Bonsai Tree, Garden of the Humble Administrator, Suzhou, China
If I don't know the difference between my inner and my outer life, and I haven't formed a clear sensory picture of the distinction between them, I don't know the difference between a hammer and a screwdriver. The hammer projects its force outwards and goes in an arc or a straight line; the screw contains its force inwardly, and turns around itself, using its force to make its own way forward. These analogies are rough, but I think one can sense the difference.
I say that I need a sensory distinction between my inner and outer life because the only way that I can begin to form a clear picture of the fact that they are different is through my sensation. Without it, my inner life is not a life; it is a jumble of thoughts and psychology, a blender of emotions and reactions to them. Only the alignment of all of these different elements around a tangible for some sensation can really lead me to it a direct understanding of what my inner and my outer life are.
This idea of not knowing myself is intimate, as I often say, and sacred; and it always leads to sorrow. In my experience, that sorrow is wordless, as is the experience of not knowing; together, they bring me to the edge of that emotional force which comes from the feeling center and is referred to by Meister Eckhart as humility. It's quite interesting to see this intersecting with my very ordinary reactions to people as formed by personality, which have all kinds of nasty and brutish opinions, and always have the intention of putting the above other people.
The interesting thing about the screwdriver is that it doesn't want to pound on other people and force them into my own piece of wood; it turns me back towards myself, and I circle around this question of my own being from within. Invariably, it puts me on the level of ore beneath other people; because I see how helpless and unknowing I actually am.
These two parts seem to be contradictions, but they are actually symbiotic entities with complementary abilities. I need to be both entities within the conscious range of my experience; in my personality, I need to make an enormous effort to know everything I possibly can; and in my essence, I need to open to the absolute presence of an unknown where nothing whatsoever is determined or clear.
These two parts can create a friction that my Being is enlivened by. Day by day, and turn by turn, I can see both of these parts at work, and accept them. I don't have to become a monk and cloister myself within my inner life, and act like I am sacred and wonderful and perfect — as if that were ever possible, LOL! — but I also don't have to reject what I am outwardly due to some flawed and theoretical philosophical understanding of what my personality is, and how useful it can be in my life.
It is necessary, in the course of life and one's conscious effort, to touch both the world and God. This is meant to be an uncomfortable position; because it is only through discomfort that we learn anything new, and if there is one thing that God has a wish for us in regard to, having given us the gift of incarnation, it is that we learn new things. Why else be alive?
Anyway, those are my thoughts on this this morning.