self-awareness

Self-Awareness in All Beings

“Are we to think that a being knowing itself must contain diversity, that self-knowledge can be affirmed only when some one phase of the self perceives other phases, and that therefore an absolutely simplex entity would be equally incapable of introversion and of self-awareness?

“No. A being that has no parts or phases may have this consciousness; in fact there would be no real self-knowing in an entity presented as knowing itself in virtue of being a compound—some single element in it perceiving other elements—as we may know our own form and entire bodily organism by sense perception: such knowing does not cover the whole field; the knowing element has not had the required cognizance at once of its associates and of itself; this is not the self-knower asked for; it is merely something that knows something else.” ~Plotinus

Self-Knowing

Plotinus is asking a common question that plagues philosophers and other even today. That simple question is this: How do we know ourselves? The typical answer is that we have two “selves”, and one knows the other. Some say it is the soul that is looking at the mind. Others say it is the subconscious mind observing the conscious mind. Either way, it is one part of us looking at another part. Plotinus is saying that if that is correct, then we really don’t know ourselves at all. We know the self that is observed by the “other”, but what of this other that is observing? Is that our true self? Are both the one observing and the one being observed our self? It does get confusing. If one part is always the observer, and the other part, the observed, then only the part that is observed is ever known. That part which observes is never known.

Another theory is that the observer is universal consciousness, while the observed is the individual mind or ego. This theory makes the most sense to me. The universal consciousness would naturally be able to observe the individual, but the individual would not be able to observe the all. It is much like saying God can know us even though we don’t really know much about God.

A Singular Being

Plotinus says that a simple being with a simplex nature can’t have one nature that observes the other. This means, according to most, that such beings cannot have any self-awareness. Plotinus disagrees with this. He says that even a simple creature that doesn’t have those two “selves” that can look at each other, can still be self-aware. Until recently, science denied this.

Science has always said that animals cannot have any self-awareness. They can feel pain, they can react to the world around them, but they are no aware. But in the last few decades, we have learned a lot about animals that is surprising these scientists. In terms of self-awareness, there have been several cases that have shown that animals do have it. At least some of the more advanced ones do.

In one case, an elephant is seen reacting to its reflection in a mirror. We laugh at dogs and cats that do this and think it is another animal they see in the mirror. That, however, is exactly what the scientists expect. An understanding that is is a reflection of themselves implies a degree of understanding what “self” is. You have to have some self-awareness to understand that what is in the mirror is yourself. The elephant that was observed reacted as expected, at first. He thought it was a different animal. But after some experimental movements and gestures, the elephant became aware that the reflection in the mirror copied his movements. It was clear that he soon realized it was himself, and lost interest. That is self-awareness.

Having Fun

While I haven’t heard a scientific opinion on this, it is my personal belief that an animal that clearly likes to have fun must have a certain degree of self-awareness. An animal might find that activity brings it joy, but without awareness, it could not understand that repeating the same activity would have the same result. Yet many examples of animals having fun are available.

In one that amazed many, a crow is seen enjoying sliding on a roof. The crow carries a jar lid to the top of the roof, jumps in it, then slides down. He repeats that activity several times.

 

He is having fun, he is aware of it. This one was also amazing because it demonstrated a crow using a tool: the jar lid. Until recently, using tools was supposed to be one of the things that separated man from animals. Now we are finding examples of animals using tools, do that idea must be rethought as well.

Another popular example shows a dog sliding on a hill. She carries the sled to the top of the hill, jumps on it, and slides down. Repeating the activity several times and is clearly enjoying it. She is aware that the activity is giving her joy. That is self-awareness.

 

In a similar activity with a dog, we see one that is having great fun with a machine that throws a tennis ball. This dog not only chases the mechanically thrown ball, but carries it back, drops it back in the machine, and jumps around in anticipation waiting for the machine to throw it again. This dog is not only reacting with joy to what has happened, but he is also reacting with joy to what he is expecting to happen in the future! That is definitely self-awareness, even if somewhat more limited than human self-awareness.

 

Self-Awareness in Plants

I guess the question that remains now is do plants have any self-awareness? Obviously, plants have a much lower level of consciousness than animals. That would imply that if they do have any self-awareness, it is much less than animals. But I don’t think we can rule it out entirely. Since one theory of self-awareness is that it is the universal consciousness that is observing the individual consciousness, that universal consciousness must be observing plants as well as humans and animals. And there is evidence that such limited self-awareness does exist. Recent studies have shown that when a tree is attacked by plant disease, it sends out a chemical warning to other trees in the area so they can build up their protection and avoid getting the same illness. Now it can be argued that it is simply a reaction by the plant with no actual awareness involved. But we don’t really know for sure. And all life is part of that one Universal Consciousness.

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Divine foreknowledge

Divine Foreknowledge Doesn’t Prevent Free-Will

“Why does a strange discordance break
The ordered scheme’s fair harmony?
Hath god decreed ‘twixt truth and truth
There may such lasting warfare be,
That truths, each severally plain,
We strive to reconcile in vain? …

“Ah! Then why burns man’s restless mind
Truth’s hidden portals to unclose?
Knows he already what he seeks?
Why toil to seek it, if he knows?
Yet, haply if he knoweth not,
Why blindly seek he knows not what? …

“For neither does he know in full,
Nor is he reft of knowledge quite;
But, holding till to what is left,
He gropes in the uncertain light,
And by the part that still survives
To win back all he bravely strives. …

“The movement of human reasoning cannot cope with the simplicity of the Divine foreknowledge; for it is a conception of its nature in any wise be framed, no shadow of uncertainty would remain. … First, I inquire into the reasons why thou are dissatisfied with the solution proposed, which is to the effect that, seeing the fact of foreknowledge is not thought the cause of the necessity of future events, foreknowledge is not to be deemed any hindrance to the freedom of the will.” ~Boethius

Divine Foreknowledge

The concept of Divine Foreknowledge is a simple one. It basically means that God not only knows everything that has happened, and everything that is happening, but also everything that will happen. Most agree that this must be true, or God would not be God, he would not be all-knowing, if He didn’t know the future.

