Words do not have one objective meaning. Each person gives them the meaning that best relates to his point of views, needs, intentions and way of life. Words change meaning according to time and culture. One of these, “modern” and perhaps misunderstood words is “Self-knowledge”.
Psychoanalysis explains “Self-knowledge” as therapy. The psychoanalyst (psychiatrist or psychologist) helps the patient to recall past experiences that are suppressed in the subconscious, in order to discover the cause of his problems. Psychotherapy is interested in the “why”, therefore the main time span it deals with is the past.
Although this process can offer some relief and a few answers, it remains an extremely long, tiring and anti-economic one (not only moneywise but also as far as time and energy are concerned). It is doubtful if this process can alter the overall view one has of life or change a neurotic way of living, by discovering the past cause. Self-analysis and self-therapy cannot be achieved, therefore a dependency-relationship is formed between patient and therapist.
On the other side, in today’s “fast-food” society, which seeks easy solutions and fast results, Self-knowledge has a different meaning. It is called “Coaching”. This is where new trends of “positive thinking” (such as “The Secret”) and New Age gurus fit in. Coaching deals mainly with the future, attempting to change the client’s behavior so that he achieves the goals he desires. This is usually a rapid procedure (one to five sessions), where specific matters and issues are dealt with. The coach suggests behaviors that are more appropriate and indicates what the client should do in practice.
Any results or solutions are skin-deep and temporary. The client learns little about himself although some issues might change for the better, while others remain the same. Again, the person depends on the coach for guidance and answers.
In between these two lines of thought (with their many methods and different schools), there is yet another meaning to Self-knowledge, not so vastly known, nor so much in fashion… and not without reason. It is not a therapy because there is no patient, nor is it recommendation as no one can be an “expert” in someone else’s life. It is tuition and “sessions” are lessons, in which the tutor simultaneously remains a student, in a unique relationship he builds with each of his students. It is a mutual course of learning, discovering, maturing. The objective is to help the student free himself from fear and any limitations as well as guide him to discover his own Inner guidance.
The present is the basic time of interest, in which the past (with its subordinate programming) and the future (as a projection of present decisions) are included in a unique and creative way. The teacher offers the tools that will help the student unveil unknown parts of himself and establish a friendly, mature relationship with himself. These lessons involve “feeling” rather than “thinking”, being rather than having, doing rather than planning and understanding through experience rather than intellectual understanding. It also involves activating the right hemisphere of the brain rather than overloading the already overloaded (with information and theories) left hemisphere.
The central axis of Self-knowledge lessons is self-observation, which the student it taught to do. The person is respected as a whole (body – mind – spirit), as one level affects the others, one subjects relates to others and one issue includes all others. The process includes going from ignorance to recognition, understanding, acceptance and finally choice, which the student has with the “free will” of the conscious Adult.
Self-knowledge lessons are “only” accoutrements that set the basis on which the traveler of life travels the only journey worth taking… the journey towards his Self. The student is free to use the tools given to him or to delay his journey as he wishes and feels safe to do. The teacher’s experience and intuitive knowledge guides him to realize his students’ hidden intentions. A true teacher is not interested in eternal students or followers but helps create free human beings, able to derive the knowledge and wisdom that exists inside them.
It is not like traditional psychotherapy nor is it like coaching. Although the process does combine some characteristics of both, it is a more holistic and substantial path because it does not belong to any system nor does it have theoretical, ideological or cultural boundaries. The solutions, which the student discovers on his own, with the initial help of the teacher, are permanent. Knowledge is acquired through experience, perception becomes spherical rather than limited and action becomes clear and effortless, when a shift in consciousness is accomplished. The only real time that exists is the present.
It is undoubtedly a road with no return, since the limited way of thinking is no longer possible, as consciousness slowly awakens from its “sleep” state. Creative imagination blossoms, creativity, intuition and inspiration are cultivated. There are many benefits and they are continuous, as the student establishes a new relationship with himself, others and the world around him.
At first, this procedure seems difficult, as is everything that is new (and worthwhile), because it threatens the comfortable, familiar, stabilized way of life we have been educated to follow. Yet the gifts are impressive, unique and invaluable. They are experienced once a person makes the decision to experience this path and not merely gather information about it. It is the path to freedom, truth, understanding, compassion, respect and true love.
We are creators of our own reality. As long as we choose to ignore this, by transferring the responsibility of our lives somewhere else or to someone else, we will remain limited, prisoners of our own beliefs as well as the enemies we have assigned as dictators of our life… regardless of the meaning we give to the word Self-knowledge.