THERE are two moments in the knowledge of oneself.

From the beginning of the Inner Castle, it deals with knowledge of oneself. That title is Teresa’s image of the soul. It is a spatial image of the castle with several rings, spaces or rooms, which let you enter the center, the seventh room. The spiritual way is the way to that center of the soul. The knowledge of oneself from the above citation of Teresa deals already with an advanced stage: we are there already in the sixth of the seven rooms.

In the first room, it starts like this: to learn to know yourself is where you are busy with. Who you are, you know in the first place from what you are doing and where you are doing well and where you succeed, but also through what you find difficult, through your dealing with others and what you want to achieve there.

These are the “outer matters” which, on the other hand, never were neglected by Teresa. But the real moment of self knowledge and of entering the soul happens when all these outer matters in the end turn out not to be sufficient; they have to be directed to life and put into perspective on a deeper level in the soul, where one becomes conscious of the fact that everything we do and we make is based on receiving. Knowing that, is humility.

For Teresa, this means that the self knowledge is organized around the relation with God and is being concretized in a prayer life with Jesus Christ. There it is clear for her that everything in man’s life is a gift. People who through the first moment of self knowledge – you probably could call this the psychological stage – with falling and standing up again sometimes for a moment get the feeling of or a desire for this being given, those people reach the entree into the Castle of the Soul.

“They are strongly obsessed by the world but they have good desires and sometimes, even just for a moment, they recommend themselves before the Lord. They know who they are but they don’t go deeper into this. From time to time during the month they pray, while their minds are occupied with thousands of other things and they are obsessed by it; where their treasure is there is also their heart. Sometimes they want to get rid of those things. That knowledge of oneself and knowing that one is on the wrong way is already quite something.” (Inner Castle I, 1, 8)

This last sentence says a lot. The beginning of the real self knowledge lies in the discomfort to lose oneself in many other things. The knowledge of “being given” does not just fall from the air, it is something that you acquire with difficulty during a superficial life.

This first moment of self knowledge is necessary, but you have to achieve it also.

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