Know yourself

God is your mirror in which you contemplate yourself, and you are His mirror in which He contemplates His Divine attributes. Ibin Arabi

Looking for self is the ultimate search. Once we find the spirit within us, we find the spirit in everyone and everything around us. Everything begins with the self. The universe cannot contain God, for God is beyond the universe. Yet, He can be stored in the heart of a true believer. 

The Sufis say there is no one like each one of us in the entire universe; there never was and never will be. Each one of us is unique. We have strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Everyone else has them too, though they may not be the same as ours. We are here to use our unique gifts and strengths to contribute to society. 

Yet, for all our differences, we have many similarities. We all have a soul that is connected to all other souls. We are all parts of the same creation, and we all face the same seasons of life — the joys, the hardships, the ups and downs. When we realize this interconnectedness, we see oneness and harmony. We see unity in diversity. 

The struggle of knowing self, and thus God, is beautifully illustrated in the book The Conference of the Birds by Farid-ud-din Attar. He talks about hundreds of birds who venture forth to meet the Supreme Being. The journey is difficult, and, eventually, most of the birds give up.

Only 30 of them manage to complete the journey. When they reach the home of the Supreme Being, to their bewilderment they come face to face with a huge mirror. Seeing their own reflections in the mirror, they discover that the spirit of the Supreme Being has always rested inside each one of them. 

When we endeavor to know ourselves, we stop short of judging others. We realize that if it is so hard to know ourselves, how can we know others? When we see differences in others, it is an expansion of oneness. Instead of spending time and energy judging others, we invest our time in knowing ourselves. 

I am 47 years old and have lived with myself for 24 hours a day for 47 years! That is a long time to be with one person. Yet I cannot claim to know myself, for, if I did, I would know God. I am still struggling to know God. 

Someone knocked on  the  door of  Bayazid, a  Sufi. Bayazid called out, “Whom do you seek?” 

The caller answered, “Bayazid.” 

Bayazid continued, “I, too, have been seeking Bayazid for

30 years, and I have not yet found him. When you find him, let me know.” 

Hazrat Ali, one of the foremost Sufis, says, “He who knows himself knows God.”

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