We have been told that in many respects the spiritual life is comprised of turning inward, of developing a rich inner life?  What does this mean and how does one approach this without resorting to formulas or prescriptions?  How does turning inward effect our outer lives?

Here are some important passages to start our dialog:

But within thy body –the shrine of they sensations –seek in the Impersonal for the “Eternal Man”; and having sought him out, look inward; thou art Buddha.

                                   — The Voice of the Silence

The man of meditation as thus described is superior to the man of penance and to the man of learning  and also to the man of action; wherefore, O Arjuna resolve thou to become a man of meditation.”

                                    — The Bhagavad-Gita

Look for it and listen to it first in your own heart. At first you may say it is not there; when I search I find only discord. Look deeper. If again you are disappointed, pause and look deeper again. There is a natural melody, an obscure fount in every human heart. It may be hidden over and utterly concealed and silenced — but it is there. At the very base of your nature you will find faith, hope, and love. He that chooses evil refuses to look within himself, shuts his ears to the melody of his heart, as he blinds his eyes to the light of his soul. He does this because he finds it easier to live in desires. But underneath all life is the strong current that cannot be checked; the great waters are there in reality.

                                      — LIght on the Path

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Three points:

1. What seems subjective, or "I" at first, is eventually revealed as objective, or "not I". And this happens again and again. "Veil upon veil must lift . . . "

2. A paradox: enhanced self-awareness goes hand in hand with self-forgetfulness. Is that true?

3. As for formulas and prescriptions, sign me up with the Resorters. I love suggestions others have made, and use a number of techniques learned that way.

First you have to answer what is the Self?  Are you talking about your ego and personality or are you talking about the Self, Soul, the real You?  If you are speaking of the real You, the Self, then self-forgetfulness (forgetting or doing away with the self centered impulses of the ego) would, one would hope, lead to self-awareness (or rather Self-awareness).  Saints of several religions and philosophers and sages have said this for generations. 

I think, for me, the "prescription" or "way" has been both action and contemplation.  Action in helping others, doing what I hope is good, etc... and contemplation as in reading theosophy/philosophy, prayer, and meditation, etc...

Here is a passage I just read during my time in study that seems to fit well here. 

Remember the divinity at your inmost, the inmost divinity of you, the heart of you, the core of you. Love others, for these others are yourself. Forgive them, for in so doing you forgive yourself. Help them, for in so doing you strengthen yourself. Hate them, and in so doing you prepare your own feet to travel to the Pit, for in so doing you hate yourself. Turn your backs on the Pit, and turn your faces to the Sun!

Agreed Joe.  The problem occurs  when someone says their is only one formula.

Dear Friends,

 life is symmetrical and "Light on the Path" (Theosophy Co., p. 5) teaches:
"Seek out the way by retreating within.
Seek out the way by advancing boldly without".

The Art of turning Inward is connected with the Art of Living in accordance with the Law of Karma. Thus is also connected with the other topic one can found in the "Art of Living Group", "What is Courage".
Microcosm and Macrocosm are an inseparate whole. Cowardice and Lack of Courage in defending one's higher principles and one's own master opens the way for injustice and, on the contrary, a "brave declaration of principles", "and a valiant defence of those unjustly attacked", both applied in daily life, are the dawn of a "more spiritually intellectual" cycle.

"To phrase it in Buddhist language, one could say that by their daily actions students help (or hinder) their own gradual inclusion in the “three refuges”, which are:  
1) The Dharma (or the Law and Teachings);
2) The Buddha (or the Teachers) and,
3) The Sangha (or the invisible community of sincere students).
There may be few useful lessons we can take from that double concept of self-inclusion and self-exclusion. One of them is that we are responsible for our future destiny. By observing our daily actions we can see whether they are excluding us from, or including us within the wider spirit of the Teaching, in the atmosphere of the teachers, and in the subtle community of earnest students." [1]

What's the future destiny of many a theosophists regarding the actual slandering of H.P. Blavatsky, the founder of the modern theosophical movement, inside the movement itself? 

See in this connection the article "The Challenge of the Skandhas - Understanding, and Neutralizing, the Karmic Patterns of Treason in the Theosophical Movement", by Jerome Wheeler http://www.theosophyonline.com/ler.php?id=3726 
and the article "The H.P.B. Defense Fund - 2005. 'The Aquarian Theosophist Announces a Project to Defend the Truth About H.P. Blavatsky", by Jerome Wheeler. http://www.theosophyonline.com/ler.php?id=202

[1] Taken from the article "The Symbolism of Judas Iscariot - The Self-Exclusion Clause From a Theosophical Viewpoint". http://www.theosophyonline.com/ler.php?id=3791

Best Regards,

Marco Bufarini.

