There is a saying from the Hermetic tradition: As above, so below. The translation of the original maxim goes like this:
That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing.
Here is a further extension of this principle: As within, so without. Or as it is sometimes put, for us as human beings, the macrocosm reflects the microcosm, and visa versa.
Here is the pattern of Creation. In the realm of pure potential, at a level of Being that is beyond our immediate human experience, there is an invisible pattern that has the possibility of manifesting in our world. As above, so below.
For us to participate in that process, the invisible pattern in the realm of pure potential has to come into our conscious awareness. It has to enter our thoughts and our feelings. If it does, then it can manifest in the world around us.
I do believe it works both ways. As within, so without. But the reverse is also true: As without, so within. As children, we receive the pattern of the world around us—from parents, family, friends, and from the larger world. Our psyche is formed based on what is modeled for us. So there’s a patterning that happens on the inside from what we see on the outside.
In an ideal pattern of spirituality, that’s what’s supposed to be happening: the people outside of you, particularly the priesthood of whatever the spiritual path is, is supposed to offer a teaching that allows you to connect to the invisible pattern of Creation in the realm of pure potential. Of course, that can all go horribly wrong. Priesthoods from traditions around the world can fail horribly, and instead of connecting people to the realm of pure potential they can lead them into limitation.
At Sunrise Ranch, we are seriously engaged in re-visioning the social architecture of the world in which we live. Social architecture is the pattern of what is without—how we’re getting along with each other. That’s vital.
There is a relationship between the social architecture that is manifesting in the world and the architecture of the psyche of the individual human being. As within, so without. And visa versa. This has the awkward implication that the unpleasant realities that we face in the world around us have their origin in ourselves. Martin Cecil made this analogy. He said that when you look in the mirror, the reflection you see is mostly you, even though there are features of the room around you that are reflected.
It’s my experience that people can learn about their internal architecture by noticing the social architecture of their immediate world. Or they spend a lifetime ignoring the way that what is in their own psyche is affecting the pattern of their life. You can find out something about yourself by noticing how you’re responding and relating to other people, and how they are responding and relating to you. You can learn something about what’s inside you by noticing what’s happening in your community, in your family, or even in your nation. Eek!
That is part of our personal journey to wisdom. We find things within us that are active all the time in dynamic relationship with each other. What we are feeling and believing, and what is transpiring in our human spirit, are all creating the kind of relationship we are having with the people around us. As within, so without. As we access deeper and deeper levels of what’s inside and let it out, there’s more and more of a chance for that to manifest on the outside. As we allow what is in realms of Being that are higher than our immediate human experience to be welcomed into us, they are available to influence what is around us.
These are simple principles of a creative life. As above, so below. As within, so without. Yet they are so often almost totally ignored.
Our work with the social architecture of our own immediate world—as we do almost constantly at Sunrise Ranch—makes us think about not only how we’re relating to other people but also who we want to be in doing that. What would be a virtuous and noble expression of who I am, living in family, living in community, or living in the world?
So often, people dodge that question. Instead they obsess over what is happening. Or what they want to happen. Or they obsess over how people are doing what they are doing. Or how they, themselves, are going to get what they want to get.
I want to put forward a simple, yet profound idea: the universe that we’re living in is more than a what. And the first question to answer in our life is not how we are going to achieve what we want to achieve.
This universe, and the world around us, is an expression of a who. It is an expression of Being, and every person is an expression of Being. And the Being of every person is an expression of holiness. The Being who we truly are is holy and beautiful and wonderful and magnificent. And the Being within all people and within the universe is attempting to do something very simple, and that is to express itself and to know the fulfillment and the pleasure of expressing who it is. That is what the Being who you are and who I am is attempting to do. And therefore, the first question to answer in our life is who we are going to be in it, and what we are going to accomplish or how.
