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 The Inner and Outer World                                  

The Inner- and the Outer- World. Paper given By V.W.Fra. M.H.J.W. Maas VIIº  GBNo. 7780 on 26th August 2005

 One of my favourite stories in the Bible is Genesis 28 10-22. For those among us who cannot immediately bring the story to mind here is the brief outline.

It tells how Jacob after having cheated his brother out off his legitimate blessing as the first-born has to flee to escape the wrath of his raging brother. At the end of an exhausting and very emotional day he lays his head on a stone and falls asleep.

In his sleep he has a dream, not very surprising we would say. In his dream the heavens open, a flight of stairs connecting the earth and heaven appears. Angels go up and down the stair praising the Most High, who addresses Jacob and promises future prosperity and greatness for him and his offspring.

What interests me for various reasons is what Jacob does the morning after the night. He remembers what happened to him during the night and he declares his impromptu campsite Holy. “Here is the house of the Lord,” he declares and he erects the stone that has served him as a headrest and pours oil on it. He names the place “Bethel i.e. the house of God, for here is a stair that reaches from the earth to the foot of the throne of the Most High”.

There are a few interesting aspects to this story. The one I’d like to dwell on somewhat more extensively is the following.

After a very stressing emotionally trying and physically exhausting day Jacob has to improvise a camp in the open. He has a dream that is so vivid and frightening real that the following morning he feels that his dream or vision was so emotionally powerful that it must be in the real world on this particular place. He therefore declares that this really is a holy place for here the House of the Most High opened and connected to the earth. He externalises his very intense experience and sees it as caused by the quality of the particular place he had chosen as his campsite. It is the place that is holy. The place has to be marked so that it can be recognised as holy and treated with due respect and veneration. He names the place and puts up a mark so that all can recognise it.

Most of us will not have any problem when I suggest that that Jacob’s state of mind after cheating his brother and his father, his fear for the wrath of his brother in pursuit and his physical exhaustion come together in a rather disconcerting dream or nightmare. From what he does the following morning it is clear that he externalises the whole experience by declaring it caused by the quality of the place. His experience was so intense so real that it must have been real in the world out there. It is the place that brought this about; the place must be Holy. We are all too familiar with the experience. As a child we all have been afraid of certain places because something or someone gave us a fright.

So what on earth is so interesting about this story?

For tonight I will highlight two aspects. There are more aspects of interest but they do not relate to the topic of this paper.

Firstly: Our experiences are within us and are not directly accessible to another fellow creature. Jacob felt that he had to mark the place: any other human might not be immediately aware of the nature of the place and stumble into a similar situation.

Second: An experience occurs on a location or place in time accessible to all of us. That was why Jacob felt it necessary to mark the place so that all might know and be forewarned.

Apparently an experience is a point in space and time where the generally accessible space/time connects to the space-time only accessible to me.

The centre of the experience is what we call “I “

In this context I like to call up the add that TV One in its self-promotion screens from time to time. It shows an endearing (surprise surprise) little boy sitting and pondering the mysteries of existence.  He declares with some hesitation that he has two knees, two eyes, ten fingers, ten toes and a thousand of hair.  And after some further hesitation he declares super confidently “You know what there is only one of in the whole world… Me!! That is where he is wrong. Forgivable given his rather young age; there are about 6 billion “me’s” in the world. So it is not all that unique.

But where it is unique that this me connects the generally accessible space/time and we will call it the Outer World to a space/time, which is accessible only to the individual concerned.

It will not be necessary to dwell very long on the Outer World, the generally accessible Space/Time. We are all familiar with it. We experience it every day and we organise these experiences in concepts that form the basis of reactions and actions to future similar experiences.

We also organise our experiences of the Outer World in formal models we call Science. As far as possible we separate the data relating to our own status from the data relating the status of the Outer World. We try to make the model as generally accessible as the Outer World itself. We further try to capture as many experiences and fields of experiences in as few models as possible to reflect the perceived unity and continuity of the Outer World.

It is clear that we will never be able to conceive an all-encompassing model of the Outer World; that model has to exclude the observer who is at the same time part of the observed and experienced world.