Marco, thanks for these contributions.  Thanks for making connections to the other discussions and thanks for the references.  As for the destiny of slandering.  I think we can leave that to karma and focus on getting our own acts in order.

Dear Gerry,

Thank you.

I think it is important to regard the law of karma without separateness from oneself. 

We can ponder upon this from this event that occured to Henry Olcott, which I report here through an excerpt from an article called "A Lesson to Henry Olcott - On The Feeling of Respect for One’s Teacher". 

(...) Olcott wrote:

“The verses were reproaches to my address for having allowed H. P. B.  to be reviled without defending her; unmistakably referring to my encounter down town with the person I had met, although no names were mentioned.” [2]
The importance of this event is that the lesson given by the message with the quotation from the “Dhammapada” and the “Sutras” is not limited to the past. The message will remain valid to the students of HPB in the 21st century and in the next centuries as well. The paragraphs quoted by the Master and sent to Olcott give every student real food for thought. Especially if students acknowledge that the soul of H. P. B. is, in fact, their brother. The three main paragraphs say:   
* “He who hears his brother reviled, and keeping a smooth face leaves the abuse unnoticed, tacitly agrees with the enemy, as if he admitted the same to be proper and just.  He who does it is either mouse-hearted, or selfishness is at the bottom of his heart. He is not fit as yet to become a ‘companion’.”
* “Revenge is sinful and throws the ‘companion’ in the embrace of Zahak. He who permits his left hand to be polluted with dung without immediately wiping it with his right cares little for the cleanliness of his whole body. What constitutes the integral? - Parts. Of what is composed a human body? - Of limbs. If one limb cares not for the appearance of another limb, is not Zahak ready with trowel and brush to blacken the whole? Such a ‘companion’ is not ready to become a Brother.”
* “It is easy to destroy the poisonous houâbà in its first germination. It is difficult to arrest its progress when once allowed to mature. Its unhealthy emanations will fill the atmosphere with miasmas. It will spread and infect its healthy brethren and cause the limpid waters of the lake to stagnate and dry. Avoid the houâbà and its husbandman, Beloved.” [3] (...) >>

[2] “Old Diary Leaves”, H. S. Olcott, First Series, TPH, Adyar, 1974, 490 pp., see pp. 414-415.
[3] “Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom”,  Second Series, transcribed by C. Jinarajadasa,  Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India, 1973. See Letter 23, pp. 47-49. We did not find these passages in the versions of the “Dhammapada” that are presently available to us and to the public.

The article can be read at: http://www.esoteric-philosophy.com/2010/12/lesson-to-henry-olcott.html

Best Regards,

What does it mean to 'turn inward'?

Perhaps it means to center thoughts towards Svasamvedana - "self-analyzing reflection" towards the essence of finding the true inner being for a self consciousness universal understanding and awareness in search for "absolute truth" and "absolute perfection".  

Every one of us possesses the faculty, the interior sense, that is known by the name intuition, but how rare are those who know how to develop it! It is, however, only by the aid of this faculty that men can ever see things in their true colors. It is an instinct of the soul, which grows in us in proportion to the employment we give it, and which helps us to perceive and understand the realities of things with far more certainty than can the simple use of our senses and exercise of our reason. What are called good sense and logic enable us to see only the appearances of things, that which is evident to everyone. The instinct of which I speak, being a projection which acts from the subjective to the objective, and not vice versa, awakens in us spiritual senses and power to act; these senses assimilate to themselves the essence of the object or of the action under examination, and represent it to us as it really is, not as it appears to our physical senses and to our cold reason. “We begin with instinct, and we end with omniscience.

— H.P. Blavatsky

I would add to Jimmy's question:

What does it mean to develop an inner life?

Attention naturally flows toward the objects of outward sensible experience. I'm sure most here are familiar with the the story of the tenth man. Allow me to briefly relate this story in my own words: Ten men were on a long hike through the forest. After trudging along a couple of miles, the men grew weary and sat down to rest. The leader of the group took this opportunity to count the men so as to ascertain whether any had been lost along the way. So he began to count, "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine." Knowing that the group started their journey with ten, he counted again, judging that he may have miscounted. Once again, he counted nine. After the second counting, a wise man in the group stood up and said, "Sir! You have forgotten to count yourself!" Isn't it true that in our natural mode of experience that we nearly always forget to count ourselves? In a sense, there is no inner life that needs to be developed, it just needs to be noticed. That which can be developed though, is the awareness of that immutable aspect of our nature that is always present -- "The Eternal Man".

