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
"The self is not something that one finds. It is something one creates." - Thomas Szasz
1960s: "The only way to change the world is to change yourself." - Ram Dass
21st century: "Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t)." - James Baraz
Alan Watts - "We do not 'come into' this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree."
Jiddu Krishnamurti - "The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed."
Eckhart Tolle - "The most important journey you can take is the journey within. This is a journey to the truth of who you really are."
Rumi - "You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop."
Deepak Chopra - "The self is not just a personality or an ego; it is a field of consciousness that permeates all things."
Bruce Lee - "The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering."
Jack Kerouac - "The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."
Maya Angelou - "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Virginia Woolf - "I am rooted, but I flow."
Frida Kahlo - "I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best."
Simone de Beauvoir - "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman."
Anais Nin - "I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me."
Albert Camus - "I rebel, therefore I exist."
James Baldwin - "The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated."
Gloria Steinem - "The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off."
Carl Jung - "Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes."