Search results for tag "Self-knowledge" - 10 answer(s)

400 Vote

The dragon-catcher: allegory of the imperious self

dragon horse

“A snake-catcher went to the mountains to catch a snake by his incantations…”. Using this tale recounted by the Persian mystical poet Rumi as a starting point, Leili Anvar introduces here the notion of imperious self.

The imperious self is a central concept in Ostad Elahi’s philosophy. It is this product of the human psyche against which we must relentlessly struggle in order to make spiritual progress, for it is the origin of those of our impulses that systematically and insidiously arise to contradict correct ethical thoughts.

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262 Vote

Insidious Prejudices

By - Jan 19, 2015 - Category Practice
insidious prejudices

This article was written by Scr, a regular contributor to the e-ostadelahi website. It gives an account of what ethical practice can be like for those who seek to progress on the path of perfection. The two everyday scenarios presented here help provide insight into our actions and thoughts. Whether we share the author’s conclusions or not, his approach is in our opinion worthy of interest; it is an introspective self-analysis that results in an awareness of one’s emotions—a stepping stone toward ethical readjustments of our thoughts and behaviour.

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256 Vote

It’s the little things…

By - Dec 2, 2014 - Category Articles
chess piece in a mirror

In a book about self-esteem, the French psychiatrist Christophe André cites a number of social psychology studies according to which, in any given field, most of us feel just a little bit superior to the average person. We feel a bit more skilled, a bit more intelligent, we think that we have better taste, etc. “Based on these studies taken as a whole, he writes, 67 to 96% of people overestimate themselves in comparison to their peers. And that phenomenon is fully subconscious…”

If this is true when it comes to professional skills or taste, it is also true, and perhaps even more so, when it comes to ethics. Indeed, while we may sometimes nurture an inferiority complex with regards to our looks, general knowledge or intelligence, we rarely have similar doubts with regards to our moral values.

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182 Vote

Selma and Louise

By - Jan 20, 2014 - Category Practice
girl reflection

In two previous articles, here and here, I wrote about the methods I tested to improve my self-knowledge, in response to which very interesting examples were also posted in the comments. Continuing this approach I went on to observe people not for the indirect messages I could draw (see here), but to single out a few character traits from their behaviour and then compare these traits with my own. Let me explain.

I have a colleague called Selma whom I greatly admire for her courage and her ability to be both respectful and fearless without servile flattery toward hierarchy. I myself lack self-confidence and am easily impressed by my superiors. I am all the more aware of this as I can compare myself to Selma. Lack of self-confidence is not in itself a harmful character trait for the progress of the soul, but it can quite easily become harmful in certain situations. For example, I was at a meeting with my boss Paul and the company head, when in the middle of the discussion Paul started criticising Louise, another of my colleagues, quite unjustly and under cover of humour. Not only did I lack the courage to correct the false statements made about Louise, but I smiled at the jokes my boss made, even though I really didn’t feel like it. After the meeting was over, I wondered how Selma, whom I had often seen in similar situations, would have reacted in my place. She would certainly have defended Louise, although with a pinch of humour to preserve Paul’s pride. This process of comparison enabled me to see the inadequacies in my own attitude much more clearly. Selma’s behaviour brought my own actions to light and helped me evaluate them more accurately. At the same time, it constitutes a source of inspiration on how to be more courageous, in practice, in ordinary everyday professional circumstances.

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242 Vote

Mirror reflection

By - Nov 15, 2013 - Category Practice
Illustration old lady

To complete and sharpen my self-portrait, I decided to consider others as mirrors. The idea was to observe people’s behaviour towards me in order to find clues about myself and about what to focus on to further perfect myself spiritually. Having made this resolution, I got ready for my day and went off to work. As I pulled the car out of the garage and was about to turn into the street, I realized I had forgotten my cell phone. I left my car on the sidewalk right outside the gate and rushed inside to get my phone. I rushed back out less than two minutes later, just in time to find the neighbourhood grumpy old lady vehemently banging her walking stick against the metal rim of my front wheel. “It happens every time!” I said to myself. “Every single time I leave my car for one second on the sidewalk she pops up out of nowhere and starts banging on it!” This time, I wasn’t going to take it and so I gave her a piece of my mind: “I never leave my car out here for more than two minutes, this is completely out of line, it’s technically my driveway”, etc.