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 6, 2013 at 11:00pm

Your story raises some interesting issues.  Socrates is famous for saying the unexamined life is not worth living.  As we look out into the world, in a manner of speaking, we are viewing it through the lens of a group of ideas about what is real, what is unreal, what is important, what is interesting and uninteresting.etc.  To begin to notice and evaluate the accuracy and pertinacity of our perceptions is one component of developing an inner life.  To do this requires that we establish a objective vantage point.  But we know, for trying this, how difficult it is to establish objectivity.  We have to freeze the personal mind again in a manner of speaking.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 8, 2013 at 4:57pm

I wonder if another way of looking at turning inward is to think of it as relying more and more on one's higher self?  Which begs the question.  What does it mean to rely upon one's higher self?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 18, 2013 at 11:19pm

Does relying on our higher self require us to disconnect (inch by inch) from the desires of the "man in the world"?

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on August 19, 2013 at 6:16am

Impersonality tends to be the key.  We all know how difficult it is to maintain the impersonal "point of view," for we are quickly reminded of that famous saying:
"The first necessity for obtaining self-knowledge is to become profoundly conscious of ignorance; to feel with every fibre of the heart that one is ceaselessly self-deceived." (Theosophical Articles and Notes, p.194)

Perhaps by taking this into strong consideration, we begin to look at ourselves and life very differently. What is it that takes things personally? It is the personality, the ego. And it is also the ego that also blinds us, imprisons us, and keeps us "happily" dependent. The ego is comforting in ways where we feel safe and secure. Without this blanket of the ego, we are truly open to all elements- exposed, for lack of better words. 

As we set forth and gain a strong foot hold in that battlefield, we begin to find the lessons in every situation that arises, Not a single moment of life is without lesson, if viewed from an impersonal stand point. We often see this exact thing happen between two friends; one confides in the other about a personal situation so they can get an impersonal view of it. Often when things aren't happening to "us" we can keep cool and see it in a new light- an objective light. Is this not the message of the Gita?

As said in Light On The Path:
"From an absolutely impersonal point of view, otherwise your sight is coloured. Therefore impersonality must first be understood." (p.24)

Another thought for further study can be found in this quote by Pandit Bhavani Shankar:

But now, as a result of further spiritual progress, he realizes more deeply than before the utter unreality of this individuality, that it is a thing "which he has created with pain for his own use and by means of which he purposes to reach to the Life beyond individuality." (The Doctrine of the Bhagavad-Gita p.20)


Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 19, 2013 at 9:24am

Kristan you make some important points here to my mind too.  In conventional language the idea of impersonality is used to denote coldness and distance.  But in philosophy it means something quite different we would think.    How might you characterize the difference between a personal and impersonal outlook? Broadly speaking what are the distinguishing factors?

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on August 19, 2013 at 11:50am

Impersonality taken from a non theosophical point does seem to be cold. I think we all have had the experience of being labeled as "cold and heartless," however we all know that is a misconception. 

Impersonality practiced rightly, leads the individual to view life as a whole, although, is by taking things personal which throws the "blinders on." If we constantly eek our way through life with the personal mentality, it is next to impossible to separate the experience from the experience of life.  This makes all the difference. Being impersonal does not mean one is unable to feel, relate, or be to compassionate, for it is quite the reverse. It simply means that one does not apply or attach  the experience to themselves. If the ego is gone, what is it that we are left to "protect"?

We can also think of it in ways akin to attachment to detachment, do you agree? The teachings tell us time after time to become indifferent to good and bad- thisindifference- is impersonality rightly understood, in my opinion.  We attach things to our selves constantly, feeding the personality, and when we do this we feed separateness, the inability to view life as ONE. 

A simple, understandable situation would be the weather.  We are not in control of the weather, so do we take it personally when it rains? No, we accept it and move on. Life is much harder than dealing with weather, but really, it does not have to be if we understand that eventually everyone gets "rained" on sooner than later.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 19, 2013 at 12:16pm

How is impersonality and the process of turning inwards related?   Any thought either from Kristan and the group?  What are other key ideas related to the process of turning inward?

