Know yourself – Greek aphorism
If I am what I have and I lost what I have, then who am I? – Eric Fromm
Happiness is internal, not external; therefore, does not depend on what we have, but what we are. Henry Van Dyke
What we are?
What we are in the world is all we have, both externally and internally; externally are our material possessions, our work, our body also. Internally is all our memories and thoughts inside world, this network of ideas and memories that make up our personality. All these stuff create our manifestation in the world.
Identification with what we are: the ego
As individuals we need to be somebody, we need to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the world; this is achieved through mental identification process by which our mind creates and sustains the idea that we are a number of things we have; well, some people are almost totally identified with their role in society: I am a doctor, I’m a lawyer, etc.
Some people identify with their possessions, often happens when the person has a certain level of wealth. In the movie “A Civil Action” the protagonist, a lawyer for a small firm, was ruined by the costs of a civil process, and has to face a bankruptcy; the judge, at any given moment, asks something like, “What happened to all your possessions, those who people accumulate throughout their life, those things that define success in life and the person himself? “A clear example of identification with personal possessions; actually material things that lawyer lost not defined him at all.
Finally, some people identify with their inner things: your ideas, your personality, your memories. The identification of persons is usually a mixture of the above, giving more importance to some things than others depending on the specific person. This being consisting of an unstable mix of ideas, opinions and memories, it is called the ego.
All is mind?
Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow. – The Dhammapada
This quote from the sacred book of Indian spirituality talks about our individual mind, and states “our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think” (Eknath Easwaran’s comment to the Dhammapada). Of course, what happens in our life also depends on external factors, independent of our individual mind. Training our mind in the right way changes our way of react to the events and can transform us in very stable persons, even in front of the worst events. I think now a days there are a increasingly number of people in the Earth realising this true.
But lately I’m starting to think we can go even far:
THE ALL is MIND; The Universe is Mental. — The Kybalion.
Moreover, our individual mind is a creation of the Universal Mind, and in some degree, both are connected. When we become aware of this inner connection, we experience unity with all the existence, as many spiritual philosophies state. So out possibilities for development are immense!
All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain? – The Buddha