Douglas Harding was a spiritual genius in that he was able to communicate ideas in new ways. Fortunately, we have Richard Lang to carry on his teachings, because they get to the core of what it means to turn the attention around from the objective world to the subjective. The subjective-objective relationship is also stated as the duality of the seer and the seen. Jiddu Krishnamurti said that if you can understand this relationship as a fact, not just as an intellectual idea, then you’ve got it!
By accepting the teachings of authority figures — including parents, teachers, relatives, and so on — we have all been psychologically conditioned to see ourselves as individuals apart from the totality of consciousness. By default, we have accepted secondhand information, ideas, and beliefs, and made them our own, perceiving the world in a certain way, including that the seer (the self) is separate from all that is seen. While it is important and necessary to see the differences in things so that we can navigate the world and know the difference between a banana and a hammer, on a spiritual-psychological level, we are left confused and conflicted and we have to learn that there’s really no separation at all.
I would propose — and I am certainly not the first to perceive things this way — that all of what we see is a reflection of us, from the physical, atomic, and molecular substances to the singular movement of life that is called consciousness. In effect, then, consciousness is seeing consciousness. And this means that the seer (consciousness) is the seen (consciousness). What we see is ourselves on all levels.
Consider this analogy, which is how I came to realize how this is true.
Several years ago I was engaged in a dream in the middle of the night. In the dream I was angry at my sister-in-law, Lisa, but my brother kept calling my name until he got my attention. Then he said, “Don’t you get it? This is your dream. It’s all your mind. Lisa is actually you. I am actually you.” Then, still in the dream, I had the Aha! moment that I was creating my own reality. Suddenly I woke up and the entire world had changed. I realized that not only do I create all that is in my dreams, but that I also create all that is in my waking life — not as the individual egoic self, but as consciousness. In short, I am consciousness and therefore all that I see is consciousness. I am what I see. The seer is the seen.
But there is more to this dynamic; it goes deeper. When the egoic self — the psychologically conditioned mind that leads to the belief in a separate self — looks at another person, it is seeing itself. This is because the contents of consciousness is consciousness. In other words, the good, bad and indifferent that we see in other people is no different than that which exists as our own traits. There are not multiple angers, fears, or greeds; there is only one, and this one and only exists within different expressions. But we cannot let the outer expressions distract us from seeing that the expressions are expressions of the one and only consciousness. What we are seeing is ourselves physically, subatomically, molecularly, emotionally, psychologically, and as consciousness. The seer is the seen.
Now back to the genius of Douglas Harding and Richard Lang whose experiments have the potential to bring about an awakening. Their experiments show us that when we look at a person ten feet away we are seeing him/her as a physical expression. When we move further away we see him/her as a city. Even further away and we see the person as the planetary self, and so on. What does this imply? Among other things, this means that we are seeing ourselves as a person, as a society, as a city, as a state, as a planet, and as the universe. We are all of these things that arise out of the infinite void of the subjective Self that recedes back into the ineffable silent stillness from which consciousness arises. Out of the void arises the “I am” of consciousness, and out of the “I am” arises the egoic self of “I am this or that.” This is true for all of us, not only those who have awaked to this fundamental truth.
Vic Shane is author of The Self is a Belief .