Study Thyself

Powerful Mind Part 17
Created June 30, 2023

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Read Powerful Mind Part 16

“Know Thyself” goes back to the Delphic Oracle Temple in 6th Century B.C. Greece then known as Hellas. The saying is attributed by legend to Apollo and by historians to a group of seven sages of whom the best known is Thales, who postulated that the universe itself contains a natural force that brought about all of existence, and was the first human on record to have predicted the exact timing of an eclipse. Socrates based much of his philosophy on these two words.

In general use at the time, the phrase was interpreted as knowing one’s own capabilities and limits. Plato altered the meaning to knowing one’s own soul. Judeo-Christian philosophers added the meaning of knowing one’s own relationship with The Creator.

In the context of metacognition, in my view, to know oneself means to have undergone the strenuous and time-consuming process of studying oneself as if “one is an observer from the outside, with a means of seeing, feeling and hearing what is going on within oneself,” including what lies below the conscious mind. And with the help of this objective pseudo-outside view, one has successfully edited one’s own thoughts, feelings, and automatic reactions, and thus achieved an inner integrity, a oneness, a simplification and an autonomous focus. When these conditions have been met, I would call such a person, one who knows themself.

Note the mention of “what lies below the conscious mind.” This has become a hairy subject in psychology. The heavy emphasis placed on hewing to the a priori assumption of materialism within the social structures of academic scientists, while any a priori assumption is anathema to the concept of objective science, has caused psychologists as well as all other types of scientists to veer away from language which undermines their social standing within their fields. The words “unconscious” and “subconscious” – which had been the core of the Freudian/Jungian revolution in psychology – are now taboo. Words such as “preconscious” are preferred, but the safest way to discuss the subject is to use the lengthier construction “events that do not reach the threshold of conscious awareness.”

This latter workaround actually has some value in my estimation. It calls attention to the fact that qualia (subjective experiences within the psyche) can succeed or fail to leap over the line into conscious awareness. This is important to the inner explorer because it is a cue to strive to pay sufficient inner attention to become conscious of more of the arising qualia: thus making more of the subconscious, conscious.

One who achieves this degree of self-knowledge will experience moments of inner clarity when a fear or anger reaction starts to subtly arise and one catches and squelches it within less than a second.

In Parts 14, 15, and 16 of Powerful Mind we have reviewed how each of us became substantially unfree, subtly enslaved to imposed views, and we covered the method of close self-analysis, and resolute perseverance in disciplining the mind and becoming an original person.

We leaned heavily on the metaphor of “the robot” to help your inner senses grasp the true relationship between the parts of yourself which have become automatic (the robot) and the essence of who you really are (the real you). One exercise we recommended is to check your level – are you trapped in the robot right now, or are you in the Observer state?

As we look back at the last few posts we see an opportunity to add one further recommendation as to how to know where you are.

If you sense some dilemma you seek to resolve, the likelihood is that you are in the robot. When you are in the Observer state, you are solving problems as they arise and there is no feeling of any dilemma.

One of the main objectives of Powerful Mind is to reduce all of the vast complexity of purifying and mastering one’s mind, to a set of a dozen principles, each of which can be stated in a few words.

The first of these principles, or Keys as we call them, was described in Powerful Mind Parts 10-13, and is:

Doubt your own last thought/feeling.

This is the method that most directly confronts the robot. As we specified in that section, this Key must be applied with balance and perspective to avoid sinking into a robotic Hamlet information analysis paralysis. If you find yourself having lost all confidence in your own intuitions, you will know then that the robot has judoed you and is still running the show. The doubt is meant as a momentary wipe – the “arc” we have spoken of earlier – a distance between the arising of an impulse to believe something specific, and your confirmation of your approval or the denial of your approval of that impulse. If too much time goes by without reaching closure you are being indecisive and need to shut out the world for 20 minutes or so in order to really study the situation and reach your best judgment as to an action plan which can later be improved as you learn more.

The second Key which we have been working on in Powerful Mind Parts 14-17 is:

Study, edit, and reset your automatic reactions.
This is radical new mental strategy #2,
The second simple key to the doorway
Of the upper mind.

 Whereas the first Key is a permanent one, useful at all times, when applied correctly with balance, this second Key is one that is most important for the first year or so of the rest of one’s life, after making the decision to clear out the debris of other people’s influence, and re-evaluating everything from one’s own autonomous, empirically-driven, pragmatic and aesthetic intuitions. After the first year or so, you may see yourself needing to use this Key a bit less often, and that, if it happens, will be a good sign.

Love to all,

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