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Know Thy Self

"Above all else, to thine own self be true."

But the more we become conscious of ourselves through self-knowledge, and act accordingly, the more the layer of the personal unconscious that is superimposed on the collective unconscious will be diminished.  In this way there arises a consciousness which is no longer imprisoned in the petty, oversensitive, personal world of the ego, but participates freely in the wider world of objective interests.  

Most people confuse “self-knowledge” with knowledge of their conscious ego personalities.  Anyone who has ego-consciousness at all takes it for granted that he knows himself.  But the ego knows only its own contents, not the unconscious and its contents.  People measure their self-knowledge by what the average person in their social environment knows of himself, but not by the real psychic facts which are for the most part hidden from them. 

Since self-knowledge is a matter of getting to know the individual facts, theories help very little in this respect.

The result is that modern man can know himself only in so far as he can become conscious of himself

The Churches stand for traditional and collective convictions which in the case of many of their adherents are no longer based on their own inner experience but on unwavering belief, which is notoriously apt to disappear as soon as one begins to think about it.  The content of belief then comes into collision with knowledge, and it often turns out that the irrationality of the former is no match for the ratiocinations of the latter.  Belief is no adequate substitute for inner experience, ...

File:Gnothi Sauton Reichert-Haus in Ludwigshafen.jpgThe Suda, a 10th Century encyclopedia of Greek Knowledge, says: "the proverb is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are,"[2] and that "know thyself" is a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude.[3]

The Hui Ming Ching is introduced with the verse: 

If thou wouldst complete the diamond body with no outflowing

Diligently heat the roots of consciousness and life  

Kindle light in the blessed country ever close at hand

And there hidden, let thy true self always dwell


These verses contain a sort of alchemistic instruction, a method or way of creating the 'diamond body' ... 'Heating' is necessary; that is, there must be an intensification of consciousness in order that the dwelling place of the spirit may be 'illumined'.  But not only consciousness, life itself must be intensified.  The union of these tow produces 'conscious life'.  According to the Hui Ming Ching, the ancient sages knew how to bridge the gap between consciousness and life because they cultivated both.  In this way the sheli, the immortal body, is 'melted out', and in this way 'the great Tao is completed'.

cont'd ... If we take the Tao to be

(The) fundamental importance of self-knowledge: “See, therefore that thou goest forth such as thou desirest the work to be which thou seekest.” The expectations you put into the work must be applied to your own ego.

(Anyone) who seriously tries to know himself as an object is accused of selfishness and eccentricity. But such knowledge has nothing to do with the ego’s subjective knowledge of itself. That is a dog chasing its own tail. The other, on the contrary, is a difficult and morally exacting study of which so-called psychology knows nothing and the educated public very little.

“Learn from within thyself to know all that is in heaven and on earth, that thou mayest be wise in all things. Knowest thou not that heaven and the elements were formerly one, and were separated by a divine act of creation from one another, that they might bring forth thee and all things?”

 “No one can know himself unless he knows what, and not who, he is, on what he depends, or whose he is and for what end he was made.” The distinction between “quis” and “quid” is crucial: whereas “quis” has an unmistakably personal aspect and refers to the ego, “quid” is neuter, predicating nothing except an object which is not endowed even with personality. Not the subjective ego-consciousness of the psyche is meant, but the psyche itself as the unknown, unprejudiced object that still has to be investigated. The difference between knowledge of the ego and knowledge of the self could hardly be formulated more trenchantly than in this distinction between “quis” and “quid” AION 164


Causes and ends thus transcend consciousness to a degree that ought not to be underestimated, and this implies that their nature and action are unalterable and irreversible so long as they have not become objects of consciousness. They can only be corrected through conscious insight and moral determination, which is why self-knowledge, being so necessary, is feared so much. AION 165


