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The H3O/Art of Life Blog

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Arrested Development: Know Thyself

By Wayne Sebamurti Gentry

Presented by Omni-U Virtual University

Wayne Sebamurti Gentry

Everyone, without exception, wants peace and happiness. We also want to be intelligent as well as to be loved. We want all of these without knowing that both peace and happiness are our nature. Intelligence and love are also our very nature. But, when our attention has been turned away from our nature, we begin to think and feel that peace and happiness exist outside of ourselves and that happiness is something we can acquire only through the acquisition and ownership of commodities. We also think we can be "made happy" ( or unhappy) by other people. Further, we tend to believe that, somehow, we are “made intelligent” through the acquisition of external sources of information. We look to establish peace “in the world” outside of ourselves and, sometimes, we even base our self-worth on the love we receive (or don't receive) from others. It seems that- instead of looking inside ourselves- we are always looking for happiness, peace, love, and intelligence outside of ourselves.

In the process of searching for external sources of happiness and peace, we become attached to things, ideas, and relationships that often prove to be unfulfilling, detrimental, and even unreal. Attachment to that which is false is the basis for all forms of suffering. If the suffering we experience reaches levels we are unable to endure, we tend to seek relief by means of external forms of comfort, to which we invariably become attached/addicted and, in turn, perpetuate our suffering. We have no choice but to have this as our experience when we don’t know who we are!

Our ancient African ancestors went so far as to say “worship the gods if you must, but first, Know Thyself.” Self Knowledge is not only the aim of life; it is the means to all forms of liberation, the solution to all problems, and the true Source of REAL power without which no change ever takes place. In fact, power can be defined as the ability to bring about a needed change in spite of opposition. You need the power to change unwanted conditions and the true Source of all REAL power is Self Knowledge. It is also real power that is the central catalyst in the overall maturation process of human development. Complete maturation is the developmental goal of all sentient beings. In fact, complete maturation is not just simply a desired goal of all sentient beings, it is a mandated responsibility for every life form struggling to survive and develop. However, with respect to human beings, mere survival and development are not enough. To be fully mature, one must be Self-Realized, one must "Know Thyself". In fact, the very purpose of our existence is to be, to know, and to express who and what we are on all levels of our being.

Now, at the physical level, not much conscious participation is required on our behalf to become physically mature. As we grow in age, physical changes transpire and reflect maturity with respect to the functionality and development of our physical bodies. However, our emotional, mental and spiritual development cannot be taken for granted. Each requires a great deal of our conscious participation to assure mature development at these respective levels of our being! Hence, it is for this reason that, in order to ensure their overall maturation, a society of human beings evolves a Culture to instruct and guide its members. In other words, to be, to know, and to act human is the result of cultural phenomena, which utilizes a process that we call Education as its chief vehicle for the sustainment, development, and transfer of knowledge across succeeding generations.

Unlike animals, whose knowledge and behavior are guided by instinct, a human being’s knowledge and behavior is guided by Culture and, therefore, one must undergo the processes of enculturation and education in order to become a fully mature being. Again, it is because of the need for our conscious participation- at the level of our emotional, mental and spiritual development- that enculturation and education must be employed by a social group who is seeking to become fully mature human beings. This also means that Education is not only purposed toward providing proper guidance, throughout life, in the management of the conventional affairs of living; but, one must also be educated to become a fully mature and Self-realized human being! Not only must our humanity, through the enculturation process, be educed, i.e., brought forth, but also, through insight and meditation, our Divinity must be educed as well! A people who live in a society in which they are NOT being educated within the context of their own history and culture will suffer from a condition of arrested development. Such people will not know who they are, and their consciousness is subject to the control of external forces who may seek to dominate, exploit, and even destroy them!

The main problem that we have, as American-born Africans, is that we do not know who we are! Therefore, the recovery of Self-Knowledge must be our main goal and focus in life. All of this means that a human being who has been enculturated and properly educated to meet the challenges of life will have little to no problems at all. Life, for the human being who suffers from a condition of arrested development, is plagued with problems.

The solution to eradicating life's problems lies in the discovery/recovery of authentic Self-knowledge. The means by which one can "Know ThySelf" is through Self-inquiry, Self-study, and Self-discovery which culminate in Self-Realization. This can also be stated as a process that involves purification, illumination, and realization. One must first be purified, in order for there to be an illumination of Self-Knowledge in route to being Self-Realized.

The principal means by which one can be purified is through the application of ethical principles in conjunction with the spiritual discipline of meditation. Meditation involves the disciplining of one’s attention so as to bring the Reality of the transpersonal dimension of our being into the sphere of our awareness. The transpersonal dimension of our being is Spirit. Hence, a fully conscious and awakened human being is the result of a process that involves cultural maturation and spiritual evolution. Thus, our enculturation and education must involve Ethical living and Meditation practices in order to prevent arrested development, so that we can "Know ThySelf" and live intelligent, peaceful, and happy lives.

Recommended Viewing

Recommended Reading

Wayne Gentry. The Nature of Intelligence: A Look Beyond Mere Thinking.

Wayne Gentry. Supreme Insight: The Importance of Learning Black History.

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