June 19

When you try to understand everything,
you will not understand anything. 
The best way is to understand yourself,
and then you will understand everything.

Shunryu Suzuki


Today's Meditation:

How little we tend to value ourselves!  How often we think that others are smarter than we are, know more than we do, are more capable than we are, are able to deal with adversity better than we are.  I think that this tendency comes from the ways that we look at our own ignorance--we're all ignorant of almost everything in this world except our tiny field of personal knowledge, yet somehow we think that others understand better than we do.

But what if we do what Shunryu suggests, and we come to understand ourselves?  What if we truly try to figure out our motivations, our desires, the ways that we act in relationships?  What if we learn the truth about why we're so defensive sometimes (just what is our fear?), or why we have a hard time letting go of control in certain situations (just what need are we trying to fulfill?).  When we can understand these things, we can understand other people, also, for we're all quite similar, when all is said and done.

When I can understand my own fears, I can recognize when another person is afraid, and perhaps help that person.  When I understand that I have a need to make myself look good to other people, I can recognize that trait in others, and perhaps even work away from it myself.  When I understand my own prejudices and judgmental tendencies, I can become more tolerant of those of other people when I understand them better--and maybe I can even help them to work through their prejudices and biases.

This world is huge, and when we try to understand too many things that we see as fragmented and separate, we become overwhelmed.  We know the truth about ourselves, though, whether we admit that truth or not.  And when we come to grips with those truths and understand ourselves more clearly, we can finally give ourselves a chance to understand everything about the world that exists in perfect unity, for we'll finally see ourselves as being connected to the whole clearly and completely.

Questions to consider:

Why do we tend to want to understand everything? 

How hard does it get sometimes to see what truly matters and what seems to matter, but really doesn't?  Why do we have this difficulty?

Do you know yourself?  Do you admit to yourself what you know about yourself?

For further thought:

Each heart is a world.--
You find all within yourself that you find without.--
To know yourself you have only to set down a true statement
of these that ever loved or hated you.

Johann Kasper Lavater

More quotations on self.


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