Where Do We Turn?
We don’t just have an inner world and an outer world. Often we think, “Oh, my inner world, my outer world.” But what we usually think of as our inner world is actually our middle world.
This is a Chinese medicine perspective, but it plays right into Sufism: We perceive the outer world through our sensory orifices. What can you hear around you? What can you see around you? What might you be smelling around you? If you are eating something, there is what you are tasting. If you are touching things, there is what you are touching.
All of this is the outside, entering through the senses. What the outside world enter is what I’m going to call the “middle world,” the world of you, and all your mixed-up goulash. All of your stuff, all of the little racing cars that are racing around, and the slugs climbing slowly uphill, and every standing wave of questions from early childhood: “Am I really a booger head? Billy called me a booger head. Am I a booger head?” Everything that’s in there, I’m calling about the middle world.
From the outside, through the sensory orifices, arrives stimulus which, when it feels clear, we call knowledge, e.g., that’s a car coming. The sensory orifices are known as the outer orifices of the heart. The exit-entry points run maintenance on that.
There are also exit-entry points in the chest that run maintenance on the inner orifices of the heart. When perception enters the unseemly goulash that we call “our personal experience” from the inside, from the real inside, from what in Whole Heart Connection we call the donut hole…
Take a moment with hand on the center of your chest to check, how is the donut hole doing at the moment? If it is clenched tight, not much perception is going to be able to enter into our goulash. From the inner world of the heart, into our experience, there may be lots of messages waiting! But we have to let it open and expand a bit.
Ideally, this is part of the work of Doorways of the Divine. Ideally, we have at least as much inwhispering about the nature of reality, entering through the heart, into our lived experience of selfhood coming from the inside, as we have coming in from the outside. There is so much coming in from the outside! How much is coming in from the inside? How open or how minimized is each window? You can hit minimize, or you can hit maximize on either window.
This balance is very, very important for our lived experience, and yet we forget about it. Things happen in the outside world that impact our middle world, our lived experience, and we have emotions about it–often strong emotions. It can get kind of like a ping pong match between us and the outside world, in which we are trying to maneuver and grapple the outside world, in order to reverse engineer certain emotional states in ourselves: I want to feel happy and calm and safe. Therefore I need to make all this stuff out there behave differently… OK, now I’m good. But then another thing happens…
I’m not knocking it; I do it all the time, with mixed results. The most difficult of the results is that, while trying to reverse engineer a particular experience, through managing the outside world, we can get so focused on the outer and its relationship to the middle that we can forget, completely, that there is a whole other set of doorways–inner doorways to the Divine.
In fact, all of those inner doorways are exit-entry points on the chest that are related to different emotions. Liver 14 is the doorway of hope and anger, the doorway through which activists receive messages from the Divine.
Kidney 22 is the doorway of emergence from long solitude and fear; it’s everything that we go through in the middle of the night, all by ourselves when it’s too late to call anyone, and we just need to live with it. There is a doorway to the Divine right there.
Heart Mediator 1: Is there even such a real thing as love? Is there a soulmate? Is there a partnership? Is that even real? Or is it a fairy tale? There is a doorway of the Divine right there, through that wondering, through that capacity in us, to long for intimate partnership.
This is just a few of those doorways.
It easy to see how we can take our emotions, and get busy reverse engineering our existence in order to feel certain ways. Now, this is not about refraining from outside “real world” action policies. It is about making sure that we are listening to the other real world, and letting those whispers come in, on a daily basis. I’m calling that health: to be able to be in conversation with the Divine in all of our emotional states.
According to both Chinese medicine and Sufism, this is how emotions transform into virtues. We move through them in such a way that they bring us deeper into an experience of constructive activism, wisdom, propriety and partnership, ecology, and righteousness. There is so much that we can only become when human emotion is alchemized by interpenetration with the Divine. What a gorgeous way of life, and our practices are here to help us with this.
Sometimes, however, it’s a bit worse than that. We are deeply injured or balled up in a knot, or hedge hogged in around a particular emotion, such that our middle world is a great big knotted up clog of scar tissue, or a particular emotion has taken up a lot of bandwidth, and it’s knocking a lot of things over.
This is what Doorways to the Divine is really about. It is for when you need something more than routine maintenance, in terms of relearning: What do I do with my emotional states, especially my more intense emotional states, especially my more hamstrung emotional states, that may be affecting my health? That may be affecting my decision making? That may be affecting my ability to hope? That may be affecting my ability to come out of paralysis, and take this next step that would be natural to me, if only I were in that state of living my life interpenetrated by the Divine influence?
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