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From 'The Face Game'

by Douglas Harding


A man is thoroughly caught up. He is continuous with his world and of the same order, inseparably a part of the universal process, a conductor and not a source of energy. All of him is involved; he is busy as one piece, without any still pivot or nucleus. His very life is action. For him, idleness amounts to death.

Game: I am playing ‘Busy’ when, reading his 3rd-person situation into my 1st-person situation, I make out that I, too, am thoroughly caught up.

Antithesis: Whatever the superficial fuss, however busy I pretend to be, I notice that I am in fact bone lazy. When I attend carefully to what lies right here at the storm-centre of the universe, I find perfect calm. The middle of the world has quietly dropped out—but really it never had a middle, and was always hollow, coreless. This Hub of the ever-turning cosmic wheel has never been anything but still, idle, and vacant. 

I also observe, radiating like four wobbly spokes from the Hub, these legs and arms going about their business, just as these men and animals and clouds and stars are going about theirs, without any interference from me. Here at the Centre I can find no aims, no needs, no responsibilities, no sense of controlling anything whatsoever: out there all goes well enough on its own. In any case, how could this central Nothing bring any influence to bear upon that peripheral something, and still be Nothing? And, in fact, whenever I pretend that these arms and legs are thoroughly mine, are 3rd-person type and continuous with a complete human body, instead of 1st-person type and quite loose, their work deteriorates. They do best when seen as they really are—free of me. 

I interfere with nothing out there, and nothing out there interferes with me. I have nothing to do, and yet I see all doing as proceeding from here; I find no need to be anything, and yet I see all being as contained here—in this unique Gap, this wonderful Hiatus, which turns out to be the fountain of continual creation. Here, indeed, is no ordinary spot: no place on the map, in the cosmos, is anything like it. This still Centre is the one spot where energy is actually discovered welling up out of Nothing. All the irresistible torrents which swirl and roar through every other place rise silently in this Place, never ruffling its perfect calm.

('The Face Game' was written by Douglas Harding in the late 1960s and first published in 2017)

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