Imagine a never-ending journey for yourself.
Most of us have heard the words of the great wise Phthagoras “Know Yourself”. B.C. This word from the 4th century BC, 2400 years ago, is written in golden letters (Nosce te impus) at the entrance of the Delphic temple dedicated to Apollo in the town of Delphi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Greece.
Many thinkers in the history of humanity have emphasized this word.
Socrates, Plato’s teacher, said it first.
Yunus Emre’s famous lines expressed this in its simplest form.
Science is knowledge
Science is knowing yourself.
If you don’t know yourself
This is nice reading!
Have you watched the famous Matrix movie series? In this movie, it is referred to as “Temet Nosce”, which is another Latin version. In the scene where Neo goes to visit his house to meet the oracle, it is seen that this word is written above the entrance door in the kitchen.
Benjamin Franklin said, “There are three things that are extremely hard: steel, diamonds, and self-knowledge.”
In Alexander Pope’s poem about the human, which begins with the phrase “Know then thyself”, this phrase is used as follows:
You know you, stop studying God
It is yourself that you will know the real thing.
You stand on a land with both sides of the sea
His mind is dark, his body is rough
He’s very knowledgeable
He didn’t get it, but his share of patience
It wobbles and stays in the middle of nowhere
Thinking he’s a god or a monster
Confused, confused, does he have a body or a mind?
Born to die, he uses his mind only to sin…
The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “He who knows others is knowledgeable, and he who knows himself is wise.”
Cervantes in his famous work Don Quixote:
“Turn your eyes towards yourself and try to know yourself; This is the hardest information to come by. If you know yourself, you will not swell like a frog emulating an ox.”
The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard also thought about this and said, “One must learn to know oneself before knowing anything.”
Stefan Zweig concludes his famous work called An Extraordinary Night with the following sentences:
“The person who finds himself has nothing to lose in this world. He who understands the human in him begins to understand the whole of humanity.
This word is known in Sufism as “He who knows himself knows his Lord”.
Ancient religions always point to the same thing: Look inside!
Mevlana, on the other hand, calls out to people about knowing and knowing themselves as follows:
‘O beautiful comrade! You are not just an ordinary person. You are a realm! You are a deep and very beautiful sea. Is he not your great being; maybe nine hundred times. It is a bottomless sea. Hundreds of realms dive into that sea and sink.”
So how much do we care about this word? How successful are we in understanding, adopting, and applying it?
Maybe “Knowing Yourself” is why we are on this planet. But how will this happen? It is a process: a lifelong learning, self-observation, understanding of life purpose, and progress that must be mastered. It is a long, grueling process that requires dedication and patience, that can be accomplished with intellect and intuition as well as curiosity and a desire to learn, an inner journey that will not end until death.
We can find the answer to self-knowledge in Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs, based on the question “What do we need to survive?” Maslow; starting from the lower levels, it lists our physiological, safety, love-belonging and esteem needs in order. He put the step of self-actualization at the top of the pyramid. Here for self-realization; virtuous, creative, sincere, problem solver, unprejudiced, accepting the truth. In this, one must know and know himself.
In a Persian proverb he says:
“He who does not know but does not know that he does not know; he is ignorant, stay away from him.
He who does not know, but knows that he does not know; He is a child, educate him and raise him.
He who knows but does not know that he knows; He is asleep, wake him up.
He who knows but knows that he knows; He is a wise man, follow him.”
Even though we will never be able to fully know and understand everything, our adventure in the journey of self-knowledge and understanding should always continue. Books, the adventures of other people walking on this road and the traces they leave on us, our own experiences and intuitions should shed light on this path. Most importantly, he should not stop wondering, thinking and questioning on this very special journey!