no ‘out there’ out there

Best Travel And Vacation In China - Giant Buddha - Statue RenovationOLD NOTEBOOKS: When I came to the East in 1989, it took me a very long time to get used to the idea that the way Eastern people think is indirect, rather than direct. It seemed back-to-front; rather than saying ‘the Truth is this’, it’s expressed in the negative form: the Truth is not that. The Truth and the way leading to it are shown by discussing what they are not, rather than what they are [apophatic theology]. If I hadn’t had that early experience of the indirect way, like most people, I would have found it difficult to think of it in these terms – I don’t really like things that are negative, I prefer a belief based on affirmative statements: the act of creation and heaven. So I’m unwilling to accept the truth that the ‘heaven’ I’ve been taught to believe in is, of course, indescribable – absolutely beyond words, language doesn’t go that far, ineffable, therefore anything written or spoken about ‘my’ heaven is not real, it’s imagined.

Yet, even knowing this, I might still hold on to the way I’ve been taught. We come from a lineage of ‘believers’, if you can’t believe in it, you believe you believe in it and everything’s sort of ok. You believe in ’self’ and the ‘self’ of others. The separation of subject and object; in your own mind, there appears the self (the subject) as an observer and the other (the object) as thoughts and emotions. ‘God’ is out ‘there’ (object) and I am in ‘here’ (subject) – not for a moment thinking God could be in ‘here’ too and, of course that’s all-inclusive, so that there is no ‘out there’ out there. It’s all in here – it’s all ‘me’, the whole story.

I can’t even say it’s a ‘oneness’ because that suggests it’s an object out there somewhere. So I call it non-dualism rather than ‘oneness’ and that seems to place it somehow, but it’s not necessary to call it anything. Recently I’ve had to include the experience of pain in my life. Severe headaches. It’s not the first time, about 20 years ago I had colonic cancer and was rushed to a Bangkok hospital where they opened me up and removed a section of intestine, sewed me back up, having sewn up the exit too and attached a plastic bag to the outside of the abdomen over a hole about 1 inch in diameter, held open by a plastic sphincter. Excreta went in the bag and I had to learn how to change it every day. Three months later I went back to hospital and they undid the stitching of the normal exit, removed the plastic bag and sphincter, stitched that up and I was done.

During that time I had extreme bouts of pain in the centre of my body (the centre of my whole being) and didn’t fully understand that the way I was dealing with the pain was by taking it ‘in’ rather than rejecting it – there really was no choice other than to ‘step into’ the pain completely – everything turning inside out quite easily. And now twenty years later I contracted PHN in the nerves on the right side of the head and neck so there are these times of terrible pain in the head, I’ve had to ‘become’, to ‘allow’, to ‘be’ in the same way, rather than reject or try to push it ‘outside’. The outside is the inside, same as it was then. Of course I’m not in pain all the time because I have medication to deal with it now. I’m just considering the whole situation, going through these old notebooks trying to include and integrate everything, having this new understanding of how the whole thing works, and seeing it bit by bit.

“This life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of this entire existence, but in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is what the Brahmins [wise men or priests in the Vedic tradition] express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear; tat tvam asi, this is you. Or, again, in such words as “I am in the east and the west, I am above and below, I am this entire world.” [Erwin Schrödinger]


Source for the header photo
For the Schrödinger quote see more at: Note about the title of this post: Many thanks again to hipmonkey for his wonderful observation: ‘there’s no ‘out there’ out there.
This post was written after reading an article by David Loy to whom I’m very grateful but seem to have mislaid the reference at the present time.
G   R   A   T   I   T   U   D   E   ❤

25 thoughts on “no ‘out there’ out there

    • I’ve tried a few things like head massage but the word is ‘ease’ it makes it comfortable at the time and that’s relieving but doesn’t cure. My doctor is talking about toleration threshold these days and I can’t feel motivated…

      • Being a Fibromyalgia sufferer myself, I certainly understand that your pain threshold might change. Apparently FM is something to do with the brain’s response to pain (among other symptoms) – to do with the parasympathetic nervous system. Added to constant nerve pain from the spinal surgery osteophyte formation (pressing on the nerve roots in my L2/3/4/5 lumbar spine.

