Here is the transcript of a workshop Douglas Harding gave in Sydney in 1992. For the transcript of a London workshop with Harding in 2000, go to London Workshop.
Led by Douglas Harding (1992)
It sounds absolutely crazy doesn't it. A chap coming here and advocating decapitation, headlessness. It sounds ridiculous, crazy. But is it? This book I wrote, On Having No Head,—that was a bit misleading, because of course I have a head! The point is, where do I keep that darn thing? My impression is that you are stuck with that darn thing now, and it's in your sights now, and you are in receipt of it.
On Having No Head—does that sound crazy to you, or does it ring bells in you? I should have included one more word in the title to that book. It should have read On Having No Head here. Because of course I've got millions of heads—one in each reflecting surface, in other people's cameras, I guess in you at this moment. That thing is my appearance, my trademark—it's out there, my appearance. It's what I look like...
What I should have called the book was On Having No Head Here. I swear to you, cross my heart, there is nothing here in your way, I am full of you here at this moment, I have your faces for which I thank you from my heart. I have the room, I have the whole scene in my space here. And I have nothing here to keep you out with, thank the Lord. Nothing whatever.
Now, in order to join the human race, which we've all done—and we had to, and the human race comes with many blessings like language, electric light and all sorts of things—we had to join this club. We had to play a game to join this club. And what was this game? What was the fiction? It is that we are what we look like!
Now, I can tell you that I am not what I look like! You've got what I look like and I've got what I am, and they are totally different. I think—surely every heart in the room responds to this—I am not what I look like. What I am is different from what other people are picking up. What I am at zero inches from myself has got to be different from what I look like at a hundred inches, hasn't it? It's all a case, really, of looking not only at what we are looking at but at what we are looking out of. Because what we are looking out of is bang, plumb centre in the middle of our universe, and we better be right about what is central in our universe. We had better be right about that, don't you think?
An apple is only as good as its core. What you are looking out of is the core and centre of your universe, and your universe is arranged around you like a vast onion. In the outer layers of the onion are heavenly bodies, stars and planets and so on. In the nearer layers out there are earthly bodies like clouds and mountains and so on. Then coming down further we have human beings. I have now in this onion layer of mine, the human layer—I have all you wonderful friends. It's marvellous. And then I come down further and nearer and I come to my feet and my shirt front. Here I find I stop. This is the end of the world for me, and above here I find you. And I swear, cross my heart—and you know I'm not lying—I have nothing here to keep you out with.
Now it seems to me that society runs on something called confrontation, head-on collision. The fiction that we have something where we are, a solid lump—for keeping others out with—my experience, and I'm sure the experience of every one of you, before the evening is out, not to mention tomorrow and Sunday—every one of us is going to have a look at what it's like right where we are, what we are looking out of, and to check whether we are busted wide-open for the world and each other, or whether we are living in boxes, closed against the world, peeking as it were out of a meat-ball, through two tiny windows in a meat-ball. What are we looking out of?
You know, to overlook what is plumb in the centre of our world is not very sensible. We better be right about what is at the centre. The joke is—there's a funny joke here—that we are all doing it right. All of us are living from the way we are. We are living from who we are. We couldn't live from this much advertised meat-ball at the centre of our world. How could we? We are not shut up in a box there are we, in the dark and wet interstices of a lump of stuff! What are you looking at me out of at this time? I mean everybody believes—I mean in order to join the human race there are all sorts of little small print things we have to take on board, and one of them is that we are looking at the world out of two eyes. Two! Well, for a start, are you looking at me, on present evidence, out of two peep-holes in a meat-ball? You see it shows, however sane we are about our relationship with the world, we go quietly crazy when it comes to the centre of our world. Where are we coming from? What are we looking out of? Another way of putting it is, who are we really? What are we really, in our own first hand experience? It seems to me that in order to join the human race we got terribly intimidated. We took everybody's word for what it's like right where we are at a distance of 0 inches from ourselves. We took everybody's word for what it's like right where we are, except our own word. Which is ridiculous, because nobody has been where you are at this time. Nobody has ever been in that place but you.
You are the sole and final authority on what you are looking out of. And don't let Douglas tell you, don't let anybody tell you what it's like there. You are the authority on one thing, and one thing alone, and that is what you are as 1st Person singular. in your own experience now. You are the final authority on that. I am the final authority on what I am looking out of. Just for your encouragement, let me tell you that I am the exact opposite of what I was told I was. I'm going to ask you, presently, to check up whether this is so. Whether you are in the same similar, curious, but marvellous condition!
But before we do the experiments which are the nitty gritty of this evening, just a little more spiel now about what we are up to here today and indeed tomorrow and Sunday—what the whole occasion is in aid of—what we are up to. A little spiel, as a first piece of the evening. And then we are going to do a few very simple un-embarrassing experiments. Tomorrow we shall do them in more detail, and with some gadgetry. This evening we don't need gadgetry. We are just going to do a sufficient number of very simple experiments which, if we would do them, we will come to see who we really really are. And I promise you, everyone will get it—unless you are actually asleep. Everyone will get it who will do the experiments. You don't need to go the Himalayas, you don't need to do anything, you don't need to be a nice person, a lovely person, a charming, a spiritual person—you could be as horrible a person as I am and you can still see this, because it's so embarrassingly obvious. It's ridiculously obvious. It's a kind of insult to you to come and talk about this because it's so incredibly obvious. Everyone will get it. And I say that the dear Lord, or whoever is responsible for this universe, has so arranged it that what I most need is most available—if only I am simple enough, almost idiotic, naive enough, simple enough, childlike enough to look at what's given—in all innocence at this moment, dropping memory, imagination, all that stuff,. Just take a look at what you are looking out of.
So the first part of the evening, as I say, is the spiel that I am now engaged in. The second part is the experiments. There won't be very many. There don't need to be., All of them lead one home to the place one never left. You see, we are really eccentric, looking at ourselves in imagination from about a yard away. All our experiments are really bringing us from a yard away right to where we are. You know, we hear about spiritual paths, the Eightfold Path, all sorts of spiritual paths, for which I have very great respect. I call this one the one metre unholy path. Well, it may be, the plebeian path, ordinary path, to who we are. Coming back from being eccentric to be centric, centred. Everyone of us will get it by virtue of these experiments.
