Know thy Self

in Life & Thoughts
This is my 2nd installment of my philosophy class notes. As you can tell from the title it’s all about knowing yourself. The principle of self knowledge is so important to be able to live a true and happy life. Happy learning!

Shakespeare said: “This above all to your own self be true” – he was talking about your true Self. What is the Self? It’s PURE, PERFECT & COMPLETE. It is full of truth, full of knowledge, full of consciousness.

What does it mean to “know thy self”. The Self is your truth, what is beneath your head, heart and body. Your presence, your soul, your essence, your bliss NOT the tangible stuff. I think this illustration helps to understand where the Self is in relation to the rest of you:


It’s easy to confuse your EGO for your true Self, so it’s important to understand what their functions are and to be aware not to get them mixed up. Your ego is made up of fear, uncertainty and doubt. If those are the emotions you are feeling you can be sure your ego is in control.

Your ego is your marketing department, your brand to the outside world. It is also the part of you that takes things personally. The ego is greedy and likes to “own” everything. If someone tells you that they think you should lose weight, your ego immediately claims it as “I am fat”, it takes offense as if your true Self had been attacked, when in fact your Self is not your body.

The comment has more to do with the ego of the person that gave it than it has to do with you, and it has nothing to do with your true Self – you are not your body weight. If you change your weight, your true Self will remain the same – that Self is all that matters.


Similarly the MIND is also not your true Self. Yes it’s good to be smart and have knowledge, but it doesn’t define your true Self. Your mind is made up of the following segments: your discursive mind, your memory, your intellect and your ego.

Each of these play an important part in your day to day life, and will contribute in helping you discover your true Self, but be aware that it is not your true Self.

There is a quote I really like that illustrates this quite nicely: “You are so filled with your own ideas, there is no space for new ones.”


There are 3 paths to figuring out who the Self is:
(1) Path of the Mind – Philosophy
(2) Path of Devotion – Religion
(3) Path of Action – I’m not this body i.e. people who swallow glass, walk on fire, etc they separate their body from their Self.

The key to knowing your true Self is to be an observer. Realise that insight into your true Self will come and go, you will have “ah ha” moments and then things will go back to normal. The goal is to strive to have as many as possible of these moments when you are aware of your true Self.

“Even though we might have forgotten who we are, you never stopped being yourself” – sometimes we just need a reminder or and outside influence to illuminate that which is already there.

If you missed last week’s notes you can read them here.