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Old 12-02-14   #1
Leben
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Default Self-Knowledge

This thread is a tangent from another, located here. I'll quote Fera's post and respond in parts. I decided to put this in the methodology forum because, as Fera said, it is core esotericism; not just an idea, but a practice, a technique and a way. I believe there is a correct method of self-knowledge and without the correct application it can and, as a matter of law, will become it's opposite; self-deception.

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Originally Posted by feranaja View Post
Leben - TheThing and I had a lively conversation about this today. I do of course see exactly where you are coming from, and I came around (in the Thing-chat) several times to the notion that without self-knowledge, one can be stuck and not understand one's own role in it.(and one can be stuck, understand the role of their own actions, and keep doing the same things...ahem..yeah I've done that too). So I do concur that this may be part of CT's dilemma.
The path of self-knowledge is really a scale of infinite gradation, or perhaps, the path is more like a fractal. There is no 'end' and as one begins to delve deeper, more aspects become revealed. So I believe it's important to distinguish that we always will be in this gradation, that part of knowing the self is knowing that there is something TO BE known which is currently unknown. We are always in some ignorance of ourselves and what we could be, and holding this as true is (in my opinion) an important part of the method. When we know that we don't know, then we can begin to learn. If we do not know HOW to know the self, how to learn and be open to, receptive to ourselves, we are just like Yaldabaoth, insulated from true gnosis of the nature of Being, imprisoned in a solipsistic dream through which no real effect in the world can be gained.

But there are degrees of self-knowledge, and just like a fractal there are 'landmarks' or structures which emerge and can be known at various scales of magnification. So even though we can never know all, we can know a little, and to know a little is really to know a lot.

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Originally Posted by feranaja
But - given you and I have discussed my problematic Sun:Saturn opposition, wouldn't you agree there are times when factors outside of our own control do indeed restrict and limit our capacity to move ahead, to accomplish?
Astrology is a fairly accurate (in my opinion) predictor of types of experiences a person is likely to have in the course of their life. Our natal charts tell us how we were influenced at birth to respond to energy in a certain way, and people with certain astrological configurations are likely to respond in similar ways, but even twins, who are born with identical charts, can be very different people, and even though life is throwing the same energies at them (for instance two twins could have a sun/saturn opposition), and they could both face the same difficulties, there is always a 'spiritual' element which decides how to handle/interact with it. The stars impel, they don't compel -- that is, they influence us and our actions, but they don't control them. I think of it like being in a boat on the river. The stars direct the currents and determine what is in the water ahead of us, and if we do nothing then we are taken by the stream, but we can (within our power!) direct the boat.

"Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily -- life is but a dream."

Part of self-knowledge is also understanding the nature of the dream, the self-deception. In truth, one can have a deep and profound knowledge of themselves and be surrounded by 'less than favorable' conditions. Arguably, the worse the outer conditions, the better the inner conditions for self-knowing, granted one remembers the nature of self-deception, which is always to enshroud and protect what one thinks one has, is or knows. Even in astrology, our natal charts are really predicting the nature of the dream which we'll experience in subjective incarnation. When we realize that we are "in the world but not of it," that there is an impartial witness that can observe the experiences of the self, then we can know it. Until then, we will never see the backs of our own heads. This ability to identify with a transcendent aspect (or rather, to not-identify with the mundane) is incredibly important.

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One way I have come to see that aspect in my chart is, that because of the ongoing struggles it represents, I will be able to - NEED to - develop more internally. So for example - I was in a kickass band, we *could* have made it t some extent, but we didn't and I see that opposition at play right there.I worked really effing hard, I was - am - a strong bassist, and very creative, and back in the 80s a chick bassplayer was still novel - we had a lot going for us. But who would I have become if we had made it big? Definitely not the person i am now, maybe not alive. Assuredly not doing the vastly more meaningful work(to me) I do now. So through adversity, came insight, re-purposing and growth.

