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Topic: Douglas Harding; Magic Eye Pictures
TenthMan
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Douglas Harding; Magic Eye Pictures
on: January 2, 2011, 18:19

Hi Moller,


Are you familiar with the teachings of Douglas Harding? If not, here's a website about him and his "exercises" for pointing out who, as he puts it, "one really really really is".


My understanding is that in a nutshell, his "present evidence" exercises draw a temporary and artificial distinction between "awareness" and it's "content". Hopefully, as Douglas puts it, the "penny will fall" which means that there's a sudden realization that awarness and content are identical.


If you would, and if you haven't already, could you take a look at the website, try a few of the "exercises" (i.e. videos) and let me know what you think?


Also, are you familiar with the "Magic Eye" pictures? If they're looked at in a certain way a 3-D image suddenly appears. But if looked at in the "usual" way, all that's seen are squiggly repetitive patterns; and no matter how hard and long one looks at the picture that's all that will be seen and perpetuated. In short, the way of perceiving generates what's perceived or present.


Once one learns "how" to look the "certain way" then it's possible to shift back and forth between the "convential" and the "other".


I'm thinking that shifting "ways of perceiving" the 3-D vs the non-3D pictures could serve as a metaphor or teaching device relative to Direct Awareness. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this.


By thew way, Magic Eye pictures can be found on the internet via a search on Google and in books too.


Thanks!

Michael


moller
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Re: Douglas Harding; Magic Eye Pictures
on: January 3, 2011, 08:47

Dear Michael,


First of all, a warm welcome to our forum!


I attended a seminar by Douglas Harding in the early nineties in Durban, and had the privilege of sharing a rather interesting discussion with him during one of the breaks. What a sweet and generous person he was! Sharp as the cutting edge of a sword, yet soft and gentle to the core.


I am not a student of Harding, so what I am going to share here is open to correction and hopefully some informed and instructive criticism .


My sense is that Harding had this enlightening experience where the center as 'central headquarters' just fell away. The sense of separation disappeared and for him there was just 'what is'. In a very good article on the enlightenment experience by Jose le Roy, (to be found at the Douglas Harding website) he quotes Harding 's own description of what took place in that moment of free being:


" "It was all, quite literally, breathtaking. I seemed to have 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."


This is very beautiful and I resonate with Harding's subsequent description of his state referring to his experience from the point (non-point?)of view of : 'on present evidence'. From what I can sense from what Harding is saying here is that 'on present evidence' there is always only 'what is'. There is just present experience, fully conscious, yet, completely unself-conscious.


If I am allowed to take this somewhat further, may I just add that here the observer and observed cannot be separated. Everything is, yet there is no one noticing it. The noticing IS the experience (or thing observed, felt, heard etc) and the experience IS the noticing of it. The moment there is reality there is awareness of reality. Content and awareness of content can never be separated, and are always a mutually arising phenomenon. This makes reality an ongoing process, rather than something already fixed in time and space waiting to be noticed by me as the presumed observer.


What I do find perhaps a little disconcerting about the development of Harding's 'philosophy' around his insight, is that he tried to fit it into the kind of traditional frameworks of religious and spiritual experience. So he started saying that our 'most fundamental nature' (who we really, really, really are) is the eternal 'Seer'.This Seer he describes as the unchanging reality of who we truly are. In fact, he equates this with the notion of God. Now to my understanding of his original insight into the nature of present experience, this new development within his teaching tends to revert back to the mistake he originally transcended. Let me try to explain:


His original experience was that there is no observer, just what is. Here he lost the notion of central head-quarters to arrive at the truth of what is. If we now carefully look at the reality of this central-headquarters, it becomes evident that it is just a thought. The presumed 'I' (that has now disappeared for Harding) is nothing but a projection created and sustained by thought presenting itself as a point of reference somewhere in our heads.


The 'I' always seems to look out through the eyes from the position of the head. Harding saw into the falseness of this, and when the true status of this false projection of the 'I' seated somewhere in the head,yet mistaken for reality,became obvious, there was (on present evidence) only what is. The presumed 'head' was gone, as it became clear that similar to the projection of 'I', the head itself was nothing but a projection as it is not actually seen. It can only be inferred. As such the head is also nothing but a mental construct. And here Harding is perfectly sound in his insight.


But then he started to refer to the emptiness where the head and 'I' were previously as the 'Seer'. But to my understanding this 'Seer' is no different to the thought projections of both 'I'and the head. So Harding has now replaced his 'headless way' with the way of the Seer. The 'Seer' now fills the space left by the original emtiness of Hardings pure insight. So, he seems to have gone a full circle. First away from the thought of the 'I' and the head (into his headless state), and then back into the thought of the 'Seer'where the head and 'I' used to be.


