We will take up the the spiritual discipline of Self-Study in our discussion group now. It is often paired with Meditation as being one of the cornerstones of the life of a disciple.   What is self-study?   How do we do it?  Why is it important?  What are thoughtful innovations in self-study that we can share with each other.

Here is a passage from Light on the Path to stir contemplation:

"Each man is to himself absolutely the way, the truth, and the life. But he is only so when he grasps his whole individuality firmly, and, by the force of his awakened spiritual will, recognizes this individuality as not himself, but that thing which he has with pain created for his own use, and by means of which he purposes, as his growth slowly develops his intelligence, to reach to the life beyond individuality."

On the Universal Theosophy site there is a section in the Climbers Guide concerning Self-study with two additional quotations from the Gita and the Voice that might be of interest too.

What other helpful resources on the topic can you point to that we can share on the UT site?

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Why does the Voice of the Silence say that "Great Sifter" is the name of the Heart Doctrine?

It's a beautiful statement.  Would it be helpful if you gave us the passage in the Voice of the Silence, where this is mentioned?

Sure:  Page 30

"Great Sifter" is the name of the "Heart Doctrine", O Disciple.

Thanks.  I was thinking of something a little larger to give it some context, so here goes:

"Great Sifter" is the name of the "Heart Doctrine," O disciple.

The wheel of the good Law moves swiftly on. It grinds by night and day. The worthless husks it drives from out the golden grain, the refuse from the flour. The hand of Karma guides the wheel; the revolutions mark the beatings of the Karmic heart.

True knowledge is the flour, false learning is the husk. If thou would'st eat the bread of Wisdom, thy flour thou hast to knead with Amrita's* clear waters. But if thou kneadest husks with Maya's dew, thou canst create but food for the black doves of death, the birds of birth, decay and sorrow.

(VOS 27-28 original ed.)

Would anyone venture to draw connections between these passages in the Voice and the idea of Self-Study?

Well, we would need to examine just what is meant by the term "Heart Doctrine" as also the term "Karmic Heart" to get a fuller picture of what is asked of us in these passages.  But perhaps a simple starting place in drawing connections between these passages and Self-Study is in examining our motives - 'which of our motives constitute the wheat and which the husks?'

How does meditation and self-study work together in the discipline of the spiritual aspirant?

Tell me the Brahman which is visible, not invisible, the atman who is within all?

This, thy Self who is within all. . . . He who breathes in the up-breathing, he is thy Self and within all. He who breathes in the down-breathing, he is thy Self and within all. He who breathes in the on-breathing, he is thy Self and within all. This is thy Self who is within all.

~Brihadaranyaka Upanishad(1) 

"Know thyself" is a universal teaching that has been taught amongst many cultures since Plato's time. It has been a grounding base into the abyss of the Self.  There in the deep  waters of thought one fights obstacle of rambling and chaotic thought's. Because this stage is mundane there is a great chance for one to easily retreat back to the exterior aspects of the self.  It is Here that the disciple begins to train for  a thought culture that is subtle.

The disciple has to be dedicated, persistent, consistent, and most of all courageous in their endeavors while treading in known but yet foreign territories of the Self. The fundamental application needed  at this stage is a proper breathing technique to kill out the thought chatter. Focusing on the flow of the breath while listening to its pattern will build up the thought of silence for those who want to progress enough by their strength of Will power.

Meditation is an  instrument cultivated through the microcosmic and steady application  of  "self-study" (or "Swahdyaya") by practicing self discipline from within aiming at an outward "self-transformation" towards enlightenment as the ultimate target. However, to reach that goal much work is needed. Here we shall look in the depth of the heart for guidance and courage to lead us towards the set goal. 

To be the light of someone else's life, we must first become the light within our own life. First, to become the shining light-life in another persons life, One can only hope that this life shifting experience will be contagious like wild fire and inspire others to ignite their inner lamp and shine out forth universally as one by Will, Heart, and Mind as living truth in the shade of light of the eternal "Universal-Soul". 

Here is the Voice of the Silence quotation found on the Universal Theosophy Site under the Climber's Guide: ON Self-Study:

"Saith the Great Law: “In order to become the KNOWER of ALL SELF, thou hast first of SELF to be the knower”. To reach the knowledge of that SELF, thou hast to give up Self to Non-Self, Being to Non-Being, and then thou canst repose between the wings of the GREAT BIRD.  Aye, sweet is rest between the wings of that which is not born, nor dies, but is the AUM throughout the eternal ages."

