As within, so without. — Thinking and acting need to match. We are aw we think.
In This Moment
Getting very close to our road trip out to BC for the beginning of August. Montana and Alberta on the list, too… cousins to see!
A reminder that we’re now also writing a travel blog called, "Simple Zen Travellers." We’ll share tools and methods for turning your travel into an adventure in self-knowing. You can sign up at:
One of the first usages of expression was in the famous book by James Allen, As a Man Thinketh.
"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
"All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts."
This idea is a "lift" from the Buddha, who said, "We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."
This knowing has to do with all of the levels of our "within."
From a Bodywork perspective, it’s quite the debate as to whether the way we think and then act leads to bodily conditions, or whether the way we carry ourselves leads to the way we act and think. Of course, it’s both.
Often, for example, getting someone to stand in neutral posture, as opposed to curling their shoulders or slouching will result in an immediate change, for the better, in their mood.
Equally as important is the recognition of the power of the way we choose to view our reality and our life stories.
For many, there is no choice at all. The ego project, that great effort at civilizing us and giving us an additional framework to understand our reality, builds deep-seated beliefs into us. For the majority, the beliefs of "society" are the only beliefs considered. Or, as is the case with a few of my friends, holding anti-society beliefs is the norm. (You say black, I say white. Every time. No choice.)
People saying, "That’s just the way it is," is a good indication of this deeply buried material.
Even more interesting is the ease with which manipulative folk can get the people around them to "buy into" the world-views they have declared to be valid. In other words, as a simple example, victims somehow seem to find people that want to play the game of victimizer. There truly are play-mates for everything… even strange, weird, illegal, and abhorrent things.
It’s when we start to resist the games we’ve formerly played – when we start finding them constricting and overwhelming, that the drama (and the growth) starts.
Now, let’s be clear about this. Many, many people never get to the point of actively challenging their belief systems. Complaining about being stuck, attending seminars and workshops, reading books, none of this is indicative of anything resembling a shifting of perspective.
As in the quote from James Allen, (where outside action matches inside intent) the process requires actually doing something about the places where we are stuck. To say it again, it’s an inside job that turns into a change in external behaviour.
A yoga instructor friend described this the other day: "I used to worry about how my students would see me and my class. Today, I calmed myself, examined my body, and decided upon what kind of practice I needed. I taught that practice, and I was fully present for it. My students really liked the practice, but that isn’t as important to me as being fully into my practice. From there, I am a much more grounded and elegant teacher."
I’m reminded of a quote from Anais Nin, one of my favourite writers and people.
She went off to France in the 20s to find herself, and one way she did that was to write. One of her routes to finding herself was to write erotic tales, which an anonymous benefactor paid her for. (see Delta of Venus.) He was quite critical of her early writing; he thought it was stilted and not very erotic.
So, Nin made a clever leap. She realized that she could not write about something she hadn’t experienced. Intimately. So, she went out and began to have erotic and sexual experiences. She wrote:
"And the day came when the risk it took to remain
tightly closed in a bud was more painful
than the risk it took to bloom."
Nin describes an arc of self-knowing that starts where the start belongs.
Imagine the silliness and futility of Nin running around having experiences that fly totally in the face of her internal belief system. If she had made that choice, every action would have set off alarm bells and whistles, and she’d have been so caught in the judgements and the recriminations that her life would have come to a standstill.
Instead, she examined herself, to determine what she was capable of. She discovered and threw out her outmoded beliefs, decided to see what she could learn by being open to new experiences, and began a life-time of actually walking her newly chose path.
As within, so without.
The key to this approach is the commitment to making a choice and seeing it through. Some people just think and never act. Other people "just act," without much thought or commitment. And the guilt starts.
To me, acting and simply observing without pre or post judgement seems the better choice.
I see this with Bodywork. In order to "do" Bodywork really well, you have to commit to showing up and actually doing it, and… and this is important, having the experience that emerges, no matter what it is.
Often, as the process deepens, new material will emerge. It can run the gamut from deep-seated fear and grief to orgasmic passion and feeling. The internal commitment necessary is this: "No matter what comes up, I’m going to experience it fully."
This will require breathing through and suspending judgement. And guess what? It’s an inside job. Because that’s where the game is being played out. It manifests outside in the actual "having" of the experience.
This week, look at your internal theatre and descriptions. Look for sticking points in the story you tell yourself. Notice how those sticking points keep your external reality from being what you want it to be.
Then, go inside and begin to change the internal descriptions. But be pro-active. Not, "I’ll have to think about this for a while." Rather, "Here is what I will think, and here is what I will do."
As within, so without.