People have two eyes to look at the world, to look at all matters, and to look at others, but not themselves. People have the mental power to learn and differentiate. They know how others are doing. They know how matters are. They know what the world is like. But, they do not know themselves.
People can see the faults of others but not their own shortcomings. They can see the greed of others, but not their own stinginess. They can see the deviant views of others, but not their own delusions. People know the world and understand history. They know their community, their friends and relatives, but they do not know themselves.
If people look at themselves in the mirror, they can see the features of their faces. They can see if they are good-looking or otherwise, but they cannot see their hearts. If there is a mirror that can reflect their minds, the greed, jealousy, selfishness, hatred, and grievance, that will look really ugly indeed!
There are compassionate and vicious people, what are we? There are generous and greedy people, what are we? There are people who tolerate others and those who can only be tolerated, what are we? Then there are people who sacrifice themselves for others and those who benefit themselves at the expense of others, what are we?
As humans, we should have benevolence, ethics, and humility. We should have trust, righteousness, and equality. We should have loyalty, filial piety, and love. We should have compassion, generosity and joy. In examining ourselves, do we possess all of these qualities in being human?
In fostering the strength to shoulder responsibility, we need to start from knowing and cultivating ourselves. We should be especially aware of our shortcomings and weaknesses. We must face the reality of our faults with courage in order to improve promptly and grow accordingly.
In Buddhism, there is a saying often mentioned, “Know the true face of yourself.” Do we really know our true face? Many are too busy in calculating the gain and loss of others, or blaming others for their lack of morals and knowledge. But they do not care for the arising and cessation of their own thoughts. It would be indeed regrettable if we do not know our ideals, responsibility, and mission in life, thus wasting our life away without any accomplishment.
The worst tragedy in the world is not knowing ourselves. Someone who does not know himself is often deluded about the reality and lacking in conscience, thus obstructing the development of his life of wisdom. In learning Buddhism, we are to develop the true mind in us, take down the mask we are wearing, honestly analyze ourselves, and know ourselves.
Knowing ourselves is a major lesson of life. We should never take it lightly!