Are we able to draw distinctions between what we would consider "self-study" and what we would consider just regular ol' study? When I'm studying mathematics, or English literature, or psychology, am I studying the self, or is there some specific approach required for it to be considered self-study?

Secondly, can we make distinctions between self-study and Self-study, or again between Self study and SELF study? What marks the difference, say, between a study of the personality-self and the study of the Higher Self?

I have been hearing that to study the SELF is to meditate on the All in All, the AUM the Universal All, the ATMAN etc. We can only know this experience as it is given to us.

Regular old study to me - mathematics - a joy to get the answer right; a knowledge that some mathematics outstrips physical reality - "God" must be a mathematician!

English Literature: The beauty of man's creativity - a tiny mirror of That Creative Force

Psychology: mapping the lower mind :-) (Sorry if I offend Psychologists)

To study the self... one must look at one's own behaviour and actions.

Some groups examine motivation (the all important key)of the self by looking at what one is thinking/saying, and examining "To what end am I saying/doing/thinking this? What result am I looking for? so even beyond meditation, they are observing themselves.

Gerry, you bring up some interesting questions :)

'What is Self study?' In the context of your initial comments above, this appears to be another way of asking - 'who or what am I'? In relation to that question, there is another one - 'what is the Heart Doctrine?'

I'll take a stab..

In order to find out who we are in truth, perhaps we must have the ability to access the qualities held by the 'heart'. By heart, it could be meant the 'Buddhic' knowledge, as compared with other knowledge (ie. Manas). It could even be said that without the knowlege of 'ourselves' as understood by the Buddhic principle in ourselves, the knowledge obtained otherwise isn't knowledge at all, but simply projection of the lower principles. In other words, Buddhi could be said to be the Great Sifter of what is real.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 7, 2013 at 11:20am

You make good points here but my question was going in a different direction.  Meditation, you might say, is a process in which a human being transcends the "man in the world" and seeks to take the position of the immortal soul.  So think transcendence.  Self-Study on the other hand has everything to do with the "man in the world" because it has to do with measuring the choices and actions and thoughts of the personal consciousness against universal principles (the realm of the immortal soul). By "studying" the gap between the two we can discover what it is that is blocking our higher nature from flowing through our lower nature.  Hence the need to do both, transcend the personalty, purify the personality.  If one of these two processes are left out it leads to trouble.  Space cadet on the one hand and obsessive self-consciousness on the other.    So the question then becomes what is the best way to study the lower self and what is going on with it?

Permalink Reply by Peter on October 7, 2013 at 12:32pm

The term 'meditation' covers a large variety of practices, some which are aimed at experiencing transcendental states, some aimed at insight, some having a purificatory aim, some aimed at strengthening one pointedness & so on.   So, it's not necessarily a different process to 'self-study', depending on the type of practice.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 7, 2013 at 1:13pm

Yes I see your point, self-study could be seen as a form of meditation of sorts.  So if it makes it easier you could say that self-transcendence and self-study (introspection of one's life) are two different practices that have mutual benefit when done by the same student.  The point here is not to define meditation or limit it. We are investigating Self-study of in this case.

Permalink Reply by Catherine Austin on December 3, 2013 at 8:07pm

Ha Ha! Space Cadet and Obsessive self consciousness - you have just defined my behaviour -hee hee.  It has done me a lot of  good to read that!!

Are the Universal Principles, virtues? like Love,joy,peace patience, mercy, kindness...? or something else? I have a blank here.

What is meant by studying the "gap between the two" ? 

Permalink Reply by Don Petros on October 7, 2013 at 2:12pm
Gerry,
Thanks, I see your point now. Meditation is the term you would use for what I was trying to say. I agree with you that one good way to know oneself is to balance ourselves; meditate some, study some. That way, we exercise different faculties; Buddhi and Manas (if we can be so finite in our discussion).

Studying and contemplating upon textual materials seems to be neccessary. Perhaps the process of reading, studying, comparing (Manas) can be done simultaneously with the Buddhic principle? When I remember to try, I try to have these principles work in concert, and sometimes it appears that they do in fact work together when that is kept in mind. Other times, not so. When they're kept together, the information on the page seems to take on greater meaning and have greater impact upon my thinking and actions.
Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 7, 2013 at 2:32pm

Buddhi and Manas, excellent correlation with Meditation and Self-Study, thank you for that.