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276 Vote

A journey to self-discovery

invisible businessman with hat

It is always possible to limit one’s knowledge of the principles that constitute any given philosophy, spiritual thought, religion or psychological theory to a purely theoretical level. This approach sometimes suffices to help give a general direction to one’s life and provide a reassuring framework by lending meaning to one’s experiences. To set into motion a genuine process of change in oneself it is however necessary to enter the practical realm of spirituality, namely, the process of perfection of the soul. But where to begin? What exactly should one do? The point here is not to put into practice religious rituals or to apply predefined moral prescriptions. In fact, spiritual work begins with a self-discovery. The first step is to observe oneself, as if from the outside, to carefully analyse oneself, and to “accurately assess [one’s] own attributes, positive qualities, strong points, flaws, weak points, etc.”. This approach requires a good amount of sincerity as it involves acknowledging and confronting one’s faults. It also requires a minimum of self-confidence in order not to lose hope in the face of one’s weaknesses. Finally, it is essential to keep in mind that this inventory of our personality must be done in the context of the process of spiritual perfection. In other words, the criteria with which we would measure our strengths and weaknesses and our qualities and faults should not be dictated by social trends but by ethical and spiritual values. For example, an introverted or reserved personality can appear, socially speaking, as a weak point, whereas it is neither a fault nor a quality spiritually speaking. It can even be an asset, as introverted people often have a greater capacity for self-analysis.

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309 Vote

Negligence

Negligence

If someone was to ask us: “are you ever negligent?”, we would probably be tempted to nod in agreement, if only to make sure we do not come out as smug. But things would get much more complicated if we were asked to answer the follow-up question: “but in which areas and in what ways are you negligent?”. Because how are we supposed to identify in which situations we tend to be negligent and to what degree (occasionally/systematically, minor/serious), when by definition, negligence results from a lack of attention and thus cannot be clearly and directly perceived? Or since, in other words, we do not attach any importance to it.

Of course, there are times where the thin voice of our moral conscience will make itself heard in the back of our mind, right when we are about to do something negligent. But it will likely instantaneously drown in the nonstop muddy flow of our quasi-automatic thoughts, and lack the energy to push us to exercise our willpower to thwart that negligence.

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289 Vote

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

By - May 27, 2013 - Category Practice
Rafael, Madonna Sixtina - détail

If you are like me, there are certain people whose company you seek and enjoy, and then there are all those whose company is a burden and awakens negative feelings within you. But what causes such feelings? And what is the best way to deal with them? Here is the result of my personal introspective analysis.

A closer look at these negative feelings quickly led me to the conclusion that they were morally “suspicious”. To put it simply, I observed that they were often—if not always—the consequence of my own moral failings. There is no doubt, for example, that my strongest aversions are caused by feelings of rivalry or injured self-esteem. All it takes for me to want to punch a person in the face, is a smile or a comment I interpret as condescending!

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379 Vote

Finding the cause within

Magnify glass and maze in man's head

“The cause of everything that happens to you is in you; you should therefore look within yourself to find the cause.”

My reading of this maxim by Ostad Elahi triggered a number of thoughts that I would like to share by way of this article. A hearty thanks to e-ostadelahi.com for the opportunity to share with their readers.

We tend to spend a lot of time blaming “the world” for our misfortunes. On the other hand, we consider anything good to be the fruit of our own doing. But as always, giving it a little thought can make us realise that reality is a lot more complex.

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361 Vote

Humility 4 – Humility is a strength

By - Jan 27, 2013 - Category Articles
Narcisse ou illusion de soi

Why be humble?

If humility consists in resisting the pressure of pride—whose power we can sense—it most certainly requires an effort. As all efforts, it needs to be justified, for after all, if the illusions of an oversized ego are part of my fundamental nature, and as long as they remain within the limits of reason, why try and rid myself of them—assuming this is even possible?
There are at least two reasons that would provide motivation for such an effort:

The first reason is ethical and refers to what has been called “love of truth”. While it is in my nature to be blind to the true place I hold in the world, it is also in my nature, once I have become conscious of an illusion, to try and free myself from it. No one can content themselves—unless they are spiritually dead—with living knowingly in error without trying to come clear. We are naturally inclined to seek truth, whatever it may be, even if it is unpleasant for our ego. Given that pride is founded on lies and illusions, it is our ethical duty to strive to become more humble so as to free ourselves from these lies and to come closer to the truth of what we really are.

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