I like the Zen saying which states a 'cup is only useful when it is empty'. If there is true emptiness of perception (as per Harding's original experience), why not leave it there. Why feel the urge to give this emptiness substance by calling it 'the Seer', 'God' etc?


To me emptiness is emptiness, and I am happy to live with the mystery of this unfathomable process of present arising. The truth is we do not know and cannot know what reality is. It is mere mystery. I am as much my experience as I am the sense of awareness of experience. For me there is no state I can 'really, really, really' call myself other than the undivided truth of present experience. And this simple fact of human experience is complete mystery. The mind which understands is simply not the instrument through which to grasp the immense subtlety of non-dual present arising. This arising is sufficient unto itself, and needs no further elaboration or explanation. It is just one unfathomable process of present unfolding or 'what is'.


monk
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Re: Douglas Harding; Magic Eye Pictures
on: February 3, 2011, 07:22

What Harding experienced and described is in mysticism called the unity experience. Mystics from all traditions, and no tradition, report and record this.


Many of them, 'make the mistake according to Moller' by doing the following, or intepreting or projecting on this unity experience the following:


(M) >>>What I do find perhaps a little disconcerting about the development of Harding's 'philosophy' around his insight, is that he tried to fit it into the kind of traditional frameworks of religious and spiritual experience. So he started saying that our 'most fundamental nature' (who we really, really, really are) is the eternal 'Seer'.This Seer he describes as the unchanging reality of who we truly are. In fact, he equates this with the notion of God. Now to my understanding of his original insight into the nature of present experience, this new development within his teaching tends to revert back to the mistake he originally transcended.>>>


That is, by labelling this unity experience AS IF it was the experience of the one real universal self (Brahman, Atman etc from Hinduism),the Essence (of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the Creator, and the universe and phenomena as the created, creatures or energies and manifestations of God's Essence), the Gottheit of Meister Eckhart (meaning godNESS and often mistakenly translated as god HEAD), the Sufi Beloved, or another term that in some way tries to express a personal or impersonal force, a person, or an idea concerning one 'absolute Platonic Idea', such as that of the neo-Platonic Plotinus's 'the ONE" (where all Christian mystical notions concerning this absolute originates from).


monk


moller
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Re: Douglas Harding; Magic Eye Pictures
on: February 4, 2011, 13:08

Monk wrote:


>>That is, by labelling this unity experience AS IF it was the experience of the one real universal self (Brahman, Atman etc from Hinduism),the Essence (of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the Creator, and the universe and phenomena as the created, creatures or energies and manifestations of God's Essence), the Gottheit of Meister Eckhart (meaning godNESS and often mistakenly translated as god HEAD), the Sufi Beloved, or another term that in some way tries to express a personal or impersonal force, a person, or an idea concerning one 'absolute Platonic Idea', such as that of the neo-Platonic Plotinus's 'the ONE" (where all Christian mystical notions concerning this absolute originates from).>>


(Moller)


Yes Monk. I think you nailed the thing pretty much on the head. It is not the unitary inward experience I challenge, but rather the 'labelling' afterwards. If these mystics were to stay with their personal description of unity consciousness, they might notice that there is indeed a true and real resonance between their various experiences. After all, we are all human, and under certain circumstances (such as deep attentive absorption on some inner object or sensation etc.) we will tend to have pretty similar experiences. So why try to put these experiences into some kind of retrospective context after the event? This retrospection is completely unnecessary and superfluous. It only bring confusion and ultimately division where no division exists.


But for me there another considerably more fundamental issue to be considered when we discuss this inward state of unity absorption. That is: even if this state is very beautiful, profound and totally absorbing, it is still a state next to other states. In other words, this experience is conditional upon the establishment and maintenance of a certain inner state of silence and stillness of mind. It could be considered whole, but not the truth of the wholeness experienced during what I describe as Direct Awareness where all the senses are fully functional and everything is included in the experience. During mystical absorption, everything but the inner state of tranquility gets excluded. This is why I say it is still a state amongst other states. It is contingent upon the exclusion of the rest of our field of present awareness.


I am not belittling this mystical state. I believe it is a very useful entrance into the total awakened conditioned where all the senses function normally – albeit without the intrusion of the separate self-sense. In my books I describe the subtle transition between inward wholeness and its integration into ordinary experience. Unfortunately it seems to me that the typical mystical experience places far too much emphasis on the inner state of mystical absorption and the memory we retain of it after the event. It is this memory we then cling to and which we then God-head, Brahman, Self, Ground of Being etc.