I wonder if you could say that the life of studentship (preparation for discipleship) has at least three pillars..

1. Meditation 2. Practice and Evaluation of the practice (Self-Study)  3. Contemplation of the Teachings

What do you think? Anyone?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 7, 2013 at 2:15pm

Pythagoras on Self-Study

From Hieros Logos:  The Golden Verses of Pythagoras

"Never suffer sleep to close thy eyelids after going to bed, till thou hast thrice reviewed all thy actions of the day: Wherein  have I done amiss? What have I done? What have I omitted that I ought to have done?

If in this examination thou find that thou hast done amiss, reprimand thyself severely for it: and if thou hast done any good, rejoice.

Practice thoroughly all these things; meditate on them well; thou oughtest to love them with all they heart. It is they that will put thee in the way of Divine Virtue."

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 7, 2013 at 2:18pm

Socrates on Self-Study

"The unexamined life is not worth living."

From Plato's Apology

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 21, 2013 at 2:58pm

In what manner should we examine our lives, to take up Socrates advice?

Permalink Reply by Jacques on October 21, 2013 at 5:44pm

Not too seriously, with gentleness. And mostly without judgment. Otherwise, we fall back in a struggle which is energy-consuming and stress-generation. There are so many "perfection" models in all the traditions that the usual way is for the ego to fight for it for his own benefit. If there is something important to examine, something key, it is the ego behavior. He is very smart in adopting and impersonating all situations. Ramana Maharshi use to answer to most of the questions raised to him : "who is asking the question ?". So, mindfullness is a must, together with loving kindness toward life. 

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on October 21, 2013 at 7:32pm

Well said, Jacques. To me self-examination is most productive when it is done (to quote a friend) "with sincerity, not seriousness". The examination needs to be one where the higher in us is observing the lower in us, not one in which the lower is constantly observing itself in a mirror, and then doing battle with the image it sees.

Like you say, mindfulness. I usually say "with restful awareness", where the goal is self-knowledge.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 14, 2013 at 2:23pm

Is the attempt to live an ethical life possible without Self-Study?  Don't we need to measure our lives and actions and thoughts against the universal principles that theosophy points to? Is that not a big part of self-study?

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on October 21, 2013 at 7:56pm

I suppose we need to ask: how do ethics relate to self? before we can really find answers to your questions.

To my mind, all ethics are ultimately arrived at through self-study. For instance, the human mind comes to a view of how one ought to treat others by observing how the way they are treated effects them. Without the ability to self-reflect, the ethical injunction of the golden rule would not be possible.

On a grander scale, it seems to me that self-reflection leads to ethics because the SELF is essentially ONE, so as one self-reflects one is automatically faced with the fact of interconnectedness, and from this arise ethics. For instance, a child learns through experience that they are connected to the outer world by their senses, so that they are impacted by it (i.e. outer things can cause pain, pleasure, etc.). As the child matures, they begin to understand that all others experience this as well, and thus we end up inevitably seeing the need for ethics. Even if all this happens rather unconsciously or subconsciously, the basis of ethics is laid down, but automatic self-reflection.

This is where I see real self-study coming in. Through self-initiated, and fully-conscious self-study we begin to explore, appreciate and understand ethics, consciously. Then we can begin to embody them.

So I think a lot happens somewhat automatically, but there comes a point where real self-study needs to enter the picture, to bring us to a higher appreciation of ethics.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 22, 2013 at 11:55am

Jon, your philosophical comments are both interesting and helpful.  But what I was getting at was a little simpler than this and I don't want to over-think it.  Each one of us is living an individual life and we interact and hold relationships with each other.  Independent of our internal associations and conceptions of Self these relationships are still in play. It is part and parcel of being in the world.  If we hold ourselves to certain standards of conduct in relation to others, which is another way of saying living an ethical life, can we really do it if we don't reflect back on how well we are holding up to those standards and asking ourselves why we find things that block us from doing what we know is right.

