Self-knowledge is a superpower ~ Dani Shapiro

After last years wake up call that came in the form of a little square of card, I’ve immersed myself in the ocean of spiritual and self-help teachers out there. Most have something really amazing to say, some have touched my life in profound ways. Others I have learned from in very unexpected ways.

When I was in a really yucky place, I somehow came across Gabby Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles book. I’d borrowed it from the library so I only made it halfway through the prescribed 40-day program, but I was on my way. I followed Gabby’s suggestions for that two week period and it was a good spring-board to shake me out of my sleep. I listened to a few of her talks but I found that I wasn’t connecting with her message possibly because I’ve never been an addict, but also because I found I couldn’t relate to her.

The A-ha moment came when I found myself screwing up my nose when someone told me to listen to Danielle La Porte. I had, I said, but I didn’t like her… mmmm…

Years ago I signed up for a philosophy course. I was stoked at the idea of being in a room full of curious, intelligent people, listening to a three-part series on the great philosophers. It was very interesting. I remember an introduction; the Greeks, the Enlightenment and something about religion. Oh, and Shakespeare. There’s always a bit of Shakespeare, isn’t there?

After the first session, I approached the speaker. I waited patiently for my turn to ask a question. I said, in my little girl voice, “I was just wondering if there will be any female philosophers discussed?”

“No,” he responded, “there just isn’t any interest in female philosophers and there aren’t many of them anyway.”

“I’m interested.”

He shuffled his papers and said good night. I didn’t go back. Annoyingly, young me decided I didn’t need to learn about philosophy at all because it wasn’t done in an even-handed manner. I did what I’ve done a few times since; I closed my mind to something because it didn’t fit within the narrow confines of what I thought it should.

And who missed out? Me!

I am such a hypocrite! Who cares what a woman looks like? I have no idea what Simone Weil looked like, but I like her writing. Ditto Emily Dickenson or Iris Murdoch. Anaïs Nin was gorgeous. Should I ignore her stunning poems because of that? After all, it was Nin that wrote We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

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I’ve been carrying around a belief that young women don’t have anything of value to say. I admit I am envious of these two incredible women. I had my first wake up call in 1993 and had no idea what to do with it because of that belief, whereas these two continued on the path and have helped thousands of others on their own spiritual journey.

Judging women by their physical appearance is ingrained in our society and it more often than not comes from other women, not men. Female newsreaders and those in other high-profile roles receive “constructive” criticism about every aspect of their appearance while their male counterparts rarely do. An Australian male morning show presenter once wore the same blue suit for a year to prove a point.

If you google “Famous Philosophers” you’re going to see a long list of dead white men. We have to dig a little deeper if we want to see the world from another perspective.

As we mature (Grow up and Wake up) the goal is to be blind to gender, to the colour of a person’s skin, to age, to the way someone speaks, or their sexuality. I was patting myself on the back for all of the above things but had no idea I was being such a judgemental twat when someone was young and pretty! It is such a habit and one that I will be dismantling.

Just another entry in the encyclopedia of me that I am assembling.


Video: May Cause Miracles interview with Danielle Laporte and Gabby Bernstein

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