This whole system raises a question, which was first raised by the Greeks in the fifth century B. C. and cannot be satisfactorily answered other than that you either accept one or the other answer. The question is simple: is there something in the Outer World that corresponds with our concepts, i.e. do our concepts exist or do we arbitrarily gather some experiences in groupings based on some similarities and name them.

Plato believed in the reality of our concepts: he was an Idealist. Aristotle believed that it was just names: he was a Nominalist. The Fratres may decide for themself which camp they are in.

The Space/Time accessible to me only raises some other questions.

First: Does it exist? To answer this I like to turn the question around. Why shouldn’t it exist? What proof do we have that the Outer World exists? Undoubtedly everyone will say: our experiences. Accepting that proof it must also be valid for the Inner World. I experience it.

So it does exist and we will call it the Inner World.

This Inner World differs from the Outer World. Time in the Inner World is a dimension that can be travelled in all directions. This it not so in the Outer World; here it is a line that one has to travel in one direction only from yesterday through today to tomorrow. In my Inner World I can go back and can go to tomorrow and can as we say” picture myself on the beach of Surfers Paradise” on my future travel… I can also be at two or more different timelines. I can be at home and be away at the same time.

In the Outer World one has to travel trough space in a continuous sequence; if I want to go from Napier to Hastings I will have to go to the separating space; you have to take the motorway or take the Pakowhai Road.

In the Inner World you can go from Hastings to Napier directly without going through the separating space. You can even be in Hastings and in Napier at the same time and compare the Art Deco buildings in both places.

The Outer World is as far as we know continuous. No one has ever documented a space gap nor has anyone ever reliably recorded a gap in the timeline.

This is certainly not so in the Inner World. When we go to sleep or get knocked on the head and loose consciousness there is a gap, something we have no experience of.

On the surface it would appear that the existence our Inner World depends on our being conscious is. It seems that the continuity of our Inner World accessible only to me derives its continuity from my consciousness.

Conscious as a word is derived from Latin and is composed of two Latin words:”cum “(i.e.con) meaning with together with and the verb “scire” meaning to know to be aware of.

Consciousness can be described as the state of our self as an organism in which we observe or are aware of ourself and the Outer World around us.

Our Self is the material system and all the data contained in it, our memories, what we know.

In a state of consciousness we are an “I “, the “me” the little boy in the TV add was so proud of.

We have seen before that this I is not continuous and we know that it has a beginning. We know that a child starts to use the words I and me appropriately somewhere in his second year.

Our “I” or consciousness generally does not reach that far back. I have a fairly continuous concept of myself from May 1940 onwards, the day of the German invasion into the Netherlands. I have recollections that are in sequence. This sequence is by far not a day to day recollection of what occurred, but all memories are related on the timeline of prior to and later than.

These are not all recollections I have. I also have recollections that do not fit into this timeline. I cannot place them. They are earlier but are also isolated images of a powerful emotional content. For example I do recall being on my mothers arm while watching a huge fire engulfing a structure of some sort and someone saying:” It will collapse”.

Later I found out that it most certainly must have been the fire that destroyed the R.C. Church in Tiel the place I was born. The church could as could its successor, be seen from the window in the kitchen and from the bedroom above.

This fire occurred in August 1939; I was not yet four

So before my ‘I” became my “self” existed and had experiences, some of which I can recall in some way.

There is no reason to assume that those experiences had no impact on me at all and left no imprint. The fire that destroyed the R.C Church in Tiel proofs the opposite. They do have an impact. Apparently these imprints (unconscious memories) are still in the Inner World. Some can be accessed easily, others can be brought back with special techniques and some seem to be inaccessible. From this it would appear that the Inner World extends beyond my conscious self and contains experiences I am normally not aware of.

It seems to be natural that these imprints will relate to the full period beginning with the conception of my “self” till the time that my self developed into an “I” somewhere in the first years of my life. That these Imprints or memories will cover the period from conception onwards finds support in the fact that even very  small organisms consisting of one or only a few cells can learn, so must have some memories of past experiences. There have been some experiments with one-cell organisms. The solution they lived in was half lit and half kept in darkness. All organisms were initially in the dark halve but were not prevented from venturing into the lit half. However, as soon as one of them crossed over a light electrical shock was applied, which they did not like. Gradually they learned not to cross the line. So it is not impossible that some recollection remains of the experiences of our very early days, when we began our separate life in the womb of our mother.

