On Knowing the Self



In his mystical novel, Demian, Hermann Hesse observes, “…nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself”.  According to a very nice lady who called me this week, it is women, more than men, who do not want to take control of their lives and to know their own minds.

She was calling in response to another article wherein I said that conscious living places one in the driver’s seat of life.  She said the women she knew wanted men to steer, to make the decisions and, essentially, to run their lives for them.  In her view, it’s the men who belong in the driver’s seat.

It came out that she was calling from one of the high-end senior living facilities in our neighborhood and that the women she knows are mostly wealthy widows.  I made the point that I thought things had changed and that younger women and those who don’t have wealthy husbands are more likely to want equal power and to have a strong say in charting their own course and that of their families.

I have to say, though, that I believe Hesse’s words apply just as much to women as to men and that what he said is basically true.  Most people don’t want to know themselves that well.  In fact, they fight self-awareness tooth and claw.  It’s too scary, too uncertain.

Most people don’t have any awareness of the secrets they hold from themselves and the lies they tell themselves everyday.  This doesn’t make me pessimistic.  The course of evolution is relentlessly forward.  We have a long way to go and we stumble more often than not.

Denial may persist but truth will out once we realize how benign it is.  The illusion that we are separate from each other persists and we nourish it in many ways.  But once we have our little egos squared away and feel genuinely good about ourselves comes the answer to all important human questions: more love, more love, more love.




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