Is there any other reason that you can think of for the magnificence of the Creation in which we live other than the expression and embodiment of the Creator? For what other purpose? I haven’t been able to discover any other purpose that makes any sense at all to me. When we begin to ponder that about the universe in which we live and the Creation of this planet, then we can begin to ponder it about ourselves. We begin to appreciate that we are not just a what. And our lives do not just revolve around a how. Our lives are all about being who we are and expressing who we are in all things. That is a joyful life!
Have you ever noticed that all of the most important things in our lives are beyond what we can figure out? You may be able to figure out how to do certain things. You may be able to figure out what is transpiring around you. But the reality of who isn’t something that lends itself very well to being figured out. It simply wants expression and embodiment.
I’m suggesting that who you are and who I am desires to express itself, and to express itself as clearly and accurately as possible, and in a way that reveals our magnificence and our holiness as clearly as possible. Obviously we are not talking about holiness as something religious per se. I believe that we’ve all had some experience of holiness that transcends religion. It could have been experienced in the context of religion, but holiness is bigger than any human institution.
I remember an early sexual experience. It was an experience of the awesome nature of holiness. There are all kinds of bizarre and wonderful things about sexuality that astonish us, but there’s also this. When you touch the truth of sexuality, it is holy. For me, I wept at the holiness of what I’d touched. I couldn’t tell you just what that was or why, but I remember thinking, “Oh my God…” And I did not consider myself a religious, or even a spiritual, person at the time.
There is a holiness to all of life. There’s a holiness to all of Being. And yet we can walk around as if it wasn’t. We can make it all about the how and the what. And if you hadn’t noticed, in getting all wrapped up in how to live your life and what to do, you can also get wrapped up in all the feelings that invade a person’s psyche when they’re not expressing the holiness of who they are.
If you’re not accessing who you are and expressing it into the world, then nature abhors a vacuum. If there is a vacuum of who and the holiness of who we are flowing through in expression, bringing fulfillment and true pleasure, there’s a vacuum in the human experience.
What fills the vacuum that’s created by the lack of holiness? What fills the lack of wholeness, and the expression and embodiment of that? It’s unholiness. There’s something unwholesome that comes in. It comes in at the feeling level of experience. We can allow ourselves to get dragged around by fear and envy and hate at a feeling level. Then those feelings become unwholesome spirits—motivating energies that control us. And we as human beings don’t function very well when there’s an absence of the holiness that’s natural to who we are.
What is the answer to all that? It is, very simply, the expression of who we are inside, as accurately and as transparently and as beautifully and as magnificently, as wisely, as we can let it come through. That fills the vacuum.
Does any of this have anything to do with social architecture? In my experience, true social architecture is created by people who are, first of all, being authentically themselves. Shakespeare put it this way:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
This is the basis of the new social architecture we are creating. When we are following this prime directive, then the wholesomeness of the pattern of a human being, which has been filled from the inside out, is now being replicated at the level of the macro. It’s the same architecture. The architecture of a human being is the architecture of humanity.
The holiness that we are called to embody is put to the test in the creation of social architecture. At least it is in my life—how about yours? Or do you just walk around in your holiness and from then on out it just goes great? In my experience, that’s not how it works. I learn something about the reality of what I’m knowing inside as I’m interacting with other people in the social architecture in which I live. And then sometimes I have to come face-to-face with things that are broken outside, and perhaps inside—maybe inside you, maybe inside me, maybe between us. It’s time to come face-to-face with the issue and say, No, it’s not going to be this way. We’re going to do it this way. I’m going to be this way. I am going to express who I truly am in the situation. When that is our attitude, we are fulfilling the larger selfhood that we’re knowing together.
It’s interesting to me how we, as human beings, are so incredibly different. Does that ever blow your mind? You meet somebody, perhaps even from your own culture, and see how their personality, their thoughts, their feelings and their worldview is in stark contrast to your own.
