Eugene Gendlin (1995) explains how the ‘subjective side’ of any act of meaning performs a whole set of crossing functions. One of them is the work done by indexical signs, as Peirce called them, which direct attention to ‘the environing universe’ in ways that words alone cannot:

Words in themselves are general; but we speak and read not only in their generality, always also in the particular situation. This is a fourth function performed by the subjective side, not by commonality patterns. After all, the words are general. Even words like “you,” “now,” “here” only mean this situation by your direct reference to your felt sense now.

It is the crossing of inside and out, of breadth and depth, subject and predicate, object and concept, that makes meaning. The crossing is the recreation of each, an organic process, not a mechanical assembly of already-made components. What each component is, and how it works, is dynamically modified by the whole situation in which it works. Mechanistic thinking about cognition leads to what Gendlin (1995) calls ‘the grand error of most Western theories – the assumption that all cognition must consist of pre-existing patterns or units.’ Out of a syllogism or logic machine you can’t get any more than you put into it.

Inside and out of your bodymind

In the Gospel of Thomas

Jesus says: ‘Why do you wash the outside of the cup? Do you not understand that the one who created the inside is also the one who created the outside?’

Thomas 89 (5G)

Luke 11:40 turns that question around: ‘Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?’ Luke also places it in a context that connects it with other sayings such as Thomas 24:

Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light, but when it is not sound, your whole body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

While he was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him; so he went in and sat at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.

Luke 11:34-41

Giving alms from within is giving light, is sound practice. When seeing is light and practice is clean, all is clear inside and out. Which matters more, inside or out, when it comes to bodymind? Consider what Dogen says to the monks in his monastery about ‘washing the face’ (SBGZ ‘Semmen’):

The Lotus Sutra says, “If you spread oil on your body after removing dirt, and wear fresh robes, you are clean inside and outside.”

This dharma was expounded by the Tathagata at the lotus assembly when he taught those who were engaged in the four practices of enjoyment and ease. It is not equal to other teachings and not the same as accounts in other sutras.

Thus, cleansing body and mind, spreading scented oil on the body after removing dirt, is a primary buddha dharma. To wear fresh clothes is a dharma of purification. By washing away dirt and spreading scented oil on the body, you are clean inside and outside. When you are clean inside and outside, your body, mind, and environs are all clean.

But those who are ignorant and do not hear and practice buddha dharma say, “Although you can wash your skin, you have five main organs and six sub-organs in your body. If you don’t wash all your organs, you are not purified.” Those who make such a statement have not yet heard and known buddha dharma. They have not encountered an authentic teacher, a descendant of buddha ancestors.

Now, study the true dharma of buddha ancestors, discarding the words of those with outrageously crooked views. The boundary of all phenomena cannot be determined, and the inside and outside of various elements are ungraspable. Thus, the inside and outside of body and mind are ungraspable. However, a bodhisattva of the final body washes the kashaya and cleanses the body and mind before sitting in the place of enlightenment and attaining the way. This is the awesome ritual of buddhas of the past, present, and future in the ten directions. A bodhisattva of the final body has the most venerable and supreme merit, wisdom, body, mind, and splendor, different from others in all aspects. Our way of washing and cleansing should be like that.

Tanahashi 2010, 58-9

Which really matters, practice or enlightenment?

Stories of the phaneron

Listening not to me but to the logos, it is wise to agree that all things are one.

(There extand by now one thousand and one stories, all told, of the same).

Once the story is told, it may be forgotten or misremembered, but it cannot be untold; however fictional the story, its telling is a fact, its characters and events really occuring in the universe thus created.

All propositions relate to the same ever-reacting singular; namely, to the totality of all real objects. It is true that when the Arabian romancer tells us that there was a lady named Scheherazade, he does not mean to be understood as speaking of the world of outward realities, and there is a great deal of fiction in what he is talking about. For the fictive is that whose characters depend upon what characters somebody attributes to it; and the story is, of course, the mere creation of the poet’s thought. Nevertheless, once he has imagined Scheherazade and made her young, beautiful, and endowed with a gift of spinning stories, it becomes a real fact that so he has imagined her, which fact he cannot destroy by pretending or thinking that he imagined her to be otherwise.

— Peirce, EP2:209 (sixth Harvard Lecture, 1903)

Fact and fiction differ not in their presence to the mind, nor do ‘inward’ and ‘outward’ realities. Peirce found a way to describe the nature of that presence, in terms of its formal elements, and prior to any distinction between appearance and reality. He called this study phaneroscopy, because of its focus on the phaneron, which in its undifferentiated unity includes whatever may become the object of our attention or function as a sign. Nothing we can mention is external to it; indeed the very externality of the external world is internal to the phaneron.

