Inside and Outside - is it really all one?
From the perspective of the one asking the question the answer is, "Of course not." This question can only be asked from the point of view of duality. Furthermore, the question assumes that the dualistic mind can find the answer. In this state the answer will always be either the direct sensory experience of duality, or a belief in some idea of unity. Even though 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, an abstract mental answer is never satisfying to the questioning mind. Instead, we usually turn toward belief, faith or opinion.
One can always find opinions for or against anything. You can compare one person's opinion to another and have long scholarly discussions about them. In the end, in the realm of the direct knowing of truth, opinions have no real weight. Hearing someone else's opinion might be enough to change your mind or to adopt someone else's opinion, but ultimately so what? Opinions are on a shallow level of the chattering mind and have no real impact on our own direct insight into any situation.
Opinions, however, are 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. Shared opinions create 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 drop opinions all together, all pros or cons, including all possible answers to the question of whether inside and outside are one or not.
On the other hand, belief 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 that the person is not really gone but is alive in heaven, and that one day we will all be together again. This belief soothes the suffering of the innocent child who grieves the passing of a beloved. It is a story that is told around campfires to explain the mystery of death and in the temples of religion to comfort the masses.
All of our Western religion is based on stories that evoke belief and faith in something that appears unreal and that we don't experience directly.
If today you would tell someone that God commanded you to kill your enemies, you would perhaps be medicated with anti-psychotic drugs, but not long ago thousands would have followed you into battle and died for this God that personally speaks to you. Amazingly, belief still holds sway over most humans on this planet.
The major belief of Western religion is that there is only one God. Long ago someone must have realised unity. Someone woke up and realised that all the gods that were worshipped were not real and that, in fact, there was only one God. This meant that God was everything including "inside and outside".
This realisation passed from mouth to ear many times until it reached a clan of Bedouin goat herders living in the outback of Mesopotamia. These simple goat herders, who practised the custom of blood sacrifice to various gods, heard the news that there was only one God. Their newly adapted belief is a concept of unity instead of the living reality. They project their own sense of ego onto their idea of one God. They now believe in 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 who demands 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 and 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 this time, the strong value system of being one with everything, including the belief that inside and outside is one, was passed on from generation to generation. They believed powerfully and beautifully that everything came from Mother Earth, every rock and animal was their relation, and that people were all one and equal with everything.
Then the white men came and destroyed their belief system. 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 destroy the 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. Their belief that they were one with God who creates miracles - and its subsequent passivity - had disastrous consequences in the face of genocidal persecution.
Nowadays, as the spiritual culture of our "new age" spreads its belief and its faith, there is once again a belief that "all is one." This belief is used as a balm to soothe the worried mind. It serves as protection against things that go bump in the night. It's a mantra we hold on to when things are not going our way, and a magnet we can put on our fridge to remind us to relax; after all, "all is one".
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 and protecting you. This belief comforts the terrified mind that faces the black hole of oblivion. What is required is to accept on faith and believe what one does not know and cannot comprehend.
As a belief, however, it must be worked on and reinforced. We have to remember it and return to it and apply our frightened mind to try and create a sense of calm. Then, when something strikes from the outside, for example, a betrayal or a threat, or something emerging from within such as fear, doubt or uncertainty, we once again find shelter in our belief. Even though a lot of work is necessary to maintain the belief, it can never really satisfy what we are longing for - 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 anyone. It becomes a temporary safe resting place for the mind instead of allowing the dropping into the depths of the unknown to discover freshly for oneself the truth of the moment.
Is it true that inside and outside is one? The inquiring mind that desires 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.
Realisation 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. Then he let go - and 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. He failed because it can't be "figured out". The question of whether inside and outside is one, is pointing to this very realisation.
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 who 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 realisation of you without form, without time and space; pure conscious awareness, aware of itself and overflowing itself as love.
Once this is realised the traps begin to arise to test your certainty of your own experience. The mental tendency we all have is to conceptualise unity and then use it as a weapon of the mind. After realisation, 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 realisation. My teacher would say that all the demons of the past will come to claim you. At this point you have a choice to conceptualise and believe your realisation, or to meet everything that challenges you directly in the face of your realisation.
We have the ancient teaching story of Gilgamesh of Uruk, 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 of remaining free in the face of 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 providing support where it can truly benefit everybody, as Gilgamesh did when he returned 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 the 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 realised 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, and the Road is God."
As he continued talking, an elephant appeared to be running towards him. 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, and 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 to get out of the way?"
When I returned to my guru, bloodied 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 cannot be denied by any reason of the mind. In this realisation of unity we find peace, love and fulfilment. When the appearance of duality re-appears, it is known for what it is; an expression of unity. All duality and non-duality, inside and outside, arise from the same empty intelligent totality that is you. Realise yourself as that and all questions are answered in silence.
Eli-Jaxon Bear and Gangaji will be touring the East Coast in November and December. Eli will hold a group retreat in Byron Bay in January 2012 www.leela.org