The Inner and Outer
The Inner- and
the Outer- World. Paper given By V.W.Fra. M.H.J.W. Maas VIIº
GBNo. 7780 on 26th August 2005
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
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.
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.
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.
experience is a point in space and time where the generally
accessible space/time connects to the space-time only accessible
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
The second question
is of a different nature and I have no idea what the answer
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
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
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