Gloom is shading darker into bitterness and violence around the globe. You all are well familiar with the litany: Unrest in the Middle East; the
developed economies in economic freefall with the bottom nowhere in sight; soaring food prices in third world threatening to light the tinderbox of
large, disaffected, poverty-stricken populaces; the deployment of frightening technological prowess for ever more repressive ends as a lockdown
surveillance society emerges; cultural tensions, the decay of the old order and morality, not to mention the rule of law and the very fabric of
civility; nightmare pathologies blossoming in stressed-out societies that are overmedicated via their very food and water...and even darker visions
lurching into view.
Amid all this, how are we to cultivate our inner life? By "inner life" I mean, in the widest possible sense, the solitary, the personal, the
transcendent. Perhaps, in your case, it is the clarity of focused concentration brought to bear on whatever intellectual pursuit most interests you.
Perhaps it is a spiritual or mystical practice or tendency. Perhaps a dedication to a craft, job, sport, or other pursuit that goes beyond
dilettantism and means more to you than money. Whatever it may be, we all have the options of constructing rich inner worlds that corkscrew off in
many directions, and most on ATS have done extensive work on themselves in this sense, in some way or other. Entire lifetimes could be (and have been)
spent by the worlds' greatest geniuses plumbing the depths of intellect, spirit, reason, and emotion...without coming close to exhausting the infinite
I am curious as to how ATS members view the inner world, especially as times darken. Don't forget, some of the most profound exploration of the inner
world has taken place in history's darkest times. Renee Descartes opened the doors to modern philosophy while scribbling away as a young soldier amid
the hellscape of the Thirty Year's War. Religious saints and hermits, Eastern and Western alike, built magnificent metaphysical edifices in bleak
landscapes of torture, barbarism, brutality, and unspeakable misery.
And yet at the same time there is always the nagging sense that to turn too far inward is to in some way abdicate part of your humanity -- the social,
the political. Is excessive navel-gazing simply infantile escapism and a turning away from the hard choices and responsibilities we must bear? Anyone
with children knows you can't run off to the mountains and grow a beard in a cave alone, for example, and the demands of compassion keep us tied to
this world -- to protect our families, to serve our communities. Others yet say that the strongest path of all is a fusion of the inner and the outer.
("Zen in daily life is ten-thousand-times as great as Zen in silence" -Zen master Hakuin Ekaku [paraph.]).
What does ATS think? How do you balance the inner and the outer spheres? It is a wide topic, and all comments are welcome.
edit on 2/6/11 by silent thunder because: (no reason given)