        But 35 years on……Its still hit or miss when it comes to reducing the severity of the pain. One night when I was in agony, I got up and rubbed neat Lavender oil on my hip and it was like a miracle – another night, it was a combination of arnica and lavender oil. Next night I needed 3 strong prescription analgesics – enough to knock out a horse.

        Sometimes a walk in Nature with my camera – forever looking at the details around me (works). Then there’s walking Meditation (from Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching). I’ve also had success with counting the breath. Actually counting the breathe is usually how I get to sleep at night. Also visualising a block of chocolate on the top of my head melting slowly down my hair, shoulders, arms, torso, hips and legs. By the time the vision of melted chocolate has reached my feet, my pain is greatly reduced. I sort of envision my muscles and soft tissues melting and merging with the chocolate and streaming out of my body.

        Every day is different. My pain is exacerbated by wheat & grains (i.e. diet).

      • I’ve been thinking about aromatherapy, what you’re saying about lavendar oil and arnica is why I’m looking at this. I don’t know enough about it. Also homeopathy but I ws discouraged by the idea I’d have to stop my prescription meds and it does take a long time – you’d have to be really inspired to hold on that long and not know if it was going to work or not. The only thing I can see is ‘in the moment’ Thich Nhat Hanh and the Theravadin vipassana meditation is possible sometimes. Usually it’s a case of what’s this pain like? Where is it actually? And having exhausted that, come to the conclusion that allowing it to be there does help. Everything’s got to be somewhere. The chocolate on the head thing, I think I’ll not get into, unusual. But desperation is the word sometimes. Thanks…

      • Something to try:
        Find a reflexology map of a foot and try to find the spot which affects the right side of your skull where the pain originates. Probably somewhere in your toes and I can’t remember which foot. Ask Mr Google. I only did a day course in Reflexology when I qualified in Aromatherapy in 1993 and my memory is intermittent (at best).
        With both thumbs gently knead the spot and see if you can feel something tingling at the site where your pain originates. This will tell you if you’ve got the right spot (and foot). Try gently kneading the spot when the next round of pain starts. Give it 5 mins before you take your meds and see if it has any effect.
        I used reflexology (along with hot lemon juice drinks) to reduce the severity of gall bladder attacks for something like 9 years before I eventually had to have my Gall Bladder removed due to large gall stones.

      • Yes, well thanks Vicki, I spent a lot of time looking at these amazing diagramatical pictures of feet, left and right and that was stunning but couldn’t actually see anything pointing specifically to the right side of the head, but it all seems to be in the big toe of either left or right. So I’m planning to do it by feel, probably have to spend a bit of time on it.
        I’m thinking about hot lemon and honey right now because I have a cold and can’t take any normal cold treatments – or if I do there’s a chance I’ll be awake all night with a headache…

  1. Thank you Tiramit for sharing your experience and essence… I’m thankful for unexpectedly coming upon your blog. In perfect timing out of nowhere it appeared for me this morning… It’s a blizzard here. your wisdom view offers me true relief, soothing… I wish you relief and release from PHN, and want comfort for you in knowing your skillful writing has more value than you’ll likely ever know. Thank you for blogging with your whole being, xo

    • Thank you Brandice, it’s such a nice message. Please come again. About the pain section of the post I wasn’t going to include it then decided I would because I thought it’d show how the pain helped me break through ordinary reality. The rest of it is still a bit kind of ‘after the fact’ and I’m in theory a lot of the time although there are moments when I break through again and this time not having the pain as a trigger.
      Thanks for your comment about the skillful writing that has more value than I’ll likely ever know and thanks for blogging with your whole being. Quite lovely Brandice, thanks again, you’ve given me something to think about…

  2. You might try Alpho Lipoic Acid and L-Carnosine, both of which are superb, natural antioxidants that — unlike many other vitamins and antioxidants — penetrate the blood brain barrier. (Suggested initial dosage… ALA 200 mg 4x per day; L-C 500 mg 3x per day.) MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is great too (as a natural pain reliever) and is totally non-toxic; you can take lots of it without worry. 🙂

