Man, know thyself

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Neo

Well-Known Member
So what does it mean to "know thyself"? And why is it important? This proverb, this instruction, has been passed down in our scripture and our literature from ancient times right up into our modern day psychology.

Man, know thyself.

Is this the ultimate way or path to enlightenment, to salvation?
While faith is important in taking that first step, and grace is always needed as the higher always sheds light upon the lower (and never the reverse), its seems that we must, in the end "walk" some kind of path of redemption, where the lower gives way to the higher. Christ will carry the babies but the advanced of humanity must walk upright, taking even if it's just some of the burden onto their own shoulders. As mature, and advanced human beings we must be willing to become responsible for our own words, our own thoughts, our own actions. In this way, through spirit, mind and body we purify the temples of The Lord.

So what is it to know thyself? We know ourselves to be physical and sentient beings, but what else is there? Is our growing intelligence and awareness a form of knowing ourselves? Does loving others stretch this awareness beyond our own circumferences?

If "God lies within" then surely self-awareness must lead to Self-realization, which in turn leads to God-Awareness.

As individual "images" of the divine, we must posses the potential to reflect the Cosmos above. Is this not what "being perfect" is?

These are just some of my thoughts of this adage to "know thyself". Here are some more thoughts, lifted from the internet..

Knowledge of oneself is the only real knowledge, for as one understands oneself, only then may one truly understand another. Hence, the Oracle of Delphi proclaiming to know thyself, for within each of us, all is contained.
"We are created in God’s image. Male and female (in one) were created."
- 1980 Raphael Ornstein, M.D.

To be destitute of self-knowledge is, strictly speaking, to be destitute of all true and right knowledge. If we know not ourselves, nor the end of our being, we shall fall into many foolish and hurtful snares, and mistake the value of everything. We shall take appearances and sophistries for truth, and regard God's truth as dreams. And worse than all, we shall misuse ourselves; thinking that we are wise when we are foolish, and that we are doing well when we are perishing.
- http://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/pulsford/man_know_thyself.htm

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
- 1 Peter 2:1-25 English Standard Version (ESV)

‘Know Thyself’ was written on the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Legend tells that the seven sages of ancient Greece, philosophers, statesmen and law-givers who laid the foundation for western culture, gathered in Delphi to inscribed ‘know thyself’ at the entry to its sacred oracle. The adage subsequently became a touch-stone for western philosophers, and extended its reach as the influence of Greek philosophy expanded.
- http://thyselfknow.com/ancient-egypt/


The constitution of man, as considered in the following pages, is basically threefold, as follows:—

I. The Monad, or pure Spirit, the Father in Heaven.
This aspect reflects the three aspects of the Godhead:
1. Will or Power - The Father.
2. Love-wisdom - The Son.
3. Active Intelligence - The Holy Spirit.
and is only contacted at the final initiations, when man is nearing the end of his journey and is perfected.

The Monad reflects itself again in
II. The Ego, Higher Self, or Individuality.
This aspect is potentially
1. Spiritual Will - Atma.
2. Intuition - Buddhi, Love-wisdom, the Christ principle.
3. Higher or abstract Mind - Higher Manas.
The Ego begins to make its power felt in advanced men, and increasingly on the Probationary Path until by the third initiation the control of the lower self by the higher is perfected, and the highest aspect begins to make its energy felt.

The Ego reflects itself in
III. The Personality, or lower self, physical plane man.
This aspect is also threefold:
1. A mental body - lower manas.
2. An emotional body - astral body.
3. A physical body - the dense physical and the etheric body.

The aim of evolution is therefore to bring man to the realisation of the Egoic aspect and to bring the lower nature under its control.
- Excerpt From: Alice B. Bailey. “Initiation, Human and Solar.”

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Seeler

Well-Known Member
Greek philosophy; not from the Bible. But nevertheless wise advice.
Knowing yourself, your likes and dislikes, your desires, your fears, your aptitudes and abilities, and especially your relations with other people and how they influence you as you influence them, would certainly be helpful in life.

The Bible does say to 'love yourself'. That, to me, implies self-knowledge.
 

Mendalla

Agnostic pan(en)theist gorilla
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Actually, there's a surprising amount of Greek philosophy in Christian theology and even, in places, in the Bible. Ecclesiastes, for instance, seems to have been influenced by Hellenistic philosophies like Epicureanism and Stoicism (no, it was not written by Solomon and is nowhere near that old).

That said, you are right. And Neo left out the one that, for me, is the biggie: Socrates maxim that "the unexamined life is not worth living". The passage in Plato's The Apology of Socrates that contains that maxim is central to my personal "scripture" (ie. the writings that I treasure that shape my understanding of existence).
 