So that is the second part, the nitty gritty of the evening. Then we must conclude the evening with two other things. One is some indication of how, having seen this terribly obvious thing, how we use it, how we cultivate it, how we live it. What use is it in our lives, to live from this Openness, this No-headedness, this Clarity, this absolutely obvious space that we are at—how we live that, what pay off it's likely to bring? I am nervous about pay off, for it will differ in every case. But we could just perhaps speculate, about why we should have a look at this place.
And the last part of the evening will be questions. So I hope you have questions. Bring them up. They can be as straight and as critical as you please. I always find the questions bring up things that I forgot to mention which are important. So that is the shape of the evening, and I hope that you will agree to that shape.
First of all, what am I up to here tonight with you in Sydney, and what do I hope you are up to?
Well, I would call it coming to our senses. Some American friends say, "Telling it like it is". Just really having a look at what's given in our seat at this time at a distance of 0 inches from oneself—what one is looking out of. This means starting all over again and daring to ask this simple question: What is it like being me at this time? Who am I in my own first hand experience when I stop allowing people to tell me what I'm like? Because how can anybody tell you what you're like when they are six feet away? They are too far off to know what you are like.
I'm not talking about your psychology, I'm not talking about your spiritual condition, I'm not talking about anything which is esoteric and difficult, I'm talking in terms of whiskers and teeth and eyes and all that stuff. I'm talking about very simple things—colours, shapes, things like that. What are we looking out of?
It seems to me that to join the human race, as I said before, we tell ourselves the most extraordinary story. I repeat it—I am what I look like. I am here what I look like to you. What I look like to you you are welcome to. That's your problem, you see. I swear to you that in every respect I am the opposite of that here. So when I take other people's word for what's here I'm really in deep deep trouble. Now all of us have trouble in our lives, severe problems in our lives, and I suggest that the root cause of our avoidable problems is that we lie and lie and lie about who we are to ourselves. We are intimidated into believing that we are, right where we are, what we look like in the mirror. When you go from here I would recommend an experience which is a very important one and we shall be enjoying it tomorrow and Sunday more because then we shall have mirrors.
You know, when you were very very little, when you were a baby, you looked in the mirror and that was your friend, that was baby. Every mum and most of the dads here know that when a baby of two or three looks in the mirror it doesn't even dream that that is itself. That is baby, a friend, a little playmate in the mirror. You looked in the mirror and that was someone else. For a start, it had to be someone else—it was looking the wrong way wasn't it! It was looking here instead of out. And it was too far away—it was four feet away—and it was solid and opaque. Do you think a little baby is solid and opaque for itself? Not at all. We were born very sane and what we did to join the human race was we agreed with people who said—who told me that it was Douglas in the mirror. "That's you in the mirror." And they kept telling me that it was me in the mirror.
What they did was tell me that I am here what I look like over there, six feet away. That is crazy. All of us had to join the human race at this enormously expensive cost of saying that I am what I look like. I am here at 0 inches what I look like over there in the mirror and in people's experience and in their cameras. So to join the human race and to become fully human we had to play a game. The game we played was, in imagination, to get hold of the face in the mirror, turn it round because it's the wrong way round, enlarge it because it is far too small, and bring it up our arm here and shove it on here—and think we've done it. Have we done it? Well I suggest you go from here this evening and look in your mirror to see what you are not like! You can look in your mirror and say "Thank God I'm not like that!"
You see, the very thing that took that thing and put it on here, the very thing that shrunk me from being world-wide into being a box, now takes the box off me and shows me where I keep that.
When we were very little, a little baby you know, people say, "Dear little baby". Douglas was—82 years ago—a tiny dear little Douglas. Do you think that Douglas for himself at that time—I for myself at that time—was little? Certainly not. I was boundless. Admittedly my universe was a great big buzzing confusion, wasn't it. Well, unorganised—but boundless. And then, to join the human race I had to agree that that was little Douglas in the mirror. That really was me in the mirror. And what did I do? To join the human race I got shrunk from being world-wide without any boundaries to being that thing.
Now we all have joined the human race and paid that huge price. And this evening we are going to be better members of the human race and withdraw our subscription, and be Who we are instead of what we look like to other people six feet away. I'm going to ask you, presently, to have a look, by virtue of one or two tiny experiments, to really have a fresh look at what you are looking out of. You are the authority. Don't believe a thing I say. Test it. You are the authority. Don't let Douglas con you further. You've been conned, I've been conned. And what is the con? That I am what I look like. We are going to withdraw our subscription and be Who we are tonight.
Why Should We Look At Who We Really Are?
Why should we do this? Why should we have a look at Who we are? Before we do the experiments, just one or two reasons why we should investigate this question of Who we really really are.
Well, I can give you some of the reasons why I'm interested in finding out who I really really am. I used to teach comparative religion once, and I found that at the heart of all the great religions, covered up, denied, but certainly somewhere lurking at the heart of all the great religions, was a staggering proposition, a staggering proposition—unbelievable in its blessing and happiness and, what shall I say, its daring. An extraordinary, daring proposition, at the heart of all the great religions. And what was that proposition? It is that nearer to you than everything else, more you than you, what you are looking out of, what you are most possessed of, is not a product of the world, it is the Origin of the world. And it has these characteristics of being boundless, absolutely clear like space, awake to itself, and it is not a thing at all. It is awareness of itself as No-thing, but is where everything comes from.
Now, to join the human race, what we do is to bung up this place with a meatball. And that is where, nearer than hands and feet says Tennyson, is the One we really really are, right here. This One has no contamination, no boundaries, no defects, no death, no stress, but is awake to itself as Capacity for the whole world. Empty of itself, full of the whole world. Nearer to you than all else is the Origin of the world. And this is what you are looking out of at this moment. You are looking at the world from the point of view of the Origin of the world and not from the point of view of a product of the world.
These great religions say that only the Origin of the world can view the world at all, let alone truly. And what you are looking out of is the One who is viewing the world from the Origin of the world, from the awareness which is the Origin of the world. And what we have to do and what we are going to do tonight is to turn our attention round 180 degrees and see whether these people, the founders of the great religions, knew what they were talking about. Check up whether they knew what they were talking about.
