Know Yourself

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by Ben Huot

www.benjamin-newton.com

November 5, 2021

person in corn maze

Most people think certain things that are often in conflict with how they feel. This is because people often have poor self knowledge and are motivated mostly by irrational or emotional arguments. Their emotions and thinking are not in sync because they are in internal conflict.

Major world belief systems tend to encourage self reflection and acknowledge that a person has a reality that is not entirely based on quantifiable data. Many modern people seem to think science is the only or best way of knowing about life. We reduce our feeling down to facts and then argue about something different from what we feel.

We are not honest with our motives to others because we are not honest with ourselves. We need to accept that we are primarily driven by emotions and emotional arguments. Many of the issues we argue about are not the real ones we are concerned with. We are afraid we may appear weak if we acknowledge that emotions are as valid as facts in forming opinions.

I have no problem admitting that I am irrational and subjective. In fact I think anyone who truly believes they are objective is trying to take the place of God. Only God can truly be objective. I am not trying to be objective and I am not trying to argue with factual evidence. I do not desire to change your opinion.

This does not make me better or worse than others and I admit that I likely have poor self knowledge as well. I think spiritual growth helps us see things more from God’s point of view. I find this helpful because it allows me to see beyond my own feelings without resorting to making myself as the center of things or oversimplifying human existence and major life issues as purely factual in nature.

God is a perfect blend of emotion and logic and so should we be also. Ignoring your feelings does not make you stronger. Not accepting your limitations does not allow you to accomplish more. Even denying fear is not beneficial to your self mastery.

Emotions happen faster than logic does and are useful when we are in dangerous situations. They also help limit what we see as acceptable by what we can do alone. Science answers a lot of useful questions about how to do something. But it requires more to decide whether or not to do something.

Our society is as optimized by science for economic efficiency as is possible without radically different technology. But this is not the most important thing. If we were more responsible and saw things from a longer term perspective we would come up with radically different solutions to our problems.

We seem to have decided sometime ago that it is acceptable for someone to suffer in the place of another. Many people believe that it is morally justified for the needs of the few to be sacrificed for the many. This is one of the reasons why I am in favor of the US Bill of Rights even though I do not believe people have rights just because they are people.

I think that nothing should suffer unnecessarily and few things are really necessary. In other words the Bill of Rights is important to me because it places limits on what a society is allowed to do even when the majority thinks something is best even if it hurts the individual.

I do not believe that the ends justify the means ever. We should never decide between the best of two bad things. If we are confronted with this choice, we should do nothing or get more creative.

We should not always choose the easiest way to do something. We should place a higher value on being kind to the individual at the expense of society. The individual needs to be protected from the group more than the group from the individual.

We like to divide ourselves into 2 groups with an us vs. them mentality. But our real conflict is internal. If we can find peace within ourselves it will be much easier to find peace with each other.

Today we argue about who is more tolerant but exclude the other major perspective from this argument. It does not matter who we are theoretically tolerant too. It matters that we both get along with each other from both major belief systems in America. It is not Muslim vs. Christian or Science vs. Faith. It is conservative vs. liberal.

The point is that philosophy matters and it is not always what you can prove that determines what is right or what the outcome will be. There are many other methods of determining what is true other than measurable phenomena. Pain itself transcends the physical, emotional, and spiritual realms of human existence.

You cannot reduce yourself or your opinions down to nothing but what can be proved and what cannot. What you feel and believe is important and valid no matter why you feel that way. But before you can communicate this effectively to others you need to know yourself well enough to be able to discover why you feel this way for your own peace of mind.

Self knowledge is important because without knowing yourself and why you do what you do how can you ever understand why other people do what they do? To start learning more about yourself you need to study a broader field than just one academic discipline and the broadest discipline is philosophy. In fact Science and Social Science came out of philosophy as they were once called Logic, Natural Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, and Ethics.

To think beyond a logical world you need other methods of measuring the importance of what you experience than just math. Religion is a great way to get into this mindset. Religion expands your mind because you are forced to wrestle with ideas that are not provable empirically.

How do you prove whether karma is true or sin is true? Both are similar in that they both deal with morality but are very different in how this is resolved. Both involve changing the way you think and they involve similar morally significant actions. But they are different in that one is done by you and the other is done by God.

Ultimately we need to decide if we want to live our own lives and end up suffering unnecessarily or follow God and have purpose in our suffering. Christians definitely do suffer but they have purpose and hope beyond this little life on earth. The Christian God understands what it is like to be us because He created us, He lived as us, and His Spirit is willing to live within us.

God cares about the individual and our feelings because He wants our hearts, minds, and souls not just to correct our behavior or to gain power over us like the world does. God loves us because He chooses to do so despite and even in our immorality and disobedience.

Even when God lives within us, we are still free to do what we choose. This is known by most of us who know or who are Christians because we still sin even as believers. But God’s focus is not on punishing us but transforming us by changing our thinking, our experiences, and our actions by His direct supernatural intervention.

God created us with free choice but made it so we still could not sin because we at first did not know what evil was. God now allows for free choice while still guaranteeing us we have been pre-selected to be believers in Him. If He can do this He has the power and will to make us better people despite our stubbornness and rebellion against Him. Free will and fate do not need to be in conflict anymore than facts need to be with emotions.