Looking Both Ways

Alan Rayner
2 min readJan 12, 2020

Looking Both Ways

From inside-out

Our gaze is boundless, endless,

Never complete

We sense the enormity of the eternity

In which we belong


From outside-in

Our gaze is truncated

At the surfaces of our own and others’ bodies

We sense the smallness

Within which our lives and others are contained



Each gaze tells its own story

Contradicting the other

Until we look both ways

And put the two together

In mutual admiration


Then something wonderful happens

We come to know our selves

From inside-out and outside-in

As the reality we are

Space embraced by light

Light embraced by space

Each including the other

In endless co-creation

Distinct but never separate


Timely embodiments of timeless space

Never alone

Never all one

Keeping ourselves to ourselves

In the natural companionship of one another’s neighbourhood

We are not units of selection

Made from units of selection

Objects, machines or building blocks of life

Pushed and pulled around or put together

By external force of God or Nature


We are children of Light and Darkness

Offspring of their Love

And, to know this

We only have to look both ways

Not one or other alone

The above draws attention to two ways of seeing, sometimes referred to as subjective and objective, which yield radically different perceptions of ourselves, Nature and our place in Nature. Often these come into cultural, ideological, philosophical and psychological conflict, as between Art and Science, Religion and Science, Creationism and Darwinism, Reductionism and Holism, Dualism and Monism, Individualism and Collectivism, Extroversion and Introversion, Rationality and Emotion, Materialism and Spirituality and so on. In truth, however, neither alone can provide a comprehensive awareness of reality and each alone can yield only a one-sided, paradoxical, misleading and damaging view. But if combined they bring a third way of seeing, through looking both ways, which makes possible a radically different, more realistic and more comprehensive kind of awareness of Nature and our human place in Nature. This is the basis through which we become aware of our dynamic self-inclusion in natural neighbourhood as distinct but not isolated identities. And with that awareness the source of so much needless human conflict and misunderstanding can be recognised and replaced by a deep sense of natural, co-creative companionship with one another in shared neighbourhood.

See also http://www.spanglefish.com/exploringnaturalinclusion



Alan Rayner

Alan Rayner is an evolutionary ecologist, writer and artist, who is pioneering the philosophy of natural inclusion