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"Everything comes from within"

"Everything comes from within"

Postby deadwhitemale » 01 Apr 2009, 21:58

It does? For I don't know how many decades I have disputed and denied it. I stumbled on a G.K. Chesterton qote that's not saying exactly the same thing, but I think it's related:

" That Jones shall worship the "god within him" turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon -- anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worship cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within.

Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards, to behold with astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain. The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer light, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, terrible as an army with banners. " -- G.K. Chesterton

I believe a large part of my thinking is a reaction to the idea that outward circumstances don't matter. For instance, I have often encountered sentiments similar to those expresed by a chained prisoner on the transport train in Doctor Zhivago (1965), who declared that shackles and imprisonment didn't matter, because "I am free in my mind!" I dispute that. I agree more with some line from Dietrich Bonhoeffer (sp.?), which I can't run down online, but it was something to this effect: Not in thought, but only in action, in the very act, is there freedom." Saying shackles and imprisonment don't matter reminds me of some line of Lewis' to the effect that "It's hard to have patience with those who say 'Death doesn't matter.' They might as well say birth doesn't matter."

Somehow it's all mixed up with my "kampf" with the medical-legal establishment. It seems to just be a given, something simply assumed and taken totally for granted, that everyone, no matter what their circumstances, must always be calm and polite and always wear a happy face. If not, then they need to be on some kind of medication to make them feel good inside about whatever is going on outside.

Don't try to change the outward circumstances, just adjust the attitude. If you live in squalor, don't seek to escape it physically and factually, just take a pill to make you feel good about the holes in your floors, the leaks in your roof, the animals nesting in your walls and ceiling, and your toilet that tries to flush itself every few minutes, but overflows when you try to flush it.

Of course, it's not always about "better living through chemistry/pharmacology." It's thought that a great deal of attitude adjustment can be accomplished without resorting to drugging people. If someone is friendless, don't befriend him. Teach him that no one needs friends, no one should care what anyone else in the world thinks of him, and that, most of all, no one can befriend him "until he makes friends with himself." If someone is unloved, don't love them, just tell them to love themselves. If someone is drowning, going down for the third time, don't throw him a rope. Tell him no one can help him until he's ready to help himself.

Everyone must always be completely self-sufficient and self-contained -- must always look inward, never outward. Of course I think that's basically like telling someone who is starving and ragged and homeless to feel warm and dry and well fed, instead of feeding, clothing, or sheltering him, telling the sick and wounded to feel well, instead of treating their illnesses and injuries.

Even when I think about God I almost always think of Him as "out there," not "in here." Something external, not internal. I guess I emphasize His transcendence over His immanence.

I think a tree that falls in a forest makes a sound even if no one is there to hear it. I think one hand clapping makes a whooshing sort of sound, unless it encounters someone's cheek, in which case it's more of a smack.

I think if you want to learn to do something you should go and do it, not sit meditating about it under a waterfall for decades. Unless, of course, you have no place to do whatever it is you need to do, and all you have is a waterfall to sit under. In which case I suppose dreaming is better than nothing, if you really lack the means to take action. Even Gandalf could not burn snow, but had to have something (some fuel) to work with. I don't expect people to make bricks without straw. I don't expect anyone to build anything but cloud castles, if clouds are the only building materials he has.

Sir Petronel: Alas! all the castles I have are built with air, thou know'st.
Quick. I know it, knight, and therefore wonder whither your lady is going.
-- Ben Jonson Eastward Ho. II, ii.(1605?)

"I can conjure up a castle from the air, but not enter and live in one: I live in the wood as a man quite mad." -- C.J. S. Hayward, The Sign of the Grail

I don't think I'm explaining this very well. I've never found a way to explain exactly what I mean, so that no one can misunderstand it. Perhaps the examples and illustrations I use are poorly chosen.

In fact, they practically always misunderstand. They frequently mistake me for some kind of bleeding-heart liberal/Progressive, for instance. That I have something against self-sufficiency and independence. Or they suspect me of a really crude big-M Materialism as well as the usual coarse and crass small-m materialism. Or of having a "sense of entitlement." (I, who refused most of what little government assistance I was ever offered.)