The truth of it is, that much like divinely inspired prophets, God doesn’t see what will happen, but what might happen. The future is full of possibilities. Some of those possibilities are more likely to occur than others. God can see which ones will most likely happen. If it isn’t what He wants to happen, and if it is something important enough, He may intervene to get things back on the right path. Yet, that does not block free will, such as it is.

Hidden Truth

Why should any truth be hidden from man? For the most part, the answer is that we have hidden it from ourselves. Not directly, of course. We would have to have knowledge of the thing before we could hide it, and that would create a paradox. Yet psychologists know that it happens. For example, a person who may have been raped or otherwise harmed as a child may suppress that knowledge. Some hide it so well, that it takes many sessions of treatment to bring it to the surface again.

But in this case, the hidden knowledge Boethius refers to is knowledge that was hidden by our ancestors. When they “fell” from the realms of spirit into the realm of matter, it was difficult on them to remember their origin. It would be like a homeless beggar remembering that he was one the son of a king after that kind was killed and replaced. So they pushed it to the back of their minds and, over time, completely forgot.

Foreknowledge and Free-Will

Most believe that if Divine foreknowledge exists, than free-will cannot exist. While that is somewhat true, it isn’t entirely true. As I already mentioned, with Divine Foreknowledge, God sees possibilities, not exactly what will happen in detail. He may know, for example, that some act needs to be done, and one of five people will do it. He doesn’t know exactly which one until it happens. So that means that those five people still have some free will.

On many unimportant things, God simply pays no attention to them. He doesn’t care which shirt you wear today or what you have or breakfast. Therefore, he has no used forethought to see such things. So you remain free to choose your shirt and breakfast using your own free will. On the other hand, you can’t use free will to stop breathing for two hours. You would die if you did. But if you try, you will likely find that your body won’t let you do it. So free-will does exist despite the existence of Divine Foreknowledge. But free will is limited.

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know yourself

Know Yourself and the Power Within You

“Should you who possess everything not know yourself? If you do not know yourself, you will not enjoy what you own. But know yourself and what you have enjoy. The perfect human can neither be restrained nor seen. If they see him, they can stop him, so there is no way to grace but to put on the perfect light and become perfect. All who put on that garment will enter the kingdom. This is the perfect light. We must become perfect before leaving this world. Who is rich and has not thrown it off will not share in the kingdom but will go as imperfect into the middle. Only Jesus knows where that will end.

“There was a householder who had every possible thing, be it son or slave or cattle or dog or pig or wheat or barley or chaff or grass or castor oil or meat or acorn. He was sensible and knew what each one’s food was. He served children bread and meat. He served slaves castor oil and meal. He threw barley and chaff and grass to the cattle. He threw bones to the dogs, and to pigs he threw acorns and scraps of bread. Compare the student of god. If you are sensible, you understand the nature of learning. Bodily forms will not deceive you, since you will look at the condition of each person’s soul and speak with that form.

“There are many animals on earth in human form. When you identify them, then you throw acorns to swine, barley and chaff and grass to cattle, and bones to the dogs. To slaves you will give only what is preliminary, but to children you give what is complete.” ~Gospel of Philip

Know Yourself

Knowing yourself is important. Most of us, naturally, will insist that we do know ourselves. But they truth is, almost none of us do.

What we think is our self is usually a combination of our own fantasies and the things our parents and friends tell us. Over many years, we build up a self-image that is not who we truly are. One of the purposes of a spiritual awakening is to learn who we truly are.

We can say that our true self is a spirit. The physical body and the brain-mind that runs it is temporary and therefore not our real self. So if what you know of yourself is purely on the physical and mental levels, you don’t know your true self at all. Continue reading “Know Yourself and the Power Within You”

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real treasure

Real Treasure Isn’t Silver or Gold

“The most valuable treasure one may have is the Knowledge, Wisdom , and Love he has. The teacher is for this: to deliver knowledge to the student. The students task in return is to apply it.

“Many blame God why is he not helping them? God helps those who do their best, Help yourself in order for God to help you as well.

“Not to pay what you owe means you have no belief. Later you will pay everything with interest.

“The thought of a man has a transforming power. The good, right, nice thought can transform your desperation into a quiet and pleasant condition. The thought of a man is a magic wand with which you can create miracles.” ~Biensa Douno

Real Treasure

Many things in the material world are considered treasures. Money, gold, luxuries of all sorts. Yet look at those who have such things. Are they better people than the rest of us? Are they more advanced than the rest of us? The answer to both questions is no, they are not.

A real treasure is something that truly benefits us. Real treasure helps us grow spiritually. It isn’t something we lose when we leave the physical world. Knowledge, wisdom, truth, love are real treasures. Continue reading “Real Treasure Isn’t Silver or Gold”

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