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on August 19, 2013 at 1:23pm

I must take a quote, because I feel that it is beautifully stated, the process of impersonality and turning inwards;

"The man of the world, however fine and cultivated he may be, is hampered by a thousand thoughts and feelings which have to be cast aside before he can even stand on the threshold of occultism. And, be it observed, he is chiefly handicapped by the armour he wears, which isolates him. He has personal pride, personal respect. These things must die out as the personality recedes." (Theosophical Articles and notes p.142)

This was said to describe the first part of "Light on the Path," which really deals with the shedding of the personality, going inward- to seek out that "natural melody, an obscure fount in every human heart."

Any thoughts? This process of turning inward is quite deep, and I feel there are many ways.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 22, 2013 at 12:02am

In the SD HPB talks about paralyzing the personal consciousness.   I believe this is a fundamental element of meditation.  We self-consciously step outside our personal life and assume the vantage point of the immortal soul.  Going inward in this regard means a transcending of our personality, hence impersonality, as you so eloquently stated.

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on August 22, 2013 at 4:34am
I've been contemplating the concept of oneness lately, and I believe this concept ties in to what we are talking about here -- impersonality. When we speak of "one", as in the one reality, what do we mean? Is it "one" as in "one nation", like a collection of individuals, or do we mean one individual? Both ways of viewing oneness are impersonal. What is the theosophical view?
Permalink Reply by barbaram on August 23, 2013 at 5:46pm

Theosophy teaches that everything in the visible universe comes from One eternal source and everything will return back to this boundless source after a period of manifestation. 

When we step outside of our personal ego and identify with the One Life, to whatever degree, impersonality naturally ensues because the evanescent personality drama invariably recede into the background.

Permalink Reply by Don Petros on August 19, 2013 at 4:03pm

This thread is a good reminder - to sit and go inward. For those like myself who spend so much time acting and reacting to life's daily barrage of events, taking more time to sit and 'look deeper' and to impersonally observe, seems to be what is needed.

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Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 22, 2013 at 2:23pm

Near the end of chapter 5 of the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna says, "The man who is happy within himself, who is illuminated within, is a devotee, and partaking of the nature of the Supreme Spirit, he is merged in it. Such illuminated sages whose sins are exhausted, who are free from the delusion, who have their senses and organs under control, and devoted to the good of all creatures, obtains assimilation with the Supreme Spirit."

What does this tell us about the art of turning inward?

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on August 22, 2013 at 4:47pm

We have to ask ourselves, "what does one expect to find when turning inward?"

A friend of mine found "nothing," and when she spoke this, many, many years ago, someone answered her, "That is too bad..."

Now we should think of this deeply. When we are able to perceive anything at all, no matter how large or small of a feeling upon turning inward, that alone is ego. If we can perceive anything at all we are still perceiving the ego. 

HPB reminds us of this in the first few pages of "The Voice of the Silence;" "... the pupil must seek out the Rajah of the senses, the Thought-Producer, he who awakes illusion. The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real. Let the Disciple slay the Slayer." [...] "...when beholding her image on the waves of Space she whispers, "This is I"- declare, O Disciple, that thy Soul is caught in the webs of delusion*." [*sokkayadtthi- "delusion" of personality](p.1,2,4)

Very good question Gerry!
Q: What does this tell us about the art of turning inward?
A: That if we look long enough, we should expect to find nothing :)

What is consciousness but the power to perceive, not that which is perceived. So then what is the power to perceive? That is what we hope to find when we turn inward.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on August 23, 2013 at 4:31pm

My thoughts on finding nothing upon turning inward is that we shut out our sensory consciousness and learn attunement to the energies of the upper triad when we focus inward.  This process takes us to "assimilation with the Supreme Spirit." There are six steps before we can dive into the "void".  It may be nothing to the personality but it is the fullness of the Emptiness.

In the Voice of the Silence, page 20 - And now thy Self is lost in SELF, thyself unto THYSELF, merged in THAT SELF from which thou first didst radiate.  Where is thy individuality, Lanoo, where the Lanoo himself?  It the spark lost in the fire, the drop within the ocean, the ever-present Ray become the all and the eternal radiance.   

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 25, 2013 at 11:16pm

I wonder if we could say 'No-thing" rather than nothing.  Meaning, that the more we turn inwards the less we see separations?

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on August 26, 2013 at 5:17am

No-thing would be more accurate, than "nothing,"  I agree.  I believe if we were to look at the Non-Duality philosophy (Advaita Vedanta) we could really get a good idea for non-separateness. 

If we turn to The Secret Doctrine, and read pages 14-16 (first fundamental) in proem, we can get a good idea of this, the non-duality.