I wish I knew how to make it all clear.

Last edited by deadwhitemale on 01 Apr 2009, 22:26, edited 1 time in total.
"It is when we try to grapple with another man's intimate need that we perceive how incomprehensible, wavering, and misty are the beings that share with us the sight of the stars and the warmth of the sun." -- Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim(1899?)
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Re: "Everything comes from within"

Postby Stanley Anderson » 01 Apr 2009, 22:16

I'm thinking (as is likely Karen:-) of the bit from Woody Allen's My Apology where he imagines himself as a Socrates-like character:

(The scene is my prison cell. I am usually sitting alone, working out some deep problem of rational thought like: Can an object be called a work of art if it can also be used to clean the stove? Presently I am visited by Agathon and Simmias.)

Agathon: Ah, my good friend and wise old sage. how go your days of confinement?

Allen: What can one say of confinement, Agathon? Only the body may be circumscribed. My mind roams freely, unfettered by the four walls and therefore in truth I ask, does confinement exist?

Agathon: Well, what if you want to take a walk?

Allen: Good question. I can't.

You can read the rest of it here:

…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Re: "Everything comes from within"

Postby deadwhitemale » 01 Apr 2009, 23:02

Yeah. Woody got it.

I still can't run down that Bonhoeffer quote I wanted. I can only paraphrase it from faded memory.

Meanwhile, I did find another that may be relevant:

"A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes - and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Of course, the problem I run into when quoting or referring to Bonhoeffer is that so many people think all evil began and ended with his particular enemies in the Third Reich, the bad guys who did him in. I don't like Nazis either, but to me the Third Reich is pretty long ago and far away, and not necessarily the template for all evil.

I don't even consider the Nazis as all that unique in their evil. I see them as just an especially bad example of the sort of things that nearly always happen when governments bcome too powerful, at the expense of the rights of the people. They weren't the first wicked tyrants in the world, nor the last. (People should read up on ancient history, or even just the Old Testament. read aboutnthe Assyrians, for instance. Those were some unpleasant folks.)

I am reminded of something Humphrey Bogart's character (a recently returned WW II veteran) said in Key Largo, something about how people shouldn't think everything was okay now just because the Nazis were beaten: there were still plenty of "ancient evils" lurning and skulking around, waiting for their chance. Of course, in Key Largo the "ancient evil" rearing its ugly head was organized crime, with no particular guiding ideology other than callous greed and wanton cruelty -- semi-dormant Prohibition-era bootleggery looking to make a postwar comeback.

There' something pretty Big and Bad brewing and percolating in the world, even here in the US, right now. The darkness gathers, shadows deepen, omens harden, as the flames of envy and hate flare high, and all loves grow cold.

I wish I could remember that line from The Battle of Maldon, something like "Heart must be stouter, spirit the sterner, as our strength lessens. Here lies our best man, cut in pieces. Any who would now flee the field, let him howl forever."

Well, I did come across Tolkien's translation of part of that (used in a play he wrote):

" It's dark! It's dark, and doom coming! Is no light left us? A light kindle, and fan the flame! Lo! Fire now wakens, hearth is burning, house is lighted, men there gather. Out of the mists they come through darkling doors whereat doom waiteth. Hark! I hear them in the hall chanting: stern words they sing with strong voices. (He chants) Heart shall be bolder, harder be purpose, more proud the spirit as our power lessens! Mind shall not falter nor mood waver, though doom shall come and dark conquer ... " ... th__en.htm

"It is when we try to grapple with another man's intimate need that we perceive how incomprehensible, wavering, and misty are the beings that share with us the sight of the stars and the warmth of the sun." -- Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim(1899?)
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Re: "Everything comes from within"

Postby timoconnor » 25 Jun 2009, 16:32

The source of guidance into a life ruled by God, in His kingdom, is God Himself manifesting within you.

As the kingdom of God is becoming more manifest to us on earth it comes first through the inner subjective experience of men, not initially from the outer view of what is outside a man.

However, once the kingdom has come more fully within a creature, then eventually its external appearance can become identifiable also, through the primary agency of the subjective experience within.

The inner persective explains the outer perspective and not vice versa...

Of course - somethings - the lesser things - come from without...
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