Permalink Reply by Jacques on October 22, 2013 at 12:22pm

Self-study is (my experience) a multi-steps process. We all go through it, from birth to death. And it is magic ! The child is first wide-open (senses-wise) without any mental hindrances, and he grasp all sensasorial inputs and build his "experiences data-base" which will create a first layer of action-reaction mechanisms. Of course, we do not forget that he came with a background of previous experiences which may give some directions to his/her behaviors. It gives some Mozart and non-Mozart types. Then mental takes gradually over (from 7 years old) and will format a different way of behaving. Here also, the environment in which he/she will grow-up will play a great role in the formatting (theosophist or judeo-christian or muslim or whatsoever family type and country). But the mechanism is the same. The mental process is taking shape around the personality (the sense of the I). Karma (or the database of all previous experience stored in alaya-vijnana) is a key factor in influencing the development. It seems obvious (to me at least) that we keep building on the past experiences. Depending of the "stage" we are into in this life, we keep developing the mental activity, centered around the ego and for his benefit, until...we realized that we are in a magnificent jail, surrounded by golden walls, and that we are suffocating, or that the divine inside us is suffocating. This is a necessary step to go beyond, because the jail walls are so attractive, so pleasing, that we don't really want to step outside. From there, when there is a firm dedication, not a mere wish, to get out of the jail, we enter the process (the path), and slowly, we try to breath another air. But it is not so simple and straight forward. Because the ego does not want to relinquish his properties, and because he is so smart that he grabs the new  tentative and transform it for his benefit. And this process will be repeated times and times before the walls start to crack open. At this step, the requirement is what most of the great traditions have recommended : quit from your selfish attitude, get rid of your desires (or better be convinced that they are one cause of our difficulties as long as we keep acting when triggered by desire). It is a long road.

So, back to the subject, ethics is part of the journey, provided we do not use it for our own sake (again). The mystics have expressed it beautifully (see St Jean de la Croix in his Montée du Mont Carmel). This type of ethics is much more than mundane ethics. It is a zero-tolerance for selfishness. This step in the learning curve is a real battlefield like the Arjuna's one. And we may be alone. In fact, we are almost always alone when it comes to take decisions in front of any crossroads. Even if we cannot ever be alone, as long as the ego is running the car, it may looks like if we are. The inner voice is our guide, provided we stop the noise which cover her voice.

Self-study is the necessary process to reach the understanding of our current situation. Ethics is one of the arrows, humility and devotion to the service for the others are other ones.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 22, 2013 at 11:57am

Do other students find it true that the lower mind or personal consciousness resists mightily the process of reviewing and weighing it own behavior?  What I am hearing constantly is, "its cool, everything is fine, don't bother".

Permalink Reply by Ryan Hauck on October 22, 2013 at 12:25pm

This lower self could also be described as the "Local Self" to use a term from Conscious Evolution. Local in the sense of pertaining only to the mayavic habits and beliefs of the present incarnation. 

Any inquiry into the Universal Self, or reincarnating Ego threatens the structure of the Local Self, stretching its limits. I believe this generates the friction or inner conflict.

Aum

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 22, 2013 at 2:29pm

I like the local self concept.  Another conceptualization that has helped me is "Man in the World". There is part of us in the world, but like a iceberg most of us is hidden or outside the world.  We can experience this through contemplation/meditation.  A person can erase, so to speak, their personsa through negation.  I am not my body, I am not my desires, I am not my personal history etc. etc. We can shelve all that.  Then the mind is free to think about anything universal or deeper.  By doing this we realize there is consciousness behind and beyond the "man in the world."  And this critical distance is necessary for self-study.  We can objectify the "man in the world" and thereby look more honestly at what is going on with it and how it is blocking the Light.Most of the time the lower man, lower mind, is engaged in "heavy editing". It is the "oh everything is fine" syndrome.  Everything cannot be fine because we are not enlightened!

Permalink Reply by Ryan Hauck on October 22, 2013 at 4:59pm

Exactly! I am actually working on a paper that outlines all this in great deal, look forward to sharing it with you. Here iss a little something to chew on....

AWARENESS - INTELLIGENCE - ENGAGEMENT

Aum

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on October 22, 2013 at 5:53pm

I'd be interested in reading your paper when you're done. There's a blog feature on the site you can use to post it if you like.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 22, 2013 at 11:20pm

In the mean time, let us hear your thoughts in brief on the subject of self-study.

Permalink Reply by Ryan Hauck on October 23, 2013 at 1:56pm

Most recently,I've been following the teachings of Advaita Vedanta, enjoying the videos of Mooji and Satsang. 

