Saintly Thoughts

Self-Knowledge: A Fool's Errand

Woe is he who desires to sink deep into the self!  The philosophers will tell you that you must know thyself, but what if there is no self that can be known?  Descend into the depths of your psyche, what do you find there?  A labyrinth of riddles, cobwebs of the mind, suppressed hopes and desires, secret sins and unknown virtues...but where is their beginning?  They say that our brains can be mapped, that the firing neural pathways of thought can be seen by a machine and analyzed.  But is the electricity of the mind the same as the electricity of the universe?  And even if it is, show me the metaphysical foundation of electricity.  What if the workings of the mind descend into an abyss of the self, if every level of thought gives way to a level beneath, each one urging the other, in an infinite chain of being?  What if no thought, as thought, has a distinct beginning or a distinct end, but sings in harmony and discord with all other thoughts that may ever be?  Who but God can plumb such depths?  Is it any wonder that so many of our artists and geniuses, those whose existence balances on the edge of this great pit of being, go insane?  Know thyself—no, know not thyself—be happy with the appearances of the self and revel in the simple pagan joys of this world until the gods see fit to swallow you up again into that great cascade of undifferentiated being (for what was Elysium but a way-station to the ancients?).  If you heed not this advice, however (as is proper to mankind in this age), be prepared for suffering and unsettling.  There is nothing firm upon which mankind may hang his being any longer, for Christ has abolished the ancient pagan forms, and He Himself is a dialectical cornerstone that makes the seeker stumble upon herself, over and over and over (we are speaking here largely in anthropological terms).  Grace there may be lying beyond that abyss (or, if you prefer, infused throughout the universe), but grace is not a guarantee.  The acceptance of grace requires the utter despair that grace would even exist.  You who plumb the depths of the self, prepare to be terrified!