Ah, yes - the famous maxim that was purported to have been inscribed at the Oracle at Delphi in Greece. Most of us have heard this phrase, "know thyself" but what does it mean and what could it mean for us?
There are other, perhaps more common terms used for the same idea: self knowledge, self awareness, knowing who you really are.
The usual responses we might give to the question of "who are you" could be any or many of the following: gender, political affiliation, occupation, accomplishments, talents, skills, preferences, ancestry or whatever else we typically include when we introduce ourselves or promote what we do in some form.
But there's so much more to who we are than just a description of the outward manifestations that many people identify with.
Yes, it's important for us to become familiar with our strengths and weaknesses, our quirkiness. We can become more self confident or make better decisions, but is there something even more profound that we can benefit from?
Knowing who we are goes beyond self acceptance of those so-called weaknesses or shortcomings. Of course, it's helpful to be familiar with what keeps us from doing what we'd really like to do or even why we get it in our own way. But what else might there be for us to know?
Early on I became a psychotherapist because I was deeply interested in what makes people tick (and at the time, why my own "ticker" seemed like it didn't work very well). I thought it was important to understand concepts like family dynamics and ancestral trauma and look at life from a more psychological perspective.
But I must admit that much of the storytelling that emerged within this context didn't alleviate my own insecurity or self doubt. And the same was true for many clients: they identified with and became their story rather than learning to let it go. Although this may not be true for everyone, psychotherapy didn't have the answers for what I would now call our personal suffering. We just learned to live with it as best we could.
Much later, I studied and practiced energy medicine for over 20 years because my quest for self knowledge led me to wanting to understand how our bodyminds are impacted - not only by our environment or what we eat, but how our thoughts and feelings affect our well being energetically.
That experience was profound and pointed me to a deeper appreciation of what you might call the "ground of being" - that source, if you will, from which everything arises. In eastern spiritual terminology, it's often referred to as consciousness or the presence of awareness or divine mind.
If this ground of being from which we arise is made of pure potential (quantum physics calls it the "quantum field"), pure possibility, goodness, love and infinite creative expression, then our awareness of our origin puts us in a much, much better position to unlearn or undo behaviors and beliefs that obscure the expression of these fundamental qualities.
And this is where our own inner wisdom, our capacity for insight, our intuition can put us in touch with this deeper, transformative truth.
If we didn't have access to this source of possibility and potential, we'd only have our analytical, logical minds (and the advice of others) to get us through our lives.
This lack of deeper self knowledge is reflected in the current divisiveness and destruction and sense of separation we see in the world. The majority of humanity simply isn't aware of the very real opportunity to recognize the unlimited resource for transformation that lies within us all.
Knowing ourselves goes beneath the outer expressions of doing and striving and making to the inner recognition of our infinite being and it's natural expression.
The more we're in touch with that deeper part of ourselves, the simpler and easier our lives become.
That's been my experience: As I make myself available to that larger intelligence, solutions and connections suddenly appear to me where I hadn't even imagined to look.
My world has become kinder and more connected, and I discover ways that I can contribute to making the world a kinder, safer and more connected place.
I believe it's possible for as many of us who want it to stop striving so much and start allowing the deeper intelligence of life to work it's magic through us.
What I've discovered is that when we willingly get out of the way for the delight (and relief) of being able to express that deeper intelligence that wants to come through us, it's not just we who benefit; there's a ripple effect that reaches out far beyond our personal reality and touches others who we may never even come in direct contact with.
Talk about being a multi-dimensional force for good!
I'll have more of that, please. Would you like some, too?