The last few years have been solely focused on developing SelfnAwareness through inquiry. The processhas been steady, difficult at times when big awareness breaks through.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 23, 2013 at 3:11pm

In a nut shell how would you describe the Advaita Vedanta approach to self-study?  Better yet how would you approach it?  Anyone in the study group approach it?

Permalink Reply by Jacques on October 23, 2013 at 4:29pm

The nut shell may need some more space to contain even a condensate of it. Let's give a try.

Two weeks ago, I went thru a silent retreat which theme was the Vivekashudamani, Shankaracharya text , which meaning is « The Crest Jewel of Discrimination ». It is quite a global, applied methodology (a sadhana) with detailed and concrete steps for the student of Advaita Vedanta.

A version of this text, edited by Swami Madhavananda in 1921 is available here.

Verses 18 thru 27 gives the core of the teachings :

The 4 means of attainment, to be practised with Devotion :

  • viveka - Discrimination between the Real and the unreal

  • vairàgya – Renunciation, desire to give up all transitory enjoyment

  • 6 attributes to be gained (sama, dama, uparati, titikshâ, sraddha, samâdhàna)

  • mumukshutâ - Yearning for Liberation.

The 6 attributes to be gained :

  • sama – Resting of the mind steadfastly on its Goal after having detached itself from the manifold of sense-objects)

  • dama – Self-control;turning both kinds of sense-organs away from sense-objects

  • uparati – Self-withdrawal ; the mind-function ceasing to act by means of external objects

  • titikshâ – Forbearance ; the bearing of all afflictions withour caring to redress them, being free from anxiety or lament on their score

  • sraddhà – Faith ; acceptance by firm judgment of the mind as true of what the Scriptures and the Guru instruct

  • samâdhàna – Self-settledness ; not the mere indulgence of thought (in curiosity) but constant concentration of the intellect on the ever-pure Brahman.

Of course, it is the path, like many other ones, and we found most of the usual steps described in other traditions. No other explanations or guidances are to be found in this text. The practice is to be carried on under the guidance of an experimented (realized) master. Each step may require a complete life to achieve.

It is the path of the warrior.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 24, 2013 at 12:45am

OK, thank you for that.  Let me offer a challenge to you.  Please state in a couple of sentences, in your own words, the relationship to self-study?

Permalink Reply by Jacques on October 24, 2013 at 2:22am
  • A goal : understanding reality through our relationship capabilities with the world, to alleviate suffering
  • A path : Advaita-Vedanta as one of many paths
  • A process : concrete subjects to work on (4 means, 6 attributes)

Self-study is not a mind-game. It is a life-time human quest on the path of evolution.

Permalink Reply by Ryan Hauck on October 23, 2013 at 4:58pm

In a but shell, minus any jargon... The goal of Vedanta would be to determine Who Am I.

Following the process of You are not whatis being observed, you are the Awareness. 

And a short quote that helps center the mind...

"That which you are lookinfor... is that which is looking.."

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 24, 2013 at 12:46am

Grimm;   what is the role of self-study in the pursuit of the Who Am I question?

Permalink Reply by Peter on October 24, 2013 at 12:42pm

Just to add something further to Jacques' and Grimm's good thoughts:

The goal of Advaita is Realisation of the Self.  Self-inquiry (atma-vichara) in the form of "Who am I?" is one of the methods.  It is sometimes referred to as the Direct Path, partly because it does not depend on study of the sutras and partly because it dives straight into the nature of the subject, i.e. awareness itself.  Sri Ramana Maharshi and his teaching is regarded by many as the finest exemplar of this method and the Maharshi is regarded as one of India's greatest Sages. 

The traditional method of Advaita is study of the sutras and their commentaries along with meditative practices etc.  Various teaching texts are used (e.g. Tattva-Bodhi by Sankaracharya, Viveka-chudamani) while the three main works underpinning the tradition are The Upanishads, The Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras.  Every aspect of that particular path is concerned with 'self study' or prepares one for it.  The aim of the study of advaita is not to acquire knowledge but to remove ignorance of our true nature.   Once the ignorance is removed the Self is realised as ever shining.  The analogy being that of the clouds and the Sun.  Nothing is required to make the sun shine. It is always there, present in all its glory.  The clouds which mask it simply need to disperse.

