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From 'The Turning Point'

by Douglas Harding


Man is a shocking case of arrested development.

When not cut short, our life is a four-stage affair.

First, the new-born baby who has no boundaries.

Second, the child who some of the time agrees with grown-ups that the object in the mirror is himself, while the rest of the time he’s still boundless.

Third, the adult who has lost his space and become his face. Almost all of us are stuck at this stage. We substitute the dying thing we look like over there for the deathless no-thing we are here, thereby condemning ourselves to death and fear, hate, greed, and delusion.

Fourth, to grow up we must turn our attention round 180˚ and look at What we’re looking out of. Then we rediscover the clarity and immensity we enjoyed as infants, and find that we are, in all vital respects, the opposite of what we look like. In particular, we find that the face-to-face confrontation of Stage Three is a lie and that we all are disappearing in one-another’s favour.

Our job is to live this way, and so help Man grow up.

I’m not suggesting that the third and desperately difficult stage of our life can be dispensed with, but it needs cutting down. The longer it drags on the harder it gets to stop. Seventeen is a good age for discovering you are still space for the world to happen in.

Few reach this Fourth Stage, and the ability of those who do so to change the world seems negligible. The individual seems powerless, but before giving up hope, let’s face what our Fourth Stage amounts to. It’s the realization that by grace you and I are One with our Source, identical at Centre with the Power that’s giving rise to Itself, plus all things from quarks to galaxies, and that we aren’t through to the One as human beings, but as the One, as the only Real Power.

There’s an early Buddhist story that the Buddha’s enlightenment ensured the enlightenment of all sentient beings. I’m saying that when you see into your boundless, immaculate, imperishable, all-inclusive, wide-awake Nature and Source and Centre, you do so as One with and empowered by the only Real and Ultimate Power that, having already achieved the “impossible” miracle of Self-origination, isn’t easily baffled. Tell me, what’s impossible for the One that creates Itself? And what’s impossible for those who enjoy union with that One?

Man has survived ice-ages, ages of stagnation, every sort of nastiness and nonsense. It’s up to us, who see that we are by grace One with the One, to see our brothers and sisters through to the love and the glory that shines here at the heart of All.

You can’t grow up apart from them, for the simple reason that to get Home to the One as the One you must take with you, piggyback, all that comprise the One.

(The Turning Point, a collection of articles by Douglas Harding, was first published in 2012.)

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