Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The inner and outer

Another adjunct posting from Shanghai.

Yesterday, one of my readers pointed out that she saw that the inner and the outer self are entirely different beings. I agree; seeing how the inner is a quite separate person is important. Yet the separation isn't 100%; and in light of her observations in my comments to her, I thought the readership might be interested in how I perceive this question.

The outer is always formed by the inner. That is to say, all of the "things" which we see and encounter — as I call them, the objects, events, circumstances, and conditions — are manifestations or risings that are formed by the emanations from an inner source. Swedenborg did a very good job of describing this when he explained that everything arises as an expression of a higher level through what he called "inflow" or "influx," an action whereby an inner and invisible quality that is essential, animated, energetic, and forms the very fabric of reality and life itself flows outward into what we call the manifested universe. Plato understood this question quite exactly — not just theoretically, it is very nearly certain he had many direct experiences of it — and the foundation of his philosophical premises about the nature of reality and Being begin there.

So all of what we perceive is actually a manifested existence emanating from the inward quality that supports nature. Swedenborg pointed out that the failing of modern science (the science of his age which he called modern is pretty much the same one we still have today) was in failing to distinguish between the natural and the spiritual. All of the natural, the outer, is an emanation of the spiritual, the inner. The inner, the spiritual, is an absolute and transcendental reality that exists separated from the limited and expressive reality we inhabit in the natural world. Both Plotinus and the Sufi philosophers grasped this situation and understood that its philosophical implications were comprehensive.

I've been reading Oliver Sachs' "Hallucinations," which attempts to explain many intriguing varieties of human consciousness from only the natural side. He doesn't mention Swedenborg, so he's probably not aware of the fact that Swedenborg — who was also an accomplished neurologist, possibly one of the most brilliant of his own age— offered a comprehensive explanation for hallucinations and delirium which is entirely different from the natural one, but can be used to explain every phenomenon in his book, and possibly to much greater effect. This is not to say that the book isn't interesting, but it just goes to show that the understanding of levels in the way that reality arises from the inner, flowing into the outer, changes everything we understand the point of view of our sciences — Including the fact that the experience of consciousness is extraordinarily plastic and highly mutable. (FYI, William van Dusen, whose works can be accessed through the swedenborg foundation, has independently reached the exact same conclusions vis a vis hallucinations and Swedenborg as I have.)

In any event, back to this point that the outer arises as emanation from the inner. Swedenborg explained that all of manifested reality corresponds to a higher spiritual truth, in much the same way that the Platonic schools argued that there is a higher principle behind each observable phenomenon, that is, for example, that there is a "meta-chair" that exists internally within a transcendental world of concepts, which keeps expressing itself repeatedly in endless form within material reality. The fact that the inner gives rise to the outer has something to do with the fact that Gurdjieff said that the outer cannot affect the inner, that it must always be the other way around. This one remark indicates that he had a full grasp of Swedenborg's principles and teachings, even if he never mentioned the man.

Not only that, the teaching of essence and personality is essentially related to this question. We need to get into touch with our essence and our inner Being because it is from this point that what we are emanates into the world, and encounters other emanations.

Why it happens this way is a question that deserves much further examination.

May your soul be filled with light.


Lee van Laer

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