Mary-Joy C. Duffy The Power of Self-Knowledge COR3000 Education, Self & Community John F. Kennedy University Summer 2011 Of all the readings in the class, the one thread that keeps coming back to me is the importance of self-knowledge. I will be presenting that with self-knowledge, we have the power to heal our bodies, help nullify suffering due to the adversities what we experienced in life and lastly, how self-knowledge can help us communicate effectively.
First, I would like to speak from my own experienced when it comes to self-healing; in the last twenty years of my adult life, I rarely get sick, nor ever remembered being bed ridden because of a flu virus. I might have caught the occasional cold, but nothing too severe. Maybe it is the fact that is motivated by fear of not having enough money to pay my rent and my bills. I have always this innate belief that if I do not pay attention or gave it importance to what ailed me, it would just go away.
I will not totally ignore it, but I will treat it with some medicine, and soon enough it goes to its natural course and simply goes away. Truthfully, I do not like being sick. This simplistic example is the closest one I can give to what Akbar and Daucher are trying to say. Though their approach differs from each other, the results are the same. For Akbar his approach is from a holistic point of view. He talks about a Healer, a spiritual leader who is responsible for the spiritual welfare of his community.
It is Akbar’s motivation to empower American with African roots. These Healers can influence their community into a healing process, so that they will gain their value as a human being and as citizens in this world. Self-knowledge is especially crucial through education, a strong inner value of yourself, understanding the concept of where you came, appreciation of your role in this universe, and the key to it all, is learning to love and respect yourself. Love especially have the creative energy to help uplift those around you, as a consequence, your enuine self will assist you to knowing and in better understanding your own community. This strength of authentic knowledge will have the ability to persuade a “dis-eased” person in the healing process. To Akbar, this self-knowledge is the fundamental rights of all who live in this universe. Daucher on the other hand, he focuses his research on scientific methods. Scientific methods can quantify results that are tangible, while more or less accepted by the majority, since they can be compared to other scientific data.
Under consideration, he exemplified how an Olympic athlete can attain physical prowess just by consistently disciplining the body by way of extraneous physical training. Doesn’t it show that the mind is somehow responsible to such endeavor? This Olympic athlete must have that power to will their mind through sheer determination to do so, which bring us back to the mind-body connection query. There is an advent in Western psychology, especially in the field of neuroscience, where they have conducted a study on contemplative scholars. First, they have to see if they could construct a mind-body connection through scientific methods.
They started with a series of studies with rats, by observing their conditioned response to a conditioned stimulus, which the rats were previously given an anticancer drug-laced sweetened water that induces nausea. Even with the removal of the drugs in the water, the rats still physically reacted as if the water is still laced with it. This anticancer drug is designed to inhibit the immune system, and even without it, the rats died because of the weakening in their immune system. This also proves to the neuroscientist the possibility of the power of how the mind can engage the body to the state it desired.
Therefore, when our mind are clattered with anger, despair, jealousy, judgments, fear of anything, the feeling of loneliness, and compounded with our daily life’s stress, the results are the afflictions to our outer body and to our outer character. How easily we can lash out to fellow humans, by blaming, and sometimes an outcome of something more destructive. Nevertheless, there is always another way to counteract this type of mental state. Neuroscientists have asked contemplatives as test subjects to their research by way of using sophisticated medical machines. The machines provided a quantifiable data on which side of the brain is more evelop for the contemplatives compare to the populace. There are two sides of the brain; the prefrontal right (where negative emotion are trigger) and the prefrontal left (positive emotion), where metabolic rate responses are measured. The neuroscientist discovered that this contemplatives’ prefrontal left-brain are more develop compare to the stress out populace. The secret is the fact that they have mastered the will and power to change their mental states by mind training that focuses on ridding the mind of its damaging and negative emotions, and replacing them with a healthy mental attitudes.
This includes taming the overactive mind, developing mindfulness, promoting the attitude of loving-kindness, and attaining basic insights regarding the workings of the mind. Having the wisdom of who you are in this universe will reflect back on the outer physical body. Self-love and self-knowledge without ego is a fundamental necessity in healing ourselves and through it we have in our power to help others. One can also argue that there are instances and situation in life that is so severe, that developing a healthy mental state as previously expressed, would be more challenging.
How could that help necessitate the traumas of war and famine? However, in “Man’s Search For Meaning”, Viktor Frankl, who was a Holocaust survivor, wrote not only about his experienced in the concentration camp, but has found a way to process the suffering that he had to live through. His book accounts the process of psychological stages that a concentration camp prisoners: a) Shock which is during the first time the prisoners are admitted to the camp b) Apathy, which is when they have become accustomed to the routine in the camp, and all they care about, is their survival and the survival of their friends. ) The time when surviving prisoners were liberated and the reaction of “depersonalization”, where they are disillusion and bitter when they returned to their former lives. Viktor Frankl’s (1992) training as a psychiatrist has allowed him to see suffering as existential extension as being human. He was able to see and develop a way to deal the constant horror in the daily life in prison camp. He was able to look at his experiences in a clear clinical and precise way.