    • Thanks Tom, I checked out all three in google; Alpho Lipoic Acid, L-Carnosine and MSM (methyisulfonylmethane). D’you think I can get them in a regular pharmacist? Thanks for your advice…

  3. I live in Illinois, and get mine from vitamin stores that are online. Some pharmacies sell MSM, but not all; and i wouldn’t know about the quality of those who do. (I am into vitamins and natural supplements a lot.) There are different qualities of MSM; i find that Swanson Vitamins ( has the best. I get the 1,000 mg capsules (for arthritis) and take around 10 a day. (I also use it prn.) You can get MSM in powder form and take as much of it as you want (as long as it is good quality); it is as harmless as clean water. Swanson also sells the other two supplements. For international shipping — for Swansons : … is what you would want to look at. I also order stuff from Puritan’s Pride ( All three of the supplements that i mentioned are very strong antioxidants and all three cross the blood brain barrier.
    I hope this helps!

    • Interesting that I click on the Swanson link in your message and I’m getting advertising on Swanson everywhere on my computer. So I think I’ll try it. The problem is the postal service is insecure in India and I need a foolproof way of ordering also a secure address. I think i can provide these so I’ll give it a try, thanks for the advice.

      • Thanks Tom, just looked that one up, you must be taking pain killers too? As well as the supplements. Do they work together okay? Sorry to hear about this, admire your cheerful description of it. I’ll certainly be ordering the supplements you recommended as soon as I get the addresses confirmed

      • Swanson leads me to think of swan song, Paramahansa Yogananda and the swan as symbol of spiritual discrimination.

        Chronic pain tends to be discombobulating. Have you looked into flower essences to enhance the homeopathics you are taking?

      • Thanks for the suggestion Anita, I’d like to know more about flower essences, for example are they different from aromatherapy? Is there anything you could recommend for my condition?

      • Flower essences work on the same principles as homeopathy; quite different to aromatherapy. Sometimes referred to as vibrational medicine, the essences are a form of energy medicine. With some creative googling, you may be inspired to make up your own remedy from your current habitus…

        My first suggestion would be that you reflect on the tree, plants and flora that have yielded a sense of comfort/shelter – even moss on a rock – at times when you have been pained. Do a meditation and see who turns up from the non-human realms.

        You may like to browse two web sites of Humanifest and Skyflowers

        When cruising the images,focus on the flower itself, not the cliched quality of healing that has been assigned to it. .

        I am reluctant to make a specific suggestion as that would deprive you of the joy of some scampering through virtual meadows.

  4. I am so very glad you wrote about pain and what you do. I, too, have tried going into the pain and sometimes that eases it a bit. Fighting with it certainly is a losing battle! A very important post!

    As far as taking homeopathic meds, I combined both, prescription and homeopathic with my psych doc’s okay. The thing is you have to find a homeopath who will allow you to do this. I circumvented that dilemma by researching homeopathic meds myself and self-prescribing. Not the best way to do things but I can’t give up the psych meds. Pretty much life on the outside or in hospital difference, even life or death.

    I had no idea you had colon cancer. Congratulations on your recovery!! You have been through a lot!! My father died of colon cancer, as did several other relatives.

    As I said, an important post!

    • The first thing is that I’m glad to hear it may be possible to take prescription meds as well as homeopathy remedies. About pain, agreed, fighting with it is a losing battle. You have to give way to it in the end. Sometimes this happens sooner than later because it is so intense. I included the pain section in my post to illustrate how much of a breakthrough this was for me. I could feel the pain lessen when I gave in to it!
      About the colon cancer it was all very ordely and quick although some aspects were difficult because of the communication with the staff – their cognitive/cultural view of many situations are very different fronm Western attitudes and behaviour as well as the fact that speaking in English doesn’t amount to much. But anyway the hospitals were clean and great and I was completely sorted out no problem ever since that time

  5. P.S. Forgot the most important thing… I have had some success with peppermint oil (am very much into aromatherapy) and migraine pain. But you need to be careful not to get it in the eyes where it will burn. It is good to apply the oil before you are in extreme pain. I have put it in a roll in a small roll on top bottle.

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