But this memory is as dead as any other memory. This is in my understanding where the traditional mystical approach to wholeness misses the mark. Their inner state of absorption is not sustainable during ordinary human functioning other than a mere memory-sense of it. My work attempts to bring unity into diversity. That is, to allow for the complete integration of inner wholeness with ordinary experience. This to me is the challenge facing us.


weallone
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Re: Douglas Harding; Magic Eye Pictures
on: February 4, 2011, 15:24

moller, as usual your articulation of these subtle issues, is excellent. The only thing that i may be misinterpreting, is that for me the wholeness cannot be gradually integrated into the life experience as you say.


For the simple act of "inner" wholeness, i find to be an energetic experience where you don't integrate with life, but rather life seems to be alive as a whole unknowable energetic play that comes at "you" in ways you could not even plan, as "you" have no reality, other than as a aspect of whatever is presenting itself as this ever changing moment that does not exist.


Suddenly synchronicity, and the moving energy are the only"show" in town, and all "you" can do,is go with what's happening,as there is only that, and "that" is somehow "you".There is no vantage point to observe or enjoy, there is only this unknowable happening taking place without you, yet somehow you're it.


Just another brick in the wall

moller
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Re: Douglas Harding; Magic Eye Pictures
on: February 4, 2011, 18:43

Dear weallone,


I don't get the impression you are misinterpreting what we are discussing here. In fact, my sense is that you are perfectly right with regard how things are when the inner state of wholeness is established. This you describe very eloquently.


My concern, however, is not so much with this final aspect of our human potential. When we are 'there', things happen as you say. My concern is how to allow for the integration of this sense of undivided being during our ordinary living wher it is mostly absent. In my last post I mention:

>> My work attempts to bring unity into diversity. That is, to allow for the complete integration of inner wholeness with ordinary experience. This to me is the challenge facing us.>>


So, how to go about allowing for the integration between the inner sense of wholeness and the apparent fragmentation of our ordinary experience?


Integration is not a positive process. It is(to use your term) : 'via negative'. Integration takes place by itself when we have developed the skillful means of how to allow for the subtle relaxation of all states of self in every living moment. We do not integrate 'our' wholeness with life. That is why I ask: how to allow for integration between inner wholeness and other forms of experience? How does it get done? (I do not ask: how do *we* do it?.) We simply relax out of self-contraction and this relaxation of self-contraction establishes us in the immediate experience of wholeness.


My sense is that the problem of duality (self-contraction) is continuously created and sustained by us in our uninspected moments of dramatising the self-sense. We live and breathe this self-contracted state. And if we want to experience the wholeness of the living moment, we have to stop doing this duality to ourselves. Here we do not shift into another gear made from the same ego-stuff which is preventing us from realising our true non-dual condition. Through skillful means we learn how to relax out of self-contraction for the sense of undivided being to be the case. This is all that can be done do to open the door to the non-dual experience.


This calls for constant vigilance, as we are as capable of falling into duality as we are of the sense of undivided being in any given moment. Ours is the constant choice. How we go about this is a subtle affair, but as I try to explain in my books, quite possible. In this way the inner sense of undivided being is allowed to experience itself over the total spectrum of oridinary, everyday experience. This is what I refer to as 'integrating wholeness into ordinary experience'.


The kind of 'synchrinicity' and moments of the fullness of life may happen despite such participation on our part in the process of relaxing out of self-contraction. But these are rare and random events, and are not sustainable other than through luck or other co-incidences. As humans we have not got very far in our human growth with these random moments of undived being presenting themselves within our living experience. So, my question is how to make this possible in a more sustainable manner? What I describe above and in my books, are attempts at facilitating this quite naturally.


I hope I have answered your concern to some extent. Please feel free to continue this conversation should you still feel I am missing something of significance here.


TenthMan
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Re: Douglas Harding; Magic Eye Pictures
on: February 10, 2011, 17:51

Hi Möller,


In your post, in part you wrote…< "Through skillful means we learn how to relax out of self-contraction for the sense of undivided being to be the case. This is all that can be done do to open the door to the non-dual experience.


This calls for constant vigilance, as we are as capable of falling into duality as we are of the sense of undivided being in any given moment. Ours is the constant choice." >.


My question is, could (or would) the "effort" to maintain "constant vigiliance" itself give rise to the (false but taken to be real) sense of being "divided" or "separated" from "what is" arising? In other words, generate the sense of a "me" being the "vigilant one" over and against and being vigilant of what's happening?


Also, in regards to the factor of "choice", could or doesn't that also imply there is a "chooser" separate from what is arising?


I don't mean to be nitpicking, just desiring more clarity. And now, come to think of it, couldn't "my/this" desire for more clarity itself also give rise to the notion, belief, or assumption that "I" need more clarity in order to experience or attain wholeness or Direct Awareness and therefore keep it at bay?


Thanks!