Rambling a bit here but I wanted to further this aspect of the discussion, or take it out of CT's thread and explore more deeply. It's core esotericism, after all.
We absolutely need adversity and challenge. When do we ever learn more about ourselves then when we are faced with a challenge? We see what we are made of. Perhaps we make poor decisions, things don't turn out the way we had hoped, or it all ends in disaster, but the intensity of illumination shows what's in the shadows, and sometimes that can be very disturbing, and that disturbance can be a shock to the system which inhibits further growth. If the quest of self-knowledge is a purely theoretical endeavor, something only from the mind, then it can only go so far, so deeply. The heart absolutely must be involved. The wish must be strong. Self-knowledge is not just about accumulated data, it's an intimate understanding which cannot always be put to words. Sometimes it is a scent of myself, a taste, an instinct. It is self-knowing, as a verb. I am here WITH myself, and together we travel into the unknown. I do not know what I will see but I am open to see it. With the whole of myself.

What are you experiences of self-knowledge and knowing the Self? How do you ensure your knowledge is genuine and not a deception? What are your objective measures? If you were to meet someone and have the impression "this person knows themselves!" what would the cause of that impression be, and conversely, if "this person doesn't know themselves!" what would cause you to see that? Interested to hear some replies.

Last edited by Leben; 12-02-14 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 12-03-14   #2
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Default Re: Self-Knowledge

As I get older I realize more about my self. The key to me, is to be able to recognize the parts I want/need to change. It is why we are here. To keep learning. There is never going to be a time when we can sit back and relax. Change is inevitable, learning is on going, in this life and the next hundred...if we choose. We can create what we want to happen. I know some will not agree but I have seen it done, I have done it myself. You just have to learn to get out of your own way. It is still a challenge for me at times, but it mostly because I let the outside into my head. Of course there is a great quote that I read this morning, but have forgotten it.

I meet people everyday, most wanting to know themselves better. Trying to listen to themselves. This is the part where I feel, most of us have a hard time. Learning to still be true to ourselves and be with someone else. To make sure you both can continue to grow. Or if your younger being able to grow while with your family. Its a hard rope to walk at first. Having a partner and or family that understands is helpful, but not necessary.
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Old 12-03-14   #3
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Originally Posted by Brigidrose View Post
As I get older I realize more about my self. The key to me, is to be able to recognize the parts I want/need to change. It is why we are here. To keep learning. There is never going to be a time when we can sit back and relax. Change is inevitable, learning is on going, in this life and the next hundred...if we choose. We can create what we want to happen.
It has always struck me that self-knowledge and self-improvement are very different areas of work. I question deeply the idea that ANYTHING actually needs to change -- if I don't truly know myself, then what part is changing what part? Because of the power of self-conceit and deception, I know that judging myself as 'good' or 'bad' and deciding what should stay and what should go, is a part of that mechanism to obscure the truth of myself. Although I'm a firm advocate of 'choosing your own adventure,' I definitely segregate the realm of self-knowledge from any endeavor of self-change or transformation. I find that the most powerful self-transformative events have come about directly as a result of seeing myself clearly, having a very clear impression of myself and how I am.
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Old 12-03-14   #4
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Default Re: Self-Knowledge

Hmmmm..I need to think on this deeper. I understand what your saying. Its not just self improvement but that constant yearning for something that feels good. To have that constantly. Or better yet being able to find that feeling amongst the chaos, during the chaos.
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You are God, Goddess. All that lives, breathes, loves, sings in the unending harmony of being is divine.
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~ The reason nothing can truly ever make sense is that it is all fluid. ~
~ To manifest abundance, follow your hearts desire ~


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Old 12-03-14   #5
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Hmmmm..I need to think on this deeper. I understand what your saying. Its not just self improvement but that constant yearning for something that feels good. To have that constantly. Or better yet being able to find that feeling amongst the chaos, during the chaos.
That "constant yearning for something that feels good" has been the downfall of many a people! Surely, we all wish for what is pleasant and satisfying, but I think the pursuit of pleasure and good feelings is often at odds with the search for self-knowledge (not to say it is in your case). Very rarely do people seek out unpleasant or frightening experiences, despite these yielding great information about ourselves and how we operate, instead seeking what is familiar, what is ALREADY known, what allows them to be comfortable and go back to sleep. But yearning itself is very valuable, especially when it's knowledge that we yearn, whether it is pleasant or not. In the journey of self-knowledge, many ideas of good/bad, right/wrong, pleasant/painful have to be set aside, lest we throw the baby out with the bath water.
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Old 12-03-14   #6
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Default Re: Self-Knowledge

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Originally Posted by Leben View Post
I believe there is a correct method of self-knowledge and without the correct application it can and, as a matter of law, will become it's opposite; self-deception.
Aye... there's the rub... the number of people that present as self-realised gurus and on close inspection turn out to be full of male bovine excrement outnumber the stars...