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on August 22, 2013 at 4:57pm

I think the last phrase of the above quote: "obtains assimilation with the Supreme Spirit" says it all.  But is it really assimilation since we are all One and since we are already part of the Supreme Spirit?  Perhaps it is not so much assimilation as it is realization or enlightenment.  Perhaps it is like discovering a long lost love, one who you may even have forgotten about, but suddenly they are there in front of you, out of the blue.  

I don't agree that we can or should completely wall ourselves off from the world.  We must find a middle way, a balance between our interior lives and our exterior lives.  I don't think that one can find realization through meditation without also being able to be compassionate towards others and do good unto others.  We cannot find that "Lost Love", the Supreme Spirit, if we are not capable of loving our fellow human beings and ourselves. 

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on August 23, 2013 at 8:46am

I agree with you, Jeffrey. It is very important that one does not use the meditative state as a means of escapism, or walling ourselves off from our duty.

However, I would like to point out something. The Bhagavad-Gita talks of four castes; the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras.  Each of these holds its own sense of duty, or dharma. We all belong to one of these it is said, as all of these castes go to make up One body.  If each individual were to perform their own duty, they aren't working for themselves, they are working for the collective, their caste and other castes as well.  We can see this same system if one has ever worked in a kitchen. The dishwasher is just as important as the head chef, with out one, the entire system fails. A symbiotic relationships is the idea, Brotherhood and Unity. 

Pandit Bhavani Shankar states in "The Doctrine of the Bhagavad Gita;"
"...It made the mind familiar with the idea of all work being a sacrifice. The Brahmana does his work; so also the other castes do their works. It gave a spiritual direction to all work by holding prominently before men this idea of human solidarity and sacrifice." [1]

So I suppose it might be difficult to understand the duty of a Kshartiya form the view point of a Shudra.  And it is necessary that one should?  Perhaps it is comparison of ones duty to another in which arises separation and inevitably stunts the growth of compassion.  

What do you mean by our interior lives and exterior lives?

"...the system induced in each a sense of duty irrespective of results and gradauly paved the way for worshipping Bhagavan through devotion to one's duty referred to in the 46th verse of the 18th Chapter: "Him from Whom is the evolution of all beings, by Whom all this is pervaded by worshipping Him with proper duty, man attains perfection." While the fostering of a sense of duty attenuates the personality and lifts motive out of personal inclination on to the impersonal idea of righteousness, the recognition of Bhagavan as the source of all Life and Dharma curbs the Ahankara involved in the separative sense of duty, and thus are laid the sure foundations for the life of renunciation, and a hankering for liberation, Mumukshutva, is aroused. For action in which attachment and Ahankara are, absent does not bind."[2]

How we see life, all life, is perception based.  There in fact, is no outer life, but only life itself.  This perception follows our consciousness not the other way around. How deeply we see is not a matter of going out, but rather inward.  The artist with a heightened sense of color does not develop this by imagination but by constant seeing and looking at the objects light illuminates.  It is a concentrated effort of development by constant attention. 

Spirit and Matter are one- a very deep and profound mystery.

[1] [2]- "The Doctrine of the Bhagavad-Gita," Bhavani Shankar.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on August 23, 2013 at 4:47pm

Hi Kristan:

Is your point that as long as we follow our dharma, whether it is life of an ascetic or a politician, it transcends above right and wrong?  When we all do our duty, be it grand or small,  introvert or extrovert, then we all contribute to weaving the quilt of brotherhood.  It is difficult to train ourselves to rise above the physical and live in the One Life.



Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on August 23, 2013 at 6:52pm

Yes, our dharma I believe is to be very important in this situation, as we begin to understand what our duty is, we recognize we are a working part of the universe.  We all are working together on so many higher levels than we are aware of, "for the ascetic's body may be in the forest, his thoughts may be in the world." 
However, I am not quite sure I follow you when you say, "transcends above right and wrong." Can you explain this? 

I should say, I believe that there is no need to think one should rise above the physical and live in the One Life. We are already living in the One Life, we just fail to see that- this is the illusion- not our physical lives, but how we perceive things from being separate.  Once again, one of the most mysterious quotes, "spirit and matter are one."  
This applies to the art of turning inward when one realizes that they are in fact not the body, personality, thoughts, astral body, and so on.

T. Subba Row gives a great example of this. It may seem a little out of place on this particular thread, but when applied to the art of turning inward, we can see the correlation.