So this is my first reason for looking to see what it's like here, nearer than breathing, closer than hands and feet, nearer says the Koran than my neck vein—nearer than one's jugular vein is Allah, the Origin of all things. Were they talking nonsense? Come on! You've happened! You've occurred! Are you going to let this opportunity go by of having a look at what has occurred? You know I'm sure none of us is so chicken-hearted as to let this opportunity pass. The thing we least value, I think, but is most precious, is that we can say, I AM. I've happened. I've occurred. Most of us live and die without daring to look at what has occurred, in our own experience. We take other people's word for it. Tonight we are going to have the courage, the enterprise, to look and see Who has occurred, and check to see if those people were right. Or whether they were talking nonsense about your looking out of the Origin of the world and not from a product of the world. Out of No-thing but Awakeness.
Well, that is the tradition. It seems to me that it's worth checking up on, devoting two hours of our valuable time, to just having a look to see if we are really unspeakably blessed, unspeakably happy in this. You know, come on! What would you want for yourself more than this?—to be the eternal ineffable Mystery from which the world comes. Not a thing, not a decaying meatball—a very decaying, very stale meatball in my case! Come on! Which would you rather have? Look, if I'm that one I see in the mirror I've had it, haven't I? I mean, it's been dying for 82 years, that thing in the mirror. Every time I look it's nearer to death. It's skull-shaped. And yet I have the crazyness, the ill-will towards myself to get a hold of that meatball, turn it round, and bring it up here. And it's crazy.
Is it any wonder that I have problems when I do such an extraordinary thing? Go home from this meeting and look in the mirror to see what you are not like! Because that thing is a perisher. It's bio-degradable. Are you bio-degradable where you are? Look, you happened!
We're all going to have the courage and the enterprise to look at what's happened. Partly because it's been advertised for the last two and a half thousand years that there's the treasure, the supreme treasure, nearer to you than all else. Partly because, quite apart from any pay-off or promise, you are going to have a go at finding out for yourself—because you've happened. What has happened?
Another obvious reason, I think, for going in to this together, tonight, is that we're in business. We are in the difficult business of living. And when you are in business the first thing is to get your facts right. If things seem to be going wrong, and—panic stations—we'll sack these people, this work force, and open this new organisation, and try some new models—all panic stations. No. If you are in trouble in business you look to the facts, you see what the facts are. Get the facts right before you act. Well, if I'm lying and lying to myself about Who I am, then I'm in deep trouble because I've got my basic facts wrong. I'm living from a pack of lies, and that doesn't work. Living from Who I really really am does promise to be more efficient. And I can tell you from my own experience that whatever I do from the illusion that there is a Douglas meatball here doing it and controlling it—is rather badly and very badly done. And whatever I do from the experience that here is not Douglas' meatball, any meatball, but Space for the whole world to happen in, is better done. There's more energy, more love. It's obviously not going to be perfect, but it is going to be a lot better done.
So if we want to be efficient, and live from the way we are instead of the way we are told we are—and the way we are I say is inconceivably blessed, inconceivably happy. I mean, the world is a pretty miserable place in so many ways. I say, there are two worlds and they are vastly different.
There is a world which is seen from a position of deep illusion, and delusion, as if from a lump here, as if from a sticky wet dark eight inch box, with two peep holes in it. It's crazy. But a world seen from that position is a horrible place. It's hell. It really is hell.
Now a world seen from the only place it only can be seen from, namely from this Clarity here, is a loved-world. It is a world I am—I'm taking it in. It's a loved world. I've nothing to keep it out with, since one is built for loving.
More Reasons For Looking Afresh At Who We Really Are
I say we're built busted wide-open for each other and the world, and when we are busted, as indeed we all are, busted wide-open for the world, then the world we perceive is a world we are not separate from. It is a loved world. It is a world in which colours, tastes, smells, shapes and so on, are different. Everything is different, and yet it is the same. It is not a world without troubles but it is a world that is a loved world, because the world is seen from its Origin by its Origin, by you. And it is a different world altogether.
So here are some reasons for looking to see Who you are at this time. Now I really must say again—You are the authority. Don't believe anything that Douglas tells you tonight or tomorrow or Sunday. It's all for testing. Dare to be your own authority. I dare to be my own authority on where I'm coming from. You're the authority on where you are coming from, on where you are looking out of, and I think you will find, as I do, that every darned thing you have been told about who you are, where you are, is exactly the opposite of the way it is. And if that is so, no wonder we're in trouble.
I am the exact opposite of what I've been told I am. And I'll just give you a quick rundown, not for you to believe, but for you to check to see if you are in the same curious condition. A rundown of what I find here which is the opposite of what I'm supposed to find here. Well, I'm told that I'm looking at you out of two tiny windows. I find a vast window here without a frame. If I look, no frame, no two windows, just one huge window. I was told I was opaque here, solid....
(End of Side One of Audiotape 1...)
I was told some other things, very strange things. I was told that I came here to Sydney from Brisbane and from Lismore, that we moved along the road and Australia was stable. No earthquakes, no motion, not a leaf stirred really on account of our motion. And we came here along the road at about 100 kilometres an hour—wonderfully driven I was by my dear friend there. They told me that. It was not so. When I tell the truth, I sit in my car and Australia dances. Everything is on the move—the trees and the houses and the hills and the lampposts. In Sydney the buildings are dancing away, if I tell the truth.
Why is this important? It is important because of Who we really are. There was a Greek philosopher, Aristotle, and he said that God is the unmoved mover of the world. Well, get in your car, get in your landrover and put your hands on the wheel. If you drive the landrover you are just a human being. But if you really look at what is happening you will see that you are not driving a landrover. You are driving the land. And that's different. Who can do that but Who you really really are. It's awesome. Who you really really are is awesome. Blessed.
And it's a matter of life and death to get right. You know, at 82 I really have to look seriously into this matter, into who dies and what dies. And the guy I see in the mirror is, as I say, on the way out. But am I like that here? Is anything perishable here? This is the unmoved mover of the world! This is the One I find here that has no boundaries, the One who says "I AM" here.
Well, I am Douglas, but Douglas is out there in the mirror. This is so absolutely embarrassingly obvious when we look. I mean, coming here and sharing this with you is almost insulting you, it's so obvious. But we've just trained ourselves systematically to suppress the obvious and the simple. If it's simple we don't want it because we think it's not deep enough. On the contrary, only the simple is profound. And if it's complicated, look out, because it's shallow. This is so incredibly obvious—you will see, in a moment when we do the experiments.
