it and I wouldn't insist on the presence the other way around. I also agree that there seems to be a tendency for character traits. But that they have less meaning than is generally attributed to them. As if they were the ruby in a ring.

I describe the essence as what it perceives, so that everything that changes does, except the fact that we perceive that it changes. We can say that someone is quiet or not, depending on the circumstances, but we will always say that someone is himself. That something is what we are, and what makes us the same today as the day we were born.

With the term essence I don't mean something material but something immaterial that perceives changes in matter, mood, and other sensations and feelings, since what it feels, that is, what it perceives, is always the same, an I don't know what to which we give the name of soul.

Maybe in Buddhism have something similar when they talk about rebirth or reincarnation and liberation. Because for something to be reborn, it must have been born before, and although it changes and becomes different, it still is. In the same way that for something to be liberated it must first have been in another state (slavery), but remain the same thing.

What philosophers and religious call it soul, psychologists give it the name of psyche, and that is what makes the human function as a unit, because in effect, that is one of the main qualities of the soul, that of being one.

I also appreciate having quality talks, and as for me, the discussion could be extended indefinitely. :)

Thank you, I think this is an excellent addition to your writing up here. I have - unfortunately - nothing to add to it. :)

That was an interesting and inspiring read, thanks for sharing.
The "Know thyself" saying has been something that's been on my mind for a while now as I struggle to try to determine what is true or belief and the differences between such and whatnot and... If you don't mind me asking. Who would you say you are at the deepest level?

Thank you for the comment, for the question and for the reestem, it really is appreciated.

I don't think I have a definition for myself, either at the most superficial or the deepest level. I believe that self-perception is what we call ego and it is an evil from which we must separate. Then I find myself unable to answer that question.

Know thyself, from my perception, refers to knowing what you are and not who you are.

You're welcome for the comment, question and resteem.

Thanks for trying to answer. :)
It seems like me and you have some interesting common interests but also quite different ideas on things, which is not necessarily surprising but it does provide for a good back and forth I think!

I'd like to respond that I don't think ego is evil and I don't think it's possible to totally separate from, I think ego is a perception of self and that I'm not sure how life would work if we didn't have some kind of perception of self? Everything it seems like would kind of just blur together if there wasn't separation.

Know thyself, from my perception, refers to knowing what you are and not who you are.

I sort of see "who" and "what" synonymously in this case, however, lemme rephrase then... Instead of asking who you are, let me ask.. What are you at the deepest level or whatever level you feel okay answering about?

I don't know if you believe in this, but... a soul. A soul that seeks truth, goodness, justice, and liberty, just like any other soul, trying to know thyself without falling into the error of believing that I am the ego.

Maybe I was a little reductionist in saying that the ego is a evil thing, because in effect, I think there is nothing inherently evil. Although I do believe that you can live a life without self-perception.

Maybe my answer is not the kind of answer you expected, but it's the best I have for now.

I am very open minded to the idea of some kind of "soul" or "souls". I appreciate the qualities you mentioned! I think the ego is just part of who we are, a necessary part for existence to work, though definitely not the whole and full story from how I see it!

Hmmm.. Nothing inherently evil? I'm not totally sure I understand that, especially when it seems like you were saying morality is objective? Perhaps you could clarify a bit more?

And, how can you live a life without self perception? A life might be able to live, like a plant or something probably has no awareness of itself, yet lives... Yet... how can "you" live without a perception of self? If you had no concept of who of an ego or perception of self, who would it be that is living in your body?

And that's okay! I'm not really expecting any particular answer, and I'm happy to hear what different people believe in regards to such. :) Thanks for giving it a go and trying to answer! :D

I think there are good things, and not so good things when talking about goodness, but nothing inherently good or evil except good in itself or evil in itself. Only good in itself is inherently good, and the same with evil, but nothing else is inherently good or evil.

And, how can you live a life without self perception?

A life of a monk maybe.

I think the ego is just part of who we are, a necessary part for existence to work, though definitely not the whole and full story from how I see it!

I think the same.

Thanks for expanding/clarifying. :)

nothing inherently good or evil except good in itself or evil in itself. Only good in itself is inherently good, and the same with evil, but nothing else is inherently good or evil.

I tend to agree with this, however, is there truly a sort of universal good or evil that exists outside of the perceptions of humans or other animals/aliens/spirits/etc? Or do you just sort of mean that in the intangible philosophical/mental sort of sense where it exists subjectively in the minds of sentient beings?

A life of a monk maybe.

Hmmm.... Something to think about. Though, to me it seems like any being once they have seen themselves in a mirror or reflection will achieve self perception and many will be able to do it without even seeing themselves directly just by looking at their own body or how they move through existence based on willpower.

I think the same.

Word.

is there truly a sort of universal good or evil that exists outside of the perceptions of humans or other animals/aliens/spirits/etc?

Yeah, it is what I think. In order for humans to perceive good, there must be something perceptible to what they give that name.

Though, to me it seems like any being once they have seen themselves in a mirror or reflection will achieve self perception and many will be able to do it without even seeing themselves directly just by looking at their own body or how they move through existence based on willpower.

Maybe the ego is not only self-perception, but an idea that is formed in the heads of people who tell them who they are supposed to be. And that is formed, mainly through self-perception. Otherwise, we should admit that even animals have ego.

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