Know Thyself

                                                                                                              Photo: Vivian Maier Collection

​“Know thyself” is the most famous utterance of Priestess Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi. When the old Greeks got overly wrought in the morass of their thoughts clarity was difficult to achieve. Voila`! the Priestess saves the day for she liaised with the Mystery and was damned good at it.

​Pythia spoke the languages of the Goddesses, Gods and mortals of course. Her role was clear: to provide a human voice—a native tongue articulation to better enable the Mystery to capture human attention, engagement and creative self-expression. Though we are absent Pythia’s oracular voice today, the Mystery is still bent on garnering our attentions. As the great Irish poet philosopher John O’Donohue said “The Mystery won’t leave us alone.” Her intent is compliance: Ours. We are to fulfill the promises of our lives for Life requires an exchange. We’re to render our part in our own sovereign ways of course. The Mystery is persistent. But she won’t beg. Ante your part or live the consequences of an unfulfilled existence. Curiously, the majority remains oblivious to her. Nonetheless…

Whether we’re responsive to her Her or not, deep down we know we are well served to acquire self knowledge: part of this is identifying the topographies of ourselves— that ground within us that the forces of the Mystery have crafted and rendered non-negotiable. Sovereign. Inviolate. “Keep your hands off buddy! You won’t talk to me this way!” And get this: we, ourselves, did not choose which parts of us are not to be trespassed, sullied or messed with. We did not choose which lines in the sands of ourselves are not to be crossed. Its a “we were born this way thing”. The forces of the Mystery marked us, as all Life, as sacred.

One of our life tasks is to identify our non-negotiable ground. Then we are to defend these with Grace—and if necessary, with all requisite fierceness—but only this. There is to be no unnecessary force. Do no unnecessary harm. Do not be polite. Do not be rude. Stand in the Grace of your personal power and tend to your sovereign integrity. Its not a good/bad, right/wrong thing. Rather, there are actions and behaviors that are a fit for us and those that are not. Some people are a fit, some not.

Once we’ve identified our inviolate areas—those requiring our relaxed vigilant attention—we become clear on sentiments and actions expressed by others—on areas of our common ground—which, though ungracious, we can let slide. Let go of. Ignore. Drop. Turn the other cheek. For that other person needs in these moments your graciousness. Your kindness. Your generosity. Your compassion.

Typically we are unaware of our non-negotiable terrain. So too we are ignorant of the places where we can be honestly gracious and caring. Too often our non-negotiable aspects enter our awareness as they are being, or just after having been violated. Then, because we’ve been brought up to be nice we say nothing. Its only later, long after the sovereign territories of ourselves have been breached, overrun and occupied—long after being beleaguered and besieged—long after we’ve sheltered ourselves in our ostensible comfort zones which are too small for us—we yet say nothing. For we are inured to the ongoing battering of the rams on our facades.

Worry not. Should we not take well care. For in the Mystery’s largesse She ups Her ante rendering larger and larger breaches until we redeploy our attentions and take necessary action—those of preserving and restoring the vestiges of our shattered integrities.

More in my next post.

What are your non-negotiables?

What internal resources do you need to enforce them?