A few weeks ago, I Woke-up with these words in my head: “As long as you have self-knowledge, you don’t need much else.”
Later that morning, while going through some of my old journals, I opened one at random to an entry having to do with Pramila Jayapal’s story about the matrilineal village in India where she was born titled A Pilgrimage to India: A Woman Revisits Her Homeland. Jayapal writes about her birth village as having good drinking water, higher wages, good education and how all these contributed to a higher standard of living. But the most important thing, in her opinion, was a pervasive “Knowledge of self and realizing one’s place in the world (universe).” She explains that out of self-knowledge one develops gifts and makes contributions to society through self-expressions, thus benefiting all.
Last week, I was reading a book I’d started, Gurdjieff; An Introduction to His Life and Ideas by John Shirley, and came to this passage: ”But if it can happen, if self-knowledge can change people, then isn’t it a vibrant ray of light in a dark, brutal world?”
That same day, I ‘happened’ across the words of the seer Edgar Cayce in an Association for Research and Enlightenment update, ” For the beginning of knowledge is to know self and self’s relationship to God, then the relationship to the fellow man, then material knowledge so any entity, any soul, may become valuable, worth while, aggressively advancing in success” ~ 1249-1.
And yet another meaningful coincidence occurred today that helped to underscore the meaning of self-knowledge and pull all the information in this post together in my mind: coming across Carol Tavris’s Wall Street Journal book review of social psychologist Jerome Kagan’s latest book, Psychology’s Ghosts. In the review, titled “Society and Its Discontents,” Tavris writes:
“Many people will tell you that having many friends, a fortune or freedom is essential to happiness, but Mr. Kagan believes they are wrong. ‘A fundamental requirement for feelings of serenity and satisfaction,’ Mr. Kagan says, is ‘commitment to a few unquestioned ethical beliefs’ and the confidence that one lives in a community and country that promote justice and fair play.”
We have a long way to go to bring our culture back to a country that promotes ethics, justice, and fair play if information on the nightly news – both mainstream and alternative – is any indication of the sad state of affairs we now find ourselves in. But, I do believe, as more of us follow a path of inner-directed self knowledge we will, in the words of Primila Jayapal, develop gifts and make contributions to society through our unique self-expressions, that will help remedy the mess we are in and ultimately benefit all.