Who am I?
To this question, one might answer:
I am Mr X, or Mrs Y. I have this age, and that training. I have these attributes, those flaws, these flaws, and these characteristics. I’m Brazilian, of African descendant, Argentinian, whatever…
But the question always remains: what is the true identity of my being. Who am I?
Already at an early age, feelings, thoughts, and desires already began to emerge in me. I don’t remember exactly when I started to have convictions about things, to understand that I did or didn’t believe in certain ideas, or why I had the need to feel safe in some group through the clothes and languages I used, especially with friends and people from my social circles.
Throughout my adolescence, it was never clear to me why I decided to take on a certain appearance, or when I began to seek this or that pleasure, or what gave me the pain and anger I felt.
I couldn’t quite tell when I started to have doubts about what it was that I really identified with.
I was looking within myself for the reasons why I was saying certain things, why I was interested or not interested in certain situations. It was all very confusing to me.
Then came a more mature phase of youth, a phase in which I began to have contact with different currents of thought, to refine my verbal expression, and to identify with certain teachers, authors, philosophers, artists, and people in politics. I remember well that I started to look for convincing answers, even to establish myself in my social circles, and assure myself of whom I really was. But they were still very nebulous thoughts. I really wanted to know myself on a deeper level.
WHAT IS SELF-KNOWLEDGE?
Then, in my reflections, I came across the term “self-knowledge” as if it were a magic sign. I felt the need to understand its action within me, almost as a non-transferable need. I searched in philosophy, in psychology, in literature.
It was then that, in a conversation with some young people, I heard from someone very special to me, made me aware of the following quote:
“Self-knowledge is fundamental in the inner search, but it is not something that comes from book studies, well-organized intellectual orientations in which we learn about our self. All this is of relative importance. Self-knowledge is an intimate and personal certainty that is born from the presence of the force of Spirit in our internal and entire system, in our blood and in our soul. It is the living presence of a circulating force of Spirit in the soul itself, as a grounded and acknowledged possession.”
Then I began to understand. Self-knowledge is not an automated attribute in human consciousness, but a living force that drives and enables a growing awareness of oneself. It is about the personal star, what one truly is, without labels, without false images of oneself, without under or over self-evaluation.
When we seek a deeper understanding of ourselves, we need to begin by standing in a more intimate observation of our true state, our character, and our innermost desires. We need to observe the intentions behind our actions, our true character, and from this observation, generate an honest assessment of who we really are.
When we observe our thoughts and the truths that hide behind everything, we must think, not only about ourselves, but also about our fellow human beings and the people in our closest and most intimate circles. We can then begin to see that there exists a whole spectrum of images about ourselves, about others, about society, about the world, and about humanity. These images are constructed in the fertile fields of our imagination, by means of concepts and ideas, whose origins we do not always know.
They are born without us even being clear as to their origin or nature. We simply accept what comes to us from our external environment, and build, without questioning, ideas from these experiences.
And all this sea of ideas gradually conforms into images and self-images that we conclude are either ourselves or others.
The self-centered consciousness is made without any depth. It constructs pseudo-truths, believes them, and trusts them in an unconscious way. We are innocent believers in the inner world that we let grow and control us. This framework is reinforced by ourselves throughout our lives. We classify, little by little, that which seems more real and true.
All of this is because what our being most desires is security. And in our desire for security, we adapt an image of ourselves that is as real as possible.
But is it all really true?
Is this world that we build, our type, our family heritage, our ideas of people and places, really based on unquestionable truths?
Is there no room for us to doubt all this?
Are we really the personality we believe ourselves to be?
In the transitory security of our lives, we make use of all sorts of small and fragile truths to be able to silence the strongest voice within us: the uncertainty of life and the fear of death.
So, our psyche, our “I am” clings to a fragile narrative of being someone, of being an “I”.
But the question remains: what do I really know about myself?
This question can only be answered when we no longer establish as inner truths, the world of self-created images, ideas and concepts; when we manage to clear all this and open a space of silence in ourselves, to go down to the base of our feelings, to the roots of our character, of our heart, where we find the center of what we truly are.
And when we succeed in opening this space of silence, where the confusion of ideas, concepts, images and desires are no longer present, we will as a consequence, be able to achieve the serenity that comes from the central basis of who we truly are. And we will certainly be surprised to find that what we are, represents no posture, no form of self-protection for the nature of our being.
Then we will be free, because the original, pure and true self is not committed to any thought, to any relation, to any idea.
We can then say that the true self-knowledge is neither content, nor idea, nor abstract concept.
True self-knowledge has no name and no identification with ephemeral and external things. It is silence; calmness, and non-committal.