"Suppose a bright light is placed in the centre with a curtain around it. The nature of the light that penetrates through the curtain and becomes visible to a person standing outside depends upon the nature of the curtain. If several such curtains are thus successively placed around the light, it will have to penetrate through all of them; and a person standing outside will only perceive as much light as is not intercepted by all the curtains. The central light becomes dimmer and dimmer as curtain after curtain is placed before the observer; and as curtain after curtain is removed the light becomes brighter and brighter until it reaches its natural brilliancy. Similarly, universal mind or Cosmic ideation becomes more and more limited and modified by the various Upadhis of which a human being is composed ; and when the action or influence of these various Upadhis is successively controlled, the mind of the individual human being is placed en rapport with the universal mind and his ideation is lost in Cosmic ideation."     
[Five Years of Theosophy, "Personal and Impersonal God" p. 206-207]

Permalink Reply by barbaram on August 24, 2013 at 3:46pm

"However, I am not quite sure I follow you when you say, "transcends above right and wrong." Can you explain this"

I meant if one follows one's calling,  then there is no right or wrong, even though the duty may sometimes requires one to live an introverted life, like that of an ascetic.  On the surface, it may appear the person is escaping from the world, but in actuality, the person is fulfilling their karma and may even be doing tons of good by generating benevolent energies. 

"I should say, I believe that there is no need to think one should rise above the physical and live in the One Life. We are already living in the One Life, we just fail to see that- this is the illusion- not our physical lives, but how we perceive things from being separate.  Once again, one of the most mysterious quotes, "spirit and matter are one." 

We may be living in the One Life, but if we do not realize it,  it is still just a nice thought, not a living Reality.  Till then,  it is something  to aspire.

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on August 24, 2013 at 5:41pm

Thanks Kristan!!  You are correct in your above statements.  As for myself, when I was referring to interior and exterior lives I was considering the difference between meditation and action.   But these two ideas are really not that far apart, because both are forms of action.  Meditation can be thought of as spiritual and/or psychological action, and duty (physical action) hopefully is the result or manifestation of the meditation or spiritual action.  To put it better, everything begins in the spirit or mind before it is manifested in physical reality.  It is for this reason that it is important that we keep an eye on our thoughts, mental attitudes, and especially, our intentions.  So you are right, there really is no difference between interior and exterior, both are simply expressions of the spirit.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on August 25, 2013 at 7:50am

Thank you, Barbara and Jeffrey! I agree!

We can begin to see that the art of turning inward has a lot behind it. If we can take this even further (that is, if it is not too far removed from the topic), how does the art of turning inward relate to the first chapter in The Bhagavad-Gita, namely "The Despondency of Arjuna," and further more, how can we understand the process and necessity of such an art as turning inward?

Krishna constantly implores Arjuna to come to the realization that He- Krishna- is at the basis of everything. Yet Arjuna struggles to slay his "kindred." 

What then, is the "kindred" of Arjuna, and how can we adopt this very method in every day life?

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by barbaram on August 25, 2013 at 7:18pm

"We can begin to see that the art of turning inward has a lot behind it."

There is a lot behind turning inward;  it is a discipline that takes many lifetimes to acquire. 

"If we can take this even further (that is, if it is not too far removed from the topic), how does the art of turning inward relate to the first chapter in The Bhagavad-Gita, namely "The Despondency of Arjuna"

It has been many years since I read the Bhagavad-Gita;  I do remember how this topic relates to Arjuna's despondency. 

"and further more, how can we understand the process and necessity of such an art as turning inward?"

The approach may be a little different for each individual but, nevertheless,  there are common themes in the teachings, like purification of the lower selves,  control the mind, and overcome the senses, etc.  Almost the entire VOS is about this process and its stages, some pertinent quotes below -

Kill thy desires, Lanoo, make thy vices impotent, ere the first step is taken on the solemn journey.  Strangle thy sins, and make them dumb for ever, before thou dost lift one foot to mount the ladder.

The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real.  Let the Disciple slay the slayer.

Merge into one sense thy senses.  if thou would'st be secure against the foe.  'Tis by that sense alone which lies concealed within the hollow of thy brain, that the steep path with leadeth to thy Master may be disclosed before thy Soul's dim eyes.

"Krishna constantly implores Arjuna to come to the realization that He- Krishna- is at the basis of everything. Yet Arjuna struggles to slay his "kindred."

