Awakening Your Inner Socrates
The unexamined life is not worth living
When I was in college, there was a homeless guy named Joe who camped out in the campus coffee shop. He had long white hair and a ZZ-Top-style beard. He lived in the bushes and spent his days cranking out one-page manifestos on an old-school typewriter.
If Socrates lived today, he wouldn’t be a professor, aspiring toward tenure. He would be Joe.Read the original post
An unattractive man with bulging eyes, Socrates spent his days strolling barefoot and unwashed through the streets of Athens.
He couldn’t care less about power, money, or fame. His devotion was to the examined life – to asking is it true? He asked this of the so-called “wise men” of his day and found that they lived in a state of delusion. Their certain “truths” turned out to rest on flimsy foundations.
This led Socrates to a radical view of wisdom. Real wisdom, he realized, is knowing that you don’t know.
This week’s experiment – explore Socratic questioning as a tool of transformation.
I’m not going to walk around questioning the unexamined beliefs of others. Not only would this put me at risk of a restraining order, but it would also be too easy. Catching the unquestioned blind spots of others is simple – just watch a few episodes of American Idol if you don’t believe me.
What I want to explore is much more challenging. It involves going inside to find my own unquestioned beliefs and then asking: is it true?
I’m most interested in beliefs that limit possibilities: beliefs like “I can’t,” “I wish,” “I should,” or “If only I.” These beliefs not only create suffering, they also often presume false wisdom.
Here’s an example. After a serious bike accident, I became devoted to the belief “my neck shouldn’t be so tight.” I was open to questioning the existence of God and reality itself, but not this sacred belief. Like the so-called “wise men” of Socrates’ time, I was certain that “I knew.”
When I questioned it, I saw it wasn’t true – the tension was, in many ways, a gift. And then something crazy happened – it started to go away.
Here are a few practical tips for taking this inner Socratic journey:
1. Identify Limiting Beliefs – Ask: what are my stressful or limiting beliefs? Where am I telling myself “I can’t,” “I should,” or any other story that limits freedom?
2. Go Socratic on it – Each day, I plan to choose one limiting belief and live with the question: is it true? This is not a one-minute exercise. If you’re like me, you will instinctively say “yes.” Sit with it, meditate on it, and play with it – then see if it’s still true.
Please join me and keep me posted on your experiences using this page or the Life Beyond Logic Facebook Page (where you can also upload pictures and videos). On Wednesday, I’ll post clips from an interview I did with Byron Katie, a modern master of inner Socratic questioning (for more on Katie check out the Is It True? practice).
This week we explored Socratic questioning as a tool of inner transformation. Here is my interview with Byron Katie — a world-renowned healer and teacher who has developed a practice she calls “The Work.” Like Socrates, Katie encourages us to question those beliefs that create suffering and limit possibilities. Check out my Is it True? practice for more on the connection between Socrates and The Work.
For examples of Katie doing the work, go to www.thework.com.