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Finding Yourself – Day 1

August 7, 2006

I must admit, I am a little nervous about beginning such a project.  But I think it will get easier as I get into the flow of things.

For the first day, we must do some groundwork on “finding yourself” and what it really means.  Can we truly know ourselves completely?  Are we constantly changing our identity or is our core essentially the same?  It’s not easy thing to think about.

The readings I have for today are an introduction to the idea of self from two different sources: eastern and western philosphy.  I guess we’ll be focusing more on the latter for the next week, but I think it is good to see the idea from multiple perspectives.

To read:

  1. “What is this thing called self?”
    This is an article was written by a Professor of Psychology in Rider University.  He talks about zen and the idea of self in this article.
    http://www.rider.edu/suler/zenstory/thisthing.html

  2. “Quotes on Self-Discovery”
    The title says it all.  Just glance through these, looking for ones that hit you or that you find some meaning in.
    http://www.quotegarden.com/self-discovery.html

To do:

  1. Write a short response to reading 1.  What do you think he’s trying to say?  Do you agree with him?   If yes, what convinced you?  If no, what do you disagree with?
  2. Write out 3 quotes from reading 2 that struck you.  Why do you find special meaning in these?
  3. Bonus: The author of reading 1 has a web site called “Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbor”  They are short zen koans. Read one of them and write about your take on the story.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2007 8:59 pm

    Look, I’ve already learned something about my self: It talks. A lot.
    I do hope I’m not too late or intrusive to hop on this seven-day trip-of-sorts.

    I think Suler’s presentation was exactly what everyone and anyone else’s presentation on self could be: It explains several possibilities of what self could be, shows different theories about the self, and then, in the end, comes to the conclusion that no one knows, and maybe no one ever will—except for you. Self is subjective, self is individual, innate.

    I think I agree with him—although I don’t like to. Discussions about “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” (bonus points if you can tell me which suicidal artist painted that) actually, literally, physically pain me. I get so intensely frustrated when contemplating what happens after death that I cry. Debating religion-and-the-bible-as-fact antagonizes me. Trying to wrap my mind around impossible concepts is just too painful, both physically and mentally; I always just want answers. So maybe Suler’s right, and we’re just making too big a deal out of this whole “understanding” spiel.

    And my quotes:
    “I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself.” This James Baldwin quote hit me (“A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it,” from Fontaine, was a close second) because I’ve experienced it so many times. Like, for example: Last summer, I basically ran away. I enrolled in a college program three states away to get away from my life at home. All that succeeded, probably more than I meant it to; I changed so much through what happened at that program. It wasn’t even that I went through this whole process of self-actualization, but things just changed on their own, something I realized after the fact.

    “People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.” I like this Szasz quote because I like the idea of creating your self. (Maybe I just subscribe too much to the American Dream—not that I believe it’s attainable.) You have the opportunity and the ability to mold yourself in to whatever niche you want—or carve out an entirely new one.

    “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” Oscar Wilde has always had excellent quotes (like “Women are to be loved, not understood”) and this one is as true as ever. Look at blogging. How many people have created an online persona that would be totally foreign to the people they know in the “real world”? And how many people’s “online personas” are truer to themselves than their “real world” ones?

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  1. Finding Yourself in 7 Days « A Collection of Highly Disparate Thoughts

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