Know thyself and the unknowable knowing ⇒ Kirno Sohochari

Famous Delphic maxims “know thyself” sounds literal to everyday life but the same maxim heard allegorical when we applied it for the quest of knowing our own “self”. Socrates did the same thing in Plato’s dialogue. Self-searching is allegorical rather than literal; a methodical quest for knowing the “self” might have taken an uncertain path, which could be considered yet unrecognizable for knowledge. Meaning and relation between two parts of the maxim are interdependent here. “Know” denotes something that is informative, that is recognizable and has to be usable for information; so that the exchanges of information could serve their self-purpose as well. Lexicon interprets the word “know” as a transitive verb; it can use to recognize the “self” in light of cognitive principle and as well verbatim to realize the relation between “the self-existence” and the world.

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That mean “know” is more allegorical and philosophical rather than literal. Allegory pushed the transitive verb to expand the meaning of Delphic maxims by adding new interpretation, recognition, and cognition in the process of knowing. In that context we can say, the transitive form of “know” stayed beyond over any lexicon or thesaurus due to its transitive features. We can say, “know” is something that is assuredly “knowable” on condition that it can be changed or replaced by new meaning at future. Condition changes the rules of transitive to intransitive, where transitive “know” converted into the intransitive “knowledge”.


Is it possible for us to think the beginning of beginning? Is imagines a beginning least necessary to the maxim “Know thyself”, and be the ending too? If there no beginning and ending, then what is the definition of “Knowing” should be?


“Knowledge” is the assurance of “knowing” but knowledge itself not able to expand the limit of “knowing” by added new meaning and definition with it. Delphic maxim reflects the word “know” instead of the word “knowledge” to recognize “thyself”, because, “knowledge” is limited but knowing “thyself” is unlimited due to its transitive form. Socrates stayed there with his methodical quest which we called the “Socratic method”, but for why? The answer is, he stayed for “knowing” more about “thyself”.

The second portion of the Delphic maxims “thyself” is literal in the lexicon. Yonder wording mean “yourself”, which could little be extended by adding the word “own” in the middle of “thy” and “self”. That is to say, we can treat “thyself” as “thy own self”, that is mean “your own self”. This kind of wording signified something live which existed and transitive there as a lively Being. It is always “itself”, a “himself” or “yourself” in different lingual context. A lively creature is thyself or yourself in English, seauton (mean himself) in its Greek origin, te ipsum (mean yourself) in Latin, ahom or ami (mean self or me) in Bengali and nafsahu (mean itself or himself) in its Arabic conversion. Lingual context is different here according to the meaning of “thy”, but “self” is identical in all lingual form.

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It means “thy” is certain and recognizable in any biological and lingual form unto its physical death, but rest is “unknowable” and for that reason “inferable”. None assuredly knows what will be the fate of “thy” after its death. Maybe it will ruin down in dust and floated in the infinite space of universe as science interprets today; perhaps it will resurrect again to face the omnipotent creator which religious scriptures tried to explain. We know “thyself” so far “knowing” permit us to “know”, and it called “knowledge”. Rest, which is yet in dark for “knowing”, is “unknowable”. Our methodical quest for knowing tried to convert the “unknowable knowing” as “knowable knowledge” by inference. That’s the riddle between “thy” and “self”, where “thy” is knowable at certain extent but the “self” is not assuredly knowable in any extent.


That’s the riddle between “thy” and “self”, where “thy” is knowable but the “self” is not assuredly knowable.


Is it possible for us to think the beginning of beginning? Is imagines a beginning least necessary to the maxim “Know thyself”, and be the ending too? If there no beginning and ending, then what is the definition of “Knowing” should be? The fact is that what do we know about “thyself” and what extent. A definition is a fact here, because, limit of “knowing” is the limit of my own “self”. “Knowing” is the reflexive game of brain function, where a visual and lingual surface of my brain produce the matrix which we defined language. We can say, “know thyself” is a game matrix between the existent world and the existing body, where “knowing” is incarnated and extended by new wording over-and-again, and, in where inference based logical cognition is mightier than the pragmatic experiment and logic.

We live in poeticism. Rhetoric and metaphor yet dominate our “knowing” despite the great advancement of scientific cognition. Some primeval question, quest, and dialogue yet relevant as it was relevant at the early dawn of civilization when Delphic maxims existed in the earth, and Socrates was accused of for his self-quest. The great vagabond of Athens ended his quest by taking hemlock due to the forced imprisonment of that time. Socrates died but his self-searching method still alive in the different context, as alive the self-quest quandary of “knowable and unknowable” knowing, in where unsolved primeval questions yet even mightier than the knowledge.

