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LEARNING TO KNOW OURSELVES



This great message is from our guest writer, in the person of Mr Victor Afagbegee, a bilinguist with rich experience from African Union (AU)

It is axiomatic that all those who give any thought to the old tradition of making resolutions or “turning over a new leaf” have, to some extent, at least, realized the deficiencies in their natures. They have learnt some of the facts about themselves, which, for anyone, is a very wise thing to do.

 

The better acquainted with ourselves we become – with our mental, emotional and physical tendencies and habits – the better able we are to make the most of our life experiences here on Earth. This is Socrates hermetic axiom and we are told that on the portals of the ancient temples were written these words in block letters: “MAN, KNOW THYSELF”. Analyzing ourselves and evaluating our faculties and general attitudes can be one of the most beneficial of exercises, for it requires, above all else, a degree of impartiality and selflessness which in itself is a precious possession.

It is axiomatic that all those who give any thought to the old tradition of making resolutions or “turning over a new leaf” have, to some extent, at least, realized the deficiencies in their natures. They have learnt some of the facts about themselves, which, for anyone, is a very wise thing to do.

 

The better acquainted with ourselves we become – with our mental, emotional and physical tendencies and habits – the better able we are to make the most of our life experiences here on Earth. This is Socrates hermetic axiom and we are told that on the portals of the ancient temples were written these words in block letters: “MAN, KNOW THYSELF”. Analyzing ourselves and evaluating our faculties and general attitudes can be one of the most beneficial of exercises, for it requires, above all else, a degree of impartiality and selflessness which in itself is a precious possession.

 

 Everyone interested in pursuing this exhilarating and fascinating exercise of becoming thoroughly acquainted with himself should realize, first and foremost, that he himself, and no one else, is responsible for the personality through which he functions on this physical or material plane. No longer will he continue the childish practice of blaming others for his difficulties. Man having a degree of free will, may enjoy the prerogative of choosing for himself what line of action he wishes to follow. He, and he alone, is responsible for his action and must reap as he sows.

 

However, it is not easy for most people to accept the fact that they themselves are responsible for whatever mental and emotional attitudes they express, as well as for the associates and other environmental factors in their lives.  It is so much more convenient to blame undesirable traits and seeming handicaps on one’s parents, one’s colleagues, one’s neighour etc. Alibis are easily found if one looks for them.

 

But history, as well as present day life, gives us shining examples of those who have overcome poverty, lack of parental care, and serious physical infirmities, because they took the view that they were responsible for making a success of their lives. If we are honest with ourselves, we will come to the conclusion that the responsibility for ourselves is our own. Indeed, among the many occult truths the immortal Shakespeare bequeathed the world, there is none more valuable and thought- provoking than that embodied in the assertion which Cassius makes in Julius Caesar “the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings”. By accepting the responsibility for ourselves, and using our will power to make use of all our potentials, we may change our destiny and course of events, for every soul is born like an eagle for the sky and must not and should not strut amidst the refuse in the farmyard and walk in the slough of mediocrity.

 

Closely allied to the ability to accept responsibility for ourselves is the virtue of self-reliance. Even if we have wholeheartedly agreed that our problems are our own, do we have the stamina to rely on ourselves at all times in solving them? Do we do our own thinking, or are we swayed by the thoughts and opinions of others, ready to fall prey to those who will impede our growth and progress by having us conform to certain patterns of thought and action? Are we so gullible as to believe everything we hear or read, or do we strive to establish our own tribunal of truth with it to make our decisions? So long as we drift with the tide of life and cannot decide for ourselves, so long as we allow others to shape our lives for us, so long as we refuse to have confidence in ourselves and to believe that we are the captain of our own ship, so long shall we continue to be the sport of circumstances.

 

Another quality to be given thoughtful consideration in learning to know ourselves is courage. Do we have the courage to do what we know is right, or do we quail at the thought of possible unpleasant reaction from others? Do we have the courage to admit that we are wrong or does false and vain pride prevent us from doing so? There is one outstanding attribute worth mentioning when discussing courage and fearlessness, and that is “EQUIPOISE”.  No matter what people say to us or about us, their words have no intrinsic power to hurt; it is our own mental attitude towards their utterances that determine the effect of their words upon us for good or evil. No one who has developed equipoise has reason or right to fear or worry about anything except his own back –sliding. Misfortunes which we do encounter on our paths are traceable to our own misconduct. Experience is gained through problems so we must not or should not fear problems because they help us to fulfill the purpose of life in this physical existence. Ours is to be vigilant and face them courageously, stoically, and learn the lessons they impart to us.

 

May we all strive to know ourselves better, constantly bearing in mind that self-analysis may disclose weaknesses one does not want to acknowledge. This form of exercise is essential to all those who demand of life more than mediocrity and poverty.  Remember, as you check yourself, point by point, that you are both the court and the jury, the prosecuting attorney and the attorney for the defense, and that you are the plaintiff and the defendant, also that you are on trial. Face the facts squarely. Ask yourselves definite questions and demand direct replies. When the examination is over, you will know more about yourselves.

 

Victor Afagbegee

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