What is self-awareness?

Acharya Prashant
5 min readMar 9, 2020

Question: What does it mean to be self-aware?

Acharya Prashant: What does it mean to be self-aware? For this, we have to go first into self-knowledge. Knowledge of the ‘self’ and awareness of the ‘self.’ We will have to take these two together. What is ‘self?’ Simple, the ‘self’ that which we call as ‘me,’ ‘I.’

What’s your name?

Listener: Dev.

AP: So, for Dev, ‘self’ is Dev. Self-knowledge would simply mean, “knowing that what this Dev thing is all about.” A very basic start. What is this creature called Dev? Self-knowledge means, “Dev is a body and Dev is a mind. Dev acts and Dev thinks. The body acts and the mind thinks.”

Self-knowledge would mean, being conscious of the actions of the body and the thoughts of the mind.

Knowing what do I do and what do I think.

So, for example, Dev enters a hall and where does Dev intuitively go and sit. Dev chooses the second row from the back, that’s an action. The one who has no self-knowledge will ignore this action. But the man who wants self-knowledge and hence self-awareness will not ignore this action. He will say why did I do that? When I entered this hall why did I quickly occupy all the back seats? Why did we do that? That is about watching an action. Why am I doing this and why comes later. First of all, I must be conscious that I am doing this. We are not conscious.

We are just conditioned to act like machines and machines have no self-knowledge. They don’t know what they are doing. Similarly, we didn’t know what we are doing. What happens to me in the presence of others? How do I relate to others? What happens when somebody tells me that I am looking dumb and idiot? What happens to me when somebody tells me that I’m looking handsome and smart? This is being aware of my thoughts. What am I thinking of all the time? What thoughts occupy my mind?

All this is self-knowledge.

Watching your actions and watching your thoughts.

Why am I always thinking of something? Why can’t I just listen? Why my mind wanders around in thoughts? This is self-knowledge. As you looked at the creature called Dev, his thoughts and actions, you start discovering that whatever he acts, whichever way he acts and…