For Connections Magazine 2010
The editor asked,
"Inside and Outside" is it really all one?
From the perspective of the one asking the question the answer is, "Of course not." In order to ask this question one must be in a point of duality assuming that the dualistic mind can find the answer. In this state the answer will always be either the direct experience of duality through the senses, or a belief in some idea of unity. Even if Einstein's Theory of Relativity proves that time and space form one continuum and therefore everything that appears within the time space continuum must be of that same fabric, this abstract mental answer is never satisfying to the questioning mind. So, instead we usually turn toward belief or faith or opinion.
You can always find opinions for or against anything. You can compare one person's opinion to another and have long scholarly discussions about the various opinions. In the end opinions have no real weight at all in the realm of direct knowing of the truth. Hearing another's opinion might be enough to change your mind and to adopt the same opinion as your own, but in the end, so what? Opinions are a shallow level of the chattering mind and have no real impact on our own direct insight into any situation.
Opinions are however, contagious. Like viruses they spread from mouth to ear. Without noticing we can take them in as our own and pass on the infection to others. When we all share a common opinion it creates a secure sense of group conformity which can be useful in a survival sense but never leads to true insight or revelation. So let's forget all opinions for or against anything including whether inside and outside are one or not.
Belief, on the other hand, is a very powerful function of mind. It allows us to find comfort in the enormous maw of the unknown. How do we explain death to a child? We tell them a story that the person is not really gone but is alive somewhere else, in heaven, and one day we will all be there together. This is a belief to soothe the suffering of the innocent child who grieves the passing of a beloved. It is a story to be told around campfires to explain the mystery and in the temples of religion to comfort the masses.
All of our western religion is based on stories to evoke belief in something that is not readily seen as apparently here. All belief, all faith is in something that we do not have the immediate experience of.
Today, if you hear God speaking to you commanding you to kill your enemies, you would perhaps be medicated with anti-psychotic drugs. Not long ago, thousands would follow you into battle and to die for this God, or his angels, that speak personally to you. Amazingly, belief still holds sway over the majority of humans on this planet.
The major belief of western religion is that there is only one God. Long ago, somewhere far away, someone realized unity. Someone woke up and realized that all these gods that were being worshipped were not real, that in fact there was only one God. This meant that God was everything, inside and outside. Only God everywhere.
By the time this realization passed from mouth to ear many times it reached a clan of Bedouin goat herders living in the outback of Mesopotamia. Not cultured city dwellers but ignorant goat herders immersed in blood sacrifice to their many gods, they get the message that there is only one God. Their belief is a concept of unity instead of the living reality. In this, they project their own ego sense onto their idea of one God. Their concept is a man with a personality who creates them and is separate from his creation. The concept of the "One God," which started as the direct experience of unity, has created duality. This god has an angry vengeful personality, demanding obedience. Jehovah is an eight character fixation projected from the egoic mind of his believers.
More painful perhaps is the case of the Aboriginals. I am in Australia at the moment and last night I watched a powerful, moving video of an Aboriginal elder explaining the destruction of his people. The aboriginal people of Australia have been living here for perhaps 40,000 years. During that time they passed on their culture and their beliefs. They had a strong belief that they were one with everything. In their passed on heritage of belief, inside and outside were one. Every tree, every rock, every animal was their relation. They believed that everything came from mother earth and we were all one and equal with everything. Such a powerful, beautiful belief.
Then the white men came and broke their belief. They introduced their "God" and taught them new beliefs. The Aboriginal belief in oneness was very strong and considered one of the pillars of society. It was only possible to break this belief in oneness by taking their land and destroying their families. As true and beautiful as their belief was, even lived so deeply that it was the framework of their reality, it was dependant on the outer circumstances and therefore was susceptible to being lost.
Then there is the case of a certain segment of the Jewish population of pre-war Europe. Having just read an account of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, I became acquainted with the secular Zionists, the anti-Zionist Socialists, the religious Zionists and the religious anti-Zionists. This last group was against making any moves back to Jerusalem, or even to defend themselves, because they were waiting for a miracle of God to do it for them. In this case their belief that they were at one with God who does miracles for them had its disastrous consequences of passivity in the face of genocidal persecution.
Now, as the spiritual culture of our "new age" spreads its belief and its faith, there is again a belief that "all is one." This belief is used as a balm to soothe the worried mind. A talisman against things that go bump in the night. A saying we can hold on to when things are not going our way, a magnet we can put on our fridge to remind us to relax, that "all is one." In this comforting way, this belief or faith, can have soothing palliative effects, just as the belief in Jesus or Buddha or Mother Mary or any other God that is looking over you to protect you. This belief comforts the terrified mind in the face the black hole of oblivion. What is required is to accept on faith and believe what one does not know and can not comprehend. As a belief however, it must be worked on and reinforced. We have to remember it and return to it and use it by the frightened mind to try and create a sense of calm. Then when something strikes from the outside, a betrayal or a threat perhaps, or something emerges from within, fear, doubt, uncertainty, we have to again find and remember our belief. A lot of work is necessary to maintain the belief but it can never really satisfy what we are longing for which is permanent certainty beyond belief.
