The knowledge of the self is considered to be the best method to realize the True Knowledge of the world, particularly the human beings. In every religion, self-realization has been given the highest place. In Gita Lord Krishna said,
“I shall fully explain to you the Self-knowledge together with Self-realization after knowing that nothing more remains to be known in this world”.
Every religion including Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism emphasize the need of the self-realization through different methods like meditation or yoga. The importance of self-realization is not limited only to the religions. All poets, artists and scientist have realized the highest truth by self-realization. One of the greatest scientist and astronomer, Galileo has rightly said “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself”. Even the greatest scientist like Einstein did not acquire the knowledge of their theories by experiments but the knowledge of the self by which he could capture the spirit of the Universe. In a letter to a child who asked if scientists pray, Einstein said,
Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man…. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.
Self-realization is the secret of all the creative people in the field of art, music, literature and poetry. In the words of the world famous poet Kahlil Gibran,
“Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know my self, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms.”
If the knowledge of the self is really the mother of all knowledge, we must all be extremely knowledgeable as all of us seem to know at least one person very well, i.e. ourselves. Why then we do not have all the knowledge of the world.
It is, therefore, evident that there is a mystery contained in the “knowledge of self” and the self-realization is not same as knowing you as a person who has a body, desire, passion and mood that is changing with every moment. What is that, we need to discover in the process of self-realization?
Realization of the Self
When we see the world, from our eyes, we find it continuously moving and changing. People are getting older, new persons are born, old people are dying. If we happen to visit the world after few decades, perhaps we would find none in the same condition as a few decades ago. If we visit, the same place after a century, we may not find any known person. The dresses, the culture, the language, the houses and the lifestyle of the people undergo total change in few decades. Yet there is something that does not change with time and place amid all the changes in the world. This we call this “unchanging reality of the world” as the Spirit of the world.
In the same way, when we try to know ourselves, we find that we too are constantly changing. The changes are quite noticeable on the body as we advance from our childhood, to youth and then adulthood and days of old age. Almost every cell of our body is replaced in few months. Yet there is something in the human body that connects the past, present and future and which does not change.
Like our body, our thoughts and feeling too are changing every moment. Our thoughts today are not same as what we used to think a decade earlier. In some days, we feel happy but on the very next day, we may feel bad and even depressed. All feeling seems to come and go like the fleeting moments. We have sometime noble thoughts that lead us to do the noble deeds. Yet on the very next moment, we seems to be doing just the opposite. We seem to love a person more than our life in one day, yet hate them or become indifferent to them after sometime.
Thus, when you ask this basic question, “Who am I?”, you can hardly get a consistent answer. Unless you know yourself, you can never predict your behaviour and feelings in a particular context or in the future just like one can not predict weather or solar eclipse unless one has the full knowledge of the nature and planetary motion.
However, if we happen to pay close attention to know ourselves, we would soon start noticing that amongst the hundreds of changes going on in the body and mind every, moment, there is something that remains unchanged throughout our life. This unchanging reality is our True Self that gives us our identity and the goal of self-realization.
Thus the realization of the self is no easier than realization of the world. G.K. Chesterton, said
“One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star”.
Thus the realization of the self is possible only by paying close attention to the self and the world as both seems to be in the continuous state of flux. However, when one pays close attentions to the world around him, with a goal to find a connection between the apparently different events, he soon starts noticing a pattern within the dissimilar events. This pattern is the realization of the Ultimate Reality or the Ultimate Truth. In the words of K.T. Jong
It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts.
Steps to Achieve Self-Realization
The first step to self-realization is close observation of the world without and within and making an attempt to find a reason for everything. When we meet different people or observe different events in our life, we often treat them happening by chance on random basis. Thus we fail to learn anything from the happening around us. However, if we believe that all effects are arising out due to some cause and due to some reason, we shall gradually discover the cause and reason behind every happening. There is a cause for your good and bad mood, your happiness and depression, love and hate emotions. However, the necessary condition of the self-realization is that the knowledge has to emerge from within unassisted by any external agent or agency and not on the basis of some theory propounded by any expert or specialist or scripture. In the same way the cause and reason for the all happenings in the outside world also has to be analyzed with the effort of the self knowldge.
Once, we get some logic and reason for the actions in the world, which comes from within by the help of intuition, the next step is to test the knowledge. This is not very difficult. For example, if you have found that your particular action is the cause of your happiness, you can enhance that action and the happiness must be increase. In the same way, your sadness must reduce by curbing the action that you found causes sadness. If your “intuition” is correct, gradually you must be able to make yourself a better person as you can achieve what you like most while avoiding the one which you don’t like.
The third step of self-realization to experiment your self-knowledge to the world outside. The knowledge of the self is not only for the self satisfaction or for the purpose of spiritual aspiration of the self but also equally applicable for the outside worlds as the whole world is created from the single cause which we refer as God or Supreme Being. A man by the knowledge of the Self actually realizes the knowledge of the Universe since the Self or Soul or Atman of the person is an integrated part of the Universal Soul or Spirit. Thus the knowledge of the self is applicable not only to the self but to all the people of the world as the “Self” of every person is same notwithstanding the external manifestation of the person which seems to be different for each person and seems to be changing every moment.
Don’t Be Knowledgeable: Be The Knowledge
In the modern world, there is no dearth of information which is often confused with knowledge. However, if one acquires all knowledge of the world, he becomes at the most a moving library of the knowledge. This knowledge is hardly of any use since the acquired knowledge is often contradictory and confusing.
A self-realized person does not acquire worldly knowledge but acquired knowledge from the depth of his soul. Thus he taps the knowledge of the universe and become knowledge itself. He knows the fundamental of the universe as though his Self he connects the Self or Soul of the Universe. Thus the self-knowledge is the mother of all knowledge since all knowledge can be created automatically by a self-realized person.
It is therefore, no surprise that self-realized people are highly valued in the society. All prophets realized the divine knowledge through the self-realization and they have been given the status of God. They are the Gurus and teachers of the humanity who have provided solutions to the problems of the mankind.