Sunday, March 18, 2018

Let's Examine this "self"

     "The unexamined life is not worth living."            Socrates

     "Rumi has this wonderful one-liner: ‘If you are here unfaithfully with us you’re causing terrible damage.’ What I think he means by this is unfaithful to your own truth - unfaithful to some ongoing effort to live an examined life. ... the point is, not only to do that inner journeying, that exploration of the inner landscape of our lives, but to connect that with what goes on outside of us."

      Parker J. Palmer An Undivided Life: Seeking Wholeness in Ourselves, Our Work, and Our World” Life/2530.productdetails;jsessionid=1FZoA99VGf9KVaG7fjtv.27

     "In the great traditions, the term self-knowledge has an extraordinary meaning. It is neither the acquisition of information about oneself nor a deeply felt insight nor moments of recognition against the ground of psychological theory. It is the principal means by which the evolving part of man can be nourished with an energy that is as real, or more so, as the energy delivered to the physical organism by the food we eat. 
     Thus it is not a question of acquiring strength, independence, self-esteem, security, ‘meaningful relationships,’ or any of the other goods upon which the social order is based and which have been identified as the components of psychological health. 
     It is solely a matter of digesting deep impressions of myself as I actually am from moment to moment: a disconnected, helpless collection of impulses and reactions, a being of disharmonized mind, feeling, and instinct."
        John Welwood ed. “Awakening the Heart. East / West Approaches to Psychotherapy and the Healing Relationship.” Shambhala, 1983. 

     No wonder this "small self" has also been referred to as "the pain body." It's pretty bleak if we (incorrectly) assume this to be the sum total of who / what we are. Yet most folks do. However, wise people "get over themselves" ie transcend this "small self", realizing that who / what they are is infinitely, qualitatively greater.

      "If wisdom is defined as a combination of
           • cognitive (an understanding of life & the desire to know the truth),

           • reflective (the ability & willingness to look at phenomena & events from different perspectives), and
           • affective (sympathetic & compassionate love for others) personality qualities,
      then truly wise people, such as Jesus Christ or the Buddha, can also be described as the most psychologically developed persons. They are mature; psychologically healthy; autonomous; fully liberated from all outside & inside forces; and are, therefore, the masters of their own fate.
      Because people who grow in wisdom gradually come to accept reality as it is (and not as they would like it to be), including the negative side of their personalities, they are able to learn from their experiences, which allows them to overcome their negative tendencies and to gain inner peace through the de­velopment of equanimity. Hence, they tend to be less affected by external events and internal drives than other people, which results in greater autonomy and control.
      Yet wise individuals are also selfless; that is, they have transcended the egotistical self and feel more part of the ocean instead of an individual wave. How can we explain the paradox that the highest level of self-development requires a quieting of the ego and the transcendence of the self?"

         Ardelt M. "Self-development through Selflessness: The Paradoxical Process of Growing Wiser." in Wayment HA, Bauer JJ eds. "Decade of behavior." American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, 2008.
     See also:

"The Last Word" - Halifax, Nova Scotia

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