Inner States

Inner Christianity Glimpse of Truth Different Knowledge Darkness of the Psyche
Inner States Consciousness Retold Speaking of God Seeking Self
Inner Identity Civilizing Knowledge    


Inner states define the realities of

the Inner Tradition ...

Our inner state decides how we perceive the outside world, so that any attempt to understand the outer reality without knowing the inner is fruitless and leads to delusions.

I began to understand this when my early experiences led me to conclude that states of consciousness differ in particular in the depth to which they can distinguish or discriminate I from not-I. Dreaming sleep and near-sleep states of half-waking half-dreaming are totally subjective. In them we cannot distinguish dream from perception, nor can we distinguish self from not-self.

The ordinary, outwardly attentive state is still very subjective; in it we are self-centred because - in effect - we are still asleep to things happening within our psyche. At an early age we begin in this condition to distinguish I from not-I in terms of the body: first we begin to distinguish our own body from those of other people. This can be seen experimentally when small children are first shown their reflection in a mirror and quickly realize it to be a reflection of themselves. Few animals can realise this, and none so quickly as the human infant.

But in ordinary waking most people are strongly influenced by dreams, which lack even this rudimentary self-awareness. In the New Testament, the sleep of subjectivity is also called death. “... Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” (Ephesians 5:14.)
When the gospel teaching tells us to awake, it is telling us to lift ourselves out of this self-centred state; this subjectivity in which we cannot distinguish between what comes from within us and what is imposed on us from outside, telling us to enter our inner world; first to turn our attention into our body. In this state we become aware of what is happening within us but remain unable to immediately recognise the different types of content of the psyche, the thoughts, the feelings, the imagination, intention, and so unable to distinguish them from the nous - the common ground of knowing - which is the intelligence of them all.

In this state, therefore, we are unable to distinguish one or another content of the psyche from the nous which is the 'ground' of every psyche; at such a time we are still parochial, still spatially self-centered: we identify with and see everything with the bias given by one or other of the main activities that form the content of the psyche. This is something like a hypnotic state, in which all the characteristic activities of the psyche; the thoughts, the feelings, the imagination, the intentions and actions, each in their turn appear to us to be our 'whole self', and so become for a while the ruler of a house divided. This is why Saint Paul said: “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” 1 (Corinthians 15:34.)

In such a state we do not know ourselves and have no control over ourselves.

In the state of self-consciousness we are less subjective but still 'anthropocentric'; we are less dominated by our personality, by the parts of our psyche. We identify with and see knowingly through what was once called the ‘eye of the soul’, our personal nous or our own self, our own real 'I.'  But we still see and act as an individual, albeit with broader view given by the combined support of all the different activities of the psyche acting in concert.

In objective consciousness, a 'theocentric' state of mind, we see from and are centred about a greater self and see that as ‘I’. In this state, and only in this state, do we see true.