There is one passage in VOS that sums it up - The Self of matter and the SELF of Spirit can never meet.  One of the twain must disappear;  there is no place for both.  When Arjuna arrives at this stage,  then he would realize that Krishna is at the basis of everything. 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 25, 2013 at 11:24pm

The Gita is largely an allegory in terms of story and spiritual instruction concerning the Path.  Kindred, from one point of view, could be seen as one's lower nature, hence one must "kill it" (think transcend perhaps).

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on August 26, 2013 at 3:30pm

Thank you Gerry.  The Gita tends to offer insight on almost every topic, depending on how one reads it, as it makes a good reference to my next question. 

Holding this in mind, and without going too far into the Gita, Arjuna, a Kshattriya, about to commence to battle with these lower natures. However, he becomes despondent. I would like to point out that Krishna then reminds him (further on in the Gita), that he is a Kshattriya, a strong, brave, and fearless warrior, and it would be a disgrace if Arjuna were to back out, as all his life times has led to this very moment.  Krishna seems to be "building up" Arjunas confidence, bravery, and pride to begin this battle.  

Remembering that our personality and lower natures are created by us as means of further spiritual development, what can we see from the example above, and how does it relate to turning inward?  Could we say that these lower natures may possibly come to aid us in the "battle" ? 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 27, 2013 at 12:21pm

The Self-Governed Sage of Krishna's description in the second chapter is "happy and content in the Self through the Self". One way of looking at the "war" is it is a battle of identity.   We fiercely identify with our bodies, our traits, our emotions etc.and to place the identity on  something higher, something that is not screaming for our attention, requires a battle of sorts ( desires in all their various forms).The Sage is in want for nothing being content with the SELF.

I believe this is one way to view the Gita references you wisely turn our attention to.  Turning inward might be characterized as shifting our attention away from the personal  desires and considerations (tuning out) and trying to listen to the subtle voices within (metaphysical, universal...ie. tuning into that).

How might others respond to Kristan's excellent question?

Permalink Reply by Don Petros on August 27, 2013 at 1:52pm

'Could we say that these lower natures may possibly come to aid us in the "battle" ?'

Kristan, such an interesting question.    

As aggregate but singular beings, it would seem that the higher aspect of our being (Atma/Buddi) would view the lower as an ally (it would see no duality) and be able to utilize any and every tool in the box to achieve it's objective (higher conciousness, compassion). It would seem that the lower would assume the opposite view (being caught in duality, separateness), so the effort would be essentially of a 'top-down' kind.  Yes, I think unwittingly the lower natures can be used to aid in the higher natures activities and efforts.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on August 27, 2013 at 6:54pm

Thank you Don and Gerry! 

I appreciate both of these replies, some very great insights! 
I feel that Non-Duality would be a unifying principle, while Duality would be the way of illusive separateness.  We can see this in cosmic evolution, and we can see it in ourselves. This perhaps can be a brilliant way of approaching turning inward. 
Thanks again!

Permalink Reply by Sophia Fields on August 25, 2013 at 8:24pm

 Resonating with what Krishnamurti said, "To be completely a Light to Oneself."  


Permalink Reply by Joseph Miller on August 26, 2013 at 12:47am

I am thinking we should be careful about separating too strongly the inward and the outward. I want to believe that any true and deep tapping of the interior root is going to have reverberations on the "outside". How could it be otherwise? In fact, the most powerful changes probably start with the "private" heart-churning of a Gandhi, a King, a Thoreau. Remember Henry's statement from "Civil Disobedience"

Action from principle--the perception and performance of right--changes things and relations. It is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything that has been. It divides states, churches, families. Aye, it divides the individual, separating the divine from the demonic within him.

In other words, turning inwards makes possible noetic mental action, which can be thought of as 'vertical'; suspending for a time the 'horizontal' psychic mental action, which is coarse, conditional and imitative. That is the basis for getting outside of one's self, opening the door to a truly creative divine intervention.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 27, 2013 at 12:12pm

Joe how would you characterize the idea of turning inward?  What does that mean to you when you hear it? Do others in the group care to share what it means to them?

Permalink Reply by Don Petros on August 28, 2013 at 3:28pm

Gerry, to me, going inward is something that could be taken in different ways. If by inward, we mean to go to our higher being, then as Kristan put it: "Impersonality tends to be the key"... seems to be the right way. I think the 'key' which Kristan refers to above is the very Key to Theosophy that H.P.B. was referring to.

