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Know Thyself


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[1 of 32] Anonymous (3000 BC-current, World): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "from the Talmud"
An unexamined life is like an unopened letter.

[2 of 32] Philo of Alexandria (c. 15 BC - AD 50, Egypt): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "Commentary on Genesis 24:55, from 'On Flight and Finding'"
"Dwell, therefore," says she, "O my child, with him," not all thy life, but "certain days;" that is to say, learn to be acquainted with the country of the external senses; know thyself and thy own parts, and what each is, and for what end it was made, and how it is by nature calculated to energize, and who it is who moves through those marvelous things, and pulls the strings, being himself invisible, in an invisible manner, whether it is the mind that is in thee, or the mind of the universe.

[3 of 32] Anonymous (3000 BC-current, World): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "From pre-Columban Mesoamerican texts"
You are their [the ancestors'] offspring; from them you are descended. Regard them; look them in the face. And their memory, their torch, their mirror that, departing, they left: take, place, set the mirror before you. See therein how you are; compare your way of life, your being. Seeing exactly how you are, then you are to discover where are your blotches, your blemishes.

[4 of 32] Ch'eng Hao (1032-1085, China): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)"
The Way (Tao) is so vast that nothing can adequately explain it. All operations of the universe are also our operations. Mencius said that "all things are already complete in oneself" and that one must "examine oneself and be sincere (or absolutely real)" and only then will there be great joy.
 If one examines himself and finds himself not yet sincere, it means there is still an opposition between the self and the non-self.

[5 of 32] Arabi, Muhyiddin ibn (1165-1240, Spain): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "'The Wisdom of Rapturous Love in the Word of Abraham'"
He is not known as "God" until we are known. "Who knows his true self, knows his Lord." [Koran]

[6 of 32] Maneri, Sharafuddin (1263-1381, India): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)"
When God wishes to bestow a favor upon a servant of His, He reveals his faults to him.

[7 of 32] Auerbach, Berthold (1812-1882, Germany): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)"
Forgetting one’s self, or knowing one’s self, around these everything turns.

[8 of 32] Pope, Alexander (1688-1744, England): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "‘An Essay on Man: Epistle II’"
 Know then thyself: presume not God to scan;
 The proper study of mankind is man.

[9 of 32] Montaigne (1533-1592, France): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "‘Essays’ Bk. 2, 12 ‘Apology for Raymond Sebond’"
And he who understands nothing about himself, what can he understand? ‘As if he could really take the measure of anything, who knows not his own.’ [Pliny]

[10 of 32] Heracleitus (c. 540 - c. 480 BC, Greece): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)"
Applicants for wisdom do what I have done: inquire within.

[11 of 32] Socrates (469-399 BC, Greece): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)"
The unexamined life is not worth living.

[12 of 32] Boethius (c. 480 - c. 525, Italy): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "From Tractate 9"
O men, why do you look without for that which is within you?

[13 of 32] Valentinus (c. AD 100 - 160, Italy): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "Quoted by Hippolytus in Hipp.Haer.8.15.1-2"
Abandon the search for God and the creation and other matters of a similar sort. Look for him by taking yourself as the starting point. Learn who it is who within you makes everything his own and says, 'My God, my mind, my thought, my soul, my body.' Learn the sources of sorrow, joy, love, hate. Learn how it happens that one watches without willing, rests without willing, becomes angry without willing, loves without willing. If you carefully investigate these matters, you will find him in yourself.

[14 of 32] Jesus (c. 4 BC - AD 30, Israel): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "Gospel of Thomas"
Jesus said, 'If those who lead you say to you, "Lo, the kingdom is in heaven", the birds of heaven will precede you. If they say to you, "It is in the sea", then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is within you and outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will know that you are sons of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you are in poverty and you yourselves are the poverty.'

[15 of 32] Anonymous (3000 BC-current, World): primary subject "Heaven, kingdom of" (search under Afterlife/Afterlife, Heaven, Hell)": detail "From Oxyrhynchus Papyri Collection 2"
The Kingdom of Heaven is within you; and whoever knows himself shall find it, and having found it, you will know yourselves, that you are children and heirs of God Almighty and you will know that you are in God and God in you, for you are the very habitation of God.

[16 of 32] Anonymous (3000 BC-current, World): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": source "Cloud of Unknowing": detail "Chapter 14"
And therefore toil and sweat in all that you can, for to get you a true knowing and feeling of yourself as you are; and then I reckon soon after that, you shall have a true knowing and a feeling of God as he is, as far as is possible to be known and felt by a meek soul in this deadly body.

[17 of 32] Anonymous (3000 BC-current, World): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": source "Theologia Germanica": detail "From Chapter 9"
Therefore although it be good and profitable that we should ask, and learn and know, what good and holy men have attained and suffered, and how God has dealt with them, and what He has accomplished in and through them, yet it were a thousand times better that we should in ourselves learn and perceive and understand, who we are, how and what our own life is, what God is and is doing in us, what He will have from us, and to what ends He will or will not make use of us. For, of a truth, thoroughly to know oneself, is above all and is the highest. If you know yourself well, you are better and more praiseworthy before God, than if you did not know yourself, but did understand the course of the heavens and of all the planets and stars.

[18 of 32] Clement of Alexandria (150 - c. 215, Greece): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "From ‘The Instructor’ Bk.3,ch.1"
It is, then, the greatest of all lessons to know oneself. For if one knows himself he will know God, and knowing God, he will be made like God.

[19 of 32] Evagrius Ponticus (c. 345-400, Turkey): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)"
Do you wish to know God? Learn first to know yourself.

