" Know yourself "the origin, the meaning and the purpose, explained by René Guénon 3/3

vota platon

Without this understanding , no teaching can lead to an efficient result , and teaching that does not awaken in those who received it a personal resonance can not provide any kind of knowledge. This is why Plato said that ” everything that man learns is already in him.” All experiences , all the external things around are indeed an opportunity to help him realize what is in himself . this awakening is what Plato calls anamnesis , which means ” remembrance “.

If this is true for all knowledge, this is even more for a higher and deep knowledge, and when the man advance to this knowledge, all exterior and sensitive resources become increasingly inadequate, until ‘ they finally lose all utility . If they can help to get close to the wisdom to some degree , they are powerless to actually acquire it and it is commonly said in India that the real guru or master is in man himself and not in the outside world , although an exterior help may be useful in the beginning to prepare man to find in himself and by himself what he can not find elsewhere, and particularly what is above the level of rational knowledge . In order to achieve this knowledge ,it s necessary to realize some states which get more deep towards the center , which is symbolized by the heart , where the consciousness of man must be transferred to make him able to reach the real knowledge.

These statements which were realized in the ancient mysteries were degrees in the path of the transposition of the mind to the heart. There was , as we have said , in the temple of Delphi a stone called Omphalos , representing the center of the human being as well as the center of the world , according to the correspondence existing between the macrocosm and the microcosm , which is man, so all what is in man has a direct relation with the macro some . Avicenna said: ” You think you’re nothing and it is in you that the world reside .

” It is curious to note the widespread belief in antiquity that the omphalos was fallen from heaven, and we have an exact idea of the feeling of the Greeks towards the stone that it had some similarity with that we feel towards the sacred black stone of the Kaabah . The similarity between the macrocosm and the microcosm makes that each of them is the image of the other , and the correspondence of elements which compose them shows that man must know himself first in order to know then everything, because in reality , he can find everything in himself .

It is for this reason that some sciences , especially those who were part of the ancient knowledge and are almost ignored by our contemporaries, have a double meaning . By outward appearance, these sciences are related to the macrocosm and can be considered precisely by this point of view . But at the same time they have also a deeper meaning , which refers to the man himself and the interior path through which he can achieve the knowledge in himself , this achievement which is nothing else than his own being. Aristotle said : ” the human being is all what he knows ,” so that where there is true knowledge , not it s appearance or its shadow , knowledge and being are one and same thing. The shadow , according to Plato , is the knowledge we get through the senses and even the rational knowledge which, although higher , gets it s roots from the senses.

As for the real knowledge, it is above the level of reason and its realization, or the realization of the being himself, is similar to the formation of the world , according to the correspondence we talked about above. This double meaning was included in the ancient mysteries , and it was included also in all kinds of teaching which have the same purpose in east . It seems that in the West this teaching also existed during the Middle Ages, although today it has completely disappeared till that most Westerners have no more idea of its nature or even of its existence. According to all what preceded , we see that the path of the real knowledge is not the reason, but the spirit and the whole being, because it is nothing but the realization of this being in all his states , which is the achievement of the knowledge and obtaining of the highest wisdom . In reality, what belongs to the soul, and even to the mind is only the degrees in the path towards the inner essence that is the true self , and which can be found only when the being has reached his own center , so that all his puissance are united and concentrated at a single point , in which all things appear to him , as contained in this point as their first and only principle , and so he can know everything in himself and by himself as the total existence in the unity of its own essence.

It is easy to see how this is far from the modern psychology , and it goes even further than a truer and deeper knowledge of the soul , which can only be the first step in this path. It is important to note that the meaning of the word NAFS should not be restricted to the soul, for this word is found in the Arabic translation of the sentence studied while its Greek equivalent which is ” psyche “does not appear in the original sentence. Therefore we should not attribute to this word the current sense, because it certainly has another much higher meaning which make it comparable to the word essence which refers to the self or to the real being , we have a proof for what is said in the Hadith , which is as a complement to the Greek phrase: ” who knows himself , knows his Lord . ” When man knows himself in his deep essence , in the center of his being, then he knows his Lord . And by knowing his Lord , he knows at the same time everything that come from and return to Him . He knows everything in the supreme unity of the divine Principle , out of which , according to the word of Mohyiddin ibn Arabi : ” There is absolutely nothing that exists ,” because nothing can be out of the Infinite.


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