"The more God is in all things, the more He is outside them. The more He is within, the more without." [Meister Eckhart]
There would appear to be not only a contradiction in this statement but also a possible error. It has been said at many times, in many places, that the search for God involves a search within oneself, because God can only be known through those internal faculties of wisdom, understanding and gnosis. Those faculties are not of themselves God, but can point the way to God. How then can he be inside yet outside?
The universe that I perceive around me is a construct of my own making. That is not to say that the material universe has no relative reality, only that I cannot know that universe in its entirety or be certain that my perception of the universe tallies with that relative reality. The incoming data that I collect through my senses enter through a very limited window and are processed by my brain, a material body that is as much a part of the 'outside' as is the rest of the universe. The ultimate interpretation by my mind, quite regardless of the nature of the processing that takes place in my brain, comes from that inner sense of "I-ness" that seems to live separately from the rest of the material universe. In other words the universe is my interpretation of heavily restricted, and very limited, incoming data. It naturally leads to a very limited perception of the world around me. That which lies beyond my consciousness receives much more information than my ego-consciousness alone, but how can that ever be enough to meet the requirements for total knowing and understanding?
Now the more I increase the quantity and the quality of that incoming data by the use, for example, of ever more sophisticated equipment, the broader becomes my perspective, and the more accurate (but never perfect) becomes my perception. Yet even if the whole of the material universe were to reside inside me in the form of images, there would still be so much more to know. If I need a language with which to speak with God, the language of the soul, or imagery, is a good place to begin. But imagery extracts its source material from the outside world. Thus the more accurate the perception of that source, the less room for misconceptions in the use of the soul language and the greater my understanding, wisdom and knowing. Thus the more improved my communication with God, the better I can know the universe around me; the more accurately I perceive the universe, the more sophisticated and gnostic is my inner understanding. The greater the divine presence within, the more without.
William Law (English cleric 1686-1761) once said,
"Though God is everywhere present, yet he is only present to me (my underlining) in the deepest and most central part of my soul. The natural senses cannot possess (understand?) God or unite thee to him."
He is not present, therefore, in my physical self, my thoughts and my emotions, that is in my ego, any more than in the rest of the physical universe. That is tantamount to saying that only that sense of "I-ness" that resides in the ground of my being wherein I meet God, has any real and true existence.
William Law continues,
"There is a root or depth of thee from whence all these faculties come forth [which] is called the centre, the fund or bottom of the soul. This depth is the unity, the eternity - I had almost said the infinity - of thy soul."
God is beyond any activity of my brain, which itself lies in the outer universe, and is present only in the beyond-conscious root of the most basic essence of that which is my sense of "I-ness". Only there in that uttermost root can exist that unity which is the ultimate seat of resolution of universal duality.