Hermann

Well-Known Member
According to my granddaughter's research, who just wrote her Master Thesis on the influences of Stoicism on Paul, there are passages in Paul's Letters that look like quotes from Stoic teachings. She concludes that Paul embraced the Hellenistic philosophy of Stoicism. It seems that Saul/Paul, the key founder of Roman Christianity, was one of the so-called "Hellenistic Jews."
 

Mendalla

Agnostic pan(en)theist gorilla
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Interesting topic and the sort of thing I would have tackled had I gone in a theological or philosophical direction. I did a piece on the influence of Neo-Platonism (which is actually more Aristotelian than Platonic, but I digress) on Islamic thought for my senior RS course on Islam. The instructor loved it (but then I blew the exam somehow :oops:). IOW, the influence of Greek thought runs far and wide in Western philosophy and theology and if there seems to be a Hellenistic (or Hellenic) influence on someone or something, that influence is probably quite real.
 

Neo

Well-Known Member
Actually, there's a surprising amount of Greek philosophy in Christian theology and even, in places, in the Bible. Ecclesiastes, for instance, seems to have been influenced by Hellenistic philosophies like Epicureanism and Stoicism (no, it was not written by Solomon and is nowhere near that old).

That said, you are right. And Neo left out the one that, for me, is the biggie: Socrates maxim that "the unexamined life is not worth living". The passage in Plato's The Apology of Socrates that contains that maxim is central to my personal "scripture" (ie. the writings that I treasure that shape my understanding of existence).
Thanks for bringing the maxim "the unexamined life is not worth living" by Socrates to this discussion, I had forgotten this quote. As I get older in my days, I am truly beginning to see the wisdom in such statements. Truth can only be pointed and alluded to from the outside, truth must be derived from the inside.

I have no doubt that the Christian religion was influenced by Greek philosophy as well as by some of the oldest religions such as Egyptians and Hindu.
 

Waterfall

Well-Known Member
According to my granddaughter's research, who just wrote her Master Thesis on the influences of Stoicism on Paul, there are passages in Paul's Letters that look like quotes from Stoic teachings. She concludes that Paul embraced the Hellenistic philosophy of Stoicism. It seems that Saul/Paul, the key founder of Roman Christianity, was one of the so-called "Hellenistic Jews."

I wonder though, did Paul's "hellenism" show through more in the books of the Bible that are actually written by him, or in the ones that are not written by him?
 

Waterfall

Well-Known Member
Out of curiousity, how do these maxims of "know thyself", " or the unexamined life is not worth living", speak to those who are developmentally challenged? Is there life worth nothing?
 

Mendalla

Agnostic pan(en)theist gorilla
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Out of curiousity, how do these maxims of "know thyself", " or the unexamined life is not worth living", speak to those who are developmentally challenged? Is there life worth nothing?

Good question.

I think a developmentally challenged person can, on some levels, know themselves but it is definitely a challenge to know how much they can really know or examine about themselves. Given that I know a UU with Down's Syndrome who is as thoughtful and engaged as any non-challenged UU (but, hearkening back to my thread on class and education in UU'ism, her late mother was a dean at the university so she likely had a lot more help than some in her situation), it is not impossible.

Socrates maxim may, in fact, be a bit harsh for those who are challenged and, perhaps, should be worded more positively as "a life examined to the ability of the one living it is a life truly worth living" or something like that. I do think that those who are not capable of doing intense self-examination can still have a life worth living. The gist of it is that we should not be taking things "on faith" or assuming expertise but always be ready to ask questions as Socrates himself did. For instance, he often challenged the leaders of his society on whether they really had special knowledge or wisdom pertinent to leadership.
 

Waterfall

Well-Known Member
Or maybe it should read a "life without purpose is not worth living"? Everyone can have a purpose or a reason for being here.

Humans know they purpose.
 

Jae

Well-Known Member
The seminary cohort that I'm in has been engaged in a lot of self-discovery over the past two years. MBTI, FIRO-B, stress test, spiritual gifts test, Holland, counselling, and now working with spiritual directors and ministry mentors. Definitely interesting stuff.
 

Hermann

Well-Known Member
I wonder though, did Paul's "hellenism" show through more in the books of the Bible that are actually written by him, or in the ones that are not written by him?

I think his Stoic influence shows largely in the Letters that have been authentically written him.