In Plato's "First Alcibiades" Socrates takes his friend Alcibiades to task for both being ignorant and not knowing he is ignorant.  His whole aim is to help Alcibiades realises that unless he knows what his true nature is he will never know what is good for himself or for others. Once again we see that a primary role in self study is to remove ignorance of our true nature and the realisation of what that true nature has been all along.

Permalink Reply by Ryan Hauck on October 25, 2013 at 8:27am

First, I'd like to apologize for my grammatically and coherently 'weak' responses. I am limited to a 7inch tablet for internet use and its difficult (and frustrating) typing on it. I've got a PC in my grasps now, so I will use this to my advantage.

My thoughts on Self Study are as follows;

Most sciences (hard and soft) have always overlooked an intrinsic element in their experimentation and study. They seem to have left out the Subjective Observer. I have found that All Study of life is truly just Self Study, because what we perceive (on any plane) is interpreted, decoded, put-together, by our Awareness and Intelligence.

Its why whenever we come upon a discovery that we declare it as true. We do so because we seek to find truth, and find it where we look. Why? Simply because WE ARE THE TRUTH.

So I feel that direct study of the self (Advaita Vedanta) through inquiry is the most important path to embark upon. As quoted by Papaji..

"If a man were to study all knowledge and learn the secrets of the universe WITHOUT first knowing the True Self, then all knowledge amasses to nothing more then learned ignorance..."  

With that being said, I have found my journey towards Theosophy to be an amazing journey of self discovery. When I first became aware of it, I was not ready (intellectually or spiritually) for the powerful esoteric knowledge it holds. A decade later, and after constant and deep inner reflection and study, I feel I am ready to embark on this "Great Work" with all of you.

Aum

Permalink Reply by Don Petros on October 24, 2013 at 1:16pm
Yes, indeed the lower mind resists reviewing it's behavior.

Maybe it goes like this.. We're composite, conflicted beings. Mind is influenced by the 'animal' (Kama) aspect which fires the desire to satisfy the senses. Mind is also influenced by the 'god' (Buddhic) aspect of our being which, upon reflection of it's desires, sees the selfishness that it causes and decides it should review and weigh it's behavior. Resistance, or conflict ensues. This is the very stuff of our life - shall we rise or fall?
Permalink Reply by Don Petros on October 24, 2013 at 1:16pm
Yes, indeed the lower mind resists reviewing it's behavior.

Maybe it goes like this.. We're composite, conflicted beings. Mind is influenced by the 'animal' (Kama) aspect which fires the desire to satisfy the senses. Mind is also influenced by the 'god' (Buddhic) aspect of our being which, upon reflection of it's desires, sees the selfishness that it causes and decides it should review and weigh it's behavior. Resistance, or conflict ensues. This is the very stuff of our life - shall we rise or fall?
Permalink Reply by Don Petros on October 24, 2013 at 1:29pm
Gerry asks "Is the attempt to live an ethical life possible without Self-Study? Don't we need to measure our lives and actions and thoughts against the universal principles that theosophy points to? Is that not a big part of self-study?"

I've been thinking about this. I think yes, one can. I think that real 'ethics' are a derivitive of the universal, the eternal, of Nature. I think that living an 'ethical' life, following the 'golden rule', or however you describe living in a compassionate, 'brotherly' way, is something that one either knows to do or not, based upon one's inner, not outer, knowledge of what is universal or Natural. The Golden Rule is incribed on our hearts.
Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 28, 2013 at 12:48pm

We are "self" conscious.  Meaning we can look at ourselves in all our various manifestations.  Self-study only elaborates the idea into a practice with barometers.  Any general would review the battle to learn from it.  Any coach would look at the tapes of the game to find out how to improve.  Any businessman would evaluate the past year for clues on how to build the business. This is what we are talking about applied to the ethical life. This is what is so difficult to do because the lower mind wants to edit out the painful and embarrassing parts.

Permalink Reply by Peter on October 28, 2013 at 1:03pm

Those are all good examples of reflective-practice in action, Gerry.  What is also implicit in those different examples is that the kind of self-study a person embarks upon will be influenced by the general aim, intention and context in which it takes place.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 28, 2013 at 2:07pm

That is right.  And which you might say are all contained within the process of trying to manifest an ideal or instantiate a principle.