Filed under Articles on 4. December 2006 »
The world of form is only ever 5% of your life
As a slight qualifier, let me begin by noting that the numbers themselves are not really important. Their function is only to point beyond themselves, and to trigger something which words and numbers could only ever approximate.
The inner/outer ratio
In the normal state of consciousness, it can be said that our attention is almost continuously occupied with form. Thoughts, objects, situations, and externally derived sense experience, leave us almost no room at all for looking within and being aware of that which is beyond form. If we were to look at life in terms of balance between inner and outer, the formless and form, the habitual ratio between the two is almost always in favor of the outer; something like 95% things, thoughts, and noise, 5% stillness and peace. And this is particularly noticeable in western culture of course, where most people can hardly breathe anymore for thoughts and things that constantly demand their attention. We live in a culture that is mostly surface-driven, sometimes to an absurd degree, where the emphasis is almost exclusively on the external level of life.
Another way of talking about the difference between inner and outer, is to say that the inner is the unmanifested, and the outer the manifested. The unmanifested can be said to be creation itself, while the manifested is that which has been created; the unmanifested is the level of cause, while the manifested is the level of effect.
When we study creative genius, a common element in the statements of master composers, artists, and writers, is that they attribute their creativity to a higher power. They will say that of themselves they do nothing, but merely act as channels for God to come through them into this world.
This is what we call inspiration, insight, and true intelligence; it does not come to us from the outer level, but arises in the unmanifested and infuses the world of form with life. When your attention is almost completely occupied with the outer level, your consciousness mostly in the manifested, you have blocked this channel through which inspiration, enthusiasm, and creativity would otherwise enter.
95% inner, 5% outer
One way of attempting to regain balance is to simply pack up and move to the mountains, cutting yourself off from the madness and renouncing worldly extravagance to limit the distraction. Even when people are very aware of the imbalance between inner and outer while going through the daily motions of life in the modern world, it can be difficult to maintain the balance and still keep up with all the external demands. There is a constant feeling of cognitive dissonance, because the surrounding culture is very busy feeding you the perspective of seeing the external level as almost all there is.
But when the option of physically removing yourself from the diseased culture is not available to you, it is helpful to have a simple aphorism that you can keep in mind throughout the day, one that helps you see the external world in its proper context. If we now look at the pointer, “The world of form is only ever 5% of your life,” what it does is direct your attention within. A simple function, but very powerful because when you have glimpsed the infinite vastness of the space within, the external world will appear trivial in comparison. The outer level is then seen as the surface of the ocean, expressed in waves and ripples, a constant fluctuation of appearance and form; while inner space, the unmanifested, is the ocean itself. In the context of the formless, which we could say is the ultimate context, all form is clearly seen as only relatively important.
This realization will then prompt further insights and realizations, and the more often you make the shift in balance between inner and outer the stronger your inner foundation will become. You may even start having a different relationship to your physical body, and begin to perceive it with a certain detachment, as if you were observing it from above. You then don’t become hungry, but instead observe that your body is hungry. You will not become angry anymore, but may observe anger arising in your body. When lost on the level of form, you will be completely identified with your body and have no choice but to incarnate in whatever condition that happens to arise in it; to become this and that, and thus being like a slave to form. A prisoner of the ego.
As you feel this increasing detachment from your body, you will also begin to feel more completely within it. Or vice versa. And although it is almost impossible to make sense of this using words, let’s attempt another image anyway: you will feel as if you were observing the body from above it, but at the same time you are also observing from deep within it. When you meet people, go about your daily life and operate in the world, it is as if you are playing the world’s most interesting videogame, sitting in your inner living room and navigating your character through the environment. Being an observer of your sense perceptions instead of being lost in them.
The transformative potential of a pointer such as this one may vary from person to person, and for most people it takes repeated application for it to sink in. Something like an affirmation that you write down and keep at your desk, for example. But in those who are ready for it, a simple aphorism can push them into a process of complete transformation. These would be people who have perhaps had to suffer greatly, and have reached a tipping point at which a single sentence can be enough to send them flying.
And even if it doesn’t facilitate a profound transformation on its own, it can be a useful tool to help raise awareness in everyday life, and thus act as a gateway to further progress.