Lesson 2: Know Thyself
The Mirror Of Life
Let us dare to see ourselves as others see us. It is well to stand aside and see ourselves go by. (ASFG)
(Q) Why do I feel such a love for my present environment at times and at others such a revulsion?
(A) Meeting self face to face in the mirror of life. (288-36)
For to all: Ye may meet thy Maker in thine own self. Hence it is necessary that what we hate in ourselves or our associates BECOME that we see in the experiences of life, which will make for each an understanding. (288-37)
Even as He, the Master gave, the faults ye find in others are reflected in thine own mirror of life. And as He gave, "Cast the beam out of thine eye that ye may see to take the mote from thy brother's eye." (3395-2)
Have you ever looked into a mirror and failed to recognize yourself? It is common experience, especially with the passage of time and aging. Life is on purpose. The universe is set up so that each soul is constantly meeting itself in the circumstances of life. Thus life functions like a mirror that reflects back the image of the inner self. Knowing oneself is a matter of recognition and acceptance of the image revealed in the mirror of life. This is not always a simple or easy assignment. Sometimes life mirrors back some unpleasant aspects of the self.
As a tool for self-knowledge, social interaction offers the optimal mirror for self-reflection. Thus other people are a mirror in which you can see yourself. Sometimes it is simply a matter of resonance – you resonate to the issues of others because you have the same issue. Or it may be more a matter of projection, where you project your own issues onto others.
You may have heard of the psychotherapist Carl Jung and his concept of shadows. From a Jungian psychological perspective, shadows are simply the parts of the self that are unrecognized or hidden. These disowned parts of the self are seen most easily in others. The shadow need not necessarily be negative. Some people find it difficult to recognize and take ownership of positive qualities of the self – hence the “golden shadow.” Whatever psychological dynamic you may wish to use to understand the process, the effect is the same. You can see yourself – know yourself – in the mirror of life, especially in the people around you, if you so choose.
Application: Look into the mirror of life as you go about your daily activities. See each experience as a reflection of your inner self and as an opportunity to meet a pattern of your own creation.
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Heredity And Environment
The great factors of heredity, environment, karma, thought vibration, and the action of universal laws in the planes beyond the physical all have their influences, just as desires and vibrations of the physical organs attract and build the composition of the physical body. (ASFG)
Karma is cause oft of hereditary conditions so called. Then indeed does the soul inherit that it has builded in its experience with its fellow man in material relationships. (3313-1)
(Q) From which side of my family do I inherit most?
(A) You have inherited most from yourself, not from family! The family is only a river through which it (the entity, soul) flows! (1233-1)
Social scientists and biologists have long argued about the role of heredity (biology/genetics) versus environmental (social and psychological) factors in the development of the human being. Also called the "nature versus nurture" debate, the discussion has apparently drifted in the favor of biology in recent years with the human genome project and current intellectual infatuation with all things genetic. Either way, there is sense of determinism in that humans are viewed as the result (no matter how complex and beautiful), of forces beyond the control of the individual. This is an incomplete view of the triune self (physical, mental, spiritual) that we are to know, because it focuses almost exclusively on the physical dimension of our experience.
Apparently there is little room for the soul and its will when discussing heredity and environment. However, if the concept of reincarnation is factored into the equation of human life, both heredity and environment can be understood as soul choices. As part of the incarnational process, the soul chooses its parents (and their genes) as well as the family’s (social/psychological) setting. Thus understanding and knowing the soul as a self – as a transpersonal expression of will and choice – takes on broader, grander implications that include the mental and spiritual aspects of the triune self.
Application: Do your own inventory of heredity and environmental influences from the standpoint of the soul. As a soul entering into this earthly experience, what choices did you make with regard to genetics and family setting for your own soul development? How does this self-knowledge affect your choices as you move forward in life?
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Knowing The Healthy Self
That it, the entity, may KNOW itself to BE itself and part of the Whole; not the Whole but one WITH the whole; and thus retaining its individuality, knowing itself to be itself yet one with the purposes of the First Cause that called it, the entity, into BEING, into the awareness, into the consciousness of itself. That is the purpose, that is the cause of BEING. (826-11)
Know that it is not all just to live, – not all just to be good, but good FOR something; that ye may fulfill that purpose for which ye have entered this experience. And that purpose is that you might know yourself to be yourself, and yet one with the Creative Forces, or God. (2030-1)
As has been given from time immemorial, seek to know thyself. Not as an egotist but the ego within self, the I AM consciousness … (440-20)
Maintaining a healthy, separate sense of self while also being connected and responsive to those around you is one of the greatest challenges of life. This is the dance of relationship that gives meaning to life. That this dynamic has its source in the realm of spirit – in the creation of souls by God is one of the most startling and powerful ideas put forth in the Cayce readings. The purpose of life is about relationship. Healthy relationship requires both separation and connection – to know yourself to be yourself as a separate being, and yet be connected to and part of the whole.
To be sure, some religious and philosophical traditions take a very dim view of the separate sense of self. The self may even be regarded as inherently flawed. In some theological doctrines, the entire human race has even been cast in the role of sinful, wretched creatures deserving an eternity burning in hell. That’s pretty dark.
So, the challenge of knowing self in a healthy sense can be a struggle, particularly if early childhood environmental religious influences were biased toward a negative self-image. If you would like to pursue a deeper exploration of "The Healthy Self" concept, there is an online video presentation derived from a presentation given in 2011 at Asilomar in California (see below).
Application: In your attunement with God through prayer and meditation, seek to know yourself to be yourself and yet one with the Divine – to have the experience of companionship and expression as a co-creative partner with God. In your daily life, seek to understand and appreciate the dynamics of companionship and expression in your dealings with others as you express your healthy, separate sense of self that is simultaneously connected with the people and world around you.
Resource: The Healthy Self (Article with link to video)
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