These unconscious memories are not connected to the “I” as we have seen that that did not exist in those days. They must be related to the self which existed from the time of conception and successful embedding in the lining of our mother’s uterus. We know that there are over 6 billion “self’s” by now. As our selves are very much the same or almost identical (we share about 99 % of our genes with chimpanzees, so with the man next to you have probably 99.9% of the genes in common) these memories must be pretty much the same with only minute variations. We can safely say that we all can access the same memories of the pre “I” period in our Inner World.

This means that part of our Inner World is generally accessible. The extent to which one can do this depends only on ones personal capacities. Some of the more powerful experiences break through in each of us without any action of our “I”. Some of those come through in times of stress or crisis. This part of our Inner World we want to consider somewhat more closely.

In this part of our Inner World apparently are located some personal experiences that we all share. It is in this part of our Inner World that the Arche types Carl Jung talks about are located, those primordial images and religious symbols with universal presence in mankind. They break through from the Inner World we all share. From this World come the legends of Dreamtime, the image of the Great and Omnipotent Earth Mother, the Mother and her Son and Lover, the distant Sky Father, the dragons, Unicorns and the Grail.

These powerful experiences are not in the “I” and for the conscious ‘I” they seem to come from outside the known Inner World, but in a way not from the Outer World. These events are similar to events in the Outer World in that they happened to us rather than we choose them as we normally do with the conscious content of our Inner World. These events happen and we have no idea how or where they come from. They are outside our influence; in this these events resemble Outer World events. This Inner World outside our “I’ connects to the Outer World in that its influence enters each of us, each individual I as does the Outer World.

This Inner World outside our “I" has  besides its unpredictable character some frightening unorganised aspects as had our Outer World initially had for us, but  even more so: it has no time or space characteristics of the Outer World , it appears to be utter and total Chaos..

We try to deal with these events as we do with the Outer World: conceive a framework in which the separate incursions into our conscious” I” make sense; form a pattern that allows us to prepare and respond in an appropriate way. We create a nontime/nonspace world; religious concepts that can bed those visions into our “I" and relate them safely to our Outer World so that we can do something, react.

So after all Jacob was right in a certain sense. His nightmarish vision came out of a generally accessible world the Primordial Inner World we all can have access to. In placing his experience in the Outer World rather than in the Inner World he acted in a religious way: he addresses a Sacred and Holy experience. I am sure the foregoing observations are only a skeleton of a full and thorough consideration of the phenomena mentioned. But we will have to leave that for later or one of the fratres to deal with. We can only cover so much in one short paper.

Two questions I’d like to leave with you.

On the basis of the previous observations is our world a circle with the generally accessible Inner World connected to the generally accessible Outer World and is our wholeness achieved when this circle is closed in our conscious self?

Or is the universe  shaped like a double funnel ; one wide end in the primordial Inner World connected through my self and conscious I  with and fanning out in the Outer World? This would this mean that the Inner World has no connection to the Outer World.
I am inclined to think that the Universe must be continuous i.e. everything is in some relation with everything. This is crucial to the concept that communication is possible and that everything can be known, be it not by one person. On that ground the Inner World is related to the Outer World. The Inner World touches the Outer World. In that way the universe is a circle.

We know that squaring the circle is only possible by approximation. We can not be conscious of the whole Inner and Outer World but we should try.

The second question is of a different nature and I have no idea what the answer could be.

We that is mankind have devised a way of systematising and our experiences of the Outer World and the way in which we gain them. This allows us to share experiences to the benefit of mankind. Experience can be transferred from individual to individual and from generation to generation. We are all aware how many wonders this magic has worked.

We have not been able to do the same for experiences gained in the Inner World, or have we? Are the different religions and their mysticism the equivalent of what science is for the Outer World? Is Theology and Philosophy the Science of the Inner World? Or is it Astrology in its more profound form?

Is there an equivalent to the very effective way to gain, classify and systematise experience of the outer World that Science has proven to be for mankind?

When we answer this question in the affirmative what should be the criteria for a systematic gaining and describing experience? Should the system be the same and for the Outer and for the Inner World as they are connected?

I will not attempt to begin to answer these questions, but I know that I and each of us separately and together will have to answer them somehow to make sense of the self we are in which the Inner and Outer World connect.