His experienced in suffering have given him the ability to test his inner strength, he never allowed his spirits to be broken despite the humiliating treatment he received from the Nazis and having to witness the daily horror of watching other prisoners get tortured and shot. He had to find the courage to go on surviving because he wanted to write a book about his experiences in the concentration camp, therefore he would be able to contribute “to the psychology of prison life” (p. 20).
There was a moment were the most challenging in his adversities, he was with a group of inmates who were all coming back to the camp after a day of back breaking labor, as they were marched through with the icy wind, stumbling in the dark, over big stones and puddles, as one of the prisoner commented what would their wives say if they see them in that terrible state, Frankl brought an image of his wife, remembering her smile, and remembering the sound of her voice, and “her look was then more luminous than the sun…” he was struck by “…the final wisdom by so many thinkers.
The truth that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire” (p. 48). He understood at that brief moment of loving reflection of his beloved wife, that even in utter desolation, positive emotion has the capacity to bring meaning to his existent. Because of his great love to his wife, he was able to find the deepest meaning of his spiritual being, and that is his inner self. Inner life is no different from self-knowledge, because they are intertwined with one another. If there is inner life, then self-knowledge is also present.
With this knowing, he surmised that suffering is part of the human evolvement part of the struggles to gain a perspective of learning to rise above it. Faith in yourself and becoming resilient to adversities is what shapes us to be an authentic human being. Besides developing our inner and mental states, communication is just as important in the process of self-knowledge. Communication is what makes it possible for us to have friendships, relationtionships, and family closeness. It is the way we can actively express meaningful information.
But when used improperly, it effect is destructive. Especially when it is used for verbal battle, debates, arguments, and according to Tannen (1998), contemporary communication approach is “in an adversarial frame of mind” (p. 572). It has become the norm in our culture to expect verbal battle between two entities. Being right in an argument is something that we have to achieve at every given moment. Tannen pointed out that an emergence of aggressiveness in how we speak to each other. People no longer listen to each other.
There is always an underlining of expected argument when two people are having a discussion. We have become a defensive communicator due to the fact that we do not want to appear unintelligent. Those who can talk the loudest and with most distasteful comments get the approval. Communication can be manipulated to suit a speaker base on what she is trying to achieve. So, where does self-knowledge fit in communicating? Although Tannen’s essay points out the unpleasant side of communication, Roger on the other hand, was able to elucidate how we can communicate effectively, even with an adversary.
He believe that an argument is a way of communing and finding a common ground by putting yourself in the other person place. Listening without any judgment toward the other person will provide an insight to what is really being said. Assumptions are a major barrier in any interpersonal communication. Instead of responding emotionally, it is more effective when we ask for clarification. Not to be dictated by the ego takes courage and self-knowledge. Imagine how well everyone will get alone if we can communicate in such a way where we truly understand each other, and find a solution to an issue that both parties can agree on.
After all, perhaps the greatest difficulty lies not in knowing how to proceed, as that self-knowledge is well known to past and present contemplatives and students of inner development. The problem is the absence of personal and cultural recognition of the importance of inner development, the unavailability of educational initiatives formalizing consciousness-based studies, and the accessibility of qualified teachers and guides who can assist individuals in achieving a healthy and expansive inner life.
We cannot let this opportunity slip away. In some ways, we all seek to recapture this basic sense of well-being. Yet, to accomplish this we mistakenly look outwards. We seek success and achievement, fame and name, relationship and material possessions. We glorify the excesses of ambition and endless striving, the 60-hour workweek and non-stop multi-tasking. This all seems quite normal to us. It is what we learned. It is what our culture offers us, as a so-called remedy, for the loss of our natural self. References
Akbar, N. (n. d). Healing a people. Columbia, MD: Kujichagulia Press Daucher, E. (2006). Conciousness and health. In Education, Self, & Community (Ed. ), Integral health: the path to human flourishing (pp. 15-23): Basic Health Publications Frankl, V. (1992). Man’s search for meaning. Boston, Mass: Beacon Press Rogers, C. (n. d). Dealing with breakdowns in communication-interpersonal and intergroup. In Education, Self, & Community (Ed. ), On becoming a person: a therapist view of psychotheraphy (pp329-337).
Boston, Mass: Houghton Mifflin Company Tannen, D. (1998). Fighting for our lives. In Education, Self, & Community (Ed. ), The argument culture (pp. 572-592): Random House [->0] [->0] – http://api. joliprint. com/api/rest/url/print? url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww. elliottdacher. org%2Fbasic-well-being. html&sv=1. 2. 6&t=1313269452759&btnlabel=%20Printable%20PDF&button=&buttonurl=http%3A%2F%2Fapi. joliprint. com%2Fres%2Fjoliprint%2Fimg%2Fbuttons%2Fdefault%2Fpdf-icone. gif