You can have faith or belief that "all is one," and inside and outside are one, but in the end believing does not serve. It becomes a temporary safe resting place for the mind instead of allowing for the dropping into the depths of the unknown to discover freshly for oneself the truth of the matter.
Is it true that inside and outside are one? The inquiring mind desiring to discover the truth, without bringing the burden of concept or belief or past experience to the fresh inquiry, must turn away from thinking and towards the unknown. All discoveries are made by facing the unknown. As long as we project our knowing into the space of the unknown we only find our own reflection.
Realization is not something that can be figured out. It reveals itself from the depths of darkness. When Einstein was working on relativity he did not try to figure out the answer. He played with some mental images that pointed him in the right direction, let go, and then the answer dawned. Interestingly, for the rest of his life he tried to figure out the unified field, with the help of mathematics and the world's best minds, and he failed. It could not be figured out. This is the very realization that is being pointed to with the question of inside and outside being one.
In order to answer this question first we want to know who wants to know the answer? Usually it is a thinking someone inside a body that desires to connect with everything outside of the body. Yet on the level of the body there are endless distinctions of duality. All of the proof of the senses will confirm that you are inside the body and the world is outside the body regardless of what you may believe.
In order to find the answer of unity directly and without doubt takes the full capacity of a human life. It is not a casual affair. Not something you give a few moments to while the rest of the time is spent in pursuit of duality.
If you search inwardly, deeply enough, you may encounter the terror of dying. The egoic mind only appears to exist as the belief that "I am a body." If you do not give in to fear but face this terror of non-existence with the determination to find the truth, you will go beyond the limited belief that you are a body. Deeper still is the realization of yourself without form, without time and space, pure conscious awareness, aware of itself and overflowing itself as love.
Once this is realized the traps begin to arise to test your certainty of your own experience. The mental tendency that we all have is to conceptualize unity and then use it as a weapon of the mind. After realization, when all is seen through to the truth and clarity of the situation, at some point habitual temptations will arise as a challenge to your realization. My teacher would say that all the demons of the past will come to claim you. At this point you have a choice. To either conceptualize and then believe in your realization or to meet everything that challenges you directly in the face of your realization.
We have the ancient teaching story of Gilgamesh of Ur, who upon returning from his quest to bring the gift back to his people has to walk a thin edge over a sea of drowning souls, all calling for help and reaching up for a helping hand.
By not touching anything at all he is able to cross back unscathed from the far shore, to return to his people and establish a kingdom of wisdom. Gilgamesh is a shining example of the possibility to remain free in the face of our temptations.
The trap of mind that we all must face is the belief that we are being helpful when we fall into duty or pride or sentimentality. These tendencies all seem at the moment like helping but trap us again in duality. Falling into these traps keeps us from delivering the true help where it can truly benefit all, as Gilgamesh returning to his people. Reaching out to one of the grasping hands is the temptation. These hands are metaphorically a projection of our own grasping nature. Once we lock hands we are pulled in to suffer along with rest. Our potential to bring the gift to the world remains unfulfilled. We can always release our grip, stop once more, meet the demons and temptations and stay mentally still and open. In the silent immovable truth of being, everything is revealed.
Another test is how to function naturally when the experience of duality reappears.
There is the story of the yogi who realized oneness and went into enormous bliss. He was sitting in the middle of the path blissfully noting, "the trees are God, the sky is God, the road is God."
As he continued an elephant appeared running towards him. Running next to the elephant was a man shouting, "Get out of the way! Get out of the way!"
The yogi blissfully noted, "I am God, this body is God, the elephant is God, the man is God."
The elephant continued his run right over the yogi. Battered and bruised and crushed the yogi crawled back to his guru to complain.
When he heard the story the guru simply said, "Why didn't you listen to God shouting get out of the way?"
When I returned to my guru bloody and bleeding he emanated the silence that answers all questions. In silence all disappears and all is revealed. No one to ask the question and no need for any mental understanding. This is true knowledge beyond knowing. It is a certainty that can not be denied by any reason of the mind. In this realization of unity we find peace, love and fulfillment. When the appearance of duality re-appears it is known for what it is, an expression of unity. All duality and non-duality arise from the same empty intelligent totality that you are. Realize yourself as that and all questions are answered in silence.