Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: Here is just emptiness. There is no getting my ego out of the way, and all that stuff. There is just the seeing, shining in great brilliance and clarity.
Author: Fraser Trevor
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Douglas Harding  reflects on finding himself headless: What actually happened was something absurdly simple and unspectacular: I stopped ...


Douglas Harding reflects on finding himself headless:
What actually happened was something absurdly simple and unspectacular: I stopped thinking. A peculiar quiet, an odd kind of alert limpness or numbness, came over me. Reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down. For once, words really failed me. Past and future dropped away. I forgot who and what I was, my name, manhood, animalhood, all that could be called mine. It was as if I had been born that instant, brand new, mindless, innocent of all memories. There existed only the Now, that present moment and what was clearly given in it. To look was enough. And what I found was khaki trouser-legs terminating downwards in a pair of brown shoes, khaki sleeves terminating sideways in a pair of pink hands, and a khaki shirtfront terminating upwards in—absolutely nothing whatever! Certainly not in a head.
It took me no time at all to notice that this nothing, this hole where a head should have been was no ordinary vacancy, no mere nothing. On the contrary, it was very much occupied. It was a vast emptiness vastly filled, a nothing that found room for everything—room for grass, trees, shadowy distant hills, and far above them snowpeaks like a row of angular clouds riding the blue sky. I had lost a head and gained a world.
It was all, quite literally, breathtaking. I seemed to stop breathing altogether, absorbed in the Given. Here it was, this superb scene, brightly shining in the clear air, alone and unsupported, mysteriously suspended in the void, and (and this was the real miracle, the wonder and delight) utterly free of “me”, unstained by any observer. Its total presence was my total absence, body and soul. Lighter than air, clearer than glass, altogether released from myself, I was nowhere around.
Yet in spite of the magical and uncanny quality of this vision, it was no dream, no esoteric revelation. Quite the reverse: it felt like a sudden waking from the sleep of ordinary life, an end to dreaming. It was self-luminous reality for once swept clean of all obscuring mind. It was the revelation, at long last, of the perfectly obvious. It was a lucid moment in a confused life-history. It was a ceasing to ignore something which (since early childhood at any rate) I had always been too busy or too clever to see. It was naked, uncritical attention to what had all along been staring me in the face – my utter facelessness. In short, it was all perfectly simple and plain and straightforward, beyond argument, thought, and words. There arose no questions, no reference beyond the experience itself, but only peace and a quiet joy, and the sensation of having dropped an intolerable burden.
See for yourself!
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… you are looking out of one Eye that is as wide as the world and is not a human eye. Your human eye you see in the mirror. This Eye which is as wide as the world, is not a human eye. It is the Eye of the One Seer in all beings that the Upanishads spoke of. It is the doing thing that is important.
For instance: If you find your travel in the rush hour, to and from work, tiring or boring, just notice that it’s the scenery that’s doing all the rushing about while you take a nice rest. If you find your eyes getting tired and tensions developing in that region, just notice that you are looking out of one huge and relaxed Eye, and not out of a pair of tiny screwed-up peep-holes in a box. If you feel ill at ease with some people, shy, or often too self-conscious, just notice that what you are looking out of is not a face but a huge and tranquil Space for taking in those faces. If you are scared of spiders, or the possibility of cancer, or of death, just notice that this Awake Space that you really are at centre is quite safe in all emergencies… This is a small sample of the welcome surprises that are there for the noticing.
The view out from this single Eye is unique to each person, and always changing. Looking out I see my living room now – you will see something different. But what about the view in? How could my view in – into this single Eye – be different from yours? There is nothing here to see differently. Here we are One.
You know, six hundred years before Christ they were saying in India that there is one Seer in all beings. One Seer. The Sufis said it, the Buddhists said it. Hui Hai, a great Buddhist Zen master, said, “Do we see with our eyes? No we see with our Buddha Nature.” We see with a Single Eye say the Sufi masters, later. One Seer. This is the Eye you’re looking out of. I find this absolutely extraordinary. See what you’re looking out of! And this is a strange thing—this agrees with modern science. Eyes do not see. Eyes condition, are part of the conditioning apparatus of what we see. They help to determine what we see, but the seeing doesn’t go on at the eye level. It really has to go back, via the optic nerves and so on, to a region of the brain where the story is taken up. It starts off there with the sun, the light comes down, is filtered through the atmosphere of the Earth, strikes the object and hits your eye, and is then conveyed to a region of the visual cortex in the brain, where the story is taken up by atoms, particles and so on. It’s not until that terminus is reached that you say, ‘Hi! I see you.’ The thing that starts with the galaxy, with the light of the sun out there, ends with the agitation or whatever of particles here. And it’s only where the All is reduced to No-thing here that seeing takes place.
That is the scientific story, and it is my story. This is where seeing takes place. In the No-thing that I am here, is the Seer, the great Seer, the one Eye of the One. I find this extraordinary really. Extraordinary. You never looked out of anything but this—what they call in the East the Third Eye. It seems to me that the Almighty in his mercy, undeserved, by pure Grace, is just pouring upon us the invitation to enjoy union with Him. You know, St. Thomas Aquinas—the great intellect of the mediaeval Catholic Church—St Thomas Aquinas wrote great books of theology, of the Catholic faith, and he still is regarded as a great authority. At the end of his not very long life he said, “It’s all straw. All straw. What matters is the Beatific Vision of union with God. That’s what matters. That’s the meaning of our lives.”
– Douglas Harding
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