Douglas Harding Continued

Thanks Fiona.

I went to one of Douglas’ workshops about 10 years ago. At that time he was profoundly deaf and this severely limited his capacity to participate. Nevertheless, I was aware that I was in the company of someone who, in time, will probably be considered on of the greatest mystics of the past several hundred years. Which amounts to nothing really, as it is not about having rubbed shoulders with some celebrity guru. Indeed it is not about him at all. It is about you, about me, and our ability to bear witness to our own true nature, to our divinity.

What I found disarming was the simplicity of seeing into ones own real nature. There is no need to spend 25 years staring at a wall, no need to read arcane scriptures; no need for purification, transmission, merit, accomplishment, or anything else that needs practice. It is simply noticing the ‘no-thing’ which is aware of what is seen, heard, felt, etc.

And its simplicity is the problem. It’s not exotic enough for us; it does not come with bells or whistles. At the same time, paradoxically, we don’t want it because it is too radical. It threatens the hegemony of the ego, the ‘I, me, mine’ that sits on the throne, and pretends it is God.

‘Is that it?’, I said,  and went back to my usual ways.

To glance inwardly is all that I need to do, and I can do it in an instant. Indeed I must do it in an instant, and only for an instant. I must do it again and again, in each instant that it occurs to me to do it.

That is where the practice lies. But I can’t be bothered to do it again and again. After all, what’s the point? No host of angels singing, no celestial light. Just the simple presence of what is, free for a moment from the tyranny of the little ‘me’ who wants to believe that it is ‘I’ who have been the seer, the hearer, the feeler.

So I have to admit that I’m not ready for such a radical, simple message. Maybe tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’m much more comfortable with the delusion that I need to practice, to purify, to go on retreats, meditate harder, longer, better. That way I can continue to turn away from seeing who I really am. Because I know that to see who I really, really am will cost me, as Douglas has said, precisely everything.