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...We are always in some ignorance of ourselves and what we could be, and holding this as true is (in my opinion) an important part of the method. When we know that we don't know, then we can begin to learn.
This! Completely! And that is where the aforementioned self-realised individuals appear to get lost - in the belief that they have found the answer, and if only we adopted their method (payment terms supplied) we could become as spiritually achieved as they...

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...I think of it like being in a boat on the river. The stars direct the currents and determine what is in the water ahead of us, and if we do nothing then we are taken by the stream, but we can (within our power!) direct the boat.
This really strikes a chord. As a teenager I was prone to a recurring dream in which I am swept along in the current of the river. In places, the river is deep and calm. I feel in control. I can see the place I am heading. Up ahead stands a figure - invariably at the head of some crazy rapids - and I find myself thrown onto a different river course, one I am unfamiliar with, and I lose sight of the destination...

Wasn't till some time later that I realised I could just get out of the bleedin' boat!
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Old 12-03-14   #7
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That "constant yearning for something that feels good" has been the downfall of many a people! Surely, we all wish for what is pleasant and satisfying, but I think the pursuit of pleasure and good feelings is often at odds with the search for self-knowledge (not to say it is in your case). Very rarely do people seek out unpleasant or frightening experiences, despite these yielding great information about ourselves and how we operate, instead seeking what is familiar, what is ALREADY known, what allows them to be comfortable and go back to sleep. But yearning itself is very valuable, especially when it's knowledge that we yearn, whether it is pleasant or not. In the journey of self-knowledge, many ideas of good/bad, right/wrong, pleasant/painful have to be set aside, lest we throw the baby out with the bath water.
I'm working with someone at the moment really struggling with this. Her life has been a cycle of:
1. Move to city #1: new relationship, new job, full of promise.
2. It all goes wrong: relationship fails, company closes, eviction.
3. Returns to city #2: her bolt hole, surrounded by friends, family, support network.
4. Starts to yearn for city #1: ... go back to start...
Her friends beg her not to go... "she doesn't get that she is in a destructive cycle".

I think it has been kinda refreshing for her to hear that the destructive part of the cycle is not, in fact step 1, but is actually step 3...

Her friends no longer talk to me...

Last edited by BigAl; 12-03-14 at 08:06 PM. Reason: format
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Old 12-03-14   #8
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This really strikes a chord. As a teenager I was prone to a recurring dream in which I am swept along in the current of the river. In places, the river is deep and calm. I feel in control. I can see the place I am heading. Up ahead stands a figure - invariably at the head of some crazy rapids - and I find myself thrown onto a different river course, one I am unfamiliar with, and I lose sight of the destination...

Wasn't till some time later that I realised I could just get out of the bleedin' boat!
Yes, this is what I meant by identifying with a transcendent principle (or non-identifying with the mundane). When we are 'down in it,' that is, when we believe we are who we think we are, or that reality is the way that it is, our choices are very limited, and so is our free will. The more we are able to recognize the dream in our daily lives, the more separation we can get, the more choices we are able to make, the more free will we are able to manifest. Self-knowledge requires there BE a self which is knowing, and a self which is known -- without that distinction, I think little is truly possible, except in flashes and fits.
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Old 12-04-14   #9
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Default Re: Self-Knowledge

I had typed out a long post, but I guess the session ended and poof. You'd think I'd have known better...

Maybe I'll say more later. But I found the idea that we can be deceiving ourselves with believing we are accurately self aware very intriguing. I've been going through a lot the last number of months, I don't say much. But this is one of the things I've considered. I see it a lot around me, I believe it often is the case when one -needs- to see things a certain way. Of course, it leads to the old, do things the same way expecting different results, but well, that never happens.

Great thread.
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Old 12-05-14   #10
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ooh, I hate it when that happens! Yes, there are some ways to see self-deception out of the corner of our eyes, because by it's nature it is very difficult to see directly. One way that works for me is seeing my reactivity, my volatility toward others, which arises from a kind of defensiveness. What is being defended in me? What defends? I try to identify these situations and intentionally move into them in a relaxed way, as I can then see how these impulses/behaviors arise in the moment. For me, part of the practice of self-knowledge involves an active participation, moving deliberately into the unknown parts of myself, those parts which struggle not to be seen.
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