On the other hand, one could be inwardly meditative and outwardly quiet, but still be focussed upon the ego and it's objects of desire. So, I guess the art of turning inward depends on the motive.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 29, 2013 at 9:58am

What a helpful thought.  So is going inward akin to listening in some deeper way?  And how does one listen when the cares of the world  and the worries of our life are bombarding us from all sides?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 29, 2013 at 10:01am

One of our members  in our group shared this with me via email.

A favorite quote from Robert Crosbie:


“Take the position that you never fail nor fall nor slip back, but that you have not been constant and careful in guidance of your responsive, but irresponsible instrument; hence, you feel the effects through it of your lack of care. Get hold of it, take care of it, guide it, use it, but be the Self.” 

 Friendly Philosopher p. 100

How does this help us in the turning inward process?

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Don Petros on August 29, 2013 at 10:55am
Yes, I guess 'listening' to the inner, impersonal voice is what I mean. It seems that the personal caring (about oneself) aspect of our attention is what causes worry and a sense of bombardment.
Can one be careless about oneself - can one be in such a state of personal carelessness that one can hear the inner voice? I think this is exactly what we must find a way to do.

It's hard. 'I' sense failure. Sometimes one gets up and finds ones' way. The quote that you bring below from R.Crosbie discusses this very well, thanks.
Permalink Reply by Joseph Miller on September 9, 2013 at 2:12pm

Life in form in time is an evolution, an unfolding into differentiation of power and function. In youth the essential unity prevails; but by middle age the forces of dissolution begin to tip the scale. The center cannot hold.

If the mind is wholly occupied with externals, it has no sure anchor as this tide begins to shift. But if through meditation the mind is practiced in disengaging from 'namarupa' and re-cognizing an inwardly simpler self-being, then dissolution of form can be faced without threat.

Socrates was really describing meditation when he taught 'philosophy is the practice of dying'. There is nothing morbid here, only good sense. Since life is rife with occasions of loss, and all loss is the parting of mind from form, it is wise to voluntarily exercise that ability before loss is forced upon one.

But more, meditation also opens avenues of experience that are not available to the busy brain. Within is a prior state of innocence which goes unnoticed unless inhabited consciously. It is wholesome and restorative to affirm an eternal youthfulness that is within and cannot be lost. On the other hand, it is foolish to remain unacquainted with this self, as it is more truly oneself than the projected shadow.

Permalink Reply by Joseph Miller on September 17, 2013 at 10:27pm

We have been taught to spend our lives chasing our thoughts and projections. Even when "mind" is talked about, what is referred to is thoughts and emotions alone; and when our researchers study what they imagine to be the mind, they look only at its projections. . . . It's interesting that the word for "Buddhist" in Tibetan is 'nangpa'. It means 'inside-er': someone who seeks the truth not outside, but within the nature of mind. All the teachings and training in Buddhism are aimed at that one single point: to look into the nature of the mind, and so free us from the fear of death and help us realize the truth of life.

                                                                                  from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

                                                                                     by Sogyal Rinpoche

Permalink Reply by Don Petros on September 18, 2013 at 9:43am

Joseph - this is a very interesting topic. It's a reminder that we can be engaged in the illusion of Maya, whether outer (the physical world) or inner (thoughts/emotions). So, when the term 'outer' is used, it doesn't mean necessarily the outer, physical world, but instead means as you present it means outside of the true nature of mind - which is to say 'inside of mind' - something interior to thoughts and emotions. Thanks. "We have been taught to spend our lives chasing our thoughts and projections."

Permalink Reply by Joseph Miller on September 20, 2013 at 1:22am

Don, Thank you for restating that beautifully. That was exactly the point that struck me, too. It can be carried further: all our experience IS mental experience. We only have experience in the mind of the mind -- a point which the Western metaphysical Idealist Berkeley played out. We never directly experience an outer 'other' world. Without falling into strange dissociation or denial, we can at least admit that much of what we experience is based on how we have directed the power of attention, and what interpretations we indulge. William James wrote, "My experience is only what I have attended to."  That is, it is NOT objective; it is a product of what I do with the power of attention. That is why people in similar circumstances have such marked divergences in meaning. GOING WITHIN, then, has to do with getting a handle on projection. "Samsara is the turning outwards of the mind, and a getting caught in our projections."

Permalink Reply by Don Petros on September 20, 2013 at 4:26pm
Thanks, Joseph. You say: "what we experience is based on how we have directed the power of attention.."
Yes, that sounds right. Perhaps this idea of what we are goes further. I've heard the expression -'attention is'.
If there is significane to that saying, maybe it means that we are what we attend to. All supposition, until we know better.