Without opening your door,
you can know the whole world.
Without looking out your window,
you can see the way of heaven.
The further you go,
the less you know.
The more knowledge you seek,
the less you understand.
The Master understands without leaving,
sees clearly without looking,
accomplishes much without doing anything.
The further you travel, the more you strive and the more knowledge you try to accumulate, the further you actually distance yourself from realising the Tao.
Lao Tzu tells us the answers are not to be found ‘out there’, but only within oneself. So, how is it possible to know the whole world and the way of the Tao without venturing outside our door? Why are we always told that the answers are within us?
First of all, it’s important to differentiate between knowledge and truth. Knowledge generally relates to the realm of facts, figures and quantifiable information. Truth – or wisdom – is something entirely different. It goes beyond mere information. When we seek truth, we seek to differentiate between reality and illusion. Only with truth, or Self-knowledge can we hope to understand the nature of our existence.
We can gather as many facts and statistics about the material world as we like (and, yes, we can do it without even leaving our house – by simply logging onto the internet!), but that doesn’t mean we know anything about the true nature of reality, only the realm of appearance. Nisargadatta once warned that “taking appearance to be reality is a grievous sin and the cause of all suffering.”
From within the dream, we can learn everything there is to know about the dream itself – but that doesn’t mean we know that we’re dreaming or are aware of anything beyond the dream. Surface-level knowledge alone is of limited use. Truth, however, points to a greater, deeper reality; that which exists prior to and beyond the dream-state.
Believing only that which can be perceived with our senses and buying into the notion that truth is something that is separate from us, that can be acquired outwardly, is a fundamental error. When we believe such notions, we embark on all kinds of futile quests to find answers outwith our selves; answers that can only be found in the stillness of our own hearts.
So why is the truth only to be found within us? Perhaps it is because we are the microcosm of the macrocosm. We are each miniature universes and contained within us are all the wonders and truths of the larger universe. The two are not separate. There is no ‘us’ and ‘the rest of the universe’. All such notions are but dualistic delusions created by the mind. The secrets of the universe and life are within us because we are the universe and we are life. There is no separation.
Everything that we perceive to be ‘out there’ – the entire vastness of the cosmos itself – is only an appearance in our consciousness. Consciousness is the unifying factor and the totality. Without consciousness, there would be no awareness of self and no universe. Consciousness occurs within, therefore the answers have to be within.
Trace consciousness to its source: know it, understand it, and thus understand life, the world and the universe.
Stop seeking outwardly, for that just takes us deeper into the dream, a dream occuring in consciousness. Lucidity comes from looking inward. As Carl Jung said: “he who looks outside dreams, he who looks inside awakens.”
The answers are already here, now – within.