Thales of Miletus, the first Greek philosopher, was once asked, “What is the most difficult thing to achieve?” He replied, “To know thyself.” When asked what the easiest thing was, he answered, “To give advice.”
Even the revered Greek philosophers understood that the axiom to know thyself! is the most difficult task a human being can grapple with. It wasn’t simply taking an inventory of one’s unique traits, personality, physical, emotional and mental qualities. There was something fundamentally more… and elusive.
You can’t pin down and examine consciousness. You can’t “catch” it. You might find a “moth” or two, but these are shadows of the Self. As the poet Rumi suggested, “Who am I in the midst of all these thought streams?”
We are not the thinkers of our thoughts. Our thoughts arise from many sources, some of which have nothing whatsoever to do with our Self—that pre-quantum identity referred to as the Sovereign Integral. Thoughts arise from unconscious, subconscious, programmed consciousness and combinations therein. They can appear to be us, but thoughts actually arise as the artifacts and regurgitations of a programmed, consensual reality.
The strata of layers that form thyself
What are the layers or dimensions that we are made of? The diagram below attempts to show the layers of the onion that comprise each of us. If you are in a human body, you possess each of these layers, and everyone will have an identity link to one layer stronger or weaker than another. Our linkages to these layers are, in part, what define our uniqueness.
If someone has formed a particularly strong identity linkage to their Conscious Self, then they are probably inclined to think of “thyself” as the sum of their successes and failures. If they have strong linkages to their Human Soul Self, they are more inclined to think of “thyself” as a formless spiritual presence that is learning and evolving to become a teacher or master. If their linkages are most strongly with the Physical Self, they are more inclined to perceive “thyself” as the force that propels them to survive the hostilities of the world around them.
No one has a single linkage. No one possesses all perfectly symmetrical linkages to the eight layers. No one has fixed linkages. The linkages are in flux, they operate situationally, they form attachments to layers that reflect where they focus their attention.
When you see the axiom to Know Thyself! consider which layers you place your focus and attention on. Is there one in particular that you have formed a strong identity linkage? If you were to know thyself as that layer, or perhaps a combination of layers, is that even you? Maybe you are more like the butterfly caught in the wind’s play, and not pinned down beneath glass. Maybe you activate your imagination to stretch beyond the strata of the normally defined “thyself,” and in these brief, but profound moments, you touch into the Sovereign Integral consciousness.
Thyself is infinite. It cannot be defined. To know it, is to know its shadow. For that which is truly you cannot be known, because knowing is facilitated by the mind, and the mind cannot comprehend this pre-quantum presence that dances beneath and above our sightlines and the arc of our human consciousness. It is better, perhaps, to form a new axiom. Let’s give it a phrase: Live as I AM WE ARE!