Only an infantile person can pretend that evil is not at work everywhere, and the more unconscious he is, the more the devil drives him. It is just because of this inner connection with the black side of things that it is so incredibly easy for the mass man to commit the most appalling crimes without thinking. Only ruthless self-knowledge on the widest scale, which sees good and evil in correct perspective and can weigh up the motives of human action, offers some guarantee that the end-result will not turn out too badly. AION 166


Christ is the inner man who is reached by the path of self-knowledge, “the kingdom of heaven within you.” Aion 203


Clement of Alexandria says in Paedoagugus (III, 1):

“Therefore, as it seems, it is the greatest of all disciplines to know oneself; for when a man knows himself, he knows God.” And Monoimos, in his letter to Theophrastus, writes: “Seek him from out thyself, and learn who it is that taketh possession of everything in thee, saying: my god, my spirit, my understanding, my soul, my body; and learn whence is sorrow and joy, and love and hate, and waking though one would not, and sleeping though one would not, and getting angry though one would not, and falling in love though one would not. And if thou shouldst closely investigate these things, thou wilt find Him in thyself the One and the Many, like to that little point (GW), for it is in thee that he hath his origin and his deliverance.”  Aion 222


One cannot help being reminded, in reading this text, of the Indian idea of the Self as Brahman and atman, for instance in the Kena Upanishad: “By whom willed and directed does the mind fly forth? By whom commanded does the first breath move? Who sends forth the speech we utter here? What god is it that stirs the eye and ear? The hearing of the ear, the thinking of the mind, the speaking of the speech … That which speech cannot express, by which speech is expressed … which the mind cannot think, by which the mind thinks, know that as Brahman.” Aion 223


Yajnyavalkya defines it in indirect form in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: “He who dwells in all beings, yet is apart form all beings, whom no beings know, whose body is all beings, who controls all beings from within, he is your Self, the inner controller, the immortal … There is no other seer but he, no other hearer but he, no other perceiver but he, no other knower but he. He is your Self, the inner controller, the immortal. All else is of sorrow.” (4) Aion 223

“Most people confuse “self-knowledge” with knowledge of their conscious ego personalities.  Anyone who has ego-consciousness at all takes it for granted that he knows himself.”   The Undiscovered Self  C.G. Jung.  Page 6

It is under all circumstances an advantage to be in full possession of one’s personality, otherwise the repressed elements will only crop up as a hindrance elsewhere, not just at some unimportant point, but at the very spot where we are most sensitive.  If people can be educated to see the shadow-side of their nature clearly, it may be hoped that they will also learn to understand and love their fellow men better.  A little less hypocrisy and a little more self-knowledge can only have good results in respect for our neighbour; for we are all too prone to transfer to our fellows the injustice and violence we inflict upon our own natures.  2EoAP 26

(WON'T HYPERLINK??)   True knowledge of oneself is the knowledge of the objective psyche as it manifests in dreams and in the statements of the unconscious.  Only by looking at dreams, for instance, can one see who one truly is; they tell us who we really are; that is, something which is objectively there.  To meditate on that is an effort towards self-knowledge, because it is scientific and objective and not in the interest of the ego but in the interest of finding out “what I am” really.  It is knowledge of the Self, of the wider, objective personality.  AAI 71

(To know oneself) means knowing what one is (that is the meaning of the word quid in Latin) and by that, seeing something objective, which is not identical with the subjective ego.  AAI 71

So true self-knowledge is knowing on what one depends – the ego constantly depends on the unconscious.  We depend on the unconscious every second that we function.  “To whom one belongs” means where the obligation of the ego personality is.  Knowing “to what end one has been created” means finding the meaning of one’s life from one second to another.  The end or the meaning of our lives, Dorn then says, is immortality – the state in which we constantly enjoy the presence of God.  AAI 71

We cannot approach this inner experience in a beeline.  But if one meditates(,) then one will always have a spark – one could say an “Aha!” reaction – and these many, many sparks of light or “Aha!” reactions will slowly become something more continuous and will consolidate into what one could call in the language of Jungian psychology a constant awareness of the Self.  AAI 72

Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.
- Sigmund Freud