I'm just going through one or two reasons for having a look at What is given at this time. I wonder what other reasons you might have? I think to have problems helps. You know, to have problems with the guy in the mirror, to have problems with who we are told we are—to have human problems up to a certain point is extremely helpful. Because then I have to look for the place where there are no problems.
I believe I am here this evening to talk about stress, which I remember to do from time to time! Very rarely, but I do! The thing is, what do we do about stress? Well, some people say, "You want to get rid of stress, Douglas". I say No! On the contrary, I'm all for it—in the right place. It seems to me that this world, this onion that one is the centre of, runs on stress like cars run on petrol. And to get rid of stress there would be to get rid of the world. Stress is marvellous in the right place—the world runs on stress. The question is, are you involved in that stress, out there as a thing? Certainly the one I see in the mirror—well he is out there in the stressful world. But when I look Here I find nothing to be stressed. I find Here at the Centre of my universe a place where stress and death cannot get in. They just can't get in Here. It's like the eye of a cyclone or storm. The eye is perfectly still, perfectly tranquil—the eye of the storm. Now are you, perhaps, the Eye of the storm? We are going to test this, tonight and tomorrow and Sunday.
So these are some of the reasons for looking to see Who we are. And the last one is that we have problems. There is advertised to be, and I swear there is, a place where problems cannot enter. Now if your problems are too severe, then it's not very helpful. And if they are not severe enough that is very unhelpful too. So if you have a really good massive bunch of problems, that's extremely good for seeing Who you are, because then you've got real motivation for looking at the place where problems cannot enter. And I say, in my own experience, when I look Here, this place is death-free, stress-free, problem-free, because there is nothing here to be stressed, or to die, or to be problematical. And it's what I'm looking out of. And for my money it is not a product of the world, it is the Origin of the world. This is deeply traditional.
And also available for us in a more de-mythologised form tonight. What was advertised to be the prerogative and the wonderful vision of a very very few people who had learned to meditate in a certain way, or who had spent all their lives folding their legs in excruciating granny knots and things, and was advertised for the very very rare people—I say, it is now available to all of us just by looking, to see What we are looking out of. The experiments are going to make it clear.
These are some of the reasons for having a look. I repeat, my own experience—don't believe me, but test for yourself—my own experience is that I am exactly the opposite of what I was told I was. To join the human race I was told what I was, and they got it all wrong. They told me I moved about the world—and I never moved. They told me I was small—and I have no boundaries. They told me I'm looking out of two peep-holes in a meatball—and here is one great Window. Everything is different.
I'm going to suggest that the experiments we shall do in a moment will bring you Home to that same place. You must be the authority of what you find there. Any of these experiments will take you home. Some of them you may not like. We shall only do about three or four tonight. Some of them you may not like, some of them you may prefer. It doesn't matter which. Any ticket home to the place you never left is a good ticket. Any ticket. And we have quite a range, quite a sheaf of tickets, home to the place we never left. I say we never left it because we are all doing it right. Nobody is doing this wrong. Everybody is living, I believe, deeply deeply believe, everybody is living from this Clarity of Who they really really are. You would be falling over the furniture if you lived from that sticky wet dark meatball there. You'd be falling over the furniture. Everybody is living from this. What we are doing is not changing things, but waking up to the way things are. That in itself is an enormous change.
Single Eye Experiment
Now we will do some experiments. They're not going to take very long. We will do one or two little experiments for bringing us home to the place we never left.
The first one is concerned with how many eyes we are looking out of.
In the East there is a thing called the Third Eye. An experience called the opening of the Third Eye. It is alleged - we have the kind of impression - that this experience is only available in places like Tibet, or possibly Mexico, India, Japan, but hardly in Sydney. Hardly in New South Wales. Well, we are going to test this one. What are you looking out of now? How many eyes are you looking out of?
This is an action thing. It is not just listening to Douglas. What we have to do is, if we have a pair of glasses, we take them off. And we hold them out here the way I'm doing, hold them out there at arm's length. And if you don't have a pair of glasses will you please make up a pair the way I'm doing - hold your hands together like that and make up a pair. And don't look at Douglas whilst you are doing this experiment. Just look at those two windows or apertures, and with great attention slowly put them on. With great attention slowly put them on. And when you have got them on, drop your hands. Now what are you looking out of? Is anyone looking out of two peepholes, two tiny peepholes?
Well now, if you would kindly do this also - if you would look at the ceiling, not at me. Without smiting your neighbour, just outline the extent of this Window, just where your hands disappear. Just where the Window that you are looking out of doesn't have a frame - or should have a frame but doesn't have one.
So you have all opened your Third Eye, haven't you! Did you ever look out of anything else but your Third Eye? Is it a difficult thing to do? Just look at what you are looking out of. Does it have a frame? What about the glass? Unbreakable glass! No glass. You see, the little guy in the mirror, the one in the mirror, is very breakable. I would say that this Window that you are looking out of cannot be broken. There is no glass to break and no frame. And it stretches - it is as wide as the wide wide world, is it not? - what you are looking out of. Supposing we now, from now on in our lives, while we were looking out at the world, we were also looking in at what we were looking out of - this Immensity without a frame. We would be home and dry. Whose eye are you looking out of now? The Single Eye!
There was a teacher who said: If your eye be single your whole body shall be full of light, having no place dark. What did he mean? He said you would find this when you became like little children. And he talked about something called the Kingdom within, the single eye. Doesn't this show us that we went quietly mad when we imagined that we were peeping at the world out of two teeny weeny peepholes in a meatball? And if we are mad about the centre of our world, God help the periphery. So, just once more, could we just open our Third Eye by putting it on and seeing what we are looking out of. Who is the One, who is the One whose Eye is infinite in extent? Who are you to look out of that Single Eye? Who is doing that?
I say it is not a human being who is doing that. Human beings don't look out of that vast space. Who you really really are, the unmoved mover - that is the One who is looking at Douglas now. It's awesome, isn't it. And it's absolutely obvious, totally obvious. Well, any road home is a good road, any ticket home is a good ticket, and the Single Eye is a wonderful ticket. When you are walking down the street or you are in the supermarket or in the home, you can always check this. You don't have to do this experiment with your hands. If you walk down the street doing this in Sydney [outlining the Single Eye with his hands] people would suggest you deserved institutional care. But you don't need to do this because you can see What you are looking out of. It really leaves you wide-eyed.
