Inner and outer teachings

This morning I came across a fascinating philosophical blog entry regarding religions and traditions that contain both “inner” and “outer” teachings:

By the by, you get the same theme in western alchemy, the idea that the outer teaching – about turning lead into gold and all that – is really a distraction, or veil, for the inner teaching – which is about (perhaps!?) immortality, perfect knowledge, etc.

The author gives other examples as well, from Taoist alchemy, Christian metaphysics, and even modern politics. He then goes on to speculate on the purpose of these levels of meaning:

The different levels of teaching allow everyone to pick a symbol intepretation which they are comfortable with, without needing to feel like they are contradicting those who use another level of intepretation. The belief (meta-belief) in a higher level of meaning – the inner teaching – allows everyone to happily follow the same behavioural path without having to challenge each other over inconsistencies in their symbol intepretations.

For today’s exercise, do one of the following:

  • Free-write about the ideas expressed in the above-referenced blog entry.
  • Free-write about how the ideas expressed in the above-referenced entry might lend insight into a tradition that you or your family subscribes to.
  • Brainstorm how you might explore such a split-level set of teachings in a story.
  • Brainstorm a religion or philosophy from the ground up (for a fictional world or our modern world) that engages in such split-level mysteries.


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Posted in Gaming, Writing
2 comments on “Inner and outer teachings
  1. Samuel X says:

    Heh… Well, excepting of course that his Christianity example is epically wrong (see the first three sentences of http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FluffyCloudHeaven), interesting post.

  2. heather says:

    Eh, right, wrong, that isn’t the point here. This blog is for writing exercises, and that means stretching the brain. Sometimes you have to put worries about right and wrong on the back burner for a while in order to try out new ideas and see where they take you.

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