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What Is Black Consciousness? Understanding the 4 Pillars of Knowledge of Self

What Is Black Consciousness? Understanding the 4 Pillars of Knowledge of Self

As you progress along your path to Black Consciousness one of the terms that you will hear used often is “knowledge of self”. While both of the terms are synonymous,

In the Conscious community, the term knowledge of self – or what we call Black consciousness – is more than just a subjective term. We are all entitled to our interpretation of the phrase, but when we read Biko, Akbar, and Kete we come to see that there are 4 pillars that must be firmly in place for Knowledge of self to be achieved.

The 4 Pillars of Knowledge of Self

If you hope to gain a knowledge of self, there are 4 pillars that you must stand on: Those pillars are:

A knowledge of who you are,
A knowledge of how you came to be,
A knowledge of the world around you,
And a knowledge of your place in the world.

These four building blocks are the foundation of Black Consciousness.

In this article, I focus on the first pillar – knowledge of who you are – to clarify what our warrior-scholars meant.

The 5 Elements of Life

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by all the goals that you have on your list? Or have you wondered where you should begin in the development of self? Answering those questions start with an honest evaluation of your five elements.

The 5 elements of life cover every aspect of your existence. There is nothing about you that is, was, or ever will be that falls outside of the 5 elements of your life. By overstanding that your existence is both limited to and liberated by these 5 areas of life, you are able to limit yourself to 5 goals that most support your divine purpose. And overstanding your areas of life gives you a panoramic view of your existence, enabling you to assess your strengths and weaknesses to prioritize your development accordingly.

The 5 elements of life are the physical, metaphysical, resource, academic, and relationship elements.

The Metaphysical Element of Life

The first element of life is the physical element. The metaphysical element of your existence is everything about you that can not be seen or touched. This includes your spirit, your thoughts, your emotions, your energy, and your beliefs. The metaphysical element can be managed and cultivated with meditation, the counseling of a spiritual mentor, communing with your ancestors, and through affirmations.

In the Black Conscious community, it is taught that ones beliefs form the foundation for ones emotions, and those emotions – combined with knowledge – produce thoughts. The end result that manifests itself in the physical world are the results of actions taken based on those thoughts. So for those of us who are ‘woke’, we address the results of a persons actions by first addressing the beliefs that produced them.

The Physical Element of Life

The second element of life is the physical element. The physical element of your existence is everything about you that can be touched and expressed visibly. This includes your anatomy, your health, your strength, your flexibility, and your physical endurance. The physical element is impacted by sunlight, the food you eat, the liquids you drink, the level and type of physical activity you engage in, and the quality of the air that you breathe.

In Black Consciousness, we know that weapons of white supremacy such as infection and intoxication have been used to destroy the physical element of melanated people. Thus, we strive to avoid any substances or behavior that make us participants in our own demise.

The Academic Element of Life

The third element of life in Black Consciousness is the academic element. The academic element is right knowledge that you possess and use to achieve your divine purpose. The academic element is expressed through the career you devote yourself to, and that career should be based on one factor: your life mission.

The academic element is strengthened when you “do the Knowledge” – or study for the purpose of using knowledge – rather than consuming knowledge that is not applicable to the development of ones knowledge of self. It doesn’t benefit you to know what celebrities do behind closed doors, and so such worthless knowledge should be discarded in favor of acquiring right knowledge. For “right knowledge corrects wrong behavior.”

The Resources Element of Life

The fourth element of life is the resources element. The physical element includes your time and any physical medium of exchange that you use to achieve your life’s mission. The resources element is impacted by your level of discipline, focus, clarity of direction, and intent.

A Ghanaian Chief wearing royal jewelry as a display of his wealth.

In the Black Conscious community, overstanding that time is the only resource given to all of us by our creator means we protect our time and our labor from exploitation by our oppressors. It is that exploitation – in the form of fraud – that deprived us from collectively pursuing our highest ideals and instead reduced us to slaves, employees, and beggar nations. Thus, we acquire and manage our resources in ways that honor our Creator, our Ancestors, and our collective.

The Relationship Element of Life

The fifth and final element of life is the relationship element. The relationship element of life is how you relate to other physical beings in the world around you. Relationships are build with your comrades in Black Consciousness, your friends, your relatives, your intimate partners, and those you labor beside. Your ability to create healthy relationships depend on the depth of your empathy, your willingness to devote resources to others (there is a reason this is called paying attention), and your own level of mental and spiritual health.

In Black Consciousness, we know that our oppressor has gone to great lengths to destroy the unity between Black men, women, and children. It is therefore our responsibility to restore our relationships with one another, rebuild healthy family units, and create indestructible bonds of trust and love between one another. Failure to do so will mean the permanent destruction of Black civilization as we know it.

I pray that ‘doing the knowledge’ has given you the light needed to overstand the first pillar of knowledge of self. In the next article, I will build on how you can gain a knowledge of how you came to be – the second pillar of Black Consciousness!

If this knowledge has given you any amount of clarity, share it on your Facebook timeline, or on Twitter. If you would like to go deeper, take our next work study course. We cover this information in Week 1 of the 8 week long course. Click here to find out when the next course begins!