The moral teachings of the Stoics were, in many ways, similar to Christian moral teachings. Doing good is simple, and some variation of the Golden Rule is present in almost all religions and moral teachings. Agape (godly love) has been taught in ancient Greece long before Paul popularized it as "Christian love." That's why some Christian moral teachings sound much like Greek moral teachings. Also, the writings of the NT were designed to appeal to the Hellenic/Roman audience of the Roman empire, not to a traditional Jewish audience, and for this reason probably contain some traditional Greek thought. Moreover, much of the NT was written in Greek, and, because of that, is bound to contain expressions and turns of phrase that are typically Greek. Also, the various wisdom schools of the Middle East have always drawn from each other. The very roots of them all may well go back to ancient Egypt and Mespotamia.

Ur or Uruk in Mesopotamia, where Abraham is supposed to have come from, is one of the first if not THE first human city. The birthplace, if you will, of human civilization. The prefix "ur" in German means "very ancient." In the German language, the word for "old" is alt, but something that is uralt (ur-old) is extremely old.
 

Mendalla

Agnostic pan(en)theist gorilla
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Or maybe it should read a "life without purpose is not worth living"? Everyone can have a purpose or a reason for being here.

Humans know they purpose.

You really don't like the word "their" do you? :D (joking, joking)

I think that's another part of the puzzle. The question is how you find your purpose. Some may find it rather quickly and easily in a text or art or skill. Others may need to look deeper to find it, which brings us back to examining our lives.
 

Mendalla

Agnostic pan(en)theist gorilla
Pronouns
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Sure, but what keeps us from looking at our belly button too long?

If self-examination turns into narcissistic navel-gazing, you are doing it wrong. It needs to be informed by context, by engagement with the world and community, not be a solitary exercise. Socrates did not sit around the house asking himself questions; he went around asking questions of others both to help them think about what they knew/believed and to test his own wisdom. As Inanna suggests, a dose of practical reality helps, too, which is part of that context.
 

Neo

Well-Known Member
Out of curiousity, how do these maxims of "know thyself", " or the unexamined life is not worth living", speak to those who are developmentally challenged? Is there life worth nothing?
Everybody has purpose in life. But not everyone, in each of their lives, can focus on introspection, just as not everyone can be a doctor or a statesman in each of their lives. Some are here to just focus on physical, emotional or mental disabilities. But they definitely have purpose, whether they are aware of it or not.
 

unsafe

Well-Known Member
Neo your quote -----So what is it to know thyself? We know ourselves to be physical and sentient beings, but what else is there?

In what you believe you just may be a physical and sentient being -----but in what I believe we are a Tri -part being ---first we are spirit beings ---we possess a soul ---mind --will and emotions and we live in a physical body -----to know ourself is to know first who we are and what we possess only then can we begin to know what we are capable of knowing and understanding ---if your confused about who you are then it makes it hard to know your question ----but what else is there? ----It all depends on who you consider yourself to be cause that will determine what you will need to- know yourself -----and what you need to know in knowledge to get you further in where you want to be in life ----

You are quoting from ---- oracleofDelphi-(Greekmythology) ---and from The Holy Bible of God -----We are created in God’s image. Male and female (in one) were created."

confusion seems to be wining here ---make a choice and know thy self -----
 

Neo

Well-Known Member
Neo your quote -----So what is it to know thyself? We know ourselves to be physical and sentient beings, but what else is there?

In what you believe you just may be a physical and sentient being -----but in what I believe we are a Tri -part being ---first we are spirit beings ---we possess a soul ---mind --will and emotions and we live in a physical body -----to know ourself is to know first who we are and what we possess only then can we begin to know what we are capable of knowing and understanding ---if your confused about who you are then it makes it hard to know your question ----but what else is there? ----It all depends on who you consider yourself to be cause that will determine what you will need to- know yourself -----and what you need to know in knowledge to get you further in where you want to be in life ----
I sometimes wonder if you have any idea of what I believe Unsafe. Yes, I understand and believe we are a "Tri-part being of spirit being, mind and body" . As I said above, by our "own words, our own thoughts, our own actiions ... through spirit, mind and body we purify the temples of The Lord."

Also, ponder on the description of our constitution, as quoted above from the book "Initiation, Human and Solar". We are in effect, a triplicity of triplicities, giving us a nine folded nature. This concept mirrors the Jewish Kabbalist belief in the Tree of Life, with nine branches and One Root.

See the various images of this Sephirothic Tree:
https://www.google.ca/search?q=the sephirothic tree of the later kabbalists.&hl=en&gl=ca&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=CutvVNHxO633igKTxIG4Cw&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=320&bih=460

See also http://www.jewfaq.org/m/kabbalah.html and http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Kadmon
 
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