Knowing the Self

"But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty." Gospel of Thomas 3

The goal of the spiritual life is to know the Self.  By this I do not mean the transitory self that is influenced  by circumstances of life.  Rather, I believe Jesus is pointing to something else...a knowing of the Divine within.  The Spirit of God within.  Our truest self is that of God.  Using the metaphor of God as Father or Mother, then as children of the Divine we take after the very nature of our Father/Mother.

In sitting in meditation, one observes the coming and going of many thoughts, feelings and impressions.  Who is the observer?  Who is the self?  If you lost your arm in an accident, would you still be yourself?  What about both arms?   Arms and Legs?  Would there still be a you?  Yes!  We are not our body.  We inhabit this body but are so much more.  We are not our transitory thoughts, emotions, fears, or joys or sorrows.  The Observer within us is none less than our true Self, the Divine.

So what is Jesus saying for those who do not come to know the Self?  They live in poverty.  They are swayed by every wind that blows.  Someone pulls out in front of us, and we get angry.  We get a gift and happier for a time.  The Self observes these emotions simply as they are.   Anger, Happiness.   But to not know is like walking in a pitch dark room with no light.  Stumbling here and there.  The beauty of the practice is those moments of illumination where one is able to step back and see from the point of the Self, no longer controlled by the temporal emotions.

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