Welcome to stren #99, Know Your Self – the wisdom of wisdoms. This stren offers the clearest vision of what I believe to be the quickest, most direct and certain journey to a joyous, purposeful life experience. It is my attempt to lay out the road map that has worked for me so that I can pass forward the highest gift – the gift of giving. The wisdoms we acquire one by one empower us to create newer links to our well-being and offer them to those we love. The preceding 98 strens are each links to this most important payoff insight – a road map to self-understanding. This stren offers a comprehensive theory of human behavior and a universal answer to the questions that have preoccupied me. My lifetime of problem-solving passion has focused on three questions:
- How do some individuals lacking life’s benefits create a joyous, purposeful life; while others with material wealth, fame, good looks, super intelligence, connections, and other prized goodies excel in unhappiness, depression, and even suicide?
- Why is there so much destructive confrontation and war when peace makes so much sense?
- Can we identify the skills that elevate us to the humane species which we are capable of becoming, and make them standard in our education?
Know Thyself is not original; many others have come to the same conclusion (see Addendum). Self-understanding has been regarded by our wisest teachers as our means to enlightenment. My contribution is organizing the wisdom of many teachers into an easily taught, readily learned, forever free curriculum, convenient to anyone, anyplace, anytime.
This search for truth has led me through a path of discovery to limited insights, each urging me on to the next with a promise of being a connecting link to the distant goal. Each link could not be added without first acquiring the wisdoms preceding it. Answers were initially simple and of small consequence, but grew in sophistication and value with evolving complexity. Now that I am nearing the end of my path (I am now 76), I can reflect on those wisdoms that best answer the three questions. Foremost, I have discovered that the advanced solution is not only the same for each of the three questions I posed, it also answers questions others are passionate to solve. Multiple paths converge to a point foretold by visionaries throughout history. Knowledge of one’s self is a preferred path to answer the great mysteries. Knowledge applied with common sense and emotion is the substance of mental wealth! This stren is your road map to make yourself a Mental Wealth millionaire (MWM) and world peace leader.
A MWM is an individual who has acquired sufficient wisdoms to create a joyous, purposeful life experience regardless of what fate and circumstance have prescribed. MWM’s enrich themselves by what they offer to others and contribute to global well-being. Unlike physical wealth millionaires who too often are takers, MWM’s love giving and creating more MWM’s. Each wisdom we acquire brings us a step closer to becoming a MWM. My passion is to unite one million MWM’s to become world peace teachers to our population of seven billion. Most people wish or pray for a safer, gentler world but take no action to bring it about. The ANWOT curriculum explains why we have war, why we fail to unite to prevent it, and what collective action we must create to prevent catastrophe.
We have become our worst enemy because of the way we think. Our animal brain, when equipped with intelligence, directs our unprecedented power towards dominating any competition to our tribe through destructive confrontation. Survival of the fittest instinct demands that we acquire the material and symbolic indicators of superiority – physical wealth, titles, fame, connections, and the promise of a rewarded afterlife. To the degree our animal brain rules our cerebral cortex, our dominant education will favor uncritical obedience to tradition. We have made intelligence our greatest enemy; it is about to slay us. We act believing we know what we know, when we are more servants to instinct and tradition than master of common sense wisdom. Our survival now depends on recognizing our greatest problem, our self-deception.
Truly knowing ourselves requires that we first educate our cerebral cortex with a newer way of thinking (ANWOT). During our formative first decades our cortical brain is too immature and undeveloped to dominate instinct and tradition (nature and nurture, fate and circumstance). The either/or two-category distorted thinking we all first learn that divides the world into opposing categories is the root cause of bigotry, prejudice, and harmful confrontation. Creative problem solving directed by common sense wisdom, prevention, spirituality, values, morality, and the mutual benefits of cooperation and collaboration are beyond the limits of our early thinking capability. The drive toward competition and war that marks our history will persist until we unleash our rapidly growing arsenal of biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons that offer no second chance. That tipping point is imminent unless we recognize the urgency to teach ourselves ANWOT. The challenge in knowing our self is to make conscious the self-deception that falsely concludes “My way or my tribe’s way is the only way.” Common sense would substitute “What works for me AND you, for now AND the future?”
What if we could eliminate nukes? It’s not enough. Experts tell us biological WUD are the most likely threat. What if we eliminated all weapons, but exhaust our water supply? Won’t chaos still return? Because we are removed from the sights, sounds, and smells of death we already ignore millions of starving people. We fail to take preventive action because we remain oblivious until it is too late. There no second chance! This is why we must confront the root cause of destructive confrontation – the way we think. When Einstein realized the power of E=mc2, he told us we must teach ourselves a newer way of thinking (ANWOT) if we choose to prevent human catastrophe. ANWOT enables us to reflect on ourselves and realize our self- deception. We are part of the problem until we act on the solution. We need to know our self.
The newer way of thinking curriculum to become a MWM is roughly the equivalent of a 3 credit college course; it can be mastered in 6 to10 months. Internet technology makes ANWOT available forever free to anyone, anywhere, anytime. If you have not already signed in at www.anwot.org to automatically receive one of the 100+ insights every other day, do so now. We can’t make it any easier. The content may also be directly viewed or downloaded.
The discovery of the greatest truths is the addition of insight to insight. There is no limit, and the more insights we collect, the more likely we are to become a MWM. Here is a roadmap of the strens (mental strengths or insights) that create mental wealth and MWM’s, each of which is described within the ANWOT curriculum:
1. The first step is to switch on our creative energy, which for so many has been turned off. Substitute “Yes, I think I can” for “I can’t,” “It’s too hard,” “Why bother?” and related learned helpless/hopeless words.
