The Essence of the Inside-Out Understanding (#995)

I’ve spent this past weekend teaching with and learning from my mentor and colleague, Dr. Ken Manning. One of the conversations we had stood out to me, because I recognized it to be completely true in my own experience:

There is a fundamental difference between “understanding” something intellectually and “realizing” it insightfully – that is, to see that it is real and true beyond our subjective interpretation of it.

When it comes to the 3 Principles and the inside-out understanding, people can often get a basic understanding of the concept quite quickly. But the moment someone has an honest to goodness beyond the intellect insight into the inside-out nature of experience, their life begins to change for the better almost immediately, even if they’re not quite sure what it is that they’ve seen.

Here’s how I’ve written about it before:

For many years, the human brain has been compared to a computer. The general assumption has been that while some people’s computers are more powerful than others (higher IQ, etc.), the main difference between people is in the software – the programs that they run.

These programs include both the ‘apps’, or strategies we use, and the ‘deeper programs’ – our beliefs and values. Some apps are so popular that we think of them as factory installed. In the same way that 8 out of 10 computers in use today have some version of Microsoft Office installed, so 8 out of 10 people will have taken on the majority of the beliefs and values of the culture in which they live.

But far more important to the effectiveness of a computer is what’s baked into the firmware – the BIOS (built-in operating system). Even the most effective programs can’t run without interfacing with the BIOS of the computer.

When it comes to human beings, the basic operating principle is this:

100% of your experience of life is created from inside the system.

That is, contrary to the way things appear, the only way the human experience can unfold is from the inside-out. No exceptions. The system only works one way. And the clarity of our seeing that underpins the way we handle absolutely every situation in our lives.

Consider this example:

You wake to hear your child screaming. You run into their bedroom, relieved to see that there’s no immediate danger but concerned about what has them so frightened. They tell you that there’s a monster at the end of the bed. To your surprise, when you turn to look there is indeed something which looks like a monster looming over them.

However, a second glance reveals that it’s only the shadow of a toy left on the windowsill, brought to life by the moonlight which streams through the window behind them.

To your child, who believes the monster is real, their only choices are to cower in fear or to run through a menu of problem solving strategies, ranging from hiding under the covers to seeing if they can outrun you and hoping that once the monster eats you, it will be full and leave them in peace.

But because you recognize the “monster” is only the shadow of a toy, you’re not inclined to do anything to make it go away. Because you understand something about the nature of light and shadow, you know that the moment the light changes, the monster will transform or even disappear completely.

Whether the “monsters” we face in our lives seem to be made of money, health challenges, relationships, work issues, or even things that happened to us in the past, the same is true for us. The more we understand the principles behind how our experience of life is being created moment by moment, the more freedom and creativity we will have in how we operate in the world.

Here’s another way to think about it:

Thought comes into consciousness and we experience it via our senses. We’re never really upset about anything, and we’re never really happy about anything. We just think that we are.

  • If we think our experience is coming at us from the outside, we feel like victims of a capricious world, and consider ourselves lucky or cursed depending on what’s happening in our lives and how things shake out.
  • If we think our experience is coming from us via Thought and that we are meant to be in charge of what we think, we feel like victims of our own inadequacy, and that if we only tried harder/were more vigilant/had better techniques we would have everything we want and could always be happy and never angry, fearful, or sad.
  • When we see that our experience is coming through us via thought. we recognize that our feelings and perceptions of the world will continually be changing. The nature of thought is fluid, and as we allow for that, neither dwelling on thoughts of the past or obsessing about thoughts of the future, we spend more and more of our time living in the flow of our present-moment thinking.

This state of flow, or “freedom of mind”, is how we’re designed to operate. It brings with it a sense of ease and clarity that brings out our common sense and leads to higher levels of performance in whatever we do. We become less convinced by our own thinking and more receptive to a deeper wisdom that comes through from somewhere beyond our brain’s collection of memories and personal thinking.

We’re less inclined to live in our heads and more inclined to live in the moment. Because we’re spending more time living in the moment without too much on our minds, we see more clearly and connect more deeply with those around us. Life becomes more of a game to be played than a gauntlet to be survived. And the love, peace, and joy that inevitably appear in the quiet space of a consciousness “uncontaminated by our personal thinking” become the backdrop to the ever-changing kaleidoscope of perception we call our lives.

If that all feels like a lot to take in, consider this:

1. You are already perfect, whole, and mentally healthy exactly as you are.

2. You are always capable of convincing yourself otherwise.

With all my love,


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