The formal ‘elements’ of the phaneron are sometimes called ‘categories’ by Peirce – specifically, ‘universal categories,’ as Peirce explained in one of his Harvard Lectures (EP2:148):

the word Category bears substantially the same meaning with all philosophers. For Aristotle, for Kant, and for Hegel, a category is an element of phenomena of the first rank of generality. It naturally follows that the categories are few in number, just as the chemical elements are. The business of phenomenology is to draw up a catalogue of categories and prove its sufficiency and freedom from redundancies, to make out the characteristics of each category, and to show the relations of each to the others. I find that there are at least two distinct orders of categories, which I call the particular and the universal. The particular categories form a series, or set of series, only one of each series being present, or at least predominant, in any one phenomenon. The universal categories, on the other hand, belong to every phenomenon, one being perhaps more prominent in one aspect of that phenomenon than another but all of them belonging to every phenomenon. I am not very well satisfied with this description of the two orders of categories, but I am pretty well satisfied that there are two orders.

Later (CP 1.288) he wrote that

I invite you to consider, not everything in the phaneron, but only its indecomposable elements, that is, those that are logically indecomposable, or indecomposable to direct inspection. I wish to make out a classification, or division, of these indecomposable elements; that is, I want to sort them into their different kinds according to their real characters. I have some acquaintance with two different such classifications, both quite true; and there may be others. Of these two I know of, one is a division according to the form or structure of the elements, the other according to their matter. The two most passionately laborious years of my life were exclusively devoted to trying to ascertain something for certain about the latter; but I abandoned the attempt as beyond my powers, or, at any rate, unsuited to my genius. I had not neglected to examine what others had done but could not persuade myself that they had been more successful than I. Fortunately, however, all taxonomists of every department have found classifications according to structure to be the most important.

Actual use of Peirce’s ‘categories’ reflects the turning of the meaning cycle:

Like all interpretive tools, the categories of phenomenology arise out of experience but in turn are legislative for the analysis of experience. They are neither handed down from on high, nor are they pure inductions from experience, but rather are a creative, interpretive framework through which to focus on the entire gamut of ‘whatever is in any way present to mind.’

— Sandra Rosenthal (1994, 97)

Peirce spoke of phaneroscopy as a science, but it has a spiritual or religious resonance which is also revealed and concealed in the reconstructed Greek version of Thomas 5:

λεγει Ιη[σου]ς· [γνωθι το ὃν εμπροσ]θεν της ὀψεως σου και [το κεκαλυμμενον] ἀπο σου ἀποκαλυφ[θ]ησετ[αι σοι οὐ γαρ εσ]τιν κρυπτον ὃ οὐ φαν[ερον γενησεται,] και θεθαμμενον ὃ ο[ὐκ εγερθησεται.]

Jesus said, ‘[Understand what is in] front of you, and [what is hidden] from you will be revealed [to you. For there is nothing] hidden that will not be manifested, nor buried that [will not be raised.]’

P.Oxy. 654 27-31 (DeConick 2007a, 60)

Perception as resurrection

Merleau-Ponty (1945, 95) writes of the

paradox … of all being in the world: when I move towards a world I bury my perceptual and practical intentions in objects which ultimately appear prior to and external to those intentions, and which nevertheless exist for me only in so far as they arouse in me thoughts and volitions.

This ongoing resurrection of buried intentions, their transformation into a world of objects, rolls up the meaning cycle, encapsulating the inside-outness of the world.

So Man looks out in tree & herb & fish & bird & beast
Collecting up the scatterd portions of his immortal body
Into the Elemental forms of every thing that grows

— Blake, Four Zoas, PPB 370

In Blake ‘what we see in nature is our own body turned inside out’ (Frye 1947, 349); ‘the fallen world is the eternal one turned inside out’ (291).

Creation from the inside out

In the works of Kabbalah such as the Zohar, creation is described as a process of emanation from the inner divine mystery outward to the cosmos, and diagrammed as a ‘journey’ from the highest to the lowest of the ten sefirot which make up the Tree of Life. Metaphors of duality and polarity abound in this account, which on a personal level also represents the primal ‘stages of inner mental activity.’
the first three sefirot

This journey from inner divine Nothingness toward the beginning of existence is one that inevitably arouses duality, even within the inner realms. As Hokhmah emerges, it brings forth its own mate, called Binah, or “contemplation.” Hokhmah is described as a point of light that seeks out a grand mirrored palace of reflection. The light seen back and forth in these countless mirrored surfaces is all one light, but infinitely transformed and magnified in the reflective process. Hokhmah and Binah are two sefirot that are inseparably linked to one another; each is inconceivable to us without the other. Hokhmah is too fine and subtle to be detected without its reflections or reverberations in Binah. The mirrored halls of Binah would be dark and unknowable without the light of Hokhmah. For this reason they are often treated by Kabbalists as the primal pair, the ancestral Abba and Imma, Father and Mother, the deepest polarities of male and female within the divine (and human) self. The point and the palace are also primal Male and Female, each transformed and fulfilled in their union with one another. The energy that radiates from the point of Hokhmah is described chiefly in metaphors of flowing light and water, verbal pictures used by the mystics to speak of these most abstract levels of the inner Mind. But images of sexual union are never far behind these; the flow of light is also the flow of seed that fills the womb of Binah and gives birth to all the further rungs within the ten-in-one divine structure, the seven “lower” sefirot.

