Category Archives: Self-knowledge

Nietzsche on How to Find Yourself – Brain Pickings

How can man know himself?

It is a dark, mysterious business: if a hare has seven skins, a man may skin himself seventy times seven times without being able to say, “Now that is truly you; that is no longer your outside.” It is also an agonizing, hazardous undertaking thus to dig into oneself, to climb down toughly and directly into the tunnels of one’s being. How easy it is thereby to give oneself such injuries as no doctor can heal.

Moreover, why should it even be necessary given that everything bears witness to our being — our friendships and animosities, our glances and handshakes, our memories and all that we forget, our books as well as our pens.

For the most important inquiry, however, there is a method.

Let the young soul survey its own life with a view of the following question: “What have you truly loved thus far? What has ever uplifted your soul, what has dominated and delighted it at the same time?”

Assemble these revered objects in a row before you and perhaps they will reveal a law by their nature and their order: the fundamental law of your very self. Compare these objects, see how they complement, enlarge, outdo, transfigure one another; how they form a ladder on whose steps you have been climbing up to yourself so far; for your true self does not lie buried deep within you, but rather rises immeasurably high above you, or at least above what you commonly take to be your “I”.

Source: Nietzsche on How to Find Yourself and the True Value of Education – Brain Pickings

The Perennial Philosophy of Aldous Huxley

220px-PerennialPhilsophy“Knowledge is a function of being.” – Aldous Huxley

“Based upon the direct experience of those who have fulfilled the necessary conditions of such knowledge, this teaching is expressed most succinctly in the Sanskrit formula, tat tvam asi (“That art thou”); the Atman, or immanent eternal Self, is one with Brahman, the Absolute Principle of all existence; and the last end of every human being is to discover the fact for himself, to find out Who he really is.” – Aldous Huxley

“Mr. Huxley quotes from the Chinese Taoist philosophers, from followers of Buddha and Mohammed, from the Brahmin scriptures and from Christian mystics ranging from St John of the Cross to William Law, giving preference to those whose writings, often illuminated by genius, are unfamiliar to the modern reader.”

The final paragraph of the cover text:

“In this profoundly important work, Mr. Huxley … provides us with an absolute standard of faith by which we can judge both our moral depravity as individuals and the insane and often criminal behaviour of the national societies we have created.”

Free download or read online from Archive.org https://archive.org/details/perennialphilosp035505mbp

The four faults of natural awareness from the Shangpa tradition

The Borscht of times, the Würste of times

The four faults of natural awareness from the Shangpa tradition

So close you can’t see it

So deep you can’t fathom it

So simple you can’t believe it

So good you can’t accept it

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Steppenwolf: “The Genius of Suffering” by Hassan M. Malik

Steppenwolf: “The Genius of Suffering” by Hassan M. Malik

“Like Goethe, a Hesse novel is an integral part of a broader paradigm, which reflects the author’s maturing thought, morals, and ideas at that particular point in his life. Hesse wrote Steppenwolf when he was about fifty years old. His health was on a decline, and he had divorced out of a failed second marriage in a relatively short period of time (Ziolkowski, 108). He was also visiting Dr. Carl Gustav Jung for psychoanalysis (Ziolkowski, 109). Hesse’s opposition to the upcoming Second World War, his failed marriage, his search for self, his deteriorating social life, and a strong influence of Jungian ideas it appears, have contributed to the development of this novel.  Hesse elaborates how the road to realization of the self can fill up with extreme pain, suffering, misery, affliction, and twinge, if the multiple aspects of self are ignored and the self is reduced to only two extremes of persona – Haller finds his nirvana through the realization that he must broaden the horizon of his thoughts to encompass the thousands of possibilities offered to him by Bourgeois, which he has always despised.”

“Harry consists of a hundred or a thousand selves, not two”; human nature is too complex to be viewed between only two extremes […] Harry’s life oscillates, as everyone’s does, not merely between two poles, such as the body and the spirit, the saint and the sinner, but between thousand and thousands”. (Hesse, 66)

Harry looks into the magic mirror of Pablo and sees multiple components of his personality. He sees youth, adult, and an old man; and every possibility in between. He recognizes the thousands of possible Harries in the mirror are the diverse dimensions of himself. He is now ready to enter the Magic Theatre of Pablo.

The price to enter the Magic Theatre is one’s sense of reasoning. Magic Theatre is not for everyone – it is for madmen only. One can relate these “Madmen” to be people who can perceive reality on a higher level like immortals; this fact is established in the novel when tract says, “one of our magic theatres”, as the tract is written by a higher being itself (Hesse, 74).  Madmen are people like Prince Myshkin of Dostoevsky in The Idiot, “who have perceived total reality of good and evil (Ziolkowski, 215)”. On The Idiot, Ziolkowski’s judgment seems rational when he declares Myshkin to be like Hesse’s madmen. Just to name an occasion, when Myshkin introduces himself in the house of Gavril Ardalionovich, he accepts that he has “grown strange to [their] ways” (Dostoevsky, 20).    In the light of Steppenwolf these are people who perceive reality in the absence of time and poles. These people are Immortals who live in a place where life is a “moment” without time and the “moment” is just “big enough” to be happy (Hesse, 110).

http://archives.hassanmalik.org/steppenwolf

Horus and Seth kissing
Horus and Seth kissing
Horus and Seth cooperating with each other
Horus and Seth cooperating with each other
Horus and Seth reconciled
Horus and Seth reconciled

Balzac: The more he saw

The more he saw, the more he doubted. He watched men narrowly, and saw how, beneath the surface, courage was often rashness; and prudence, cowardice; generosity, a clever piece of calculation; justice, a wrong; delicacy, pusillanimity; honesty, a modus vivendi; and by some strange dispensation of fate, he must see that those who at heart were really honest, scrupulous, just, generous, prudent or brave were held cheaply by their fellow-men.
‘What a cold-blooded jest!’ said he to himself. ‘It was not devised by a God.’
From that time forth he renounced a better world, and never uncovered himself when a Name was pronounced, and for him the carven saints in the churches became works of art”
― Honoré de Balzac