TenthMan (Michael)


moller
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Re: Douglas Harding; Magic Eye Pictures
on: February 13, 2011, 07:31

Hi Tenthman,


Your questions are perfectly valid and require a kind of fine-tuning within our understanding in order to come to some clarity with the issues you articulate. I will try to reply as your post unfolds:


Tenthman quoting Moller:

>>In your post, in part you wrote…< "Through skillful means we learn how to relax out of self-contraction for the sense of undivided being to be the case. This is all that can be done do to open the door to the non-dual experience.


This calls for constant vigilance, as we are as capable of falling into duality as we are of the sense of undivided being in any given moment. Ours is the constant choice." >>.


Tenthman:

>>My question is, could (or would) the "effort" to maintain "constant vigiliance" itself give rise to the (false but taken to be real) sense of being "divided" or "separated" from "what is" arising? In other words, generate the sense of a "me" being the "vigilant one" over and against and being vigilant of what's happening?>>


Moller:

Yes. Absolutely! The separate self-sense is always ready to claim any and all actions on our part as part of its own territory. For instance, when I walk along the pavement, my legs are just working in a completely un-selfconscious way and simply operate according to how legs should operate.They have no sense of what they are doing other than the physiological demand to do as the situation requires.


'I' then notices this operation of the legs, and soon this 'I' says to itself: 'I am walking'. Here we notice how the 'I' superimposes itself onto an activity which has absolutely nothing to do with the claim of the 'I' that it is doing the walking. The same goes for our thinking, emotional resonses, other bodily sensations and sense perception. Generally all these activities take place by themselves and certainly don't require either the confirmation from the 'I' that they are taking place or the claim the 'I' makes that it is the originator or observer of these actions. Yet, we say: 'I think, feel, sense,etc.


The same goes for our attempts at coming to terms with this unnecessary act of the 'I'itself when we say we have to be 'vigilant' with regard to this interfering of the 'I' into everything we do. However, the crucial point to consider here is that when we are truly vigilant, this vigilance is founded in awareness, and awareness is not of the nature of the 'I'-state – despite the fact that the 'I' tries to make it part of its territory. So, yes, when vigilance as awareness is active, the 'I' can and probably will project itself into the activity as central to what is happening by the force of habit. However, the moment this happens, we have already lost our vigilance. The 'I' cannot be aware or vigilant. It is the very antithesis of awareness. The 'I' is always a state or condition of relative or total unawareness.


What I propose is that through correct forms of preparation (practice) we learn how to bring our being in line with the intelligence of awareness whereby we by-pass the crude attempts by the 'I' to maintain itself under all conditions. This by-passing is what I refer to as 'relaxing out of the self-contracted state into the deeply felt sense of non-dual awareness'. Vigilance is what remains when we manage to become aware of the 'I' state in all its activities, and observe its arising and formation as it happens. Clearly this has nothing to do with the 'I'-state as such. To observe the 'I' state, making use of awareness (which, as I have indicated, is not of the nature of self-consciousness) after having learnt the skills as I describe in my books, elegantly facilitate the process of undermining the apparent reality of the 'I' when it starts to form.


Tenthman:

>>Also, in regards to the factor of "choice", could or doesn't that also imply there is a "chooser" separate from what is arising?>>


(Moller)

Life demands that we make choices with regard the challenges it presents us. We have no choice about this. Yet, again, to make a choice does not imply a 'chooser'. Choices are made and if we are not alert to the 'I' claiming these choices as direct consequences of its 'doing', we will most certainly believe that we are the chooser. But as I said above, this second and unnecessary step is a mere elaboration in thought which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that choices are being made. There is never, and there can never be, any causal connection to the fact of choosing and the false sense that such choosing implies a chooser.


Tenthman:

>>I don't mean to be nitpicking, just desiring more clarity. And now, come to think of it, couldn't "my/this" desire for more clarity itself also give rise to the notion, belief, or assumption that "I" need more clarity in order to experience or attain wholeness or Direct Awareness and therefore keep it at bay?>>


(Moller)


The desire for clarity is a natural process of living. It is not unlike the desire for food and water and sex. To be human is to have such desires or needs or wants. Human life cannot do without these. Again, the 'I' could claim these for its territory, but these have nothing to do with the 'I'. Whether we have this sense of 'I' or not, is not going to diminish in any way our need for sexual contact, food, water, shelter, understanding and wholeness. What we have to realize is that the 'I' has no role to play here. It can try to impose itself into these needs, but it will be an uncessary input. The desires mentioned are sufficient unto themselves and will bring their own motivation to have them fulfilled. There is no need for an additonal push from the false sense of 'I'-consciousness.


I trust I have addressed your questions in some way.


Thanks again for your input. And sincere thanks for your kind words about my writing in one of your other posts.


Warm greetings.


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