What we seek is intuitively driven by our curiosity to understand the relationship we have with ourselves. The ancients identified this as self-knowledge.
Our immediate reaction to self-knowledge is often dismissing it as a philosophical and rhetorical exercise. Sometimes even seeing it as being counter-intuitive. After all there must be some level of self-awareness for us to function in this world.
Our confusion lies in how we approach self-awareness. It can be superficially addressed by identifying it as the basis or instinct for survival. It can be thoroughly addressed through our drive for material accumulation as a measure of success. Or it can be deeply addressed and investigated through the practice of meditation.
All our experiences inevitably contribute in some form to building our self-awareness. Sometimes we experience it through our likes and dislikes. Sometimes it is understood when our principles or beliefs are validated or challenged. Most often it is noticed during life-awakenings.
Self-awareness opens the space for us to become better individuals by becoming more agile to our experiences. However to fully leverage this potential we must have the courage to self-reflect.
Unfortunately, in practice we mostly look at getting even with the situation rather than on actually improving our mental agility. We inevitably fall into spiritual self-neglect. A state often misunderstood as emptiness, dissatisfaction, discontent and a general sense of non-closure.
Spiritual self-neglect give rise to our feelings of animosity, envy, jealousy and aggressiveness. It fuels our over-ambitiousness and competitive-hunger to be the best-in-the-world.
Achievement is not a bad thing. It is not contrary to spirituality. But achievement without self-enquiry is like a car running on the fumes of an empty tank. Its immediacy is short-lived while leaving one perplexed and anxious at the end.
When we achieve success there is an undeniable adrenaline rush. Similarly when we achieve failure. We rarely see failures as an achievement but more as an experience. Recognise that failures are our deeper learning moments. It takes spiritual maturity to realise both success and failure are one.
Through self-knowledge we are able to sail through all conditions with confidence and grace. There will be adjustments. But with mental agility we are better placed to meet the unexpected. Building our treasure-trove of self-knowledge comes from taking the time to self-reflect. When the mind settles we are able to see our true-self. We are able drop the mental clutter that often distract and prevents us from being the best-for-the-world.