When you were very little you were like this. You know, children give you the impression, don't they, of being wide-eyed, and no wonder. Because - we all know this, we were all living from This weren't we, when we were little. And then we got talked and laughed out of it, into that basic human madness, which is to say - I am here what I look like over there. Who you are where you are is the exact opposite, I suggest, of what you look like to others six feet away. So that one experiment takes us home. But we have another one....
You know, back of you, and back of me here is a country which St Thomas A Kempis called the Country of Everlasting Clearness. I love that expression, the Country of Everlasting Clearness - which is what you are looking out of now, with that Single Eye, isn't it. You are looking out of the Big Country, in this direction. The Big Country. Bigger than Australia, really big - what you are looking out of - bigger than Australia: the Country of Everlasting Clearness, where death and stress and problems cannot enter. But what we did was to bung up the entrance to that Country with a door. We shut the door on the Big Country, and we shut it with a very little door, an eight inch door called a head, a face. That was the door we shut on the Big Country. We put a cork in the entry to the Big Country.
Now, you know when you go to a cathedral, in England or in this country indeed, very often the entrance to the cathedral is very small. The door could be only what six, seven feet, eight feet tall and three feet wide. You go through a tiny door, and when you get through the door, bang, the interior, the magnificent interior explodes, and you are in a big space. Well, there is a door where you are, here. Now the question is - is that door open or is it closed? Is what you are looking out of an open door or a closed door?
You know Blake, the great mystical poet, talked about opening the doors of perception. When we do that, what we do is to find the Infinite. Well, this is the door. This is the door for me. For you, what you are looking out of there - is your door open? Are the doors of your perception wide open on the world? You are the authority. Are you open there, or is the door closed? Well, I suggest that your door is like one of those garage doors, you know, those rather expensive garage doors which I can't afford. When you drive up to the darn thing you press something and the door goes up. When you really get towards yourself here, I think the door goes up, like a garage door, doesn't it? If you really come to approach yourself the door goes up and then you're through that little eight inch door that you bunged up this great country with. Then you are in the Country of Everlasting Clearness.
Blake also said that his mission was to melt apparent surfaces away and reveal the Infinite which is hid. And this is what we are doing. We are melting that apparent surface away and revealing the Infinite here. When the door is open you see that you are busted wide open for the world, and there is no way of shutting the door. No animal, no infant, no young child shuts out the world. We have shut out the world - notionally, not in fact but only in imagination - shut out the world by bunging it up with this ridiculous door. Does it exist? Well, we have a key to this door. The door is there and we have a key to it. This is the key. [Showing his index finger.] And we are going to use this key to undo the door and get through the door to the Country of Everlasting Clearness, which is bigger than Australia and which is death free, I say, stress free, problem free.
Our next experiment uses this key [showing his index finger] to get through the imaginary door here into the wide wide world where we are coming from...
So would you please, when you do this experiment with me, not look at me but look at your finger and what your finger is pointing at.
I expect that when you were very young your mother told you it was rude to point, very rude to point at people! Did your mother tell you that? Well, we are going to point at the One you really really are - and the One who you really really are just adores being pointed at. We will use our index finger as a key to get right through this door, to open the doors of perception onto the Country of Everlasting Clearness.
So, will you please - don't look at me but do what I ask you, I would be grateful if you would do that - will you first of all point to the ceiling. You see there's your finger, pointing at something, at the ceiling. Now you bring your finger down and point to a wall, and your finger is pointing at a wall. And then bring your finger further down and point at Douglas say, and there your finger is pointing at something. And now, bring your finger further down - you have to turn your finger round now and point at the carpet in front of you, if you will. And now point at your feet. And there is your finger still pointing - finger - space - feet. Now point at your lap - don't look at me but look at your finger. There's your finger, and there's space, and there's your lap. Now point at your tummy. Finger - space - tummy. Now point at your chest, and it's still finger - space - something or other - chest.
Now, Tennyson says that God, bless her heart, is nearer to you than your breathing and your hands and your feet. So point at what's nearer to you than your breathing and your hands and your feet - namely at what you are looking out of. Point at what you are looking out of now. What is your finger pointing at in your own experience at his time? Is it pointing at a meatball? Is it pointing at a thing? Is it pointing at something opaque, solid? Is it not pointing into absolute transparency? Isn't it pointing at a country which goes on and on for ever and ever, the Big Country, the Country of Everlasting Clearness - empty of itself and yet full of the scene ahead. Pointing at nothing.
Looked at the other way it is whatever of the world is on offer. This is where you are coming from. Isn't it the Country of Everlasting Clearness that you are looking out of? Isn't it absolutely evident, obvious, ridiculously embarrassingly obvious, that where you are coming from is not a thing - it is capacity for things. And it is awake. And it is total transparency. Alright, you can lower your finger now.
Isn't it extraordinary that we can ignore what is central in our lives and accept everybody's word for this place? Isn't it crazy? You know, it isn't practical to ignore this. It's not enterprising. It's not worthy of us to ignore this. And we have been warned not to overlook this. "Well," you say, "Douglas, this is all very kind of spiritual, metaphysical, kind of uplift stuff. But you know in the real world things are not like this. In the world of commonsense and history and so forth, this doesn't really add up."
I think we would agree that a man who had both feet on the ground, and we would respect, don't you agree, is William Shakespeare. Where do you think he got his inspiration from? Where do you think that fabulous language and that incredible gusto, that taste for life itself - where do you think that came from? What do you think was Shakespeare's secret? He doesn't talk about it much but he talks about it sufficiently for us to get the message. And some of you will remember from Measure For Measure what Shakespeare says there. Something like this:
Man, proud man,
Dress'd in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd,
His glassy essence,
Like an angry ape
Plays such tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep.
What Shakespeare's saying, what he is telling me, is - look to your glassy essence, which is this Clearness here, this Clarity, this Transparency. Look to that because you are most assured of that. Look to that or you will find yourself, sooner or later, behaving like an angry ape. That's strong stuff, and we had better listen to it from Shakespeare. You can dismiss all those mystical people, we can dismiss them and they are a funny old lot. But Shakespeare is hard to dismiss. Most ignorant of what we are most assured! Are we not most ignorant of what we are most assured, our glassy essence? Our Transparency.
