I spent my entire life trying to find what exists at my own core. Paying close attention to Krishnamurti, Ramana, and Nisargadatta, it all became clear to me several years ago. Then my wife read a passage in “I AM That” about a visitor who told Nisargadatta about Douglas Harding. So I began looking into him and was awestruck by his brilliance and the simplicity of his message and experiments. And now I find Douglas Harding and Richard Lang to be a gift to humanity.
Finding “what is” is so simple that it is ignored, overlooked, disregarded, and usually dismissed. Instead of letting the egoic mind go — the sense of “me” — we are apt to pontificate, gather information, read a lot of books, meditate, do all sorts of exercises, listen to experts, engage in rituals, and try to figure things out. But how can the mind know something that is beyond the mind itself? It can’t. We expend tremendous amounts of mental, physical, and emotional energy looking for something, some way to understand reality. We also spend inordinate amounts of time looking “out there,” but no time looking back “in here,” in the direction of the thing that is doing the looking.
Douglas Harding’s phrase “on present evidence” seems to get to the point in a way that no other guru, at least in my decades of experience, has been able to do. The idea of “on present evidence” bypasses all the mental gymnastics and thought.
Only when you turn around and take a serious look at your sense of self can there be any true transformation from the egoic self to the substrate, or the core, of what you are. And it’s simple; so simple that you may cry or laugh, or do both. It is eternally amusing to be observing without an observer.
So here it is in a nutshell: If you want to know the absolute Truth, or what Douglas Harding refers to as knowing who you really, really, really are, you just take a look on present evidence. There is a world that you sense, and there is a placeless place that is the source of this world. “On present evidence” suggests that you leave all the stuff of the me-created mind behind. Let it go, because where you’re headed it doesn’t do you any good. Education, brilliance, insight, learning, teaching, ideas, memories, money, status, talent, gifts, experience, and judgments do not help in the least, because all of these are of the mind, which means they are of the past. “On present evidence” is about now, the present. Leave the past out of it and just take a look.
For 70 years Jiddu Krishnamurti spoke about “freedom from the known” and observing without the observer. What we know is not “it” — it is not present evidence. The sense of self is created out of thought, and all thought is past-tense, old news. Thought creates knowledge, making all knowledge of the past. So it’s impossible to behold the present by using thought, the self, or knowledge to do so.
Krishnamurti repeatedly said that if you truly understand the relationship between the seer and the seen then you get it. Everything else falls into place. Douglas Harding’s “on present evidence” says it all. If you are seeing the world with the overlay of the egoic self, then the seer and the seen are two sides of the same coin — two images created by the sense of self. But when there is an observing of the world only on present evidence, then the egoic self is absent and a newness to reality emerges.
Old habits are hard to break, including the habit that is brought about by psychological conditioning that tells us who we are, what people we are related to, what our religion is, what
is ugly or beautiful, what our gender is, which political party is better than another, what we look like, and how we should act. All of these factors and much more make up the sense of self, the egoic mind. But seeing reality “on present evidence” cuts to the quick. Of course, you have to have an overwhelming desire to know what you really, really, really are, otherwise this is all a passing interest that the mind likes to play with and then leave behind to continue its conditioned life. However, if you are truly interested and have insatiable desire and persistence, you can see what exists on present evidence.
Now, what does “present evidence” tell you? Can anyone answer this for you, on your behalf? Of course not. And no one can transfer the knowingness to you. There is nothing to learn and nothing to practice. Knowing/seeing is instantaneous, which is why Krishnamurti repeatedly said that Truth is a Pathless Land. “Present evidence” always exists, and therefore it is pathless. You don’t need to get or obtain anything to realize this, you just have to look without bringing the past into the looking.
“On present evidence” shows you the world of expression, form, and phenomena, as well as the source of the seeing in an instant. And then you wake up. I often think of those stereograms that were a fad in the early 1990s where there was a colorful design in a pattern, and if you stared long enough at the pattern you’d see a 3D image appear. The image was there all along, but you never saw it; and once you saw it you knew it was there and could easily re-see it. Reality beyond, or beneath or before, the egoic self is just like this. It always exists, but we’re too busy being distracted by the designs, patterns, colors, and other goings- on to take a close look.
If you want to get off the hamster wheel you have to take a good look at what exists only on present evidence. All the talk about nonduality, the power of now, past lives, meditation, kundalini, yoga, the law of attraction, psychic phenomena, other dimensions, self-awareness, mental clarity, mindfulness, and so on, is just the stuff of “out there.” This doesn’t mean it’s bad stuff, but it has nothing at all to do with what this source of the “I” really, really, really is. Concepts, ideas, and teachings are not to be found on present evidence. Once “present evidence” is experienced then reality becomes clear. All that is sensed, including all phenomena, nature, people, objects, and thoughts — even your own body and mind — is contained within “present evidence.” All of the contents are transient, but the container is permanent, nameless, faceless, boundless, formless, indescribable, immeasurable, imageless, and of course, headless.