2. The five ingredients required are abundantly available: Faith in yourself (Yes, I think I can), work, patience, direction, and risk taking – the willingness to let go of the ways that no longer work. Physical wealth, unusual intelligence, good looks, fame, and connections are not necessary. Good health and luck are helpful but not required, as so many have proven.
3. There are five components of ANWOT:
a. Self-endorsement: The two most powerful are emotional self-endorsement and secondary endorsement strens that enable anyone to become their own best friend.
b. The Mind-freeing, Life-changing, World-saving word-switches to free our will from fate and circumstance and create self-mastery. Essential are regularly substituting (1) could for should, (2) I allow for they make me, and (3) both...and for either/or.
c. The eight choices available to our will: Consistent use of the problem-solving sentence and self-endorsement will cause the harmful choices to atrophy from disuse – blaming out, blaming in, avoidance, worry, the helpless/hopeless response and the mind/body response.
d. The wisdoms proven by others to work: Collected from the giants who precede us, and those of our own discovery to create out-of-the-box solutions to today’s problems.
e. Universal Values arrived at through common sense by religious and secular groups, including the golden rule, love yourself so you can love your neighbor, and the serenity prayer.
4. The power of symbols, including words (ideas), musical notes, religious symbols (cross, crescent, 5-pointed star), numbers/letters, (mathematics), and flags (patriotism/allegiance to country or team).
5. Trigger words and word-switches: The specific symbols that allow us to grasp ideas and emotional energy.
6. Recognizing our three masters and the influence of each: nature/nurture/self-mastery.
7. The importance of personal responsibility, and the process to assume it.
8. Changing needs from immaturity to maturity to super-maturity; becoming one’s own person.
9. The two sentences that determine our fate: (1) My way, the only way! or (2) What will work for me and you, for now and the future?
10. Adding global priorities to local priorities.
11. Understanding the creative process.
12. Life’s enthusiasms and endeavors.
13. Cultivating positive addictions: habits of daily living.
14. Stressing commonalities (positives) over our differences (shortcomings). Note that focusing on differences is innate!
15. Attaining and sustaining an attitude of gratitude.
16. Education in common sense thinking to elevate us to the humane skills: such as love, forgiveness, kindness, mercy, and compassion.
17. Teaching resilience: a natural skill curtailed by learned helpless/hopelessness.
18. Learning the satisfaction of giving.
19. The role of prevention (ANWOT); no-trial learning, cognitive rehearsal.
20. “Calm” skills: anger management.
21. Managing injustice: The world is not always fair.
22. Your turn to create and add new wisdoms.
I am confident that you have the same passion to benefit your loved ones that inspires me to popularize ANWOT. If you are not already a MWM, I urge you to do the course and join Einstein’s peace army that can and must succeed. I wish you tons of mental wealth!
Addendum: History of Know Thyself
Know Thyself was inscribed in golden letters at the entrance of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (circa 7th century to 373 BCE). From that time, Apollo’s imperative was heralded as the means to self-knowledge and self-realization. The Temple was the meeting place of the wise men and religious leaders of many persuasions. It survived until 390 AD when Emperor Theodosius I ordered its destruction in the name of Christianity to halt Paganism. Know Thyself has been attributed to Greek sages, and to contemporary scholars and religious leaders since. It is widely acknowledged in the world's sacred traditions to express inner wisdom and be a prescriptive cure for mankind's ills.
Socrates taught Know Thyself – the unexamined life is not worth living. In Plato’s Phaedrus dialogue, he explains why his wise teacher “has no time for mythology or other far flung topics.” Socrates says, “But I have no leisure for them at all; and the reason, my friend, is this: I am not yet able, as the Delphic inscription has it, to know myself; so it seems to me ridiculous, when I do not yet know that, to investigate irrelevant things. ... To be curious about that which is not my concern, while I am still in ignorance of my own self, would be ridiculous.” The Suda, a tenth century encyclopedia of Greek knowledge, says: “the proverb is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are,” and that “know thyself” is a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude.
Additional references from the web site Christian Chat :
“ ‘Yoga or union with the divine is to know your self. Your true self. All religions point out to one goal. To know your self. Yoga is not just a mere exercise or fun club as most people would think.’
Jesus Christ: ‘Know thyself’
Prophet Mohamed: ‘The one knows himself, knows his Lord’
Lao Tse: ‘The one who knows others is wise, the one who knows himself is enlightened’ ”
While the phrase “know thyself” is not found in the canonical New Testament, it is implied in references. In John 14:17: “Even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither does it know him; but you know him, for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.” Paul affirmed likewise: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16). Similarly, Luke 17:20-21: “And when the Pharisees demanded to know when the kingdom of God should come, Jesus answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with visible signs: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.’ ”
The following are extracts from Know Thyself: Man in Evolution, by W. T. S. Thackara :
Luke's second meaning — “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” — is mystically expressed in the Gospel of Thomas (113) ... Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the Kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. — Saying 3
... The savior said, "Brother Thomas while you have time in the world, listen to me, and I will reveal to you the things you have pondered in your mind. Now since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself, and learn who you are, in what way you exist and how you will come to be. Since you will be called my brother, it is not fitting that you be ignorant of yourself. And I know that you have understood because you had already understood that I am the knowledge of the truth. So while you accompany me, although you are uncomprehending, you have in fact already come to know, and you will be called 'the one who knows himself.' For he who has not known himself has known nothing, but he who has known himself has at the same time already achieved knowledge about the depth of the All" [italics added]. — II.138.5-19, in The Nag Hammadi Library in English, p. 201
2 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
4 Know Thyself: Man in Evolution, by W. T. S. Thackara; Sunrise magazine, April/May 2004; Theosophical University Press; from the Internet