Monday, April 23, 2012

As Within, So Without

"One has to investigate the principle in one thing or one event exhaustively...Things and the self are governed by the same principle. If you understand one, you understand the other, for the truth within and the truth without are identical." -- Er Cheng Yishu, 11th century

For many years I have shared a similar perspective to the one expressed in this quote, but have struggled to put this philosophy into words. The idea that there are universal truths which can be applied to all areas of knowledge and to all circumstances of life. And the idea that these universal truths can be translated into both complicated theory and simple common sense.

That all things can be viewed from both a literal and a metaphorical perspective, and that all material truths, regarding the laws and processes of nature, have a corresponding psychological and philosophical truth. That the workings of nature, reflect the inner workings of the mind, and both the mind and the body reflect the workings of nature.

For instance, take constipation, having difficult or infrequent bowel movements. Constipation is essentially a blockage of energy. The bowel is like a river. Constipation is like a dammed up river. What prevents a river from flowing? Thick murky sediment. Pollution. Stagnation. Obstruction. An excessive narrowing or constriction of the channels. And what kills the fish in the river? Lack of food. Lack of oxygen. Lack of space. Starvation, dehydration, and asphyxiation. The inability to eat, breath, absorb nutrients, and expel waste.

Constipation is a physical ailment, but there is also a corresponding constipation of the mind, feeling mentally and emotionally and creatively blocked, being rigid and close minded, inflexible in your thinking. Having a closed heart full of hatred and prejudice is also much like a clogged pipe, or a damned, stagnant, dying river. Like having your blood circulation cut off. If it goes on for too long, you'll lose a limb, or you'll have a heart attack or stroke, or you'll die. The whole entire body is like a flowing river of water and blood. When it is healthy, it is in movement, flowing, recirculating, revitalizing energy.

Same is true of the quality of our life, whether we are happy, whether we are feeling vibrant, energetic, enthusiastic, optimal, or whether we feel like we are missing something, like we are stuck, all depend on whether the river of our life is flowing healthfully, or if its blocked and filled with muck. In other words, there are correspondences to be found by observing the laws of nature, that may be applied to our own lives, and to the systems and organizations that govern our lives.

Assuming that there are universal principles of truth that can be applied to all things, I'm thinking that in testing the validity of any system or theory, it helps to look at it through the perspective of different circumstances, and different fields of knowledge, to determine whether the principle still holds true, and whether it is equally valid within as it is without. If there is any incongruity between the two, between the inner and the outer, and the philosophy and practice, it suggests that there is an error somewhere in your system or theory, that is damming up your river, so to speak.

In other words, a universal truth must be true in both theory and practice, and it must be equally true when applied to any subject. So for instance, the conditions and underlying principles that contribute to health and disease, should be reflected in all things, not just the body, the mind, and nature, but also in society, technology, business, relationships, and the management and organization of systems of all kinds.

*Note: This is all very rough. I have more to say about this, and not sure if I said this as clearly as I could have. It's way too hot to write. The desert is killing me. I'll have to revisit this topic at a cooler time.