Otherness

A question about the reality of duality arose at a seminar that Douglas and Catherine Harding gave recently, [1997] and I felt Douglas came up with a very good reply: it rang true. What I heard him say was that there is real otherness in this universe. And that this must be so or else this universe would not be compatible with the existence of real love. Why? Because self love is essentially trivial. A baby sucking its own thumb. Self love may be very sweet and compelling but it is essentially immature. It would not be possible for the self love of a baby to grow into real love if the universe was all just self.

One of the exercises that Douglas suggests is looking up on a starry night, arms spread wide. I think it is very hard to do this exercise without picking up some sense of the majesty of this universe. But if the universe is all just self, then it must lack majesty and could be dismissed as just a dream. A majestic dream perhaps, but still just a dream. A. UK.

Recently the second-last of my daughters fish died, from a batch that I bought her a few years ago. We watched it die slowly, allowing it a natural death. I thought that if it was me, I'd like to have time to die to be in touch until the last minute. At one point I thought that it had died and I took it out of the tank, but it began gasping for air.

I was reminded of a reputed Zen saying (don't know its source): "Whoever discovered water, it wasn't a fish". This small creature discovered water at the end of its life - I wonder if it had an appreciation of the discovery. This fish showed us our own mortality.

Anyway, the remaining fish went berserk over the next week - clearly very agitated. As we didn't get time to find a new lot of friends for it, one day I thought, "I wonder if a mirror will work?" So I put a mirror up at the end of the tank, hard against the glass. And sure enough, it came over and inspected its new friend, and spent most of its time there, and--what is best of all--calmed down.

In a few more days we were able to get it some company.

Life to them must just seem like awareness of a void from where they are looking, plus some sensation in the unperceived body behind the eyes, and an amazing journey of their world moving through them as they move through it. How do they recognise their opposite sex? Perhaps by rubbing eyebrows? C.M. Australia.

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