Two sayings. One recent. One very old. Just be yourself. Know thyself. While some people might be referring to the same thing with both of these statements, most people intend very different worlds, processes, experiences, and outcomes with these two sayings.
Is this psychobabble or relevant in everyday life? I suggest that choices are being made for you in every instant of your life. I also suggest that you are not involved consciously in most of those choices. Choices that greatly affect your life. And, you could be. One way of looking at this is, who is choosing. Thus, the two sayings. Just be your self, and know thyself.
This kind of “just” statement–just be yourself–means only or nothing but. You only need to be yourself. Nothing but yourself. Just be you, in whatever comes out. If you are thinking, just be yourself. If you are feeling, just be yourself. If you are following your gut, your intuition, just be yourself. No worries, just be yourself. That is one way of looking at it, at being your self.
Know thyself, expressed in the Ancient Greek as gnōthi seauton (γνῶθι σεαυτόν), means to know your whole self, which includes your thinking, your feeling, your willing, your lower self in waking consciousness, your higher self in your soul, and your highest self in the I AM. The task of know thyself is to integrate these different dimensions of your self into one whole knowing, self-aware here now.
We can expand on the description of the “know thyself” task, using the three ecosynomic levels of perceived reality (light, verb, noun). At the noun level, we only perceive outcomes. What we can pay attention to in this instant of what we perceive through our senses. At this noun level, we see only the capacities we have in this instant, the capacities that are already finished, already here now. This self contains what is already finished in our lives, what we have already created and manifested. These capacities are amazing, and that we are able to manifest them in this reality is even more amazing. These are our sacred nouns, the marvel of everything the universe needed to do to have that much energy hold those capacities together right here right now in the way they do. While what it took to get to this instant is amazing, there are no choices for us, as this instant is already finished. The choices were already made. All ways always. That is what we see of our self, when we focus at the noun level.
At the verb-noun level, we perceive the development of capacities and relationships, and we perceive the outcomes of that development. Both development and outcomes, verb and noun. This self contains what is becoming and what is already finished, what we are creating and what is already created. What is changing over time, and what is also in this instant. What we are learning and what we already know. At this verb-noun level, choices enter. We can choose how we develop these relationships and capacities. We can learn from what we observe in this instance of the noun, and we can choose to alter the verb. At the verb-noun level of our self, we experience our becoming and our already finished.
At the light-verb-noun level, we perceive the potential, the development of that potential, and the outcomes of that development. Potential, development, and outcomes. Light, verb, and noun. This self contains what is in beingness, becoming, and already finished. The potential to create, what we are creating, and the already created. The infinite energy in potential, the energy being used to manifest the potential, and the capacity present in the already finished, the outcome. We can choose what potential we see, what potential we bring into existence and begin to manifest, and what we learn from the feedback presented as the sacred noun, the outcome. What we could learn, what we are learning, and what we already know. At the light-verb-noun level of our self, we experience our potential, our becoming, and our already finished. All three levels are always available to us in all ways.
In addition to the three levels of perceived reality, we also experience our self through different dimensions of reality. In earlier explorations of our multi-dimensional reality, we saw that physicists to philosophers suggest that maybe we live in and are made up of many more dimensions of reality than the three we are most accustomed to–length, width, depth. My current research explores what it would mean for us human beings to be made up of these dimensions: how being constituted that way affects the choices available to us. One way to see this is to play with our human capacities of thinking, feeling, and willing. What if the thinking capacity is a reflector, where the light inputs of our senses have a surface to reflect off of, so that they can be perceived. [Remember, we don’t see light directly, it is passing by all of the time invisibly; we perceive the reflection of light off of something.] The feeling is the witness that observes what is reflected off of the reflector. The willing is the chooser, engaging our body in action.
If our self is purely in our thinking, engrossed in a feedback loop amongst our own thoughts, then our attention is only in the reflections of our reflector, without the witness (feeling) or the chooser (willing). We get stuck in our thoughts, oblivious to what is happening in this world, until we “come out of it.”
If our self is purely in our feeling, witnessing our witnessing, we get caught in the infinite spiraling up and down in our emotions, our witnessing of witnessing. While we are purely in our being present with what is emerging, the only emerging we are presencing is our witnessing. Again, we are lost in the world of our witnessing, oblivious to the reflector’s sensory perceptions of what is happening and to the chooser’s choices engaging our will.
And, if our self is purely in our willing, with the chooser, then we are following our gut, which means that it–our gut, our intuition–is leading: we are not. We can put our awareness in our chooser, in our willing, our gut, and watch it being chosen for us, oblivious to our reflector and to our witness.
Another option is to put our awareness in the simultaneous integration of all three. What our reflector is showing us about what is being perceived through our senses, what our witness observes from the reflector and from what is being chosen in the will, and how that aligns with our deeper purpose, then consciously choosing how we want to manifest, from the potential, into the context we perceive from our reflector, into the choices being made in our willing. Through this integrating process, we can align our reflector thinking, our witness feeling, and our chooser willing with our self that is perceiving the environment we are in right here right now, with our higher self that guides our deeper purpose toward the future we love and to which we give our will, with our highest self that guides our service in the unique contribution we are uniquely constituted and contextualized to make.
Coming back to where I started, “just be yourself” leaves completely open the question of which self. The invocation to “just” might lead me to pay attention to any one of the many dimensions of the self we explored above. “Know thyself” invites me to bring my awareness to all of these dimensions at the same time, which I can do, because they are all me. My self. The trinity of me, myself, and I. Always all ways. All in one. So, the next time you make a choice, who is making it?