We begin our independent life when we emerge from the womb and slowly grow up into a web of alliances.
Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom
Mastering others isstrength; mastering yourself is true power.
—Lao Tzu, Chinese Taoist philosopher
At every stage in our life we encounter both good and bad events .We grow wiser in the process. We begin our independent life when we emerge from the womb and slowly grow up into a web of alliances. We realise quite early on in life that these alliances are like plants that have to be carefully tended and nurtured by providing nutrients of love, kindness and gratitude. If a plant is given minimal nourishment, it will live, but it will not grow. But if it is given copious doses of healthy nutrients, it will not just live and grow, but even produce fruits.
Every religion encourages its adherents to set aside time for silence, reflection and meditation. This may mean dwelling on a religious symbol, repeating chants, clearing one’s mind of all thoughts or simply reflecting. When we reflect, we have time to correct our faults, realign our emotions, restore our mental and emotional poise and reframe our thoughts.
Reflection is an act of faith. It is recognition of the fact that we need to review our lives. We need to intermittently draw away from our quotidian concerns and the daily mart of economic and social strife to keep evaluating it so that it remains in sync with our internal standards and values. As Plato said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”
We are uncertain of our identity — are we body, mind, emotions or spirit? Do we naturally love, peaceful, happy, angry, afraid, aggressive or cooperative? It’s hard to ignore the feeling of rage within us and easy to miss the quiet voice of peacefulness, gentleness and love.
Over 2,000 years ago, Plato suggested that there was something was something magical within each individual, something that gives us happiness, knowledge, and the insights into the world. That magical something is our soul. He said that so many people are caught up in the world around them, that it is as if they are fettered within a cave with reality being so blurred that it can only be seen like shadows on a wall. The soul has to be awakened and resurrected from the debris.
Self-awareness is the basic seed of emotional intelligence. Western philosophers and poets too have exhorted man to know thyself in order to understand the universe. “To know thyself” is a phrase used by Socrates, and also an inscription at the Oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece. It emphasises the importance of getting to know oneself, to look inwards and introspect.
For many centuries, a cadence of voices has been calling out, “What you are looking for is within you. Your truth is within you, your peace is within you, and your joy is within you.” In our hearts, peace is like a seed waiting to grow, to blossom. When we allow this seed to blossom inside, peace will be possible outside. If we look around us today, we will find a world shattered by conflict and strife .The tragedy is that we are not giving peace a chance.
John Calvin claimed that without knowledge of oneself, there is no knowledge of God, and without this knowledge there can be no peace. Aldous Huxley reinforced this idea when he wrote, “Knowing who in fact we are results in good being, and good being results in the most appropriate kind of good doing.”