"All insides have outsides. You, as you feel yourself, are the inside, the animate being inside the skin. But the inside of the skin goes with the outside of the skin. And the outside of the skin is the whole darn cosmos. Galaxy beyond galaxy. The two are one and the same identity, one and the same Self." ~ Alan Watts
They tell us to go inward.
They tell us to sit with feelings, express feelings, listen to feelings. They tell us to notice thoughts, inquire into thoughts, put more space between thoughts. They tell us to meditate, focus on the third eye, say the mantra, ask what the “I” actually is.
Even in sleep, we are instructed to pay attention, because dreams will tell us something important about the Me.
From shrinks to Self Help to Ramana, current Right-Way says, “The way in is the way out.”
Most of us are fairly eager to do as instructed and dive in.
First, because going inward is supposed to make us feel better, or reduce flaws, or attain enlightenment. And who doesn't want that?
And second, because really what topic is more fascinating to the Me than the Me?
Y'know, that inadequate, traumatized, suffering, incomplete self we are so eager to soothe, improve, transform, or leave behind.
Sure, let’s dive deeper into that thing.
But... how’s that work, exactly?
I mean, that’s a whole lotta focus on the self.
That delightful bottomless pit with no end, and no there, there.
Since there’s always more thought, more feeling, more flawed behavior and memory, more “I am,” to dig into.
And despite all that inward looking, more people are depressed and anxious than ever before.
So it could well be that all the inner focus has increased suffering. Rather than setting us free.
It could well be that all the focus on the Me keeps us locked into pain, and locked into the sense of self, locked into the sense of “I’…
It could even be that searching inwardly for understanding no-self brings an obsession with self, an obsession with how it reacts and what it understands…
Continually rooting us in the very thing we were hoping to transcend.
Which is egocentricity at its finest.
And probably not what is hoped for with all that seeking.
Not to mention, illogical.
Because peace, power, truth, spaciousness, vastness, consciousness, no-self, transcendence, and awareness of awareness (um, what?)…
These are great big ideas.
Perhaps too big to be contained “inside” a person.
For that much largeness, it might make sense to go bigger rather than smaller. Less in here and more out there.
Outside the individual. Outside these self stories.
Luckily if it can be found inside, then it can be found outside too.
Because internal and external are one and the same anyway. Because it’s all connected, indistinguishable, the dividing line unfindable.
We’ve tried hard to be present to the Not-me within the individual, but that has left many of us stuck within the story of self, never finding the way “out.”
So if discovering the Not-me is what is wanted, there’s nothing to lose by turning our attention out, to it.
Shifting attention out of the individual’s navel, with its thoughts and feelings, and looking outward…
To vastness, to existence, to the external, and to experience as it is happening.
Rather than to any one person’s thoughts and feelings and opinions about what is happening.
In certain spiritual circles this may even be known as presence.
As in, present to what is happening outside the story of self, outside the story of traumatic past, outside personal preference, filter, and point of view.
Hello, a different way to possibly discover that we are god, we are consciousness, we are experience, we are nothing and everything.
Free of the internal world, we might discover freedom from every world.
Inner and outer dissolving, dissipating, expanding into space.
Leaving "us", whatever that is,
And with poof.
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"What is sought remains hidden from the seeker by already being everything." --Tony Parsons