Know Thy Self

joejo's picture

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One of the problems for our psychological ills is specialisation which has been one of the reasons for all technological advancement. It seems odd that what has benefited man should any way have contributed to his woes but let us examine.

In matters pertaining to the psyche we presume that specialists would know more and it is not hard to see that this has resulted in the cult of Gurus, Priests or similar organisations who have exploited man. Giving authority to others in matters of our inner well being invariably leads to greater confusion. In the first place we seek these so called specialists when we are in some difficulty which is more often than not caused by our inability to face the challenge or our muddled thinking. That someone else will solve our problem is like outsourcing but the only difference is that it does not work.

Could this be equally applied to the modern breed of specialists called psychologists and psychiatrists? There is no denying that in case of mentally challenged patients modern medicine has provided help. In traditional societies such help was provided equally effectively by medicine men beside the fact that incidence of mental illness may have been less during those times.

However, as far as the exploration of psyche goes the knowledge is far more limited primarily because these sciences have remained handmaiden of mainstream science. Experimental methods are very rudimentary and do not probe the depths of psyche. At least the traditions explored the psyche much more deeply though subjectively. The explorations in modern times have remained tethered to commercial interests for want of supporting capital.

As the famous saying goes to see is to believe. Yet if we think that only specialists can see then there would be no possibility of firsthand experience. One of the myths perpetuated by both the modern specialists and traditional Gurus is that exploration of psyche requires digging out hidden truths. Nothing could be farther from truth. Psyche remains hidden not because of some mystical or technical reason but the simple fact that we avoid seeing the fact. The reason we avoid could be that we are uncomfortable with the facts and so decide to escape not facing them. For example a man may have the habit of shirking work but in order to avoid facing this fact will always come up with a novel excuse.

Each must take the responsibility to set one’s own house in order and start in earnest to know oneself and not postpone it to a time one needs specialist help as a result of crisis. As a start he could set aside various theories that say how difficult it is a focus instead to watch his thought and actions in daily life.