The Importance of Knowing Thy Self
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2003-04-13
Finding our spiritual identity, "Knowing Thy Self," is not a concept at the forefront of the world's mind. With knowledge so readily available, people fill themselves up with knowledge about so many things, things largely external to themselves. The pursuit of knowledge is wonderful and important, but is often done to the exclusion of knowing ourselves. This is why we have religion as a balancing force; Hinduism reminds us to "Know Thy Self."
These days knowledge is so readily available. If you want to know about anything you search on Google and you find out about it. There is a mass of knowledge that is so available and so fascinating.
A good example of knowledge is, we saw on television the other night, the doctors were saying, "More than half my patients come in having diagnosed themselves and tell me what is wrong with them. They don't tell the symptoms, they tell the disease. "I am suffering from this disease, cure me". It used to be you would come in and say my hand hurts, my head hurts but these days there is so much knowledge out there that people will look up the symptoms on the web and figure out what is wrong with themselves. At least, they think they do."
They go in and tell the doctor, "I am suffering from this disease. Please cure me."
Why do I say that? Well, it shows how much knowledge there is and how we fill ourselves up with all this knowledge. Which is okay, but sometimes it is to the exclusion of knowing ourselves. "Know Thy Self," one of Yogaswami's mahavakayams - Thannai Ari. "My Guru made me to know myself." Engal gurunathan, the first line.
Sometimes in these days, it is so easy and education reinforces it. We are spending all our time learning about what is outside of ourselves. We are learning about knowledge and it is so ramified, it takes up the whole day. We know about everything. We know about health. We know about astronomy. We know about politics. We know about economics. We know about investments. We know about all kinds of things but we don't know about ourself. Because, no one is encouraging that. They don't encourage that in school. They don't encourage that on television. They don't encourage that in movies. If they are encouraging learning, they are encouraging learning about something external to yourself.
That is where religion is a balancing force. That is where Hinduism gives us wonderful direction, it reminds us "Know Thy Self." Look within and find our spiritual identity, find our soul. Look within the soul and find God. So that is knowing our Self, knowing our spiritual identity.
As Gurudeva says so beautifully and one of the reasons he was loved by so many, "You are a spiritual being, live a spiritual life." He just exuded that sense. People that were open to him felt that, "Here is a man that looks at himself as a spiritual being and just by his mere presence encourages me to be the same."
Isn't that wonderful? A really unique quality. So many people on the island here have shrines to Gurudeva. You know, they are Catholics, most of them but they come in and tell you about their Guru shrine. "I have a picture of Gurudeva here in my home and everyday I stop at the picture and share my life with Gurudeva." ... and so forth. It shows how much he touched them. And why? Because of his quality of being a spiritual being and encouraging them to be one and encouraging them to do their best and so forth ...
It is part of a new cult on the island, the Gurudeva cult! Very nice, very wholesome because it is encouraging them and they are finding strength to be of more service in many instances. They looked at Gurudeva as an example of someone who was really selfless and loved to help other people. So they find strength in their own life to do more service to others through their ties with Gurudeva.
So, we are going to have a wonderful week together, culminating in our Mahasivaratri evening.
Have a wonderful day. Aum Namah Sivaya!