If we want to do a good job, if we want to be creative, if we want to enjoy life, if we want the taste of life, the gusto for life, let us look to what we are most assured of - our glassy essence, our transparency. It is so available, so incredibly embarrassingly obvious. Shakespeare, I would say many other great ones, great poets, great writers, creators, lived from this. Where did Mozart get his music from? Incredible stuff gushing up from this Mystery behind him. The Silence he was coming from issued in these sounds. If we want to be creative, if we want to make a unique contribution to the world, every one of us can do that - why we have to lean back on this fabulous Resource.
The Four Stages Of Seeing Who You Really Are
You see, it seems to me there are four stages of what we are on about tonight. First is to see it. And we have already seen it haven't we, by virtue of the glasses and the pointing. The first thing is to see. Everyone has seen it, it's unavoidable, it's quite obvious.
The second stage is to go on seeing it till it becomes rather a habit, and that is not so difficult as has been advertised. If you need it, if you are interested in it, you will do it. You will keep coming back to it because it is such fun, and because it is such a relief. And for personal relationships it is absolutely essential - because without it, confrontation is terrible, head on collision is terrible. We are busted wide-open for each other. And that is to say that we are built for loving. Not because we are nice people, not because we are affectionate people, but we are really built open, busted wide-open for loving. So, what is holding us back here?
So the first stage is to see this, and we have all done that. The second stage is to keep it up - to go on coming back to the Single Eye, the place we are at, the stillness, and keep coming back until it is natural to be natural. Because what we are on about tonight is simply being natural. It is being the way we are. I'm not on about some funny esoteric mystical thing. I'm simply saying let's be the way we are in all naturalness. So the second stage is to do it until it becomes our lifestyle.
The third thing, going along with the first two, is that I think it works itself into every area of our life - personal relationships above all. You see, when you've got somebody in front of you, you've got a clear choice. Shall you lie and say it's a head on collision, face to face, or shall you tell the truth, which is face to no-face? Look at John and me now. Here's John there and Douglas here, and at the moment you can see we, John and Douglas, are face to face. It's a symmetrical arrangement. But for John I guess it is not like that. John is the one, I imagine, that has the white beard now, and I have the young beardless John here, and we are trading faces. And that is so marvellous. It means that we are really built for loving, we are built busted wide-open for one another.
Now, looking at Douglas now, what are you looking out of? Is it a face to face thing, a collision, face to face, or are your doors open, with welcome on the mat, saying come in Douglas, I've got nothing in your way? I swear to you, cross my heart, that you are let in here because I have nothing to keep you out with, absolutely nothing to keep you out with - welcome, you see, here. Welcome on the mat. The doors were never closed, the garage door was always up really. We have nothing in the way of the world, when we really look.
The Layers of Appearance
Let me add to that - it's true. I swear there's nothing here. You say, "Douglas you're a crazy man, there is something here." There are 250 people saying there is something here and only one Douglas saying there is nothing here, so he gets out voted, 250 to 1. Democracy! Alright. But you see something here because you are quite a long way away. But if you wish to check whether I am telling the truth - I say there's nothing here - if you don't believe me come and see. On the way up to me you would lose me, taking photographs all the way. At the back of the hall you would get the whole of Douglas and a lot of other stuff. Half way through you'd still get the whole of Douglas and less stuff. Three quarters of the way you would get perhaps Douglas minus his feet. In the front row you might get the top half of Douglas. Here you would get his face in your sights, in your camera. If you came up nearer, fitting better lenses, you would get a picture of a nose, and then a patch of skin, and then cells. If you changed from optical to electronic equipment you would get photographs of tissues, cells, parts of cells, molecules, and so on - atoms, almost empty. You come to the region of particles and before you've arrived here it's all gone. Now I complete the story, and say there's nothing here whatever except awareness and space for the world to happen in.
So this is checkable in the laboratory, it makes sense. Whatever you go up to you lose. I don't care what you go up. Go up to a book and you lose it. Go up to my hand and I've lost it. Whatever you go up to you lose. It's obvious isn't it. Whatever you go up to you lose. And you go all the way up to yourself and you lose yourself and you get the universe - and that's good business. It's obvious isn't it. You go all the way up to yourself and you lose yourself and you get the world. It's a very beautiful thing. And it does mean that you are not biodegradable!
The Four Stages Of Seeing Who You Really Are
So to complete the story now of my four stages. The first stage is to see this. The second stage is to go on seeing this until it becomes habitual. The third stage is to let it work into your life, particularly in the region of personal relationships, so that you don't live a life of confrontation - you live a life where you are empty and open for the one in front of you. In terms of the lubrication of our personal relationships I can't praise it too highly. It takes the fear, the embarrassment, out of personal relationships. It means that we are built for loving. I'm not talking about the feeling of love, I'm talking about the ground of love, the skeleton, the scaffolding on which love is erected. We are built open, are we not?
So the third thing is to build it into our lives, this vision of Who we are. And the fourth thing, which may come from the very beginning of this experience, is to trust it. You know, in the Tao Te Ching, they talk about the Tao, which is exactly what we are on about. The author of that marvellous text says it is a well that never runs dry. Draw on it as you will it will never run dry. It's know-how is incredible. Its creativity is incredible. The resource that you pack, back of you - you are backed by the unimaginably competent reality, so competent it has the supreme know-how to BE. And if you can't trust this which has the, what shall I say, the knack of actually Being - come on! That's something, to actually Be. That is quite an achievement isn't it. To Be. Now, to have that for backing!
One of Shakespeare's characters said "I am backed by God" That's better, if you are in business, than being backed by Barclays Bank, or even the Bank of Australia. I say this is the most incredible backing we have. So the fourth stage is the trusting of this. I say it never lets me down. I come here to Australia. If I think that Douglas is going to address you from my Douglasness, it really is not going to work. But if I put my money on This, Douglas can retire from the action. So these are the stages, which we shall be talking about - tomorrow and Sunday - and exploring how we keep the thing going, how we practise it, how we live it. Not talking about it but doing more and more experiments about the same thing.
Closed Eyes Experiment
But we have one more experiment before we come on to questions and so forth. One more experiment which is a very very important one. And it is to answer some objections which may have arisen in your minds, about how you would show this to a blind man. You know, if you can't share this with a blind man it's very superficial isn't it. How would you share this with a blind man? Another way of putting it is - Look, if it is only available to vision, to one of the senses, this shows that it is not really very profound. So we have an experiment we do now to see what we see when we are in fact blind. It involves shutting our eyes and keeping them shut, if you would please, until the end of the experiment. Tomorrow or Sunday we will be doing this experiment at much greater length, but we can see enough of it here tonight to get the message.
