Why is it Important to Know Oneself?

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

This question should not be seen from the philosophical viewpoint. One should consider oneself as atma or the self. Generally, people understand 'Know Yourself' as a discussion about the self and God. However, it should be considered in real life situations when one is full of tension and under stress.

Do you know the reason for your tension or stress? You should know how your mind behaves in different situations and how you can guide it, control it and make it peaceful. It is like traveling. If you go on a journey, you check the map and find out the whole route. Therefore, what is the route you have decided for your life?

I have decided my route and fixed my path, not only as a sadhu or renunciate. I am a sannyasin yet the goal of my life is not self-realization or liberation, for I cannot comprehend these ideas. They are theories. I do not know what are they in reality. The people who have read a lot can give lectures for ten days, but it is irrelevant.

A blind man wants to see the sun. For a blind man seeing the sun is an ambition. It can be his aspiration but not his need. What is his need? His need is to get his eyesight and vision back for his practical use, not to satisfy his ambition. Once the blind man has his vision, he is able to see not only the sun but the entire universe. Similarly, our ambition is to see God, however it is not a need. It is not a necessity, only an ambition. The need is to improve ourselves.

As a sannyasin I have adopted this as my goal. I do not know whether it is written in my karma or destiny that I shall meet God or not. I do not even think about that. However, whatever one's actions, character and behaviour may be, if one can make them better on a daily basis, then in the future one may be an example for society. Therefore, the goal of my life is acquisition of excellence, not self-realization.

—3 June 2014, Kathmandu, Nepal