[20 of 32] Hilton, Walter (c. 1340-1396, England): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "From the 'Ladder of Perfection' II.30"
A soul that desires to attain knowledge of spiritual things must first know itself, for it cannot acquire knowledge of a higher kind until it first knows itself. The soul does this when it is so recollected and detached from all earthly preoccupations and from the influence of the senses that it understands itself as it is in its own nature, taking no account of the body. So if you desire to know and see your soul as it is, do not look for it within your body as though it were hidden in your heart in the same way that the heart is hidden within the body. If you look for it in this way you will never find it.

[21 of 32] Meister Eckhart (1260-1328, Germany): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "From Sermon 10"
If the soul knew herself she would know all things.

[22 of 32] Tauler, Johann (c. 1300-1361, Germany): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": source "Inner Way: 36 Sermons for Festivals": detail "From ‘Instruction I’"
It is very necessary that we should thus practice self-examination; for man has many a little nook within, which covers up the ground of the heart, and is so overgrown, that it hides the truth from the man himself; so that, though he knows many other things, he does not really know himself. These sins surely resemble thirty or forty skins or hides, like those of an ox, which cover up the ground, lying one upon another, and so thick and hard that you can neither confess them nor rid yourselves of them as you imagine. What are these skins? They are all those things that you have in yourself, that you think of, and that you use, but of which God is neither the true beginning nor the end. They are all idols, images of things, such as self-will, self-pleasing, and the enjoyment of things pertaining to the senses. Man clings to these. Presumption, heedlessness, want of resignation in divine things, all these help to form the skins.

[23 of 32] St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380, Italy): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "‘Letter T37’, late 1377"
I long to see you living in the cell of self-knowledge of yourself …. This cell is a dwelling we carry with us wherever we go. In this cell we learn true solid virtue.

[24 of 32] St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582, Spain): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "From ‘Interior Castle’ I.ii"
However high a state the soul may have attained, self-knowledge is incumbent upon it, and this it will never be able to neglect even should it so desire.

[25 of 32] Scupoli, Lorenzo (1530-1610, Italy): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)"
Humble self-knowledge should be preferred to all other kinds of knowledge, however high; that to overcome and kill one's own evil tendencies and lusts, however insignificant, is more worthy of praise than the capture of many fortresses, or the defeat of powerful and well-equipped armies; more even than the power to perform miracles and to raise the dead.

[26 of 32] Joseph of Panephysis (c. AD 4th century, Egypt): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": source "Sayings of the Desert Fathers"
Abba Poemen said to Abba Joseph, 'Tell me how to become a monk.' He said, 'If you want to find rest here below, and hereafter, in all circumstances say, Who am I? and do not judge anyone.'

[27 of 32] St. Gregory Palamas (1296-1359, Turkey): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "From ‘Topics of Natural and Theological Science’"
For a man to know God, and to know himself and his proper rank is a knowledge superior to natural science and astronomy and to all philosophy concerning such matters. Moreover, for our intellect to know its own infirmity, and to seek healing for it, is incomparably greater than to know and search out the magnitude of the stars, the principles of nature, the generation of terrestrial things …. For the intellect that recognizes its own infirmity has discovered where to enter in order to find salvation and how to approach the light of knowledge and receive the true wisdom that does not pass away with this present world.

[28 of 32] Stithatos, Nikitas (c.1005 - c.1090, Turkey): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": detail "From ‘On the Inner Nature of Things’"
'Know thyself': this is true humility, the humility that teaches us to be inwardly humble and makes our heart contrite. Such humility you must cultivate and guard. For if you do not yet know yourself you cannot know what humility is, and have not yet embarked truly on the task of cultivating and guarding. To know oneself is the goal of the practice of the virtues.

[29 of 32] Boehme, Jacob (1575-1624, Germany): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": source "Three Principles of the Divine Essence": detail "Author's preface"
Man can undertake nothing from the beginning of his youth, nor in the whole course of his time in this world, that is more profitable and necessary for him, than to learn to know himself; what he is, out of what, from whence, and for what he is created, and what his office is. …
 Now when he knows himself aright, he knows also his creator, and all the creatures too: also he knows how God intends towards him, and this knowledge is the most acceptable and pleasant to me, that I ever found.

[30 of 32] Law, William (1686-1761, England): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": source "William Law: The Works, vol.3": detail "‘Spirit of Love’ part 2, dialogue 1"
Again, here you see, where and how you are to seek your salvation, not in taking up your traveling staff, or crossing the seas to find out a new Luther or a new Calvin, to clothe yourself with their opinions, No. The oracle is at home, that always, and only speaks the truth to you, because nothing is your truth, but that good and that evil which is yours within you. For salvation or damnation is no outward thing, that is brought into you from without, but is only that which springs up within you, as the birth and state of your own life. What you are in yourself, what is doing in yourself, is all that can be either your salvation or damnation.

[31 of 32] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": source "Arcana Coelestia, vol.5": detail "Section 3796"
It is the part of a wise man to know the ends [purposes] that are in him. Sometimes it appears as if his ends were for self when yet they are not so; for it is the nature of man to reflect upon himself in everything, and this from custom and habit. But if anyone desires to know the ends that are within him, let him merely pay attention to the delight he perceives in himself from the praise and glory of self, and to the delight he perceives from use separate from self; if he perceives this latter delight, he is in genuine affection. He must also pay attention to the various states in which he is, for the states themselves very much vary the perception. A man can explore these things in himself, but not in others; for the ends of each man's affection are known to the Lord alone. This is the reason why the Lord said :— "Judge not, that ye be not judged; condemn not, that ye be not condemned" [Luke vi. 37].

[32 of 32] Bernardino de Laredo (1482-1540, Spain): primary subject "Work, summary/overview" (search under Outer Life/Religions, Ways)"
If the spiritual life is not founded on self-knowledge and humiliation, it will be a building without foundations and will not endure.