The Knowable Self

Photo by Abhiram Prakash on

You could say that knowing yourself is taking notice of whom you are and for most that will mean ‘looking’ at the self through the thoughts and actions we have. Some people devote their lives to this analysis in the belief they improve themselves and perhaps others also by the record of effort. Have you noticed how time and all its attendant reflections of thought cease to matter when we are able to DO the right thing in the right place with the right people for the right purpose? In the aftermath of such experiences we are hard put to describe exactly what happened simply because we were living the moment in present consciousness.

If analysis and reflection is the answer to all our actions, why are we not getting consistently wiser? We don’t -we continue making the same errors as before. The history books tell us how Hitler made a fundamental error attacking Russia, because when less than 200 years earlier Napoleon had clearly demonstrated how it should not be done! How many times have you said to yourself ‘here we go again!’ or kick yourself for not seeing the obvious… meaning we’ve been here before?

This merry-go-round of error and reminder continues to wind us up because we are not consciously efficient. If you take a modest view of life’s knowing journey you realise soon enough that most of what constitutes knowing comes from the experiences we subjectively develop. In relationships for example, doing involves many different kinds of experience – self-knowing comes from the big picture, a ‘subjective overview’ which escapes analysis and reflection. So, what are we experiencing unconsciously which can from time to time be felt in present forms of consciousness? To answer this question we need to understand the instinctual nature; the process of being we inherit physically, emotionally and mentally.

After birth we take food instinctively, our thoughts are not reflective, language is not yet learnt. As our persona develops we culture the habit of eating -consciously think about what we eat because our sensorial reactions indicate delight, disgust or disinterest. The instinctive action of fuelling the body however, does not change – the effect is so deeply subconscious we are able to engage our consciousness to other matters almost entirely, confident the actions of our body mind are in our best interests. The body and its functions, quite apart from its impressive chemistry, is a remarkable example of inherited knowledge – it’s always in a doing mode… only when the alarm bells ring do we, ‘the masters’, take notice.

Many situations in our lives are ‘managed’ subconsciously. Housewives will tell you they have routines – some parts are automatic and never brought to present consciousness, other interests can be thought about, as they carry out their routines. The accounting clerk, familiar with doing arithmetic calculations in the work environment, can finger-tap out statistical solutions whilst the conscious mind is paying attention elsewhere. The machine minder after a period of consciously attentive training, knows the sequence of operations -actions becoming so familiar the conscious mind ceases to prepare for them -it consigns operations to the unconscious, and time awareness alone triggers instinctual conscious acts to stops and starts the regulative actions required of the job in the right order. Consciously the minder can think about something else- read a book perhaps. And subsequently acts to service the machine as an interruption to this other activity. No doubt you can think of activities that you perform that fall into this category of ‘secondary action’.

These examples serve to show how our consciousness develops and the more we want to do the more we rely upon this ‘reminder’ mentality. Education as taught in our world means to remember values that can be drawn upon to enrich life’s experience, but clearly it is not a faultless process -if it were mankind could show progression -gains from efforts and the mass of knowledge, harmonise his entire self.

If you were to become the pupil of an Hindu guru, he might in due time give you a mantra to aid development. The mantra, a word or phrase, needed to be intoned during your meditative practice. The key to mantra usage is REMAIN FULLY CONSCIOUS OF THE MEANINGS IT GIVES YOU. The guru knows when giving the mantra it is a key to PRESENT KNOWLEDGE -if the pupil consigns awareness to the “secondary action” of their mind – the purpose and power of the mantra will not be realised.

The examples of the minder, accounts clerk and housewife show our earth born mind’s work on more than one level -a dichotomy of differences; consciously doing, unconsciously proposing. The example of mantra usage advises the way of instrumental consciousness -living and learning in the flow of consciousness. If you stop and think about it, you will realise states of acute awareness when time, place and purpose are consciously experienced in totality. They create harmony in body and mind. We may have moments of acute perception, like in dreams and inspirational thought from time to time -but invariably we retrogressively value them.

Some people think that meditation means looking inward, sorting and ordering consciousness, and some think it means being changed by what they inwardly experience. Observe the child and how we are all drawn to acknowledge the power of its life – the child experiences present consciousness, momentary awareness taking place before our eyes. We can love animals for the very same reason. The path of self-knowing demands present consciousness; it requires developing the instrumental mentality you are born with. What is senile dementia but the collapse of ‘reminder’ consciousness and a reversion to child mentality? Present consciousness is forever doing, changing, non-judgemental and expressive of harmonising actions. Consider the esoteric meaning of the Narcissus myth – this beautiful young man is arrested by his reflection in a pool and thereafter remains a prisoner of his own image. The message is simple; if you look at and admire the reflection of conscious Self, the evolutionary actions of the entire Self are blocked.

So the points to remember are these:

1. Evolutionary consciousness is a state of awareness ‘outwardly’ born and varies with individuals according to their state of awakening.
2. Nothing (essentially) is new, there are no forgetting real values – we awake to what is present.
3. Consciousness evolves harmonically by outworking the change of awareness through our conscious being.

What we need to do is this:

a. Practise being PRESENT as the child is, truly aware of every moment.
b. BE what you DO as often as you can.
c. Give everything your complete attention, don’t let time-based conditions control you.
d. Meditate on this mantra Awareness is not perception. Awareness is – perception was.

Our consciousness as we truly KNOW it, is extremely limited, not only do we remember little; our present consciousness is but a small part of the entire Self. The DEPTH of what we consciously experience is largely unknown. All control is based on self-awareness. The first and last commandment of life is….. “KNOW YOURSELF”, said to have been inscribed above the gates of the Delphic Oracle.

In the coming weeks I’ll continue to advise ways and means by which the bottom line of all our needs can be met. The poem I’ve written for today’s blog is an expression of that maxim ‘know yourself. I hope it reaches into the depths of your mind.


Time brokers these intentions of mine,
some become deeds and some
scatter like seed in the winds.
My instrumental hand is a forge of cause,
heating, hammering, casting Love.

Deeds are doings of my better born seeds
some grow like trees and some
gently perfume moments of privacy.
My instrumental voice is a flute love shapes,
healing, reassuring, divining Love’s song:

Time will forget the music of my rhyme
words like works will transform
and return to the wheel forming heavens.
Yet this Instrument Self will stay fused into One
Love’s emissary burning bright as the Sun.