So, with eyes closed, let us please each be her or his own authority on what is given at this moment, on present evidence - what's it like being you.
What is your shape at this moment when you drop memory, imagination and belief, and just go by what is given at this moment? What is your shape? What shape? Do you have any shape at all at this time? Any shape? On present evidence, how tall are you? On present evidence, how many toes do you have. Indeed, how many legs? Couldn't you be any kind of creature now, for all you can tell? Who are you now? What colour are you? What age are you on present evidence? What sex?
Break in Tape
Do you have a surface which is in contact with an environment, or are you more like infinite space with no edges and no central object within that space? Is it not, perhaps, as if the space flows through you now? Flows through you without hitting anything. And this space, this capacity, I suggest, has no limits. Just as that single eye had no frame, so this has no limits, it goes on forever. And you could call this, if you wished, Capacity, you could call it Silence, couldn't you? Silence which is Capacity for these sounds.
Who are you now? What are you now?
Certainly, within this capacity that you might feel you are at this time, a lot of things are going on. There are all sorts of sensations at this time. The warmth and pressure and so forth. Little aches and pains, perhaps. Thoughts and feelings coming up, flourishing and vanishing.
Are you not now, perhaps, like a vast television screen, again with no edges, and the programme changing all the time, leaving the screen absolutely unaffected by all the rough things that are happening in the programme. So that the screen isn't burned and shot-up when violence occurs in the programme. Are you not like a television screen without limits? Always a programme: the screen unaffected. You could not be, surely, the items in that programme because they come and go, always changing - sensations, feelings, thoughts. Always changing. Who are you for whom they are changing, but the Changeless One?
So, at this time, going on present evidence, who are you? Who are you? Can you find anything remaining of that enormously complicated structure, which you and I had built up, called a personality? No name and age and nationality. Telephone number, address, job, qualifications. Commitments, weaknesses, strengths, skills and all that. What's happened to all that at this time? Has it all dropped away at this moment, like leaves in Autumn, leaving what? Isn't that all memory, not given now? What is given now, surely, is not the ability to say "I am this" or "I am that", because it's just not apparent what you are, having lost colour, name, age, sex, nationality and all the rest. What can you say now? Who are you now? On present evidence what is your name, now? I suggest you cannot say "I am this" or "I am that" at this time. But you can say "I AM". "I AM". Now that is a marvelous name to have, isn't it - "I AM!"
Do you now have the feeling of being destroyed or angry? Robbed? Insulted by this loss of everything that you and I have identified with? Do we feel very angry about that? Do we feel we've come to an uncomfortable place or, on the contrary, do we feel we've come home? Do we feel comfortable with our name "I AM"? Do we have the feeling of having dropped, perhaps, an intolerable burden and come home to the place we never left. You are the authority. See, if your name is "I am", you are certainly imperishable. You are certainly imperishable. You are certainly, intrinsically, at heart and at root stress free. Problem free. And I suggest that all the great religions and all the great - the really great - philosophers have said that this is who you really, really, really are at root: the one who lies at the centre of the world, from whom the world proceeds and to whom the world goes back.
You are the authority.
So, when we open our Single Eye again - let us do that - and flood this space with colour and shape, isn't that still your name? I AM? Is it the name of the one who cannot be stressed, has no problems: of freedom itself? When you go away in your car you will see it's the one that never moves, the one that drives Sydney. In whom Sydney dances in your stillness.
Who are we really, really?
We have the option, says Shakespeare, of telling it like it is and being who we are, or behaving, ultimately, like angry apes. That's very rude of Shakespeare. It's very rude of Shakespeare to say that, isn't it? But I think he got it right, because I know that Douglas does behave like an angry ape; he really does, I promise you; I have inside information: Douglas behaves like an angry ape when he doesn't see this. I really mean that. I really mean that.
You know, what we're on about tonight may sound rather strange, rather peculiar, slightly mad. I would say: Give it a whirl. And you would find, I think, that it is intensely practical.
Let me give you one suggestion here about energy. Don't believe what I say, but test it. You see in order to join the human race we had to busy ourselves hallucinating this lump of stuff here to keep the world out with. And that is enormously tiring. Because not only do I have to hallucinate this "cork", this door, this block to the Great Country, the Country of Everlasting Clearness - not only do I have to hallucinate this thing originally, but I have to keep it there. I have to keep maintaining it. And I have to keep changing it for you and you and you. I have to keep adjusting the darn thing. And it is so wearing. It's so tiring. If we want energy, don't spend it on hallucinating something at the centre of our world to kill our love.
Because it does kill love. You know, when we refuse to be built for loving, we aren't giving our love a chance. We really are not giving love a chance. Let's give love a chance by celebrating the fact that we are built for loving. This is so practical: In terms of energy, in terms of loving, in terms of creativeness, in terms of having fun. Because, you know, when you really get the art of looking to see who you are, it's discovery on discovery on discovery.
I've made a few little discoveries, which I might share with you tomorrow, since arriving in this continent. It's always revealing new things, it really is. For instance, today, even today, I had this vision of those garage doors. You go up to them and they open. Well, you go up to This and it opens, doesn't it? You say, That bloody thing doesn't open! But you go up to it and it opens. And so today, in your country, here, I had a very small thing, the garage door that opens as you approach. It's a small thing, but illustrating the fact that this is fun. It's discovery on discovery on discovery. It really works. Whatever we are doing, whatever we are up to, tell the truth about who is doing it. And I say, really, don't believe a thing I say: Test it. Test it. You are the authority.
Question: Do you feel that you are creating your own reality and are responsible for it?
Douglas Harding: Yes. But you see the question is who are we referring to? Douglas doesn't create his own reality, Douglas is a picture. Douglas is a picture in a mirror. He's kind of thin! He’s an appearance. He’s a phenomenon. Around which what you call the ego constellates. My self-image grows up around that picture. But when I say I create my own reality and really mean this, I say who I really, really am creates reality. Who you really, really are is responsible for the whole show. So it's a question of which "you" you are referring to. I don't think that the chap in the mirror, namely little Douglas, can create anything. He's a picture. He's thin. He's also intangible: you can't touch him. I've identified with that picture: taken that picture and put it here, and it's wrong; It doesn't belong here, it belongs there. Douglas is not responsible for anything like creation, or for anything, because he’s not conscious. The consciousness in me and in you is the One Consciousness who creates all reality, and is responsible for all reality. I say don't believe this, I think you should test it.