However, if you go to deeper levels of selfhood, you are the same as that person. There is one Self. That’s the marvelous nature of selfhood. There are so many dimensions of selfhood, and such uniqueness and such diversity, and it would be horrible if there weren’t. But all that diversity leads to separation—it goes terribly awry—if we can’t find the dimension of selfhood that is the same.
How does the song go, “One Love”? There is one love, we say. In the Judeo-Christian religion it says there is one God. There’s obviously a multiplicity of religious gods. But, in reality, there is just one real God, there is just one Self. Whatever your name for it is, there is one reality and there’s one thing happening here. There is one glorious reality of selfhood that is expressing itself through all things.
Sometimes we find that out about each other. We touch those higher dimensions of self that we call God. We touch those higher dimensions of selfhood in which we all participate, in which we’re all held. That is the inner reality of us all. We have physical phenomena that tell us something about that, such as one white light coming through a prism and ending up in a spectrum of color. Selfhood is magical, like that light. It isn’t just a chunky thing that gets split up into parts. It’s like that white light that can express itself in plurality, in great diversity, and yet carries one thing, one life, one love.
Would that be important to social architecture? If I know that higher reality of myself, and if I seek, in my expression of myself, not only to give expression to my color of the rainbow—that unique personality that I am—but I also seek to give expression to that higher reality of Self that, as a human being, I’m in service to, I am seeking not only to bring that color of the spectrum that is mine but I am also seeking to bring the white light, the one Light. Because I discover that being myself isn’t just trying to be me.
They say that if you want to land on the moon you’ve got to shoot for the stars. If you want to end up being yourself, try expressing the white light. You’ll find that it can’t come out as anything other than you, because you have no other way to express it. So you don’t have to worry about being uniquely you. We are more ourselves when we’re not trying to be ourselves in our uniqueness, but when we’re expressing the higher love that we are and when we’re in service to that higher love. And how are we in service to it? By letting it come through us.
When we do that, we are bringing the keys to the social architecture. You’ll find you relate differently to other people on that basis. Something else happens. Suspicion disappears. Trust rises. Disintegration that’s so common amongst personality-based selves subsides. And integration begins, because the integrating factor, not only for me as an individual human being but for us together, is now in the picture.
I’m saying that this life is all about expression of selfhood. It all comes down to that, and the ultimate expression of selfhood is the expression of the higher dimensions of Self that we are. We are trying to have things come together, but if we want things to come together we need to bring in that factor that brings it together, which is what is already together. As above, so below. As within, so without.
What is above is the reality of who we are. Embracing and expressing that brings pleasure and fulfillment. Being who we are, our brilliant minds and our loving hearts can figure out the how and the what. It actually comes together easily among people who are functioning on this basis. But not without learning and growing.
Oneness is a wonderful concept and a wonderful experience. How does it come? It comes because we allow to express through ourselves what’s already one thing anyway. And then our lives give the highest reality of selfhood in ourselves pleasure and fulfillment.
The attempt to give pleasure to the personality self is endless, futile, and ultimately disastrous, all by itself. But when we get the big idea that the pleasure and the fulfillment is the pleasure and the fulfillment of the higher dimensions of Self that are seeking to express through us, we’re in a new game.
Thanks for these stimulating and pointed words. What else is there for us to do than “to thine own Self be true”? If we are not, we’re living a lie and end up protecting ourselves from the consequences of the lies we’re living. What a waste!
James Maskell, Tessa and Rupert’s son, presents the view that “it’s community, not medicine, that creates health”. He speaks of the community of people, of micro-organisms in our bowel, and internet communities in this context. True communities can only reflect the finest of social architecture if there are people willing to live from the inside out and let that permeate the energy field of the community. I see this in the singing group to which I belong. There are those who offer an uplifting spirit and those who complain and the atmosphere of each evening is determined by the balance of expression of those present. What an opportunity and responsibility we each have to bring our finest into each encounter, letting love radiate!
I join with you in celebrating the simplicity of this all. As within, so without. As above, so below. It can’t be much more simple.