THE SINGLE EYE
Commentary by Richard Lang
How many eyes are you looking out of? Of course other people see two eyes when they look at you, and you see two in the mirror. But how many do you see from your own point of view? Take a fresh look at yourself. Perhaps you have been overlooking something both obvious and wonderful.
I am looking out of one eye. In fact, it’s not even an eye – it’s an edgeless, undivided space
, a frameless, wide-open window
. From this clear window I can at this moment see my desk and computer, and beyond these things my garden.
This single Eye is not a human eye. It is God’s Eye, the Eye of the One Self, the Eye of the Buddha…
Are you also looking out of a frameless window, a single Eye – God’s Eye?
To bring your attention home to your single Eye, hold your hands out in
front of you as if they were a pair of glasses you are going to put on.
If you wear glasses you can take them off and hold them out instead.
You see two holes. There is a different view in each hole.
Now slowly bring them towards you and put them on.
When you put the ‘glasses’ on, what happens to the dividing line
between the two holes? Doesn’t it disappear, leaving one undivided,
edgeless space that you are looking out of? One undivided, edgeless space that you are.
Observe the ‘edge’ of your field of vision. Notice that you cannot look directly at it. (Anything you look at moves into the centre of the field of vision.)
Is there really an ‘edge’ to your field of vision, a distinct boundary? Or does it gradually fade off? Into what? Into no-thing? Into your single, edgeless Eye?
Move your hand to this edge. See how it vanishes here. This is the place where things disappear.
How wide is this Eye of yours? Wider than the world?
Every line or boundary in the world has things on either side of it –
every object has an environment, is surrounded by other objects. Check
this out by looking at the things around you.
But there is one boundary beyond which there are no things - the boundary around your view of the world.
When I pay attention to this ‘boundary’ I find nothing beyond it. It’s a unique ‘boundary’.
is the ‘edge of the world’ What is beyond it? An abyss without end? You
are this abyss – the abyss in which the world floats. All things are
You can notice your single Eye anywhere, anytime. Discover how relaxing it is to be edgeless. There is no tension at all in this spacious clarity. What a resource in times of stress!
The Many And The One
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.
From the Video Interview: Douglas Harding, His Life and Philosophy
What about observing what's going on—this transformation of two little windows into one Window which is as wide as the world. In India they talk about the opening of the Third Eye. You have to go to India or Mexico or Japan or somewhere for the opening of the Third Eye. But it's available here and now, wherever you are, isn't it? Did you ever look out of anything but this Window?
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.'
So I say, Go for it. Go for it!
From another interview with Douglas Harding
The words are incidental. All teachers would agree, we learn by doing. What we learn by, what I learn by, what I have to share is a doing thing, active. This is an active thing. Put on your glasses and see the two holes become one — 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.
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Comments on this experiment
Just tell me what your eyes are. Genro
It is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Jesus
Jesus said to them: When you make the two one… then you will go into the Kingdom. Gospel of Thomas
He became one-eyed. Attar
The Tathagata became the Eye of the universe. Parinirvana Sutra
Thou art not that body: thou art this spiritual Eye. Rumi
I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing: I see all. Emerson
Real vision is eyeless. Anandamayi Ma
Become seeing, seeing, seeing! Rumi
Become vision itself. Plotinus
When Chang Ching, after twenty years of meditation, happened to lift the curtain and see the outside world, he lost all his previous understanding of Zen, and cried: "How mistaken I was! How mistaken I was! Raise the screen and see the world."
Anything, however small, adhering to the soul, prevents your seeing me. We cannot see the visible except with the invisible. Meister Eckhart
Thou seest those eyes looking, but they are like pictures in a bath-house: they do not see. The form appears, O worshipper of form, as though its two dead eyes were looking. Rumi
If there were no eye, what? If there were no ear, what? If there were no mouth, what? If there were no mind, what? If one has to face such circumstances and knows how to act then one is in the company of the ancient Patriarchs and Buddhas. Anyone in that company is satisfied. Blue Cliff Record
I look and listen without using eyes and ears. Lieh-tzu
By what means do this body or mind perceive? Can they perceive with the eyes, ears…?
No. Your own Nature, being essentially pure and utterly still, is capable of perception. Hui-hai
There is no seer but Him, no one to hear but him, no one thinking, no one aware but Him. He is the Self, the Ruler within, the One Immortal. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
It is the Unborn which sees and hears, eats and sleeps. Bankei
Only God has seeing, hearing. Al-Arabi
When I was a boy I used to try to imagine the edge of the universe, and what I came up with was a red brick wall, going on and on, all around the edge. Of course, whenever I imagined this, I realized there must be another side to this brick wall, and so it couldn't be the edge after all.
With seeing who I am, seeing the single eye, I now see the edge of the universe. It is right here, within my experience. But it is a peculiar place. I can't look at it directly. It isn't an edge like other edges - which always have another thing on the other side. This edge is the edge between things and nothing. It isn't a clear line, but fades out gradually - but that description doesn't quite hit the mark. Nevertheless, there it is, the edge of the universe. My boyhood quest has been answered. R.L.
When I was a girl I used to try imagine from whence I came. I would lie in bed at night before going to sleep, quite often, and try to imagine me and then what came before me and then what came before that, and that, and that, ad infinitum, until I got to the essence or middle of "that," which was nowhere. Now seeing from the single eye I still can go that route and at the center is the "I" that contains all that. And my girlhood quest has been answered. K.
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