Inspiring thoughts from the philosophers on Discovering -- Who Am I
The concept of "who am I" has been a central question in many philosophical and spiritual traditions throughout history. In Western philosophy, the concept can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, particularly Socrates who famously declared, "Know thyself." This idea was further developed by philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, who explored the nature of the self and its relation to the external world.
In Eastern philosophy, particularly in Hinduism and Buddhism, the question of "who am I" is central to the concept of self-realization or enlightenment. The Hindu concept of Atman, or the true self, is the ultimate reality that is beyond the limitations of the individual ego or personality. In Buddhism, the concept of Anatta, or non-self, suggests that there is no permanent, unchanging self or soul, but rather a constantly changing, interconnected process of consciousness.
Meditation is a practice that has been used for thousands of years to explore the nature of the self and promote self-awareness. In the Buddhist tradition, meditation is seen as a path to self-realization and the ultimate goal of liberation from suffering. Various forms of meditation, such as mindfulness meditation, concentration meditation, and loving-kindness meditation, are used to cultivate awareness of the present moment, develop mental clarity and emotional balance, and deepen self-understanding.
In contemporary psychology, the concept of the self has been explored through various theories and models, such as the Freudian psychoanalytic model, the humanistic approach, and the cognitive-behavioral model. The study of the self has also been influenced by Eastern philosophical traditions, with the emergence of transpersonal psychology and the integration of mindfulness practices into therapeutic approaches.
Here are some quotes and famous people related to the evolution of the concept of
"who am I" and the practice of meditation:
5th century BCE
"Know thyself." - Socrates
4th century BCE
"The soul takes nothing with her to the next world but her education and her culture. At the beginning of the journey to the next world, one's education and culture can either provide the greatest assistance, or else act as the greatest burden, to the person who has just died." - Plato
3rd century BCE
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
5th century CE
"The self, when it has been clearly seen, is of the nature of Brahman. It is immortal, fearless, and Brahman." - Mandukya Upanishad
6th century CE
"All things are not-self... Seeing this with wisdom, the wise become disenchanted with the unsatisfactoriness of all conditioned existence." - Dhammapada
8th century CE
"Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back." - Buddha