Google Translate

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Knowledge of ‘Self’ Is What Matters in Life

Ever since civilization dawned, man’s quest for unraveling himself has intensified. Right from Valmiki’s Rama to Sophocles’ Oedipus to Shakespeare’s King Lear, all have sought to know “Who I am.”  In Vivekchdamani, Sankaracharya says that the supreme goal of human beings is ‘self-knowledge.’ He warns that the neglect of its pursuit is verily suicidal.

Now the question is: What is this ‘self’ these poets are talking about and why should it be known? George Herbert Mead (1934), an American philosopher, opines that the ‘self’, like the mind, is a social emergent. This social conception of the self, Mead argues, necessitates that we treat the individual selves as the products of social interaction. He says: “The self is something which has a development. It was not initially there at birth. It has arisen in the process of social experience and activity. In other words, it develops in an individual as a result of his interaction with society and individuals in it. For Mead, self is a reflective process – “it is an object to itself.”

Sudhanshu Palsule, Associate Professor, Advanced Management Program, instead, says that in his search for the source of leadership in human beings, he tumbled upon a concept that he called ‘Self-Ware.’ He explained that ‘self-ware’ is nothing but the internal program that drives our life: it shapes how we pick up the information, the way we process it, the decisions that we make based on such information and our very judgments. And the basic elements of self-ware are: thoughts, emotions and beliefs. He goes on to assert that it is these three put together that define how leaders perceive the world around them, interpret it, and respond.

This explanation holds good even to explain what ‘Self” is, for self-ware helps us make sense of the world. Unfortunately, we are not aware of this important component of our existence fully well. And when we do not know these hard-wired internal biases of us and the resulting conditioning, we are prone to make wrong judgments. There is yet another danger: having taken an erroneous decision we may even try to defend ourselves as to what we did was right but the circumstances didn’t favor us and hence the failure.

In view of this danger, it is necessary that one knows one’s ‘self-ware’, the resulting conditioning and, importantly, also how to overcome one’s self-conditioning postures.  It is, of course, easier said than done. Nevertheless, as Vasishtha said in Yoga Vasishtha: “One can achieve anything in this world through making the right endeavour”, one has to strive, strive to know of himself, else life’s journey remains as a mere happenstance.   
  • Be Aware of the ‘Self’ — Knowing the self results in a deep understanding about one’s own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs and drives; enables neither to be  overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful; “True knowledge is to seek the ‘Self’ as the true end of wisdom, while to seek anything else is ignorance”, says Gita. Awareness reveals whether one is of High-grade ‘self-ware’ (clear thinking duly supported by intelligent emotions and supportive beliefs) or Low-grade self-ware (toxic thinking, emotions coming in the way accompanied by disabling beliefs). 
  • Self-Regulation — Practicing ‘self-regulation, backed by the knowledge of self frees one from being a person of over feelings; simply helps in minimizing the impact of low-grade  self-ware and maximizes the benefits from high-grade ‘self-ware’; can create an environment of trust and fairness; and minimizes bad moods and helps to roll along with the changes.
  • Motivation — Helps regulating the self and in turn enables one to achieve beyond expectations; focus shifts to achieving for the sake of achievement; exhibits unflagging energy to perform better; passion grows for the work itself; remains optimistic even when the score is against one, and high motivation can be contagious. 
An earnest practice of these measures aids one to manage relationship with others better 
  •   Empathy — Thoughtfully considering fellow beings’ feelings, along with other factors, in the process of making intelligent decisions, a trait that has incidentally become a most sought-after qualification in today’s organizations in the light of increased use of teams, rapid globalization and the growing need to retain talent.
  •    Social Skills — Enable one to maintain friendliness with a purpose; to find a common ground with people of all kinds; to get the work done through others with ease; and to build networks.  
   When it comes to the nitty-gritty of human relationships, knowing where one is in the world becomes important, for it means discretion, and a sense of proportion—proportion practiced through empathy but not sympathy. It means compassion—being wise enough to know how other people feel, for you know how you would feel if you were in their position. That’s why a poet says that foolish people—people of low grade 'self-ware'—look for inflicting punishment when they get angry, while the wise think about tomorrow, for how one acts now impacts tomorrow.

   So, to have good results in life, know ‘self’ and regulate it with the so acquired wisdom,    and   be guided by what Vivekananda said in one of his addresses: “Arise, Awake! Awake from the hypnotism of weakness. None is really weak; the soul is infinite, omnipotent, and omniscient…Teach yourselves … real nature, call upon the sleeping soul and see how it awakes. Power will come, glory will come, purity will come, and everything that is excellent will come, when this sleeping soul is roused to self-conscious activity.”  So get up … keep marching actively … know the self and make it functional.


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Recent Posts

Recent Posts Widget