Very very good question!
Where Is Your Mind?
Question: How do memory and thinking fit into this?
Douglas Harding: Well, you see, Who one really really is here is responsible for the whole darn lot. Of course it doesn't mean that one has a mind here, a box here full of memories and all sorts of stuff - that here is a separate entity. What I find is that Here is the Awareness, the Clear Country, the transparency that Shakespeare is talking about - call it Spirit. And over there I find the world and the world is full of memories. It's structured by memory, it's structured by meaning, it's structured by all the experience that I read into the world.
If I'm really truthful, I don't take out of the world all these things which I call mental and put them in a "mind-box" here. I leave them in the world. I would say that there are three stages here - the first I call the "pre-psychological", the second the "psychological", and the third the "post-psychological".
The primitive man doesn't have the experience of a mind. His mind is "there". You know - when he has a bad feeling about a place, he doesn't say "I feel bad about that place", he says, "A horrible goblin lives there." And that is pre-psychological. Now the psychological thing is to take all the mental stuff out of the world - the meaning, the colour, the beauty. Colour? Yes even colour we take, and the beauty and the meaning and the memories and all the stuff that structures my world and gives it value. I drain those out of the world, pack those into this meatball here - this fictional meatball here - until its full to bursting. Then I have to go to a psychiatrist to let some of the darn stuff out! Meantime the world is reduced to nuts and bolts. So double trouble! The world is reduced to nuts and bolts and I am here full of all that stuff. Now I say we move on from here to what I call the "post-psychological" stage, when I am not Spirit-Mind-Body, but Spirit, which is Awakeness, Here, and, there, Mind-Body. So the Universe is my body, and it's replete with mind, and I take responsibility for the whole darn lot as Who I Am, from Who I Am.
A rather long answer to a short but very helpful question. Thank you!
I find this an absolutely physical thing. I have a choice. I can either see you, my friend, there and Douglas with something here to match you so that we are face to face - confronting one another. That is closing the door here, saying 'keep out I've got one thank you'. But I haven't got one. So the door is wide open, physically wide-open, and I can only say 'come in, thank you'. 'Welcome' on the mat! It really is wide open here for you, physically wide open.
I'm not talking about an attitude or an opinion or an abstraction. I'm saying we're physically busted wide open for one another, and you and I at this moment are trading faces. I suggest you are as wide open for Douglas as Douglas is for you. We are not confronting each other. What's more, I'm suggesting that we have never been face to face. You have never been face to face with anyone in your life. It has always been face to 'space'. Face here to space there. I say you are wide open for me. You are the one in receipt of the white beard right now, God help you!
Question about fear.
Douglas Harding: Some of you will remember that in that very basic Mahayana Buddhist scripture, the Diamond Sutra, it says that if you can look into your emptiness and not be somewhat scared, congratulations! Because it is a very uncommon thing. We have a great fear of looking this way because it is a kind of death. If you are scared of it I congratulate you because it means you have got it. I say, go on with it and you will come out at the other end. Beyond the fear is the experience of death, what I call the Present Death Experience. And then Bang! the resurrection. So you die as one tiny little lump of stuff and you explode to become the lot, you are resurrected to become the lot. So if you feel a little bit scared I would say that is absolutely great. Stay with it and it will come right.
Question about other ways home.
Douglas Harding: This is not 'the' way. I'm presenting 'a' way. A very very good way! but not 'the' way! I think there are as many ways back to Who we are as there are ways out from Who we are. So that is one thing to get out of the way.
The second thing is that we do have a repertoire of perhaps fifteen or twenty experiments and we have only done about three here this evening. Tomorrow and Sunday we have I think some very powerful ones which will leave no doubt about this. They do involve some technology and gear, and they are very valuable, but I would say this is only a beginning. I really think to subject this question of Who we really are to these very simple experiments, like putting on glasses, like pointing, like the closed eye one, like driving the car and seeing you are not driving the car you are driving Sydney - all these things it seems to me are a breakthrough in the spiritual story. They have been given to us at this time. They are very Western, very demythologised, very efficient, and they enable me to have the immense joy of sharing with so many of you tonight this thing, without any doubt whatever. They make this shareable.
You read the history of the great saints, even recent saints like Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta and people like that. How many people did they for sure share their vision with? I think a very small number. Not because they were not deeply enlightened. But we are developing in the West our own skilful means for sharing this. It is up to you to extend what Douglas is presenting here, to develop it in Australia, to do your own thing. But these simple ways through are effective. Different people will like different ones, therefore we have quite a repertoire. But this is not the only way. There are many many ways back to Who we are.
Question: What about meditation?
Douglas Harding:: What is meditation? I would suggest that meditation is another name for mindfulness, for being awake. I would say that what we are on about tonight is indeed meditation, and what I'm doing now at this time is meditating. By meditation I mean to see what is going on, to be attentive. You see we have to pay a very large price for this vision that we have had tonight. What we have to pay is attention, and that is meditation.
Question: What about prayer?
Douglas Harding: Don't you think there are at least two types of prayer. One is the petitionary prayer which says, O God make my tummy-ache better, or bring rain to Sydney, or find me a parking place. I'm not exactly against that, but I doubt that it is very effective. The other kind of prayer is I think supremely necessary. It really is a case of self-will. That little guy in the mirror, Douglas, he has got his own will, he turns his back on the world - incidentally in the mirror you see his back is turned on the world. Around him is an enormous business of self-will, of looking after number one, saying, I've got enough problems without taking on any more. But the One we really really are here with extended arms [opening his arms wide] is sensitive to the world, open to the world, busted open to the world. To realise this is a sort of prayer. These arms are extended in prayer. You know traditionally these arms are extended in prayer. And the prayer is, Thy will be done. Dante says, His will is our peace. That is prayer. To see in what is happening to me at this time the perfect will of God, this is a kind of prayer, a prayer of gratitude. It is not asking for anything, but it is a surrender of Douglas' little personal private concerns to Who I really really am.
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