The terms Hokhmah and Binah reflect two qualities or stages of inner mental activity, and indeed they may be experienced within the self as two aspects of mind: the first flash of intellect, the creative spark, and the depth of thought that then absorbs the spark, shaping and refining it as it takes it into itself. This is a rendition in terms of mental process of that same image of the “point” and the “palace,” showing that the language of Kabbalah may be read simultaneously as a myth of cosmic origins and a description of events within the mystic’s mind. Binah is thus described by the term quarry, the rocky place out of which the letters are hewn forth. Hokhmah, the flash of intellect, seeks articulation. Itself only the single point of a yod, it carves deeply into the mind in quest of “letters” or language through which its truth will be spoken. This primal forming of language, still silent within the mind, carries the self-revealing process of creation a step further in the emergence of cosmos, Torah, and the mystic’s own mind. That this should be the case is taken for granted by the Kabbalist, since his mind is a microcosm of that which exists “above” and has been created in such a way as to permit it it to both reflect and affect happenings on the cosmic plane.
— Arthur Green (2004, 40-41)

‘The inner structure of psychic life is the hidden structure of the universe; it is because of this that humans can come to know God by the path of inward contemplation and true self-knowledge’ (Green 2004, 47).

The medium

Merleau-Ponty, quoted by Freeman (1999a, 164): ‘To perceive is to render oneself present to something through the body.’

Even if subsequently, thought and the perception of space are freed from motility and spatial being, for us to be able to conceive space, it is in the first place necessary that we should have been thrust into it by our body, and that it should have provided us with the first model of those transpositions, equivalents and identifications which make space into an objective system and allow our experience to be one of objects, opening out on an ‘in itself.’

— Merleau-Ponty (1945, 164)

Merleau-Ponty (1945, 169) says that ‘The body is our general medium for having a world.’ This use of the term ‘medium’ implies that a bodymind ‘has a world’ by inhabiting it, by occupying it. In another context, Rosen (1991, 41) uses ‘ambience’ for the world as distinguished from self, while using ‘environment’ for what is distinguished from a system as its background or surround. This latter distinction is made from a third-person point of view, which emerges from the modelling relation and ‘makes space into an objective system.’

In Peircean terms, we might say that mere appearing is the Firstness of the phaneron; that its presence to one is its Secondness; that the continuity of its presence, the continuing unfolding or evolution of relations within a multidimensional space, is its Thirdness.

Lost in thought

Peirce (EP1:42, W2:227 fn4) remarked that ‘just as we say that a body is in motion, and not that motion is in a body[,] we ought to say that we are in thought and not that thoughts are in us.’ According to Yuri Lotman, we ought to say both:

The individual human intellect does not have a monopoly in the work of thinking. Semiotic systems, both separately and together as the integrated unity of the semiosphere, both synchronically and in all the depths of historical memory, carry out intellectual operations, preserve, rework and increase the store of information. Thought is within us, but we are within thought, just as language is something engendered by our minds and directly dependent on the mechanisms of the brain, and we are with[in] language. And unless we were immersed in language, our brain could not engender it (and vice versa: if our brain were not capable of generating language, we would not be immersed in it). The same with thought: it is both something engendered by the human brain and something surrounding us without which intellectual generation would be impossible. And finally the spatial image of the world is both within us and without us.

— Lotman (1990, 273)

Do you gnow?

The living, experiencing body relates to its environment by projecting its experience as an external world, by presenting it as separate from and outside of oneself. We can only mention this from a third-person point of view, because of course we do not experience this projection as a projection, but rather as the external world itself. Thus it is true to say that we have no knowledge of the external world, since all we have and all we are is the lived body. From a different but equally valid point of view, it is true to say that bodymind constructs an internal model of the external world, and that model constitutes knowledge of it.

Turning outside in

The vertebrate embryo begins by wearing its brain on its sleeve. The nervous system whose activity will make it mindful of the external world actually develops from the outside of the embryo. In the process of neurulation (search that for details), the first stage in formation of the nervous system, the developing embryo turns itself outside in. Illustration (in cross section) from Wikipedia today:

Lotus of the heart

Henry Corbin, in a 1948 talk about the comparative study of religion, called it a phenomenological discovery:

We are discovering that the I and the World, the modes of being of the personal subject and the regions of being which it explores, are not two things which get juxtaposed, but presences within each other, an interpresence, an indissoluble correlation, and a structure. It is within the general ensemble which can be termed the phenomenological orientation of the humanities. And there is also something analogous happening in the physical sciences.

— Corbin 1948 (1998, 23)

But this discovery can also be recovered from ancient scriptures.

As great as the infinite space beyond is the space within the lotus of the heart. Both heaven and earth are contained in that inner space, both fire and air, sun and moon, lightning and stars. Whether we know it in this world or know it not, everything is contained in that inner space.

Chandogya Upanishad (Easwaran, in Harvey 1996, 38)

‘This world’? Which world? Can you put the works of the brain back in the lotus of the heart?