Living from Inside Out

Last week I spoke of trusting the unfolding process of life from within ourselves. With the help of others, as well as story, music, and other arts, this process involves uncovering and living from our inner core, our heart, out true home. It lies beneath all the accumulated layers added on by others and by our life experience itself.

Miriam Therese Winter expresses this perspective eloquently. She says that home is a metaphor, and it means to live from the inside out. It is to live from that place within us “where the truth of ourselves and all of creation unobtrusively dwells.” She relates this understanding to music, which flows from the inside into the universe of silences and sounds, an “external revelation of inward reality.”

The same could be said of story and poetry. These express in words what is felt within. One such expression is from the 13th century poet Rumi: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” These words suggest to me that our inner place precedes and goes beyond all moral judgements. Or rather, we really come to know people when we sense and respond to the inner person, rather than being stuck at the level of outer words or actions. We respond to the person beyond the words or actions. We respond to who the person is, rather than what they have, say, or do. In other words, we enter the “home,” the home space of another and allow them entry into our home.

Another aspect of Rumi’s thought seems to be that it is a question of going beyond our present thoughts on good and evil to a deeper awareness. I would suggest that we may come to think that something is wrong, not because it breaks a law, but because it breaks a person. Conversely, we may think that something is right, not because it follows the rules, but because it affirms the worth of person. To put it in a slightly different way, we are more than the worst thing that we have ever done or the worst thing that has ever been done to us. Our sacredness is deeper than any brokenness. This inner sacred core, rather than our fears or hostilities, is what calls for outer expression,.

We have suggested before that life is a blend of joy and sorrow, bitter and sweet, light and darkness. Life is a both/and, not an either/or. It is a broken hallelujah or a glory hallelujah despite experiences that arises out of trouble. It is within this context, that we are challenged to find both authentic inner meaning and its outer expression.

While acknowledging and naming the hurt, fear, hostility, and even betrayal that are within us, there is a profound difference between inflicting them upon another or entrusting them to another. In the one case the other person becomes simply a target for unresolved and perhaps unfaced issues. In the latter instance, it is a sharing with another the struggles and vulnerabilities of our life, as an act of trust and caring, and an effort to face and grow from these challenges.

There are times when an outward expression may be a path inward for ourselves or others. One of the most rewarding experiences I have had in teaching came when an adult student told me: “You put into words what I always somehow knew but didn’t know how to say.” Sometimes a creative outward expression can name, unveil, and express what is most interior.

This experience may materialize through conversation, but also through story, music, painting, or other art form. Rumi says: “Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” In another place, he writes: “I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.” A favourite expression of mine is found in the song, Anthem, by Leonard Cohen. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

May you be more and more in touch with the inner light within you, and live from that light, that home place within you, and may you be able more and more to share that place with others, and contribute to a new society in which the sacred light of everyone is not extinguished but able to shine forth.

Norman King, March 27, 2023