28 December 2014

Theme for 2015

Every year at this time when people traditionally make their New Year's resolutions I inaugurate my theme for the coming year. For the year 2015 the theme will be Ancient Greek aphorism "Know Thyself". In Greek it is written "γνώθι σαυτόν" which transliterates from the Greek letters to Latin as "Gnothi Sauton" or "Gnōthi Seauton". In Roman Latin "Know Yourself" is "Teipsum Cognoscere" (or "Te Ipsum Cognoscere", or "Temet Nosce") and in Spanish it is "Conócete a ti mismo".

Thanks to the second century CE Greek traveler and writer Pausanias, there is a first hand account of the inscription on the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi, also referred to as "The Oracle at Delphi". The inscription could be read by anyone who came on their long religious pilgrimage searching for answers and a look into the future.

To know oneself is first step on the path to enlightenment. Although the term "Know Thyself" is commonly attributed to the Greeks, the call to knowing the Self is universal historically and cannot easily be attributed to a single individual or even a singe culture. "Know Thyself" began appearing in cultures and traditions and at different times throughout Asia, Africa, and Eastern and Western Europe, from Chinese dynasties to the Hindu teachings, to Islam and the Sufis, and of course, to ancient Rome. All philosophical endeavors placed "Know Thyself" on a pedestal, acknowledging it as jumping off place in the search for true knowledge and wisdom.

I have already begun my journey down to the depths of my nature and it has been quite illuminating. I began by reading the "Essays" of Michele Montaigne who made this journey over a twenty year period in the second half of the sixteenth century centered around 1581. He made a detailed record of his observations of both his own thoughts and actions as well as those of his contemporaries, and compared them with those of philosophers who had gone before. He included everyone from Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle to Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Erasmus, Diogenes Laertus, Ovid, Virgil, Cicero, Plutarch, and Seneca just to name a few. He is so frank, honest, and contemporary that is seems like he reaches out and grabs you and pulls you back into his home in Bordeax, France just to chat with you, his special friend and confidant from the future. The name of the book is "The Complete Essays by Michele Montaigne, translated by M.A. Screech". By the way, the book has 1338 pages. It is almost like a course in knowing how to live. However, it is in no way boring and it has set me on a quest that should happily take me the rest of my life.

Happy New Year!


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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.