Sunday, July 24, 2011

Two Worlds

I say that there are two worlds in this one.

Everyone knows about the first. It surrounds, glaring, like billboards from the hillsides, declaring itself without shame. There is no need to describe it, for it is known to all and contains nothing of importance -- except that which can only be revealed by contrast with the second.

The second is not so easy to find. Few do, so far as I know. I have found but one way in, though I suspect there are probably more, and perhaps others might have found them. As with so many other things, my understanding on this point is limited. The way I know opens like a little door to a vast, cavernous space, for as far as I can tell, that world is far greater than the one known to all. Once a man has seen it, even only a little bit, the Outer takes a feeling of being close and cramped. Small isn't the right word, for clearly the dimensions have not changed, but perhaps I am not talking about space.

I say Outer only because that is the way it appears to me. The other world seems to be Inner, though I would understand someone else if he took the two to be reversed. I say it is Inner because, having seen it, it appears to be at the Center, with everything else on the Periphery of its Centrality. But I can also see someone saying that it was 'outside of' the one that they had always known. In truth, I suspect that it cannot be known by any man, for all minds are limited, and it is doubtful that any exertion of reason might finally succeed in achieving sufficient expansiveness to know its dimensions and arrangement. In such a case, one must rely on something else, and in this I have resorted to what I feel. But it is also unimportant; what is important is that the two are separate, and that they are different. I shall use my own convention.

On the Inside is darkness, but I only say that it is dark because I cannot see. It could be only that I do not see well there, for my own eyes appear to need illumination from the Outside world. Very little of this light may penetrate through my small door. It is like the light which comes in to an unlit room from a window, when the sun is on the other side of the house. I see but dimly by it, and not very far. My knowledge of the Interior is limited to my tiny corner.

How, then, can I know that it is vast and cavernous? I've never known a sound to return to me from any direction except by what local objects I can see, but then, perhaps sound is not the best judge of distance. All I know is that I look out, and see no end. More important, I feel none. The vastness swallows me up.

What is in this other world? First, though the light is dim and cannot penetrate far, the eye will notice of the colors which can be seen, that they are Full, and Deep, and Rich. They are not like the obnoxious, screaming pastels of the Outside. Once you have been on the Inside, you realize that the Outside is like that. It screams, demands, distracts. But mostly it wastes -- attention, cares, worries, and Time, all for Nothing.

The textures, the sounds, they are likewise. No one has seen or heard till he has seen and heard the Inside. Where the Outside is intrusive and loud, the Inside is quiet and contemplative. It does not demand; it respectfully and reservedly is. The Outside grasps. The Inside is content. I describe the Inside in terms of the Outside, because that is what others know. But the Inside does not resemble the Outside. It is the Outside which is the distorted and mutilated reflection of that Within. I know that now.

But what is actually there, I can only say of my small corner, and it is something like the corner of a library, or a study, or a drawing room. There are books there, and the perfect atmosphere for reading, even if the light is dim. But bringing a book near enough to my little door is sufficient. There are not as many books as I might have thought, such as there are Outside, and the subjects are very few. Maybe there are many more books on many other subjects elsewhere, but as I say, my corner is very small. One thing I must say about these books is that they are all very good. Many Outside books -- almost all of them, even -- are not good, especially once you have read books Inside. It is possible to find copies of books from the Inside on the Outside also, but they are not the same. They are different Within. Within, they are something of their own, but Outside they only point towards the Inside.

Perhaps all of the Inside is not that way. I do not know. I know about the books because that is what is nearby to my door. But Inside is a great region. Other doors might lead to different places, but I have never seen them and do not know about them. Likewise, I am not sure that many others know about my door, and I am not sure that I could direct anyone to it if I tried. It would be like trying to point to a very particular place in a clear, blue sky. It is possible that there are others who know many such doors, or can even see by some light Within which I cannot and know much more that dwells there. I have heard that there were in the past. But I do not know any of those people myself, and cannot do these things.

It is strange. With respect to things like the books, on the Outside, if a man has a question, he may 'look up' the answer. Or so he believes, and so he does, anyway. But I find that this is not the way things work on the Inside, and once I spent some time there, I knew that this was also true of the Outside as well, though few seem to realize it. It is only an illusion. On the Inside, one recognizes it, and knows it for what it is. He recognizes that there is knowledge to be had, knowledge in abundance for those who seek it patiently and diligently, but nevertheless, to the limited mind the world will always be filled with Wonder. That is one of its supreme blessing, next to Humility and Discovery, which bring so much Joy.

In like manner there are many subjects about which I would like to know a great deal more, but which do not appear in the little corner that I know, and I must accept that until such time as I may encounter them Inside, I must be content with plain ignorance. Right knowledge of them will be hidden from me, and there is nothing I can do. I caution myself not to accept the answers which I find Outside, for I have seen that most of them are lies. It is the Outsiders who delude themselves and so often delight in accumulating these answers. They have not yet learned that truth which is too easy to find – or to accept – is usually not truth at all.

Sometimes Outsiders seem to notice this in their specialties, that Conventional Understanding often does not work in practice. At first they are frustrated, but the clever ones can sometimes sort out for themselves a few Secrets which give them Advantage. Both are important Outside, and these they often guard jealously. Rarely do Outsiders allow the existence of Secrets to burst the pretenses of Conventional Understanding or to disrupt the Pomp of Progress. For some reason, it does not alert them to the Lies, or point them towards the Inside, and on other subjects they just continue to accumulate Lies as though they had learned nothing. Perhaps they really haven't.

I fear that the End may be coming for the Outside, and that one day, all will be forced In. I love the Inside, but I do not look forward to the End. Of that, I am very afraid. On that fateful day, I fear that I will be flung headlong into the very Center, blind and hurtling through darkness to confront the very face of the Unknown. It is of this that I am most afraid.

But if Outside or Inside must End, I must choose the Outside, whatever my fear. Till then, I wait in apprehension.

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