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Now let remember the hocus-pocus question one time again. Why do we come and existed on the earth? What is the valid definition of existence? Where it goes after death? Who and what is the root of all existence? Why things appeared here rather than disappear? When has the appearance begun? What is the meaning of beginning? What was before the beginning? Is it possible to think the beginning of beginning? Is imagines a beginning least necessary to “Know thyself”, and be the ending too? If there no beginning and ending, then what be the definition of “Knowing” should be? If existence is a reflection of “self” then what lie behind the reflection? Why “knowing” is painful? What is the purpose of knowing? Is it necessary to know the reason of existence, inevitable to know “thyself”? Why the “Being” comes here with a “self” and for what purpose?, to serve the God’s plan or to serve its own intangible purpose?


In the context we can say, “know thyself” is a game-matrix between existent world and the existing body, in where “knowing” is incarnated and extended by new wording over-and-again.


Mentioned question is tricky in the the context of modern “knowing” business. “Knowing” appeared in today as a carrier of “knowledge”, where it is designed and distributed to enslave human in a cage. The Delphic maxims and Socratic dialogue on “know thyself” caged today in the interest conflicts between individual and group, person and society, singular and multilinear etc. Each interest reflects its own desire of freedom, monopoly, and dominance to the others. In the modern knowledge seeking method “Knowing” is purposeful to produce such kind of “knowledge” which could able to serve the beneficiary’s self-interest or gratification. The situation is not ideal for icebreaker who believes “knowledge” is the extension of “knowing”, not only for self-gratification; it is for playful pleasure; so that a human Being could treat himself universally integrated with all kinds of stuff.

Here I want to add an example of universal integrity. A mystic poet of Bengal once seated beside the river, mediated in his thoughtful quest, and suddenly felt that he and the creation are identical. Creation is the mirror of his existence and he the mirror of creation. The poet then saw himself a creator of the universe, creator of living and inert objects, and the almighty Lord even. He played his monochord to declare:

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I’m the ground of sky and earth
I the reason of all
I’m the basis of heaven and hell
I the radix of Almighty Lord.

The sky and earth begets in mine eyes
Body begets the hard and soft
And begets cold and heat
Nostril begets the smell of sweet and bad.

(partial translation of Baul poet and lyricist Hason Rajas famous song “Ami hoite”)

The meditated poet then saw himself created by the “created stuff”, where “myself” and “thyself” are identical in the same mirror for reflecting the meaning of living objects. We can call this recognition “knowing”, where a person’s own “self” see itself in the infinite ocean, he discovered his own “self” as a valid catalyst for creation, destruction, reincarnation and reunion. That is “self-recognition of self” where universal creation is bound and united despite their physical differences.

Reader, today’s post is a little reminder of my long day’s song listening habit of continental folk and mystic songs, where I always chased by the question that, “What do you know about yourself?”, raised by continental Sufi-mystic poets and lyricists in a million times in different time-context. As like a Zamindar (landowner) of Bengal region and Sufi-mystic Hason Raja once raised the question in his beautiful song, where Bulleh Shah (and many Sufis and Baul in Indian continent) once rose the same question in Punjab.

Bulleh was a great Sufi poet of Punjab, he suffered excruciating pain when he dedicated his life searching the meaning of “know thyself”, where he was able to read the inner interpretation of existence and existent according to Hadith, “Whosoever knows himself knows his Lord”. He was a great observer of this real-looking elusive world, and indeed a sufferer of the so-called class contrast, caste-system, communal mainframe, hypocrisies of Indian society, which is common even in today’s society.


“Knowing” appeared in today as a carrier of “knowledge”, where it is designed and distributed to enslave human in a cage. The Delphic maxims and Socratic dialogue on “know thyself” caged today in the interest conflicts between individual and group, person and society, singular and multilinear etc.


I found true similarity between Punjab and Bengal in many contexts. Two regions are different in climate and culture, but they frequently talked in a tone that helped us to think about “know thyself”. Bulleh Shah and another great Baul poet and philosopher of Bengal region Lalon Shah have close similarity in their lifestyle, “self-realization process”, philosophical questing, and meditation praxises. Both were the sufferer of class contrast; religious priests and their dogmatic followers tortured them, but they landed on the similar ground of universal harmony in their allegorical wording. 

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Bulleh and Lalon influenced us to look into the inner “self” of a human; so that we could realize our eternal bonding with the autonomy of creation and its depletion. Life is surrounded by love, grief, pain and all seemed elusive when we look at our inner self. Their poetry and lyrics reflect the beauty of “self-recognition”, and it never hesitates to criticize the social and religious injustice into the parallel.

Dear readers, here I included a sample song (sang by legendary singer Abida Parveen) from the rich archive of Bulleh Shah’s poetry. This is certainly not enough for understanding his poetic depth. I want to say modestly, readers, it’s just a prelude of my future quest to know “thyself” and the grandeur poets of this game matrix.

Song_Link: Tere Ishq Nachaya: Singer: Abida Parveen: Lyrics: Bulleh Shah

… The poet then saw himself a creator of the universe, creator of living and inert objects, and the almighty Lord even…

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Photo Credit: az quotes_1: know thyself; az quotes_2: know thyselfnerdist 94;

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