Socrates once proclaimed that the unexamined life is not worth living. That is a rather harsh and bold statement, especially if you are someone who doesn't take the time nor the energy to examine their lives. But if this statement hits a nerve for you and you agree with his observation, then the next step is to try and figure out where to begin this examination process.
Plato gives us the definitive starting point when he said, "Know thyself." He wrote in Phaedrus around 370 BC, "I must first know myself, as the Delphian inscription says; to be curious about that which is not my concern, while I am still ignorant of my own self would be ridiculous."
Knowing yourself is a process that requires patience and persistence. Without much deductive thought one might believe that it appropriate to just act, feel, and think in the ways that are comfortable and natural. It is easy to stop right there and call it a day. Fortunately or unfortunately, being human is more than just this simple existence.
There is so much more within us that can be expressed than just our instinctual, animal-like, stimulus-response, organism with preset preferences and desires. In this state we are, as Albert-Laszio Barasi calls us, a dreaming robot on autopilot.
Socrates and Plato wanted us to rise above this unconscious state and head in the direction of our ultimate potentials. For those who want to heed their advice the question becomes, where to begin?
As I was formulating the basis premises of Master the Mystery of Human Nature, one of the most important revelations I had was that the distinctions of the ego and higher self could be wrapped up in one clean and crystal clear salient point. And that is that the ego is all about getting and the higher self is all about giving.
At first glance this might seem rather simplistic and even sophomoric. I can assure you from all that I know, this statement about giving and getting is the most pure, precise and surgically cleaved descriptives at the apex of these two opposing dualities of our human nature.
With this wonderfully simple illustration of the ego and the higher self, we can now begin our self examination from the most appropriate starting place. We are off to see the wizard!
If you ask yourself, am I a taker or a giver in this world, what would you say? Can you be honest or objective? This is one of the most defining questions about who you are when answered honestly and objectively. So, are you a taker? Or are you a giver?
It is so easy to mislead yourself with this question. You can find all sorts of examples of how you give to others, especially your family. But if one is truly intent on being honest about oneself, there has to be a constant observation of one's intentions in all aspects of life. Why is all this so important? Why should we strive for this goal? The main reason is that our life will be much more fulfilled, satisfying, and rewarding. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.
“When you give everything and expect nothing in return, only then
will you be in a position to gain anything. When you love loving, you
give because giving is getting. Giving is a gift unto itself, and when you
realize this you understand that you can’t network if you can’t love.” Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not FOR SALE
The more we can become a gift to the world by our giving, the greater the rewards that will come to us in many mysterious ways. This probably sounds unconvincing to the novice self examiner I am sure. Only through life's lessons will this become apparent. There will be many opportunities for this to be learned given to all of us.
Giving does not mean to hand away all your possessions. Giving is not about being taken advantage of by others who would be willing to stand at your trough and take everything. Giving does not mean that you sacrifice your life for someone else. Giving does not mean that you will not be compensated for your time, energy and efforts.
To be a true giver there has to be an internal knowing that you can get all you want and need in this world if you are intent on helping others to get what they need at the same time.
"The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and
the will to help others."
Our purpose in life is not to take everything we can get by taking advantage of others. The world won't work forever with us all competing with one another in this manner. When taking rules our lives we become like a cancer within an organism that ultimately destroys the host by not working for the greater good. Our egos can be compared to a cancer if taken to the extremes.
Asking oneself the question of being a giver or a taker is really asking whether one is run by their ego or is one influenced by their higher self. Recognizing this distinction and acting upon it is the first step in becoming a conscious being . It is through our egos that our unconsciousness is expressed and it is through our higher self that our consciousness is unveiled. Socrates, I believe, wanted us to examine our lives and see this distinction in order to escape our ego's control.
Rising above our ego's control is the first step in personal growth, spiritual evolvement, or whatever metaphor there is becoming a higher level human being. Volumes have been written about this subject and volumes more could be written. We are still learning about this ego condition we all have but the main outlines are becoming clear.
Overcoming the ego is the road less traveled. One has to travel it for oneself. It is a tough road, I warn you. Proceed with caution!