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Douglas Harding

“Seeing Who one is occurs out of time because seeing Who one is is God seeing Who He is and God doesn’t see from half past three until quarter to four. God sees out of time and one’s seeing is not Douglas seeing that he is really God, it is God seeing that He is really God. It is out of time and so in that sense one doesn’t see all the time or for some of the time, or in time. One sees out of time. Yet there is another sense of course in which one can say that one’s seeing is intermittent, more continuous. That is the common-sense way of talking about it and we speak of people who flash into their Emptiness and then forget it, for months and months, and then meet a seer, or someone, and flash in again. There is a sense in which this does happen. It is a provisional way of speaking. Even for such people it is really out of time.” (Douglas Harding. Quoted from Seeing Who You Really Are by Richard Lang.)



“The result of observing only the universe is anxiety. Only observing the Observer of the universe will put a stop to a man’s worrying and fussing and scheming. When his interest is diverted inwards he naturally relaxes his hold – his stranglehold – on the outer world. Having withdrawn his capital and paid it into his own Central Bank (where it appreciates to infinity), he has nothing to lose out there and no reason for interfering. He knows how to let things be and work out in their own time. He’s in no hurry. Knowing the Self, he can hardly fail to trust its products. Whatever occurs is fundamentally agreeable to him. In Christian terms, he has no will but God’s: what he wants is what happens and what happens is what he wants. Paradoxically his obedience to the nature of things is his rule over them. His weakness is in the long run all-powerful. And the secret of his power over things is that he goes to the Source. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Seek ye first these things, and even they shall be taken away.

This perfect obedience isn’t just lining oneself up with God’s will, or imitating it, or even becoming part of it. It’s that very will itself in full operation. If we wish to find out what it’s really like to create the world, we have only to desire nothing and pay attention. But total acceptance is very hard. It’s precisely the opposite of the lazy indifference that lets things slide. It springs from inner strength and not weakness, from concentration, not slackness. Why is the world so troublesome, so frightful? Is it like that by nature, or because we take the easy way of fighting it instead of the difficult way of fitting in with it? We have to find out for ourselves the truth of the sage’s demonstration that even in the smallest things the way of non-interference, of giving up all self-will, of “disappearing,” is astonishingly practical, the way that works. Not only in the long run but from moment to moment consciously getting out of the Light, giving place to whatever happens to be presenting itself in that Light, is astonishingly creative. We do too much and therefore remain ineffectual, we talk far too much and therefore say nothing, we think far, far too much and therefore prevent the facts from speaking for themselves – so say those who know the value of emptiness. It’s for us to make our own tests, not – repeat not – by the direct method of trying to be quiet and mindless (it just won’t work) but by the indirect method of seeing Who, it seems, was trying to be like that. No man becomes Godlike except by seeing that he isn’t a man anyway. (Douglas Harding. Look For Yourself.)”

To get to Heaven, let life floor you. Life is guaranteed to do just that, to let you down – all the way into the Safety Net that will never let you down. Life is guaranteed to disappoint. But expect nothing of the Nothing that underscores life, and it cannot disappoint. Also expect everything of it, and again it cannot disappoint. It’s being so mock-modest in our demands on life, expecting something of it – this or that particular rose, and with no thorns attached, at that – which is the stress-maker, and prevents our enjoyment of the rose-garden. (Douglas Harding. Head Off Stress.)

Image“The Headless Way – in contrast to those that combine Eastern spirituality with Western psychotherapy – is not concerned with deliberately watching the processes of the mind, or with the psychological probing as such, or with meditation aimed at raising repressed mental material to the surface; or (for that matter) with stilling the mind. Rather it takes the line of Ramana Maharshi who taught: “To inhere in the self is the thing. Never mind the mind.” And of the Chang Chen Chi, who (in his valuable guide The practice of Zen) points out that Zen isn’t interested in the many aspects and strata of the mind but in penetrating to its core, “for it holds that once this core is grasped, all else will become relatively insignificant and crystal clear.”  Our own position in this; of course it’s crucial that our psychological problems – in fact what ever thoughts and feelings happen to arise – should be clearly seen for what they are, but always along with What they are coming from, along with Who is supposed to have them.  Their Seer must not be lost sight of. The clinical value of modern psychotherapeutic techniques isn’t in question, nevertheless our radical answer to psychological problems (as to all the rest) is two way attention –  simultaneously looking in at this absolutely stainless and pollution-free and unproblematical Nothingness and out at whatever murky problem is presenting. Their ultimate solutions lies in firmly placing them off-Centre where murky things belong, not in trying to clear up the murk itself. To use the matchless Eastern image, it’s a hugely reassuring fact that the purest and most exquisite flowers – the lotus of enlightenment – blooms in the muddiest and unhealthiest of lowland swamps, amid the mire of the passions, of all  that sordid an silly mind-stuff, of all our evil and pain. Clean up the swamp (what a hope!) or try to transplant the lotus amid the aseptic upland snows of an otherworldly and esoteric spirituality, and it withers. Zen goes so far as to say that the passions are enlightenment, the swamp is the lotus.”

Excerpt from D E Harding “On Having No Head”