The Oldest Injunction In Language

 

‘Know Thyself’: Gnothi Seauton. In the Sanskrit: Atmanam Viddhi. You can find variants of it in every literate culture. The oldest, most ubiquitous injunction in Language.

Self-Inquiry is an absurd idea. I can inquire about any and all things in this great and grand world of ours. Except inquire about me.

Self-Awareness? I can never be aware of that which is aware. I can be aware of anything but the source of my awareness.

Self-Knowledge? I can know about all things in this our magnificent cosmos. But I may never know myself.

Just like a thought chasing Thought, mind chasing Mind, consciousness chasing Consciousness, any Self I can inquire about, be aware of or know, is not me, but a model of ‘Me’. A confounding of ‘Object as Subject’.


Gnothi Seauton. The celebrated words on the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Theodosius razed it to the ground hoping to end all remnants of Paganism. It didn’t work. Oscar Wilde proposed an appealing alternative, a big hit with the New-Age community: ‘Be Thyself’.